The head of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church is talking about changing one of the best-known and most widely recited passages of scripture – and that's not sitting well with the president of a conservative Protestant seminary.
It's recited by millions of Catholics every day across the globe, and is every bit as central to the Protestant faith as well. But the pope is open to changing the Lord's Prayer. The line he has a problem with is: "And lead us not into temptation" – and he suggests, for the sake of theological clarity, that a better translation might be something along the lines of: "Do not let us fall into temptation."
That, says Southern Evangelical Seminary president Dr. Richard Land, is nothing short of heresy. "I'm stunned, I'm appalled, and I'm heartbroken," he shares with OneNewsNow. "What the pope has done here is very, very dangerous and is really quite breathtaking in its hubris."
Two passages in the New Testament relay the account of the Lord's Prayer: Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 (KJV).
"I looked it up," Land continues, "and what is translated is what is actually said by Jesus in the New Testament: 'Do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil.'"
James 1:13 teaches that God is not the author of temptation. And yes, Land concedes it can be confusing to compare that verse to the two passages found in the Gospel. "I understand the Pope's concern, [but] I just am horrified by his solution," he offers. "You interpret the Bible with the Bible."
"We're asking the Lord to protect us ... so that we don't come into the path of temptation; and if we do, to deliver us from the wiles and the treachery of the evil one."
Land says changing the Holy Word of God has been the start of many a falling-away, from the earliest days of the faith until today – which is why he says that holding fast to the inspired Word of God, as faithfully translated, is so important.
"When you start thinking that you can change the very words that Jesus spoke to his disciples, then what can't you change?" he asks. "This strikes at the bedrock of the Christian faith."
Pope Francis made his comments during an interview with an Italian TV network last week.