For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
I Corinthians 1:18
There's a danger when the secular media feels the need to interpret statements of religious leaders.
There's even more danger when the evangelical community reacts to those interpretations without finding out what was really said.
A few weeks ago the media was proclaiming that the Pope was relaxing church standards and Biblical teaching with regard to homosexuality when what the Pople was really saying was everyone should be treated with love and respect.
The Pope wrote in a letter to an Italian newspaper regarding antheists and agnostics:
The question for those who do not believe in God is to follow their own conscience. Sin, even for a non-believer, is when one goes against one's conscience. To listen and to follow your conscience means that you understand the difference between good and evil.
To those who don't understand Scripture or the teaching of the Catholic church these sounds like universalism which says that all humans will eventually be restored to a relationship with God in Heaven.
Pope Francis didn't say that.
The decision to live a life of faith is just that. A decision. That means you must agree with the teachings of Scripture and the Church. But to those who don't believe or more to the point those who have never had the opportunity to hear the Gospel, there is conscience. And while those individuals may remain ignorant of the Gospel the conscience will lead to the truth, but not necessarily to salvation.
Dr. Tim Stanley writes in The Telegraph:
What if someone's conscience tells them that God doesn't exist and the Pope is a silly man in white peddling antiquated nonsense? Well, we would say that a truly tested conscience will always conclude that the Church offers salvation. But if an individual continues to assert the opposite then they are best advised to be honest about their feelings. One of the greatest sins in the world is to participate in the Church and not really believe in its teachings. That's a sure way to get to Hell.
It is unfortunate that many Christians, particularly those in the evangelical community have knee jerk reaction to the comments of the Pope rather that considering what he said.
But perhaps more unfortunate is that the media will latch onto a statement such as this and misinterpret it, but totally ignore when the Pope says “Human life must always be defended from its beginning in the womb and must be recognised as a gift of God that guarantees the future of humanity.” [Life News]