As you probably know by know, the pope died just about an hour ago. Since we learned about the gravity of his illness I have had some time to reflect on what the death of the pope will mean to Protestants. When I sat down to write about it, I noticed that, as usual, James White had beaten me to the punch. Here are some great thoughts from Dr. White.
“As I have noted on the Dividing Line, the passing of John Paul II opens up a tremendous opportunity for dialogue. Are you prepared? Can you address the issue of the Papacy, the sufficiency of Scripture, and the reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how Rome does not possess that gospel (but instead dogmatically denies it)? The mp3 files available on this website [www.aomin.org], providing debates on all of these issues, would assist you greatly. The Roman Catholic Controversy would assist you as well.”
“Please remember that many Roman Catholics today have known no Pope but John Paul II. They have a very, very strong attachment to him on a personal level. Your task is to be gentle yet direct in your seeking to proclaim God’s truth to Roman Catholics. You can address the Papacy without addressing John Paul II individually. But the better you know your faith, and the better you know the teachings of Rome, the more confidence you will have in addressing this topic.”
As usual, White is right on the mark. The pope’s death gives us a tremendous opportunity to challenge our Roman Catholic friends, and perhaps our Protestant friends as well. It will also surely tell us much about many evangelical leaders as we see which ones are quick to laud the pope as a great Christian leader and which are careful to point out that he did not uphold the gospel. I suspect many more will do the former than the latter.
In the next days and weeks we need to be attentive to our friends and to be in prayerful consideration for ways to share the Truth with those who do not know the Lord. May God, in His infinite wisdom, use His people in this time to lead many to Him.