By Shane Kastler
Pope Francis recently made headlines by suggesting Donald Trump isn't really a Christian. While the intent of this article isn't to examine the spiritual life of Trump, (which is undoubtedly lacking in fruit); it is to question the Pope's knowledge of what a true Christian is and point out the fact that his criteria for declaring persons or acts to be “un-Christian” has no basis in the Bible or in common sense.
The primary issue the Pope seems to take umbrage with is Trump's desire to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and stem the flow of immigrants sneaking into the Nation unlawfully. The merits of Trump's plan might be debated. But for the Pope to elevate an argument over a wall to a level of “Christian vs. Non-Christian” is erroneous and somewhat strange. For both Christians and Non-Christians alike desire security in their life. I have “walls” on my house not only to protect my family from the weather, but to protect from possible invaders as well. Some of us even employ locks on our doors and guns in our bedrooms also. In fact, rumor has it that the Pope himself has a security detail, a bullet proof car, and walls surrounding his palatial estate, otherwise known as the Vatican. It seems the Pope's pious proclamations about the depravity of any who would “build a wall” have turned around and bit him in the rear. Given the fact that “walls” are such a massive part of his own life.
Trump responded by saying that no one has a right to question someone else's faith. Trump is wrong, for the Bible implores us to examine the “spiritual fruit” of others who would claim Christianity. But the Pope is also wrong to question someone's faith based on their “wall-ology.” The bitter irony of it all is that you wouldn't necessarily expect a real estate mogul to know spiritual truth. You might expect it from a “church” leader. But Francis doesn't have a clue. He pushes a damnable salvation of meritocracy that both Jesus and his apostles railed AGAINST. And he pushes for a dictatorial government based on socialism that steals from one man and hands it to another; while Jesus warned his disciples to beware of those in power “for they will hand you over to courts.” (Matthew 10:17) Francis would seem to be much more chummy with government dictators like Pilate and Herod, while Jesus refused to defend himself and was executed by these worldly tyrants. In short, the Pope has no clue about a faith that he claims to be the highest earthly authority of. Many of us recognize his illegitimate claims. Hopefully, all of us will in the future.
Furthermore, speaking as a Protestant, I would ask how would the Pope know what is defined as a “true Christian?” Being in a dangerous position of unlimited power within Catholicism, the Pope is free to pronounce whatever he wishes. The bubble he lives in extends well beyond the “bubble-mobile” he rides in. Many of his stated opinions are non-sensical drivel based on nothing more than his personal political ideology. For this is a very political Pope who has ventured away from theological and ecclesiastical areas to frequently lecture the world on economics, immigration, and government welfare. While he certainly has a right to state his opinion, I would warn the thinking people of the world to examine carefully what he says, knowing that he too has an agenda to push. While some Catholics might elevate him to a near God-like status, the rest of the world can see his obvious warts. We can see Trump's warts as well. And if we're really paying attention we can see the warts of Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Kasich, Bush, Clinton, and Sanders too. Everyone has their flaws, including politicians and popes. But sadly it is often those who possess the most power who also display the greatest hypocrisies. They smile for the cameras, while slipping the knife in your back. They question someone else's faith, while they themselves are on the take. They crave power, then misuse if for their own ends. Politicians do it all the time. So do popes. And God help us all when you have someone mixing politics and “popery” the way Francis does!
The historical corruption within the papacy and the priesthood should be enough to give pause before accepting dogma from a politically motivated “vicar.” The 16th century Protestant Reformation ignited because men such as Martin Luther and John Calvin rejected Catholicism's insistence that people could buy their way into Heaven by paying indulgences to the church. Luther referred to the Pope as the “Antichrist” and many followed his lead. For the Pope of Luther's day was a money-grubbing charlatan who selfishly fleeced the people to line his own pockets. The current Pope shows similar traits.
In conclusion, I would simply encourage people to base their judgments of who is and isn't a true Christian on things other than papal pronouncements. Search the Scriptures, especially the New Testament ones, and it will become blatantly obvious how the Lord describes the faithful. And how he describes the unfaithful. It will also become obvious that the Pope hasn't a clue himself on how to differentiate between the two groups.
Many things must be considered when voting in an election. And people are free to use whatever criteria they wish to. But be careful about who you take counsel from. It's been said that those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. This is also true of those who live behind fifty foot Vatican walls.
Shane Kastler is Pastor at the Heritage Baptist Church, Lake Charles, LA and Co-Host; "Church & State" KELB Radio, 100.5 FM. He blogs at The Narrow Road.