Question: Does God forgive those who don’t believe in him?
Pope: It’s not belief in God that counts, but a clean conscience that determines who gets to heaven
Thus, a newsreporter summarized the response of Pope Francis of a 2,500-word letter to questions asked by Journalist Eugenio Scalfari, about whether God forgives those who don’t believe in him. The letter was posted September 3, 2013 after which Curtney Coren wrote a news summary in Newsmax with the accompanying photo above.
Dr. Eugenio Scalfari is a journalist of the Italian Newspaper, “La Repubblica.” Let’s go to the letter itself. This excerpt is taken from the English version translated from Italian. Vatican titled this piece, “Letter to a Non-Believer,” dated September 3, 2013 and emanating from Vatican.
I now wish to address the three questions from your article of 7 August. I believe that in the first two questions, what interests you is to understand the attitude of the Church towards those who do not share faith in Jesus. Above all, you ask if the God of Christians forgives those who do not believe and who do not seek faith. Given the premise, and this is fundamental, that the mercy of God is limitless for those who turn to him with a sincere and contrite heart, the issue for the unbeliever lies in obeying his or her conscience. There is sin, even for those who have no faith, when conscience is not followed. Listening to and obeying conscience means deciding in the face of what is understood to be good or evil. It is on the basis of this choice that the goodness or evil of our actions is determined. (http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130911_eugenio-scalfari.html)
The above statements came from the highest authority of the Roman Catholic Church. The question asked that the Pope restated was, “if the God of the Christians forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith.” Let us hear from God and the authorities of the real Christian faith in the Bible.
Firstly, those who will refuse to believe in Christ are condemned – already!
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Secondly, man’s conscience will not be a basis for God’s judgment. There are consciences that are dull like one that was seared by hot iron.
I TIMOTHY 4:2
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
There are consciences that are contaminated with evil.
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
How can an unbelieving conscience be clean as the Pope says? Unbelief is the result of a contaminated conscience!
Thirdly, people who do not believe in the existence of God are filthy according to God:
1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.
3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Anyone who refutes God’s description of people who do not believe in His existence is anti-God and anti-Christ! According to God, those who say that “there is no God” are corrupt and abominable in His sight! None of them can be good! All of them are filthy in His sight!
God is best able to assess the conscience of man. It is not man that can assess if a given conscience is an apt guide to believe in God or not.
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
God can see the heart of every human under heaven.
God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.
24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
To say the least – that a man who refuses to believe in God may have a clean conscience – is blatantly speaking against God and the Bible!
Even the consciences of those who negate the existence of God will in one way or another be on my side! They would agree with me.
In the long history of man’s recorded existence in the Bible, God’s words in the Bible are proven words. It is able to reveal the intents of the hearts.
12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
God’s words are sure words that always hit the bull’s eye.
6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.
God’s words know no extinction!
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
As long as heaven and earth exist and even beyond, God’s words and pronouncement are exactly true! If God said in the Bible that those who refuse to believe Him are corrupt and evil, who is the present Pope to negate such declaration?!!!!! What authority does he have to do that?
By this, it is not our intention to judge those who do not believe in God! We do not know if sometime, somewhere in the future, they may do so; and we are praying for such time to come to them. Our only intention is to reveal the divine truth mandated in His book.
II THESSALONIANS 1:8-9
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
Refusing to believe in God is not the first thought that may occupy the consciousness of a man. Such refusal is a result of rejection of what is first being felt by his conscience!
Arthur Martin of Daily Mail wrote about research findings of Bruce Hood, a professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University. Here are excerpts in an article titled, “Why we are born to believe in God: It’s wired into the brain, says psychologist,” dated September 7, 2009.
The findings of Bruce Hood, professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University, suggest that magical and supernatural beliefs are hardwired into our brains from birth, and that religions are therefore tapping into a powerful psychological force.
His work is supported by other researchers who have found evidence linking religious feelings and experience to particular regions of the brain. They suggest people are programmed to receive a feeling of spirituality from electrical activity in these areas…
…Professor Hood believes it is futile to try to get people to abandon their beliefs because these come from such a ‘fundamental level’.
‘Our research shows children have a natural, intuitive way of reasoning that leads them to all kinds of supernatural beliefs about how the world works,’ he said.
According to the reporter, Professor Brice Hood explained that as children grow up, they overlay these beliefs with more rational approaches but that the tendency to illogical supernatural beliefs remains as religion. Organized religion is just part of a spectrum of supernatural beliefs, the professor said. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1211511/Why-born-believe-God-Its-wired-brain-says-psychologist.html).
It is not only biblical but scientific that in a particular portion of our brain, God left a space reserved for connecting us to him. That space is to enable us to believe and feel that we came into existence not because of ourselves or of anybody else but God; more so not from the animalistic ingratitude of an ape!
By this, I advise the Pope – if he accepts advises – to be more biblical in his pronouncements for the sake of more than a billion souls that look up to him as their leader.
May God bless you!