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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Am I the Only One Having Mixed Feelings About the Passing of the Pope?

Let me explain. First, let me say that Pope John Paul II has made a tremendous mark on Christianity in the 20th century. By all he has been caricatured as a man as a gentle giant, kind to all, and home with kids and young people yet intimidating to kings and presidents. There is much that is to be said of the quality of life he lived and the good done, but I am having mixed feelings about his passing and wondering if anyone else is too. Here are a few reasons for my mixed feelings: 1. My first thoughts was, "Is he saved?" I keep on hearing the cardinals calling on the people of the world to pray that God would "accept him into his kingdom", as though salvation is not secured by Christ. Could it be that the Pope not be in heaven? Is salvation possible apart from a clear understanding of the gospel and repentance and faith to it? 2. My second thought was, "How is this passing similar to Christ's?" I mean, the world that ridiculed, mocked, beat, and crucified Christ is worshipping the pope. I am not saying that he has to be martyred or persecuted to be like Christ in this earth, but the pomp and flair and deification of this man seems to be far from the example set forth by Christ and seems to eclipse the glory of Christ in heaven with the glory of the pope here on earth. 3. Then there is the prominence or preeminence of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The pope himself attributed everything he did in the papacy to Mary in worship to her. From direction and leadership to the miraculous healing from the attempted assassination, the pope stated that he owed everything to Mary. And, the praying of the rosary continued on and on. This portrayal of Mary is a product of sentimentality and modern day feminism mingled with extra-biblical tradition and not with Christianity. The cardinals said that Jesus opened the gates of heaven to bring the pope to Mary who was awaiting him. Moving, but wrong. 4. The emphasis of inter-faith movement and pluralism has been troubling. Although I believe it is important to be conversant with other faiths (which the pope did well, especially with the Jews), according to the Bible, there is only one true faith - that is Christianity. Mingling Christ with other gods is to bring Baal into communion with Yahweh, and in Scripture, this only invoked the holy and jealous wrath of God. 5. The titles given to the pope are very troubling as well. I have heard of him as "His holiness," "the Holy Father," "vicar of Rome," and others. For instance, vicar comes from the same word where we get "vicarious" or substitutionary atonement of Christ. This title assumes that the pope holds some mediatorial role between God and the church as in Jesus. Holy Father is a title rivaling the Heavenly Father, and His Holiness is misrepresentative because there is only one Holy One, that is Christ Jesus. All these are titular examples of the deification of man and attempt to bring immortality to what is mortal, infallibility to what is fallible. Unlike the pope, Paul best known as a bondservant of Christ, a slave in chains for the gospel. These titles and their representations are dangerous and borderline blasphemous. The pope is not the head of the Church - Christ is. The pope is not the Holy Father - Yahweh is. And he is certainly not the vicar in the true sense of the word - Christ and He alone is the mediator and propitiation for the sins of man. 6. There is a heavy sense of ritualism and traditionalism in attempt to bring him at death in good standing with God. For instance, there is a perpetual mass, the administration of the sacraments, and the giving of last rites that seem to be requisites for someone passing to heaven. This assumes that there is some eternal insecurity and uncertainty of the state of the pope. Preparation for death comes from the way one lives. I am preparing for death right now, even though it is possible that I might not die for another 50 years. But if I am to die tonight, I am ready to be at home with my Savior Jesus Christ. His finished work on the cross saved, sanctified, and glorified me. He is all I need. 7. The rock-star mentality of the pope is striking. In Scripture, every time a person attempted to bow down and worship a human being, albeit Paul, Peter, or John, they quickly rebuked them and called them to worship God alone. Yet the worship of pope has brought stardom and renown to the ends of the earth, and the One True King Eternal, Immortal, Invisibile, Only Wise God is not on the stage at the Vatican. He is indirectly I guess you could say, but only in the periphery. I am not saying that the sea of faces and people flocking to him is wrong. It is great that there are so many people wanting to know the truth and worship God (at least that's what I hope they are trying to do); however, we have direct access to God and not only don't have to but are commanded to go directly to God. We don't need a temple, a cathedral, a pope, priest, or sacrament. Jesus is Prophet, Priest, and King, the Bread of Life and indwells us as we are temples of the Holy Spirit. 8. Finally, where is Jesus Christ, the Famous One in all of this? I hear of Mary. I hear of the pope. I hear of the Catholic Church and its traditions . . . but where is Jesus Christ? This hurts me the most. If it is not about Him, then no death or memorial is meaningful to eternity. I have many Catholic friends and much of my family is Catholic, and in no way is my mixed feelings and concerns are to be derogatory in manner. Yet, I believe these "mixed feelings" need to be addressed, at least in mind for my own conscience's sake. We must thing in God-centered terms. Jesus is the center of the universe and should be central in our lives and thought. It is my aim in this matter and all matters to do just that.


Anonymous justin said...

I agree with you Tim. As far as I'm concerned, there is only one Holy Father, and he's held his office a lot longer than JP2 did. Keep in mind that only around 2000 yrs ago a guy named Jesus was publicly spat upon, scourged beyond recognition and crucified. While JP2, who died for the sins of no man, is expected to have millions attend his viewing and funeral. He does seem like a 'rock star'. Rome has had hundreds of ambulances and medical teams ready to be dispatched to attend to the "sea of humanity" as they may pass out as they fully grasp the end of this Pope's era. I agree he was a great Pontiff, but he is still a man. Jesus bridged the gap, not man. It's because of Jesus that we are able to have eternal life and communion with the Father. So why is the Pope revered like he is?
It seems almost like some thought that God actually died on Saturday. I'm glad to know He is still in control.


4/05/2005 02:13:00 PM

Blogger Jonathan said...

I agree with you as well, Timmy. I was amazed at the outpouring of people for the pope. What kept coming to my mind was during the Tribulation period people will revere the Antichrist in such a form and manner and this same type of outpouring would be received at the time of his death, though he will rise from the dead later through the power of Satan. For me, God revealed a preview of coming attractions about the End Times. I'm glad He still reveals to me illustrations of His Word for my human eyes to fathom, because my human mind cannot fathom the power of Him.


4/05/2005 07:15:00 PM


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