February 5, on facebook, Dr. Michael Brown asked a question simply to find out what people would say, as a point of discussion as to whether or not the Roman Catholic Church and it’s leader have assurance of salvation. The question was ‘Do you think the Pope is born again? I was actually intrigued by that question as I was raised Catholic, but was born again during the Jesus movement in the early 70’s, also the time of the Hippy movement, which I was part of. As I read this question, my curiosity drove me to read some of the comments posted. Then, I too had to comment.
I shared that I was raised Catholic, but now born again. I attended elementary Catholic school and was never taught that it was important to read the Bible. However, each week we were instructed to go to confession on Saturday or we could not receive communion on Sunday. Before I was to make my first communion at age 7, it was required that I make my first confession.
I remember my mom telling me I was going to talk to Jesus. I was very excited to learn that I was actually going to talk to Jesus when I entered into the confessional. To my shock, I found out that Jesus was not inside, but only a man, the priest. I was very disappointed and later told my mom that she lied to me. I told her that Jesus was not in the confessional, but she did not understand why I was so disappointed. Later around the age of 8 or 9, I asked my mom for a Bible. She was actually very surprised that I wanted to read the Bible. It took her awhile before she found a Bible and a couple days later, she gave it to me. Somehow I felt that I did not have to go through the priest, but I could go directly to Jesus. So the decided that the answers had to be in the Bible.
Somehow I knew that I if I read the Bible myself, I would get to know God and maybe He would talk to me. As a young girl, many times I would sit outside on my porch, looking up to the heavens because I knew God was up there. I just had to talk with Him and get to know Him. Even at a young age, I had a sense that the Scriptures revealed the truth about knowing God, and as I said I did not feel I should have to go through the priest.
As I continued to think about the question asked by Dr. Brown, “Was the Pope born again? I felt there was more that needed to be said. So, with passion, compassion and conviction, as well as the courage to speak out what needs to be heard, I added another comment. I hoped the additional comment would bring further discussions at a deeper level. I have said before, silence is an enemy of God.
So let me begin by saying, as stated above, my mother didn’t have an answer for me. As I learned later in my journey to know God, the reason my mom did not understand was because of the many lies she believed regarding her trust in the Catholic religion. The more I learned, the more I realized that my mom, a Catholic, was deceived in many ways. No, I am not making a judgment nor am I speaking out against my mom or Catholics, but I am speaking out, regarding the truth of the history and beliefs that have evolved through the Catholic religion over the years. There is a difference. I personally know some Catholics who are truly born again, yet wonder how many are truly born again, given the deception.
As I said, I was born again in the early 70’s, but I was not filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit until later in 1978. Within moments something changed within me, something was awakened in me and then I heard myself say to my friends, “I should have been raised Jewish.” I had no idea why I would make such a comment. It wouldn’t be until many years later that I came to know why I made that statement.
I had recently moved to the North Shore of Chicago, Illinois and the area is predominately Jewish. However, prior to living in this area I had not known any Jews nor did I know any Messianic Jews. In fact, I didn’t even know much about Israel, nor did I have an interest to learn. Since living in the area, I found many of my neighbors were Jewish, as were most of the communities around me. As time past, I found that I had a desire to go to Israel and in 2006 I made my first trip. Then, to my surprise, I was blessed to live in Israel from 2007 to the end of 2008. Also to my surprise, when it was time for me to leave, I didn’t want to go. I felt this was my home. People constantly asked me if I was Jewish. In fact, I was even prophesied three times that I had “Jewish blood,’ which has never been determined. Nonetheless, that experience changed my life and has given me a deep love for the nation of Israel and her people.
Since I had been going to Uganda yearly, since 2002, when I left Israel I went to Uganda and spent five months there. I again returned to Uganda in 2010 and felt the Lord saying that I was to stay in Uganda. I have been residing in Uganda as a missionary ever since. Again to my surprise, as only God could arrange it, I was linked up with a group who studied Hebrew roots and for the last 5 years have studied Christianities Hebrew roots, and while living in Uganda! There are a couple of ministries that teach about our need to pray for and support Israel, as well as a number of weekly and monthly prayer meetings, set aside strictly for the purpose of praying for Israel, which I am part of. Now I was beginning to understand why I said years before, “I should have been raised Jewish.”
I have said all that to say this, being raised Catholic, I felt as though I missed out on so much of what the Lord reveals to us in the Scriptures regarding the Hebrew people. Not only that but Christianity was actually birthed from the Hebrew people. We, all gentile believers, were grafted into the tree, Israel. Our faith is an outflow of the Jewish faith. Our Bible is their Bible; our God is their God. I was not taught this in my Catholic upbringing. In fact, I was never taught anything Jewish or that our Bible is actually a Jewish Bible.
I also came to learn of the lies that were taught to Christians, through the Catholic Church forefathers, which eventually separated the Church from her Hebraic roots. All gentile believers were forbidden from associating with Jews or celebrating any of the Jewish Feasts, which are actually called the feasts of God. This included the feast of Shabbat, celebrated every Friday, sundown to Saturday, sundown; thus changing the Christian service to Sunday. That began the division. As a result of the division, there were now more and more gentiles in the Church and less and less Jews. Let me remind you the Jews made up most of the first Century Messianic Christian Church. However, because the Jews, who believed in Jesus as Messiah, wanted to keep their Jewishness and since they had to renounce their Jewishiness in order to ‘join’ the Christian Church, they stayed away.
The more I learned, the more my heart was saddened and troubled. How could the early Christian Church allow such a contradiction and great deception regarding the Jewish people, our Hebrew heritage, to infiltrate Christianity? The first believers were Jewish and they were the ones who opened the way for the gentiles to also find salvation. I learned that it wasn’t until the fourth century, that this deception took a strong foothold, which began with the Catholic Church leadership.
When studying the Old Testament, we learn that it was through the Israelites that God made His convent promises and gave them His feasts and commandments. Why? Because God wanted a personal relationship with His created people and He chose one man, Abraham to start this relationship with. God chose to send through the bloodline of the Israelite people, His Son, Jesus (Yeshua-the way of salvation), the root and offspring of David, to be the Messiah. Of course God’s intent from the beginning is that Jesus, would be the Messiah, not only of the Jewish people but also for all humanity. To the Jew first and then to the gentile (the nations)!
Not only that, we learn so much about God and His intentional love and relationship for His chosen people. Not only that, the Scriptures reveal that God says He will love Israel with an everlasting love and that He would love Israel as a husband loves his wife, unconditionally and forever, regardless of how they respond to His love. That means that God could and would never reject His chosen people Israel.
God said to Israel, “He who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and the stars to shine by night, who stirs up the seas so that its waves roar…only if these decrees vanish from my sight…will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me. Only if the heavens can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done (Jer. 31:35-37)” And just prior to that (Jer. 31:33-35) God says He will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and it is also re-stated in Hebrews 8:8-10). Not only that, Paul says in Romans 11:26 that ‘all Israel will be saved.” There are many scriptures to show God’s love for Israel and that He will never forsake them. Nor will He forsake any of us who put our trust in God and His Son, Yeshua-the way of Salvation, and respond to His love for us by loving Him back and then giving His love away to other – the Great Commission.
Now I have come to my point, as regarding the question, “Is the Pope born again?” If God so loves and cares for Israel, His chosen covenant people, and God never changes, why or better yet, how could the early church fathers, including the Popes from the fourth century onward say ‘we’ are to hate the Jews and that even God hates the Jewish people? How could the Church fathers, when they had contributed so much good in advancing Christianity, create such a disparity between Christianity and the ‘tree’ (Israel), from whence we were birthed? This disparity and deception not only severed Christianity’s Hebrew roots but has caused much persecution for the Jewish people over the years. In fact, it was through this deception that anti-Semitism has existed throughout the centuries and is now, once again on the rise.
After learning all this, I asked myself why would I want to be raised Jewish. But then I remembered. I truly wanted to know God as the Hebrews in the Old Testament did. People like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel, Moses, David and the prophets, as well as Paul, John and Peter of the New Testament. God has not revealed himself to any other nation or people group as He has to Israel and I might even go out on a limb to include the Church. Since the church was grafted into Israel, the tree, not the other way around, I found out through our Hebraic roots that I could know God as personally as they did. Unfortunately the Christian Church has missed out on so much because of this separation.
However, now through Yeshua, I can know God in an even greater way because He came to dwell among us to reveal and restore us back to the Father heart of God, in a way that had not been known to us since the fall of Adam and Eve. In fact, for me, I found my identity as a Believer in Jesus our Messiah, came through my Hebraic roots. We must never forget that Israel-the Jewish people-has their special calling and purposes to fulfill, alongside that of the Church. Both are equal yet with different callings.
God has given us a commandment to love Him and to love others. It was first given in Deuteronomy 6:4-12 to the Hebrews and then reiterated by Jesus in the Gospels. (Mark 12:29- 31; Matt. 22:37-40). Therefore, responding to God’s love, by loving Him back with the same intentionality as He has loved us, then freely giving His love away, is of the utmost importance. If we truly love God, we will love what and whom He loves, which is all humanity, even our enemies. We are only to hate sin and unrighteousness and Satan himself and his demons, for they are the enemies of God.
So, I end my comment with a couple of question for you to ponder? If any person, from any “religion” or “religious group,” who hates another person or people group, especially God’s beloved Israel, with such intense malevolence as the Catholic Church’s forefathers have hated the Jews, can that person be born again? Why has this deception gone on all these years and why haven’t any of the Church leaders over the years, to include the Popes stopped it? This deception needs to be stopped, especially now, when anti-Semitism is on the rise? So, is the current Pope of the Catholic Church born again? Good question. In light of the Roman Catholic Church and Christianity’s history, present belief structures and current events, I do wonder. Regardless, I do hope this will stir some things up within you to search out. The evidence is there; only you must search it out and PRAY!
Written by Dr. Jo Anna Watson February 6, 2015
Excerpts taken from my book LOVE The Heartbeat of God for Revival
Other Reference Material:
DVD Let the Lion Roar: hosted and written by Derek Frank
Our Father Abraham, Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith by M. R. Wilson
Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel. A Message for Christians. By David Stern
Hebrew Roots 101, Simchat Torah Beith Midrash, by R. Messer
The Messianic Church Arising by Dr. Robert Heilder