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When A Good Man Becomes A “God-Man”

“And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding, calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six” (Revelation 13:11-18).

The Funeral And Legacy Of Pope John Paul II

The past several weeks have witnessed the adulation, adoration, and funeral extravaganza orchestrated by the hierarchy, viz., the College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, on behalf of Pope John Paul II. Indeed, it represents the world’s ecumenical capstone to the life and legacy of this one entitled the “Supreme Pontiff.”

The funeral was attended by 5 kings, 6 queens, 28 prime ministers, 53 presidents, countless dignitaries and religious leaders.

“The late Pope had made 'Christian Unity', healing the sometimes-bitter ties with the non-Catholic Christian world, a central tenet of his Papacy. The results of those efforts were clearly displayed in the very sincere and heart-felt sorrow that colored the faces of the array of Orthodox, Coptic, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist and sundry other church leaders and delegates in attendance.” (Anthony Smith, 8 April 05, Tiscali.europe)

Numerous editorialists and historians are calling the funeral the largest in history; while the press speculates the impact of the man and the Church he represents, to wit:

“With the experience of two millennia, the Catholic Church is a past master at ceremony. But no-one could have predicted the extraordinary way in which the funeral of Pope John Paul II dominated the attention of the whole world. It is not just the millions of Catholic faithful who have poured through St Peter’s Square. Or even the global billions watching on television. Over 200 of the world’s leading statesmen, including George W. Bush and two former American presidents, dropped everything to attend the Pope’s internment. What does this extraordinary event signify?

“In the last generation, the historic divisions inside Christianity have suddenly weakened, in self-defense against the increasing secularization of western culture. Even the fundamentalist evangelical sects in the United States find themselves making common cause with the Catholic Church - America’s biggest denomination - against abortion rights. As a result of this melting of the sectarian divisions, Rome is again recovering its status as de facto leader of the Christian world.” (April 9, 2005, Scottsman.com - Pope's funeral a reminder that institutions can be revived)

Pope John Paul II is most noteworthy in championing the cause of human rights, tearing down the iron curtain of communism in Europe, traveling to some 129 nations, and in spite of former President Clinton’s “mixed legacy” left by Pope John Paul II, has been, and will be considered, one of the greatest popes of all time. No wonder that the millions gathered at St. Peter’s squares and adjoining promenades and porticos chanted in unison SANTO SUBITO – “Immediate Sainthood” for Pope John Paul II, THE GREAT!

In contrast to Clinton’s remarks, President Bush heralded the praises of Pope John Paul II, to wit:

“I think John Paul II will have a clear legacy of peace, compassion and a strong legacy of setting a clear moral tone," Bush said, later asking reporters to amend his remarks to insert "excellent" to describe the legacy.” (April 10, 2005, Seattle Times)

The world and US media committed excessive coverage of the Pope’s death and funeral proceedings juxtaposed to that of the Presidential race (ten times more coverage); likewise, this coverage was at the expense of a great deal of significant issues and news throughout the planet of 6 billion souls.

The veneration and nearly four hour funeral of this mortal man, whose claim as the Vicar of Christ (i.e., “holding the delegated authority of Christ on earth”), was perhaps the most ostentatious display of grandiose religiosity ever portrayed, and certainly, ever-conveyed to the world as a result of Twenty-first Century technological advancements.

“That They All May Be One”

The Catholic world, yea, the world in general, was transfixed upon this man, his legacy, and the Roman Church’s pomp and circumstance for days on end—let alone the spectacled of choosing a new Pope. Indeed, leading American evangelicals as a result of this Pope’s 1995 encyclical, “Ut Unum Sint” (That All May Be One) became the hallmark of his papacy for Protestants who yearn for “unity” and moral clarity against the encroachments of secularism and relativism sweeping the West, especially the European West.

Here was one whose title as Pontiff (“The Bridge”) demonstrated Rome’s determination to gather her wandering chicks beneath her wings; and, even sought to unite the world’s disparate religions under Rome’s ecumenical umbrella, alleging that diversity of faith could be tolerated and understood in the context of the Lord’s high priestly prayer found in John 17. Listen to John Paul II’s convincing exhortations:

“There I stated that believers in Christ, united in following in the footsteps of the martyrs, cannot remain divided. If they wish truly and effectively to oppose the world's tendency to reduce to powerlessness the Mystery of Redemption, they must profess together the same truth about the Cross. The Cross! An anti-Christian outlook seeks to minimize the Cross, to empty it of its meaning, and to deny that in it man has the source of his new life. It claims that the Cross is unable to provide either vision or hope. Man, it says, is nothing but an earthly being, who must live as if God did not exist.

“With the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Lord's disciples, inspired by love, by the power of the truth and by a sincere desire for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation, are called to re-examine together their painful past and the hurt which that past regrettably continues to provoke even today. All together, they are invited by the ever fresh power of the Gospel to acknowledge with sincere and total objectivity the mistakes made and the contingent factors at work at the origins of their deplorable divisions. What is needed is a calm, clear-sighted and truthful vision of things, a vision enlivened by divine mercy and capable of freeing people's minds and of inspiring in everyone a renewed willingness, precisely with a view to proclaiming the Gospel to the men and women of every people and nation.” (Ut Unum Sint)

Toward Pope John Paul II’s conclusion and final exhortation he implores:

“When I say that for me, as Bishop of Rome, the ecumenical task is ‘one of the pastoral priorities’ of my Pontificate, I think of the grave obstacle which the lack of unity represents for the proclamation of the Gospel. A Christian Community which believes in Christ and desires, with Gospel fervor, the salvation of mankind can hardly be closed to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who leads all Christians towards full and visible unity. Here an imperative of charity is in question, an imperative which admits of no exception. Ecumenism is not only an internal question of the Christian Communities. It is a matter of the love which God has in Jesus Christ for all humanity; to stand in the way of this love is an offence against him and against his plan to gather all people in Christ. As Pope Paul VI wrote to the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I: ‘May the Holy Spirit guide us along the way of reconciliation, so that the unity of our Churches may become an ever more radiant sign of hope and consolation for all mankind.’” (My Emphasis)

I present this material to demonstrate the intensity and the irrevocable commitment that the Roman Catholic Church, through the efforts of Pope John Paul II, has toward the ultimate “unity” of all believers who claim the Christian label and towards the “outward manifestation of the Kingdom of God” here on earth.

Thus, the death of Pope John Paul II, and his drive to unite the world’s religions (especially the “Christian religion”) could be summed up in these remarks:

“John Paul II ushered in ‘the globalization of religion,’ said John Esposito, founding director of the Georgetown University Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in Washington. ‘He increased exponentially the dialogue with . . . people of all faiths.’” (Louis Meixler, the Buffalo News, April 8, 2005, Unprecedented Number of Faiths Drawn to Funeral)

Thus, before us this past week was the death and burial of the world’s greatest religious proponent of ecumenism—ecumenism on a scale heretofore unknown within the confines of Christendom and the greater religious communities of the planet. His universal, Catholic legacy abides . . . the perpetuation on behalf of “manifested Christian unity” and the embrace of all who affirm faith—even outside the bounds of Christianity!

In The Later Times . . . Some Will Apostatize

“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith (i.e., “Apostatize”), paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth” (I Timothy 4:1-3).

We initiated this conversation by quoting passages from the Revelation,....

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