If you are at all connected with civiliazation, you know that the Roman Pontiff has died. The media has done nothing but praise the life and ministry of Pope John Paul II, at least for the time being. As usual, I favor FoxNews ("Fair and Balanced News. We report; You decide.")
. I will admit that it has been difficult to watch priest after priest praise the "Holy Father." Add to that the amount of time they've broadcast raw footage of the crowds at the Vatican singing worship songs to "our Lady" (Mary).
We heard our President say the following about John Paul II: "The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd, the world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home
" (emphasis mine). This kind of disappointing statement is representative of the evangelical response to the Pope's passing. Why disappointing? Because there is one issue being avoided: the Gospel. John Paul II may have fought against social injustice, but did the head of the Roman Church honor God by proclaiming the Gospel found in Scripture? So far, Protestants have yet to address this "controversial" yet vital issue.
It is amazing to interact with Protestants (at least ... professing Protestants), utterly ignorant of Roman doctrine arguing for the salvation of the Pope, and Romanists everywhere. My question to them is: "Can a false gospel save sinners? Because I believe that Rome has a false gospel, unable to give sinful men true peace with God." Here's the all-too-common response: "But I have Catholic friends, and they're saved! They trust Christ for salvation. How judgmental of you, Casey, for being so harsh. It is people like you who cause disunity in the body of Christ..." Hehe. Where to begin? The one who makes such a comment reveals his unfamiliarity with the Roman Catholic Church and everything
she believes about the gospel. As a Christian, I believe in the 5 Solas of the Reformation: Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Soli Deo Gloria and Sola Scriptura.
Sola Gratia - We are saved by free grace alone.
Sola Fide - We are justified before God by faith alone.
Solus Christus - We are saved by Christ alone.
Soli Deo Gloria - God alone is glorified in our salvation.
Sola Scriptura - We believe all this on the Bible alone.
Since the Reformation, these great truths have been forcefully proclaimed and defended by Protestants. In response, the Roman Church held the Council of Trent to further define her views of the gospel (Trent was held during the period known as "the Counter Reformation"). The Council contains 16 chapters and 33 canons condemning various teachings, including those of the Reformers. The decree began,
"Since there is being disseminated at this time, not without the loss of many souls and grievous detriment to the unity of the Church, a certain erroneous doctrine concerning justification...the holy, ecumenical, and general Council of Trent...to expound to all the faithful of Christ the true and salutary doctrine of justification...strictly forbidding that anyone henceforth presume to believe, preach or teach otherwise than is defined and declared in the present decree."
Dr. James White summarizes Rome's denial of justification by faith alone:
"...it is claimed that a person cannot be justified without accepting the definitions just put forward by the Council. In the canons that follow, anyone who would present Paul's doctrine of the bondage of the will (Romans 3:11) is placed under the anathema (by Canons 4 and 5); anyone accepting the truth of Romans 3:28 that justification comes by faith alone, is cursed by Canons 9, 12, and 14. Eternal predestination is anathematized in Canon 17; the concept that good works flow from justification, but are not the cause of its increase is condemned by Canon 24; belief that the forgiveness of sins includes the punishment is banished by Canon 30; any who would reject the idea of merit being attached to works is condemned by Canon 32; and finally, anyone who would assert that the Roman Catholic doctrine on justification 'derogates in some respect from the glory of God or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ...let him be anathema' (Canon 33)" (White. The Fatal Flaw. Pg. 33).
Canon 9 from the Council of Trent:
"If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."
Rome likewise denies the other 4 Solas of the Reformation.
Getting back to our ecumenical friends ... after a cursory review of Rome's denial of Justification by faith alone, it is plain as day that Rome's gospel cannot save sinners. "But, but you're just not loving!" they say. Dr. White writes in response:
"It is this writer's position that the Roman system does not know the grace of God, nor the power of the completed and finished work of Jesus Christ. The "gospel" as presented by Rome, then, is not the Gospel taught in the New Testament. Rome has gone far beyond anything the Judaizers in Galatia ever dreamed of. If this be the case, then how can I betray the example given me by the New Testament and sit idly by while millions of Roman Catholics continue to think that what they have been taught will save them? And what of those many Christians who are being deceived into thinking that there really isn't any difference between Romanism and Christianty? It is my belief that the greatest act of love I can show for those involved in Roman Catholicism is to warn them--loudly, clearly, and for as long as God wills--that any system that rejects the completed, finished, and utterly unique way of redemption in Jesus Christ is not going to save them. Such a system does not know God's power, and certainly does not have God's blessing. Full and complete salvation is to be found in Jesus Christ and in Him alone, not in a system that gives place to man's works and by so doing destroys the work of Christ, setting it at naught (Galatians 2:21). This is a wonderful message--a joyous message--that redemption has been accomplished once and for all in Jesus Christ! But before such good news can be accepted, bad news in the form of false teachings must be removed. This I shall seek to do in the following pages." (White. The Fatal Flaw. Pgs. xiii-ix).
If we love Roman Catholics, we will inform them that the gospel of Rome cannot save them, and then bring them the Gospel of Peace. The absolute WORST thing we can do for Romanists is to let them think they are Christians.
My encouragement to my readers is to stand firmly for the truth of the Gospel. As our politically-correct culture demands that we join them in their post-modern attitude towards Rome, we must continue to proclaim our message to Roman Catholics - who are in desperate need of the Gospel.
If you are unfamiliar with the Roman Catholic Church, I recommend the following books:The Roman Catholic Controversy
, The Fatal Flaw
, Answers to Catholic Claims
, and Mary, Another Redeemer
by Dr. James White.
As you prepare to clearly communicate the Gospel to Romanists, spend some time studying Sola Fide:The God Who Justifies
by Dr. James White, and The Justification of God
by John Piper.
1 Peter 3:15, "But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;"
Jude 1:3, "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."
Case of Base