John 17:17 - (Jesus said) "Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth."
In recent years, we have heard a great deal about fake news. You know, exaggerations, satire, half-truths, and total lies which are presented as the truth so as to make someone look bad and, in so doing, make another person look good.
You would have to look far and wide to find some area of life which has not been touched by fake news, including the church.
Two weeks ago, the internet lit up after an atheist, and friend of Pope Francis, published an article resulting from a pre-Easter interview he had with the pontiff. In the article, two opinions, no, make that two supposed opinions of the pope really went viral. In summary, his holiness is supposed to have said
1. there is no hell of everlasting fire;
2. the souls of unbelievers are not punished in the afterlife; they just disappear.
Now, for unbelievers that news is pretty good. They can do what they want and believe what they want and there is no punishment for them. For Christians the news is pretty bad. It's bad because it would appear the present pope neither accepts many plain passages of Scripture nor does he adhere to the doctrines of his own church.
That would be pretty depressing if it were true.
As for me, I believe the whole story falls into the category of fake news. While it is true that the present pontiff has said, and holds to some beliefs which are non-traditional, he seldom has disregarded 2,000 years of church history.
It is also true that the Vatican has publicly said the views expressed in the article are not held by the pope nor do they accurately express what was said in the interview.
Lastly, it should be noted that Eugenio Scalfari, the author of the article, does not use a tape recorder, nor does he take notes in his interviews. In short, he has to reconstruct his articles from what he heard, or thinks he heard. And that, my friends, is a dangerous thing to do.
Of course, in the long term, it really doesn't make much difference what Pope Francis or Joel Osteen or Ken Klaus believes and teaches. For anyone to build their faith upon sinful humans is a dangerous thing to do.
Far better for us to follow the Reformation principle of "sola scriptura."
Our faith in Jesus is based on the divine Word as inspired by the Holy Spirit. Only He can be counted on as being perfect, and only His verbally inspired authors can be trusted to give us the truth we need for salvation.
The Savior said it better than I ever could when He said, "Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, there are many and varied human opinions which tell people what they are to believe if they are to be saved. Grant that I may listen to the words of Scripture which point to the Savior as the One who has done all which was necessary for salvation. This I ask in the Savior's Name. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by the Veronica Neffinger of Christian Headlines on March 29, 2018. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: https://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/vatican-denies-pope-francis-said-hell-doesn-t-exist.html
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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