Tag Archives: pope francis

Lead Us Not Into Temptation??

 

Vasili Surikov. The Temptation of Christ. 1872

This summer, my church is doing a “Summer Prayer Challenge,” where we are encouraged to pray the Lord’s Prayer, on a daily basis.

However, I can not keep out of my head the recent decision, some months ago, by Pope Francis to change part of the Lord’s Prayer. For most English-speakers, the controversial phrasing follows the 16th century Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s translation, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

The current Pontiff rejects this translation, as it gives the wrong idea, as “it speaks of a God who induces temptation.” Francis contends that God is not pushing me into temptation, to see if I fall, or not.

Back in Thomas Cranmer’s day, King Henry VIII interestingly shared the same view as today’s Pope. Henry probably would approve of the new English version of the prayer from Roman Catholics, “Do not let us fall into temptation,” instead of “Lead us not into temptation.

Francis is not completely without justification for being troubled by the traditional reading. He has in the back of his mind 1 Corinthians 10:13 and James 1:13.

But the Pope’s critics have a strong case to make against him, as the new reading flies against a more strict translation of the original Greek text. The controversy sheds some light on why it is so important to read the Bible more contextually. Daniel Wallace, one of my favorite Bible scholars, who is affiliated with Dallas Theological Seminary, explains why.

Wallace argues that the traditional reading of Matthew 6:13, “lead us not into temptation,” is contextually tied to Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, just a few chapters prior. In Matthew 4:1, we read that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

Do you see the connection between Jesus’ prayer that his disciples not be “led” into temptation, and Jesus’ own experience in the wilderness, where he was “led” by the Spirit, to be tempted by the devil?

Perhaps we can just sum up Pope Francis’ decision to try promote the right doctrine, just in the wrong verse…. Well, not exactly the right doctrine, as critics say the change impinges upon God’s sovereignty.

Wallace explains: Leading into temptation is not the same as tempting. God the Holy Spirit led Jesus into temptation, but he did not tempt him. God tests, but Satan tempts.

The new translation decision eliminates the ambiguity and even the apparent absurdity of the text, which makes it easier for some Christians, and inquisitive non-believers, to digest. But in doing so, we miss a very important connection between how we are to think about God’s sovereign rule, and the relationship between the temptation of the Lord, and our temptation to sin, that we experience on a daily basis.

Food for thought.


Vatican II, Embracement, and Pope Francis: Roman Catholicism Today

Martin Luther, a “heretic” or “a witness to the Gospel?” How has the Roman Catholic communion changed in 500 years? (credit: Finland stamp from 1967, from a ETWN web page)

I need some help from my Roman Catholic friends. It is difficult to figure out exactly what is going on in Rome today.

An Italian evangelical leader, Leonardo De Chirico, gave a very thoughtful 30-minute message at a recent Ligonier Conference, in this year of remembering the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. In the video below, Chirico argues that in order to understand Roman Catholicism today, we need to have in mind three concepts/names:

  • Vatican II: The 16th century Council of Trent codified for hundreds of years what has been traditionally understood to be Roman Catholicism, the high water mark for the Catholic Counter-Reformation, a formulation of doctrine that sought to refute many of the reforms of Martin Luther and other Protestants. The next major council, Vatican I, set much of Roman Catholicism against the changing modern world of the 19th century, affirming the work of the Council of Trent, and reinforcing traditional boundaries. But the early 1960s, Vatican II council changed all of that. However, Vatican II did so, not by altering the doctrine of the church, but rather, by changing the tone and attitudes towards those outside of the Roman communion.
  • Embracement: Vatican II set the wheels in motion, whereby this change of tone and attitude has characterized the trajectory of the Roman church for the past fifty-plus years. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict put the brakes on much of this Vatican II trajectory, embodying the doctrinal commitments that have traditionally defined Rome. Still, incremental changes in smaller ways, in terms of a warmer spirit of embracement and inclusiveness of others, made their way into the church. But the doctrine remained effectively the same.
  • Pope Francis: Now however, unlike his recent predecessors, Francis has downplayed the doctrine and turned up the warmth of this new spirit of embracement. Arguably, Francis is the first truly “Vatican II”-like Pope. In the past four years since his ascendancy, Francis has hinted at or suggested various reforms in the church, some that point towards reconciliation with other parties in the universal Christian community (like Protestants and Eastern Orthodox), some that thrill liberals and others outside of  the church, and some that horrify Catholic conservatives.

What are we to make of all of this?

Briefly stated, on the one hand, Roman Catholicism has never been a monolithic movement, even during the era of the Council of Trent. On the other hand, Protestants can easily misrepresent what Roman Catholics believe and think, and that does harm to efforts to try to heal the divisions of the last 500 years. That being said, here are two things that come to mind as examples of what puzzles me, as to what is coming out of Rome in the Pope Francis era:

  • A generation ago, those Catholics who experienced the tragedy of divorce, were conscience-bound to go through the process of securing an annulment for improper Catholic marriages. Nowadays, fewer divorced Catholics even bother with the annulment proceedings. Also, according to authoritative Catholic tradition, regular confession is a required sacrament of the Catholic Church, and yet, I know many Catholic friends who rarely, if ever, go to confession. What are we to make of all of this?

Leonardo De Chirico offers some insights from a Reformed Protestant perspective. I can imagine that many traditional Catholics might be terribly dismayed by all of the changes. Can any of my Roman Catholic friends help me out here? Are Chirico’s observations correct?

Ligonier Ministries, associated with Bible teacher R. C. Sproul, has some great resources, particularly for those with interest in the theology of the Protestant Reformation. In this year, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Ligonier sponsored their annual conference, with the theme of the Reformation, and you can even view all of the videos of the conference on YouTube.

 


%d bloggers like this: