On April 8, the Christian Post had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Glenn Kreider regarding the Catholic church and the passing of the late Pope John Paul II.
Kreider, an experienced theologian at world-renowned Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), explained the impact of the death on evangelical-Catholic relations.
What is the general view of the evangelicals on the Catholic Church?
There are two broad categories. Some evangelicals have viewed Catholics as a cult and other evangelicals have viewed Catholics as Christians. A significant theological and practical difference between the two has been recognized. In recent years, there have been a number of other evangelicals who have been much more sympathetic towards the Pope and the Catholic Church.
What kind of impact did the death of the pope have on the relationship between the Protestant and Catholic churches?
There are two broad impacts. The first is a sense of great sadness. The pope was a friend to the evangelicals. He was more conservative than many of the cardinals under him. He was very friendly towards the kinds of moral issues that evangelicals take seriously such as family and life issues. This sadness that is more foundational than the sadness we all feel seeing the results of sin and death. We grieve as we do when any human suffers and dies. But we grieve not as people who have no hope because we believe in the resurrection of Christ from the dead
Another impact is that the evangelicals are watching and waiting to see which direction the church will go. It's possible for the same type spirit in the Vatican to continue or it's possible for more extremist views, views of Mary to become more prominent in the next pope. So it will be interesting to see which direction the cardinals go in the selection of the next successor.
How are the Protestants responding to the death of the pope?
Protestants are generally grieving his loss and waiting to see what happens. But Protestants - for the most part - are not overly interested and involved in what happens in Catholic Church.
Probably the vast majority of Protestants are watching as tourists from a distance.
What kind of pope will strengthen the inter-church relationship between the Protestant and Catholic churches?
A pope who is committed to Christian Orthodoxy, dialogue and understanding, committed to harmony and peaceful relationships, and interested in the dialogue in honest pursuit of truth, would help the relationship between the two.
Do you have a personal view on the pope and his death?
Personally, I'm deeply saddened by the death of a man who is without question one of the great leaders of the 20th century. Personally, I'm saddened by the death of any human being, but I'm particularly saddened by his death because he has made a positive impact in the world. He was also a man who took his faith seriously, who modeled and lived and taught forgiveness, mercy, and grace.
His forgiveness of his visiting the prison, forgiveness of his assassin is an incredible demonstration of the kind of forgiveness that Christ has called all of us to. I've admired him a lot and deeply saddened.
How has the seminary responded to the current situation in any way?
The seminary has been responding in an informal way. There have been prayers for family, for friends, and for the future of the church. We believe that God is in control of the affairs of his creation and God will lead the Catholics into the selection of the right successor.
We also believe that God responds to the prayers of his people. So we have been praying for God's will to be done.
Dr. Kreider earned his B.S. at Lancaster Bible College in 1986, Th. M and Ph. D. at Dallas Theological Seminary in 1988 and 2001, respectively. He identifies as his key ministry motivations his passion for God and his desire to help others understand His word.
He joined the faculty of DTS for 10 years and is now in his fourth year at DTS as the Associate Professor of Theological Studies.