Here is my take, followed by the Huffington Post UK article.
The ‘Pope’ may have good intentions, trying to be inclusive, but he’s actually hurting many, giving them false, unbiblical hope.
Perhaps he doesn’t believe in ‘original sin.’ “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We all must be forgiven by Jesus’ shed blood. There is no other way to get clean, so then we can live with a clean conscience, empowered and led by the Holy Spirit, abiding in Him.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1
We don’t start out with a clean slate. We all must be forgiven to be able to then walk with a clean conscience, as we obey the Spirit and don’t walk according to the flesh.
Unreached people can have an encounter with Jesus without being preached to, but they still must know Jesus to be forgiven by Him. And then we keep our consciences clean (once washed) by overcoming sin through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, which the Bible clearly states:
Who-Goes-To-Heaven Scriptures — Narrow is the Way | Who are the Children of God? — “There is therefore now *no condemnation* to those who are IN CHRIST Jesus, who don’t WALK according to the flesh, but ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT.”
The emphasis on having a clean conscience is completely biblical, but it’s impossible unless we’re forgiven and then empowered to obey, being led by the Spirit. We must be born-again, Jesus said. Then, from a clean slate we take up our cross and follow Him. We abide in Him where fruit remains and our joy is full (John 15), no matter what we have to go through.
“For as the sufferings of Christ abound to us, even so our comfort also abounds through Christ” (2 Cor. 1:5).
Life in the Son is about having a clean conscience, but we must know Him to be cleansed. Then we can live overcoming, Holy-Spirit-empowered lives to keep our consciences clean.
“For if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God.” (Romans 8:13, 14).
Jesus died on the cross so we could be free, indeed — taking up our crosses and following Him!
Life in the Son!
Pope Francis Says Atheists Can Be Forgiven By God
The Huffington Post UK | Posted: 12/09/20
The pontiff made the unprecedented gesture in a letter to a newspaper, which appeared under the byline ‘Francesco’.
“You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith,” he wrote, according to The Independent.
“I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.”
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”
According to The Telegraph, he also said the “mercy of God has no limits”, and could also include non-believers.
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