Did Pope Francis Say Atheists Go to Heaven? Not Exactly | John Ankerberg Show

Did Pope Francis Say Atheists Go to Heaven? Not Exactly

By: The John Ankerberg Show
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By: ATRI Staff; ©2013
The conciliatory words spoken by Pope Francis that Catholics and atheists can be “precious allies…to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation” have been taken by many to mean he is teaching everyone—even atheists—will go to heaven. Is this what Pope Francis meant?


The conciliatory words spoken by Pope Francis that Catholics and atheists can be “precious allies…to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation” (http://www.policymic.com/articles/44975/pope-francis-i-just-kidding-atheists-no-heaven-for-you) have been taken by many to mean he is teaching everyone—even atheists—will go to heaven. Is this what Pope Francis meant?

Not exactly. Due to a firestorm of social media chatter, the Vatican released a statement noting just the opposite. Rev. Thomas Rosica clarified with quotes from the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that reaffirmed the traditional Roman Catholic view that 1) “they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her,” as well as the idea that, 2) “According to this document those who have not yet received the gospel and this without any fault of their own are given the possibility of eternal salvation…God ‘in the unknown ways’ of his grace can give the faith without which there is no salvation even to those who have not yet heard the preaching of the gospel.” (http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/explanatory-note-on-the-meaning-of-salvation-in-francis-daily-homily-of-may-22)

While the initial statement is correct that not all people will go to heaven according to the Bible, there are contradictions between the Bible’s teachings in both of these responses from this Catholic document. In the first statement, Catholic doctrine affirms salvation is found only in the Church (uppercase C, meaning the Roman Catholic Church) and that salvation can be lost (a doctrine appearing at odds with Romans 8 and other Scriptures, though held by some denominations of Protestants).

In the second statement, Roman Catholic doctrine affirms the possibility that some people receive salvation apart from Christ. In this category it includes those who have never heard the Gospel message yet God chooses to save. However, Scripture contradicts this idea in Romans 10:14-17 that teaches:

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

So how should Bible-believing Christians understand this issue as presented by Roman Catholic teachings? First, it is true that not all people will be saved and spend eternity with God (Though God desires that all people would be saved according to 1 Timothy 2:4). Second, salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), not by being affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. This erroneous view lies at the heart of the Catholic-Protestant divide regarding the definition of salvation. Third, it is an urgent imperative to take the Gospel message to all people (Matthew 28:18-20), because salvation is found in no one else (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Though it may seem unfair or harsh that someone would not hear the Gospel and go to hell as a result, Scripture is clear that God loves all people (John 3:16) and that He has made Himself evident to all who would believe (Roman 1:19-20).

Pope Francis does not believe all people or all atheists will go to heaven, as some media have reported, but the traditional Catholic views regarding salvation continue to stand at odds with biblical teaching.

For more information on this topic, see the series [Catholics and Protestants Now Agree?”] or the book [The Facts on Roman Catholicism].

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The John Ankerberg Show

The John Ankerberg Show

Founder and president of The John Ankerberg Show, the most-watched Christian worldview show in America.
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LorettaTeresamayhewDaniel Joseph AngeliniDongus EddyJeff Kurtz Recent comment authors
Teresamayhew
Teresamayhew

Someone’s aasked if anyone can go to heaven why bother even being catholic why bother doing good deeds and helping fellow man ,,,,only a. Catholic would ask this stupid question. Surely only an atheist could answer this, See if you can possibly answer this all by yourself

Daniel Joseph Angelini
Daniel Joseph Angelini

Scripture teaches/admonishes us not to judge. Only God can create life. Therefore, all of humanity shares in the family of God, as God’s children, with the free will to reject or accept Him. Fortunately for us, there is no time limit to profess our faith in Jesus (refer to the thief on the cross) AND to enjoy eternal life with HIM (refer to the laborers called to work at different times in the day).

Dongus Eddy
Dongus Eddy

The only way to salvation and spending eternity in the presence of God is through faith in and acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s (only) mediator and savior. That is what Christ said as recorded in the Scriptures. It also says our good works do not work our salvation.

Loretta
Loretta

James tells us faith without works is dead.

Jeff Kurtz
Jeff Kurtz

Can an article be more disingenuous than the one authored by John Ankerberg? I don’t think so. The Pope’s message was clear. Yet the “Vatican” responds with a conciliatory statement in response to a firestorm of dissent from people who claim to be “Christian”. Our Progressive Pope is the best thing that has happened to humanity. The dissenters and Ankerberg’s righteous cause that cares only about their own agendas and nothing about the welfare of humanity at large, not so much.

Francis
Francis

If atheists do not that God exist, also they will not believe that heaven exist. If there’s no God, then there is no heaven. Atheists don’t believe in afterlife, then what’s the point of the pope statement, inconsistent.

Lucia Delia
Lucia Delia

Blah blah blah. So many words. Pope Francis said that atheists can go to heaven just as easily as you. Atheists are kind and loving and maybe more than you. Believers do good because they fear going to hell. Atheists do good because it comes natural to them.

Nope
Nope

Believers are taught that nothing good they do can get them into heaven, so that’s patently false. And the most selfish, malicious people I’ve known in my life were all atheists, so your comment is even further false.

David M
David M

Not to be disrespectful. But you totally avoided answering the question of what the Pope DID say. And went off on tangents.

Did he say Atheist go to Heaven and are bless with God’s presence? Something they don’t believe in!

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