In my last blog post I talked about Pope Francis telling a little boy to pray to his dad who died an unbeliever. He told the crowd that the atheists work of baptizing his children surely pleased God because it’s more difficult for an non-believer to baptize his children then it is for a believer. He declared the man ‘had a good heart’ (speaking about the subject of heaven). He declared we are all children of God even if we’re not baptized. He declared God, having the heart of a father, would not leave his children far from Him when they are good. He asked the crowd would God leave his children far from Him when they are good? The crowd shouted “no!” Pope Francis told the little boy ‘there is your answer, pray to your dad.’
Please read the article here to get the full context and quotes from Pope Francis cited from Catholic sources.
I was added to a Roman Catholic Facebook group by a family member of mine to talk about the Roman Catholic belief of the literal presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I engaged in conversation with them, and Pope Francis came up. I pointed out the inconsistencies and contradictions the Pope’s comments statements were against God’s Word. Unfortunately, as a result, I was accused of being influenced by the devil, that my interpretations of scripture are flawed, and that I was being deceptive about Pope Francis’ words on purpose.
To be fair, I understand calling the Pope out for error will definitely upset a devout Roman Catholic (and in earlier time in history get me killed) so I didn’t expect I’d make any friends. I posted the question again in the group with the utmost gentleness, and love asking them if they also support this view of Pope Francis. A few people responded but then the administrators of the group shut off the comments unfortunately. I was hoping to get more input.
The overall questions I asked the Catholics in this group were the following:
- Can an atheist baptize his children and this ‘work’ of baptism be pleasing to God. In addition and according to Pope Francis can this act be even more pleasing than if they were a believer in Jesus?
- Can an atheist die an unbeliever, and by his ‘work’ of baptizing his children please God enough for him to inherit the kingdom of heaven? Can an atheist be saved by works alone without any faith in Jesus Christ?
The objections were:
“He was merely offering the boy hope”
I’m not questioning the Popes intentions but I am asking with a sincere heart that you take a look at what the Pope said and test it against scripture. It is (and you be the judge) in direct conflict with God’s Word. So if the scriptures as I will present below (end of article and attached doc) are true then even if the Pope had the best of intentions he gave the little boy false hope. Not to mention confusing the other children that if they are good too then they can be saved to without believing in God or Jesus Christ our savior.
“The man could have repented before he died!”
This was a bit frustrating because my wife and I were repeatedly telling them that we fully understand the man could have repented before he died. However, this is NOT what Pope Francis said. Here are his direct quotes.
“That man didn’t have the gift of faith, he wasn’t a believer, but he had his children baptized. He had a good heart. ~ Pope Francis”
He then doubles-down on it..
“God is the one who says who goes to heaven,” the pope explained.
“What do you think? A father’s heart. God has a dad’s heart. And with a dad who was not a believer, but who baptized his children and gave them that bravura, do you think God would be able to leave him far from himself?“
“Does God abandon his children?” the pope asked. “Does God abandon his children when they are good?” The children shouted, “No. “There, Emanuele, that is the answer,” Francis told the boy. ~ Pope Francis”
Please read carefully Pope Francis words: ‘he didn’t have the gift of faith, he wasn’t a believer’ (past tense). He then says it again “and with a dad who WAS NOT(past tense) a believer.”
He didn’t say “Oh and… maybe he repented and accepted Jesus before he died.’ He said nothing of the sort. If we’re being honest with the Pope statements he is clearly stating this man died an unbeliever and that unbelievers by their good works can go to heaven too.
If you simply can’t accept this then maybe you’ll agree that he declared the man had a good heart, that he did a work outside of a saving faith in Christ that pleased God more because he was an unbeliever, and that he was a child of God. If not, I honestly don’t understand what we could derive from such statements.
“God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier as a believer to baptize your children than to baptize them when you are not a believer. Surely this pleased God very much.~ Pope Francis”
“You need to use reliable Catholic sources!”
I tend to get this a lot with my Roman Catholic friends that I don’t understand the teaching, or at first they’ll accuse me of quoting a protestant source, or non-religious source. When I tell them it’s a Catholic source they will then tell me it’s not a reliable one.
The sources I cited were Catholic sources (see below and end of article). One being the Vatican website: http://en.radiovaticana.va/ (yes I was told this isn’t reliable.!!) and http://www.catholicnews.com/
On another website the author of the article said it was in a Vatican newspaper that he’s been getting for over 20 years (He’s no longer Roman Catholic but says he’s Catholic). See here.
I then asked; if these are in error then what did the Pope say specifically? And if the sources are in error why are they still up? Why are they still being passed around? And why do so many Catholics that I talk to believe this and support this idea that one can die an atheist and be saved by a good work alone?
Many of my Catholic friends, family, and catholics in that group were happily embracing what Pope Francis said and are completely okay with an atheist dying an unbeliever and entering the kingdom of heaven purely on works alone.
Here are few responses below (names were removed for privacy):
“Church teaching is we all rely on the mercy of God and no one can limit God’s mercy. ~anonymous”
This was a subtle answer but they are saying God is so merciful we can bypass a saving faith in Christ and be saved outside of the cross. God is so merciful He will go against His own Word.
“Without reading your article because I need to dress for an upcoming wedding I need to attend, I apologize for responding to the headline (title) only, but I feel I must. There is no salvation outside the Catholic faith. To understand that, is to understand desire, the sacraments, individual intent, and yes, it is possible for an atheist who dies as one, to enter heaven. The saints like St. Faustina and others have spoke about that, and Church teaching teaches us that as long as we have proper desire, it is possible. That applies to all who are not Catholic or Christian. ~anonymous”
This was the most interesting response I got. This man believes there’s no salvation outside of the Catholic faith but in the next sentence says there is. As long as a person has the ‘proper desire’ it’s possible to not believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and savior and inherit the kingdom of heaven by the individuals intent.
What does the Bible say?
If you made it this far and are a Roman Catholic thank you for reading this. I want to encourage you to read this PDF document I put together or read the article I wrote about it. I’m only going to post a few scriptures here since I spent so much time previously on this.
Before you dismiss the scriptures I wrote in objection to Pope Francis statements as “well. that’s just your personal interpretation” ask yourself, then what is the interpretation(s)? Pray/meditate on the verses, study the context, go to your local priest and ask, but most importantly be honest with the text. What’s more important? Truth or being right? Or your religion being right?
If I’m in error may God rebuke me but if an atheist can die an unbeliever, and inherit the kingdom of heaven by a good work outside of a saving faith in Jesus Christ then Jesus died for nothing and so did all the martyrs that died preaching the Gospel.
So I ask you humbly. What do you think? Can an atheist die an unbeliever and inherit the kingdom of heaven?
John 8:24 That is why I told you that you would die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.
1 John 5:10-12 Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within him; whoever does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony God has given about His Son. 11And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
If I’m wrong about anything or have misrepresented or misinterpreted anything please contact me. Video link and sources cited below:
Catholic resources used and quoted from: