Pope John Paul's Disputable Influence on Christianity
By Mike Gendron
If ever there was a more important time for faithful servants of our Lord Jesus Christ to take a stand for the truth, it is now. Many evangelicals are praising John Paul II for being a great spiritual leader. But why are they giving such honor to the former head of an apostate church which keeps over a billion people in spiritual darkness?
There are times when our faith is tested and this is indeed such a time. Will we honor the Lord Jesus or praise the pope who denied the sufficiency of Christ and rejected His finished work of redemption? Will we earnestly contend for the faith or say what the world wants to hear? On the Larry King Live show (2/24/05), Billy Graham praised John Paul as "the greatest moral and spiritual leader of the last 100 years." Graham said: "He's traveled the whole world, giving his version of the Gospel and spreading the Catholic faith." Later on April 2, after his death, Graham told King that there is no question John Paul II is now with the Lord. Jack Van Impe also assured his TV audience on April 16 that the pope is now in heaven. Rob Moll, the online assistant editor for Christianity Today wrote: "The pope stood for truth, as revealed in God's Word and his creation."
This pope never claimed to be God, but he took pleasure in being addressed with titles reserved for God alone. He usurped the titles "Holy Father" from God the Father, "The Head of the Church" from the Lord Jesus Christ and "The Vicar of Christ" from the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to send in His place. John Paul often sat in pompous arrogance on his royal throne as his loyal subjects knelt before him. Never did he refuse worship as Peter did when men fell at his feet. Peter, knowing that only God deserved such reverence, immediately ordered: "Stand up; I too am just a man" (Acts 10:26).
Who knew that Pope John Paul II would have greater success in deceiving the world after his death than during his 26-year pontificate? Who knew the global media would become his willing partner in spreading his perverted theology? Through non-stop television coverage, the pope's church became the world's stage. All eyes were focused on the St. Peter's Basilica, the very church that was financed with the filthy lucre obtained from the sale of God's forgiveness through indulgences. Its princes enjoyed the media spotlight as they piously masqueraded in their purple and scarlet robes as "ministers of righteousness." They successfully cast a spell over the TV audience with the splendor or their rituals and the pomp and pageantry of their pagan traditions. The magnificence and grandeur of this corrupt religion bewitched much of the gullible world into believing this is what Christianity is all about. Thousands of hopelessly deceived people stood in long lines for as long as 18 hours to venerate a dead man with a rosary in his hands and a twisted crucifix by his side. The idolatrous veneration and adoration of Pope John Paul II was unprecedented. His elaborate and theatrical funeral was said to be the largest in human history.
The death of Pope John Paul II has provided a glimpse of where "Christianity" is headed in the future. Post modern church leaders have replaced truth and discernment with pluralism and tolerance. Evangelicals and Catholics together have publicly praised John Paul as a godly and holy spiritual leader.
Year after year he was the most loved and admired man in the world. This should not surprise us. Jesus said "the world would love its own" but hate those whom He chose out of the world (John 15:19). He also warned, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you" (Luke 6:26). The gullible world responded in the same fashion it will when the man of lawlessness is revealed. "God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth" (2 Thes. 2:11-12).
Judging the Pope's Gospel
Only God can judge John Paul's heart but all Christians are all called to judge every man's teachings. The apostle John warned us: "Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). John Paul's false teachings are clearly exposed by the new Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) which he endorsed in 1994. His damning gospel was diametrically opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul warned that anyone (including himself or the pope) would be condemned if they were to preach another gospel. He wrote, if "we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:6). If apostles and angels were to be accursed for preaching another gospel how can the pope possibly escape? Clearly the pope condemned himself by perverting God's Gospel of grace with additional requirements for salvation.
If the Philippian jailer could have asked John Paul what he must do to be saved (Acts 16:31), the pope would have responded with his gospel: "You must have faith plus baptism (CCC, 1256), receive the sacraments (1129), do good works (2016), consume the Eucharist (1405), keep the law (2068), belong to the Catholic Church (846) and have your sins purged in purgatory" (1030). What a contrast to Paul's clear response: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). Paul made it clear there is only one Gospel and anyone who believes another gospel has believed in vain (I Cor. 15:1-4). Therefore, either the pope was right and is in heaven as many evangelicals are claiming, or those who believe the Gospel of grace are wrong and destined for the eternal lake of fire.
Few evangelicals have had the courage to expose the pope's false gospel that shuts the kingdom of heaven to those wanting to enter. Clearly, there is no greater evil than deceiving people about the eternal salvation of their souls.
Eternal Truths Are Confirmed
As with anyone who passes into eternity, the pope now knows the truth. He knows he was never infallible, or holy, or the Vicar of Christ. He knows there is no such place as Purgatory. He now knows the gospel he preached is leading over a billion people down the wide road to destruction. John Paul may now be experiencing what the rich man in Luke 16 endured. Both of them once dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in splendor every day. When the rich man died and found himself tormented in the flames of Hades, he begged the Father to send someone to tell others the truth so they would repent and not end up in the same place. The pope may now be making the same request. What would he tell Catholics if he could return? I believe he would urge them to trust Christ and His Word over the teachings and traditions of men. He would admit that he was terribly wrong about entrusting the church to Mary's protection. John Paul would tell his flock that Jesus indeed finished the work of redemption 2000 years ago and His one offering is necessary and sufficient to save sinners completely and forever.
Who Did John Paul Represent?
John Paul said he represented Jesus Christ, yet he lived in stark contrast to the Savior who had no place to lay His head. On several occasions he denied that Jesus was the only way to the Father. He foolishly proclaimed: "If God is the one true God, He must save all people" (Vatican Info Service, 4/21/ 99). A year later he pronounced: "All who seek God with a sincere heart, including those who do not know Christ and His church, contribute to the building of His kingdom" (Vatican Info Service, 12/6/00). He also denied the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice by declaring punishment for sin could be remitted "by abstaining from unnecessary consumption (of tobacco or alcohol) and donating a proportionate sum of money to the poor" (VIS, 9/29/99). His perverted theology was also reflected in this pronouncement: "Hell is not a punishment imposed by God.. but the condition resulting from attitudes and actions which people adopt in this life" (Detroit News 7/28/99). When he addressed Muslim leaders in 1998, he said there is "a common spiritual bond that unites us."
John Paul has also been acclaimed as a great moral leader, yet he failed to discipline American Bishops for tolerating the detestable sexual abuse of children by their depraved priests. After Cardinal Bernard Law of the Boston Archdiocese magnified the scandal by protecting the guilty priests, John Paul appointed him to a prestigious position in the Vatican. Law's cover-up of the abuse of over 600 children, which cost the Boston archdiocese more than $90 million in settlements, outraged many Catholics but not the pope.
The passing of John Paul II has opened up a tremendous opportunity for Christians to talk about spiritual issues. Let us make the most of this opportunity to speak the truth in love and proclaim the Gospel with clarity and completeness! Let us all seek the approval of the One who purchased us with His precious blood! We must also earnestly contend for the faith against everything that stands opposed to God's word. May God help us to be faithful in these times of great deception and compromise!