Eternal life without faith?

Over the last couple of decades there has been a move by Evangelical and Reformed churches to get closer to the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) with the aim of removing obstacles for unity. Some say we have a duty to seek unity because of Jesus Christ’s prayer in John 17:21 “that they all may be one”. Furthermore some claim there is a basis for seeking dialogue now because of positive developments in the RCC since the Second Vatican Council (1962 to 1965). (1)

However, the incident described below is just one example of how the RCC continues to promote false doctrine, even in the most fundamental ways. The following was reported by Christianity Today on 24 April 2018

Pope Francis

Pope Francis was asked a challenging question by a little boy, about whether the boy’s late atheist father is in heaven. The boy, too emotional to speak before the audience, could only whisper the question through his tears to the pontiff. The Pope then repeated the boy’s question to the audience “A short time ago, my dad died. He was an atheist, but he had all four of his children baptized. He was a good man. Is Dad in heaven?”

Christianity Today: “Francis said that it is a ‘beautiful’ thing for a son to call his father ‘good.’ That man gave a beautiful testimony to his children, for his children to be able to say, ‘He was a good man.’ It’s a beautiful testimony on the part of the son that he has inherited his dad’s strength, and also, that he has had the courage to cry before all of us. If that man was capable of raising children like this, it’s true, he was a good man.”

Getting to the heart of the question, the pope remarked: “That man didn’t have the gift of faith, he wasn’t a believer, but he had his children baptized. He had a good heart. And [Emanuele] is doubting whether or not his dad, not having been a believer, is in Heaven. God is the one who decides who goes to heaven. But how does God’s heart react to a Dad like that? How? What do you think? … A dad’s heart! God has the heart of a father.

“And faced with a dad, a nonbeliever, who was able to have his children baptized and to give them that courage, do you think that God would be capable of leaving him far from Him?”

Pope Francis then asked the audience whether God abandons His children, to which the public answered, “No.” The pope then told the boy: “There you go, Emanuele, this is your answer. God surely was proud of your dad, because it’s easier to have your children baptized when you are a believer, than to have them baptized when you are not a believer. Surely, this pleased God greatly. Talk with your father, pray to your father.”

The Bible

The Bible teaches very clearly that a person must believe in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ to receive eternal life. This is a very fundamental doctrine. To deny it is plain heresy. The pope’s answer also smacks of attempting to make the RCC “user friendly”. The message seems to be: even if you don’t believe or go to church you can breathe easy. Just be a good person and there will be peace between you and God. However, it’s a case of preaching “ ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). It is a very clear indication that the RCC continues to promote doctrine contrary to the Bible.



(1) See for example Noll, M and Nystrom, C. Is the Reformation over? Baker Publishing, 2005.