The Keys of This Blood has been making minor waves in Adventist circles the past few months. The subtitle tells why: The Struggle for World Dominion Between Pope John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the Capitalist West. Notice the following from the first part of the book (pages 15 and 17): "Willing or not, ready or not, we are all involved in an all-out, no-holds-barred, three-way global competition. . . . The competition is about who will establish the first one-world system of government that has ever existed in the society of nations. . . .
"It is not too much to say, in fact, that the chosen purpose of John Paul's pontificate ... is to be the victor in that com petition, now well under way."
Martin, a former Jesuit and professor at the Vatican's Pontifical Biblical Institute, claims that John Paul has had one overarching purpose in his travels during the 13 years since he took office: To gain recognition for himself as a geo-religious and geo-political force to be reckoned with.
Martin sees both Communism and capitalism as godless institutions that cannot solve the world's ills, and he claims that this is John Paul's view as well. Martin is unabashedly laudatory of the Roman Catholic Church, which he claims was established by Jesus Christ Himself and is therefore the only true church on earth and God's ultimate solution to the world's problems.
According to Martin, the American principle of separation of church and state has devastated the West's corporate morality and must be dismantled if a lasting spiritual and moral order is to be established in the world. As Christ's vicar, the pope is God's highest authority on earth and the only human being ordained by God to bring order out of the moral chaos.
However, Martin does not envision the pope taking up arms to gain control of the world. He says John Paul believes that the alleged vision of Fatima (a series of monthly "appearances" of the virgin Mary to several children in the Portuguese hamlet of Fatima in 1917) revealed God's plan for the world's future during his (the pope's) lifetime. Martin also claims that this was corroborated during a personal "communication" John Paul had with heaven during his six-month recovery from an assassination attempt in 1981.
According to Martin, Fatima predicted that a catastrophic event will soon occur in the heavens over Eastern Europe, destroying the hopes of both Communists and capitalists for world dominion. Out of this worldwide catastrophe John Paul will emerge as "the servant of God's grand design."
These are astounding claims, to say the least!
In preparing this review I asked two Adventist specialists in Roman Catholic history and theology how reliable they consider Martin to be. According to these scholars, Martin is not always accurate. He is an excellent fiction writer, and his book is written more in fictional than in documentary style. This is not to say that his assertions are wrong, but they cannot be proved correct. The book does not provide a single footnote, making it difficult to separate fact from opinion. Yet as a former Jesuit priest and professor at the Gregorian University of Rome, Martin certainly must have some inside information.
John Paul was the leading force in the dramatic events in Poland during the last half of 1989, and strongly influenced events in other parts of Eastern Europe. There can be no doubt that John Paul would like to achieve spiritual-moral social dominance over Eastern Europe and Russia. If, in the process, he can gain political control in the rest of the world, that would be in harmony with historic Catholic self-understanding.
Martin is a firm believer in papal authority, and he is very fond of John Paul II. His book is a challenge to powerful forces in Roman Catholicism, especially in America, that want to see the church go beyond the liberal reforms of Vatican II. In contrast, Martin wants the church to go back to its pre-Vatican II mind-set.
The Keys of This Blood has been making waves in Adventism because it seems to substantiate what was predicted about Roman Catholicism 100 years ago. Martin's scenario could usher in the long anticipated end-times. But let us be enthusiastic wisely.