The Pope and Relevant Magazine compete to see who can have the worst take on Christianity

I know that no one is perfect, and I certainly understand that there is intended nuance that can be lost in translation, but it's hard to read this recent tweet from Jorge Bergoglio (Pope Francis)'s official Twitter account as anything but a contradiction of Jesus:

Help me understand. What is our purpose as believers in "seeking the lost"? Is it not to win them to the Kingdom of Christ? And how precisely is that done without proselytizing? And if proselytizing isn't our commission, then why call them lost in the first place?

Perhaps I get my answer to those questions when Bergoglio beckons the Church to "expand her tent to welcome everyone"? Certainly Christ came for all, but He saves only those who humble their rebellious hearts enough to accept His free gift of salvation. Did Jesus not warn that "not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven"? Was it not Jesus Himself who cautioned us to be among His sheep and not the goats?

In which case, expanding the tent by means of proselytizing and discipling more sheep is Christ-ordained. Expanding the tent by appealing to an ecumenical universalism is not.

Of course, the Catholic Church is far from alone in struggling with this kind of compromising appeal. Just hours after Bergoglio's tweet, the self-proclaimed "leading magazine covering the intersection of faith and culture," Relevant, pushed out this article:

I skimmed the article, authored by King's College professor Ben White, and to be fair, I think perhaps it could have been titled more appropriately to avoid the seemingly provocative nature of telling Christians to dial down their "churchiness" in order to win the world. That wasn't White's larger point, after all. So why title it in that way?

Well, because that's the schtick of entities like Relevant. "We're the cool Christians; we cuss and are in sync with the world; we think outside the box."

Honestly, there's some value in thinking outside the box, if the "box" we're talking about is one that deals with traditional methods, strategies, and approaches to outreach. But too often, the "box" ends up being orthodox Christian doctrine. Thinking outside of that has become Relevant's calling card, regularly embracing and promoting ideologies contrary to Christian ethics, all in the name of being, well, "relevant."

To be sure, there was some of that in White's article, like his either intentional or careless misrepresentation of John MacArthur's position on holding worship services during COVID lockdowns. To be "relevant," White needed a foil to contrast himself against, and MacArthur was an easy choice.

And there was the obligatory errors in proper biblical interpretation present in the article as well, a seeming requirement to be published at the magazine. For instance, White's contention that the disciples of Jesus remained confused about Christ's divinity until the Roman soldier clued them in at the foot of the cross is specious and embarrassing coming from a professor of biblical studies.

Nevertheless, the main thrust of White's article was about listening, being patient with the unsaved, and meeting people where they are – a message that is good for all of us to hear and heed. I'm certainly sympathetic to the idea that Christians could benefit from doing more listening to those we wish to influence.

But the purpose of the listening is not to retreat, submit, or convey a false impression that there are equally viable, competing solutions to what ails our broken world. Nor should it be the product of some ill-advised attempt to chart out a middle ground between truth and folly.

Both Bergoglio and the brain trust at Relevant fall victim to the same foolish belief that the Church could stand to learn a few things from the world. Wrong. To fulfill its preeminent commission, the Church need only to take its cues from God's Word and offer the world something other than a mere echo of itself.

Our listening to the world should be to better calculate our approach in telling them about the greatness of God and His salvation in Christ alone. Doing anything less renders her existence ultimately meaningless and eternally irrelevant.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Not the Bee or any of its affiliates.

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