|Mike Bickle's meeting with Pope Francis
There were about 30 Protestant leaders and their spouses from North America plus a few from Europe who had a private meeting with Pope Francis on Friday, June 10 in the Vatican. I did not know most of the Protestant leaders there but was glad to see Che Ahn, Stacey Campbell (representing John Arnott), and Kris Vallotton (representing Bethel and Bill Johnson).
The purpose of the meeting was to engage in an on-going dialogue about his views on Jesus and Christianity. The meeting lasted a couple of hours—they gave us opportunity to ask a few questions. The meeting was warm and personal. I asked Pope Francis specifically about his views on "the serious error and deception of universalism" that claims that all paths lead to God and other religions being saved without receiving the grace of God that only comes through Jesus. He assured me that he believes that Jesus is the only way of salvation. A second time, I asked him again pointedly—is Jesus the only way of salvation? He was strong in his agreement on this. His emphasized his love for Jesus and the Scripture. When he says "Muslims and other world religions are all children of God," I spoke with several leaders and theologians who work closely with him that he is referring to Muslims as "children of the creator” or children of Adam not "children of redemption." They gave me Matthew 5:44 describing “the Father" giving sun and rain to both the just and unjust. Pope Francis voiced his strong value of Protestant believers and affirmed salvation as only coming by faith in Jesus and affirmed other elements of the Reformation (with Martin Luther). He emphasized that a close relationship with Jesus is the only hope for the nations. I am not sure of all that he believes or what he means by some of the statements circulating around the internet. I can only report on what I heard him say to this group.
Several who were nervous that I was now promoting Catholicism asked me for a short report of what I specifically said to Pope Francis. I asked him a couple times about his views of universalism and Jesus being the only way to salvation. I will include the report of this short exchange from Kris Vallotton (Bethel school of ministry) and Diane Bickle (her email to a friend). I hold to the same position that I have held for decades; I joyfully receive and honor any born again believer—who loves Jesus, accepts His leadership, and honors the Scripture as the final authority of faith and practice—regardless of what part of the church they serve Jesus in (1 Cor. 12).
From Kris Vallotton’s blog (June 13, 2016)
“….I was invited, along with several other pastors, to a small connect forum with Pope Francis because he has a deep passion for unity among believers …We spent about two hours asking him questions…Mike Bickle gets the “guts” award! Everything was going quite smoothly, partly because of the benign questions the pastors were asking. Then Mike stood up and asked the Pope if he believed that Jesus was the “only way” to heaven…The tension instantly rose in the room…the moderator was noticeably shaken. But the Holy Father didn’t blink an eye. He answered, “…Jesus Christ. There is no other way into heaven.” We all breathed a sigh of relief!.
Kris Vallotton (from Bethel)
From Diane Bickle’s email to a friend (June 14, 2016)
Here's a little update about our meeting w. the Pope. Mike went for the jugular - he asked his question to the Pope twice about where he stands on salvation. The moderators of the meeting were urging Mike to shut up.........but he persisted. I'm glad he did, because the Pope did clarify and his answer will now go far and wide through Mike's reporting of it to Charisma magazine. Several leaders came up to Mike after this meeting and said, that was the gutsiest thing they've ever seen. Hah!
Gary Wiens, 6/26/2016