Pope Benedict XVI’s god and gospel

Dear Friend,

Pope Benedict XVI presented to the world his first encyclical called “God is Love.”  Since the Pope both distorted the very nature of God and the meaning of a person’s relationship with Him, it is most important we address the encyclical.

In the present-day environment of false ecumenism, with the Pope and his Roman Church, it is incumbent upon us to “contend for the faith.[1]What is at stake is to uphold the biblical nature of God and the righteousness of Christ Jesus the Lord in the Gospel.  The article is presented below.

Trusting in the Lord in “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,”

Richard Bennett

On December 25, 2005, Benedict XVI (Karl Ratzinger) presented the first encyclical of his pontificate.  The entitled encyclical, “God is Love,” addresses both the nature of God and the meaning of a person’s relationship with Him.  It has been distributed widely throughout the world and is posted on the Vatican’s website.[2]  It reveals that Ratzinger’s policies are firmly anchored in traditional Roman Catholic doctrine, as is to be expected from a man who for so long held the headship of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith.[3]  Yet, the encyclical is shrouded in soft terminology and couched in an approach that wastes none of the fruits of false ecumenism that the prior pope had accumulated to the Papacy.  The encyclical is divided into two major parts: the doctrinal and the practical.  We will deal only with the doctrinal part in this short essay.

In his first section, Ratzinger stated, “We have come to believe in God’s love:  in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life.  Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person.”[4]  Beginning with the concept, “God is love,” Ratzinger attempted to circumvent the essential issue of an individual being convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit in order to realize his need for a Savior.  Conviction of sin is nowhere spoken of in this encyclical.  No one becomes a Christian by simply believing in God’s love.  Rather, a person is saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and to God alone be the glory.[5]  There is no “coming to know and to believe in the love God has for us” without these prerequisites which Ratzinger has nowhere given.  Rather, Ratzinger’s statement gives the reader a security in God’s love without addressing his sin nature and his sins.  According to Scripture, however, we cannot know God’s love until after we have fled from His wrath against our sin, repented of it, and turned to put our faith in Christ Jesus alone.  God is the unique being of matchless and incomparable perfect holiness as the Scripture proclaims, “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?  Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?[6]  Without an appreciation of this absolute perfect holiness of God, there is no saving knowledge of God’s love.  In the Gospel, the holiness of God is dealt with as it is declared, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…that he [God] might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”[7]  Ratzinger’s deception is soul damming.

Divide and Conquer

In Section 2, Ratzinger employs the age-old tactic of divide and conquer by making a distinction.  Stating that there is a problem with language, he asks rhetorically, “So we need to ask: are all these forms of love basically one, so that love, in its many and varied manifestations, is ultimately a single reality, or are we merely using the same word to designate totally different realities?”  After a mishmash of citations and allusions to pagan philosophers, Ratzinger goes on to argue that God’s love is both eros and agape; by such rationale, he is able to state affirmatively that God’s love is both.[8]  Scripture, however, denies such sophistry, as it consistently uses the agape word group alone to define and describe the character of God’s love toward His people.

In Section 9, “The newness of biblical faith,” Ratzinger’s conclusion is that “God loves man” and that “His love, moreover, is an elective love: among all the nations he chooses Israel and loves her—but he does so precisely with a view to healing the whole human race.”  There are a number of things wrong with his reasoning.  First, it is based on the Catholic notion that man is wounded by sin,[9] a flat contradiction of Ephesians 2:1, that if a person is not “in Christ”, he is still “dead in trespasses and sins.”  Second, the notion that God is going to heal the whole human race is nowhere in the Bible.  Rather, He is calling out a people for His own: those who were chosen “in him before the foundation of the world[10] to be His sons and daughters; the ones He begat “with the word of truth;[11] the ones “which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”[12]  To his false gospel, Ratzinger has now added major dishonesty.

“A god who is against himself”

In Section 10 of the encyclical, Ratzinger states, “God’s passionate love for his people—for humanity—is at the same time a forgiving love.  It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice.”  God’s people and humanity in general are not the same thing, as noted above.  Nor is Ratzinger’s type of god, who has passionate love (eros plus agape) for humanity, the God of the Bible.  “God against himself, his love against his justice” is not the essence of God’s character.  Rather, in the Bible, God’s saving love is always in accord with His righteousness.  We must accept God’s love as He has defined it.  In Scripture, God’s love is seen in the maintenance of His law and in the manifestation of His justice, as Romans 3:26 clearly states, “to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness:  that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”  God retained the integrity of His character as a moral governor in that He showed a due regard to His Law and to the penalty of the Law in His plan of salvation.  In Section 12 Ratzinger continues,

“His [Christ’s] death on the Cross is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him.  This is love in its most radical form.  By contemplating the pierced side of Christ (cf. 19:37), we can understand the starting-point of this Encyclical Letter: ‘God is love’ (1 Jn 4:8).”

What Ratzinger fails to state is the first and essential message in the letter of the Apostle John, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”[13]  The excellence of the divine nature in all its perfection is represented by light.  All the absolute fullness of holiness, justice, and truth exist in God.  In Him there is no darkness at all.  Ratzinger’s concept of “turning of God against himself” is utter darkness.  God never turns against Himself.[14]  His purpose is not “to raise man up” but rather to present a perfect demonstration of His righteousness.

Totally missing from the whole encyclical is the concept of sin.  Mankind is never shown to be “dead in trespasses and sins.”[15]Thus, the concept of God’s fulfilling His own just requirements in saving spiritually dead persons is also missing.  In fact, God’s purpose was that believers might be made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  As the Lord, who knew no sin of His own, was made sin for us, so we, who have no righteousness of our own, are made the righteousness of God in Him, summarized by the Apostle Paul, “for He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”[16]

Attempting to Bypass the Lord Christ Jesus

Ratzinger’s god with his passionate love for humanity was an insult to the true love of God because it attempted to redefine the very nature of God.  The true love of God perfectly upholds His truth, His commands, His Word, and His righteousness.  God’s saving love is not for humanity in general but is always particularized and exclusive to those who are accredited with the righteousness of Christ.  The Gospel is the demonstration, in concrete historical fact, of the perfect satisfaction which Christ rendered to all the demands of the Law, and which God places to the credit of every true believer.  Before God’s all holy nature, sin had to be punished and true righteousness established.  This has been accomplished in the faithful obedience of the Lord Christ Jesus and His propitiatory sacrifice.  Thus Christ’s faithfulness is proclaimed by the Apostle Paul, “even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe…being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”[17]  What is announced in few words is the demonstration of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, even unto death.  Such perfect rectitude is of God.  The great news is that this absolute righteousness is “unto all and upon all them that believe.

Ratzinger Proposes Sacramental Mysticism

Having defined God’s love as God turning against Himself in Christ’s death on the Cross, Ratzinger begins Section 13 by stating, “Jesus gave this act of oblation an enduring presence through his institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.  He anticipated his death and resurrection by giving his disciples, in the bread and wine, his very self, his body and blood as the new manna (cf. Jn 6:31-33)”.  Then Ratzinger goes on to state, “The Eucharist draws us into Jesus’ act of self-oblation.  More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos, we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving.”  The section finishes with the words, “The sacramental ‘mysticism’, grounded in God’s condescension towards us, operates at a radically different level and lifts us to far greater heights than anything that any human mystical elevation could ever accomplish.”

“Sacramental mysticism” is a totally abhorrent concept to the All Holy God and the truth of His written Word.  In John 6, which the Pope cites, the Lord explained that He was going to give His flesh for the life of the world.  “The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”[18]  Christ Jesus presented Himself as the One who had come here to die.  To give His flesh was to offer Himself as a sacrifice, to voluntarily lay down His life.  In these words, we have the heart of the Gospel.  His flesh He gave willingly in His sacrifice “for the life of the world.”  “Then Jesus said unto them, verily, verily I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.”[19]  This speaks of the essential requirement of faith in Christ Jesus the Lord.  It is so serious that if one does not trust in the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross, he will not have eternal life.  Eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of Man signifies trusting on the Lord in His sacrifice.  Christ Jesus accomplished all the benefits of redemption: pardon from sin, acceptance with God, the adoption as children of God, access to the throne of grace, and eternal life.  Receiving this by faith is aptly called eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  Eating His flesh and drinking His blood is to be totally identified with Him by faith—for His sacrificial death must be appropriated by faith if men are to be saved.  “Eating” is equivalent to “believing” and confirms the central theme of what He proclaimed, which He summarized as “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”[20]  The bread that the Lord gives is not apart from Himself, one must come to Him and believe on Him to have everlasting life.

Human Love Proposed as the Way to Illuminate the World

Ratzinger gives an invitation as he reaches a conclusion in Section 39.  He states,

“Faith tells us that God has given his Son for our sakes and gives us the victorious certainty that it is really true: God is love!…Faith, which sees the love of God revealed in the pierced heart of Jesus on the Cross, gives rise to love.  Love is the light—and in the end, the only light—that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working.  Love is possible, and we are able to practise it because we are created in the image of God.  To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world—this is the invitation I would like to extend with the present Encyclical.”

Ratzinger emphatically states, “Love is the light—and in the end, the only light—that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working.”  This statement is consummate heresy.  Biblically, the holiness of God is the Light.  His holiness is His essential characteristic.  Thus, the Scripture proclaims, “Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name?  For Thou only art holy:  for all nations shall come and worship before Thee…”[21]  Ratzinger denigrates the holiness of God, ignores the Holy Spirit while imposing fallen human sentiments as the conditioning element in the Divine work of salvation.

Further, for Ratzinger to state that “to experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world” is outrageous before the Lord God.  A person’s only hope rests on Christ’s perfect sacrifice before God’s all holy nature.  To those who might be taken in by Ratzinger’s notions, we respond with Christ Jesus’ proclamation: “I am the light of the world.”  The Lord directly announced that He banishes spiritual darkness.  He came as the light-revealing God exposing mankind, to the end that all who believe on Him should be delivered from the darkness and the ruin of sin.  The Lord’s commandment is explicit, “this is the work of God that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.[22]

Many Bible believers clearly understood that the office of the Papacy is the Antichrist.[23]  Ratzinger’s documented statements in his first encyclical showed him to be the latest one in the long line fulfilling that office.  The prophetic portrayal of the wickedness of a man who would both corrupt the biblical concept of Who God is and deform the very Gospel of grace is a demonstration of the divine inspiration of the Bible and the authority of the All Holy God.

[1] Jude 1:3

[2] http://www.vatican.va/holy father/benedict xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf benxvi enc 20051225 deus-caritas-est en.html   It was first published on December 25, 2005.

[3]Formerly known as the Office of the Inquisition and then the Holy Office. It is still housed in the same building in Rome as it had been during six horrendous centuries of torture and death when it carried out the papal decrees.  It is still the duty of that office to carry out papal decrees.

[4] The word “encounter”, used nineteen times in this encyclical, is a classic buzzword of mysticism and Emergent Church movement to focus on experience rather than objective biblical salvation.

[5] Grace alone and Faith alone, Ephesians 2:8-9; in Christ alone, Romans 3:23-26; to God alone be the glory, Ephesians 1:6

[6] Exodus 15:11

[7] Romans 3:23-24, 26

[8] Section 7

[9] “Man has been wounded by sin…When he is drawn to think about his real self he turns to those deep recesses of his being where God who probes the heart awaits him, and where he decides his own destiny in the sight of God….” Document No. 64, “Gaudium et Spes”, 7 December 1965, in Vatican Council II:  The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, 1981 ed., Austin Flannery, O. P., General Editor (Northport, NY:  Costello Publ. Co.) § 14 “The Essential Nature of Man.”

[10] Ephesians 1:4

[11] James 1:18

[12] John 1:13

[13] I John 1:5

[14] James 1:17

[15] Ephesians 2:1

[16] II Corinthians 5:21

[17] Romans 3:22, 24

[18] John 6:51

[19] John 6:53

[20] John 6:47

[21] Revelation 15:4

[22] John 6: 29 The seriousness of His command is such that he said, “he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life:  and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” John 3:3.

[23] As early as the tenth century, the idea that the Pope is the Antichrist was extant among many, including Roman Catholic prelates, and publicly stated.  One of the major reasons for the heinous persecution of the ancient churches of Piedmont, particularly the Vaudois, is that from their study of Revelation and the events of the twelfth century in which they lived, they specifically held the Pope as the Antichrist.  See Peter Allix, Some Remarks upon The Ancient Churches of Pie
(1690, 1692), Ch. XXI in The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont and of the Albigenses  Reprint (Gallatin, TN 37066:  Church History Research & Archives, 1989) pp. 217-230