For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus - 1Timothy 2: 5 (NIV) The Pope made the news again this week much to the dismay of the hierarchy of Catholicism. Francis is widely becoming known for his radical departures from Catholic orthodoxy in his attempts to reach people outside the church. This results in church leadership embarrassingly releasing “explanatory notes” to clarify how someone who is supposed to possess Papal Infallibility keeps stumbling over himself when it comes to crucial doctrine. In a letter written to and published in a liberal Italian Newspaper, Francis stated the following: The question for those who do not believe in God is to follow their own conscience. Sin, even for a non-believer, is when one goes against one's conscience. To listen and to follow your conscience means that you understand the difference between good and evil. For someone who is supposed to be imbued with heavenly power to infallibly proclaim Christ’s doctrine, the Pope falls well short of the mark here. There is no question for those who do not believe: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. - John 14: 6 (NIV) There is no equivocation here in the words of Jesus. There is no alternate papal translation that can bring the words of Francis even close to matching Scripture. Is this an exclusionary verse? Absolutely. Remember beloved, the Gospel when preached correctly is not designed to bring people together to play church and sing kumbya. Jesus referred to it as a sword that will split families apart. People - and that means all people - must decide to accept Christ and go onto eternal life or reject Him and go onto eternal damnation. Sorry if that grates against the delicate sensibilities of a world gone mad but I didn’t write the book - I just preach what it says. And what of the proposed solution from the man who claims to be Christ’s representative on earth? Those who do not believe should just follow their own conscience? Really? The dictionary defines conscience as an inner sense of right and wrong. The problem of course with this proposed solution is that the heart of man is inherently wicked and everyone would have their own interpretation of what is right and what is wrong. God has turned such over to their reprobate mind already! To follow your conscience does NOT mean you understand good and evil as God does! And to what end is this outreach? The Bible teaches us that the things of God are foolishness to those who are perishing yet the Pope apparently is trying to assuage people who openly deny the existence of God by saying God still will accept them? Here is the response from the leading organization of atheists: "Why should a non-believer seek legitimization from the Pope?" What interests non-believers is certainly not 'forgiveness' from an entity whose existence we do not trust." Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power of salvation. Not any man, including the Pope. The problems however transcend this incident. It seems all Christendom reacts as if the Pope is somehow not leading a church rife with false teachings and doctrinal errors to begin with. Between indulgences for the non existent purgatory and the deification of Mary, are a slew of instructions that teaches reliance upon the Catholic Church instead of on God. Now, let me be clear. There are plenty of Catholics who enjoy a real relationship with Jesus Christ and stand within the Body of Christ while there are far too many Pentecostals who play church every week and are not truly saved. This is not a denominational argument at all. The denominational arguments are actually made within the belief system of Catholicism. For explanation, let us return to another gaffe from the Vicar of Christ. During a homily in May of this year, Francis said that atheists would be welcomed in heaven if they “do good.” The Vatican quickly issued “explanatory notes” emphasizing that people who are not members of the Catholic Church cannot be saved. While the Catholic Church still considers homosexuality a sin, Francis has said to reporters in July that he would not judge priests for being gay. He is quoted as saying, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” In another “explanatory note”, a Vatican spokesman reminded us all of how warped true Catholic doctrine is when he said that “those who know about the Catholic Church cannot be saved if they refuse to enter her or remain in her.” This of course in an abuse of Scripture: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. - John 15: 1-4 (NIV) The Catholic Church is not Jesus Christ. The Pope is not the Vicar of Christ. There is not one Bible verse that supports the notion that we must remain in the Catholic Church in order to be saved. The same is true for any church! We are saved through our faith in the work of Christ on the cross. We are not saved through our consciences beloved. I understand the human desire to reach out and touch people for Jesus but compromising the Gospel will not result in one person being saved. Do not look to any man for salvation beloved. We are all completely fallible, even the Pope. As the key verse explains there is only one man who may serve as mediator between God and man and His name is not Francis. It is Jesus. Rev. Anthony.