The Washington Post is reporting that Pope Francis, in a way common throughout liberalism and liberal Protestantism, suggested that one could see the Great Commission as nothing other than an alternate version of conquest not unlike Islam's proclivity toward conquest.
I know, I know. It could be and, on some level, it is. After all, we're saying that there is only one Truth and we need to proclaim that truth and the world needs to embrace it. Muslims, atheists, liberals, secularists, Christians, all believe the same thing when it comes to proclaiming their truth claims. On one level.
But as often as not, when understood through a post-Christian, liberal prism, they mean that the Christians are no better than the Muslims since, in the end, Christianity is no truer than Islam or any other religion. Basically saying all religions are right is a backhanded way of saying all religions are ultimately wrong. Or at least pointless. No more important than having a preference on what type of topping you put on a pizza pie.
I have no clue what Pope Francis actually meant. Charity suggests he isn't equating the Great Commission to Jihad. Nor does it allow me immediately to assume he's saying that our call to spread the Gospel is no different than the Islamic call to subdue the world since, well, they're all the same anyway.
Exactly what he meant will, once again, be the subject of debate and we'll have official and non-official interpreters rushing out to say what Pope Francis really meant. Which, if nothing else, is a problem I have with Pope Francis. The Office of Explaining What Pope Francis Really Said is almost an institution unto itself.
It isn't as if people are more stupid, or more partisan, or more prone to twist things than they ever were. It's that, at the end of the day, if we take everything he's said at face value, then he comes off as a somewhat traditional Latin American Catholic who embraces social liberalism and Marxist inspired economic theories, along with various elements of the secularist liberal interpretations of doctrine and theology and social justice. That's how he would look if we take the catalog of his statements at face value. If we don't want him to look that way, are not ready to accept it, or don't know what to do with the idea that if he isn't those things, he appears to have no competent way of conveying his ideas, that's when we turn to the Official Interpreters of the Pope to explain why so often that does seem to be the case, but in reality, it is not the case at all.