The chief deficiency of Protestantism, according to Jason and the Callers, is that we only have a Bible that needs to be interpreted while they — Roman Catholics — have a pope who is the final word on interpretation. In other words, Protestants have multiple opinions about the Bible’s meaning while Roman Catholics have one truth thanks to its one pope (please don’t notice, by the way, when the church had more than one).
Given this anti-Protestant polemic (the new acceptable prejudice), I had a good chuckle when devout Roman Catholics had to come to the rescue to explain what Francis meant in his recent universalistic sounding homily.
Andrew Preslar did a pretty good impersonation of a Protestant reading his Bible when he wrote:
The key to understanding the Pope’s remarks is to understand that there is a difference between being redeemed–as are all men (objectively), because of Christ’s death and resurrection–and being saved or in a state of grace–as are only those who receive God’s grace by faith and abide in his love. It is also important to notice that the Pope was not teaching that atheists can be saved merely by doing good works. He made two distinct though related points; namely, that atheists can do good works and that Christ has redeemed everyone. For these reasons, we can “meet one another in doing good.”  Of course, the Pope’s point about the universality of the Atonement is disputed by Calvinists, and the teaching of Vatican II concerning the possibility of salvation apart from explicit faith in Christ is widely debated in non-Catholic Christian circles. Without here entering into these debates by way of argument, I want to describe how I think about this matter now, as a Catholic, with special reference to evangelism.
Bryan Cross couldn’t resist getting in on the fun of private interpretation:
Whatever the merits of these explanations of Francis, they flatly contradict the claim that Protestantism suffers from a diversity of opinions. Roman Catholicism does as well. You have the former Protestant line of Francis’ meaning, and then you have the cradle-left-leaning-social-justice Roman Catholic version. Link to NCR comments on homily. Protestants have to interpret the Bible and Roman Catholics (post-Vatican 2) have the freedom to interpret their bishops. Without any temporal power to enforce the right interpretation – whether Geneva’s City Council or the Roman Inquisition, we’re all Protestants now.
If Jason and the Callers had the slightest awareness of history, they would know that they jumped from the frying pan of denominationalism into the fire of Roman Catholic opinion making. But to justify their rational, autonomous decisionism, they continue to think they have chosen the church of Cappadocia circa 389 AD.
Modernity does make its demands.