The Pope on salvation by works

Pope_Francis_Korea_Haemi_Castle_19_(cropped)Catholics, Protestants often say, believe in salvation by good works.  This engenders the reply from thoughtful Catholics, no we don’t!  You have to have grace.  In fact, we even believe in justification by faith, just like you Lutherans do, as proven by the accord we signed with liberal Lutherans.  Since there is now no real disagreement, there is no need for the Reformation divisions.  You can come back to Rome and enjoy being under Pope Francis.

But Pope Francis keeps preaching that salvation is, in fact, by good works.  He is reported to have said recently that it’s better to be an atheist than a bad Christian.  Now this is not exactly what he said, according to ChurchPop; in context he was referring to Christians living a “double life” of sin and piety, which creates a “scandal” that makes outsiders think it would be better to be an atheist.  But read his sermon yourself to get a sense of where he stands on the importance of good works for salvation.  Note how he warns against “excessive confidence” in Christ’s forgiveness.

Earlier the Pope has said that on the last day the only issue will be “what we did.”  Lots of Christians won’t make it.  But atheists will, if they do good.  Here is what the Pope said of atheists:  “‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

So those who do not believe but do good works will meet with the Christians who do good works in Heaven.  While Christians who believe but are sinful will not.

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After School Satan Clubs 

Satanists are planning “After School Satan Clubs” for elementary children. Satanists are targeting school districts that allow for after school Christian activities, taking advantage of religious liberty rulings to promote their anti-religion.

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Atheists who believe in God & believers who don’t

According to recent studies, 21% of atheists believe in God.  10% of them pray.  A majority of atheists say that religion is somewhat or very important in their lives.  This is slightly more than the larger category of the “nones,” those who say they have no particular religious identity, nearly half of whom say that religion is important to them.

Then again, those who do claim a religious identity do not necessarily have religious beliefs.  Eight times as many religiously affiliated people doubt the existence of God than there are atheists and agnostics.

Douglas Laycock brings out these findings in his analysis of the recent Pew study of American religion and the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), excerpted after the jump. [Read more…]

What Christians and atheists have in common

In the ancient Greco-Roman persecutions, Christians were put to death on the grounds of atheism; that is, they did not believe in the  gods.  They believed in one God, but they rejected the pantheon of all other religions.  Catholic journalist John L. Allen discusses some similarities between Christians and atheists today, particularly in a global context.   Islamic radicals, he says, have two major targets:  Christians and atheists.  Also, worldwide, Christians join with atheists in promoting secular governments as opposed to theocracies. [Read more…]

Half of atheists’ children fall away into belief

Christians often worry about their children falling away from the church.  Atheists have the same problem.  According to the Pew research, half of the children raised by atheists end up as believers.

A column on this phenomenon, excerpted and linked after the jump, includes another interesting observation:  “It’s mostly interpersonal relationships that sway beliefs.” [Read more…]

Being Christian without believing in God

In Judaism, it’s fairly common to hear, “I’m an atheist, but I’m culturally Jewish.”  So why can’t a person be an atheist but culturally Christian?

It turns out that some people like going to church–singing hymns, performing rituals, being part of a community, getting morally inspired–but they have trouble with the God part.  An op-ed by Alana Massey calls for churches to make a space for unbelievers who nevertheless want to be “cultural Christians.” [Read more…]