Sit back and start taking notes. How many, anywhere, even in “Christian media,” will address the only relevant issue regarding the death of John Paul II? And that issue?
Well, it isn’t the length of his Pontificate, one of the longest and most stable in centuries.
It isn’t the fact that as far as Pontiffs go, he was a great administrator, traveler, even uniter of a very factionalized church. His “greatness” as a Pope isn’t an issue.
It won’t be that he was a nice man, or that he took courageous stands on controversial issues.
No, the issue almost no one will speak about is very simple: the gospel of Jesus Christ. It will not be spoken of for the simple reason that very, very few today believe the gospel can be known with sufficient clarity and depth to even address the issue of Rome’s teaching. Further, many do not believe one must believe almost anything beyond a very basic, basic summary of Christian beliefs, hence, since the Pope “believed in Jesus,” they will ignore the specifics of Rome’s teachings and pass him directly into heaven without the first thought of what the New Testament as a whole teaches on the subject (proving that many today fear men rather than God, and do not care at all about the sanctity of His truth).
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, 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.
I will address the issue of the Papacy and the death of the Pope when I return to Phoenix and get the chance to do the Dividing Line on Tuesday morning, 11am PDT, 2pm EDT.