Mourning John Paul II
April 12 05
As I said last week, I found it quite interesting that virtually the whole world was in mourning over the death of John Paul II. Our own President was no exception. I wonder how many Christians have stopped to question just who it is they are following and in whom they are putting their trust.
On the morning of April 2, just hours before John Paul's death, President Bush said in his weekly radio address, "His Holiness is a faithful servant of God and a champion of human dignity and freedom. He is an inspiration to us all. Laura and I join millions of Americans and so many around the world who are praying for the Holy Father." Well, I will agree with the President that John Paul was a "champion of human dignity and freedom." He did do a lot over the past two decades to reach out to the oppressed. And I will agree with the President that millions, indeed billions, of people were praying for John Paul.
But here is where the President and I part ways. I cannot call anyone "His Holiness" except for God Himself. And I cannot call anyone "Holy Father" except God alone. Yeshua Himself said, "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven" (Matthew 23:9). Yeshua was not saying that you don't have a biological father and mother on earth. Rather, He was saying that our only spiritual Father is God. We are not to give such reverence to anyone but Him. Further, the pope is not only not our Father, he is not our Holy Father. In John 17:11, Yeshua addresses the Father as "Holy Father," for He alone is the Holy Father. Catholics, of course, believe that the pope is the Vicar of Christ, a sort of God on earth.
After John Paul's death, President Bush said, "[The pope] left the throne of St. Peter in the same way he ascended to it - as a witness to the dignity of human life." Well, once again I have to cringe. Catholics believe that Peter was the first pope, entrusted by Yeshua to watch over the kingdom. Each pope in succession is believed to be basically an incarnation of Peter. This is certainly not Biblical, so why are evangelical Christians heeding the words of the President? Why are we following after Mr. Bush and putting our trust in him?
After attending the funeral, the President said, "The pope taught us that the foundation of human freedom is a universal respect for human dignity." Again, this is not Biblical. The foundation of freedom is the sacrifice of Christ for the sins of humanity. There can be no freedom without salvation through the shed blood of Christ. We cannot achieve true freedom through political means, but only through a surrendered life in the hands of our Holy Father.
So, why is the President saying such things? Simply because he is the President and feels it necessary as a world leader? Consider that Mr. Bush is the first president in American history to attend the funeral of a pope. He didn't have to go; he could have sent a representative as has been done in the past. If the President does not believe the things he said, then we cannot believe anything he says. He has proven himself to be deceitful. If, on the other hand, he does believe what he said, then why are Christians so taken with him? I believe he does believe what he said. The President and First Lady, the first President Bush, President Clinton, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended the funeral together. They received special entrance and kneeled before the deceased pope. They prayed over him. Our President was obviously moved by the experience.
More than two hundred dignitaries from around the globe also attended the funeral, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair. No British Prime Minister had ever attended a papal funeral before. As one British journalist put it, "[Britain] is still...legally established as a Protestant nation. Until very recently the mere idea that a prime minister or the head of the Anglican church might have any kind of dialogue with Rome -- never mind rearrange the next Protestant king's wedding to suit the cardinals of Rome -- would have been regarded as close to treason."
Indeed, the pilgrims who came to America were not only anti-Catholic, they were opposed to the Anglican church as well, which regarded itself as opposed to Catholicism. The Puritans and other Christians who first came to America were about as Protestant as you could get. Catholicism did not begin to make its mark on America until the late 19th century, but now seems to be enjoying much success and sympathy here. Consider that last year at this time, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ was extremely popular with evangelical Christians even though Gibson is a devout Roman Catholic as is the star of the movie. The movie itself is extremely Catholic in doctrine. Yet, evangelicals, who are, by definition, the defenders of the faith and strict in Biblical interpretation, failed to see anything wrong with the movie.
And now it would seem that we are so caught up in politics that we fail to see that John Paul was a brilliant leader of the world's largest cult. I say "cult" because they believe that Yeshua's work on the cross was not enough, but penance is required; cult because they believe that Christ must be, and is, crucified again and again as they partake of the Eucharist; cult because they believe Mary, the mother of Yeshua, is co-redemptrix with Christ; cult because they believe that Mary is the "Queen of Heaven" who hears their prayers. Now, I could go on and on, but I think this is sufficient evidence to say that Romanism is not Christianity.
So, then, why do we revere the pope? And why do we revere those who bow down to the pope? Why do we put our trust in those who are blind to the truth? It is understandable that a billion Roman Catholics around the world are in mourning, but why are billions of others also mourning? We are in the end times. We can almost hear the clip-clop of the hooves of the first horse whose rider is the antichrist. The antichrist will enjoy the allegiance of billions of people around the world. All it will take is not necessarily a whole-hearted belief in everything he stands for, but a simple respect for his outward actions. It was John Paul's charisma that gathered the world together.