Pope John Paul II's most recent encyclical letter again stresses a fundamental difference between Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity. The 150 page document, called "Faith and Reason," mainly stresses the fact that reason without faith cannot arrive at ultimate truth.
But buried in the heavy philosophical wordage is what Associated Press writer Richard N. Ostling calls a "thunderbolt for Christian ecumenism." Ostling says that, "The pontiff is especially worried about what he sees as a form of fideism [extreme faith] labeled 'biblicalism' in which study of the Bible becomes the sole criterion for truth."
This "biblicalism" is none other than the belief held by the Protestant reformers that Scripture alone is the final source of God's revelation.
With all the recent "progress" toward unity between Roman Catholics and Protestants, this again highlights a foundational difference. Any final unity will only happen on the pope's terms because there is no way Roman Catholicism can ever admit that the Bible is superior to the pope as the final authority of truth.
The entire structure of Roman Catholicism is based on "revelation" that is outside what the Bible teaches. Their Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible, but a wafer-god which the priest creates. Their gospel teaches that Jesus' death was not enough to forgive our sins but we must do our own penance, seek the mediation of Mary and the saints, perform prescribed rituals and then be cleansed in purgatory before we are fit for heaven. Their Holy Spirit is not the indwelling presence of the Comforter and Guide promised by Jesus, but the all wise "Church" which alone holds the correct interpretation of the Scriptures. (See the Apostle Paul's three criteria for judging a cult in II Cor. 11:4.)
No, the pope can never give up the idea that he is superior to the Bible. Without that pillar of false teaching, his whole pagan temple comes crashing down. But his worry is legitimate. Faith in the Bible alone is growing rapidly, especially in Latin America where tens of millions have shed Rome's priestcraft bondage for freedom in biblical truth.