Question: In your article on the Pope’s passing you said, “like the Pope, the Church he led firmly rejects Christ’s promise of eternal life.” Contradicting your statement, the May 2005 Christianity Today bears an American evangelical missionary’s testimony that the Pope’s message was “the clearest presentation of the gospel that I ever heard.” The Pope also gave Billy Graham the invitation he needed for his crusade in a country where evangelicalism was considered cultic. Bill Bright and Campus Crusade were able to accomplish far more in Poland with his help and assistance. The Catholic youth organization, Oasis, even adopted Campus Crusade’s evangelical materials as part of its curriculum, and the soon-to-become Pope defended the relationship between Campus Crusade and Oasis in 1977, allowing the evangelical-influenced curriculum to continue being distributed. Shouldn’t we thank the Lord for the gospel of the late Pope?
Answer: The Pope was the head of the Roman Catholic Church, a Church that proclaims a false gospel of salvation through prayers to Mary and various “saints,” works and rituals, purgatory, medals, scapulars, and the Mass that denies Christ’s once-for-all-time sacrifice on the Cross and its sufficiency. The late Pope was the leader in proclaiming this false gospel, which has sent billions to the Lake of Fire while promising them heaven (after an uncertain amount of time in purgatory, from which the Church will deliver them through countless Masses for a price). I will let you try to reconcile the claim of the CT article to which you refer—that the Pope was truly an evangelical Christian—with the truth that I present about him and his beliefs in my May article. I gave ample evidence that no matter what the Pope’s public relations statements to evangelicals, he had no hope of salvation through faith in Christ but looked to Mary to get him to heaven.
I’m no expert on Poland, having only been there once for a series of meetings in a number of cities—but I do know the Bible and the gospel. At one meeting in Warsaw, the Campus Crusade Director for Poland stood up and defended the Roman Catholic Church. I met with the leader of the Catholic Charismatic Movement in Poland, who admitted that his church had a false gospel centered in the Mass and Mary. I brought to Bill Bright’s attention the fact that all of his staff in Ireland were practicing Roman Catholics. He thought I would be pleased that they were getting Catholics to embrace Christ through the Four Spiritual Laws. I told him that every Catholic already believed these “Four Laws,” but other things they believed nullified the gospel and that Campus Crusade was only reinforcing Catholics in Rome’s false gospel. That is the same situation that Campus Crusade embraced in Poland. These are not the only places that Campus Crusade has compromised with false gospels. As you may know, they licensed the Catholic Church to make its own version of the Jesus film including a purely Roman Catholic ending.
Christianity Today praises a Polish Roman Catholic youth movement called “Oasis” known for its “spiritual” retreats attended by thousands. It was founded in communist times by Franciszek Blachnicki, a priest who had become a close friend of then Cardinal Wojtyla of Krakow, who became Pope John Paul II. The article mentioned that Blachnicki had had a “conversion” experience in a Nazi prison. If he had been converted to Christ through the biblical gospel, then he would never have become a Roman Catholic priest presiding over the Mass that denies the gospel. What he really believed is clear. The CT article states that Oasis retreats that Blachnicki organized involved “spiritual renewal exercises structured around the mysteries of the rosary”—to which Wojtyla was also devoted all of his life. I explained the Rosary in the May article: it derives from apparitions of the alleged “Virgin Mary” and focuses upon her instead of on Christ, looking to her for protection and eventually salvation.
The CT article also mentions that Wojtyla opened the door to Billy Graham to hold his crusades in Poland. We have quoted Graham in the past, declaring that his beliefs were basically the same as those of orthodox Roman Catholics and that any differences in belief between him and the Pope were not important as far as salvation was concerned. He consistently referred Catholics who came forward at his Crusades to the nearest Roman Catholic Church. To show that Bright and Graham were not “theologically naïve,” the article mentioned that Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor Norman Geisler was recruited by Crusade as guest speaker for a joint Crusade/Oasis Polish summer retreat. After returning from Poland, Geisler wrote of his trip in The Christian Herald: “What I experienced was a dynamic, joyous, Christian, and evangelistic community of believers who were more eager than most American evangelicals I know to learn and live the Word of God.” CT went on to say that “Geisler described that summer as the most gratifying experience of his then 25-year ministry.” One can only wonder, why Geisler refused to sign ECT (which accepted Roman Catholics as evangelical Christians) and rebuked those who did.
I’m sure that whatever Graham and Geisler preached in Poland, it did not correct Catholicism's false gospel. Had Oasis youth believed that Christ paid the full penalty for our sins on the Cross, they would have left that Church. And had Blachnicki preached this, he would have been cast out.
The CT article declares, “Certainly John Paul II’s biggest accomplishment was his ecumenism”—as though that were good! I pointed out that his ecumenism gathered leaders of world religions such as Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, et al., for prayer and declared that they all believed in the one true God.
The facts I presented in my article prove that the late Pope was not a true Christian trusting in Christ alone for his salvation. Posing as the friend of evangelicals in the U.S., he vigorously opposed them in Mexico. He was an ecumenist uncertain of his own salvation and willing to embrace followers of any religion who would submit to Rome. Indeed, he was the guiding hand behind Chuck Colson and Catholic priest John Neuhaus in their composition of ECT.
I’ll let you reconcile these two faces of John Paul II. You might ask the opinion of former Catholics who received Christ and had to leave that church (there are millions), and let them explain the facts.