At the moment, the death of the pope has triggered a global frenzy of praise for John Paul II. The Associated Press reported that some 35,000 news articles were generated world wide during his recent illness and death. Attending the "biggest funeral in recorded history" was "the most lustrous assemblage of religious celebrities, royals, heads of state and simple pilgrims in world history."
Huge crowds gathered in Saint Peter's square to pray for him during his illness and miles of pilgrims filed past his bier before his burial. Dignitaries flew in from all over the world for the funeral.
So, what should Bible believers be thinking about this global tribute? Did he really promote the gospel and biblical morals as so many are claiming?
One of his major accomplishments was the advancement of ecumenism. At one memorial service in the new Los Angeles cathedral, AP reported that "...a line of Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Greek Orthodox and evangelical(!) Christian leaders marched into the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels...taking a seat behind an altar." Each leader took a turn at praising the memory of the late pope and his efforts at "unity."
Pope John Paul II persuaded Bible believers to ignore unbiblical doctrine and join with Catholics to stand against common concerns such as abortion, "culture of death," same-sex marriage, materialism and humanism. When Catholic laymen and evangelical members worked side-by-side on these cultural issues, the doctrinal differences began to be overlooked until it became assumed that they were fellow Christians. This led to a repositioning of Roman Catholicism as just another Christian "denomination." Since the reformation, Protestants have held that it was not a church but a cult, due to its teaching of salvation by works, infant baptism, wafer god, Virgin Mary goddess, priestcraft hierarchy, and purgatory.
But now, even "evangelicals" generally agree that Roman Catholicism is just another Christian church, another denomination with "a different tradition." Never mind that that "tradition" has "made the commandment of God of none effect." (See Matt. 15.)
Now, when the question comes up whether a Roman Catholic is saved, the usual response is: "Well, I know Catholics who love the Lord and study the Bible." The discussion usually ends there without exploring whether religious zeal is equal to being born again and if Rome's emphasis on bowing to idols and prayer to Mary is valid.
Lest we think that John Paul II was wholly responsible for this new love fest with protestants, the ground work was laid in the early 1960s at the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, called Vatican II. Proceedings from that meeting toned down the dogma that there was no salvation outside the Catholic church.
Protestants were no longer called "heretics" but graduated to "separated brethren." Protestants fell all over themselves buddying up to the pope, ignoring the vast difference in doctrine. Those who dare to raise a warning are quickly labeled as fundamentalists and accused of "dividing the brethren."
Popery's history of deception dates from Constantine when he made Christianity political to consolidate his power over the Roman empire. The Vatican held political power of life and death until the Reformation broke the back of the Inquisition. Failing to conquer the Bible-believers by persecution, they have a new strategy today —unity. By pretending to be Christian, this prostitute church is wooing them with veiled paganism and perverted Bible versions. (See the new book by David Daniels, Did the Catholic Church Give Us the Bible?)
Jack Chick's classic book, Smokescreens, describes the smoke and mirrors game that the Protestants have bought into. Cathy Burns gives a more detailed description of this intricate dance of deception in her book, Billy Graham and His Friends. Both are available from Chick Publications.