Broad Is The Way : 2005-04-05Note: I have friends who are Roman Catholic. I am not anti-Catholic or opposed to them, but I must insist on adherence to Biblical teaching before I can accept the teaching of any church or person.
It didn't take long for accolades for the late Pope John Paul II to appear in evangelical publications. Theologian Thomas Oden was interviewed by Stan Guthrie for Christianity Today
in an article titled Pope 'Broadened the Way' for Evangelicals and Catholics
The pope broadened the way. Interesting phrase. Matthew 7:13 mentioned something quite similar:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (KJV)
I really don't think that the project we call Evangelicals and Catholics Together could have occurred without Pope John Paul II. There were before Pope John Paul many great Catholic ecumenists who were part of making that way, but he broadened the way so that many of us could go in it.
That's rather scary for those of us who believe in justification by faith alone and the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (in a nutshell, our works count for nothing in salvation; only being clothed in Christ's righteousness gets us into heaven). Why would evangelicals want to go into a way broadened by a pope who identified Mary as coredemptrix with Christ? The Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici
web site promotes the Fifth Marian dogma, attempting to crown "our Immaculate Mother and Queen" with the titles Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate:
And at the foot of the cross of our Saviour (Jn.19:26), Mary's intense sufferings, united with those of her Son, as Pope John Paul II tells us, were, "also a contribution to the Redemption of us all" (Salvifici Doloris, n.25). Because of this intimate sharing in the redemption accomplished by the Lord, the Mother of the Redeemer is uniquely and rightly referred to by Pope John Paul II and the Church as the "Coredemptrix."
True evangelicals should see this as a tragic slur on the completed and solitary work of Christ, yet Oden gushes to an embarrassing degree:
John Paul II will be John Paul the Great. He will be one of the great popes in history. He probably will be among the five or ten greatest [pontiffs], because he's had such an impact on world history, world Christianity, and world evangelization.
...the Holy Spirit has worked powerfully in John Paul II in a way that is almost unprecedented in the last century
Certainly he was a great man by human standards who had a great impact, but what was his true impact on world Christianity and evangelization? Dare we judge his teachings by the Bible? Is his gospel that of Paul's, or another gospel? Where exactly did Paul promote Marian veneration? That a so-called "Protestant" theologian could see a Roman Catholic pontiff in that light is troubling, but it gets more extreme. If Martin Luther knew what "Lutheran" theologian Uwe Siemon-Netto was claiming, he'd be apoplectic. In an article titled, He Was My Pope, Too
, Siemon-Netto laments,
Now that John Paul II is gone, I am even more of an orphan than the Christians in the Roman church.
I am sure I am reflecting the views of many Protestants. Who else but John Paul II gave voice to my faith and my values in 130 countries? Who else posited personal holiness and theological clarity against postmodern self-deception and egotism? Who else preached the gospel as tirelessly as this man?
In Europe some time ago, a debate occurred in Protestant churches: Should John Paul II be considered the world's spokesman for all of Christianity? This was an absurd question. Of course he spoke for all believers. Who else had such global appeal and credibility, even to non-Christians and non-believers?
Global appeal and credibility among non-Christians carries more weight than theological correctness. Surely God is sparing Martin Luther the knowledge that Lutheran theologians are praising the pope more than many Roman Catholics who were troubled by his conservatism.
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