Saturday, July 16, 2005

John Paul II a Saint? Not by God’s Definition

Pope John Paul is dead and awaiting hell. There, I’ve said it. Someone had to.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think John Paul was secretly fondling young boys or bathing in pig’s blood.

From all I understand, the Big-P was a caring, loving, self-sacrificing, passionate-for-his-faith-kind-of-guy. It seems everybody loved him.

He’s still waiting his place in line for the pitch-fork brigade.

I’m not an anti-catholic bigot, nor do I have a problem with pointy white hats. And I really don’t care if the Catholics want to make John Paul their Exalted Saint Poobah. They can even do it using the express lane. 10 halos or less, no waiting.

That doesn’t concern me.

What concerns me is the response of protestant leaders following his death. Here are some of the quotes left after his passing:

"He was truly one of those rare individuals whose legacy will endure long after he has gone."
Evangelist Billy Graham

"John Paul II has been the most beloved religious leader of our age….[He] brought together all Christians in new bonds of understanding."
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson

"I think history will record Pope John Paul II as one of the most significant, historic figures of the 20th century."
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

"His major legacy to Christians…was the pope's commitment to the incarnate Jesus Christ."
The Rev. Robert Schuller, pastor of the Crystal Cathedral and host of the "Hour of Power" television program

"His vision, his determination, and his loving spirit will be missed by Christians around the world."
Chuck Colson, founder and president of Prison Fellowship

"John Paul II presented evangelicals with a pope in whom we found amazing ground of agreement…we have great admiration for the man."
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


Did you notice something about the quotes? They all come from well-known evangelical leaders. People you would think understand the faith that brings salvation.

Yet all of them have seemed to miss something—the Pope was a great guy, a great statesman, a caring, compassionate leader, but he wasn’t a Christian.

Wouldn’t you think Billy Graham would have caught that little fact?

Either by intention or accident, the Catholic Church has perpetrated a tremendous shift in protestant Christianity over the last 60 years. While Catholic theology of salvation has not changed, mainline protestant leaders have seemingly lost sight of their own theology.

In Catholic teaching salvation comes through the sacraments of the church and the works of man. The grace of Jesus Christ and Mary, the Mother of God, are extended to individuals through these means. The sacraments of the church include baptism, the Eucharist and confession.


The Pope not only accepted these beliefs, he sought to advance them, even worshipping Mary at the 150th anniversary of the introduction of the dogma of the immaculate conception [of Mary] (

Certainly a theologian like President Mohler would have seen this as apostacy?

But, alas, either in a desire to accommodate the current culture or because they truly believe that John Paul was a Christian, no one seems to speak the truth.

Saying the Pope isn’t saved today is like calling a black person “the n word.” “You bigot. Catholics are good people, how dare you be so prejudiced.”

I agree. Catholics, most notably the late-great JP2, ARE good people. So are Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, Muslims and not a few Scientologists.

They just aren’t going to heaven.

The evangelical movement has been seduced into a subtle yet profound change in salvation theology. So subtle it has gone almost unnoticed—though the impact is massive. The protestant church has accepted “Profession Christianity.”

Profession Christianity works like this: If someone says they are a Christian, you take their word for it. Especially if they publicly act in a moral and upright manner.

So if the Pope says he is a Christian, case closed. He must be. No tough questions about his theology.

The effect of watered-down Christianity is so overwhelming many people now also accept another one-dimensional definition: Testimony Christianity.

In the 50’s your “Christian testimony” was not what you SAID about your faith, it was how you lived. So, if you had a testimony it meant you lived a good moral life. Today living a good moral life (at least as far as anyone can see) means you MUST be a Christian.

But neither of those represent a Biblical definition of Christianity. The Bible is pretty clear (here’s the Reader’s Digest version—don’t write me with some 20 page correction, that’s not the point of this article):

One must trust Jesus Christ alone for their salvation (Acts 4:12). Then, through Spirit enabled obedience to Christ, that person will grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22).

They have a profession (“I’m trusting Jesus Christ alone for my salvation”) as well as a testimony (“My life is growing in the fruit of the Holy Spirit.”) If someone is trusting in someone other than Jesus Christ—even their own works—then they aren’t saved no matter how moral and self-sacrificing they are. (Think Mother Teresa mining Satan’s coal.)

At the same time, someone who says they are trusting in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation but still treats their wife like muck isn’t a Christian either.

The Catholic system is fatally flawed. There may be some Christians in the Catholic church—those people who have grasped the few good things and avoided the confessional, the rosary and the so-called “grace of Mary”—but Popes and priests are pretty much out to lunch.

So, Pope John Paul II may be made a saint by his church, but he’ll never be one.

Me? I already am.

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