Nothing explicitly Christian about Pope’s speech

I just finished listening to the Pope’s speech to Congress from earlier today (watch below). There is no question that the occasion was historic—the first time ever that a Pope has delivered such an address. Indeed, it would have been impossible to imagine such an invitation being extended just fifty years ago. But the times have changed, and now the United States Congress has done something unprecedented.

Nevertheless, even though the speech was historic, it was also a disappointment—not so much for what he did say but for what he didn’t say. For example:

1. The Pope didn’t mention Jesus. Not even in passing. He moralized and polticized, but he rooted none of it in anything explicitly Christian. He stands before the United States Congress—a platform that commands the attention of the world—and he says nothing about the heart of the Christian gospel. Nothing about Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners. Nothing about the Kingdom of God and the renewal of all things in Christ. Nothing about forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, and the summing up of all things in Christ. It seems to me that a man who is supposed to be God’s apostle on earth might speak with a little more clarity about the author and perfecter of our faith. As it is, his speech could have been uttered in good conscience by a Jew or a Muslim. There literally was nothing distinctively Christian about it.

2. The Pope didn’t speak prophetically but politically. The Pope spoke clearly and at length in support of liberal political priorities—climate change, immigration, abolishing the death penalty. He spoke vaguely and briefly (if at all) about the most contested social issues of our time—abortion, marriage, and religious liberty.

3. The Pope didn’t mention abortion explicitly. He did say this: “The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.” That was it. After that, he had nothing specific to say about abortion. Nothing. He spoke specifically to defend the lives of the guilty from the death penalty. But he said nothing specific to defend the lives of the innocent millions who have been killed legally in our country since 1973. Over 56 million people have been killed legally in our country under the regime of Roe v. Wade. To put that number in perspective, that is the holocaust times nine. There is no question that abortion-on-demand is the greatest human rights crisis of our time, and the Pope said nothing about it. He said nothing about our federal government’s funding of Planned Parenthood’s abortion mills. He said nothing about the culture of death being fostered in America.

4. The Pope didn’t mention anything explicit about the challenge of gay marriage. He did say this:

I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

If he meant to address marriage at all, he only did so in the most indirect way—with a vague passive sentence: “Fundamental relationships are being called into question.” That was it. Nothing about the redefinition of marriage or our Supreme Court’s recent ruling. At best, his defense of traditional marriage is inferential and implicit. It’s certainly neither clear nor explicit.

I don’t have high expectations of this Pope. Why not? Not only is the papacy itself an unbiblical office, this Pope hails from the most liberal order within Catholic life—the Jesuits—and his political priorities reflect that. Since becoming Pope, he has shown what his priorities are. For those reasons, it’s no surprise that there was nothing explicitly Christian about the speech.

There is more that I might quibble with about this speech, but the items above are the heart of my concerns. What are yours?

66 Responses to Nothing explicitly Christian about Pope’s speech

  1. Brian Holland September 25, 2015 at 1:44 am #

    Tragic. I have no use for the papacy, as you’ve stated it’s an unbiblical position of authority, but I also have no use for blatant Catholic bashing, as so many Evangelicals are unfortunately prone to. I am a former Catholic, and have known many Catholics over the years, who profess saving faith in Christ, but I also fear that what comes out of Rome is another “gospel” altogether.

    The issues you’ve mentioned are completely legitimate. I’d just like to add a few to the list. The Pope can and should be an important ally in the culture war, however I think it’s obvious that this one is mostly on the wrong side. Socialism is not just unbiblical, but anti-biblical, and all this talk of climate change is just a ruse for global redistribution of wealth. On the migrant problem, we should definitely welcome those Christians, and other religious minorities that are fleeing persecution, and even Muslims from Syria who just want to live in peace, but the later have to vetted. Our government cannot be trusted to do that primarily because of incompetence. ISIS and Al Queda operatives will undoubtedly sneak in alongside true asylum seekers. The fact that the Obama administration wants to open the floodgates for Muslim refugees, while ignoring Christians, and other religious minorities speaks volumes.

  2. Ted Weis (@TedWeis) September 25, 2015 at 1:45 am #

    Silly me, but I thought of all the pressing issues of our time, sinners need for a Savior was still the greatest message dignitaries needed to hear.

    • Brian Holland September 25, 2015 at 7:35 am #

      Undoubtedly it is, and that’s why I think Denny was disappointed that there was no mention of Christ in his speech. But I think it’s also important to understand that real Christianity goes beyond the easy believism of reducing the Gospel to “fire insurance,” but is about making disciples and ultimately transforming culture. That may be a mute point however, since I think we can both agree the Pope preaches another “gospel.”

    • Bethany Nelson September 25, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

      So that they can work on converting people? That is not their role in congress. Their role is to help create laws that promote the well being of everyone and that is what the pope addressed.

      • Christiane Smith September 26, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

        Hi BETHANY,
        I think I understand part of the disappointment . . . Pope Francis is very much a ‘social gospel’ pope, and those issues he is speaking for are not dear to the hearts of conservative Christian people. Tomorrow he goes to a prison in Philly to visit with the prisoners there, so this also will not exactly endear him to conservative people. The truth is that among us Catholic people, we hear the voice of Christ echo in Francis’ appeals for the poor, for outcasts, and for immigrants. This is not something that seems shared with some of our conservative evangelical brothers and sisters, no. So close are Catholics to solidarity with the poor that it is something we don’t separate from the Gospel of Our Lord, because that solidarity is based on a belief that the poor are ‘special’ to Our Lord. Even a call for ‘the common good’ seems troubling to some among conservative Christian people, and once again, this Pope is promoting a goal that is not favored and therefore disappointing. It may be that he is unwelcomed in certain circles, but I think I understand that this may be because of profound differences in how the ‘gospel’ is defined and lived out.

  3. Steve Potts September 25, 2015 at 2:14 am #

    Denny, I think you nailed this. The reason so much of the media has swooned over this pope is because he emphasizes what they agree with as liberals and plays down what they disagree with. The Catholic church has moved a long way from John Paul ll, that’s for sure.

  4. Christiane Smith September 25, 2015 at 3:39 am #

    Hi DENNY,
    thank you for the video of the Pope’s complete speech . . . and I can understand how some members of the Christian family would have hoped for more emphasis on certain topics (and, for those who were ‘conservative’ politically, less emphasis on other topics). But this Pope is a humble man, and he would be the first to understand that he could not fulfill all expectations and that he might disappoint his listeners. Likely, if confronted, he would respond with ‘please pray for me, I need it’. (He does this a lot.) And yet, I think he would be pleased if his words stirred conversations, disagreements, and above all, dialogue among people who saw things from different perspectives.

    I’m glad he had the opportunity to speak. I am able to comprehend where he is coming from in some of the ways that are specific to the Catholic teachings. But on the whole, his speech was directed to the wider human community, and a very great deal of the speech was given over to being a voice for those who don’t have power or influence. It is on this level that I think many evangelicals CAN connect positively with what he said. If so, then there is a little more light among us, always to be seen as a blessing that encourages hope. 🙂

    • Bethany Nelson September 25, 2015 at 11:15 am #

      Exactly. To draw light to the poor and those in need was at the heart of Jesus’s whole time on earth. He did it over and over and that is what this pope did in his speech and it was a light that was needed.

    • Brian Holland September 26, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

      Christiane, I think I can speak for most of the conservatives on here in saying that our conservatism is rooted in biblical principles, and so much (if not all) of modern liberalism is the antithesis of those Judeo-Christian values. Therein lies the conflict. You can put a religious veneer on left-wing values, but it doesn’t change what they are their core.

      • Chris Ryan September 27, 2015 at 1:30 am #

        The Bible says nothing about capitalism, or socialism, or monetary policy, or fiscal policy. Even so, based on how hard it is for a rich man to enter heaven, I’d think Pope Francis’ words are something any serious Christian should embrace.

      • Christiane Smith September 27, 2015 at 9:30 am #

        Hi BRIAN,
        I remember the ‘Ryan Budget’ which was a thoroughly conservative plan, and for myself, I couldn’t find it to be ethical or moral in the sense that it would, if enacted, bring greater hardship down on those who already suffer.
        I do think people see things differently, but for a purpose . . . so that we can learn from one and begin to understand better the ‘whole’ picture.
        As for sacred Scripture, when examining it through the lens of Our Lord and His Holy Gospels, I can find no basis for any doctrines which are inhumane. Our Lord had a care for the poor, and a compassion for those who suffered. I think in the end, we all must follow the Shepherd Whose Voice we hear. Goodness knows, we aren’t so smart on our own, and we all have been blinded to the needs of so many who suffer; so maybe in our blindness, we need to listen from the heart for the Voice of the Shepherd and rise up out of our selfishness and follow.

        Any doctrines that rely on being fearful are not of Christ.
        Any doctrines that preach contempt for others while seeing ourselves as ‘righteous’ are not of Christ.
        Any doctrines that ask us to turn a blind eye to the suffering placed in our pathway are not of Christ.

        This is what I know from sacred Scripture. This is what I believe. I think we can take what is ‘liberal’ and what is ‘conservative’ and measure it up against what we know of Christ Himself, and learn from Him. To whom else shall we go?

  5. allenmickle September 25, 2015 at 7:36 am #

    Christiane, I thought Al Mohler, in his “Briefing” yesterday did a good job of addressing the Pope’s humility: http://www.albertmohler.com/2015/09/24/the-briefing-09-24-15/

    • Christiane Smith September 25, 2015 at 8:46 am #

      Hi ALLEN, thank you for the link.
      I was thinking about the Pope and the ‘abortion issue’ and how he would address it, in what capacity, before a politically-divided Congress. I think he knows that the abortion issue has long been co-opted by politicians and re-defined by them for their agendas;
      and I think it was very wise of Francis to state the importance of ALL human life in its proper context which is ‘from conception until natural death’ . . . in this way, Francis has returned the ‘abortion issue’ to its proper perspective within the theology of the Church that first advocated for the dignity of all human life, even when it wasn’t a political issue, and even when it did not have the backing of many non-Catholic Christian people. I see some wisdom is this. Primarily because he knows, as Christians are now beginning to understand, that the way forward to making the world a more welcoming place for new life is going to require a much deeper commitment from Christians than has so far been expressed.

      • Brian Holland September 26, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

        I’m sorry Christiane, but a “much deeper commitment?” He made a passing reference to the sanctity of human life, and didn’t mention abortion specifically. As Glenn Beck said the other day, can you imagine if the pope just stopped his motorcade for five minutes outside of a Planned Parenthood office, and got out and prayed silently? He wouldn’t have had to say anything! What a wasted opportunity!

        And what do you mean by “co-opted by politicians” at least the Republicans are now willing to shut the govt down over defunding PP. We have to care enough to hold their feet to the fire, so that they will be willing to stand and fight over these issues.

        • Lauren Bertrand September 27, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

          The list of things that the Pope could have done during his brief time in the US–but didn’t do–is infinite. If Francis had gone to a PP location and prayed, would you have found fault with the next thing on your list that he could have done, but didn’t do?

          • Brian Holland September 27, 2015 at 9:13 pm #

            The short answer is no. Such a gesture would have overshadowed any other mistakes he may have made on the trip. Since I’m not Catholic, and do not believe in the papacy, I do not have high expectations. I don’t expect him to preach the Gospel, since the Catholic gospel is a very different one than the one understood by Protestant Evangelicals. I do however expect a strong ally in the culture wars, and in particular someone who will defend the sanctity of life at every stage.

        • Christiane Smith September 27, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

          Hi BRIAN,
          yes, a much deeper commitment . . . quite frankly whoever co-opted the abortion issue away from observing the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death, also turned the treatment of the issue into an extremely shallow response . . .

          if people wanted to address ‘the abortion issue’ in the context of the dignity and worth of the human person, we would see less fruitless heat and smoke and a lot more progress in helping women to reconsider their options by providing concrete support for them and their newborn . . . all that strident ‘talk’ doesn’t yield results. If Christians want to help stop abortions, then Christians will need to re-integrate the ‘abortion issue’ back into Christian theology of the dignity and worth of the human person. And THEN, it will take a lot of money, time, and effort to help change situations one woman at a time so that abortion is no longer the only ‘real’ solution for that woman. . .

          as for all the anger and hubris . . . it’s just made things worse . . . much worse, and quite frankly those engaged in it already know this, which just adds to the shallowness and hopelessness of their ‘efforts’ . . . there is no substitute for loving-kindness in the service of someone in distress, certainly not threats or belittling or abusive treatment, all of which have been tried and have failed to yield success.

          • Barbara September 28, 2015 at 8:54 am #

            There are more crisis pregnancy centers in this country providing option, support, and education for women than there are abortion clinics. There are even shepherding homes available for pregnant women in need of that. Adoption options, including open adoptions which allow for relationship with the birthmother, are available through the myriad Christian adoption agencies that exist. The care for women and their children is out there. It just doesn’t fit the zeitgeist agenda.

            last name jackson

  6. Tom Harmon September 25, 2015 at 9:30 am #

    A next observation it’s been really interesting to see how often the Pope is described as being humble. That’s a very interesting thing, it’s hard to square with the titles that are held by every Pope, including this pope, again, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, successor of the Prince of the apostles, supreme pontiff of the universal church, primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman province and on and on and on. And the fact is that even as Pope Francis does not live in the lavish papal apartments, the church still has those apartments. The Roman Catholic Church is sitting on some of the most valuable real estate in the world and is sitting on a fortune that is accounted in the multiple billions and billions of dollars. The art collection in the Vatican alone is worth billions of dollars, the real estate upon which the Vatican sits is worth billions of dollars and even as the Pope decided to be driven away from Andrews Joint base in a Fiat demonstrating humility, the fact is that he got from Rome to the United States of America on a specially chartered Boeing 777 jet, that’s not exactly humble. Furthermore, the Pope as the center of all this attention, and remember that is a calculated intention by the Roman Catholic Church and that’s very historical, that goes back far before the Reformation of the 16th century. It has to do with the fact that the office of the papacy was modeled in many ways upon the office of the Roman Emperor. It’s hard to square any of this, much less all of this with humility and that’s not a criticism of Pope Francis. If one believes that one holds these titles, how humble can one actually be? If one believes as Pope Francis must believe that he is the Vicar of Christ on earth, that he has plenary authority to forgive sins, that he is the priest over the entire universal church, that is his claim, then just how humble can one be?. And if one’s coming to the United States on a specially chartered jet being treated as a head of state and soon to address a joint session of Congress, there’s not a great deal of humility that is invested in that. It points to just how influential the gestures, the symbolic acts of this Pope actually turn out to be in terms of popular culture. Al Moehler

  7. Ian Shaw September 25, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    It was a social justice “feel good” message that people of any faith or non-faith could rally behind. Surprised he didn’t bring up the social justice issue of ISIS engaged in a modern day holocaust killing Christians in the Middle East.

    I would ask the Pope, what good will that social justice do when they are never told of Jesus and they are bound to hell?

    Just sayin….

    • Christiane Smith September 25, 2015 at 11:24 am #

      Hi Ian, you wrote “I would ask the Pope, what good will that social justice do when they are never told of Jesus and they are bound to hell?”

      Hope this helps explain where he is coming from:
      “For those too who through no fault of their own do not know Christ and are not recognized as Christians, the divine plan has provided a way of salvation. As we read in the Council’s Decree Ad Gentes, we believe that “God in ways known to himself can lead those inculpably ignorant of the Gospel” to the faith necessary for salvation (AG 7). Certainly, the condition “inculpably ignorant” cannot be verified nor weighed by human evaluation, but must be left to the divine judgment alone. For this reason, the Council states in the Constitution Gaudium et Spes that in the heart of every man of good will, “Grace works in an unseen way…. The Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery”

      Ian, the gulf between fundamentalist-evangelical preaching on hell and the Catholic doctrine of Divine mercy is vast, but that gulf is bridged by one agreement: anyone, who IS saved, is saved by Jesus Christ

      • Ian Shaw September 25, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

        Christiane,

        I appreciate your candor. However, I would say that this is a difference between evangelicals/protestants and the Roman Catholic Church. I do not believe it is fundamentalism to claim sola scriptura. If a belief was enough for Jesus from that of his disciples, that should be enough for us. Paul himself wrote in Romans (if I recall correctly), that all people have a general revelation of God and that no one, not one is without excuse.

        I would agree that we are saved by Christ. However, the wages of sin is death. That is our place outside of the saving work of Jesus. If we are ignorant of Christ we cannot be repentant. If we do not see a reason to repent, how does that show our understanding of why we need His grace and how does it show we have faith in Christ?

        I would also agree that no one is graced in exactly the same as the other. Just curious as I’m not up-to-date on Catholic doctrine, but does the RC position claim that those with no faith in Christ (whether thru not hearing or refusal of belief) can receive salvation and be saved from God’s judgment? That sounds a bit Rob Bell-ish to me.

    • Robert Karl September 25, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

      Ian:

      Great conversation and insight. I think the main disconnect is through you own admission that you are not up to date on Catholic doctrine. That is OK. The best thing to do is to read the Holy Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism is a straightforward explanation of the Church beliefs etc. It is a good read and will take a day to finish and the sections are easy to find things–like justification, prayer, the Mass, meaning of Our Father and Apostle Creed, etc.

      The social justice aspect of Catholicism is not a feel good belief. Rather it is one of the cores of the Gospel–that I am son and daughter of God made in his image and that my reason for living is to do God’s will –to show the world God’s invisible love into a visible reality.

    • Chris Ryan September 27, 2015 at 1:34 am #

      It was the kind of address that MLK might have given. And I’m good with that. Very good. MLK shepherded millions of us toward salvation. Can you imagine how lost in sin this nation would be without his influence?

  8. Bethany Nelson September 25, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    Caring for the poor, the world around us is the heart of Christianity. Jesus died on the cross to reach those in need and to say that emphasizing reaching out to help those people is not the heart of Christianity is missing the very heart of Jesus’s purpose coming to this earth. You reach people to win them into the relationship with Jesus and his salvation to begin a new life based in that relationship and his teachings about how to live by showing them love as he did.

    • Sean Stone September 25, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

      Atheists are able to care for the poor…and some do. Do they then have the heart of Christianity?

      Jesus died on the cross to take the death that we deserved for our sin. And it’s only by believing in Him that we can even wish for a changed heart to do the works he calls us to do (Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.). Jesus says we’ll always have the poor (Matthew 26:11 – the poor you will always have with you), yet we’re trying to solve that problem. I’m not saying we shouldn’t feed and clothe the poor because Jesus tells us to (Matthew 25:35 – For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in), but our focus should be on sharing the Gospel because EVERYBODY needs it.

      The Gospel saves a person from eternal torment. The meal that all people need, is the bread of life (John 6:35 – Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.) That’s the bread that all people need, because it’s the only food that truly saves.

      • Bethany Nelson September 25, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

        I remember the story of the good Samaritan. All these people that had correct answers walked by, but it was the Samaritan that actually stopped and helped the person in desperate need that Jesus exemplified, so yes anyone that helps someone reflects the heart of Christianity. No one does it perfectly like Jesus, atheist or not which is why we all need salvation.

    • Ian Shaw September 25, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

      Maybe I’m not reading the Gospel’s correctly, but I don’t see how the Gospel message at it’s heart is caring for the poor. I may very well be wrong, but the Gospel message is a story of understanding about God’s creation, mankind’s inability and failure, the birth of a Savior for all mankind and the Savior’s sacrificial act of love (substituting His perfect righteousness with our sins) to restore our right relationship with our creator God who loves us. Please correct me if I am wrong with my claim.

      Jesus did care for the poor while on earth, but there are many kinds of poor. There are poor (financially) and those poor (in spirit). Jesus came to save the lost. Lost takes on all forms and is not limited to just those in severe financial need.

      • Bethany Nelson September 25, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

        I should clarify in that not just caring for the poor, but all people, including the poor, and I would say in Jesus’s teachings, especially the poor, or anyone in need which yes would be spiritually too. As he said he didn’t come to help the well, but the sick. To me that means everyone because without him all the world is living short of the live he wants to give us, but the part that made it so hard for the Pharisees and even the rich, the eye of the needle thing, is that they didn’t always see their need for help.

        The sacrificial act of love is the basis of Christianity, and in that spirit, if we don’t have that same motivation of love to help everyone we can however we can, we miss the point.

        • Gus Nelson September 25, 2015 at 10:55 pm #

          I’ve read your comments and you seem to keep coming back to a theme that the “heart” of Christianity is helping others. By heart, I presume you are suggesting that this is Christianity’s main point. Does that mean an atheist who helps others is really a Christian and just doesn’t know it? I don’t think that’s what you mean, but it is a logical outworking of your theology. The “heart” or main point, then, is surely something greater, right? How about this: Jesus died on a cross to pay the price for my sins and requires only that I repent and believe (Mark 1:15) in order to appropriate this payment for myself. Out of my gratitude for this debt which I can never repay, I seek to teach others about what Jesus did for me, which, in part, means that I care for others and love them, even when they aren’t lovable. The main point is what Jesus did for me, not what I am doing for others.

          • Christiane Smith September 26, 2015 at 7:46 am #

            Hi GUS,
            I cannot reply for Bethany of course, but I can offer that Our Lord’s sacrificial love was a part of His mission. And He has sent the Church out into the world with ‘as the Father has sent Me, I also send you’. I suggest to you that ‘love’ is very much at the center of our faith.

            There are SOME (not all) conservatives who speak about no need to care for the poor, no need to feed the hungry, no need to reach out to those we have contempt for; and I admit I am confused by their stance, which sounds more influenced by Ayn Rand than by Our Lord’s teachings and example. I cannot understand this type of Christianity. It seems to be a sub-culture, and not representative of true evangelical Christianity. I have evangelical friends. They are self-sacrificing in their giving and their care for those who suffer. They do as much as any Christians to show love for the ones who have nothing and no one. I ask God’s blessing on them for ever and every, and I consider them my brothers and sisters in Christ. I don’t know any other ‘Way’ and I certainly can find no Christianity in those who choose to walk passed the fallen people that Our Lord places in their path. With Christ, my faith is no longer just about ‘me’.

            • Gus Nelson September 26, 2015 at 10:13 pm #

              Christiane: My concern was to respond to the idea that somehow our actions are at the heart of the gospel message. This is simply false. God’s actions are at the heart of the gospel, not ours. Do we care for the poor? Yes. Do we seek to do justice? Yes. Do we regard how we use the environment? Yes. Denny’s point, which is what got this all started, was that the Pope spent time talking about social issues without providing any explicit link to Christ. We reflect Jesus when we act, but we cannot make our actions the focus of our faith – the focus must always and forever be on Christ. Our actions mean nothing without Christ behind them.

              • Christiane Smith September 27, 2015 at 1:19 am #

                Hi GUS,
                one of the commenters, Bethany Nelson, effectively has mentioned Our Lord’s parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’ . . .
                in my own Church, we are asked to see the face of Christ in the suffering of others . . .

                here is a Lenten reflection that may help explain this perspective:

                ” . . . Jesus begins to make the passage from the One who is healer to the One who is wounded;

                from the Man of compassion to the Man in need of compassion;

                from the Man who cries out: ‘If anyone thirsts let him come to me to drink,’ to the Man who cries out: ‘I thirst.’

                From announcing the good news to the poor, Jesus becomes the poor. He crosses over the boundary line of humanity which separates those whose needs are satisfied from those who are broken and cry out in need.” (Jean Vanier)

                GUS, we cannot ‘separate’ what we do from our faith in Christ, we cannot walk past the fallen that God will place in our path as we journey . . . the Samaritan was one of ‘the others’, but he was the only one who responded to, and lovingly cared for, the suffering victim, and it was in his loving-kindness that the Samaritan was truly ‘of Christ’.

      • Chris Ryan September 27, 2015 at 1:39 am #

        What happened to the words “Both” and “And”? You’d think we lost them in a trade deal with China or some such. Did Christ do just 1 thing? Did Paul say it was solely a matter of faith? Or did works figure in too? Did Christ simply preach at the multitudes or did he feed them too? Liberals and Conservatives are the same in 1 regard: Neither of them like the words “Both” and “And”….So many of our political disagreements would fall by the wayside if we simply practiced everything that God put in his Word.

  9. James Stanton September 25, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    When I reconcile views that many liberals had about the previous Pope and with views that conservatives have about the current Pope it’s clear that people just want a puppet that echoes their priorities.

    The Pope has certainly elevated some issues while toeing the line on others.

    Just a point about the Jesuits… yes they have always been concerned about social justice issues and are considered more liberal. This does not mean they are inclined to support gay marriage and abortion. Those issues have only presented themselves as significant threats relatively recently as compared to their long-standing advocacy of the other issues. So saying you didn’t expect much from the Pope because he is Jesuit plainly means you dismiss many of the issues that concern Jesuits, which do not tend to involve supporting gay marriage or abortion.

  10. Curt Day September 25, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    And yet the Pope mentioned Abraham Lincoln and talked about liberty and freedom while warning us against extremism and having a bipolar view of the world. In addition, He talked about politics must recognize the value of human life and not be a slave of the economy.

    He talked about Martin Luther King Jr. and about the dreams of the vulnerable, especially immigrants. He talked about how we need to treat immigrants according to the Golden Rule.

    He talked about Dorothy Day and how she helped those who were oppressed. He went to say that business should be for the common good rather than for greed.

    He finally talked about Thomas Merton and his work on promoting peace.

    So while offense is taken by some because the Pope did not address the fundamentals of our faith while speaking about important issues in politics which involve practical theology, he talked to Congress about the concerns it should have as a political body. He could have been more forthright and spoken more directly, but he did address important concepts from Christian view point.

    But for those are still upset because he didn’t mention the fundamentals of the faith while talking about politics, you know now how liberals feel when we talk about pro-life and abortion and do not even recognize the political issues the Pope addressed which carry with them pro-life implications–that is pro-life for those who have been born. A former colleague of mine at work told me that even though he was pro-choice, he didn’t mind listening to my pro-life views because he regarded me as being consistently pro-life because of my other views.

  11. Robert Karl September 25, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    Geez, he spoke about God several times in the speech and thus people are image of God and should have inherit dignity. spoke about Moses, religious freedom, hope, freedom, quoted the Gospel of Matthew (Mt. 7:12). Spoke of Dorothy Day and Fr. Thomas Merton who were converts and lived there live like Jesus who were “inspired by the Gospel”. Lastly, spoke of faith and unity. This speech is essentially the underpinnings of Pope JP II Theology of the Body.
    Moreover, the Pope Francis was also in several churches presiding over Mass several times and spoke beautiful about Jesus and the Gospel. I guess you forgot to watch that part of the visit.
    If the same speech was given by Denny or another protestant you would not feel the need to criticize.

    La Paz de Cristo.

    • Ian Shaw September 25, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

      Would it kill him to reference Luther? Sorry, just had to. Kidding of course….

      • Chris Ryan September 27, 2015 at 1:41 am #

        He did reference Martin Luther.

        King, as I recall 🙂 (Since you started the joke!)

    • James Stanton September 26, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

      It’s helpful to ponder the possible intent behind these critiques of the Pope’s address. Figures like the Pope are useful only to the extent that they are allies in the fight against gay marriage or legalized abortion. That was the reason political Evangelicals allied with Mormons and Catholics in the culture wars. As these alliances become strained, the old grievances rise to the forefront.

  12. Melissa Farmer September 25, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

    Love the new Pope and his inclusive stance. Thank goodness he didn’t use his audience with the free world to rail against the sins of the world and all of us who commit them. Instead of invoking Jesus’ name in condemning his listeners, he chose to show them His love. God bless him! ????

  13. Erin Ayres September 26, 2015 at 7:37 am #

    “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.'” [Mt. 24:4,5) This former Catholic thanks you, Denny, for cutting through the smokescreen of feel-good, temporal jargon to the critical, eternal issue: that one proclaimed as the “Vicar of Christ on earth,” “the Chief Shepherd,” “the High Priest,” (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NhhcLM7Sbj_WpdjAb-0qWWoESrUBLbGYIOQnNGsSf-w/edit) failed to deliver the saving gospel before an audience of millions who are lost and dying without it. The Apostle Paul warned of wolves who would “draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:30) Does the Pope lead people to Christ – or draw them to himself? Did his speech draw attention to Christ and His Word – or to the Pope’s opinions? Was this extraordinary speaking opportunity used to declare Christ and make disciples (as Christ commanded in Mt. 28:18-19) – or to generate Papal popularity? Catholics and evangelicals alike: “See to it that no one misleads you,” as I was once mislead.

  14. Jerry Mungadze September 26, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    There are reasons why Martin Lurher wrote his 95 thesies against the Catholic Church. Today we can sum it up in a few words; Martin Luther wanted to be more biblical than just traditional.He wanted wanted to be grace oriented than church legalistic liturgy .He wanted focus on the saving gospel of Jesus Christ then social gospel that only sees the social needs of human kind and not their spiritual needs.
    Therefore my concerns in listening to the speeches of the Pope would very much be like Martin Luther’s.
    Where was the truth of scripture about the spiritual condition of the United States which he was addressing? All I heard was social gospel.

    • Robert Karl September 26, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

      If you think Martin Luther was correct then why are you not Lutheran?

  15. Brian Holland September 26, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

    I just read through all the comments, and I have a few honest questions for anyone who referenced “social justice”: what’s wrong with simply saying justice? Why the need to add the word “social” in front of it? And how are the two different? I’ve never gotten a good answer to that question. Also Dorthy Day was an avowed Communist.

    The problem I have with Pope Francis is that in his addressing issues related to poverty is that 1) his “solutions” don’t work, and only produce much more poverty and suffering, and 2) the biblical answer for how to help the poor does not consist of setting up big government programs to redistribute wealth to anyone and everyone below the poverty line. It requires the church and individual Christians to care for the poor directly.

    Regarding Evangelism, I wasn’t expecting him to put on a Billy Graham crusade. Catholics and Evangelicals have such a broad disagreement over the nature of the Gospel, and how salvation works, but as Denny pointed out, he certainly could have made reference to Jesus, our sinful nature, and our undeniable need for forgiveness. The fact that none of those themes were present in his speech speaks volumes.

    • James Stanton September 26, 2015 at 10:14 pm #

      What’s stopping the church and individual Christians from caring for the poor directly? What are Pope Francis’ solutions for poverty? Has he presented any specific solutions or has he encouraged doing more to take care of the poorest among us? What is your objection to either?

      You can call “social justice” whatever you want. No one here invented that term. I will say that many refer to it in a derogatory matter meant to dismiss the concerns of those who believe in doing more to address the needs of the poor, the widow, or the orphaned.

      • Brian Holland September 27, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

        You still didn’t answer the question. What is the difference between so called “social justice” and plain old justice? Why the differentiation?

    • buddyglass September 27, 2015 at 10:38 am #

      What’s interesting to me is that in Ancient Israel, whose system of government was largely proscribed by God himself, welfare is managed by the state. One third of the tithe was set aside to assist the widows, fatherless and alien. Economic activity was regulated in that land owners were required to let the poor glean some for themselves.

      • Brian Holland September 27, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

        That was theocracy(which no one I’ve ever met is actually advocating for in modern America), and if you can’t see the difference between the way the church took care of people in the OT, and the modern day welfare state, I honestly don’t know what to tell you.

        • buddyglass September 27, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

          Obviously there are differences. The fact remains, though, that in the government God himself set up the provision of welfare for the needy was centralized (to an extent) rather than left purely in the hands of individuals.

  16. brian darby September 26, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

    I hope this is not off-topic, why is climate change seen as a “liberal” political cause? You know Dr. Burk I am truly trying to understand your view on these issues.

    • Tom Harmon September 26, 2015 at 10:15 pm #

      Climate change is a liberal “agenda”. As the proof that man is responsible for warming is suspect and contrived. The chief reason to promote it , is to tax and regulate to no “actual effect”. Liberal policy is to do those two things, thereby stifling Capitalism. Period!

      • buddyglass September 27, 2015 at 10:30 am #

        If global warming is a deliberate deception designed to destroy capitalism, why did the Chinese just implement cap and trade? They’re already communist.

        Consider also that there are (some) libertarians who support efforts to combat climate change. Given the totality of those folks’ policy preferences it’s hard to accuse them of being anti-capitalist.

        As far as taxation goes, some have proposed taxing fossil fuels and reducing other taxes by an equal amount. So the total level of taxation would remain the same.

    • James Stanton September 27, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

      Social conservatives generally follow mainstream thought in the Republican party as much as they protest otherwise. The corporate establishment tends to be suspicious of any regulations that would increase the costs of compliance and the cost of doing business. The predictions of huge economic harm if we do anything to combat climate change is usually fear-mongering meant to forestall any action. That being said, as recently as 2008 the Republican candidate for President accepted climate change and had a cap-and-trade proposal to address it, if I recall correctly.

  17. brian darby September 26, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

    Thank You for your response Mr. Harmon so you do not see any correlation on any level between human action I E energy production, manufacturing etc with effects on the
    climate ? There does seem to be a consensus among scientists concerning this issue. I hope you have a nice evening.

    • Tom Harmon September 27, 2015 at 9:03 am #

      Brian, yes, do you want me to give you all the particulars, here is one article you can check out, http://www.inquisitr.com/…/weather-channel-founder-climate-change-is-a-scam. There is a lot of info on the subject. Think about it. If we get our “carbon footprints” in order ,somehow????, here in the U.S. and places like China continue to pollute..but increase their economy and power…while the regulations and taxes will take us down….not effecting the world’s climate at all because of China, and other economies continue oblivious!

      • brian darby September 28, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

        I dont need the particulars, but thanks for the one link, there is a consensus of research that supports the fact that the global climate is changing. It does remain open as to the impact the human race is having concerning that change. Local and regional climates and the environment are affected by human industry and that is well established.

        I would think climate change and environmental issues would be a human issue as they possess the capacity to be a species ender. Thanks again for your kind interaction hope you have a nice day

  18. Brian Holland September 27, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

    Christiane, I’m curious to know what you think of his approach? His name is John Barros, and he protests outside PP 40+ hours a week. He preaches the Gospel, see babies lives saved, and the women who were considering abortion come to church with him on Sundays. http://www.whowillstand.net/

    I also want to make sure I understand your position. Are you saying that the fact that thousands of babies are aborted everyday in America is the fault of those who fight against it, and not the fault of those have abortions, or promote a pro-abortion agenda?

  19. Christiane Smith September 28, 2015 at 6:36 am #

    Hi BRIAN,
    Thank you for the link, but my computer gives an alert that the site might be hacked, so I looked up John Barros and was able to find other sites that were safe.

    People grow weary of division and culture ‘war’. As long as the issue of ‘abortion’ serves the interests of politicians, this war will continue with its strident divisiveness and anger on both sides. I’m saying that blame and anger and stridency doesn’t do any good, and if anything, drives people away from seeking the kind of help that is not self-serving, politically or financially, to those who offer it. Yes, I think the culture wars have created more heat and smoke than help for potential mothers who are facing a life-changing decision. Who IS actually in reality being served by these wars? Not the ones who need help, no. So the ‘provoking of one another’ has failed the ones we want to save in my opinion, yes.

    We can take a lesson from the early Christians. They gave example (witness) by going out in boats under the bridges where unwanted infants were thrown to drown and they saved the babies by bringing them out of the water and caring for them. In the case of these early Christian witnesses, the ‘intervention’ was born out of the fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives.

    Brian, I think we need to re-examine what is behind our wanting to help the unborn, and re-connect with ‘the dignity and worth of the human person from conception to natural death’ . . . if our motives are Christian, they will help us to ‘intervene’ in ways that are far from the divisive voices on both sides that now profit financially and politically from the tragedy of abortion. We have to return to sacred Scripture and ‘live by the Spirit’ if we want to intervene as a Christian people, as ‘Church’, yes.

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26)

    • Bethany Nelson September 28, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

      Hi Christiane, I don’t have time to respond fully to everything on here I would like to, but just wanted to say I get a lot of your posts, so thanks for participating. Love this last one. For the most part this has been a pretty civil conversation among several people which is a nice change from some online chats I’ve seen.

  20. Bethany Nelson September 28, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    I meant to say I get a lot out of your posts.

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