A Christianity Today article entitled, “From Antichrist to Brother in Christ: How Protestant Pastors View the Pope,” (September 25, 2015) reveals a large percentage of Protestant pastors who no longer protest against the Roman Catholics. A more positive view of Romanism is prevailing among protestants and even among more conservative evangelicals. It is startling to see these numbers as reported from a survey done by the Nashville-based LifeWay Research.
The survey reports that 80% of mainline Protestant pastors believe the pope is a true Christian. 58% of evangelical pastors agree he is a true Christian. This is an average of 63% who say the pope is a true brother in Christ. Another 19% of evangelicals are not sure he is a believer. Only 23% say he is not a Christian. This means that nearly 80% of evangelical pastors do not take a stand that a man who calls himself the “Holy Father” of all Christians and the very substitute of Christ on earth, is not a believer.
In a day where we constantly hear how so many evangelical churches are “Gospel-centered” it seems that many leaders in mainline protestant as well as evangelical churches are unclear what the Gospel is. Although it is clear that the Roman Catholic system preaches another Gospel based on good works drawn from the church itself, many pastors say that the man who takes the term Vicar of Christ is in fact a true Christian. This highlights the deep confusion mainline protestants and many evangelicals have regarding the true grace of Jesus Christ found in His death, burial and resurrection.
These figures demonstrate that the long going ecumenical meetings of evangelicals and Catholics together made popular by Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, and others have had a powerful effect to bring about increasing unity between Protestants and Catholics. More recently, evangelical leader Rick Warren of the Southern Baptist Convention has called on non-Catholic Christians to join with Jorge Bergoglio (Pope Francis) and the Catholic Church in pursuit of their common goals. He has said, “We have more in common than what divides us.” Warren also participated in a Vatican Conference along with Russell Moore who is president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. In September, 2015, Warren continued his support of Rome when he gave the keynote message at the Catholic conference on families the day before Mr. Bergoglio arrived in the city.
Tim Keller, of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, essentially savaged fundamental Bible believers who experience a new birth and then proceeded to endorse many Roman Catholics in his best seller, Reason for God. Keller writes that the “biggest deterrent to Christianity” are those who “become ‘born again’ and seem to have gone off the deep end.” He continues through this section of Reason for God by pointing to monks, priests, and Archbishops as reflecting “true Christianity.” He also cites the Roman Catholic church as the world’s largest church and stands on their teachings to buttress his theistic evolutionary views. For Keller, it is better to endorse the Roman Catholic system than become a new creature in Christ, be born again, and demonstrate dramatic change by the power of God’s Word and Holy Spirit.
The statistics cited above also indicate that Protestants and evangelicals are being swayed by Mr. Jorge Bergoglio’s world-wide popularity.
It is good for us to remember that Protestants were thus named for their protest against the Roman Catholic system. Great leaders of the past like Martin Luther, John and Charles Wesley, Charles Spurgeon and many in the Puritan movement saw the pope as an antichrist and the harlot revealed in Revelation 17. Were they wrong? This author does not think so and remains convinced that they were right. The Roman system, led by the Pontifex Maximus, a title taken by Constantine the Great, is well described by the Mother of Harlots in Revelation 17.
It is also vital to realize that Mr. Bergoglio comes out of the Jesuit order of Romanism. This order was begun by Francis Loyola in 1541 to bring back Catholics who left the church as a result of the Protestant Reformation. In typical Jesuit fashion, Mr. Bergoglio is seeking to bring the religions of the world (including Protestants and evangelicals) back into the Roman Catholic system. In his first-ever video message on prayer, January 6, 2016, Bergoglio stressed interfaith unity and featured representatives of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. As each person proclaimed their respective belief in God, Jesus Christ, Allah, or Buddha, Mr. Bergoglio affirmed that these individuals are all equally children of God, regardless of their religious profession. This underscores the deception of Rome and their false gospel.
In this day of tolerance and Biblical illiteracy many will find our position unattractive, even deeply disturbing. Those who do not understand the foundational truth that salvation is only through Jesus Christ and His Gospel will wonder why we can’t all just “get along.” It is imperative, however, as this world heads toward a one world government and an apostate counterfeit church called Mystery Babylon (Revelation 17:5) directed by the Antichrist himself, that we remain separated to the true Gospel. The clear admonition from Revelation 18:4 lives, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
Matt Recker is the pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in New York City.