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Chapter 9

All That Dwell Upon the Earth Shall Worhsip Him

 

N the religious world, the ecumenical movement is gaining great momentum. Emphasis is placed upon both organic union and spiritual union. An organic union is the physical union of two or more churches into a single church body. Many such unions have already been formed, including the United Methodist Church of America, the United Church of Canada, the Uniting Church of Australia, and the Church of South India. Well-known church leaders indicate that they will not be satisfied until all Christian churches are united into one body.

Of course, this goal has many impelling aspects. The United Christian Church, it is believed, will present a wonderful power to modern Christianity and the non-Christian world in the most persuasive manner; however, an examination of almost all uniting churches reveals signs of impotence, membership loss, and stagnation.

It is not hard to understand the reason for the failure of the architects of these united churches to fulfill their expectations. In 1986, Colin attended the sixth International Congress for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies held in Nice, France. At the banquet at the conclusion of the congress, he was seated next to a minister of the Uniting Church of Australia. During their conversation, Colin inquired concerning the nature of the doctrinal agreements that the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists (who formed the Uniting Church) had made. The clergyman asserted that they united on New Testament Christianity, not on doctrine. Pressing the issue a little further, Colin asked, "What common basis did the freewill Methodists find for unity with the predestinarian Presbyterians?" The minister admitted that he had never given thought to the issue, although he had been a Methodist minister before this union took place. Later, he sent Colin a copy of the articles of Uniting. A review of these articles did not reveal one single belief upon which the consolidated church had been established.

In 1977 Russell had a similar experience. As Deputy Medical Superintendent of the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, he supervised the chaplaincy. Graham Gibbens, a Presbyterian minister, was the senior chaplain. When asked concerning the major doctrinal difference between Presbyterians and Methodists, in relation to their proposed union that year, Graham replied, "You know, Iíve never given it any thought." One wonders how John Knox (founder of the Presbyterian Church), John Wesley (founder of the Methodist Church), and the nonconformists of England (who established the Congregationalist Church) would have reacted to this careless attitude toward biblical doctrine.

The ecumenical movement and the World Council of Churches have determined to de-emphasize doctrine. Many have naively accepted the proposition that "It is not doctrine we need, but Christ," without realizing that every doctrine of the Scriptures is a dynamic revelation of Christ. How can one preach the doctrine of the Incarnation without including the Babe of Bethlehem who became manís Redeemer? How can one preach concerning the fate of man in death without preaching of the One who is the Resurrection and the Life? How can one preach baptism outside the context of the One who renews His life to us? How can one preach about the heavenly high priestly ministry of Christ without preaching about the One who is our Sacrifice, Judge, High Priest, Mediator, Advocate, and Intercessor? How can one preach the law of God without revealing the One of whose character it is the very transcript? When truth and doctrine are excluded, our faith is empty; and our knowledge of Christ is minimal. A new non-doctrinal approach to religion leaves the adherents weak, ignorant, uncertain, and an easy prey for the archdeceiver.

Surely, the ecumenical movement is a device of the enemy of souls to prepare a people to be partners in the eternal, destructive "game" of Satan instead of rising to shine for Christ. In the year 1989, leading Christian representatives made some remarkable pronouncements. After his visit with the pope, Robert Runcie, archbishop of Canterbury and primate in the Anglican Church in Great Britain, on October 2 1989, urged all Christians to recognize the pope as the leader of all Christians.

Archbishop Robert Runcie, the head of the Anglican Church who is discussing unification with the Roman Catholic Church, called for Christians to accept the pope as the common leader, presiding in love. (Charlottesville, Virginia Daily Progress, October 1 1989)

This call was not given without protest from a small vocal group of determined Protestants.

Robert Runcie suggested, at the weekend in Rome, that Christians throughout the world should accept the pope as universal primate. This has aroused Protestant anger. (Singapore Straits Times, October 3 1989)

Many are confidently predicting the reunification of the two largest churches in the world, the Church of England and the Church of Rome, by the year 2000. If this union takes place, the Reformation will have come a full circle. The Anglo-Catholic movement within the Church of England, which began in the 1820s at Oxford University, will finally have triumphed.

This development is significant because Bible prophecy predicted that at the end-time almost everyone in the world will give allegiance to the Papacy. John referred to the Papacy using the symbol of the beast.

And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. (Revelation 13:3, emphasis added)

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)

The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Revelation 17:8)

Mainline Protestantism in the United States, including Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Methodists, Lutherans, and Episcopalians, is the controlling backbone of American society and politics, and has experienced strong reversal in the last 30 years. Time magazine, May 22 1989, reported that since 1965, the United Church of Christ (Congregationalists) had shrunk 20 percent; Presbyterians 25 percent; the Episcopal Church 28 percent; Methodists 18 percent; and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 43 percent. Together, they had a net loss of 5.2 million members. The growth of American Roman Catholics, 16 percent in the same period, is quite significant.

Time magazine also reports that Sunday School participation in the mainline churches has dropped 55 percent in the past two decades. This woeful omen is most frightening for these mainline Protestant churches who were once the powerful standard makers of American society. The quotation from Professor Richard Mouw, of the nondenominational Fuller Theological Seminary in California, is the most striking statement from the article: "If there is an establishment voice today, it is that of Roman Catholicism. The Catholics are the calm, dignified, authoritative voices." Richard John Neuhaus supports this view in his book which claims that the present is the Catholic moment in America.

The report of the ten-year dialogue between Roman Catholic theologians and theologians who represent the Southern Baptist Conference (the two largest churches in the United States) is even more significant than reports of the events within the Church of England and mainline Protestant churches in the United States. The Associated Press reported what the joint communiquť stated.

We not only confessed, but experienced one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism. (Williamson Daily News, August 26 1989, emphasis added)

It is impossible to imagine how Southern Baptist theologians could experience one Lord with a church that claims that the pope is another God on earth. It is certainly impossible to understand how a church which has so strongly proclaimed salvation by faith can confess to have spiritual union in faith with a church that has steadfastly adhered to salvation by faith and works (the keeping of the seven sacred Sacraments). Finally, we are puzzled about how a church which practices adult baptism by immersion could compromise this one baptism with Roman Catholics who practice infant sprinkling, because the sprinkling of infants is a satanic counterfeit of true baptism. How could Southern Baptist theologians so pervert the faith of their Fathers?

The newspaper further reported that "the Southern Baptists and Roman Catholics . . . generally have been regarded as doctrinally far apart, but their scholars find that they basically agree" (ibid.). Here we can discern the peril of entrusting doctrinal decisions to a few theologians or scholars. Every conceivable perversion of truth has found support, in some way or another, from the scholars. There is hardly a theological training school throughout the world that is committed to the teaching of the pure faith of Jesus. As in Jesusí day, it is the common people who value pure biblical truth; and the oracles of God have been entrusted to them.

The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. (Isaiah 35:8)

The missionary endeavors of the future will be quite significantly hindered if the reportís following statement is accepted.

Both sides admitted past unfairness to each other, with predominantly Roman Catholic countries discriminating against Southern Baptist missionaries, and the latter laboring among Catholics without respecting their faith. Such competition and conflict in missionary work can become a stumbling block to those who have not heard the gospel. (Williamson Daily News, August 26 1989, emphasis added)

Undoubtedly, many sincere Southern Baptists will be alarmed by this report. Evangelical Anglicans are also deeply concerned by the plea of Archbishop Runcie for closer ties with the Papacy. But, in these actions, the discerning Christian will see that the time has come when all Christians who do not give supreme homage to Christ and the Bible will eventually give their allegiance to the Papacy; thus this report fulfills the unerring prophecy that all the world will wonder after the beast. (Revelation 13:3) While to a casual perusal, this joint declaration may seem good in many ways, it will basically lead the Southern Baptists to diminish and ultimately eliminate all work for the salvation of Catholic Church members; thus Southern Baptists cannot give that final call, by Godís elect, to His precious saints who are still members of the Roman Catholic Church.

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. (Revelation 18:4, 5, emphasis added)

U.S. News and World Report magazine, January 15 1990, addressed another new phenomenon in the United Statesóthe growing trend of Protestants, even Evangelicals, to move toward liturgical ritualistic, ceremonial, and sacramental forms of religion. This movement apparently is a reaction against the informal, often irreverent forms of worship that have arisen out of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. Ritualistic worship has appealed to some who are weary of listening to tame, bland sermons on repetitious themes in many mainline churches. The rituals of the Orthodox churches have often been practiced as a refreshing alternative. Such a movement will surely be able to accommodate itself to the Roman Catholic form of sacramentalism.

This thrust toward one world religion envisages the encompassment of far more sects than Christendom. In 1988, Dr. Robert Runcie gave a Sir Francis Younghusband Memorial Lecture at Lambeth Palace (home of the Archbishop of Canterbury) for the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the World Congress of Faiths. He ominously quoted the words of the late Sir Francis: "All the centuries that the Spirit of God has been working in Christians, He must also have been working in Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and others." Dr. Runcie then commented that dialogue enabled people of various religions "to share the sustaining insights and transforming treasures of their faith, and to recognize an affinity of the human heart in the fellowship of the Spirit." The archbishopís reflection on a visit to India was even more disconcerting.

[He arrived with] the certainties of an encapsulated Western Christianity but came away realizing that there are new ways of thinking about God, Christ, and the world. He spoke of his experience of God among the Hindus of Madras, "where gods and goddesses take hundreds of different forms and images. The sheer diversity of the Divine was disconcerting. God somehow seemed greater than Western monism. . . . We have lost something that other faiths may help to restore to us." (The Sentinel, vol. 42, No. 4, spring 1989, emphasis added)

Those who do not accept Godís commission to urge Christians to forsake apostate religions will themselves be found among that huge ecumenical group who receive the seven last plagues cited in Revelation 16. Myriads of formal Christians will be lost in spiritual Babylon. But God will have a remnant who will give Godís final invitation to the world.

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17)

 

 


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