by Richard Bennett
“No other world figure has commanded the admiration he has enjoyed as the globe-trotting (over 1/2 million miles) Pope. His kindly smile and fatherly wave have made the ‘Pope Mobile’ a legend. Although they might disagree with his theology, both Catholics and Protestants have joined in the accolades of praise for this man. …Billy Graham has extolled Pope John Paul, ‘as the conscience of the whole Christian world.’”
“Pope John Paul II wrapped up a grueling week of ceremonies Wednesday [Oct 22nd 2003] to celebrate his 25th anniversary…A day after giving the 30 new members of the College of Cardinals their trademark scar-let hats, the 83-year-old pope presented the men with their cardinals’ rings, which symbolize their link to the Church and the pope….The pope suffers from Parkinson’s disease, which in the last few months has made it difficult for him to speak clearly. He is also unable to walk or stand, hobbled by hip and knee ailments and arthritis.”
The world is quite clearly being prepared for the death of the Pope. As the world gazes with fascination on this man and his endeavors, it is of paramount importance to know what the Pope believes, as his title and teachings have captivated the hearts of millions. In human terms of worldly success and acclaim it is hard to find an equal to John Paul II. During his twenty-five year reign as head of the Roman Catholic Church, he has traveled more, spoken more and published more than any of his predecessors.
“John Paul II has logged more than 1,126,541 kilometers from visits to 102 countries, which is like going around the earth close to 30 times…But perhaps the most lasting imprimatur he has left is his contribution to Christianity’s growing list of saints.…Vatican observers credit the Pope with being the single biggest influence in the collapse of Communism and the Berlin Wall, for instance his opposition to Poland’s Communist regime early in his career showed him as a man who was not just part of the crowd… In 1980 in his address to the United Nations General Assembly he had hoped that there would be ‘No more war, war never again! …In more recent times, in the wake of 9/11 he has appealed to the Christian world not to equate Islam with terrorism. The Pope has not only sought collaboration between various churches but also preached reconciliation between the religions of the world…Witness his gift for the grand gesture of kissing the soil of a country on arrival, visiting a mosque, inserting a scroll into a crevice of Jerusalem’s Western Wall, embracing the handicapped…Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, who heads the Vatican office responsible for saints' causes, came somewhere close to as-sessing 25 years of John Paul II’s pontificate, when he said early this month: 'I think this pope will deservedly pass into history as the pope of sainthood. The pope often recalls that sanctity is part of the Church’s nature, it is in its DNA.’”
But the question is this: Has sanctity of life been the consequence of the accomplishments of the Pope? Christ Jesus said, “sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Has there been this sanctity of which the Lord spoke? The mark of authentic sanctity is obvious in the Word itself, “if a man love me, he will keep my words…He that loved me not keepeth not my sayings.” The duty of those who claim to be Christ’s followers is keeping His Word. Since the Pope in 1994 proclaimed to the world that his “certainty about all revealed truths was not derived from the Holy Scriptures alone, but that ‘both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence,’” he must be evaluated in line with the Lord’s meas-ure, for “…the scripture cannot be broken.”
The faith and practice of John Paul II
The Pope professes to work sanctity in the hearts and souls of men. He and his Church state publicly that baptism regenerates the soul of man. By anointing with the oil of chrism, he claims that young people and adults are filled with the Holy Spirit by the sacrament of confirmation. By the words “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” uttered in the confession box, the Pope purports to forgive sins. Four words uttered at the altar during Mass, he believes, change the bread into the body of Christ. The Pope then claims that power effectively flows from the element of Communion itself, “Holy Communion separates us from sin.’” This bread is also called the “Eucharist”, of which the Pope teaches, “the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins.” These enticing words teach the age-old tradition of looking to a physical substance to obtain protection from sin. What makes the doctrine all the more repulsive is that this very teaching, which speaks of preserving from serious sin, is itself blasphemous. Such teachings as these come under the eternal curse of perverting the Gospel of Christ. Christ Jesus’ words are spirit and life, “it is the Spirit that quickeneth.” To propose an oral ingesting of Christ’s body in Communion is bad enough, however this is the very centerpiece of the teaching of John Paul II. It is the “‘Eucharistic face’ of Christ” of which he recently wrote,
“By proclaiming the Year of the Rosary, I wish to put this, my twenty-fifth anniversary, under the aegis of the contemplation of Christ at the school of Mary. Consequently, I cannot let this Holy Thursday 2003 pass with-out halting before the ‘Eucharistic face’ of Christ and pointing out with new force to the Church the centrality of the Eucharist.”
A big part of gala and pomp that is now capturing the world is this “Eucharistic face of Christ”. Those clos-est to the Eucharist are Catholic priests; they confect it in Mass and receive it each day. One would therefore think that they would by far surpass other people in sanctity of life. It is, however, the opposite. “Well-informed victims’ advocacy groups in the United States estimate there are between 2,000 and 4,000 abusive priests in America at this time, or a number between 4 percent and 8 percent of the 48,000 U.S. priests. If true, that would reflect an incidence of abuse alarmingly above that of the general population…”. The Savior gave the proper test of sanctity. Christ Jesus said, “ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” Pretensions belong to man-made religion. Conduct is the fruit that determines the nature of the doctrines that have been taught. The Pope also teaches, “Priests have received from God a power that he has given neither to angels nor to archangels…God above confirms what priests do here below.” The New Testament established pastors and elders to lead the Lord’s flock; the Pope, however, conveniently bridges over twenty centuries to join his sacrificial priests to Christ Himself. It is of utmost importance therefore that the Pope’s beliefs be understood, as they convey some of the greatest temptations that can be imposed on the souls of men and women.
Oldest, most alluring temptation
The Pope’s beliefs and teachings are in fact the oldest temptation known to man. Physical things, instead of symbolizing spiritual realities, are presented as bringing about sanctity and salvation. Looking to physical things to give spiritual life was a first lie of Satan. “…in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Satan offered the fruit as the efficacious means of bestowing good upon Eve. She believed in the fruit’s inherent efficacy to open the eyes and to give knowledge of good and evil. In the same way, the Pope and his Church present the seven physical sacraments as the inherent means of obtaining the grace of the Holy Spirit. Thus the Pope and his Church teach, “The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. ‘Sacramental grace’ is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament.” All of this sacramental power is cleverly intertwined with the political objectives. The Pope recently claimed for his Church, “a unique contribution to the building up of a Europe open to the world”. In his document, Ecclesia in Europa (The Church in Europe) he states,
“…the Catholic Church can offer a unique contribution to the building up of a Europe open to the world. The Catholic Church in fact provides a model of essential unity in a diversity of cultural expressions, a conscious-ness of membership in a universal community which is rooted in but not confined to local communities, and a sense of what unites beyond all that divides.”
The pronouncement is a stunning ploy that purportedly proclaims the Christian message, while in fact it teaches the rites and rituals of the Papacy. For example, the concept of the “Gospel of hope” is mentioned forty times in the dissertation. The message, however, is not one of hope; rather it is an adept counterfeit. For exam-ple Paragraph 74 begins by stating,
“A prominent place needs to be given to the celebration of the sacraments, as actions of Christ and of the Church ordered to the worship of God, to the sanctification of people and to the building up of the ecclesial community.”
The Pope continues to presents his physical symbolic sacraments as the efficacious cause of sanctity and salvation. In place of the direct obedience to Christ Jesus, as demanded in the Gospel of faith, the sacraments are purported to be “actions of Christ”. This is where the Vatican’s pretense of “hope” lies. Rome sets aside the direct grace of God in Christ Jesus through her sacraments and attempts to steal from Christ His priesthood, robbing Him of His power as Mediator. Through them she also attempts to rob God the Spirit of His peculiar work as the Sanctifier, attributing to her own sacraments His power of giving grace. From God the Father she attempts to take His prerogatives of justifying and forgiving sinners. The reality and power behind the concept of “Sacramental grace” is purported to be “the grace of the Holy Spirit.” This identification of “Sacramental grace” with the Holy Spirit of God is a formal and explicit sin against the Holy Spirit. This teaching is all the more to be condemned because it leads millions into fully relying on physical sacraments for salvation.
Pope’s creed satisfying to many
The Gospel is never more dangerously attacked than when the counterfeit is concealed under the pretence of having divine power. However, people in general seem well pleased with the Pope and his message. Generally speaking, the world and those inside Catholicism love the Pope and his activities. People love a religion that has everything as it were “on tap”. In Catholicism there is something that corresponds to every class and liking, emphasizing adaptability to most tastes and receiving the support of men of diverse intellectual and moral tem-perament. To the person who likes rituals and pomp, here is everything to satisfy his heart’s content, sacramen-tal rituals being acted out amidst candles, palms, charcoals, ashes, and the perfume of incense, by men in multi-colored vestments. It has some of the finest architecture in the world and some of the most captivating music. To the politician or military man, it has all the grandeur of rank and hierarchy. For one seeking direct commu-nication with God, it has a long tradition of mysticism. To the ascetic, there are penances and sacrifices in mo-nastic and convent life. For the Catholic charismatic, there is drama, signs and wonders. For those captivated by visions and apparitions, there is on hand a vast, worldwide assortment of Marian apparitions and messages. For those seeking the pleasures of life, there is the tradition of Carnival, yearly parish festivals with liquor, par-ish dances, and parish bingo. The Papacy is an organization fully adapted to man. It corresponds with the whole scope of his hopes, fears, desires, passions, quirks, and preferences. The world can find in the Papacy something that matches most tastes and affections.
In the Papacy, flagrant wealth and pomp join hands with poverty and pain. The Pope, in his palace, arrayed with crown, and surrounded with Cardinals and Archbishops decked out in scarlet and purple, welcomes the poor and suffering of the world, and all are impressed. Nothing seems too exalted for him, while at the same time, nothing is too low to be beneath his care and concern. The Pope’s religion is the religion of man and the world loves to have it so. The honor and veneration paid to the Pope is great. The world wonders after him, they admire his power, and policy, and success. So great is the darkness, degeneracy, and madness of the world!
The clinching touch
This Pope encourages mankind in its yearning to contact the dead. He publicly teaches,
“Communion with the dead. In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead...Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping ‘them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.’” “We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.”
Supposed communion with the dead and deification of the dead has held a prominent place in nearly every system of paganism. The dead are consulted to give help to the living, which is the alluring charm of the occult. The practice of communicating with the spirits of the departed is sinful, since the Word of the Lord forbids it, “there shall not be found among you any one...that useth divination…or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer, [one who calls up the dead].” The Pope’s teachings on communion with the dead, in which he says, “our prayer for them is capable not only of helping ‘them, but also of making their intercession for us effective,’” is quite similar to what one finds in the pages of the occult, “The dead love to celebrate, dance, and cavort with the living, and spirits love spirits, so we invite them with ritual liba-tions...” The Lord Christ Jesus commanded worship in prayer to God alone, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” He gave the indispensable command that communication in worship is due to God alone and must not be given to any creature. “I am the LORD thy God…Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
It is not simply that the Pope recognizes and approves of “communion with the dead”, he has created more and more personages to be contacted, and recently with great speed.
“Mother Teresa is just one miracle away from sainthood. No, that's not hyperbole, just part of the fast-track canonization process that Pope John Paul II is pushing through the Vatican. Last Sunday crowds flooded St. Peter’s Square in Rome to witness the pope’s beatification of Mother Teresa, who died in 1997. Since most candidates are not even up for consideration until five years after their death, John Paul II is wasting no time. But this is not so surprising—if you consider John Paul II’s record over the past 25 years.”
“John Paul II has created more saints and beatified more people than all the popes put together. He has so far named 477 men and women as saints, and beatified 1,318 others, as it were, putting them into orbit for final elevation to the heavenly pantheon of Christian saints.”
The Pope continues his teaching regarding the dead by declaring that there is an interchange of holiness in expiation of sin, shared even with the dead in purgatory. He officially states,
“In the communion of saints, ‘a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.’ In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others.”
An abundant exchange of all good things in Scripture is in Christ alone, “in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” To assign Christ’s role to humans, including the dead ones, is a serious contradiction of God’s truth. God’s righteousness, which is cred-ited to the believer at Christ’s expense, fills the believer again and again with awe, worship, and praise to the Holy God, Who Himself has provided the permanent finished work of justification for sin. To purport an impu-tation of righteousness outside of Him is preposterous in face of Biblical truth. Jesus Himself said, “Truly truly, I say unto you, He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” The assertion of an exchange of merit between the believer and dead “saints” is egre-gious effrontery against the biblical truth that God alone justifies the sinner. The Pope’s pantheon of Saints is a collection of traps. In giving glory, honor, and communion in prayer, which is due to God alone, to the spirits of departed humans, the Pope flagrantly sins against the First Commandment. This prohibition includes a pre-cept that is the foundation of the whole law, that we know the Lord is our God, acknowledge that He is God, accept Him and worship Him in prayer, and set our affections entirely upon Him alone.
Apocalyptic in character, adamant in law
The figure of John Paul II is almost apocalyptic in grandeur. Underneath the façade, however, is an iron fisted hold on people in terms of law. Like Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085), who resolved never to rest until he had subjected all authority and power, both spiritual and temporal, to the “chair of Peter”, so also the present Pope is determined to build such an empire, by both Church and civil law. John Paul II has been adamant in his efforts to update the laws of the Roman Catholic Church. Since the days of Gregory VII, Popes have seen the necessity of making iron and inflexible church laws before attempting to control their subjects and others by compulsion, if necessary. In 1983, John Paul II’s revision of the 1917 Code of Canon Law added to the Roman Catholic laws, for example, “The Church has an innate and proper right to coerce offending members of the Christian faithful by means of penal sanctions.”
Examination of these added laws shows them to be even more absolute and totalitarian than those of the past. In his law the Pope, in clearer terms than any cult, enunciates the necessity of suppressing one’s God given faculties, especially the mind and will. “A religious respect of intellect and will, even if not the assent of faith, is to be paid to the teaching which the Supreme Pontiff...” The consequences of not submitting are also spelled out in his law, “The following are to be punished with a just penalty: 1. a person who…teaches a doc-trine condemned by the Roman Pontiff….” Specific penalties are also decreed, “The law can establish other expiatory penalties which deprive a believer of some spiritual or temporal good and are consistent with the su-pernatural end of the Church.”
John Paul II knows right well how to enforce his will in law. In few things is his genius more conspicuous than in this. There are no checks and balances to his absolute power authority. In the official commentary on his Canon Law is the following,
“The Church’s governmental system is vastly different from the notion of a balance of powers. In fact, the three functions are situated in the same office....Unlike the American system, ecclesiastical law does not arise from the will of the governed, nor does the Church’s juridical structure rely on a system of checks and balances to maintain its effectiveness...The Code promotes this system through a hierarchical structure that is more vertical than horizontal. Ultimately, the highest judge, the pope, is also the highest legislator and ad-ministrator....”
An article in the Catholic World Report, “Rome Has Spoken?Again”, shows how in practice the Pope im-poses his will, “‘The Pope Moves to Stamp Out Liberal Debate on Heated Issues,’ headlined the New York Times in a front-page story, warning darkly of possible ‘just punishment’ for dissenters…In another front-page story, the Washington Post introduced its coverage with a headline reading, ‘Papal Letter is Divisive, Critics Say’, nor did the Post fail to add the obligatory sub-headline about how ‘Dissent on Dogma Risks Punish-ment....’”
John Paul II can appear to be eminently pious, and yet, when one studies his laws and their implementation, he is a prince in dictatorial power. Solemn warnings are given in the Word of God, “for such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
A précis portrait of the Pope
John Paul II, while purporting to be Christian, sits among God’s people speaking ex cathedra with a de-clared absolute authority, as his own teaching proclaims, “the Supreme Pontiff, in virtue of his office, possesses infallible teaching authority…” . He has usurped the title and counterfeited the function of “The Holy Fa-ther” , claiming to be “The Vicar of Christ”. He professes to impart Christ by Masses and the Holy Spirit by Sacraments. He claims to fortify the faithful with crucifixes, rosaries, statues, holy water and saints. He alleges that he can shorten the sufferings of souls in purgatory by indulgences. He professes to mediate between God and man; to hold the keys of heaven and hell; to forbid marriage to his priests, and to control lust and sexual scandals by the rule of celibacy. He has commanded to abstain from meats and has clothed his cardinals in pur-ple and scarlet and fine linen with gold and precious stones. He claims the prerogative to judge all, but to be judged by none, “the First See is judged by no one.” There is no appeal in any forum being possible against his laws, “there is neither appeal nor recourse against a decision or decree of the Roman Pontiff.” The list goes on and on. He has counterfeited and set aside all that is vital and valuable in Christianity. In a word, he has set up a system of unrighteousness and called it, “our holy mother, the Church”. He teaches that “The Church is the mother of all believers. ‘No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother.’”
His predominant presupposition is that the Lord set up a totalitarian hierarchy with himself on the top, fol-lowed by Cardinals, Patriarchs, major Archbishops, Archbishops, Metropolitans, coadjutor Archbishops, dioce-san Bishops, coadjutor Bishops and Priests. The Biblical organizational structure of the bride of Christ is ut-terly different. In the true body of Christ, those ordained as elders and deacons are still only brothers within the same body and the one Master is Jesus Christ the Lord, “for one is your master even Christ and ye are all breth-ren.”
As Catholics live their lives under his jurisdiction and teachings, they have a long journey through the Sacri-fice of the Mass, sacraments, good works, merit, veneration of Mary and the Saints. Each one is required to partake of the sacraments in order to be good enough to die in “sanctifying grace” and then to be saved, or at least, it is hoped, to land for a time in purgatory. Even on a natural level one wonders how a Catholic can have any hope. The sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments are such that the most they can promise is a pseudo-hell called purgatory.
Major Evangelical leaders ecumenize with Rome
More and more so-called Evangelicals have accepted Roman Catholicism and its Pope through the Papacy’s plan of dialogue spelled out in 1964” The success of compromise is described by Catholic Keith Fournier in his book Evangelical Catholics. He says, “In our meeting room were major Evangelical leaders I’ve admired for years Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. Jerry Falwell, Dr. D. James Kennedy, Pat Robertson, and many others. I found not only a tremendous openness to my presence, but also a growing respect for my church and a thawing in what had been hard ice in the past.” Some of the compromisers have been J.I. Packer, Charles Colson, Robert Schuller, John R. W. Stott, Os Guinness, Richard Land, Timothy George, T.M. Moore, John Wood-bridge, Tony Campolo, James Dobson, Luis Palau, Franklin Graham, Carl Henry, Bill Hybels, Jack Van Impe to name but a few. And such self-styled Evangelical institutions as Christianity Today, Christian Research In-stitute, Fuller Seminary, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, Thomas Nelson Publishers, United Bible Societies, Campus Crusade, Wheaton College, World Magazine, World Vision, Wycliffe Bible Translators, and Youth for Christ have also aligned themselves with the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II has worked success-fully to implement and promote the re-entry of Protestants back into the Roman Catholic Church.
A decisive moment: where do you stand?
The change in leadership in Rome is soon to occur, but her objectives and laws remain the same. It is time for those who really love the Lord and the truth of the Bible to show where they stand. One is commanded by the Lord not only to contend for the faith; but also to separate from those who have already compromised. His great commandment to give the Gospel is laid on those of us who call ourselves biblical Christians. To uphold His Gospel of truth based on His written Word is what is laid before us! The Lord Himself warned believers against “other christs”, Peter warned of “false teachers”, Paul warned of “wolves” within the flock. It is not simply that apostates existed in former days.
As the Lord exposed the Pharisees for trying to establish their own righteousness, making the written word of no effect, so the true believers today ought to oppose the apostate system that officially gainsays the glorious truths of our God—and those who stand with them. The salvation of many is involved. The Lord faced the sin-cere and devout Pharisees with a very strong word. They were looking to their leader and chief, Caiaphas, the High Priest. The Lord said to those Pharisees,“ if you believe not that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” Like the Pharisees, many present-day Catholics look to the Pope. And likewise, today as with the Pharisees, if anyone continues to recognize the Pope as “Holy Father,” he is in fact denying the true Father and the Son.” He who persists in his sin will likewise die in his sins. The Lord Christ Jesus died in place of the true believer. His life and finished sacrifice alone are the ransom for the believer. “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” This was the price demanded by the All Holy God in order that His justice might be satisfied in the forgiveness of sins. As a result of this payment the true believer on Christ Jesus alone is freed from sin and Satan. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” ¨
Richard Bennett of “Berean Beacon” WebPage: http://www.bereanbeacon.org
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