Friday, April 22, 2005

Benedict XVI, Accusations, Evangelicalism and Reality Checks

I've been fascinated to see the process of the election a new Pope, and I expected Cardinal could be a likely winner. The liberal reaction to his election, from sadness and repulsion, to shock and anger, has been interesting to note. This Pope is not a happy choice for the liberals, as he is as conservative as they come on social issues (and, indeed, on doctrinal issues). No support for women priests, abortion or homosexual unions with Benedict XVI. Examples of the reaction from the press can be seen in this article at the Weekly Standard. The charges range from his being out of touch with modern society, being unbending and unloving, to being an active Nazi. In terms of being a Nazi Pope, the charge, I have to say, is below even the poorest of writers and researchers. This article shows A German take on such charges, and this article discusses the charges made by British papers. Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth, but he had no choice...every German child his age was at the time. Yet he left at the first opportunity, saying it was incompatible with his desire to enter Seminary. The baselesness of the accusations can be seen in the fact the Jerusalem Post contradicts them and is supportive of Ratzinger. Indeed, the low accusations against the new Pope stem, I would propose, from the hatred of what he stands for morally and theologically. The Post responds again to charges of anti-semitism against Benedict XVI, made because he believes the Jews should accept Jesus, by saying: "To all this we should say, 'This is news?'" It's ridiculous. What did the liberals expect from the Conclave? Did they really expect that their news coverage and liberal bias would move the Roman Catholic Church to choose a Cardinal (if one exists) that was liberal in the way they were? The need a reality check...the Catholic Church is a, wait for it, Conservative institution, that gets its morality from the Bible, not the front pages of the New York Times of LA Times. The whole commentary over the last week or so has been amazing to watch.

From my Evangelical point of view, for a few reasons I am happy that Ratzinger was elected to the Papacy. First, he takes a Biblical view of morality, from his pro-life position, to his pro-marriage position, he is on the same page as Evangelicals (well, as Evangelicals should be!) Second, he is strongly in defence of the reality of Truth with a big T, and against relativism. In his HOMILY AT THE MASS FOR THE ELECTION OF THE ROMAN PONTIFF, April 18, 2005 (see Hugh Hewitt's article for the text), Ratzinger wrote:

We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires.

Our present narcissitic culture could hardly be summarised better, and it is good to have someone so visible stand so clearly for the reality of Truth greater than ourselves. Finally, I think the fact that Ratzinger is Pope will simply go to further show the real differences between Evengelicals and Roman Catholics. No man has written more voluminously on Catholic doctrine, or so clearly and dogmatically that Ratzinger, and the differences between us are clear through his teachings. This will, for example, make things such as the Evangelicals and Catholics together enterprise of Neuhaus and Colson etc. far harder, I expect.

My troubles are simply what they would always have been, in that the Papacy is an unbiblical office, and the Roman Catholic teaching on soteriology is far removed from my understanding of the teaching of Scripture. Thus, as much as I am happy with their choice, I am more sad, as I believe that when tru Roman Catholic doctrine is embraced, it takes people away from the reality of Christ and His all-sufficient sacrifice for them, and that more subtly than most things that would draw people away from God. Yes, Pope Benedict XVI is very right on the reality of Truth with a big T, but as gifted as he is, I believe with all my heart that he has missed the most important element of that Truth, the One Who is Truth and the real meaning of His death and resurrection, and the nature of salvation...And thus I grieve.

For commentary on the new Pope from a position most close to my own, see:

Albert Mohler
Paul McCain
Tim Bayley

I would love to see Roman Catholicism and Protestantism./Evangelicalism united, but it must be on the basis of the Truth. May God make it so...


Blogger James Fletcher Baxter said...

Following the 'rending of the veil,' where in the New Testament is there validation of a continuing priesthood?

10:40 AM  

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