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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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William

Pope Francis Says It’s Better to be an Atheist Than a Hypocritical Christian

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In a homily during a recent mass, Pope Francis called out Christians who act hypocritically, saying they are worse than atheists.

 

“So many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others. How many times have we heard — all of us, around the neighborhood and elsewhere — ‘But to be a Catholic like that, it’s better to be an atheist.’ It is that: scandal,” the Pope said during a mass at Casa Santa Marta on Thursday.

 

The Pope went on to reference the passage of Scripture in which those who believe they are Christians tell Jesus about all their good works, but Jesus says He never knew them.

 

“Here I am, Lord! … I went to Church, I was close to you, I belong to this association, I did this… Don’t you remember all the offerings I made?” the Pope paraphrased, according to FaithWire.com.

 

“Yes, I remember,” Francis said Jesus would respond. “The offerings, I remember them: All dirty. All stolen from the poor. I don’t know you.”

 

The Pope also seemed to imply that God will evaluate what good things we did on earth.

 

“To be a Christian means to do: to do the will of God — and on the last day — because all of us we will have one — that day what shall the Lord ask us? Will He say: ‘What you have said about me?’ No. He shall ask us about the things we did.”

 

Source: http://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/pope-francis-says-it-s-better-to-be-an-atheist-than-a-hypocritical-christian.html

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I'm not sure about his line in the article that heaven is open to all regardless of faith. It seems rather like salvation through works which has always been questionable doctrine, or possibly addressing the ongoing issue of virtuous pagans.

 

But otherwise I can see his meaning. At least someone who is an athiest isn't driving people away from the faith by setting poor examples and making people assume that all Christians are hypocrites. My grandmother used to say that going to church doesn't make you Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car: it is about how you live and what's inside you. Saying you're a Christian and then abusing the poor to benefit the rich seems rather incompatible with the Christian faith.

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It seems to me that the pope is expressing the same idea Elijah did during his contest with the prophets of Baal.

 

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”

1 Kings 18:21

 

If God exists we should show by how we live that we believe in him. If we aren't willing to live for him we shouldn't pretend to believe in him.

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