Matthew R. Perry

The One Year Anniversary of the Death of Pope John Paul II

In Religious Organizations, Roman Catholicism on April 2, 2006 at 10:39 pm

Today marks the one year anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s death. His 26 year reign as pontiff is one of the longest in papal history. I am very disturbed by the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, specifically on the topics of the Virgin Mary, salvation, the nature of the church, purgatory, and the priesthood.

When people ask me, “Do you believe that the John Paul II is in heaven?” I have to answer no, I do not. The Bible speaks clearly that we are justified by grace alone (Romans 3:24) and that it is by grace you are saved through faith, not of yourselves but through the gift of God and not of works so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Roman Catholic system entails a works-oriented salvation at its core. I’d like to steer you to some very solid and biblically sound articles on this.

As soon as I can, I will post a recent sermon of mine on the subject of Mary as well and how she is not just venerated, but indeed worshiped according to past Popes and even their own catechism. That will be forthcoming.

Let us be discerning and pursuing the truth and not simply take things for granted. God bless!

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  1. You are showing your ignorance of the Catholic faith by your comments, sir. The Catholic church does believe that man is saved by grace alone, just not by faith alone. In fact, the only place in the Bible where those two words are read side by side is in James 2:24, which states that we are saved by works and NOT by faith alone. Also, please read Psalm 106:31 where Phineas was justified by a work he performed. Finally, if Sola Fide is correct theology, why was it never taught in the early church, in fact, never taught until Martin Luther?

  2. Is it not true that the death of Christ on the cross only took the sins of those in the church up to the point of baptism? From that point on, it is up to you and your merit to make sure you are secure for heaven.

    Secondly, James is not referring to salvation, but to the works that show *proof* of salvation, not the work *to* salvation. James is dealing with the Christian life, not how to be saved.

    On the Sola Fide theology, I suggest you go back and refer to St. Augustine, from which Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Melancthon, and others derived their theology. And if that doesn’t work, try St. Paul. “For it is by grace you are saved through faith, not of yourselves but the gift of God, not of works so that no man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

    Also see Romans 3:21-26 and the entire book of Galatians!

  3. Augustine was very much a Catholic bishop. He was certainly not an advocate of Sola Fide. It would help your argument if you could produce a quote from him saying that man is saved by faith alone. In the meantime, please read this quote from Augustine: “Indeed, I would not believe in the gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so.”(Faith and Creed 10:21 [A.D. 393]).
    James was very much speaking of how man is saved. Read all of chapter 2. As much as you would like to twist his words, James does not say in verse 24, “You see the works that will show that a man is justified by faith alone.” He says, “You see that a man is justified by works and NOT BY faith alone.”
    Also, please answer how it is that Phineas was clearly justified by his action (works) in Psalm 106:30-31. Notice that Paul uses almost the exact same wording in Romans 4:3 about Abraham’s saving faith. One was saved by his faith while the other by his works.
    Finally, if you believe salvation to be the most important goal in life, as I do, however you believe that man is saved by faith alone, you must also believe that faith is the most important virtue a person can possess. If that is the case, why does Paul claim that love is more important than faith? “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13) Would you not admit that to love is an act, therefore a work?

  4. Let’s not put words in my mouth, Dan. Holiness is the most important virtue, for that holiness is what defines God (Isaiah 6:3, for example). Love comes from the presence of Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:29). Love is the result of Christ being in us. Romans 5:1-5 tells us that this love does not originate from us, but from Christ in us:

    1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

    One of my best friends in the world is Father Chauncey Winkler in the Flagstaff, AZ, diocese. The majority of the information about the Catholic Church I receive is from him.

    Interesting you mention Phineas. To justify means to remove the guilt and the punishment that was due us — at least in New Testament Pauline terminology. Yet, why does not the Catholic Church teach that our guilt is removed once and for all through Christ. It is only the sins up to baptism. What hope is that to have? If Christ died once and for all (Hebrews 10:25-29), then why is he continually sacrificed on your altar? Why do you still have to do works to pay for your sins when it says that Christ did so? Why have a ‘alter Christus’ in the priest who yanks CHrist down out of heaven to be sacrificed again? My priest friends says, “It’s the same sacrifice being pictured.” That same sacrifice is NEEDED to be repeated for your hope.

    You quote James, I quote Paul. Which one is right? I say, Yes. For James is speaking of the Christian walk, not salvation.

  5. For those who deny that Scripture teaches faith alone, here are some ‘faith alone’ verses in Scripture:

    Rom. 3:28-30, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.”

    Rom. 4:5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,”

    Rom. 5:1, “therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”

    Rom. 9:30, “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith.”

    Rom. 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
    Rom. 11:6, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.”

    Gal. 2:16, “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.”

    Gal. 2:21, I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.

    Gal.3:5-6, “Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 6Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

    Gal. 3:24, “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.”

    Eph. 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works, lest any man should boast.”

    Phil. 3:9, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”

    And what do you think of this article here: http://www.carm.org/catholic/response.htm

    The Council of Trent sure makes it clear what they feel about Justification by faith, don’t they?

    “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” (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).

    “If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.” (Canon 14).

    For grace to be grace, it has to be unmerited favor, not merited favor, as says Paragraph 2008 on the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. the fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

  6. Matthew,
    You continue to avoid answering my Phineas question. How do you reconcile that Phineas was justified by his works in Psalm 106:30-31 with your belief in Sola Fide? Especially in light of the fact that Paul uses almost the exact same phrase in Romans 4:3 referring to Abraham’s saving faith that is used in Psalm 106:31 referring to Phineas’ action?

    Indeed Christ did die for us, in order to appease the wrath of the Father as only his perfect sacrifice could do. He did not die for our future sins however, as is obvious by His saying, “Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mt. 24:10-20) Nor would we have the warning in 2 Timothy 2:11-13 – “It is a trustworthy statement:
    For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
    If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” Also, if we were saved just by having faith in Christ, and without the need to be good, He would not have said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 7:21)
    We could get into a long debate about the Eucharist, but I would suggest you engage Father Winkler in that discussion. He could give you a better and more lengthy explanation on the topic than I could here. Just as a clarification, Christ is not sacrificed again. The sacrifice of the mass is the same sacrifice made on Calvary. The sacrifice of the mass is done in acknowledgement of God’s dominion over the world and to appease His wrath. Since we are sinners, there is a need to continue to appease the wrath of God and this is done through the sacrifice of the mass. Jesus told his apostles at the last supper that what he held in the cup was His blood shed for the forgiveness of sins and that they were to do the same in memory of Him. The sacrifice made on Calvary is re-presented to the Father who is satisfied with the perfect sacrifice of Christ. And if you say that the sacrifice that Jesus made on Calvary was in forgiveness of all our future, then you contradict Hebrews 10:26-27, which says “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.”

  7. Matthew, we can throw out verses all day long. And while you have many verses which speak against works (of the law, by the way) none of them says we are saved by faith ALONE. And none is as crystal clear as:
    James 2:24, “See how a person is justified by works and NOT BY FAITH ALONE.”

    Here are some that refute the fact that we are saved through faith alone:

    Matthew 5:48
    Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    Matthew 7:21 (part of the Sermon on the Mount)
    Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
    Matthew 12:36,37
    I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter;
    For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
    Matthew 16:27
    For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
    Matthew 24:10-20
    Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
    Matthew 28:19-20
    Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
    Luke 8:21
    But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.
    John 5:29
    And will come out–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
    Romans 2:6,7; 13
    For he will repay according to each one’s deeds
    To those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
    For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified.
    James 1:22
    Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
    James Chapter Two
    … What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? … Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? … Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
    Phillipians 2:12-13
    … work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.
    Revelation 20:13
    All the dead were judged according to their deeds.
    Revelation 22:12
    Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds.
    1 Peter 1:17
    Now if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning.
    2 Corinthians 5:10
    For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.
    Protestants must come to the realization that we must make a distinction between works of the law, which Paul (and the Catholic Church) decries as unnecessary for salvation, and works of love, mercy, compassion, etc. for which we will be judged and rewarded (see Matthew 25).

  8. I have just one question for you, Dan. Can you do Matthew 5:48? Can you ever be righteous enough? Can you do enough to where your good deeds overrun your bad deeds?

    Romans 3:24 says that Christ died as a propitiation for our sins — as an appeasement of God’s wrath. If Christ’s death on the cross was truly sufficient, why in the world would we continue to need God’s wrath appeased when Christ supposedly took care of all that.

    The point of Matthew 5:48 is to show that we cannot be perfect, but that is God’s standard — perfection! Holiness! We cannot do it. It’s all up to us cooperating with God. But if none of us are righteous and we are dead in our sins, then God puts that righteous law before us to show us that we cannot accomplish anything salvific on our part (Romans 3:20).

    Phineas operated solely on faith — not based on his circumstances, but his faith was put on display in what he did. He did not do this to get faith, he was operating from the faith God placed within him, which is totally consistent with Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4:3 with Abraham. He did not work to be saved, he worked because of his saving faith.

  9. Matthew,
    No of course I cannot be perfect as the Father is perfect. However, that is goal set by Christ and we are to strive to attain it.
    Never will the good I do be enough to compensate for my sin, but that is not what the Catholic Church is teaching. Nobody can do enough good works to merit salvation. Period. But when I have faith in Christ and I am good, I fall under the Salvific Grace of God. I need both, as I showed in the verses I listed earlier. When I sin, I am to repent and ask God for forgiveness. If I commit a mortal sin, I fall from God’s grace and I am restored through the sacrament of Confession (“Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them”).

    By stating that since we cannot achieve the standard set in Mt. 5:48, it appears that your theology is obliging you to throw out all those verses of the New Testament in which Jesus and Paul command us to do good, including those I listed above. This sounds very much like the theology of Bob George who preaches that the saved need not even ask for God’s forgiveness because He has already forgiven us.
    There lies a major problem. You asked earlier, “You quote James, I quote Paul. Which one is right?” Your debate should not be with me. The problem with your Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura theology is that you interpret scripture for yourself. Many, if not all, who believe as you do will claim that the Holy Spirit guides you to interpret scripture correctly. My question is how can that be so when people like you, Billy Graham, Tim LaHaye, Hank Hannegraff, Billye Brim, and Harold Camping all have differing interpretations of important passages of scripture? All claim the guidance of the Holy Spirit, yet obviously, not all can be correct. A major example of this would be the question posed at the top of this page, “Is John Paul II in Heaven?” I would say of course he is. Apparently Rev. Billy Graham would agree with me and not you or John MacArthur. From the April 2, 2005 edition of Larry King Live,

    KING: “There is no question in your mind that he is with God now?”
    GRAHAM: “Oh, no. There may be a question about my own, but I don’t think Cardinal Wojtyla, or the Pope — I think he’s with the Lord, because he believed. He believed in the Cross. That was his focus throughout his ministry, the Cross, no matter if you were talking to him from personal issue or an ethical problem, he felt that there was the answer to all of our problems, the cross and the resurrection. And he was a strong believer.”

    So apparently, Rev. Graham’s reading of scripture leads him to believe that the deceased Catholic Pope is in Heaven. Does he have an erroneous view of the Doctrine of Justification? Has Graham been preaching error for fifty years? Who is right, you or Billy Graham?

  10. Goodness, you speculate on what I’m thinking a lot. Those verses such as Matthew 5:48 do indeed show us that we do need to be striving for holiness, without which no one can see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). The issue seems to be, “How are we made holy?” Does Christ truly stand in our place for all of life, or was his work on the cross sufficient only up to baptism?

    Yes, as 1 Peter 2:9 notes, we all in the church are a “royal priesthood” who have the ability to approach God on our own, showing why the Temple Veil in Luke 24 was torn in two. I need no priest to intercede for me — for there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

    All those men you mention supposedly hold to the first order doctrines such as the Trinity, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, the authority of Scripture, and salvation/justification by grace alone through faith alone. After that, we do differ, and praise God that He grants us the freedom to look at the Scriptures for ourselves without having to answer to any man.

    Billy Graham is not our Pope — he is a man like every other man. The head of our church is Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. There is no point person who represents Him. Graham has long been considered by many not to take strong doctrinal stances for it lessens his work and appeal to the broader world community. His views are not my views because those views are not entirely consistent with the text of Scripture.

    The reason I distance myself from the Pope and the Catholic Church is the work they attribute to Mary, how they believe the Bible came from the Church when God’s Word is clear that God’s Word has always made God’s people even from the beginning.

    We will not agree on this. I just pray that you are not living your walk with Christ simply hoping He will bring you into paradise rather than knowing for sure. How many good works are enough? Those verses show the evidence of our faith and belief and trust in Christ. I’m convinced. They are not in what we do — our salvation is based entirely on what Christ has done from first to last.

    I’ll let you have the last word, then that will be that. I’ve enjoyed this. It has truly helped sharpen me in my beliefs.

  11. One more thing:

    It seems that you are saying that you have to strive to be holy and perfect SO THAT you will be saved.

    My contention is that these verses say we must strive to be holy out of love for the one who saved us. I may have said that before, but that’s as concise as I can be. If we are not showing that we love him, we are not giving evidence that He has changed and redeemed us (Romans 6:12-13).

  12. Matthew,
    Thank you for the graciousness you have shown throughtout this exchange. It has been interesting. You are right in saying that we will disagree.

    Please continue to pray for me, but rest assured that I rest assured knowing that I am saved unless and until I commit a mortal sin. Jesus established the sacrament of reconciliation for the purpose of restoring us to his grace. If He did not, He would have had no reason for giving the Apostles the ability to forgive sin.

    Finally, please do yourself, your parishioners and your readers a favor: Do not continue to rely on the word of one Catholic priest for “the majority of the information you receive on the Catholic Church.” While a priest is a good place to start, I suggest you read the documents of the Councils such as Trent, Florence, Vatican I and II, as well as Catholic theologians such as Ludwig Ott, Thomas Aquinas and the early church fathers. (I might throw in Scott Hahn, Patrick Madrid, Mark Shea and others, although I wouldn’t put them in the same category as Aquinas). Also, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Do not rely on what other Protestant theologians have said about Catholicism. Read Catholic apologetics and see how Catholics use Holy Scripture to defend their faith. As an aside, one of my favorite radio programs is The Bible Answer Man with Hank Hannegraff. While I find myself talking back to the radio quite often, I find his show informative.

    Being that this is your website, you may of course have the last word. I do have a question about salvation which I would appreciate an answer to, however:
    If a person is saved once, never to lose his salvation, at the moment he receives Jesus as his Lord and savior, what becomes of the soul of the infant or child who dies before he makes this crucial decision? And if you believe a baby is saved, at what point in his life does he lose his salvation that he then must make the decision to accept Jesus as his savior?

    Once again, thanks for the cordial discussion. May the Lord continue to bless you.

  13. My pleasure. Belief comes when they are old enough to make a conscious, understood response to the sovereign work of our Lord. When that happens, Ephesians 1:13-14 says that the Holy Spirit seals us as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. Not to guarantee it provided we do not commit a mortal sin. We have the seal of ownership and now are recipients of His mercy rather than His wrath.

    As for babies, yes as David said in Psalm 51, in sin did my mother conceive me and bring me forth. But that infant has not demonstrated that sin in the heart through sinful actions. That child has not had the capacity to comprehend God’s sovereign work of salvation, therefore I believe that they are not in danger of hell fire. Yet when they reach the age where they are able to respond, they will then be held accountable for their willful belief or disbelief.

    I must clarify… I have most recently receive my information from Father Winkler. I regularly look over the Cathecism to the Catholic Church among other Catholic literature for my information. I do hesitate to trust others to do my research for me.

    Also, I tend to be what you would call a Calvinist in that God is the one who initiates, calls, justifies, seals, sanctifies and glorifies. He grants us the grace and the faith to believe — something dead, blind, lost, hopeless people could not do on their own. God regenerates and awakens the believer to His grace and grants them the strength to respond, then upon their response the Holy Spirit seals their hearts.

    John 6:37
    All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

    John 6:44
    No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

    Romans 8:29-30
    For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. [30] And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

    No link in this chain in verse 30 can be broken.

  14. Hi, i herd of a picture that was taken by a man on the one year anniversary of Pope John Paul II, there was a massive picture at the ceremony and a man had taken a picture of it and when he got the pictures developed they came out with John Paul’s spirit behind the picture saluting the people i just wondered if anyone knows of it or has it?

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