Is it problematic when the most visible Christian in the world says hell may not exist? Furthermore, what if he says it during the very week when the religion he's supposed to represent is celebrating the savior who came to rescue us from gates of hell?
Asking for a friend.
In case you haven’t yet figured it out, we are talking about Pope Francis, who is either guilty of dreadful messaging or something much worse.
Yes, I know that excuses were quickly offered on behalf of the pope, including that he was the victim yet again of his ongoing relationship with a 93-year-old atheist/reporter who supposedly misquoted Francis’ actual take on hell. Except this isn't Francis' first rodeo. For years now, there have been claims that a pope thought to be modern and media-savvy was taken out of context.
But as Catholic thinker and commentator Philip Lawler said to me this week on CRTV, isn't it funny how these alleged Francis misquotes all seem to go in the same direction — toward progressivism? Lawler is so concerned that Pope Francis isn't so much misquoted as he is teaching error that he wrote the new book “Lost Shepherd: How Pope Francis is Misleading His Flock.”
There is simply no room for such folly. And there never has been. Souls are at stake. But you wouldn't know that if you watched the trailer for an upcoming film about Pope Francis, which he approves of and appears in. Noticeably absent from the trailer is any reference to Christ, or the need for repentance and redemption. But there are several progressive dog whistles, like the pope choosing to be transported in a politically correct car.
He isn’t alone, though. Lest anyone insist that we Protestant tribes are off the hook on that front, I give you a just-released study by Barna Group, which specializes in research pertaining to faith and culture (particularly among evangelicals). Barna found that only 51 percent of churchgoers had even heard the Great Commission — otherwise known as the church's marching orders, specifically given by Christ himself in Matthew 28. So, you know, no big thing.
No, this isn’t simply a legalistic plea for worshipers to bone up on their Bible trivia. It goes way deeper than that. For even if they had heard of the term, only 17 percent of the study’s respondents actually knew it applied to Matthew 28 and why. Which brings us to this awful, but unavoidable, conclusion — it's quite likely the one in five people claiming to be Christians in America know what that really means.
No revival of any culture, including our own, is even remotely possible under such spiritually complacent circumstances. We have much work to do. The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few.