Back in September, Pulpit & Pen posted a transcript of the Pope’s words, calling the cross a failure…humanly speaking. Many took exception with this, as the cross – humanly speaking or divinely speaking – was not a failure. Christ’s humanity was infinitely glorified in all of its perfection, as the physical and very-human body of Jesus was killed in a vicarious atonement for mankind. The story was also covered by Christian news sites like Charisma News, the mainstream media like ABC News, and alternative media like Info Wars.
Some rushed to defend the Pope, claiming that “humanly speaking” meant something along the lines of from a worldly perspective. Pope Francis, they argued, only meant that some saw the crucifixion as a failure. Catholic Answers responded to the concerns of many, calling concerned people “outrage mongers” and claiming that “humanly speaking” meant according to “worldly standards.” In a ironic twist of fate, James White whole-heartedly agreed with the position of Catholic Answers and others, dedicating an entire program of the Dividing Line as to why Pulpit & Pen’s post and related podcast episode was much ado about nothing. Pulpit & Pen, rather, chose to interpret the Pope’s words (A) in light of his precise and exact phrasing and (B) overarching Catholic doctrine that is premised upon the insufficiency of the cross. Others chose to give the benefit of the doubt. There was simply nothing in the Pope’s words or doctrine, however, that we felt would warrant giving the Pope the benefit of the doubt. Some chose to interpret the Pope’s words as though he were a Protestant. We chose to interpret the Pope’s words according to his exact phrasing and as though he were a Catholic.
The Pope is Catholic, right?
Well, the Pope has said it again – this time even more explicitly and with no nebulous descriptor, “humanly speaking.”
The Catholic News Agency posted a transcript of the Pope’s words to youth in Kenya at the end of last month. The Pope’s visit in Kenya lasted from November 25-27, his talk consisted of encouraging them to avoid being recruited into terrorism, to avoid personal and political corruption and to avoid the “unbridled consumption” of more developed countries in the West [insert the word Marxist in the sound of cough].
And then, came this…
When you don’t understand something, when desperation hits you then look at the cross. That is the great failure of God, that is the destruction of God, and it’s a challenge to our faith. And this is hope, because history did not end in that failure. Rather it’s in the resurrection of Christ that renewed all of us.
I am going to tell you something personal. It’s 12 (o’clock) are you hungry?
I am going to tell you something private. In my pocket I always carry two thing: a rosary to pray something which seems odd, this is here is the history of God’s failure, it’s the way of the cross, a small way of the cross, as Jesus suffered and when they condemned him right up to where he was buried with these two things I do the best I can. And thanks to these two things, I never lose hope.
The cross, according to the Pope, is “the great failure of God.” The way of the cross is “the history of God’s failure,” according to the Pope.
Now, those hell-bent on defending the Pope (which basically consists of Roman Catholics and those who have a beef with polemicists) will probably say, “Ah, but yes. The Pope says, ‘history did not end with that failure.’ Therefore, the Pope is not calling the cross a failure.” To which, I would say, that is not following the syntax and sentence structure used by the Pope and is twisting his words in the name of not twisting his words. Clearly, the Pope said that the cross is a failure. It is merely a failure, the Pope argues, that is made right by the resurrection. The cross was a failure that needed to be overcome by the resurrection. As with last time, there’s no language that indicates hypothetical usage, such as “some people think…” The cross was, in a matter of fact way according to the Pope, a failure.
My friends, the cross was not a failure. The propitiatory death of Christ was not a failure. The atonement was not a failure. Jesus’ passion was not a failure. Jesus’ condemnation on our account was not a failure. All things made possible by the cross, chiefly the payment of our sins, was not a failure. The cross – in and of itself – was a smashing success. That Christ, in his humanity, would have been worthy as a perfect sacrifice even to be put upon the cross was an epic accomplishment. Speaking as a Protestant who is still protesting, the cross is in no way, shape, form or fashion a “failure.”
The Pope, for whatever reason (I think it’s because what’s laid out in the London Baptist Confession, chapter 26, article 4 is true), continues to use the language of the failure of the cross. Do you know any Protestant who would speak this way? Do you know anyone who believes in salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone who would speak repeatedly this way? The Pope’s words are doctrine-driven. In the same breath the Pope calls the cross a failure, he mentions clinging to the idols in his pocket. This is the nature of Christianity when the cross becomes a failure; it becomes insufficient.
[Contributed by JD Hall]
[Editor’s note: Should anyone want to claim “misrepresentation” or that the Pope’s words were taken out of context, please note that – like last time – we have included hyperlinks to the full transcript for your convenience and personal research]
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