- After being asked by a student about people of other faiths, the pope said, “We are all the same, all children of God.
- "If someone says they are a disciple of Jesus and comes to you with proselytism [sharing his faith or attempting to convert], they are not a disciple of Jesus.”
- “In front of an unbeliever, the last thing I have to do is try to convince him. Never. The last thing I have to do is speak. I have to live consistent with my faith. And it will be my testimony to awaken the curiosity of the other who says: ‘But why do you do this?’ And yes, I can speak then.”
- “Never, never bring the gospel by proselytizing.”
- “Proselytism is not done, the church does not grow by proselytism.”
- “We are not in the time of the Crusades.”
- He stated that football teams and political parties proselytize, but there is no proselytizing with the faith.
Thursday, January 16, 2020
When I was a kid, we watched many “cowboy and Indian” television shows. One of the phrases that the Indians would sometimes use was, “White man speak with forked tongue.” They would say this when someone would speak out of both sides of his mouth, i.e., when he would say one thing and then say something that contradicts what he first said.
Recently, Pope Francis has done exactly this when speaking to two different groups. On November 5, 2019, an article from Catholic News Service, states that the pope recently said, “The Catholic Church must follow Jesus’ command to preach the gospel to every person, otherwise it will not fulfill its mission of bearing witness to Christ.”
He also said in that article, “Either she [the Church] evangelizes or she is not (the) Church.” And again, “…to evangelize means to deliver Christ’s teachings ‘in simple and precise words like the apostles did.’” See here:
Ok, assuming that the Catholic Church did evangelize with the true gospel, the pope’s comments sound pretty good, but a month later in December, 2019, at Pilo Albertell high school in Rome, Pope Francis had a totally different message for the students there. Here are a couple of articles that cover the pope’s statements:
These are some of his comments:
So, to sum up his message to these high school students, a believer should never approach anyone to share his faith (proselytize) to win him over to the truth. He must first live out his faith in front of that person for an undetermined amount of time, and wait until the person comes up to him and asks him about his beliefs. Then (and only then) should he share the truth with him. Anyone who does share his faith before he is approached is NOT a disciple of Jesus Christ. Never try to convince anyone of the truth of Jesus Christ by speaking first. One must awaken their curiosity first.
Wow! This is so anti-biblical, it is unbelievable. Neither Jesus nor any of His apostles evangelized this way. The early church certainly lived out the gospel before others, but they didn’t wait until someone questioned them before verbally sharing the gospel with them.
God’s Commandment to the Church
Jesus gave us the “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:18-20:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
I would think that Jesus’ parting words to mankind were pretty important, but He says nothing whatsoever about waiting for people to approach you first. On the contrary, there is a sense of urgency in His words.
Peter, the supposed “first pope,” boldly proclaimed the gospel to a large and mixed crowd (Acts 2:14-40). But notice that Peter approached THEM with the truth – the truth that they were sinners who cooperated in the death of Jesus, the Messiah – and after this, the crowds asked Peter what they should do (v. 37). He then continues to share how they could get saved. But he did not wait around for them to approach him first. And there are many other cases in Scripture that refute the pope’s method of witnessing (e.g., Matthew 4:17, 23; John 4:7-26; Acts 8:4-5, 26-35; 13:4-5;14:1; 18:24-28, etc.).
If we really believe that many are going to Hell (Matthew 7:13), how can we delay? If you have the message of eternal life, shouldn’t you be quick to share it, both passionately and often?
Yes, as the pope suggests, we should be so faithful and obedient to live out the gospel message that unbelievers would take notice and approach us to ask about the gospel. But we dare not remain silent until that day comes!
And today, there should be an even greater urgency to verbally and clearly share the gospel, seeing that the time is short before Jesus’ return (Matthew 24; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).
The world would never have been turned upside down by Christianity if the apostles had taken the pope’s advice.
Defining the Term
But in an attempt to defend the pope’s comments, some Catholics have said the issue has to do with the pope’s use of the term, “proselytize,” and that he uses the word to mean a forced conversion. Thus, the reference to “we are not in the times of the Crusades” (when forced conversions were common).
But that doesn’t seem to be a good argument. According to the Meriam-Webster dictionary, “proselytize” means:
“To induce someone to convert to one’s faith; to recruit someone to join one’s party, institution, or cause.”
Cambridge English Dictionary:
“To try to persuade someone to change his or her religious beliefs, political party, etc., to your own.”
“To convert or attempt to convert as a proselyte; recruit.”
There is no hint of a forced conversion in these definitions. Even more authoritative, the New Testament uses the word “proselyte” four times, and it simply refers to one who is the result of proselytizing… a convert. Nowhere in the New Testament are proselytes shown to be forced converts. (Matthew 23:15, Acts 2:10, 6:5, and 13:43)
I just want to remind the reader that the pope had said above that football teams and political parties “proselytize,” and he also said that this shouldn’t happen in the church. Does he mean that football teams and political parties FORCE their members to join, under threat of penalty or death? This is highly unlikely, but to be consistent, he would have to say this. But I doubt seriously that political parties and football teams use this method to obtain members.
Furthermore, since the word “proselyte” is a biblical term, it should be agreed upon by all who follow Christ. The biblical concept of “proselyte / proselytism” cannot properly mean one thing in English and something else in Italian, or Russian, or Japanese. For Christians, our understanding of it should always line up with the biblical use of it, since the Bible is inspired. It doesn’t matter how the Vatican defines the term, nor the World Council of Churches, nor any individual church. The God-breathed Scriptures are greater than all of these (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The pope’s “evangelizing” method is neither practical nor biblical. Ironically, we should actually welcome the pope’s desire to NOT share his Catholic gospel, since this false, works-based gospel has done enough spiritual damage already. But for true believers, it is imperative to share the biblical gospel message as often and as fervently as possible, using any good (and biblical) means to open doors, and to take advantage of every opportunity – not wait for the lost to approach us.
We should all agree that our witnessing should not involve force, deception, threats, manipulation, etc. Anyone who does that is not acting as a Christian, just as the Catholic Church was not acting Christ-like in the Crusades. But the pope is now going to the other extreme.
I believe that what is happening is that, in the Catholic Church’s ongoing quest to promote the ecumenical movement, Pope Francis is playing both sides. On the one hand, to his own people, he wants to appear biblical by insisting that the gospel is preached (as we saw in the very first article linked above), but on the other hand, he wants to appear friendly and willing to cooperate with, and accept, all other religious groups. But this is very dangerous. There is such a thing as spiritual unity, but only unity in the TRUTH is biblical.
Remember at the beginning of this article when the pope was asked about people of other faiths, and he said that “We are all the same, all children of God”? This is an extremely irresponsible and false claim. We are all created by God, but we are certainly not all His children (Matthew 13:38; John 8:44; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:10). It seems that no one wants to say it, but the truth is that all non-Christians (whether atheist, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, etc.) need to be evangelized. This is the greatest love we can show them.
I believe that most people in Christianity understand the terms “proselytize,” “evangelize,” and “convert” to be synonyms. According to the dictionary and the Bible, they all mean basically the same thing. And since the pope’s message to these high schoolers will be made known to the whole world, don’t you think that there will be very much confusion because of it? The evidence shows that there is indeed. Did he believe that everyone would automatically think that “proselytize” means to “force” a conversion? This pope is very controversial and has a knack for not being very clear on some key spiritual issues. It almost appears that he is doing this on purpose.
So, my Catholic friends, what is it that the pope is asking you to do? Does he want you to “follow Jesus’ command to preach the gospel to every creature”? Or does he want you to just live the Christian life while waiting to “awaken the curiosity” of others until they question you about your faith?
How can Pope Francis be trusted if he can’t be consistent with what he said just a month before on a key spiritual issue? This man is indeed highly intelligent, but he speaks with a forked tongue.