The following are letters sent by email between Dr. Opal Reddin in Springfield, MO, and Missionary Terry Peretti of the Assemblies of God (AG) in Rome, after the death of Pope John Paul II. They consented to the wider publication of these letters.
Greetings, Terry and Marsha:
You have been on my mind and in my prayers a little more than usual for the past few days. The Tsunami of admiration (bordering on adulation) for the pope, by all the US media plus the majority of evangelicals (including some AG of course), has saddened me. The saddest aspect is thinking of John Paul II standing before the Righteous Judge.
Yesterday I spoke in CBC Chapel on "Set for the Defense of the Gospel." With Paul as the example, I gave the scriptural definition of the true Gospel, then showed how "another gospel," of "works-of-the-law for salvation," threatened the early church (Galatians 1-2), and does yet today. Bringing it to our day, I quoted John Lindell whom they know: "If you have friends or loved ones in the Roman Catholic Church, be very gracious to them, but you must tell them they do not have the Gospel without which no one can be saved." I also quoted you: "Among the former Catholics in our churches here in Italy, I have not met one who said he understood the Gospel while in the Catholic Church."
I challenged them to be as courageous as Martin Luther who risked his life to gain salvation and to restore the Gospel to the people. I did this because I felt definitely led to. There was quite a good response, from faculty as well as students. The Bensons took me to lunch; they were encouraging. As far as I know, John Lindell and I are the only AG ministers willing to publicly show the heresy of RC theology. I have misplaced the documentation, but I read in a reputable source that just a few decades ago all Christian institutions of training for ministry, etc., listed RC as a false cult. As far as I know, CBC is the only one of our colleges that has in the last decade had a course revealing RCC heresies.
You do not need to feel obligated to respond at length, but I would like to know the general effect of all the events on our churches there. May God continue to strengthen you two!
For the Harvest, Opal.
Hi Opal. Yes, it saddens me the ignorance and apparent deception among many of our brethren towards the pope and Catholicism. I was in St. Peter's three days before the pope died, and passed by the body of John XXIII. I always take special visitors to Rome down to see St. Peter's and the dead popes lying in their glass coffins. John XXIII was exhumed after being buried from 1964 till the year 2000. I noticed about twenty people on their knees in front of this corpse praying. I overheard one lady, praying and talking in Italian to someone on a cell phone held to her ear. She was telling someone, "Don't worry, I'm praying to Pope John, he will hear your prayers and heal you."
In fact, this pope, John Paul 2, has done more to promote necromancy and idolatry than any other human being in our lifetime. In all the news coverage, there is never any mention of dying and meeting Jesus face to face. John Paul 2, taught that purgatory was the "demonstration of the love of God" (from his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope). The most glaring difference in our gospels is: The Catholic Church teaches that sin is purged away by the fire of purgatory, and the Biblical doctrine teaches that only the blood of Christ can wash away sins. The blood of the Cross is central to our faith and our preaching. The Apostle Paul would declare the pope "anathema". So do I. Having said all that, I felt compassion for the ailing pope. I wished I could have gotten close enough to talk to him about the peace we have in Jesus, but with such pomp that his office demands, an ordinary mortal like me could never get close enough to have a heart to heart conversation.
As far as our brethren here in Rome are concerned, they see all of this as a prelude to the crowning of the Antichrist. It will all happen in a similar matter. Adulation from the world media to one who appears holy, but represents doctrines of demons. There will be 200 heads of state here on Friday. We will have a total traffic shut down. We will not be allowed to use our cars from 2:00 a.m. till 6:00 p.m. on Friday. All of us residents of Rome, 4 million of us, will be on foot for the duration of the day on Friday. The spiritual oppression felt in the city at this time is almost suffocating. The pressure to worship a dead man is overwhelming. Everywhere you turn, you see his image or photo. People are starting to pray to the dead pontiff. He is already called, "Giovanni Paolo Magno". (John Paul the Great) He will be canonized, no doubt about it. Once canonized and beatified the masses will be encouraged to pray to the dead pope, as they pray to the dead John XXIII. Of course, this necromancy and idolatry leads to demon possession and oppression.
Friday night, I am supposed to preach in the only Assemblies of God church located on the west side of Rome, which is near the Vatican. The service might be cancelled, because of the traffic shut down. Matthew 24:24 speaks of false christs deceiving the very elect. That is certainly the case today. The Italian believers are not deceived. They see the reality of the corruption and filth behind the pageantry of the Roman Catholic Church. They have to live with it everyday. Foreign believers are more easily deceived. As time progresses however, the truth will be revealed more and more and the true church, the one washed in the blood of Christ, we be more pure and make a stronger stand. Much brotherly love in Him who saved me by his blood.
Terry Peretti, Rome.
I am indebted to you, Terry, for taking the time to share your feelings at this crucial time. The information in your letter is very valuable. I took the liberty to share your letter with Pastor John Lindell; I trust you do not mind my doing so. He expressed appreciation for it and is sharing from your letter with his congregation this evening. He is the only pastor in this area who will publicly take a stand for total Biblical Truth. As you know, God is miraculously drawing the people to James River AG even when John preaches aspects of the Word that make many uncomfortable and quite a few angry.
Having trusted your understanding of my sharing without asking your permission, I would like now to ask permission to share pertinent quotes from your letter with some other ministers here who take offense when I say John Paul II was not a holy man and that he was not prepared to enter Heaven. I want to always be cautious and judicious in quoting you. Our AG people desperately need to hear the truth about the RC system, not so we can condemn but so our people can discern between the Gospel and deception.
On Larry King Live, Apr. 2, he asked Billy Graham if in his opinion the pope is with God. Billy replied that he was more sure of the pope's salvation than of his own! I have been praising the Lord for leading thousands out of such deception. I pray the Friday night meeting will be one of special blessing from the Lord.
For the Harvest, Opal.
Opal. Please share my thoughts with anyone you would like. I'm sorry that even Billy Graham has been deceived on this issue. In fact, he was never allowed to hold a crusade in Italy. His misunderstanding of the Catholic Church caused the evangelicals in Italy to turn him away. Think of it, the greatest evangelist of all time, was never allowed to preach a crusade in Italy! The evangelicals in Italy in 1970 would not allow Billy Graham to bring the Catholic authorities together with the evangelicals for a crusade because of the confusion of the message that would be presented. Again, it goes back to who do we believe, Jesus, who washes us with his blood or the pope who promises that our sins will be purged away by the fire of purgatory. The messages are different. As far as Billy is now concerned, every great man of God has a blind side, and this is his blind side. The sad thing is the confusion of the message.
The pope is saved? How? Can a man be saved if he prays to the dead? Can a man be saved if he prays to Mary more than he prays to God? Can a man be saved if he preaches that Mary is co-redemptrix? Can a man be saved if he says that anyone can go to heaven regardless of whether he believes in Jesus or not? This pope, proclaiming The Second Vatican Council as doctrine, proclaims salvation for anyone no matter what their belief. (Chapter one, article 18, Second Vatican Council) It doesn't matter what you believe says the Second Vatican Council, what counts is inner goodness, and the fire of purgatory will cleanse away the sin. Can a man be saved who canonizes 450 saints, encouraging millions to pray to these dead people? Can a man be saved who convenes two ecumenical prayer meetings at the town of Assissi, and prays together with Buddhists, Muslims, Shintoists, and animists? I watched the pope lead prayer meetings in Assissi, there was never a mention of Jesus. I watched the pope open the holy door in the year 2000, with two Hindu priests standing behind him as they burned incense. I personally went down to the Vatican that same week to talk to the guards at the door to confirm if those burning incense were Hindu priests. The guards told me that they were Hindu priests.
Opal, are there not other pastors and leaders out there than can see this clearly? Galatians 1:8. It is not coincidence that Charles Crabtree will be in Rome in two weeks. I will have two weeks to spend with this man of God and his dear wife. They will be our speakers at the General Council here in Italy. It will be a wonderful time of spiritual enrichment and exposure to what is really happening at the Vatican. God has ordained his visit. As far as the evangelical church in Italy is concerned: they are divided on many issues, but if there is one thing that unites them besides their love of the Lord Jesus and their belief that the just shall live by faith, it is their awareness of the insidious deception of the Roman Catholic Church. As far as ministry is concerned, we never talk about the RCC from the pulpit. We preach the word of God, and the truth, and the Holy Spirit does the rest. Jesus is building his church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail…
The [true Christians] are convinced that what we are witnessing today is a prelude to the coronation of the Antichrist, which, in our Biblical perspective, means that the end of time is here and that Jesus is coming back to take us away. More and more demonic power will be given to an ecumenical religious movement as we see on the TV today. But as these things happen, the [true] church is receiving a renewed anointing of the Holy Spirit and greater boldness in their witness. The funeral today emphasized again that the pope will become a "saint" and that he will be prayed to as another "intercessor". The crowd, millions, are chanting "Santo", which means "Make him a Saint". The emphasis in the "Litany of the saints" is that all of these saints are near God and are co-intercessors. This of course nullifies the words of Jesus, who said, "no man can come to the Father but by Me".
As I pondered the overwhelming spiritual oppression in this city, I was encouraged by the words of the Lord to Elijah, "I have reserved to Myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal". That is true also among the Assemblies of God in America. My District Superintendent, Lew Welk, is in full agreement with us. As time goes on, those who are spiritually wise, will see the truth. Persecution will come from this world’s ecumenical movement, but it will only serve to purify and strengthen the true church. Your brother in Him who washed us by His blood.
Terry Peretti, Rome.