Friday, April 08, 2005

Thoughts on the pope.

As everyone already knows, the Pope passed away this past weekend. There is no denying that the Pope was certainly a man of outstanding character and was undoubtedly a champion of the family and promoter of the sanctity of life. He made a strong stand on moral issues of our day including abortion and euthanasia and was an influential figure worldwide.

But his doctrinal stance was clearly another matter. This is particularly true when it comes to the doctrine of salvation. Pope John Paul II, like the church that he led, rejected the Biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone. He also promoted inclusivism and Marian devotion, promoting the belief that Mary was a co-mediator along with Jesus. In general, the Pope defended the doctrinal stance that the Roman Catholic Church has held for centuries. Many comments that I have heard by some Evangelical leaders creates the illusion that the pope embraced Biblical doctrine. I do not think that this is actually intentional, but when Evangelicals go too far in their attempt not to alienate Catholics, it tends to minimize the crucial differences in Evangelical doctrine and Catholic faith. While they may mention that there are certainly differences in doctrine between evangelicals and Catholics, comments are presented in such a way that minimizes the significance of these differences. In light of what the pope believed, this is extremely reckless on the part of evangelical leaders who should know better. There is nothing wrong with recognizing and admiring the work that the pope accomplished in his life. We certainly can be thankful and appreciative of his strong stand on crucial issues affecting society today, and we can certainly express our appreciation. But to affirm the beliefs of the pope is wrong on the part of evangelicals. If this is the way evangelicals are showing love toward Catholics, this falls terribly short of that effort. To affirm the false teachings is to allow people to continue to walk in severe doctrinal error, and in the end to forfeit eternal life. This is in no way an expression of genuine love.

Jude 1:3 commands us to earnestly contend for the faith. The word “contend” means to do battle. We must be prepared to battle for the truth. This does not mean that we should try to be obnoxious with our faith, but it does mean that we should take a strong stand without compromise. We need to lovingly confront those who embrace false doctrine.

“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” (Jude 1:3, NASB®)</span>

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