10. april 2015
Peter Wehner skriver i, The New York Times, bl.a.:
Enter Pope Francis. For those of us who are part of the evangelical movement, the popular leader of the Roman Catholic Church offers an archetype. He views the role of the church not as a combatant in the culture wars but “as a field hospital after battle.” He has also said, “Without mercy, we have little chance nowadays of becoming part of a world of ‘wounded’ persons in need of understanding, forgiveness and love.”
In 2013, the pope told a young audience in Rio de Janeiro, “Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent.” Two weeks ago, Pope Francis did just that, meeting with gay, transgender and H.I.V.-positive prisoners during a visit to Naples.
Pope Francis criticizes the church not for its unwillingness to rebuke sinners but for ignoring the weak and vulnerable. He washed the feet of two women and two Muslims in juvenile detention — the first time a pontiff has included both women and Muslims in the rite. Without changing church doctrine, he has altered how the Catholic Church is seen. These are symbolic acts packed with theological content, reminding us that individuals are infinitely more valuable than moral rules, that failures don’t define us.
Of the two approaches — Franklin versus Francis — the one taken by the pope is not only more popular but also better reflects Christ’s example. Jesus confronted sin, not to be censorious but because it puts us at enmity with God, one another and our true nature. “Go and sin no more” were words meant to produce greater human flourishing. Yet time and again in the Gospels we read about Jesus embracing those denounced by the religious elite of his day.
The authorities were constantly at odds with Jesus because he hung out with the “wrong” people — the despised, the outcast, the ceremonially unclean — and he claimed the authority of God in doing so. Jesus was condemned for being “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” and for consorting with prostitutes. His anger was directed most often against the proud, the hypocritical and the self-righteous. The powerful hated him, while those who were broken flocked to him.
Some of my fellow evangelical Christians may respond by saying they are called to stand against unrighteousness for the good of the whole. But Pope Francis is not reversing the teachings of his church; indeed, Mr. Graham’s and Pope Francis’ views align on matters of marriage and protecting unborn life. The difference has far more to do with tone, animating spirit and emphasis. In the words of the New Testament scholar Richard B. Hays, “What the Bible does say should be heeded carefully, but any ethic that intends to be biblical will seek to get the accents in the right place.”
That is where Mr. Graham and those evangelicals he speaks for have veered off track. He obsesses on some issues while ignoring others, speaks with stridency rather than mercy, and thereby creates a distorted impression of Christianity, one that is at odds with Jesus’ approach.
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