Full-time country music fan, Russell Moore, recently appeared on the Matt Lewis Show to discuss Johnny Cash’s Christian witness. He also had an opportunity to discuss the Pope.
Lewis says, “There is a fear that Pope Francis is engaging in the social Gospel.” This might be the understatement of the year. I could argue, as many have, that Pope Francis is an outright Marxist. At the very least we could say that Francis holds to a Catholic-version of Liberation Theology. But instead of demonstrating this, can it not suffice to say that whatever “gospel” Francis holds, it’s not the Gospel? It’s certainly not a Gospel that preaches a salvation by grace alone through faith alone, because the last time I checked, the Pope is Catholic. Lewis then points out that Francis has also said that people who are not saved can go to Heaven.
It’s then that Moore then provides some free public-relations help for Francis, saying, “I don’t know exactly what Pope Francis is saying.”
Really, Russ? You don’t know what Pope Francis was saying? This might refresh your memory.
“The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can… “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”.. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”(source)
I think it’s pretty clear what Pope Francis was saying. But to Russ, it’s totally unclear.
But most disturbingly, Moore mentions that a journalist asked him…
“What’s the difference between the sort of Gospel-focused engagement that you’re calling for and what Pope Francis is calling for and my answer to that was ‘I don’t know’.”
Serious? You don’t know? You don’t know the difference between the type of Gospel-focused engagement you have and that the Pope has?
Moore then says that the crucial difference is basically one of accessibility. You can ask him for clarification but not the Pope, because he’s sequestered away from the masses. Yeah, that’s the “crucial difference.” It’s an accessibility issue.
Am I living in an alternate universe or something? This is just surreal. While Moore is quick to relieve charges of social gospel from the Pope – saying “I don’t think Francis is a liberal Episcopalian in disguise,” he charges him with the sin of inaccessibility? Are we missing something? Like the Gospel, maybe?
Well, there we have it. Patheos says Russell Moore is not a liberal. Russell Moore says the Pope is not a liberal. We can all go home now. Apparently, nobody’s a liberal. Anywhere. On Earth. Move along, evangelical. There’s nothing to see here.
But back to the “I don’t know what the difference is” thing, could somebody please enlighten Moore as to what makes the Pope’s Gospel crucially different? Does he simply not know that? Should his answer to the reporter not have been, “Well for starters, our Gospel-focused engagements differ in that we have different Gospels”?
Moore shares a few concerns with the Pope (oddly, that he’s Catholic isn’t one of them), including a derogatory line about proselytizing and one about not becoming too obsessed with abortion. But in spite of these concerns, Russell Moore agrees with Lewis that the Pope “has the potential to be great.”
A great what, I would ask. Seriously. Pope Francis has the potential to be a great what? A great Pope? What kind of Protestant would say that? There’s no such thing. A great lost person? Maybe Moore thinks Francis has the potential to become a great leader. But what is he leading people to? Is it the cross? Is it the Gospel? Is it Christ? Or is he leading people to destruction in the confidence of their own meritorious deeds? Would you call such a one a great leader?
Would evangelicals and Southern Baptists, in particular, please begin to figure out who this man is? Please. I’m pleading with you. Figure it out.
[Contributed by JD Hall]