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Insight #150 — Face vs. Theology

July 14, 2006.

“Theology” is not part of my everyday vocabulary. Not even my Sunday vocabulary. I can’t seem to find it in my Bible. Nevertheless, for those who like fancy words, “theology” refers to the systematic study of God in particular and religion in general. In the Scriptures, the word would be “doctrine, teaching, truth.” For us common folk, one’s theology is simply one’s beliefs and teachings about God, Christ, Scripture, the church, salvation, etc.

In a recent issue of a leading Christian weekly (see note 1) the “editor-at-large” expressed an unusual concept in his weekly back-page article. Under the heading of “All in a Face,” the editor begins, “I don’t want to talk theology, just ‘faces.’ ” In the article he makes a contrast between the faces of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The face of the former is described as “a face that looks humble and kind.” The editor’s closing words are, “But I must admit, I do miss the face of John Paul II, whatever his theology may have been.”

“Whatever his theology may have been.” Even though he accepted the title “Holy Father,” whereas that title belongs only to the God of heaven. Even though he accepted the title “Pontifex Maximus,” meaning Supreme Pontiff, meaning High Priest, a title that belongs only to Jesus Christ. Even though he forbade bishops to marry, whereas God commands bishops to be married. Even though he elevated Cardinal Law of Boston to a place of honor in Rome, rather than defrock him for his cover-up of the sex-abuse scandal. Even though he dedicated his papacy, not to Christ, but to Mary with the motto, “Mary, I am all yours.” Even though… (The reader can continue the long list). But he had such a humble and kind face.

Have they not read? Have they not heard? The real and only High Priest warned us to “beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves”  (Matt. 7:15). Sheep’s clothing: such as a humble and kind face. The inspired Apostle Paul wrote, “Even Satan fashions himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing therefore if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:14-15). It is no great thing if Satan’s ministers wear a humble and kind face. A more Scriptural closing to the article in question would have been: “But I must admit, John Paul’s theology was full of blasphemy and other false doctrine, whatever his face may have been.”

What does all this have to do with prophecy? The man-of-sin prophecy speaks directly to the attitude expressed in the article. It says that the man of sin comes “with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10). Deceit: such as a humble and kind face. Who is deceived? Those who have not the “love of the truth.” The editor does not stand alone. The world flocked to John Paul’s funeral. Alas, we live in an age where personality triumphs over theology.
For in-depth study of the man-of-sin prophecy as it relates to Rome, start here.

(Note 1) “Christian Standard,” Standard Publishing, Cincinnati, Ohio, August 21, 2005, page 16.