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Pope Francis' Message To Atheists and Agnostics: Live A Moral Life and listen To Your Conscience

The Pope has struck a surprisingly conciliatory tone towards atheists and agnostics, saying that God will "forgive" them as long as they behave morally and live according to their consciences.

By Nick Squires, Rome | 11 Sep 2013 | The Telegraph

The unprecedented gesture came as his incoming number two, the Vatican's newly-nominated secretary of state, said that the rule that priests should be celibate was not "a dogma of the Church" and could be open for discussion.

Francis, who has won praise for spontaneous and unusual moves during his six month papacy, wrote a lengthy letter to a newspaper, La Repubblica, which the Italian daily printed over four pages, including page one, under the simple byline "Francesco".

"God forgives those who obey their conscience," he wrote in the unprecedented letter, the latest example of the markedly different tone and style from his predecessors that he has set since being elected in March.

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/the-pope/10302850/P...

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If 'aionion'...

...means 'of the age to come', then if used to describe both the life and the punishment, it is saying when they both occur (in the age to come), with unspecified duration. But there are plenty of other descriptions of the life involving not perishing, death being destroyed, nothing separating us from the love of God, the description of the New Jerusalem etc. which adds weight to the life being eternal, regardless of what 'aionion' means. The punishment, while also being 'in the age to come' does not therefore also have to be eternal, even though it could last aions upon aions.

I'm not hanging my hat completely on this, though. I've seen some discussion of 'aionion' having the idea of 'no end in sight', or 'beyond the horizon' -- so this word is used both in describing God's attributes but also in describing the time Jonah was in the great fish (obviously not eternal in extent), or in describing how some geographical features like ancient hills seem to have been here 'forever'. I think we have to be careful trying to squeeze 'eternal' out of 'aionion'.

But even if it is properly translated 'eternal' in the context of both the life and the punishment, I still believe as John says that Christ holds the keys to hell, and that even if a punishment was nominally eternal in scope, that upon working repentance through the flames of His Love, He has the authority to commute such sentence, with the old done away with, and the new creature entering through those gates of the city that will 'never be shut'. Without such repentance, the unpardonable sin (unrepentance) yet remains; and the punishment would be eternal under such condition.


Regarding motivations, what is the stronger motivator: fear of eternal hell, or hatred of sin and death and a love for a God who is Love and makes all things new? I've found that my motivation in my walk with God has only strengthened after becoming convinced of universalism -- it has become less about seeking escape from punishment (although that is still a factor to consider) and more about not wanting to grieve the heart of God, whose character I see in the face of Christ, the Good Shepherd. This is really the same type of question that the Apostle Paul discussed: what shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we who have died to our sins yet live in them? The transformed heart wants to do away with the old and be changed, and doesn't require the fear of future sins being unforgiven in order to seek such change.

Also, just because hell may not be eternal, I would not wish on anyone such experience in the outer darkness for a day, if they could avoid it. Just because the Israelites knew that eventually God would lead them to the Promised Land, did that mean it was trivial that their disobedience caused them to suffer in the wilderness for forty years?

If you had a friend who was contemplating cheating on their spouse and having an affair, and you knew the spouse was of such good character and of such love that they would eventually forgive the wrong upon repentance and seek reconciliation, would you then advise your friend to just go ahead with it, since in the end it would probably be forgiven? No -- the pain and brokenness and personal damage that would ensue, though finite, would not be worth it.

It is also interesting that when Christ speaks of it being better to cut off the various appendages then to have all of ourself enter the flames, He then says that 'everyone will be salted by fire'. I take this to mean that we should obviously take measures on this side of the age to come, in seeking repentance; the way will be much more painful and grievous otherwise -- one way or another, we will all be salted.

Honestly, Baptist -- I find that the joy in my heart has abounded even more, having such confidence in God's Love, in the truly Good News of His Gospel being victorious; I am more motivated now to share this Love with others than ever.

I'm glad you find that

I'm glad you find that to be true. I still strongly disagree and feel that it would render so much of the new testament meaningless (to me) that I couldn't read it with what I would consider a watchful eye. I've heard the common claim of not wanting anyone to be in the pain of hell for even a day, or feel that pain in this life also from people before, but... I find that incongruous with the text. Regardless, Jesus rocks, hope you have a blessed day.

Fair enough...

...although just to clarify: I would rather someone face His consuming fire if that is the only path to restoration, and the destruction of sin. That's the other thing -- I think it is letting people off too easy to just tolerate their sin forever existing in some cosmic corner. The way to truly hold a Hitler to justice is not through endless torture for its own sake, but in a Love not relenting until every last horror and evil he caused is faced up to and owned and dealt with, even if it takes aion upon aion in such an egregious case. But what true Christian would not rejoice over a genocidal murderer like Saul or Hitler having an eventual conversion (as actually did happen with Saul and may yet happen with Hitler)? I think it is hypocritical or inconsistent for a Christian to rejoice over the murderer or the thief on the cross who converts in his earthly lifetime, and then to act like they would not rejoice if such people were somehow restored in the age to come, perhaps aions upon aions from now.

Anyway, I won't drag it on further than this. :)

I Want To Remind All of You Of What The Christ Said About Truth:

One day the Real worshippers will not worship God in any church or on any mountain or building built by mans hands, but the real believers will worship God 'IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH'..

In other words to worship God is to speak the truth to one another, with Patience, kindnes and with Understanding..

If we could JUST do this simple thing we could turn this hell hole of an world into a heaven on earth..



21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

This does not say in any way that to worship God is to speak the truth to one another. That is just personal interpretation who's content is not found in the text.

popes just trying

to get the catholic church to be a state church again. Been snuggling up close with the church of england in recent years, and just trying to make things easier for when they take over. They are already officially recognized in china as a state church, while I have friends who start underground churches over there.

Watch out once they get political power they will restart the inquisition.


What? Did you really just say this? Ha. I'm a conspiracy theorist, but come on!

I believe

a one world government will have a one world church. The pope has shown no problem changing whatever rules that catholics are supposed to follow in order to give himself more power or money. Watch as the church of england join right back up with the catholic church. Watch as the catholic church starts making Confucius and Buddha "saints" to draw the asians into their church.

Is the pope Catholic?

This traditional way of saying "yes" seems to be in jeopardy. I can remember the times when many Catholics maintained that not even Protestants would make the cut.

I don't see how someone can agree with both the Bible and the pope on this one.

Localism is for people who can still sleep at night even though somebody they don't know in a city they have never been is doing things differently. ("Localism, A Philosophy of Government" on Amazon for Kindle or Barnes and Noble ebook websites)

I just hope he doesn't take up camping

because then my favorite variant of that saying also stops working.

I don't know about Catholic, but thePope is certainly Illuminati

People like hearing, regardless of what the bible says, that what you believe matters not to God. For that they say "yeah Pope!" and do a little jig.

(Honestly! If you don't believe in God then why do you care what the Pope says? Isn't that a fundamental contradiction? Of course, I don't know why ANYONE cares what the Pope says because he embodies a contradiction to the bible.)

But make no mistake, there is an alternative agenda afoot. Illuminati believe in God... only its a twisted version concerning believing Jesus and Lucifer are one in the same. Regardless, the Jesuits and the Illuminati have infiltrated nearly every government and exert control over most churches. The Vatican has long been controlled by Jesuits.

The Long term objective is to eliminate Governments as well as all Religions. That's why it's "cool" now to make fun of religeous people even among libertarians sadly.

The Popes actions further the Illuminati's plan of abolishing religion and ultimately bringing everyone under a world religion as well as, of course, the new world order.

Not according to Mel Gibsons dad Hutton,

a devout traditionalist pre Vatican 2 Catholic:

he knows about 9/11 and the New World Order as well, Alex Jones has interviewed him, Mel is awake also.

I Beginning To Agree More And More With This Pope

As long as he leads by example he will have no criticism from me..


scawarren's picture

Yep I agree; I'm beginning to

Yep I agree; I'm beginning to really like Pope Francis.

It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled. – Mark Twain

Preaching love!

I love it!

Isn't he contradicting church doctrine?

He just bypassed the "only" way to get to heaven right?

You could look at it as contradiction,

by I see it as reformation, or more specifically as an update of interpretation. He's equating "Son" with "conscience". I think it's quite a historical bit of writing as I see it as the first time a Pope has acknowledged the full implication of apostle Paul's new testament. A previously impenetrable wall between Catholic and Protestant has just been shattered. It's a bold move as it's essentially the same wall that has separated not only Christians from Christians but Christians from non-Christians at large.

yes sir

he sure did. He moves us closer and closer to revealing where the Antichrist will come from. God specifically states He desires a relationship with us. For I never knew you comes to mind. Celibacy on the other hand is never stated to be something God requires of us. The Catholic Church invented this scheme so the Priests could get paid dirt, and so they would have no family to leave their money to when they died and instead would leave it to the church. That is why all these priests get caught doing all of this perverted nonsense. The Bible even states that if a man or woman are divorced and find themselves in lust that they should get married again to keep themselves from having relations outside of wedlock. I would give you examples of this backed up by Bible verses, but this computer of my wife, has windows 8 and it is terrible to try and navigate on and open extra tabs.

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must. like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.-Thomas Paine

The R3volution requires action, not observation!!!!

A good message but my concern

A good message but my concern for the youth of today is the numbers of young who appear to be indoctrinated with no conscience and no sense of shame.

I had the same thought.

If you have a twisted (or non-existent) conscience, you're good to go!


What is there to be ashamed of? They're just animals dancing to their dna (Dawkins). It's never wrong to do what you want to do. We don't get mad at Lions for eating Gazelles. Neither should we get angry at humans when they do "wrong", because wrong does not exist. Or else there's God, and then... well... the Bible.

My worry is that perhaps they

My worry is that perhaps they don't or won't know what "wrong" is.

Do you?

Do you know what wrong is?

"Wrong" is whatever my

"Wrong" is whatever my conscience tells me it is ... based on the belief structure I was raised in within a shared societal norm reflected in its laws, traditions and culture (you know all the things the globalists are setting out to destroy to replace it with their aberrant, abnormal, amoral,concepts of humanity and the masses, likening it to the needs of all animals...f$cking, killing, eating, sleeping and dying)where everything is "right".


Please realize that in that case "wrong" does not exist. If your assertion was correct, then anyone who disagreed with you but came to opposite conclusions, because of their "belief structure, shared societal norms (of diverse societies)" etc. then it would negate all truth. Who would be more right? The person more in line with the majority? The framework you gave takes away all truth and in fact makes you unable to condemn the "globalist" because perhaps they have simply been raised or come to different conclusions. They haven't done "wrong", only done something you don't prefer.

You asked me a question. I

You asked me a question. I gave you my answer. You don't like my answer and all you want to do is ARGUE. You sound like you're taking Philosophy 101 and practising for a term paper. Do they still grade them?

That's fine

Didn't want to argue, just wondered if you realized the ramifications of your own world view.

I would guess that my world

I would guess that my world view and its "ramifications" are based on thought, life experiences, observations, both educated and secular, and common sense. How do you see the "ramifications" of my world view?


I think everyone would say they come to their worldview in that way, you're not unique in that respect. I'm talking about a naturalist world view verses a religious world view. One can have a world view with objective morality in one of the two, but it ain't naturalism. Without that objectivity (even if it is undefined to a large degree) there is only personal experience etc etc. as you stated. If that is all there is and most people say they arrive at their world view in this manner, then one can not be said to be superior to another, one is not "better" than the other. They are both equally valid. One may say plunder is superior, it gives me what I want with less work and more ease, survival of the fittest, while another says, being plundered is wrong, natural law etc... Neither is right, just arrived at via the means you have described. No ACTUAL, no TRUE, no REAL, Rights, Virtues, Good, Evil etc. Those are the ramifications of your world view.

That being said, I'm sure you're a really nice, thoughtful, person who is pretty cool and who I have a lot in common with. It's just the foundations that we disagree about. I'm not trying to fight, just pointing that out, I know you disagree.

I don't think it's

I don't think it's disagreement that separates our position, ..I just plain don't understand you. You do not explain "naturalism" enough for me. It is "natural" to steal if you want or need something? It is "natural" to lie if the truth will suffer consequences. All children do not learn this. This is innate behavior. Any child will behave this way unless he/she is "taught" that this is "wrong". Millenia of time has extolled the virtues of honor, truth, integrity, honesty. This is hard work and civilizations thrived on these precepts for a society to build its foundation on. "Naturalism" is "human functionality" in my guesswork of it. Faith and nobility of the human spirit transcends to a higher plane of existence which I feel is worth pursuing...or at least be hopeful of.