The Legacy of Pope John Paul II
A Great Christian leader or a False Christ?
by Dr. David R. Reagan
I consider Pope John Paul II to have been the most dangerous pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.
The reason is simple. He had a great talent for public relations, and he used that gift very effectively to put a beautiful face on a thoroughly unbiblical religion that has deceived and enslaved the souls of millions of people all over the world.
But “John Paul was such a righteous and moral man,” people argue. I agree that he was, but the only righteousness that saves is that of Jesus which is imputed to us when we place our hope and trust in Him as Lord and Savior of our lives.
Saint or Sinner?
As I watched the world rhapsodize over the life of Pope John Paul II, I kept thinking of the dire warning issued by one of his namesakes, the Apostle Paul (Galatians 3:8-9):
8) But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
9) As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.
Paul’s words couldn’t be any clearer. He even repeats his point for emphasis. The message is that anyone who presents a gospel different from that revealed in the Scriptures – whether man or angel – will be accursed.
For 26 years Pope John Paul II violated this warning of the Apostle Paul. During his papacy he led millions into spiritual darkness by teaching that a person can earn salvation through good works. Such a teaching is a demonic lie and is a blasphemy of the blood of Jesus.
Pope John Paul II preached many other unbiblical doctrines, but salvation through good works was his basic error. It is a formula foreign to God’s Word. No one can be saved through good works, not even a good man like John Paul. Here’s how the Apostle Paul put it in Ephesians 2:8-9:
8) For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God,
9) not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
John Paul did many good things in his life and during his reign as pope. He transformed the papacy itself as radically as Franklin Roosevelt transformed the American presidency. Before John Paul, the office of pope was considered to be an Italian fiefdom. He internationalized the office, taking the papacy to the four corners of the earth, visiting a total of 129 different countries. He was undoubtedly a dynamic leader with great vision.
He was also a righteous man whose long reign was never tainted by personal immorality or corruption – unlike many of his predecessors. He tenaciously fought for biblical principles of morality. Despite intense pressure from the liberal Catholic Church in the United States to give in to pagan societal norms, John Paul stood firm in his opposition to evils such as abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage.
To his credit, he always evidenced a strong passion for peace and an equally strong compassion for the poor and downtrodden. And he was a staunch anti-Communist who gave strong moral support to anti-Communist movements throughout Eastern Europe.
But all his goodness and righteousness pale in comparison to the damnable false doctrines that he taught. A colleague of mine, Barry Cameron, pastor of Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie, Texas, summed it up in the following two sentences which he sent to me on the day John Paul died:
“During his entire papacy he preached ‘another gospel;’ propagated ‘another method’ to pray; promoted ‘another path’ to Heaven; perpetuated ‘another mode of baptism;’ persuaded ‘another generation’ to follow the man-made teachings of the Church rather than the Bible; promoted ‘another person’ above Jesus (Mary); and protected the on-going scam of elevating ‘another man’ to an unbiblical position of authority. Should anyone be surprised that he is going to ‘another place’?”
The False Gospel of Catholicism
The Catholic Church teaches salvation by good works. The Bible says that salvation is by grace through faith and not by works “that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The Catholic Church teaches that even if you earn your salvation, you must still go to a place called purgatory when you die so that you can be purged of your sins through suffering. The Bible mentions no such place. Furthermore, the very concept of purgatory is a blasphemy of Jesus. The Bible says that the blood of Jesus is sufficient to purge us of all sins (1 John 1:7).
The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus must be crucified afresh repeatedly in the Mass. The Bible says that Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross was sufficient to provide redemption (Hebrews 9:25-26). That is why His last words on the Cross were “It is finished” (John 19:30).
The Catholic Church says that Mary is a co-redeemer with Jesus, thus elevating her to the status of a god. The Bible makes it clear that Mary was a human being like the rest of us who was born with a sin nature and who needed a Savior. Thus, when she discovered that she was pregnant with the Christ child, she sang, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God My Savior” (Luke 1:46-47).
The Catholic Church allows the pope to reward the memory of people with sainthood and teaches that we can direct our prayers to such people. The Bible says that all spiritual rewards will be given by Jesus at His judgment throne (John 5:22 and 2 Corinthians 5:10). And the Bible says that all prayers are to be directed to God through Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17). The apostate doctrines outlined above are only a few of the more important ones that characterize the perverted Christianity of the Roman Catholic Church.
The word, gospel, means “good news.” It is not good news to be taught that you have to merit your salvation through the performance of good works. The Bible says that all our good works are like filthy rags to God as far as our salvation is concerned (Isaiah 64:6). The concept of earning one’s salvation is characteristic of every religion in the world except true Christianity. That’s because the concept is a lie of Satan. He desires that we put our faith in ourselves instead of God.
In fact, true Christianity is not really a religion. It is, instead, a relationship. That’s why Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Notice that Jesus does not say that salvation is to be found in church membership or church rites or good works. Rather, it is to be found in a personal relationship with Him.
That personal relationship begins when you are “born again” by putting your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. It’s amazing how many professing Christians will deny being born again because they identify that term with conservative, Evangelical Christianity. Yet, Jesus Himself said that no one can enter heaven without being born again (John 3:5).
When interviewed, Catholics will usually say they hope to be saved because they are church members or because they attend Mass regularly. One of their most common arguments is that they think they have a pretty good chance to go to heaven because they are living a life that is much better than some friend or family member they can compare themselves to. What they do not seem to understand is that God does not grade on the curve, rather, He grades on the Cross.
Pope John Paul II appointed more “saints” than all of his predecessors over the past 500 years combined – a total of almost 500. Keep in mind that these are people whom Catholics are encouraged to pray to. When the pope died, a Vatican spokesman elevated him to instant sainthood when he said, “Until now, I have been praying for the pope; now I am praying to him.” Incredible!
John Paul did everything possible during his papacy to elevate Mary to divine status as co-redeemer with Jesus. He promoted this doctrine with the desire to elevate it to the level of dogma through an “infallible proclamation.” However, he was dissuaded from doing so because his advisers feared it would undermine their ecumenical efforts to seduce Protestants into cooperation with the Catholic Church.
Nonetheless, John Paul’s official motto, posted in Latin on his bedroom wall, was “All for Mary.” His casket bore an emblem of the Cross with a large M for Mary in the lower right hand corner.
A Strange Irony
Despite his personal high standard of morality, Pope John Paul II continued to tolerate wide-spread immorality among his church’s clergy. He also tolerated the administrative corruption of shuttling sex-offender priests from city to city and from country to country to shield them from criminal prosecution. Meanwhile, the church steadfastly refused to change its unbiblical doctrine requiring the celibacy of the priesthood.
Here’s how a Catholic editorial writer named Rod Dreher summed it up in the Dallas Morning News:
“It is a sad but incontestable fact… that as governor of the church, John Paul was largely a failure. Far from being the harsh disciplinarian of media caricature, he was reluctant to confront bad bishops – most of them his appointees – and deal effectively with the liturgical, catechetical and pastoral rot throughout the church.”
One of the most alarming things John Paul did during his papacy was to reach out to all the religions of the world in an attempt to bring them under the influence of the Catholic Church. In doing this, I believe he began to pave the way for the establishment of the one-world religion of the Antichrist.
A good example of what I’m talking about took place in October of 1986 when John Paul invited all the religious leaders of the world to come to Assisi, Italy, to join him in praying to their gods for world peace. Did he really believe their gods were real? Or, did he believe that their gods were the same as his? One of those who came was the Dali Lama, who is considered by his followers to be a god. Did he pray to himself?
This bizarre gathering of spiritual leaders was attended by Confucians, Shintoists, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, African witch doctors, and American Indian chiefs, among many others representing all sorts of pagan beliefs. The pope welcomed all of them most enthusiastically. What a contrast with the prophet Elijah who called down fire from heaven on the prophets of the false god Baal!
John Paul was the first pope to ever visit a Muslim mosque. He was the first pope to make a public spectacle of kissing the Koran. It’s hard to believe that any “Christian leader” would give his blessing to a book penned by a demon-possessed man – a book that denies the deity of Jesus! John Paul even went so far as to proclaim that the god of Islam is the same as the God of Christianity, when the truth is that they are as different as light is from darkness.
The Sum Of It All
I could go on and on about the unbiblical doctrines and practices that characterized the reign of John Paul, but again, the bottom line was his concept of salvation. He taught “another gospel,” and the Bible says he will be accursed for it.
Mike Gendron, a former Catholic who now heads up a ministry to Catholics called Proclaiming the Gospel, wrote the following summation of Pope John Paul II:
“This pope never claimed to be God, but he took pleasure in being addressed with titles reserved for God alone. He usurped the titles ‘Holy Father’ from God the Father, ‘The Head of the Church’ from the Lord Jesus Christ, and ‘The Vicar of Christ’ from the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to send in His place. John Paul often sat in pompous arrogance on his royal throne as his loyal subjects knelt before him. Never did he refuse worship as Peter did when men fell at his feet. Peter, knowing that only God deserved such reverence, immediately ordered: ‘Stand up; I too am just a man’ (Acts 10:26).”
The “Holy Father” was a sinner just like the rest of us. He could not earn his way to Heaven. He has now met the true Holy Father, and I would not want to be in his shoes.