The leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has earned a reputation for being bold in his stances on issues he believes to be important, even at the expense of offending fellow Catholics. And yet, according to a recent survey conducted in 34 countries, the pope has a high approval rating, especially among Catholics.* For Roman Catholics around the world, the pope is recognized not only as the leader of the church, but also as the primary voice of authority in the church.**
This stands in stark contrast to our position here at AiG. We teach, without apology, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one true leader of His church, and that the 66 books of God-breathed Holy Scripture are supremely authoritative. No survey respondent is in a position to “rate” the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, and no person alive may validly pass judgment on the authority of the Word of God. That the pope has been elevated, in the eyes of so many, to a position of such tremendous authority is actually an affront to the true authority of Jesus Christ that is expressed in His Word. While my focus is to grow the international ministry of Answers in Genesis, I cannot help but consider how many in America have elevated the founding fathers and documents to a similar level.
Interestingly, some of the pope’s highest approval ratings come from Italy (the seat of the Vatican) and from Latin America (the current pope’s former home). In recent years, AiG’s international outreach division has devoted itself to forging friendships with ministries in both Italy and Latin America that share AiG’s mission of proclaiming the absolute truth and authority of the Bible from the very first verse and of calling people to believe in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Already, God has brought about some genuinely amazing opportunities from ministry and teaching! It is our utmost desire to see people everywhere coming to know Christ as Lord and Savior, and to stand up for the truth and authority of His Word.
Through teaching creation apologetics, we have seen many people come to see that the Bible has a position of authority as God’s inerrant and infallible Word. Furthermore, we have seen people who have come to trust in Jesus alone for salvation as we connect the truth of biblical history to the only saving message of the gospel of Christ. An authoritative base in biblical truth trumps tradition and popularity every time. While many have expressed support of a man, Answers in Genesis is confronting people with the authority of the Bible that points to the only way of salvation through the God-man, Jesus Christ. Please join us and our friends in prayer as we pursue this mission to the glory of God. And please pray for the countries in Latin America and also Italy where we have major conferences in 2015.
* Teresa Welsh, “Pope Francis Finds Favor Across the World,” U.S. News and World Report, December 11, 2014, http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/12/11/pope-francis-finds-favor-across-the-world.
** Catholics have looked to both Scripture and church tradition as authoritative; however, the Catholic Church holds that the pope is supremely responsible to interpret both Scripture and tradition for the Catholic Church.