Pope Francis I has been chosen by the Cardinals as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
Albert Mohler has provided an outstanding digested analysis of the event in today’s podcast of THE BRIEFING. He not only provides historical backdrop and incisive cultural critique. He also interacts with Gary Bauer’s USA Today article “Why Evangelicals Should Care About the New Pope.”
Doctrinal differences remain, of course, but the Catholic-evangelical alliance has reshaped American politics. In many cases, Catholics have provided the intellectual framework and vocabulary to discuss Christianity’s vital role in our democracy, while Protestants have contributed fervor and youth.
We do not agree on every issue. But on the essential ones — those both faiths consider “non-negotiables” — Catholics and evangelicals are allied.
We both champion the idea — the truth — that there are reliable standards of right and wrong to which all institutions, including government, must adhere. We stand together in proclaiming that all human life has equal dignity and worth. And we stand together in defending the traditional and time-honored conception of marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
Here, Mohler passionately begs to differ with Bauer.
In today’s podcast of THE BRIEFING, Mohler wisely responds:
In those particular sentences, Gary Bauer provides some very honest and correct moral analysis with a fairly disastrous theological analysis. For instance, in the sentence in which he says:
“We do not on every issue”, and then followed it with the next sentence, “But on the essential ones — those both faiths consider ‘non-negotiables’ — Catholics and evangelicals are allied.”
That is a statement that is inherently dangerous and downright wrong, because both Catholics and evangelicals would classify as essential doctrines in which we are in absolute disagreement. First and foremost, evangelicals must affirm that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is an essential because that is the very definition of the gospel itself.
There is nothing that is more core, central, and essential than the gospel.
The Reformers were absolutely right in saying that any understanding of justification — even the understanding that justification by faith and something else, is another gospel, and is anathema to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The only way of understanding the gospel by grace alone, through faith alone, is defining justification as the Scripture defines it, and that is justification by faith alone.
Later, Mohler reveals:
Evangelicals looking at the papacy itself must recognize what isn’t broadcast to the world with all the adulation and celebrity status that accompanied the press coverage. For instance, the Roman Catholic Church officially teaches that the pope has the power to dispense merits, to forgive sin, to extend indulgences. When you consider that, you realize just how unbiblical this office is.
Mohler is absolutely right. Let’s not through pragmatism or naivete be duped into belittling the core of our faith which is the biblical gospel by which men must be saved.
I recommend listening to the entirety of Dr. Mohler’s podcast analysis, the first 9 minutes and 30 seconds of today’s THE BRIEFING: