Pope Francis looks up at a statue of the Virgin Mary on the occasion of the Immaculate Conception feast in Rome, on Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Francis warns of two false paths to holiness

(RNS) — As a spiritual guide to those seeking to be better Christians, Pope Francis recognizes that many are tempted to follow the wrong paths to holiness. These are not bad people following the path of sin, but good people getting lost in the woods without a map. Pope Francis believes that it is especially important to warn Christians of two false paths to holiness.

In Chapter 2 of “Gaudete et Exsultate,” an apostolic exhortation released in March, Pope Francis explains that these are not new temptations. Christians through the centuries have been so tempted, and spiritual writers have labeled these false paths Gnosticism and Pelagianism. These are old temptations repackaged for a new age.

(See my earlier column for my treatment of Chapter 1 of “Gaudete et Exsultate.”)

In Gnosticism, perfection is measured by information and knowledge or by some special experience, not by one’s charity. The Gnostic takes pride in understanding everything, in having special knowledge.

“Gnostics think that their explanations can make the entirety of the faith and the Gospel perfectly comprehensible,” explains Francis. “They absolutize their own theories and force others to submit to their way of thinking.” They “reduce Jesus’ teaching to a cold and harsh logic that seeks to dominate everything.”

Francis considers Gnosticism one of the most sinister ideologies because, “while unduly exalting knowledge or a specific experience, it considers its own vision of reality to be perfect.” Gnostics “domesticate mystery” and think they know everything.

“When somebody has an answer for every question, it is a sign that they are not on the right road,” according to Francis. “God infinitely transcends us; he is full of surprises,” explains Francis. “Someone who wants everything to be clear and sure presumes to control God’s transcendence.”

The Gnostics’ conviction that they alone have the truth leads them to claim that their way of understanding the truth authorizes them to exercise a strict supervision over others’ lives.

Francis, on the other hand, believes that “in the church there legitimately coexist different ways of interpreting many aspects of doctrine and Christian life.” Our understanding and expression of doctrine “is not a closed system, devoid of the dynamic capacity to pose questions, doubts, inquiries.”

He cites Pope John Paul II, who warned of the temptation on the part of those in the church who are more highly educated “to feel somehow superior to other members of the faithful.” Gnostics can think that because they know something, or are able to explain it in certain terms, that they are already saints, perfect and better than the “ignorant masses.”

While Gnostics take pride in their knowledge, Pelagians take pride in their personal efforts. Gnostics stress the intellect, while Pelagians stress the will.

Pelagians “ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style,” reports Francis.

While Pelagians speak of grace, it is often just an add-on to the all-powerful human will.

“When some of them tell the weak that all things can be accomplished with God’s grace,” writes Francis, “deep down they tend to give the idea that all things are possible by the human will, as if it were something pure, perfect, all-powerful, to which grace is then added.”

Rather, “in this life human weaknesses are not healed completely and once for all by grace,” Francis explains. “Grace, precisely because it builds on nature, does not make us superhuman all at once.”

Not acknowledging our limitations “prevents grace from working more effectively within us,” he writes. “Unless we can acknowledge our concrete and limited situation, we will not be able to see the real and possible steps that the Lord demands of us at every moment, once we are attracted and empowered by his gift.”

Francis reminds us that “The Church has repeatedly taught that we are justified not by our own works or efforts, but by the grace of the Lord, who always takes the initiative.” We cannot buy God’s friendship with our works, “it can only be a gift born of his loving initiative.”

This truth should affect the way we live. It invites us “to live in joyful gratitude for this completely unmerited gift” of his friendship. We can only celebrate this free gift if we realize that our earthly life and natural abilities are his gifts.

Yet some Christians today seek justification through their own efforts. “The result is a self-centered and elitist complacency, bereft of true love,” writes Francis. “This finds expression in a variety of apparently unconnected ways of thinking and acting: an obsession with the law, an absorption with social and political advantages, a punctilious concern for the Church’s liturgy, doctrine and prestige, a vanity about the ability to manage practical matters, and an excessive concern with programs of self-help and personal fulfilment.”

Rather than spending their time and energy on these things, Christians should let themselves be led by the Spirit in the way of love. If the church does not follow the promptings of the Spirit, it “can become a museum piece or the possession of a select few,” says Francis. “This can occur when some groups of Christians give excessive importance to certain rules, customs or ways of acting. The Gospel then tends to be reduced and constricted, deprived of its simplicity, allure and savor.”

This form of Pelagianism explains why groups, movements and communities so often “begin with an intense life in the Spirit, only to end up fossilized or corrupt,” writes Francis. “Once we believe that everything depends on human effort as channeled by ecclesial rules and structures, we unconsciously complicate the Gospel and become enslaved to a blueprint that leaves few openings for the working of grace.”

The way to avoid these wrong paths, says Francis, is by reminding ourselves of the primacy of the theological virtues, the center of which is charity. What truly counts, according to St. Paul, is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Or as Paul says elsewhere, “The one who loves another has fulfilled the law … for love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8, 10).

Francis reminds us how Jesus showed us the face of God “in every one of our brothers and sisters, especially the least, the most vulnerable, the defenseless and those in need.” Loving our Lord and our neighbor is what Christianity is all about, a point missed by Gnostics and Pelagians alike.

Francis ends Chapter 2 with a prayer: “May the Lord set the Church free from these new forms of Gnosticism and Pelagianism that weigh her down and block her progress along the path to holiness!” He asks each of us to reflect and discern how these aberrations may be present in our lives.


  1. Yes, the temptation to “domesticate mystery” is a strong one. How often do we see on these boards someone ‘splaining to the nth degree why someone else’s beliefs are all wrong, rather than try to seek out common ground or even — God forbid — learn to live with paradox and ambiguity?

    I’ve said it before. Those who think they have God figured out are the most dangerous people in the world.

  2. “Someone who wants everything to be clear and sure presumes to control God’s transcendence.”

    Pope Francis may be focusing his ire on the gnostics of old, but his real target is the modern day scribes and Pharisees in the church who have always been there and no doubt always will be. Trouble is, they probably won’t even realize he’s talking about them because their hearts are, as always, closed.

  3. Those who think they have God figured out are the most dangerous people in the world.

    Isn’t that the truth! That reminds me of the line of the killer in the book/movie “Angels and Demons” when he says, “Be careful – these are men of God.”

  4. “Francis considers Gnosticism one of the most sinister ideologies because, “while unduly exalting knowledge or a specific experience, it considers its own vision of reality to be perfect.” Gnostics “domesticate mystery” and think they know everything.”


    “When somebody has an answer for every question, it is a sign that they are not on the right road,”


    “The Gnostics’ conviction that they alone have the truth leads them to claim that their way of understanding the truth authorizes them to exercise a strict supervision over others’ lives. ”

    Translation: no one should challenge the unchallengeable authority of the church to mediate between god and man. The power, money, and dominion might dry up. Strict supervision over the lives of others is the business of the church, in every sense of the word business.

  5. Liturgical style and tediousness…Snooze !!

  6. So he still isn’t teaching that Jesus is the ONLY way to Heaven, I see.

  7. Good article, actually. As stated before, Pope Francis has got the pastoral humility, love, and people-skills down pat.

    (Now there’s just this little matter of openly agreeing with — instead of openly disagreeing with — the clear words of Jesus and the Bible, especially on key issues affecting people’s final destiny. Universalism doesn’t help anybody.)

  8. your first sentence raised my eyebrows a bit floydlee……..lol…….gosh, I thought you were going to agree with him……….

  9. It’s always fascinating, isn’t it, how being reminded that the very center of Christian discipleship is active love for others, and this is what our salvation depends on, so irritates a certain kind of “Christian” who would rather hear any message other than that — though it was Jesus’ own message.

  10. Bad “translation”. There is but one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus alone. And that bit about strict supervision over the lives of others…you’re kidding, right?

  11. Point one: you agree with me, except than I am an atheist, and don’t believe any of it.
    Point 2: Fights against abortion, birth control, gay people fully participating in society, fights against losing tax exemptioons, bakers and florists “participating in sin”… so, yes.

  12. Clarity in the 21st century aka the Third Path: (only for those seeking said path)

    The Apostles’ Creed 2018: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (references used are available upon request)

  13. Should he have told this crying child his father was in hell?

  14. There are means of telling the truth. Goodness Arb – you’ve been around the internet long enough to see how people divert from questions asked.

  15. Yes, he did divert from the question the boy asked, but he had to respond in a pastoral way.

  16. What is your suggestion of what he should have said?

  17. Only God knows where your dad is at this time as He knew his heart, and we’ll leave that answer with Him. We do know that Christ loves you though.

  18. RC,
    I’m curious as to the purpose of your often used, off-topic hate. You seem to go above and beyond arguing against the existence of Christianity and trying to prove through your endless scientific citations that it isnt true; to what end? (As a side-note; science does prove God’s existence.)
    You will never be able to disprove Christianity – ever. You can not disprove “the Truth”.
    Believe it or not, as you and I have exchanged commentary over the past few weeks, I have often wondered if your determination to disprove the existence of Christ is really a diversion away from your own sinfulness; ie., if you can prove [to yourself] that Christ doesn’t exist; then you dont have to face your own sinfulness and judgement. The unfortunate part is that deep down you know that Christ exists; because he is written on your heart.
    I will continue to pray for your heart to soften so that you can find the humility to repent and ask for forgiveness.
    Peace to you my brother.

  19. How do you know Jesus is written in his heart?
    How do you know Jesus is written in his heart?

  20. Parker your self-righteousness is part of what the Pope’s message is about, the belief that you have all the answers.

    Accusing others of HATE is also part of what the Pope’s message is about. You don’t seem able to see the difference between strong disagreement and HATE.

    I will hope that someday you soften your heart and open your mind to see the TRUTH that Rational Conclusions and others are pointing you towards.

  21. Does it help to tel a lie to a crying child that their parent or loved one is in heaven. Tell them the truth so that aren’t afraid to face the future.

  22. Gnosticism is bad because it has exposed the lies and falsehoods of the Popes and the Church.

  23. I often agree with you, Ben, but you’re off the mark on this one. That sort of authoritarianism just isn’t what Francis’ is about. Quite the opposite, in fact. He often gets into trouble with the right flank of the bishops, who don’t think he is nearly authoritarian enough.

  24. Brother,

    Please expand on “science does prove God’s existence “.

  25. Know – defined as “Be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information”

    Belief is not knowledge. Knowing a source says something is true is not the same as knowing that the something is true – the truthful statement is not “I know what is said is true” but “I know that the source states that what is said is true”.

    You wrote –
    1 – “lying is not pastoral”
    2 – ” Only God knows where your dad is at this time as He knew his heart, and we’ll leave that answer with Him. We do know that Christ loves you though.”

    Passing off belief as fact is a form of lying.

    The second statement is a statement of belief – you have absolutely no knowledge as to whether its contents are accurate or not.

    I can only assume you don’t regard the second statement as pastoral – either that or you regard your statement as a “white lie” designed to minimise distress whilst being no more than wishful thinking.

    Assumptions/Beliefs presented as fact
    1 – God may or may not exist
    2 – If God exists it may or may not know anything (including a dead person’s whereabouts, someone’s “heart” [which should be “mind”] and whom a “Christ” might or might not love).
    3 – There is no evidence that “your dad is” at all, let alone is anywhere
    4 – No-one knows if Christ loves anyone – believe, hope, imagine, wish, be convinced etc. etc. ………….but “know”? – you know you’ve been told that – you don’t know it to be true.

    the use of “we”‘ll leave is also immoral – it is an attempt to stifle questioning by making a statement that seeks to impose an agreement that has not been made.

    Perhaps a morally acceptable statement might look more like
    “In the unlikely and unevidenced possibility that he did not cease to be no-one knows where your dad is at this time. Some people believe, but cannot prove, that a god knew his mind, and will deal with him according to that knowledge. We want you to know that Christ loves you though – even though we can’t justify that statement.”

  26. Probably going to be something along the lines of

    1 – since science says the universe started at the big bang it admits that something outside the universe started the universe (it doesn’t of course)
    2 – Therefore every word in the Bible is true
    3 – Proof that the Bible is true? – 2 Timothy 3:16!
    4 – Therefore science proves God’s existence! – Simples.

  27. From early on the Catholic Church picked on and demonized their two favorite if threatening rivals, the Gnostics & Pelagians. For Francis to still be doing that – beating that dead horse some more – goes to show he’s really not interested in picking on and demonizing pedo-lusting priests. Whatever for? They’re not as threatening as the Gnostics & Pelagians being THE “false paths to holiness”, are they now? Apparently not to Francis.

  28. The real truth is there is no heaven and there is no hell and there is no God.

  29. a fear of the reality of Christ Parker. It may make him accountable.

  30. Sure, let’s play to your strengths….
    There are a number of scientists that believe that the order of the universe lends itself to a Creator; just as there are those who believe the opposite.
    I’m more curious as to why you believe there is not.

  31. God is written on all of our hearts Ben; even yours. He reveals himself to us differently; in a personal way.

  32. Quoted: “Gnostics think that their explanations can make the entirety of the faith and the Gospel perfectly comprehensible,” explains Francis. “They absolutize their own theories and force others to submit to their way of thinking.” They “reduce Jesus’ teaching to a cold and harsh logic that seeks to dominate everything.”  

    I hardly know where to begin with all of this. First of all, “Gnostics” and “Gnosticism” are very loose terms for a wide range of classical Christian sects which were actually quite diverse. This label was applied to them by their ecclesiastical rivals, and as such, doesn’t always describe them well. Because of their varying nature, it’s almost impossible to say anything about “Gnostics” which applies universally to all the many sects that fall under that rubric. In fact, some scholars now think the term is basically useless and should be thrown away.  

    Second, not all “Gnostics” considered their beliefs “comprehensible.” Some of them actually believed the Divine was incomprehensible by humans and could only be perceived via divine insights and inspiration … which, owing to their own human nature could be, and often was, imperfectly absorbed. They sometimes spoke, for instance, of “the Ineffable Divine.” Also, no members of any Gnostic sect I’ve ever heard of, ever “forced others to submit to their way of thinking.” Quite the opposite: Many viewed their faith as something only a small proportion of humans could ever belong to (since many were “hylics” and/or “somatics” and incapable, by nature, of benefitting from it). They also viewed their faith as best experienced subjectively via revelation; it’s literally not something that could ever be forced on a person.  

    (No, the types of Christians who “forced” beliefs on others were those who belonged to movements which would, later, comprise the Catholic and Orthodox churches, and after the Reformation, the Protestant churches as well. The first Christian heretic to be executed for his heresy, Priscillian bishop of Avila, was not killed by Gnostics, but by “orthodox” Christians who’d accused him of teaching things similar to Gnosticism, in fact. As it turns out, those movements fragmented into “heresies” of their own, e.g. Arianism, Macedonianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism … all of which the various Gnostic sects were completely disinterested in, and even laughed at, as the products of a primitive or even buffoonish interpretation of what they believed Jesus had actually taught. )  

    Third, as for “reducing Jesus’ teaching to a cold and harsh logic,” many Gnostics would never have said that Jesus’ teachings could be understood via “logic.” No, a lot of them taught that Jesus’ true (and secret) teachings had to be conveyed in person and in the context of divine rites (or initiations) that brought about a special kind of enlightenment or insight.  

    Fourth, most “Gnostic” believers couldn’t have cared less about “dominating” anything; the material world, and most of humanity, was of little concern to them. They considered the physical world the product of an inferior being, a kind of harsh demigod or even a usurper god, who used it to imprison souls and wall them off from the truth of “the Ineffable Divine,” and most humans lost to their “hylic” and/or “somatic” nature.  

    Like nearly everyone nowadays, Pope Francis profoundly misunderstands “Gnosticism” — if it can even be said there is such a thing, which is in doubt — and blathers on about it based on his ignorance. It’s long been a bogeyman in the history of Christendom. While the many “Gnostic” sects had their faults, it in no way ever really earned the derision that was heaped on it, by the proto-Orthodox/Catholic churches. Most of the Church Fathers who condemned it, themselves didn’t really understand “Gnosticism” all that well. They just knew the “Gnostic” sects to be alternate versions of Christianity whose existence they simply could not tolerate, for no other reason than that they existed … and in some places were rather popular.  

  33. Science DOES prove God’s existence. So let’s give you and your atheist pals a little workout. (Umm, feel free to get saved after you read this.)

    (1) You got a usable bathroom, right?
    (2) You got a cheap bathroom mirror, right?
    (3) You’re willing to stare at the bathroom mirror for 3 minutes, right?

    Then there ya go. Empirical Observation. Biological Evidence. 3 minutes, chop-chop. Prove God and Rom. 1:20, with your own eyes. Bathroom Mirror.

    Now go look at your face. Wash it good. Every single cell in your face got The Genetic Code written inside, just like the very first living cell on Earth. But the Genetic Code is an amazing, overwhelming powerful programming system containing intelligence, linguistics, semantics, syntax, symbols, encryption-decryption, and automatic translation machinery. Every cell of your face has a powerful super-computer programming / operating system inside of it.

    Your OWN posts, full of intelligence, linguistics, semantics, syntax, and all the rest, requires a living functioning intelligence — namely, you. Your posts do NOT originate from natural, purposeless, mindless evolution. And neither does your Genetic Code. You need a living functioning designing intelligence to originate the very first Genetic Code within the very first living cell. And the originator HAS to be above human-level, because humans weren’t around back then, plus humans cannot create the Genetic Code (we don’t even fully understand ribosomes yet, for Pete’s sake!!). So we rationally use the “inference to the best explanation”, that there exists an outside purposeful living programming engineering intelligence we theists call “God.” Proof completed.

    Look at this picture. This thing is written and functioning inside you right now. Now go get some business with God already! https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=7Ppxmi4x&id=07A6BD0FD41967A681F4D5F0B70B7FC20EBF6017&thid=OIP.7Ppxmi4xWK48WHrH4dClhgHaHa&mediaurl=http%3a%2f%2fwww.clker.com%2fcliparts%2fF%2fd%2f4%2fb%2f0%2fs%2fgenetic-code-hi.png&exph=600&expw=600&q=genetic+code&simid=608051497489924596&selectedIndex=0&ajaxhist=0

  34. RC spent a lot of time to figure the anti-Apostles Creed out. It gets posted from time to time; so at least for this article I must have missed the point. That creed is personal to millions of believers; so forgive me, I see it as an attack and thus driven by malice.
    My comments after that are serious. I have no ill will toward RC. I have actually thought about why someone would constantly try to disprove someone’s faith. I stand by my comments. If I have offended RC, then I apologize; but only to him.

  35. Funny how you see those things in Parker12 and not yourself.

  36. The fact that he repeats them over and over ad infinitum ad nauseum should point to the issues he’s working through.

  37. Good thing you’re not one of them, eh?

  38. With its own lies and falsehoods.

    There is no more tedious group of scribblings than the Gnostic writings.

  39. Point 2 could as well be fights for abortion, suppressing religion in favor of your positions, removing tax exemptions, and kneecapping those who disagree with you, all your favored attempts at strict supervision over the lives of others.

  40. You perfectly represent the Gnostic error.

  41. In its 4.6 billion years circling the sun, the Earth has harbored an increasing diversity of life forms:

    for the last 3.6 billion years, simple cells (prokaryotes);

    for the last 3.4 billion years, cyanobacteria performing photosynthesis;

    for the last 2 billion years, complex cells (eukaryotes);

    for the last 1 billion years, multicellular life;

    for the last 600 million years, simple animals;

    for the last 550 million years, bilaterians, animals with a front and a back;

    for the last 500 million years, fish and proto-amphibians;

    for the last 475 million years, land plants;

    for the last 400 million years, insects and seeds;

    for the last 360 million years, amphibians;

    for the last 300 million years, reptiles;

    for the last 200 million years, m-ammals;

    for the last 150 million years, birds;

    for the last 130 million years, flowers;

    for the last 60 million years, the primates,

    for the last 20 million years, the family H-ominidae (great apes);

    for the last 2.5 million years, the genus H-o-mo (human predecessors);

    for the last 200,000 years, anatomically modern humans.

    Periodic extinctions have temporarily reduced diversity, eliminating:

    2.4 billion years ago, many obligate anaerobes, in the oxygen catastrophe;

    252 million years ago, the trilobites, in the Permian–Triassic extinction event;

    66 million years ago, the pterosaurs and nonavian dinosaurs, in the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event.”

    Bryson’s best seller, “A Short History of Nearly Everything” will fill in the details in language that we the common man understand.

  42. Humans are obviously simple organisms compared to a god who must be infinitely more intelligent, skilled, and powerful to have created the universe. An old question that people seem to spend little time contemplating is: Where did God come from? A common answer is: God is eternal, and thus has always existed. And then they quickly change the subject or end the conversation. All the answers I’ve heard seem to be designed to avoid any serious consideration of the question.

    You can assert that God just suddenly appeared, or “always existed,” but there is not a single shred of evidence for that (and Bible verses are irrelevant). Therefore, if God didn’t just suddenly appear, he must have developed via evolution.

    If you are unable to believe that life on earth could have developed via evolution, how can you possibly believe that an infinitely more intelligent, skilled, and powerful God suddenly appeared from nowhere or through a form of evolution?

  43. So bored and tired of the Francis Show.

  44. Unless, of course, a certain sort of Christian disagrees with what god has written on someone’s heart, and then denounces that Christian for not being the right sort of Christian because the latter is not doing what the former thinks is required. You need only look at the hyper Christians attacking other Christians, or liberals, or gay people on these very pages.

    Again, I am an atheist. Did god write that on my heart?

  45. And let us not forget the tragedy of the Catharsis.

    “Kill them all. god will know his own.…

  46. The creator? Or the Christian god? Why not the Hindu gods?

  47. Of course when the parent that lies to their child is found to be wrong. That is the issue here. it can be very destructive to a persons psyche when they discover, which most will, that their parents lied to them.

  48. I find it interesting that your comment got two upvotes, one from a devout evangelical Christian and one from a prolific atheist. Both seem to think the Pope should have told this child the “truth” — yet they diametrically disagree on what the truth is! You think the lie is that heaven exists. Sandi thinks the lie is that he’s in heaven as opposed to hell. My view is that the child’s immediate pastoral needs, not whether he grows up to be a Christian or an atheist or whatever else, have to come first.

  49. I don’t know if I can agree with you on this one. Francis may not be about that kind of authoritarianism— that is certainly what he tries to project. But the church certainly does. As a gay man, I’ve been listening to that crap my whole life.

    Francis has acknowledged there are other paths to salvation, and was damned for saying it. That’s certainly to his credit. But the church, and I don’t just mean the RCC here, declares otherwise.

  50. When you can find an organization the advocates for everyone to get an abortion, supports laws requiring everyone to use birth control, makes people get gay married, and damns everyone to hell for not accepting their particular theological positions, you might have a point.

    But there isn’t.

    As always, you project on to others exactly who you are, and if they disagree with the self declared smartest guy in the room, they must be big facist poopy heads Who hate religion.

  51. Kind of depends on what one means by “the church.” Is it the hierarchy? The people? The tradition? It’s really all those things, and there seems to be perpetual tension around that fact. Personally, I believe that’s by God’s design.

    Historically, change happens in the Church more often from the bottom up rather than the top down. Then, once what was considered revolutionary becomes established policy, the hierarchy says, “Thus has it ever been.”

  52. Oh yes, the “official” churches went after medieval Gnostic (or quasi-Gnostic or pseudo-Gnostic) sects such as the Paulicians, Bogomils, Cathars, and some others not typically associated with Gnosticism, e.g. the Waldensians.  

  53. If there were no societal or health downsides to abortion, or same sex marriage had no potential for damaging society, and either had been arrived at by democratic process, or same sex advocates didn’t take Obergefell v Hodges as the starting bell for a campaign of beating everyone with religious beliefs to their knees, or people who don’t believe a hell gave a fig about being damned to hell, you might have a point.

    But none of them are true, and you’re at the front of the line calling for a battle.

    As always, you project onto others your sense of inadequacy, and if they disagree with your program for America, they must be big fascist religious poopy heads.

  54. I think you meant to say “As a gay man, I’ve been not listening to that crap my whole life.”

    Of course the Catholics, and in fact most Christians, believe acting on same sex attraction is objectively immoral, and you’re simply going to have to learn to live with that.

  55. Obviously there are people several paygrades higher than you or Brooks Austin that believe the real truth is there is a heaven and there is a hell and there is a God.

    I am unaware of any evidence that a child disagreeing with a parent on reaching majority is very destructive to a psyche.

  56. Then I’m not one of them either. Oh goody.

  57. And you know that how, Brooks? ?

  58. I am sure you meant the Cathars, who were involved in Catharism.

    As a religion it wasn’t much.

    The quotation you provide was written by Caesarius of Heisterbach about twenty years after the Massacre at Béziers.

    “When they discovered, from the admissions of some of them, that there were Catholics mingled with the heretics they said to the abbot ‘Sir, what shall we do, for we cannot distinguish between the faithful and the heretics.’ The abbot, like the others, was afraid that many, in fear of death, would pretend to be Catholics, and after their departure, would return to their heresy, and is said to have replied ‘Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius – Kill them all for the Lord knoweth them that are His’“

    The actual massacre, however, was not perpetrated by Abbot

    Arnaud Amalric’s crusaders but by routiers (mercenaries) who before the crusaders attacked breached the city’s defenses and rampaged through the streets, killing and plundering.

  59. Obviously if there is not deity, it could not write anything in your heart.

    You never studied logic at any point in your life, did you?

  60. Well, that certainly makes it better, don’t it? I guess it means we can ignore all of the other religious slaughters.

  61. It’s called circular reasoning for a non-circular reason, doc.

  62. You should be critical of his circular reasoning, not humbled by it

  63. How atheists’ slaughters?

    I believe their total is higher than all religions combined.

  64. The “pastoral needs” can be satisfied by just telling the child you know they are suffering, or that you feel their pain, that you understand they have sufferred a great loss, advising them to keep the good memories alive in their hearts, etc.

    Both the Atheist and the Christian can agree that lying is never the best option when there are many others to choose from.

  65. Well, Boob, being the smartest guy in the room, ever….

    You should know that there is almost nothing in the way of organized atheism, certainly not compared to organized religion. You should also know that almost no one— I really don’t want to say never ever, lest you come up with ONE person who did— has declared “I’m going to murder millions of people in the name of atheism.” Nope, they did it in the name of fascist, communist, and authoritarian ideologies which. Y their very nature are destructive to human health, happiness, and civilization.

    Now religion on the other hand…

    You have declared repeatedly that religion represents morality and natural law, whatever that might mean his week. And religion has certainly killed people in the name of faith,, and do who is love, and god who is peace, and god who is just god. Christians killing Christians for not being the right kind of Christian. The Protestant and catholic wars were a good example of that. Christians killing muslims. Hurrah for the crusades. Christians killing Muslims and Jews for not being Christians. Christians killing witches. Christians killing heretics. What fun!

    Christians waging wars against other Christians, the First World War being the biggest slaughter on record up until world war 2. Let’s not forget the tailing rebellion: 80 million estimated dead because of a man who declared he was the younger brother of jesus Christ. The Mormons have the mountain meadows massacre to their credit. The Buddhists killing the Rohingya. Muslims spreading across Asia by the sword in the name of the religion of peace.

    But ya know what the best part is? Quoting myself: You have declared repeatedly that religion represents morality. Atheism makes no such claim whatsoever.

  66. Well, Bonobo, being that I never declared myself to be the smartest guy in the room, ever – but you’ve made it clear whoever it is, it is not you …..

    It would difficult for me to find ONE person who said “I’m going to murder millions of people in the name of atheism” just like would be impossible for you to find ONE person who said “I’m going to murder millions of people in the name of religion”.

    They did it in the name of atheistic communism, to bring about the utopia, just like you and your little friends try mightily to bring about your utopia.

    I have never declared that religion represents morality and natural law.

    What I have stated is that a coherent moral system can be constructed on the basis of natural. For example, I can construct a rationale for minority rights.

    You, on the other hand, can’t come up with ANY basis for “minority rights” other than the fact that you believe yourself to be a minority and that you have some sort of rights that can trump majority rule.

    In fact, there is NO atheistic-based moral system anywhere at any time. It is nothing but cut-and-paste to suit the particular situation.

    Religion has never killed anyone.

    People kill people.

    But ya know what the best part is?

    Reading your imaginary quotations: “religion represents morality”.

    Atheism certainly makes no claim to be moral. And rightly so.

  67. Thank you for this latest addition to my Phrase Vocabulary:


    (1) “We have to ask, ‘At what point can we recognize that the things Pope Francis writes and says are not rooted in the Catholic Faith, but are merely blanket politically correct assertions?’ Pope Francis is really more like THE ‘POPE FRANCIS SHOW’ than an actual Pope, isn’t he? … That’s the whole point of television really, to create a false world. … It’s in the same spirit I believe that the world is now treated to Pope Francis. There is a lot of thought and preparation behind the character of Francis, and his performance is executed quite well. THE POPE FRANCIS SHOW may seem like a clumsy bull in a china shop but it isn’t slowing, or stopping to regroup. It doesn’t think small. It rolls up the whole world in its carpet.”

    (2) “The papal nagging, the scolding and often incomprehensible admonishing would not be nearly so offensive if it had any serious, weighty moral or doctrinal content. What is going on here? Is[n’t] the world finally tiring of THE FRANCIS SHOW?”

    Source: (1) Frank Walker, “Time to Turn off THE FRANCIS SHOW and Stay Faithful”, PewSitter: Your Online Catholic Newspaper, June 17, 2015. (2) Hilary White, “Petered Out: Will THE FRANCIS SHOW Get Cancelled?”, The Remnant: A National Catholic Newspaper, August 26, 2015.

  68. Awww, boob.

    Your denials of what you have said many times are so cute. Of course, you would never SAY you’re the smartest guy in the room. We would just have to infer it from your general attitude, condescension, rudeness, crudeness, and the fact that you actuallyknow stuff, but are dishonest as hell.

    well, you get the picture, being the smartest guy in the room and all.

    Here ya go. Enjoy.

    On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II makes perhaps the most influential speech of the Middle Ages, giving rise to the Crusades by calling all Christians in Europe to war against Muslims in order to reclaim the Holy Land, with a cry of “Deus vult!” or “God wills it!”

    He didn’t invite them to a tea party, did he? He declared war, which usually involvS people killing people.

    Followed by

    The most commonly known Crusades were the campaigns in the Eastern Mediterranean aimed at recovering the Holy Land from Muslim rule, but the term “Crusades” is also applied to other church-sanctioned campaigns, such as the crusade against the Cathars and the Baltic Crusades. These were fought for a variety of reasons including the suppression of paganism and heresy and the resolution of conflict among rival Roman Catholic groups.

    Nearly 200 years of death and carnage. Well, to your credit, it maybe wasn’t millions. Just a hell of a lot of people. I get it. Spears and swords and arrows don’t kill people, religious people with spears, swords, and arrows kill people. And we’re still paying for it today.

    You are very dishonest, bob. No matter how much lipstick, no matter how pig the tiara you place on this particular pig, intellectually honest people will still hear it oink.

    Now be sure you call me a big poopy head for once again making you look dishonest, I mean, disagreeing with you.

  69. The more often a person speaks of Jesus rather than God or The Church, the more grounded he or she will be as a Christian. There is something about speaking the name.

  70. “….we will not be able to see the real and possible steps that the Lord *DEMANDS* of us at every moment, once we are attracted and empowered by
    his gift.” (emphasis added)


    The RCC – a barely alive anachronism dwindling minute by minute.

    The sooner the better.

  71. Francesco is taking a page out of Trump’s playbook.
    Get your face in the media – daily.
    Maybe somebody will take kindly to your bankrupt integrity….

  72. In 632 CE, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were all Christian territories. Inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire Christianity was the overwhelmingly majority religion. Outside those boundaries were other large Christian communities. There were many Christian communities in Arabia.

    By 732 Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor, and southern France were Muslim. Italy and her associated islands were under threat, and the islands would come under Muslim rule in the next century. The Christian communities of Arabia were entirely destroyed in or shortly after 633. Two-thirds of the formerly Christian world was now ruled by Muslims.

    By November 27, 1095, the Muslims were at the edges of the Western Europe, had taken over a hundred years earlier the Visigothic kingdom – leaving the Iberian peninsula under Muslim rule for the next seven centuries.

    Had Pope Urban II not called a crusade, instead of running your mouth off on-line you’d have been pitched off the roof of a tall building some time ago in a Muslim world.

    He did not declare war – to do that he would have had to command an army or be the Western emperor. He called on Christian nations – who spent plenty of time fighting each other and killing people – to defend their civilization.

    Yes, as with the so-called Inquisition lots of things were called crusades. I can call my shoe a boot, but it doesn’t make it a boot.

    The phrase “rival Roman Catholic groups” simply supports the conclusion that your knowledge of religion is sparse indeed.

    And, no, I did not admit that religion kills, but insist it kills less than atheism does.

    I said, and have continued to say, that people kill.

    Because in both camps the cohesive structure which allowed Germans to cooperate at all with Italians, or Egyptians to cooperate at all with Moors, was religion. In the same way the thing which allowed the former Soviet Union to cooperate for decades with Red China was atheistic communism.

    But the underlying conflict was between people, people with different views of civilization, people with divergent goals. Lucky, indeed, for you that Christian Europe survived.

    You are very dishonest, bonobo, but it begins with being dishonest with yourself.

    We both understand that the end of the day you cannot construct a moral system or society which takes minority rights into account on any form, style, type, or theory of atheism.

  73. “And, no, I did not admit that religion kills, but insist it kills less than atheism does.” Except that you just admitted that religion kills,
    While denying you ever say any such thing. You are so thoroughly caught up with your cleverness that you frequently out clever yourself.

    “I said, and have continued to say, that people kill.” Religious people kill. So do atheists. But atheists do it withou claiming that god Old them to. You are so thoroughly caught up with your cleverness that you frequently out clever yourself.

    “Because in both camps the cohesive structure which allowed Germans to cooperate at all with Italians, or Egyptians to cooperate at all with Moors, was religion.” So it’s just anotherpolitical force, and nothing to do with god. You are so thoroughly caught up with your cleverness that you frequently out clever yourself.

  74. You are so caught up in your hatred for religion, you’re fabricating an opposing position that I don’t hold.

    Then facts have never been your forté.

    “Religious people kill” is a nonsense statement.

    People kill.

    Had Europe been atheist, and the Muslim world atheist, the collision between the two civilizations would have been as bloody, religion, no religion, deity, no deity.

    There is a story to be told about how Christianity impacted Europe, and Islam impacted the Middle East, but you’re not the one to tell it. The entire history from your perspective consists of what story “confirms” your preconceived notions, and who stood in the way of your particular lifestyle. Period.

    Last month I was reading an article by a psychiatrist describing how parenting impacts children’s view of religion as an adult.

    To this point you’ve shared a story of coming from dysfunctional family, three boys, one a suicide, one “a mess”, and yourself – apparently in your mind not a mess – and a mother you had a few “problems” with.

    That seems to have a lot more to do with your world view, and the place of religion in it, than any sort of pseudo-history you’re capable of constructing.

  75. At least try to explain to your readers exactly HOW it is “circular reasoning”, Ben.
    You can’t just be leaving readers hanging like that.

    (Good grief!! Now I gotta spell out to these atheist folks exactly HOW to rationally criticize me? Atheism is three shades past totally pitiful !!)

  76. Beginning of the circle. I believe in the Christian god.

    “You need a living functioning designing intelligence to originate the very first Genetic Code within the very first living cell.” An assertion, not evidence.

    God must exist, because I don’t believe any other explanation. Begging the question.

    Therefore, the living, functioning designing intelligence must be the god I believe in.

    Full circle.

  77. You had one almost true statement. Facts are not YOUR forte.

    “Religious people kill” is a nonsense statement.’ Not a fact. Quite the opposite. Sometimes they kill because of their religion. Sometimes they kill despite it. Sometimes they kill without reference to it.

    “Had Europe been atheist, and the Muslim world atheist, the collision between the two civilizations would have been as bloody, religion, no religion, deity, no deity. ” Not a fact, barely an informed speculation. The smartest guy in the room makes a statement like that and then tells me about the pseudo history I am constructing.
    Followed by a little bit of armchair psychology, based upon some off hand statements made without a context, and commented on with even less context. In fact, my parents raised me to be religious.
    Projection. Projection. Projection.

  78. But more importantly, though, Goatherd, do you yourself, by any chance, do these things in Jesus’ name that apostles Paul and Barnabas and disciple Timothy had done? Or are you thinking of something else altogether?

    Maybe you’ve forgotten that: (1) “at Damascus [Saul, later renamed Paul] had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus [onomati tou iaysou] … [and] in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord [onomati tou kyriou].” (2) “Our beloved Barnabas and Paul … have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ [onomatos tou kyriou heemohn iaysou christou].” Therefore, (3) “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. … For everyone who names the name of the Lord [onoma kyriou] is to abstain from wickedness.”

    Source: Acts 9:27-28 and15:25-26, and 2 Timothy 2:15, 19.

  79. “Religious people kill” is a nonsense statement.’ is a fact.

    “People kill” is a true statement.

    Sometimes people claim to kill because of their religion, sometimes they kill because of greed, sometimes they just enjoy it. The veneer of civilization is thin, indeed, as history never tires of demonstrating.

    If religion were the cause, removing it would end the killing.

    It doesn’t.

    That places a torpedo directly into the waterline of your “It’s all religion’s fault” paddlewheeler.

    “Had Europe been atheist, and the Muslim world atheist, the collision between the two civilizations would have been as bloody, religion, no religion, deity, no deity. ” is a fact.

    Europe was the recipient of a long history built on a Greco-Roman body of law and philosophy. Its values and ethos were different than the Arabian world, which prior to the rise of Islam was a backwater of minor civilizations such as Sheba, Himyarite Kingdom, Kingdom of Awsan, Kingdom of Ma’in, Sabaean Kingdom, Kingdom of Kindah, and the Dilmun civilization.

    Islam was about to sweep across the European continent.

    I hesitate to do any psychology, but it is pretty clear whatever is going on at your end is not a result of a careful, calm, fact-driven analysis.

    It appears to be an unhappy experience and reaction to parents tried to instill some religious beliefs. Now all religion is the bad parents.

    Projection. Projection. Projection.

  80. “The Church has repeatedly taught that we are justified not by our own works or efforts, but by the grace of the Lord, who always takes the initiative.” We cannot buy God’s friendship with our works, “it can only be a gift born of his loving initiative.”

    – Good “works” should be our response to God’s loving initiative. Persisting in our sins won’t buy God’s friendship either.

  81. What seems to be missing is an alternate.

    Even cellular life has a genetic code.

    How did a genetic code arrive prior to life?

    Floyd may not have a proof, but he does make it clear that his beliefs are not irrational.

  82. Love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself are good enough for me. Some will say the first of those two define and drive the second. I’m inclined to think the reverse is more true. We are to be telling each other our best objective truth—-as we discover it—–on all secular subjects from business to science to education to environment to war to psychology to communications—–as a matter of actually trying to love each other. When we do that, God survives uppermost in our minds and ideals.

    When/if (as Christians) we devolve to ancient “scripture” as the sole definition of modern reality, we are as clueless as Conservative Islam or Conservative Judaism. That’s what they both do for lack of better sense. But WE were given prioritization, permission from a liberating savior to be the Good Samaritan, do what the Good Samaritan did. We need not diss Paul, Barnabas and Timothy, but we are not called to emulate or imitate them. We are called to be honest, be kind, be compassionate, to lift up the name of Jesus as the guy in whose name we NEVER try to trick people on any subject whatsoever.

  83. You don’t have access to a Bible?

  84. You wanted to cite scripture – spell it out.

  85. I like what you say.

    One correction: not conservative Judaism, but Orthodox Judaism.

  86. Thanks, and I will gladly accept your correction.

  87. You don’t have access to a Bible?

  88. The Gnostic and Pelagian heresies remain alive and well in new forms.

    The “pedo-lusting priests” don’t threaten the salvation of most people, although for those who coin and use phrases like “pedo-lusting priests” they are great deal of fun to bandy about in mixed company.

  89. lol……yes but he still need prayer. I worry about him with his illness.

  90. Now I know, but earlier I was just checking what you really meant when you said, “There is something about speaking the name … Jesus”. So, in fact, you WERE thinking of something else altogether – not, that is, what that same Jesus’ 1st apostles and disciples meant by ONOMATOS TOU KYRIOU HEEMOHN IAYSOU CHRISTOU.

    For there’s Jesus and there’s Jesus. The original Jesus, see, is the Real McCoy, whereas all the other Jesuses are just being Coy.

  91. I was referring to the spiritual Jesus anyone can have and know by privately asking. It’s true, I suppose, that the name has also been given to any number of male people rather commonly in the Spanish language—-pronounced like hay-soos—–but I was not referring to them.

    Is there some important reason why you are trying to talk down to me?

  92. “Love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself are good enough for me.”

    Except that everyone’s interpretation of that involves loving himself.

    “When/if (as Christians) we devolve to ancient ‘scripture’ as the sole definition of modern reality, we are as clueless as Conservative Islam or Conservative Judaism.”

    That’s certainly the battle cry of every movement, heresy, and sect.

  93. Matthew 7:21

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of
    heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

  94. Oh yes, the Pope profoundly misunderstands Gnosticism, and he should be consulting with you.

    You’ve apparently never actually read the various Gnostic sects’ tripe to write “it in no way ever really earned the derision that was heaped on it”.

  95. It is disclosed to us through Jesus what the top two commandments are. He picked them (not me) from what he could find in the known writings of his time. Love your neighbor as you love yourself comes from what is now numbered as Leviticus 19:18—-admittedly something which sorta looks like an afterthought alongside the other verses now printed near it in Bibles. But, since Jesus actually came to fix the mess of the past, that is another fitting circumstance apparently, that something the Jewish leaders more-or-less overlooked was elevated to the top—-to make the whole thing have real meaning.

    As for my sentence about “scripture”, we need to be honest. People have been called heretics in times past for alleging (for instance, and as I would) that the Tower of Babel story did not actually take place as recorded, does not factually explain what it purported to explain, and would make God look awfully bad if it had taken place as recorded. You and the Ayatollahs and Imams can insist otherwise if you want (and, as far as I know, they do), but real Jesus people don’t and can’t. We either really try to be honest or we don’t.

  96. True. As far as we know, the will of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is for us to be kind to one another. There are lots of ways to do it. Love more, preach less is what that verse was about, you know?

  97. Identify 3 contemporary Gnostics and Pelagians who are descendants of or heirs to 3 ancient original Gnostics and Pelagians. You have 24 hours. GO.

  98. I apologize for “talking down to [you]”. What happened was I thought (was hoping) we are kindred spirits upon reading these truly inspirational words (1:1000000 rare here at RNS): “There is something about speaking the name … Jesus.”

    I shouldn’t fault you for my being oftentimes naively and innocently open to persuasion. I’m sorry for that.

  99. We should be kindred spirits, actually. There really is something about speaking the name…..Jesus. I don’t mean at church, and I don’t mean the swearing one might hear from those who don’t believe in him at all. What’s rare is hearing Christians say it outside the church environment. Most just don’t—-almost as though they can’t. Lots of “In God We Trust”, and “under God”, and “God bless America” and vague references like Jefferson wrote into the Declaration of Independence. Not much Jesus talk, though. Listen around.
    You’ll come to notice the absence and the silence out in public.

  100. I am not your slave, so “GO” yourself.

    On the other hand, the Gnostic movement involved esoteric knowledge possessed only by cognescenti, revelation not given to the hoi polloi, and new sacred texts.

    You can see that at work in the fringe of the Anglican Communion with declarations of same sex marriage and the scrapping of apostolic succession, the talk of God Mother and the other accoutrements of the far out.

    The Pelagian movement denied original sin and the need for divine assistance.

    That is a leitmotif of the liberal Protestant movements, the “progressive” wing of the Catholics.

    A good example of both is John Shelby Spong.

  101. And to follow God’s commandments, which are found in the scriptures.

    Yes, it might be fun to just scrap the details and decide that forming strange geometric patterns with others while naked is not only A-OK but fulfilling the will of God, but it isn’t.

    “Preach less” is not what the verse was about.

  102. In other words you have no idea what you’re talking about and conclude, therefore, no on else does.

    Scriptures are nice if you have a table that needs to be leveled, but other than that ….

    was looking for an example of Gnosticism today.

    Thank you for providing it.

  103. You’re right about brother John Shelby Spong. I learned something new here (thank you) for he admits it himself: “I am much more closely drawn to Pelagius today tha[n] I am to Augustine and I see contemporary theology moving in that direction.”

    But you’re wrong, though, to call him a gnostic. He’s not one because he himself has to own up to his gnosticism, but, as one who isn’t ashamed of anything he believes in, he hasn’t done so to this day. That would be strange, indeed, actually, seeing as how in one of his books he shamefully accuses the gospel of John of gnoticism – instead of defending John precisely for it!

    Source: Bishop John Shelby, “The Jesus Seminar and the Future of Scholarship in Christian Churches”, Progressing Spirit, March 26, 2008.

  104. You know, Bob? I was raised on a (the) kindly Jesus back when there weren’t so many people trying to make him look mean. It’s a great disappointment to me that much of Evangelical church in America has become the haven for those like you and HpO who are looking for excuses to yell at folks who are trying to keep Christianity positive. After being raised in church, if someone had asked me in 1968 whether we would see this level of argumentativeness from church people fifty years down the road in 2018, I would have thought it not possible. But, alas, here we are in the 21st Century, headed down the rat hole of religious division. Bummer. But I’m going out on the sweeter side if I can.

  105. I more than know Bob, I AM Bob.

    Don’t dislocate your shoulder patting yourself on the back.

    I don’t yell at folks, I just say what I think, and folks like yourself think it’s yelling.

    That’s swell.

    Tune out, drop out, and keep on truckin’, eh?

    Of course that leaves sorting out issues to those still engaged.

  106. Could you consider blocking my commentary if you don’t like seeing it? I just opened in this thread with a one-line observation. It was not my intention to target you, attract your ire, or obligate you to get heated. I didn’t come in to argue with you. Why is this exchange taking place?

  107. Usually I read mail addressed to me. Is that unusual? You are showing up in my notifications, after all, when you send direct replies. You are sending me things you want me to see. The question is why.

  108. How about I just wish Happy Mothers’ Day to whomever that might be appropriate in your life? Would that suffice?

  109. Those who want to impose their god on the rest of us are, like the white evangelicals, some of the most dangerous people in the world.

  110. According to Numbers 35:34, god lives in Israel and will probably move into the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem as soon as its built. It’s unlikely that Joseph was Jesus’ father since Mark 6:3 describes Jesus as “son of Mary,” not “son of Joseph.” It’s possible Jesus’ father was a centurion. Jesus was crucified for sedition by Rome and his body left on the cross to rot or be eaten by wild animals, the ultimate Roman humiliation and degradation.

  111. .Two gods on two heavenly thrones is monotheism?
    .How could your eternal and everlasting god die?
    .Why do you believe Jesus came for gentiles when he specifically said he didn’t in Matthew 10:5-6 and 15:24?
    . While there may be a christ, Jesus wasn’t the christ because he couldn’t trace his lineage back to King David because he had no human father, a requirement in patrilineal Judaism.
    . You believe Satan showed Jesus (Matthew 4:8) all the kingdoms of the world from atop a high mountain, possible because the earth is flat?
    . John the Baptist, who baptized for the remission of sins, baptized Jesus for…for…for… the remission of Jesus’ sins.

  112. Please explain how “the unchanging God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” suddenly became “the God of Everybody”?

  113. Um, why would god write anything on a pump?

  114. The existence and evolution of the universe requires no creator as any cosmologist will confirm.

  115. You’ll find no clear words of Jesus in the bible if you’re conducting your search outside the synoptics. Even in the synoptics, many of Jesus’ claims are false.

  116. i realize this is off subject somewhat but isn’t the cross, found in every christian church in the world, a graven image prohibited by the second commandment?

  117. The Pope is certainly right to warn against the elevation of the self as a path to salvation, either in the form of superior knowledge or superior will, but too much of this strikes me as Francis simply engaging is his usual tsk-tsking against conservative Catholics who simply expect the faithful to display an obedience to doctrine and morality that the Church has a whole maintained for thousands of years.

    Your own willpower won’t save you. Neither will your own knowledge. But neither, again, will engaging in a quest for your own physical or emotional gratification in defiance of church teachings. Why is the Pope so quiet on the last point?

  118. On my bicycle pump, it is written the mystic name: TOPEAK. No one knows, even among the great and the wise, what is the import of this word.

    Yea, verily, I say unto you, there is also written these words: JoeBlow Sport. Priestcraft sayeth that these mystical words refer to a sacred act among the temple prostitutes, but yea, verily, no one knoweth or bloweth.

  119. It is often said – Church is a dynamic movement forward. “In the church there legitimately coexist different ways of interpreting many aspects of doctrine and Christian life. Our understanding and expression of doctrine is not a closed system, devoid of the dynamic capacity to pose questions, doubts, inquiries” – Pope Francis.

  120. People kill people and use religion, ideology and ethnicity as tools.

  121. Plenty of scientists and theologians who beg to differ…

  122. When he sent his Son – Jesus Christ.

  123. Read the Bible – it’s in plain English, Latin, Greek, etc.

  124. The Third and Correct Path for the reality of the 21st Century: The Great Kibosh: (only for the eyes of those who have not seen).

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  125. Theologians don’t know squat. Name a cosmologist who believes the universe required a creator.

  126. Jesus isn’t the christ and you’re making the absurd claim that the “unchanging” god “changed.”

  127. Two gods on two heavenly thrones is monotheism? Maybe it is to those gullible people who lack all critical thinking skills.

  128. Actually three in one – called the Holy Trinity. Sounds like you lack the skills to understand.

  129. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

  130. Cosmologists lack humility and thus the ability to see boyond what their limited, human senses tell them.

  131. We are saved by God’s grace alone. Funny how this article seems to indicate the Roman Church has adopted this idea after resisting it for 500 years. Only God knows who is saved. The rest of us can only speculate since we cannot see into anyone’s heart or know what they were thinking at the point of their death.

    Trying to explain everything in human terms has only led to more divisions within Christianity. Some things are better left a mystery.

  132. The only mystery is that some people still believe in all this mumbo jumbo.

  133. This pope has shown repeatedly he knows little or nothing of Christian history and theology.

  134. I would agree that he is no theologian.

  135. I find that few Roman Catholics know anything about other forms of Christianity. If they did, the Roman Church would be much smaller.

  136. I take it you have very few friends.

  137. How is that relevant?
    It seems so few know about other forms of Christianity and these forms address the complaints many Roman Catholics make about their church.

  138. I also take it you know very little about Catholicism.

  139. I know from my friends and relatives, the damage it has caused them. I know its love of creating rules and ways to get around the rules. I know how it deviates from the Bible, its knack for inventing rules out of no where and seems mostly dedicated to self preservation of its bureaucracy.

  140. I know from friends and relatives, news reports, and history books the good it has done.

    For those unfamiliar with it its body of Canon Law, shared in large part with the Church of England, the Church of Sweden, and others which drew from the same ancient sources, there seem to be a lot of “rules”.

    With 1.3 billion members in almost 2,900 dioceses its apparatus for governing itself is a bit more complex than that freestanding congregational church on the corner.

    I find that critics of it often know little or nothing about it. If they did, their comments would be less frequent.

  141. Natural law is a philosophy asserting that certain rights are inherent by virtue of human nature.

    Neither religion or atheism are a source of natural law. Yes historically it was thought to be religion. Prior to Christianity and since the enlightenment it has usually been philosophy. Now it is also determined by studying humanity by sociologists, neuro scientists, philosophers, psychiatrists, and anyone who studies human nature and rationally applies it to morality. There is no source for the understanding of natural law except humanity.

  142. Natural law is a philosophy that asserts that all of nature follows fixed laws, that each component has a purpose, and that the purpose can be deduced by observation, reason, and experiment.

    You’ll note that the natural law philosophy underlies science.

    And, as you note, science is a human endeavor, as are philosophy and religion because only humans reason.

    Natural law and religion encountered in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and each synthesized it differently. The three major figures in that encounter in each religion were Aquinas, Maimonides, and Al-Biruni.

    Its greatest impact was in Christianity since Christianity already recognized its existence (Romans 2:12-16) in the creation of a law in the hearts of mankind.

    The single biggest problem opponents of natural law have is constructing a coherent theory of minority rights.

  143. Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic philosopher of the Middle Ages, revived and developed natural law from ancient Greek philosophy.

  144. All three of the individuals I mentioned were key figures in synthesizing natural law from the Greek sources into their respective religions – Christian, Jewish, and Muslim.

  145. That is true. Religions, and you, make the mistake that natural law has a purpose. which .of course, they attribute to God. I am surprised that you say only humans reason. I thought your God is also supposed to have that ability.

    To find the source of human morality, including minority rights, you must look at the human psyche in the psychiatric sense of that word., You then must use reason and agreement among other humans to find such rights. Humans, and many other mammals, have an inherent sense of fairness which will help.

  146. Natural law does not depend on the existence of a deity.

    It is based on the observation that everything operates according to fixed laws which are repeatable and unchangeable.

    That is why it originated in a pagan society and why it underlies science, which is not predicated on a deity either.

    Stalin’s human psyche did not find minority rights, which seems to indicate that you believe minority rights are in the eye of the beholder.

    That, of course, cuts the ground out from any basis for minority rights other than you’ll get what you can defend, and otherwise you’re toast.

  147. Without a deity where did the purpose come from? That I think minority rights are in the eye of the beholder is your straw man argument There is no source of human rights other than agreement among humans..

  148. You don’t seem to have a problem with the laws which underlie science without a deity. Or do you expect something to fall down one time and up the next? Science would then begin to look more like magic.

    Your argument that there is no source of human rights other than agreement among humans, which is different than the first argument you proposed about it being in the human psyche, effectively kills minority rights.

    If there is no source of human rights beyond agreement among humans, then majority rules.

    Ben in Oakland and others immediately objected to that approach because they immediately saw where that would lead.

  149. In order to have purpose, their must be a consciousness that determines the purpose. Because laws are uniform doesn’t necessitate purpose.

    That there is what we call a human psyche means that we can expect some agreement on human rights. We expand that by reasoning and agreement. We know of no external source of these rights.

    If you accept from the US Declaration of Independence: “We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, then with reason you can derive minority rights from there. You must assume that “We” is everyone including minorities.
    You may wish there were a God or that from somewhere there is a fixed source of morality. That won’t make it so. If we want a moral society we will have to create it.

  150. The argument you’re making is the same one the Greeks considered, “argument from contingency”, the Uncaused Cause, or Necessary Being.

    But you’ve already accepted that to be unnecessary despite the undeniable existence of physical laws which allow you to do engineering, science, or other useful activities.

    For some reason, which you’ve yet to explain, you note that physical reality follows certain laws, nature follows certain laws, and even human beings follow certain laws, but you make a special case for morality by devising the term “purpose”, which is undefined.

    I don’t agree at all. I believe “purpose” to be simply a special case that you’ve invented to avoid facing the fact that you’re just part of the physical world, just like an amoeba, and the laws pertain to you just like they apply to every other thing in existence, live, dead, or neither.

    So, it’s okay to “live with nature”, eat “natural”, and all the other trappings of being a physical being in a physical reality following fixed laws EXCEPT when it comes to figuring out what you ought to be doing morally. So eat healthy, but live on the edge.

    This notion you lay out of “a human psyche” only means that we can expect some agreement on human rights IF human beings have an innate sense of right and wrong which is inherent in the nature of being a human being. The laws of nature will cause us to tend to the same point of agreement on human rights.

    That smells a lot like the “purpose” you were previously objecting to.

    So, basically you want your cake and you want to eat it, too.

    If there is no external source of these rights, and we are free to adopt any or no rights at all, then majority rules. Period. Amen.

    I accept Jefferson’s “…. for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ….” because I believe in natural law, the Laws of Nature.

    You’ve been busy kicking the foundations out from under every premise he lays out to support his conclusion.

  151. Our actual “Creator” is natural selection which is not conscious and has no purpose. Natural selection created our emotions and drives in such a way that we could survive and procreate. This required that we could cooperate and respect each other.

    The only foundation I “kicked out” from Jefferson’s premise is the implication that our creator was an intelligent being. Instead of God, it is natural selection that caused us to respect the right to life, liberty. and the pursuit of happiness for everyone.

  152. Your first paragraph states that our emotions and drives serve a purpose.

    That’s natural law, my good man.

    Jefferson, and I, never said anything about “an intelligent being” being “Nature’s God”.

    The fact of the existence of the Holocaust, the Holodomor, the Armenian Genocide, the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, and so on seems to argue against natural selection causing us to respect the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, so without the purpose you laid out in your first paragraph, I would have to say you’re SOL with that argument.

    However, if your natural law argument in your first paragraph is what you actually believe, you might be able to build a case.

  153. “They absolutize their own theories and force others to submit to their way of thinking.” So there are people who are forcing people to think like them? How is this so? With weapons, rape, or violence? I think this is not a road to “holiness.” Nor do I believe this is useful information. Honestly, there is much error in this article. I do belive we must love one another as Chrit has loved us. Jesus knows us in every way, was tempted in every way, yet without sin. Therefore, He always provides a way out of temptation if we call upon His holy name. We are lost without Him, broken without a loving relationship with Jesus.

  154. Your Holiness,

    You are the most prestigious person in the Catholic Church and the head of the Catholic Church, from whom Hungarian Catholics living in Transylvania expect a lot! They are waiting from Your Holiness to solve old and current Catholic problems!
    The fact that Romania is the president of the EU increases favorable solutions from Romanian Government to Hungarian Catholics in Transylvania.
    Transylvanian Catholic believers are asking Your Holiness to collect from all counties from Transylvania and Moldova (where, Ceangăis/Csángós live) all problems connect to the Transylvanian Catholic churches!

    Some problems in Oradea/Romania:

    Problems with the restitution of the Catholic property in Oradea and in Bihor County: The city leaders do their best to eliminate/remove the premontre order (O. Praem) there!
    The fate of a former high school of Roman Catholic of Premontre order:

    The premontre order’s (O. Praem) High School in Oradea
    The premontre order (O.Praem) in Oradea was founded

    by the Hungarian King, II István (Stephen II) in the XII. This order demands for their properties for many years! They are fighting and requiring their confiscated properties from the Romanian state.
    Please, Your Holiness contact abbot of O. Praem Rudolf Anzelm Fejes in Oradea to get to know about the problems in detail.
    In 2010, the premontre order (O. Praem) brought to the court in Strasbourg to present the cases of their properties.

    There are more cases here, like in Sânmartin the case of monastery building.

    There are still more trials in progress at this time against O. Pream, which are based on manipulations!

    The municipality also argues that the order has ceased to exist.
    This is not true!

    The Romanian majority can easily build schools, churches … But, this is much more difficult for the Hungarians, which live as minority. That is why Hungarians insist to get back their Roman Catholic legacy!

    The Vatican should help the premontre order in their fightings to get back their legal buildings and properties by negotiation with Ilie Bolojan, the mayor of Oradea.

    The premontre order (O. Praem) in Oradea/Romania for years are prosecuted by the city government for their imposing building complex of Academy of Law, for their High School, more representative buildings in Oradea and in Felix (next to Oradea) and about 1,100 acres of land, which are included in realty .

    They lost the case of the baroque palace, which was their house in the XIX. This building was for a long time a pharmacy. Later a couple from Bucharest privatized it. This injustice has led them to turn to the European Court of Human Rights.

    Catholic Church has lost the former Financial Palace.
    Hungarians in Oradea are waiting for this building to be returned to the Catholic Church in Oradea!
    Oradea played always a central role in the history and culture of the Hungarians!
    Under the Communism invaluable books and other legacies disappeared or destroyed, which belonged to the Hungarian heritage!

    The Diocesan Archives and the Monument Library of the Hungarian Catholic Community includes in Oradea:

    1) The Cathedral Chapter Library
    It is very unfortunate, that from the complete wholeness of the Cathedral Chapter Library, which remained in 1981/82, 11 incunabula and nearly a hundred antiques were getaway to the National Library of Bucharest.
    Bucharest must return these things!

    These volumes were from the 18th century. Under the leadership of the Romanian state due to the authoritarianism many Hungarian cultural and historical materials destroyed.

    2) The bishopric library

    After the II war the Romanian state moved many individuals in the bishop’s palace. There, the 40,000-volume library was looted or destroyed. Some of the books now are in the County Library, others were transported to the national central fund book.

    These books belonged to Catholic Episcopate. They should receive them back!

    3) The seminary library:

    Greater part of them was confiscated by the state authorities. The state should give them back!

    Catholic Church has lost in Oradea/Romania its prestigious downtown property in 2016 December 15, when the Supreme Court in Oradea with its final decision (No 3645) has annihilated the former decision of the court of Pitesti, which gave back the prestigious downtown property to the Catholic Church!
    Catholic Church has lost its former Financial Palace!
    There are rules in the EU, that all nationalized buildings must be returned to the owners!
    In Alba Iulia/Romania:

    Restitution of Batthyaneum Library Was Denied!
    The Archdiocese will submit an appeal against the verdict!

    The Restitution Commission operating in subordination of Romania’s Government dismissed the restitution of the Batthyaneum Library and Astronomical Observatory in Alba Iulia to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Alba Iulia. The decision of the Commission was taken on 16 September, but the Archdiocese was notified only recently.

    In 1798, when Bishop Ignác Batthyányi founded his famous library and observatory, it was registered as a cultural foundation, under the above mentioned name. In 1949, the foundation ceased to exist, its assets were nationalized, so it does not currently exist, because it had no continuity. The Archdiocese could not request the restoration of the building and assets in the name of the foundation. The legal adviser confirmed that the Archdiocese will appeal the decision, seeking resolution in court.

    In 2012 the ECHR has obliged the State to pay a compensation of 25,000 euro, as it has NOT returned the Batthyaneum Library, confiscated during communism, to the Archdiocese. In 1998 the Government restituted the Batthyaneum Library to the Church through an emergency ordinance, but a de facto restitution never happened.
    Don’t Political Parties Decide Against Legal Return!

    In Moldova:

    The Moldovan Ceangăi’s/Csángó’s request, which dates back to several decades to the Hungarian masses, is already known worldwide (in the West too)!

    One was told that, requests of Moldovan Ceangăis/Csángós to Hungarian masses have so far been rejected by bishop Petru Gherghel of Iasi, since 1990.

    The bishop had previously stated, that he would only allow the Hungarian masses if he was convinced that at least two percent (2%) of the believers did not understand the Romanian language.

    Where can one finds this dictatorial law, that resembles the time of Ceausescu?

    Your Holiness’ visit to Romania is a good opportunity to clarify the right of Moldovan Ceangăis/Csángó’s requests!

    It is inexplicable the fact that the Ceangăis/Csángos, who are living in Moldova, have NO Hungarian masses in all villages, where it is needed!

    Ceangăis/Csángos have required for the Hungarian masses for thirty years and are planning to publish the two volumes of correspondence with the various church leaders in this matter.

    With the masses to the Ceangăis/Csángos in Bacau, the problems of Ceangăis/Csángós are NOT solved!

    They maintain their claim to introduce Hungarian masses in all Ceangăis’/Csángós’ villages, where there is a need for it!

    In the eight Moldovan counties belonging to the Bishopric of Iasi, according to the Hungarian researchers, the number of Moldovan Catholics, who speak a dialect of the Hungarian language, is about 30-40 thousand.

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