Monday, September 14, 2015

The Gospel Is The Heart Of The Question

Recently Jorge Bergoglio, aka "The Pope", made headlines for announcing that he would permit Roman "priests" to forgive the sin of abortion. The entire thing is a counter-Gospel but it met with the approval of the world who saw it as a move in their direction, a first step toward acceptance of abortion on demand. It was nothing of the sort but it caused a ruckus of adoration from the adoring secular media. The reason this is of concern is that the entire thing makes clear the huge difference between the Roman notion of sin and forgiveness versus what the Bible teaches. Russell Moore, who has been on occasion a touch too cozy with Rome in my opinion, wrote a powerful piece today that sets the record straight for those who think that being anti-abortion is sufficient to make on not an unequal partner in the Gospel yoke. From Where Pope Francis Is Right–and Wrong–On Abortion and Mercy:
That said, the Pope’s pronouncement reminds those of us who are convictional Protestants of what we are, in fact, “protesting” against after these 500 years. In Roman Catholic theology, the church is the dispensary of the grace of God through its sacraments and rites. This is at the heart of Martin Luther’s theses against the medieval church for the selling of indulgences, which were also from the pronouncement of the Pope and also for the forgiveness of sin. The very conversation brings up just about every fracture between Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants—from the papacy to the doctrine of the church to, most fundamentally, the question that prompted Mr. Luther’s protest in the first place: “What shall I do with my guilt?” 
In an evangelical doctrine of the church, apostolic authority adheres not in a succession of bishops but in the ongoing witness of the apostolic writings—the Bible. The Apostle Paul’s authority, for instance, did not come from the other apostles but from his encounter with Christ Jesus and from the content of his gospel (Gal. 1:11-2:10). Forgiveness comes not from a system of rites and clergy but from a personal encounter, by faith, with the content of the gospel of the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. The sinner who looks to Christ, as offered in his atonement for sin, is forgiven, full stop (Jn. 3:14-17). The entire point of Paul’s letters to the Romans and to the Galatians is that the sacrifice of Christ is received by the sinner through faith. The entire point of the epistle to the Hebrews is that Christ Jesus now serves as high priest, standing and interceding before God with his own blood, for any sinner who comes to him by faith. The church bears witness to this gospel and recognizes those who are defined by it through baptism and the discipline of the church, but the church stands under the gospel, not as the dispensary of it. The Spirit blows where he wills.
That is good stuff. You should read the whole article, I think it generally hits the right tone and is more gracious than I tend to be. Grace is not something that man gets to turn on and off like a water spigot. Grace proceeds from the cross and is offered directly and without any strings attached via the proclamation of the Gospel and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. There is no greater divider between Rome and Christianity than how each views grace and forgiveness.

To quote Dr. Moore a final time: The greatest antidote to an abortion culture is the gospel.

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