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Monday, April 04, 2005

Pope John Paul II

Yesterday after church, Christian, Marilyn and I exchanged some thoughts about how Protestants should be thinking and speaking about the death of Pope John Paul II. Our pastor had mentioned the pope's passing several times in his sermon, showing a deep respect for the man as well as genuine sympathy for the grief of Catholics worldwide. It is certainly difficult to honor and grieve for a truly historic figure without also affirming what Protestants will only affirm about the Word of God, that is its authority and infallibility.

I think my friend Brian at The Banty Rooster has posted some very balanced and God-honoring thoughts about Pope John Paul II, and I encourage you to read them here.

Here's a little sample of how he opens and closes this tribute:

I am a Protestant in the Reformed Confessional tradition, which was spawned by Reformer John Calvin in the 16th century. Why am I writing a tribute to Karol Wojtyla, better known as Pope John Paul II, you ask? Because regardless of my standard theological contentions with the Roman Catholic church of which he was head, John Paul II looms over the 20th century as among its most monumental historical figures. Further, as a Calvinist I believe (because of the intersecting doctrines of common grace and total depravity) that at the end of the day everyone is a balance sheet; there are positives and there are negatives. Parting ways with some of my more extreme forbears, I believe John Paul II was also a balance sheet, neither the sole infallible “vicar of Christ on earth,” nor the absolute anti-Christ that, say, John Knox would have imagined...

I hope that Karol Wojtyla put his trust not in the “blessed virgin” to usher him into paradise; but rather turned his sole hope and trust to the Lord Jesus Christ, the all-sufficient one, who lives to intercede for us as a perfect and perpetual high priest before the throne of his loving Father. Wojtyla was a vessel of clay; he was not worthy of an eternal inheritance – none of us are. But Christ is worthy, has received an eternal inheritance, and he willingly gives it to those who trust in him.


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