shows were abuzz on Thursday about the report of a New Castle evangelical pastor,
Marty Minto, fired from Pittsburgh radio station WORD for wondering aloud on his
talk show whether the late Pope John Paul II is in heaven. The headline as I saw
it on the Drudge Report suggested a juicy lead story for my Christian News and
Media Portal site (Xnmp) for today, but when I clicked through to the Associated
Press story the coverage was so ambivalent that I couldn't tell whether the
pastor actually doubted the Pope's salvation or was just using the topic as entry
into what the Bible says about how to get into heaven. If that was all it was,
it was clever enough for his talk show, not serious enough to get him fired, and
not significant enough to make it an Xnmp lead.
Minto turned up on Scarborough Country on MSNBC last evening, where in an interview
by guest host Pat Buchanan he cleared up the ambiguity. His position, he said,
is that Jesus said "you must be born again" (John 3:3 and 7) and he's
seen no evidence that Pope John Paul II ever said he was born again, so
he has to wonder in which place the late Bishop of Rome will spend eternity. If
I recall correctly, when John Paul II came to Candlestick Park in 1987, he actually
quoted the references to being born again in John's Gospel in his sermon, but
whether I remember correctly or not, Mr. Minto's comments were at best ill-advised
and could well be grounds for firing on any broadcast station I managed.
Jesus said to Nicodemus that being born again is an apt description of the awakening
to the spiritual life, or of the heart or spirit to the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23).
But He didn't say it is the only phrase that aptly describes conversion, nor that
it acts as a magic key to the Kingdom of God. If evidence is lacking that John
Paul II ever claimed to be born again, there is also a lack of evidence that the
Apostle Paul ever used that formula, or that any other Christian between Peter's
use of it up toI'm estimatingthe Second Great Awakening (which can
be called the birth of modern evangelicalism; mid 1800s) when it may have first
come into prominence among Protestant preachers. I saw no use of the phrase in
the history of the First Great Awakening that I surveyed and discussed in some
detail here a few months ago.
The first birth is the physical
birth; the second birth is the spiritual birth, Jesus says in John's Gospel, and
other Scriptures corroborate. So what matters is whether a person has a love relationship
with God through Jesus Christ, which is what it means to have a spiritual birth,
not what phrase he or she uses to describe it. Anyone who reads the liturgies
of the Catholic Church will find many affirmations of the need for saving faith
in and through Jesus. And as the saints and John Paul II have generally held,
there is no "forumla" or phrasing that saves apart from a genuine heart-held
conviction of what is being confessed and prayed. There's no magic formula in
either Catholic liturgies or evangelical revival talk that substitutes for genuine
faith which comes not through human effort but through God's grace.
also said, more to the point, I think:
say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess
before the angels of God.
Would that I were as faithful and vocal
in confessing Jesus before men as John Paul II was.
complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005
Tips for job
hunters (end of series)
If you're in the job market right now you might want to familiarize
yourself with the Human Resources Lingo...
TEAM LEADERSHIP SKILLS" You'll have the responsibilities of a manager, without
the pay or respect.
"GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILLS"
Management communicates, you listen, figure out what they want, and do it..