With the passing of John Paul II occurred there has emerged an avalanche of praise for the pontiff from almost every facet of evangelicalism for his culture of life convictions. I do understand, as a Christian, that under God’s common grace we can thank the Lord for anyone in society who favors the family, protects unborn children, stands up for the right to life for the elderly and mentally handicapped, battles Communism and desires to uphold morality (what a difference from Barack Obama's liberal agenda). We all can agree with those things—Christian or not. But as good as those things are in terms of human dignity, rights and civility, none of those things define nor support rightly the gospel of Jesus Christ. I.e. someone may be a good moral person by human standards, a religious leader of sorts, but have no hope of eternal life because of rejecting the true gospel of grace. As the Apostle has said, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;” and that “by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”
In today’s politically correct climate, evangelical leaders have capitulated “to the new social gospel” of moral values and neo-conservative political convictions. It is the now acceptable common ground for “ministry” to the culture (work together at all costs as long as there is solidarity on an agreed upon cultural malady in need of reform), but yielding fruit not worthy of the gospel. Temporal urgencies have eclipsed the eternal importance of men’s souls. Political capital is the new currency that evangelicals are craving to earn, inherit, lottery, and spend.
Embracing John Paul’s “Gospel of Life” is fine humanitarily, but it now seems to be the new qualifier for the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ. Question for you: has political activism become the new common ground to which evangelicals are willing to ignore blatant differences on the gospel and become unequally yoked with unbelievers in fighting the culture wars that clearly have denied salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone? I call this sea change, “The New ECT – The Evangelical Culture of Tolerance.”
To further illustrate the point, could you imagine Martin Luther under the reign of Pope Leo X saying,
“I know that an edict has been issued against me for burning the Papal Bull calling for my excommunication and execution; but listen, the Pope is such a nice man who stands for family values and a culture of life.”This is unthinkable! Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul and the other apostles would have never entertained such frivolous thinking.
On October 16, 1555, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were being burned at the stake under the ruthless hand of “Bloody Mary” because of their failure to affirm the heretical doctrine of transubstantiation (the false Romanist teaching that claims the communion wafer and the wine actually turn into the physical body and blood of Christ.) When the flames became intense and much of their lower extremities had been burned away, Ridley began to scream for mercy. Latimer, also in tremendous pain, called out to his friend and said these now infamous words, “Mr. Ridley, play the man; for today we begin to live as Christians. May we ignite a flame that will spread throughout all of England that can never be quenched.”
When will some of our most popular and well respected evangelical leaders “play the man.” We need to say to them in undiminished tones, “Play the man; follow Christ; the cross waves higher than the flag; today let’s begin to live as Christians; let’s ignite a flame that will sweep through America and never be burned out; let’s not love our lives even unto death; PLAY THE MAN!”
Here are some of the disappointing statements made by some of our most popular and listened to leadership in Christianity. They don’t speak for me any longer… do they speak for you?
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship:
“As Baptist Christians we give thanks to God for the life and legacy of Pope John Paul II. His devotion to Jesus Christ has inspired and challenged multitudes....In this hour of loss, those of us in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship offer our prayers for our sisters and brothers in the Catholic Church. We also offer our hand of Christian fellowship in serving Christ’s Kingdom.”
Pat Robertson (CBN Founder and 700 Club Host):
"I am deeply grieved as a great man passes from this world to his much deserved eternal reward. John Paul II has been the most beloved religious leader of our age – far surpassing in popular admiration the leader of any faith. He has been a man of great warmth, profound understanding, deep spirituality, and indefatigable vigor... He has been a steady bridge in the transition of Eastern Europe from communism to freedom. His personal magnetism brought together all Christians in new bonds of understanding. I pray for the Cardinals of the Catholic Church that they might have God-given wisdom in selecting the successor to this great man. Their task will not be easy, but with God all things are possible."
"It was my privilege to meet with him at the Vatican on various occasions, and I will always remember his personal warmth to me and his deep interest in our ministry. In his own way, he saw himself as an evangelist, traveling far more than any other Pope to rally the faithful and call non-believers to commitment. He was convinced that the complex problems of our world are ultimately moral and spiritual in nature, and only Christ can set us free from the shackles of sin and greed and violence. His courage and perseverance in the face of advancing age and illness were an inspiration to millions - including me. Pope John Paul II is 'the world's greatest evangelist. I've found that my beliefs are essentially the same as those of orthodox Roman Catholics."
“The world, and not just the Catholic world, has lost a leader and a servant like few it has ever seen. Pope John Paul II modeled faith, courage and forgiveness."
Wheaton College's Former Professor, Mark Noll (who now teaches at Notre Dame):
“evangelicals had doctrinal differences with John Paul II, like the pope's Marian devotion. But the pope's theology as articulated in his encyclicals and pronouncements were deep and biblical. People who've taken the time to read these should come away impressed with his classically orthodox Christian stance."
Dr. James Dobson:
“Today's passing of Pope John Paul II is an immeasurable loss — not only to our friends of the Roman Catholic faith, but to the entire world. We found common cause with him and with the 'culture of life' he espoused so eloquently; the legacy he left us is to be cherished. While we grieve the profound loss of this remarkable man, we celebrate his life, his ministry, and his undeniable impact on the world. During his time as leader of the Catholic Church, he embodied the belief that freedom is a gift from God that should not be infringed by any government; that all life is precious and should be protected; and that dying is part of living and should not be feared nor hastened artificially. Pope John Paul was an uncompromising voice on the sanctity of life—in fact, his was one of the greatest contributions of the 20th century to that cause. The 'culture of life' will forever be indebted to the man who championed the value of all human life, even to his last breath."
Mark Bailey (President, Dallas Theological Seminary):
When posited the question "does the Pope have a place in eternity?" - he responded by saying, “Some people can find themselves part of a tradition that holds to certain doctrine, but they themselves have come to a personal faith in Christ and are dependent only on Christ for their salvation through what he did on the Cross. Our prayer, obviously, is that this pope had come to that conclusion. And the next pope, we would hope, will place the authority in Scripture and will see the exclusivity of Jesus as the only possibility of salvation, and that the death of Christ and not our works is the absolute provision given by a gracious God for our sin.” (This is a very naive position for a seminary president to hold. To clarify, no one can embrace the traditions and truth claims of Romanism and at the same time have a genuine personal faith in Christ Jesus for salvation. Those are two mutually exclusive conflicting worlds that have nothing in common (cf, 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1).
The Evangelical Alliance:
“Still, on issues of how we relate to each other as humans—issues of politics, social justices, life ethics peace, ecology, governmental structures, forgiveness, evangelization—evangelicals and Pope John Paul II stood united. Evangelical Alliance recognizes that John Paul was committed, as we are, to creedal Christianity. As such, in many instances he offered a welcome corrective to the forces of skepticism, secularism, and theological liberalism, which threaten to undermine both the integrity of the church and the effectiveness of its mission in the world.”
“In the last weeks and months of his life, the Pope sent a message, even when he couldn’t speak, about his greatest contribution: that is, advancing the “Gospel of Life.” In his encyclical by that same name, he described the way that “cultural, economic and political currents . . . encourage an [excessive concern] with efficiency.” The pope was a prophet. Just look at the recent FOX poll that found a majority of Americans regarded the removal of Terri Shiavo’s feeding tube as an “act of mercy.” In this, as in so many other things, John Paul II saw the handwriting on the wall and was able to tell us what it said.”
Fred Barnes (Executive Editor, The Weekly Standard, and an evangelical Episcopalian)
“He was the world's greatest defender of orthodox, Bible-based Christianity. … Important differences remained between Protestants and Catholics, but John Paul II made them seem small. He was pro-life, pro-family, anti-totalitarian, and quite a lot more that conservative evangelicals identified with. … John Paul was bold and unswerving in proclaiming salvation through belief in Jesus Christ. He did this all over the world, despite declining health and personal risk. … Catholics have lost a great and wonderful leader. And so have evangelicals.”
Timothy George (Is Dean of Beeson Divinity School, says Pope John Paul II authored theological masterpieces that will be studied for centuries, and fostered a climate that led to historic Catholic-evangelical dialogue. George spoke with CT assistant editor Collin Hansen):
"Billy Graham made the comment that the pope was the most significant Christian leader in the last hundred years. I think he's absolutely right. And what the pope has been able to do is offer a visible, articulate, winsome, attractive, embracing face to world Christianity. The only other person I think that you would say is anywhere close to the pope in influence would be Billy Graham. And many of the same things that we would say of the pope you'd say of Billy Graham. From an evangelical base he's tried to reach out and be embracing and yet be faithful to the gospel. And you put those two together, Billy Graham and the pope, you have there the winsome, visible face of world Christianity in the last half century.
This is the first pope that most evangelicals have actually known who he was. Almost anybody in the world who is semi-intelligent now knows the face of John Paul II, and they know he's the pope. If you had asked people in 1965, Who is the pope, they wouldn't know and probably wouldn't care. John Paul II has become a world figure and certainly within the Christian world in a way that evangelicals know him, appreciate his stand on many, many issues, resonate with his piety and spirituality, and know he's a man of prayer and deep faith—even though we can't follow him all the way into his Marian devotion. There's still a resonance there that connects to evangelicals in a way that no other pope has."
All of these statements made from the above evangelical leadership was for the one who denied the gospel of sola fide, rejected solus Christus, embraced the fifth Marian Dogma (co-redemptrix, co-mediatrix) the treasury of merit (and not the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ); prayers for the dead; penance; papal infallibility; denied sola Scriptura; preached Purgatorial cleansing; and upheld faith + works, grace + merit, Christ + a Roman surrogate church for salvation.
Warren isn't far behind... Where do you stand?
2 Cor. 4:5-7