In today’s world it’s common to hear one thing and then before you blink find the statement has been amended. Well we men are fallible are we? A few Atheists were left irked when given a free Papal pass to Heaven by the only “infallible man” on earth the Roman Catholic Pope Francis himself and only to have a mere mortal who called himself a spokesman for the Vatican revoke their free pass the next second:
It’s sort of problematic to contradict someone who’s supposed to be the infallible voice of your religion, but that’s apparently what’s happened here. Refuting Pope Francis’ statements last week that those who “do good” will go to heaven, regardless of faith or lack thereof, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, has corrected his boss, saying those who know about the Catholic Church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.” So that’s pretty clear, we guess. There’s only one way to settle this: Thunderdome. Two high-ranking church officials enter; one high-ranking church official leaves.
We don’t need a fist fight or Thunderdome styled wrestling match (though that would be entertaining for our pagan and Atheist friends). The question on who will go to Heaven is the big question that every one of us must ask ourselves during our pilgrimage on this earth.
How will each person justify themselves before a Holy God on “that great and dreadful day”?
I am reminded of when Martin Luther began to argue that our justification before God is through faith alone, he set in motion the Protestant Reformation. Soon “disputations” and “colloquies” were being held at various places, and Luther and his followers were pressed to defend their “new” views (which were in reality simply a clear articulation of the ancient faith of the church). The Roman Catholic opponents of the Reformation attempted to show Luther that his views had not been taught in the councils of the church.
Luther and the Reformers replied that the councils did not explicitly contradict the Reformation doctrine, and more importantly, that creeds and councils were not infallible. Only the Bible, said the Reformers, is inerrant and absolutely authoritative. And how we need a reminder of that rhetoric to be sounded a little loudly in the Vatican!
Two things I would like to highlight: We call the doctrine of justification by faith (in Christ) the material principle of the Reformation because that doctrine is the “matter” or content of the reform. We call the doctrine of the supremacy of scriptural authority the formal principle of the Reformation, because that doctrine is the foundation upon which everything else is built. The doctrine of the supreme authority of the Bible does not mean that there are no secondary authorities in life, such as parents, governors, and church leaders. What it does mean is that the Bible and the Bible alone (sola scriptura) is the final and ultimate authority for our lives!