Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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In the News: Is the Pope Humble?

Image I am sure some who read this would object to the question. They might first object to any question of his humility as absurd. It has, after all, been his most commonly acknowledged attribute, proclaimed by the media which has covered each of his appearances in America. Others might object to the idea we might “judge” the heart of another. Who are we to deem the Pope as being anything other than what he “appears” or “claims” to be.

Of course, the judging of hearts is not appropriate. And, I freely admit that despite the adulation supplied him, his cloistered lifestyle, and his privileged existence, he continues to speak to and show compassion toward those who are poor and destitute.

However, regarding the judging of humility, there is another public figure that is almost universally judged to be lacking in the attribute. He is a candidate for the Republican nomination for President, Donald Trump. Trump’s detractors find him insufferably arrogant. Even his defenders acknowledge his braggadocio, considering it either indicative of leadership, or at least tolerable because of his populist message. No one considers it a judgment of heart to contend he lacks humility. It is obvious by his actions.

So, considering the actions of Pope Francis, we find reason to question his humility. This is especially germane as we consider both the influence his recent visit has had upon millions of people, and the spiritual consequence of self-exaltation as noted by our Lord in his parable in Luke 18:14, “for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

First, the Pope takes a name (Father) that when used as a spiritual title, is reserved only for God Himself, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9).

Second, he accepts the adulation of millions of followers, rather than properly redirecting such misplaced veneration to God. This is in great contrast to the apostles. Consider Paul’s response to the efforts of the people of Lystra, who sought to bow down before Barnabas and him. When he heard of their plans, he tore his clothes and ran in among them saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God” (Acts 14:15).

Finally, he is the head of a religious organization that has rejected the sufficiency of scripture to equip man (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17), and has raised up his own teaching and that of the denomination he heads to the same standing as the words of God Himself (cf. Matthew 15:9). This is not denied by Catholics, who proclaim church tradition and Papal edict to be on par with scripture in establishing God’s will.

This, perhaps, is the most egregious example of a lack of humility on his part, and on the part of any man who departs from God’s will. Regardless of men’s protests of sincerity and humility, God describes such departures as prideful. Concerning such men, Peter said, “They are presumptuous, self-willed” (2 Peter 2:10); (cf. Jude 8-13). It is always an exhibition of pride when one departs from truth and lives according to the dictates of his own heart.

God’s response to those who are prideful? As James quotes the proverb, “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (James 2:6). So, our call is to “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 2:10).