1975 Jan-MarVIII 1(75) - VIII 3(75)
1975 Apr-Jun VIII 4(75) - VIII 6(75)
1975 Jul-Sep VIII 7(75) - VIII 9(75)
1975 Oct-Dec VIII 10(75) - VIII 12(75)
1976 Jan-Mar IX 1(76) - IX 3(76)
1976 Apr-Jun IX 4(76) - IX 6(76)
1976 Jul-Sep IX 7(76) - IX 9(76)
1976 Oct-Dec IX 10(76) - IX 12(76)
1977 Jan-MarX 1(77) - X 3(77)
1977 Apr-Jun X 4(77) - X 6(77)
1977 Jul-Sep X 7(77) - X 9(77)
1977 Oct-DecX 10(77) - X 12(77)
1978 Jan-Mar XI 1(78) - XI 3(78)
1978 Apr-Jun XI 4(78) - XI 6(78)
1978 Jul-Sep XI 7(78) - XI 9(78)
1978 Oct-Dec XI 10(78) - XI 12(78)
1979 Jan-Mar XI 1(79) - XI 3(79)
1979 Apr-Jun XI 4(79) - XI 6(79)
1979 Jul-Sep XI 7(79) - XI 9(79)
1979 Oct-DecXI 10(79) - XI 12(79)
Feb Knight Descends On Jones. 1of 4.
Mar Knight Descends On Jones. 2 of 4.
1988 Apr-Jun 3 & 4 of 4.
last of WWN published
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SHORT STUDIES - William H. Grotheer -
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Hour and the End is Striking at You, The - William H. Grotheer
the Form of a Slave
In Bible Prophecy
Doctrinal Comparisons - Statements of Belief 1872-1980
Paul VI Given Gold Medallion by Adventist Church Leader
Sacred Trust BETRAYED!, The - William H. Grotheer
Seal of God
Adventist Evangelical Conferences of 1955-1956
SIGN of the END of TIME, The - William H. Grotheer
of the Gentiles Fulfilled, The - A Study in Depth of Luke 21:24
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
Song of Solomon - Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary
Ten Commandments - as Compared in the New International Version & the King James Version & the Hebrew Interlinear
OTHER BOOKS, MANUSCRIPTS & ARTICLES:
Various Studies --
Bible As History - Werner Keller
Canons of the Bible, The - Raymond A. Cutts
Daniel and the Revelation - Uriah Smith
Facts of Faith - Christian Edwardson
Individuality in Religion - Alonzo T. Jones
"Is the Bible Inspired or Expired?" - J. J. Williamson
Letters to the Churches - M. L. Andreasen
Place of the Bible In Education, The - Alonzo T. Jones
Sabbath, The - M. L. Andreasen
So Much In Common - WCC/SDA
Which Banner? - Jon A. Vannoy
As of 2010, all official sites of ALF in the United States of America were closed. The Adventist Laymen's Foundation of Canada with its website, www.Adventist Alert.com, is now the only official Adventist Layman's Foundation established by Elder Grotheer worldwide.
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WWN 1996 Jul - Sep
-- XXIX -- 7(96) -- E &
C T -- Part
Editor's Preface --
the extensive circulation of the tract - "Jerusalem in Bible Prophecy"
- the mailing list for WWN has been considerablely increased. On
the tract, we noted WWN as a "newsletter" so that the
reader would understand something about what they were requesting. This
is true. Each issue does contain news items, but WWN is more than
that. Some who have already received their copies of the paper have written
back and used the term, "newsletter" and then added, "but
it seems to be more than that, an in-depth study paper, or something like
that." This is true. We use the term, "Thought Paper" here
at the Foundation.
idea of a "thought paper" was born when I was finishing my graduate
work at Andrews University some three decades ago. In an Education class,
taught by Dr. George Akers, we were required to write what he called a
"thought paper." I thought that was a good idea to transfer
to the area of religion, a paper which analyzed an issue and challenged
the thinking of the reader regarding that topic. It permitted a departure
from mere recitation of traditional data, and opened up new vistas for
contemplation. In other words, "thought papers" probe; venture
into new perceptions of traditional concepts, and challenge the status
quo. Now every issue of WWN is not a "thought paper,"
but some are. In either this issue or the next will be articles which
meet the criteria, as we review the Essay in E&CT by Dr. J.
material presented by Dr. Packer, and to adequately address the issues
which he raises, will more than fill one issue of WWN if we include
other items of merit in each issue. The outgrowth of his suggestions require
some "thought paper" type of articles. Whether, we can include
such an article in this issue is problematical.
in mind, also, that the editorial "Let's Talk It Over" writeups
are many times miniature "thought papers."
p 2 -- E & C T - Part 6A -- "Crosscurrents among Evangelicals" is the title given to Dr. J. I. Packer's Essay in Evangelicals & Catholics Together. Dr. Packer, a recognized leader among Evangelicals, is Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. His theme concepts are Luther's words at the Diet of Worms in 1521 - "Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen." He begins his Essay by telling his reaction to the film, Martin Luther, which he watched. These words of Luther were the high spot in the movie for Dr. Packer.
Then he writes: "I
did not at that time expect ever to be in circumstances that would make
me feel like Martin Luther at Worms, nor for more than forty years was
I. But during the past few months I have constantly identified with his
words quoted above, as I answered a stream of letters telling me that
I should withdraw my name from the published list of supporters of ' Evangelicals
and Catholics Together' and thus recant my endorsement of its contents."
Packer then sets forth the
threefold objective of his Essay: 1) Review
the criticisms of the Accord, ECT, from concerned Evangelicals;
2) To clear ECT of misunderstandings reflected
by the criticisms; and 3) To
re-argue ECT's case for parachurch cooperation in Christian political
It must be kept in mind that
the Accord drawn up by Chuck Colson, and Richard John Neuhaus with thirteen
other Evangelicals and Catholics has done to the Evangelical Community
what the SDA-Evangelical Conferences of 1955-56 did to the Community of
Adventism. Interestingly, the Evangelical critics who wrote to Dr. Packer
asked him how he reconciled two Biblical passages - Galatians 1:6-10 and
2 Cor. 6:14-15 - with his endorsement of the Accord. These are key texts,
both of which we will discuss in separate "thought paper" type
Packer maintains that the
problem is that the drafters of the Accord adopted what is called the
"Lund principle," formulated at an ecumenical gathering wich
states "ecclesiatically divided Christians should not try to do separately
what their consciences allow them to do together. The document urged that
Protestant evangelicals and believing Roman Catholics act together as
far as possible in both societal and evangelistic tasks of Christian mission,
which is in truth the mission of the Triune God, carried out through God's
people." (p. 149) [Keep in mind this reoccurring emphasis on
the Trinity] The application of the "Lund principle" is
what those who protested to Packer, challenged. They do not perceive the
Roman Catholic Church as a truly Christian Church, because, as Packer
admits, these Evangelical protesters "have an informed commitment
to a traditional Protestant vision, heritage, and policy." (p. 150)
In fairness to Packer, it must be stated that he does not embrace Roman
Catholicism, but seeks to differentiate between the Roman Church itself
and those he terms as "good quality Roman Catholics" in that
He seeks to give identity
to Evangelicals. He writes: "Historically,
evangelical identity has been shaped and fertilized by a complex of movements:
the Protestantism of the sixteenth century, the Puritanism of the seventeenth,
the Pietism of the eighteenth, the religious populism of the nineteenth,
and the Pentecostalism, including the charismatic renewal, of the twentieth.
Theologically, evangelicalism defines itself against naturalistic Pelagianism
by affirming the need for radical renewing of our sinful hearts by the
Holy Spirit and against mechanical sacramentalism by affirming the directness
of the Spirit's regenerating work in our hearts with and through the gospel
Packer lists seven principles
to which Evangelicals adhere:
p 3 --
To this seventh identifying mark, Packer
adds a comment that needs to be questioned. He wrote: "Many,
if not all, see these rites as means of grace, conveying and confirming
the benefits they signify, through the active exercise of faith that they
evoke. The Lord's Supper, in particular, becomes an event of spiritual
refreshment through thankful, intentional remembering of Christ's cross
and self-offering to Him in gratitude for it." (p. 152; emphasis
This comment narrows the distance between
the Roman Catholic perception of these "sacraments" and the
Biblical revelation as merely symbolic acts with no merit resident in
either the water, the bread, or the fruit of the vine. This leaves the
only real distinction between the two viewpoints - Evangelical and Roman
Catholic - as the power and authority of the officiant, who in the case
of Roman Catholicism is the priest.
Packer continues with more definitive
paragraphs about the commitment of his critics
"to a traditional Protestant vision, heritage, and policy."
"What does that mean?" As for "vision" he indicates
"the Protestant vision has historically been that the Roman
Catholic Church should break up and dissolve; ... and that as a means
to this end Protestants should constantly speak against Roman Catholic
teaching about the Church, the papacy, the gospel, the Mass, the priesthood,
Mary, and the Christian life, not only to keep the unwary from embracing
these ideas, but also to hasten their demise." (p. 152; emphasis
In this, Packer has accurately written.
Tragically today, this "vision" is dying, even in the Community
of Adventism. Then Packer adds this insightful comment because of the
resurgence of Romanism -
"To any who see the vision of Rome vanishing as expressing God's
goal, the current call is for redoubled efforts in rebuttal of Rome's
teaching and anything less appears as crass and perhaps treasonable folly."
"the Protestant heritage,"
Packer defines it as
"a body of learned polemic against specific Roman Catholic tenets
as expressed in the deliverances of the Council of Trent, the catechism
of Pius V, the two Vatican Councils, the papal promulgations of Mary's
Immaculate Conception (1854) and her Assumption (1950), and most recently
in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994). Since Rome sees
conciliar statements and papal definitions ex cathedra as infallible
and irreformable, nothing changes here, and most of the polemical
arguments go back in substance to the sixteenth century." (ibid.;
first emphasis his; second supplied)
At the core of the problem is that in
all of these expressed Roman Catholic beliefs is the denial of the gospel.
Packer lists three ways in which the gospel is denied:
doctrines of transubstantiation and the Mass-sacrifice in which, according
to the Council of Trent, ' the same Christ ' is sacrificed ' in an unbloody
manner, who once offered himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the
Packer at this point quotes Michael Horton's succinct statement taken from his Essay - "What Still Keeps Us Apart" - in Roman Catholicism (p. 257) Horton declared that the Tridentine (Council of Trent) equation of justification with sanctification "rejects Paul's whole point in Romans 4:1-5, that justification comes only to those who (a) are wicked and (b) stop working for it."
At this point, it needs to be emphasized
that the community of Adventism is not exempt from this
p 4 -- alive. Tragically, as the
regular Church drifts toward Rome in association, many of the independent
ministries have already drifted there theologically denying the Protestant
heritage. Further it needs to be remembered that the Message of 1888 in
its emphasis on righteousness by faith was specifically a call to free
"the everlasting gospel" from any and all traces of the Tridentine
Since one of the specific criticisms of
the E&CT Accord, to which Packer replied, involved an affirmation
on this key doctrine, we need to discuss this point as completely as possible
within the limitations imposed by space availability in this issue. The
Accord read - "We affirm together that we are justified by
grace through faith because of Christ." It was this affirmation along
with its corollary - "All who accept Christ as Lord and Saviour
are brothers and sisters in Christ. Evangelicals
and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ" - which ignited
the firestorms which have swept through evangelical circles. Packer's
response to the criticism of the justification statement was "that,
as it stands, [it] is no less compatible with the Tridentine doctrine
of justification than it is with the Reformational view." (p. 155)
The question is, do we take this compromised
affirmation as the real truth, or do we veer toward the Tridentine position
as many of the "independents" have done; or do we accept the
Pauline position as reflected in the Reformation credo - "by faith
alone" - and as incorporated into the 1888 Message brought by Jones
and Waggoner, who were designated as "the messengers of God's righteousness"?
(See TM, p. 96)
Other points of Dr. Packer's defense as to why he signed the E&CT Accord, and their implications must be discussed also. (To Be Continued)
PAUL'S POSITION -- The
Apostle Paul was unequivocal in regard to what he understood the gospel
to be. "It is the power of God unto salvation." (Rom. 1:16)
It concerns "Jesus Christ our Lord, who was made of the seed of David
according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power,
according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."
(Rom. 1:3-4) The salvation resultant from His incarnation, death and resurrection
"is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast."
(Eph. 2:8-9) The victory realized by the sinner is given by God "through
our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Cor. 15:57) Thus man's restored relationship
to God is by and through Christ alone. It is ours to accept.
Further, Paul made it painfully clear
that to teach any other gospel, even if done by an angel, was to "be
accursed." Note carefully what he wrote: "But
though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than
that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said
before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you
than that ye have received, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8-9)
This means simply and plainly that Romanism
and its Tridentine gospel, and those in the community of Adventism who
veer toward this Council of Trent teaching are "accursed." Now
it is true that the Council of Trent also pronounces a curse. It reads: "If
any saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the
divine mercy which renders sins for Christ's sake; or that this confidence
alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema."
Why could Paul be so emphatic? Listen
to his words -
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached
of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was
I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Gal. 1:11-12)
Now I am sure that if Paul were to be
living today, - he would say the same words - there would be those who
would sneeringly remark - "0, he has the Elijah syndrome" -
as inferred from the words of Elijah, "I, even I only, am left."
(I Kings 19:10) This attitude is going to be eternally costly to those
who continue to hold to this concept. God has but one "everlasting
Gospel" message for the final generation. (Rev. 14:6) This gospel
does not vary from "the revelation of Jesus Christ" as given
to Paul. Further, the "many voices" sounding in the community
of Adventism today are a snare to the sincere people of God. God as "One"
has only one "present truth" for any given generation. By this
truth "the many voices" can be differentiated. While a present
truth may be an adjunct truth, it will be presented in the setting of
the gospel revealed to Paul.
We might press this point of the fallacy
p 5 -- ception of what is called
the "Elijah Syndrome" a bit further. Jesus Christ declared unequivocally
"I am the way...: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me."
(John 14:6) His disciples perceived the same truth. Peter told the Jewish
leadership - "Neither is there salvation in any other: there
is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must
be saved." (Acts. 4:12) Jesus is the truth, and even as there are
no multiple "Christs;" neither are there differing "truths."
To think otherwise is to be self-deceived.
Why was the Reformation message centered
in the concept - "by grace alone, through faith alone"
- a concept clearly inferred by Paul? He wrote - "Therefore
we conclude that a man is justified by faith without (Gr.
koris, "distinct from") the deeds of the law."
(Rom. 3:28) To answer this question, we need to start with man as sin
As created, Adam reflected the Divine
likeness. (Gen. 1:27). His son, Seth, reflected "his own likeness,
after his image." (Gen. 5:3) The degeneration was so rapid and intense
that by the days of Noah, "every imagination of the heart was only
evil continually." (6:5) Noah "found grace" (6:8) - he
received a warning to give to the world, and a blueprint for deliverance.
He carried out the directions. (6:22) Yet the record notes his heart was
still corrupt, subject to indulgence. (9:21) The summary picture in Hebrews
reveals that because of "faith" in God's word, and acting upon
it - Noah became "an heir" - not a possesser - "of
the righteousness which is by faith." (Heb. 11:7)
We need to distinguish between two realities
- the reality of what God requires, and the reality of man's inability
to so attain. God has not altered; He requires now just what He required
in Eden - perfect obedience. The Old Testament is replete
with the second reality - man's inability. Job asked - "Who can bring
a clean thing out of an unclean?" His answer - "not one."
(14:4) Isaiah cried out - "We are all as an unclean thing,
and all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags."
We need to pause and grasp what this picture
from the Old Testament means. First, "our righteousnesses" -
those things we do that are good. A good "moral" life can be
attained. Man can carry out the directions of God, even as did Noah in
building the ark, and as Moses in the construction of the sanctuary. Yet
each must admit with David - "Our goodness extendeth not to
Thee." (Ps. 16:2) It is a holy God with Whom we have to do. To a
clear perception of God's holiness, there is but one human response
- "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean
lips." (Isa. 6:5) The gulf between the holiness of God, and the righteousnesses"
of man must be bridged. "Filthy rags" are not the vestments
It is from this take-off point that Paul
outlines the "gospel" he received "by revelation of Jesus
Christ." He quotes from the Old Testament - "There is none
righteous, no not one." (Rom. 3:10) "Therefore, by the
deeds of the law ("our righteousnesses") there shall no flesh
be justified in [God's] sight." (3:20) This leaves only one
solution - "Being justified freely by His grace through the
redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (3:24) By grace alone, through
Jesus alone, - no man cometh unto the Father but by Me"
- can man hope to again fellowship with an holy God.
But someone asks, isn't sanctification
connected with our redemption? Most assuredly! "For the grace of
God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that
denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously,
and godly in this present world." (Titus 2:11-12) Does this mean
then that the "works" that had no merit in justification are
now given a high priority rating in sanctification? Paul asked -
"O foolish Galatians ("independents" - "historic Adventists")
who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth? ... This only
would I learn of you. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law,
or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit,
are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:1-3)
Since sanctification is the work of a
lifetime, let us consider what this means if sanctification is perceived
as having redeeming merit. For example, say you have ten years from the
time you were "justified freely" until death over takes you.
Another person has twenty years. Does this mean that into your ten years,
you must concentrate the perfection required for heaven while another
will be given twenty years to obtain the same? Sanctification is not Protestant
"penance" even though there are many who seek to so make it.
Jesus illustrated the place of sanctification
by a parable. A servant coming from the field does not first feed himself,
and then wait on the needs of the master of the house. No, he first prepares
and serves the meal for the master, not even expecting a thank you "because
p 6 -- the things that were commanded
him." Note carefully the conclusion Jesus draws - "So
likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded
you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our
duty to do." (Luke 17:7-10) Where then is there merit in sanctification?
It returns to the simple fact - "For by grace are ye
saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained
that we should walk in them" - which was our duty to
do anyway! (Eph. 2:8-10)
Why are we so loath to accept the simple
Reformation formula - by grace alone, through faith alone
in Christ alone? I suspect that this is due in part to the unwarranted
conclusion drawn by Evangelicals. Because Christ died once for all, then
by accepting this once for all sacrifice supposedly brings to me once
for all salvation. It seems to be forgotten that though Christ did die
once for all, I must die daily (I Cor. 15:31) Jesus also emphasized this
factor - "If any man will come after me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23)
The provision is there; the Word of God stands behind it; but daily I
must renew my consecration to that provision.
In the final essay of the book, E&CT,
Neuhaus discusses what he calls "The Catholic Difference." (We
shall discuss this in due course) When God committed to the trust of Adventism
the "everlasting gospel," He gave "the Adventist difference."
That difference lies in the theology of the sanctuary, and the final atonement.
In the type, the High Priest alone achieved that atonement, and
it was that atonement through the mingled blood of the Lord's goat and
the bullock which removed the uncleanness of the children of Israel so
that they might "be clean of all [their] sins before the Lord."
(Lev. 16:18-19, 30)
Since the dictum to the Old Testament
question - "Who can bring a clean thing out
of an unclean?" - remains - "not one,"
does not honesty require that we reject
in toto the Tridentine Teaching of Romanism? The Day of Atonement
required only two things - 1) soul
affliction; and 2) Cessation
from our works. (Lev. 23:29-30) This is the same basic criteria of justification,
recognition of 1) our undoneness;
and 2) the reality of our inability
to meet the law's demands.
The problem returns to a single point
- Laodiceanism - a deception that one needs nothing.
Strip the "blubber" of Laodicean egotism from many of the voices
sounding in Adventism today, and they would be reduced to a pip-squeak.
Tragically, there is being pawned off as "historic Adventism"
the Tridentine (Council of Trent) doctrine of justification by faith.
TALK IT OVER -- Everything that could possibly be conceived
by Satan to thwart the Son of man from His objective of providing a redemption
for fallen man was done. He dogged His footsteps from Bethlehem to Calvary
but prevailed not. When in triumphant faith, Jesus cried from the cross
- "It is finished" - heaven responded - "Now
is come salvation!" (Rev. 12:10)
Having been unsuccessful in defeating
"the redemption in Christ Jesus," Satan turned his attention
to mitigating its application in the lives of those who would hear the
gospel as well as muting its force by those who would proclaim it. The
history of the book of Acts is the story of that conflict.
The conflict begins in Jerusalem itself.
The very ecclesiastical body which condemned Christ to death
was confronted with the fact that there was salvation in none other Name,
but in Jesus Christ. (Acts 4:12) The apostles' doctrine was simple. God
exalted Jesus to be "a Prince and a Saviour... to give repentance
to Israel and forgiveness of sins." (5:31)
Soon persecution breaks forth and the
Christians were scattered from Jerusalem (8:1). Paul is converted and
spends time in Arabia being taught the gospel by direct revelation. (See
Gal. 1:15-18) However, developments begin to appear among the Christians
who regroup in Jerusalem. The Lord sought to enlarge the vision of the
Church from the narrow confines of Judaism to the fact that Jesus is the
Saviour for all mankind. Peter was sent to Cornelius. There he proclaimed
the same doctrine - that through the name of Jesus "whosoever
believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts. 10:43)
Returning to Jerusalem, Peter is confronted
with a new force which had entered the church - "they that
were of the circumcision contended with him." (11:2) Peter gives
a full report, and for the moment this "party" held its peace.
p 7 -- (11:18) When the issue again
surfaces following the first missionary tour of Paul and Barnabas, Peter
was no longer in the "chair." James presided, and the "party"
which challenged Peter was very vocal. (15:5-6) What the devil could not
accomplish in his contest with Jesus, he now seeks to bring about through
the adulteration of the gospel itself.
James renders a decision. (15:19-21) Answers
to basic questions raised in the contention were not spelled out. The
issues reached the "mission" field where Paul had labored. Contention
again arose, and it was under these circumstances that Paul sends off
his firey Epistle to the Galatians. He pinpointed the source of the problem.
Drawing from an experience from the past, he notes that the problem began
when "certain came from James." (Gal. 2:12)
The final picture in Acts, of the Church
in Jerusalem, needs to be carefully scrutinized. Paul returns and gives
a report of his missionary outreach. He cannot point to "thousands
of Jews" which believe, but to home churches composed of both Jews
and Gentiles. Not so James; he notes the "thousands" which believe
in Jerusalem, and "they are all zealous of the law." (Acts 21:19-20)
What is interesting to observe is that when "thousands" believed
at the beginning of the book of Acts (4:4; 5:14), persecution broke out.
(8:1) Jerusalem was being filled with the Apostles doctrine concerning
Jesus. (5:28) Now the "thousands" are zealous for the law, and
no persecution ensued. They worshiped in the temple, and performed various
rites and ceremonies. In fact, James in his Epistle speaks of conduct
for the "Christian" in his synagogue. (James 2:2 margin) Paul
took the converts out of the synagogues. (Acts. 18:7; 19:8-9)
The solution suggested by James and the
elders for Paul to be accepted led to Paul's imprisonment. Persecution
did break out against Paul, but not against James. A secret plot followed
to assassinate Paul. How many knew about it? Did James? Who warned Paul?
(Acts 23:16) All the details are not given, but we know that neither James,
nor the elders, whose counsel Paul had followed, visited him in prison.
This illuminating paragraph is found in
Sketches from the Life of Paul: "When
Peter had been made a prisoner and condemned to death, the brethren had
offered earnest prayer to God day and night for his deliverance.
"But no such interest was manifested in behalf of him who was looked
upon as an apostate from Moses, a teacher of dangerous doctrines.
And what was Paul teaching? "For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8-9) Thus at the very beginning of the apostolic age is to be found the seeds of the conflict between the pure gospel and the Roman Tridentine teaching. ---(1996 Jul) ---End---- TOP
Aug -- XXIX -- 8(96) -- E
& C T -- Part 6B -- Editor's
Preface -- With this
issue of WWN we conclude an analysis of Dr. J. I. Packer's essay
in E&CT. We have been rather detailed in outlining just where
he stood in regard to the Roman Catholic Church. It is evident that he
understands well the teachings of that Church. How then could he sign
the Accord? We give his answer. Yet he appears to have some doubts which
he rationalizes away. We have discussed this in the editorial - "Let's
Talk It Over." Perhaps you should read this first. Then there is
a second question which we have not addressed in this issue. Why was his
essay permitted in this book when he was so forthright in his position
on key Roman Catholic teachings? John Richard Neuhaus has the last word
as his is the final essay. This final essay will be discussed in the next
issue of WWN.
While we were in the process of preparing
the material for this issue, we received from Western Canada a copy of
the paper published in Quebec. The sender asked that it be returned to
him, and so we made copies of the two pages which were of primary interest
to us. The issue of Rome's unchanged position on Church and State is addressed
in the second article. What struck us was the approach, which was used
a century ago, of subjugating the Incarnation to this diabolical design
of Rome. In Canada, the Roman Church is spelling it out in plain language.
In the States, the Church is using phrases - "an ordered society"
- "ordered liberty" - to cover their same designs; and the Protestants
are buying it.
The interesting experience which some are
having in Iowa - see page 7 - you may also have if you desire. We will
send to you, upon request, a copy of the ad they used. You will need only
to adapt it to an address in your local area. We will work with you. Write
or call for details.
p 2 -- E
& C T - 6b -- In continuing his Essay, Dr. J. I. Packer
observed that the "most poignant " criticisms of the Accord
came from middle-aged and elderly individuals who had once been Roman
Catholics and "who cannot believe that Protestants who back ECT know
what they are doing." He seeks to answer these Evangelicals and allay
some of their concerns.
Packer believes that his objective in signing
the Accord has been misread, and that it was not his intention to infer
that the Accord signaled an end of the historic war with Rome about the
gospel doctrine. When he realized that the statement was being read this
way, he with Michael Horton, who is connected with Christians United for
Reformation (CURE), produced another statement. The preface of this CURE
statement - Resolutions for Roman Catholic and Evangelical Dialogue"
- states that it seeks to identify issues of concern to Evangelical Protestants
that the thrust of the ECT document raised. It addresses seven issues:
That while Evangelicals and Roman Catholics both
affirm "the ecumenical creeds," this is not a "sufficient
basis" for declaring that "agreement exists on all the essential
elements of the Gospel."
The #2 statement
is lengthy, and its amplification of what is quoted above needs to be
considered, for at this point, theologies being taught presently in the
Community of Adventism enter the picture. " While affirming an indissoluble
bond between justification and sanctification, this doctrine insists that
justification itself is God's present forensic declaration of pardon and
acceptance, and that the righteousness required for this declaration is
neither attained by human effort nor infused or worked internally by God
in the human soul, but is the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to
those who believe."
The contrast with
Romanism is noted: "The Council of Trent anathematized those who
embrace this doctrine, and all subsequent magisterial declarations, including
those of the Second Vatican Council, continue to bind Roman Catholics
to the conviction that this gospel of free justification by faith alone,
apart from works, and the assurance of salvation that springs from it,
is not consonant with Roman Catholic teaching." The formulators of
this CURE Statement "deny the adequacy of any version of the Gospel
that falls short at this point."
It is at a "point"
within this point which has caused problems for Adventism, and has led
many to reject the Protestant affirmation, and in its place hold the Roman
Catholic Tridentine teaching or a modified version of it. What is the
"assurance of salvation" springing from "justification
by faith alone"? First, it is the realization of
a forgiveness whereby I can stand before God as if I had never sinned.
The depression resulting from the guilt of sin is removed. I bare it no
more! However, it does not follow that once I have accepted this free
gift, it can never be denied me, and that an entrance into God's presence
is assured me no matter how I live thereafter. The "assurance"
is based on two things: a daily crucifixion (I Cor. 15:31), and a growth
in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18). The problem
in Adventism today is that the theologies being expounded by the "many
voices" seeking recognition is that in rejecting the concept of once
saved always saved," they in turn reject "the article by which
the Church stands or falls," and substitute in its place a form of
the Tridentine gospel of Romanism. In freeing themselves from the anathema
of Rome, they come under the anathema of Paul. (Gal. 1:8-9)
"We radically disagree with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council
that unbelievers may be saved by their good works, apart from faith in
p 3 --
7) "We affirm that the Great Commission of our Lord requires every Christian and every congregation to be engaged as witness to Christ, and that this is concerned not merely wth conversion, but with catechesis, nurture, and discipline of converts. Therefore, ... we insist that every Christian, Roman Catholic no less than Protestant, needs regular exposure to accurate, Christ-centered preaching and exposition from the Bible."
Packer hoped that this statement, signed by 35 Evangelical
leaders including three who had signed the ECT Accord, would remove all
doubt as to where he and others stood in regard to the teachings of Roman
Catholicism. It did not, and there were some sharp exchanges on the leadership
level. The result was that on January 19, 1995 a group of leaders and
theologians met with Chuck Colson, J. I. Packer and one other signer of
the ECT Accord at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale,
Florida. This opposition group included John Ankerberg, John MacArthur,
R. C. Sproul and D. James Kennedy, pastor of the Coral Ridge church. Out
of this meeting came a statement drafted by Packer and signed by other
Evangelicals who also signed the ECT Accord. The preamble declares this
new statement to be an elucidation of their understanding of what they
were signing in committing themselves to the Accord. It reads:
Our parachurch cooperation with evangelically committed Roman Catholics
for the pursuit of agreed objectives does not imply acceptance of Roman
Catholic doctrinal distiinctives or endorsement of the Roman Catholic
Two things need to be noted in this statement:
1) The emphasis on "eternal security"
("once saved always saved") in #2. By connecting this concept
with "sola fide," they draw an unwarranted conclusion in regard
to the meaning of the atonement of the Cross, and the failure to separate
this combined concept by "historic" Adventists leads to the
acceptance by them of a modified form of the Roman Catholic Tridentine
gospel. 2) After clearly defining
his perceptions of Roman Catholicism in the CURE statement, how could
Packer include in this statement a call for early "theological discussions"
with them as in #5. Further, why should the dissidents to the ECT Accord
want this as well?
Immediately following this Statement, Packer wrote - "At
this point I must state explicitly that I am not and could not be a Roman
Catholic because of certain basic tenets to which the Roman system, as
such, is committed." He
then notes these tenets:
The claim of Rome as the only
"Church of Christ." This for two reasons:
a) "In the New Testament the Church is not
a sacramental and juridical organization sustained by priests channeling
divine life through set rituals, but it is a worldwide fellowship of believers
who share in the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus Christ ..."
b) "Bowing to Peter among the apostles as having
definitive personal and pastoral authority over all congregations"
as defined by Rome,
"is not however part of the New Testament picture. Nor does the fact
that John Paul II ... has done a wonderful job as a world Christian ambassador
make the papacy a credible institution or the Catholic claim to conciliar
and ex cathedra infallibility at all plausible." (pp. 161-162)
Because of these tenets,
Packer declares, as stated in the CURE statement, he is not able to affirm
that the Roman Church "in its present confession is an acceptable
p 4 -- communion."
Then he adds - "What
I mean by that is that Rome's official doctrinal disorders, particularly
on justification, merit, and the Mass-sacrifice, so obscure the gospel
that were I, as a gesture of unity, invited to Mass - which of course
as a Protestant I am not, nor shall be - I would not feel free to accept
the invitation." (pp. 162-163)
This is a most interesting observation. He perceives what
the or "mark" of Rome is, more clearly than many Adventists.
Further, he declares, he will not accept this "mark" of Rome.
However, he should not be too sure, that he will not be offered the opportunity.
Then comes the
question - "Why then should I, or any Protestant like me, want
to develop mission activity in partnership with Roman Catholics? What
reason is there to abandon the historic pattern of isolationism?"
Packer perceives a renewal within Catholicism which has
brought to individual Catholics the same experience as the Evangelicals,
even to the point of holding some of the same doctrinal teachings which
he considers basic. His conclusion is that, therefore, with these "evangelical"
Catholics, there can be a working arrangement as envisioned by the ECT
Accord for the purpose of bettering the moral character of society. He
calls this a "Parachurch Association." By this designation.
he means a company of Christians - be they of different denominations
- pursuing together churchly goals. This is what he perceived was
the joint action envisoned by ECT, and because of this perception he signed
the document. Then he wrote a very significant paragraph: ECT
is tentatively feeling its way towards a pattern of this kind that would
involve Roman Catholics and would do so on a principled basis, with out
compromise on either side. The difficulties are obvious; but should the
desired cooperative action prove to be practical politics, it would be
an event of watershed significance. What form the pattern might take is
not yet clear to anyone; what is being explored is wether the quest for
such a pattern is not an idea whose time has come. (p. 166)
Packer goes so far because of his own experience and belief
to question - "Is God ... starting something through E&CT?"
Then he answers - "I do not know, but I think it is worth giving
time and labor to find out." While he declares there is no problem
with working together for "Christian moral and cultural values in
society," yet when it comes to the point of proclaiming Christ the
Savior, the case is different. Neither Evangelicals nor Roman Catholics
can stipulate the distinctives they believe as the basis for partnership.
Then what follows - compromise - "E&CT lets go Protestant
precision on the doctrine of justification and the correlation between
conversion and new birth, just as it let go the Roman Catholic dogmas
of baptismal regeneration and the sacramental structure of the doctrine
This picture of what is contemplated - implementation
through joint action of "Christian moral and cultural values,"
but with an admittedly compromised perception of the gospel -
is ominous. While "the form the pattern" might take may not
be clear to some of those who are advocating its trial adoption, it should
be clear to the student of Bible prophecy. None dare take what is beginning
to surface, lightly.
First, we need to be sure that we believe that we have
a truth which admits of no compromise. We need to understand that only
truth that is pure and unadulterated is the righteousness of Christ. Then,
on these premises, how do I relate to that which is not such a truth?
This brings us to the second Scripture with which shocked evangelicals
challenged Packer - II Cor. 6:14-15. Packer quoted it from the NIV. Note
what it says: "Do
not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and
wickedness have in common? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?
What does a believer have in common with an unbeliver?
So bluntly, the first question is, Is Rome Christian?
If viewpoint of Heaven as revealed in prophecy is valid - and it
is - the answer is emphatically - No! What about
the voices of renewal heard in Catholicism today as noted by Packer? Do
they lead to a renouncement of the Papacy or to a greater devotion to
the Pope? One needs only to be reminded of the Papal acceptance of the
Charismatic (tongues speaking) movement in the Catholic Church because
those involved manifest a deeper devotion to Rome.
This working Accord between Evangelical Protestants and "evangelical" Roman Catholics moves toward the fulfillment of certain Adventist perceptions of the end time confrontation. There is an uniting upon such points of belief which are held in common. Packer lists these "common" beliefs. Observe them carefully - "the Trinity, the incarnation, the Atonement, and the historic Resurrection, present heavenly reign, and future personal return of Jesus Christ." (p. 163) Further the universal and increasing depravity of humanity, which horrifies even the ungodly, has become the motivating factor for common cause in an attempt to alter the downward course of society. This unity, based on common beliefs and goal, is perceived as God working - an "idea whose time has come." However, behind this Accord is a compromised "gospel." Herein is indeed the "great controversy" false "gospel" versus "the everlasting gospel." The community of Adventism is not exempt for the battle is joined even within the community itself.
p 5 -- The
UNCHANGED Position of ROME - CHURCH and STATE -- The
"Michael" Journal published in Roughening, Quebec, covered
Canada with 13 million copies of a 16 page offprint calling for the Prime
Minister of Canada to exercise his authority and reorganize the monetary
system of Canada. On pages 14 and 15 of this paper in bold type was this
caption - "Jesus Christ, King of all Nations." A subheading
indicated that this "kingship" was social and political. The
article is excerpted and translated from a book written in 1923 by a French
priest, Theotime de Saint Just -
The Social Kingship of Our
Lord Jesus Christ according to Cardinal Pie.
First a word about Cardinal Pie. He was Bishop of Poitiers,
and made a Cardinal by Leo XIII in 1879. Keep in mind that Leo XIII had
no love for the American form of government. To refresh your mind recheck
the chapter - "Americanism Versus Romanism" - in Facts
of Faith pp. 256-272.
Saint Just begins his book with direct quotes
from Cardinal Pie which stated: Jesus
Christ is the cornerstone of the structure of society. ... and in the
hearts of our contemporaries, of our officials, this pry found conviction
that they can do nothing to strengthen the homeland and its freedoms as
long as they do not establish it on the cornerstone given by God; Petra
autem erat Christus.
Then he questions -
"Our Lord Jesus came on
earth to sanctify souls. Did He come also to impose His will upon social
institutions, codes, parliaments, even monarchs, and thus become the supreme
King of nations and peoples?" To
his own question, he replies - "There
is no question of more paramount importance than that of the social Kingship
of Christ." Such a Kingship
would produce the true peace so longed for by the world. [Keep
in mind that this book was written in 1923, following World War I, and
the establishment of the League of Nations] To emphasize his
point, Saint Just quoted
from Pius Xl's Encyclical,
Ubi arcano Dei, which reads: Once
cities and republics follow the teachings and precepts of Jesus Christ
in their domestic and foreign affairs, then they will enjoy true peace.
... The peace worthy of its name, that is to say, the longed-for peace
of Christ, will never exist if Christ's doctrines, precepts, and examples
are not kept by all, in public and private life as well, and if
the Church, in such an ordered society, does not exercise her divine
role, protecting all the rights of God over individuals and nations.
This is what we call "the reign of Christ." (Emphasis
supplied; underscored, his)
Two more questions are asked -
"Is this social Kingship of Jesus being accepted by nations and peoples?
Is Christian law - the code of the social reign of our Lord - the rule
of conduct of human societies?"
In answer, Saint Just cites Bishop Pie's observation of the past when
for many beautiful centuries, the social Kingship of Christ had been recognized
by the family of European nations. Then he quoted Pie direct - "Christian
law had been for a thousand years the general law of Europe."
This is nothing short of calling for a return to the Dark Ages!
How is this to be
accomplished? Note the following carefully:
Saint Just declared: Now
we must speak about the supreme duty that is incumbent, not upon
the intellectually elite, but upon the leaders of nations. They must carry
out the program of the Christian government. According to Bishop Pie,
this program requires the civil power to remain united with the Church,
and make legislation in accordance with Christian principles.
The union of the Church
and the State is the primary condition for a Christian government
The perfect agreement between the priesthood and the empire is common
law and the normal state of Christian societies, says Bishop Pie,
along with the whole Catholic tradition, and he rejects energetically
all ideas of separation. (Emphasis supplied)
The example cited for union of Church and State is the
incarnation of Jesus Christ, the God-man. "Jesus Christ has indissolubly
united in Himself the natural and the supernatural order, and that He
has set a similar union for Christian society." The two natures were
kept distinct without merging, "similarly, Christian society is made
up of two elements: the Church, and the State, which must
remain distinct, and not merged, but united, not separated." Then
the conclusion is drawn - "that since the two natures of Christ
are unequal, and consequently, one nature is subordinated to the other
- the human nature to the divine one - [so] the two elements
of Christian society must also be subordinated: the State
must be subordinated to the Church."
Bishop Pie went so far as to declare those who would separate
State and Church as antichrist, and the dissolution of Jesus Christ Himself.
A version of I John 4:3 was quoted which read - And
every spirit that dissolves (disunites) Jesus Christ is not of God; and
this is the Antichrist." Thus the power which is indeed the Antichrist
turns the epithet on the form of government which reflects the separation
which Jesus enunciated - unto Caesar the things of Caesar,
and unto God, the things of God.
Calling the American system of government "eternally
illegitimate," Saint Just declared "the normal state and salvation
p 6 -- for governments can be found only in union
with the Church." And why? Once
fully realized, the union of the Church and the State would imply Christian
laws, since the State would then receive moral guidance from the Church,
and would strive to apply it.
In the light of this forthright declaration of the Roman
Catholic position, we can better understand the force of the phraseology
being used by those engaged in the defense of the ECT Accord when they
call for "a new understanding of the First Amendment religion clause"
of the American Constitution; when they use the words, "ordered liberty;"
and call "for the right ordering of civil society." (See
WWN, 4(95), p.4; 4(96), p.3) Rome is forthright when she feels
she has nothing to lose; deceptive when she believes she has much to gain.
Tragically, Evangelical and professedly Protestant voices are ignoring
the prophecies of God's word which unmasks the facade of Rome.
LET'S TALK IT OVER
-- Consider for a few moments what you have just read,
especially what Dr. J. I. Packer has written as he has endeavored to justify
his signing of the ECT Accord. Keep in mind who he is - Professor of Theology
at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. Review in your thinking
what he knows and what he said about Roman Catholicism. He has carefully
studied the thinking of Rome in the Vatican II Council, and as expressed
in their new Catechism, noting that even now they are defending
the disbursement of indulgences which was the spark which ignited the
Reformation. Yet with this knowledge, he believes he can work with them
on social issues, and remain unscathed. And what do "social"
issues mean to Rome? Rethink the second article. "Social issues"
means simply to Rome an "ordered society" in which the Church
dominates the State, so that the dogmas of Rome become the Constitution
of the nations. Does Packer not know this?
Packer thinks there are good Catholics, and there are
bad Catholics. This is true in most any category you wish to suggest.
He believes that he has signed this ECT Accord with "good" Catholics.
Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Word of God reveals the reality
of the matter. We need to remind ourselves that "except those who
are kept by the power of God through faith in His Word, the whole world
will be swept into the ranks" of the final deception of the devil.
(See Great Controversy, p.562)
Packer realizes, as all must, that the moral decay of
society has reached intolerable depths and that something must be done.
He perceives ECT as a possible working arrangment to accomplish a desired
goal. He sees a realignment of force from the time when "Western
Christendom's deepest division" was between Protestants and Roman
Catholics, and now, when in his words, "the deepest and most hurtful
division is between theological conservatives, who honor the Christ of
the Bible and the historic creeds and confessions, and theological liberals
and radicals who for whatever reason do not." (E&CT, pp.
171-172) Then after being unable to affirm that the Roman Church "in
its present confession is an acceptable Christian communion," Packer
can write -
This reveals the confusion of mind which can even effect
recognized religious thinkers. But Packer does have some doubts. In Christianity
Today, (May 30, 1996, p.15) is a full page advertisement for Peter
Kreeft's new book - Ecumenism and the Cultural War - in which he
calls for "all God-fearing Christians, Jews and Muslims to unite
together in a 'religious wa r' [a "Jihad"] against the common
enemy of godless secular humanism, materialism and immorality." The
advertisement uses brief comments from three names - all involved in the
essays of E&CT - J. I. Packer, Chuck Colson, and Richard Neuhaus.
Packer writes - "Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox alike need
to ponder Kreeft's vision of things." Then he adds a question - "What
if he is right?"
But what if Kreeft is wrong? Here is where "the sure
word of prophecy" enters the picture. The prophecies of God's Word
were effective weapons used by the Reformers. So effective were they,
that Rome responded with two schools of counter interpretations by the
Jesuits, Alcazar and Ribera. Antithetical to each other, they nevertheless
directed the fulfillment of the prophecies away from Rome. This same technique
was used in the paper reviewed in the second article of this issue. The
"Antichrist" is to be understood as one who opposes the union
of Church and State, instead of the Antichrist being the Papacy, which
is the union of Church and State.
The prophecy of Daniel 7 clearly identifies in history
who the "little horn" is. The Revelation of Jesus Christ tells
the reader specifically that the "dragon" symbol of the 12th
chapter is the devil. It is this "dragon" who gives the "beast"
of chapter 13, "his power, and his seat, and great authority."
(ver. 2) This beast is also "non-descript" as is the fourth
beast of Daniel 7 which nourishes to the end "the little horn."
The beast of Revelation 13 is a composite made up
of the symbols of Daniel 7 in exact sequence, only in reverse order.
p 7 - Its prophetic time parallels the "little
horn" of Daniel 7 - "forty two months" and the "time
and times and the dividing of time." Paul likewise identifies this
power in his second letter to the Thessalonians as "the man of sin,"
the "Wicked [One]" (2:3-9) The well known and respected Lexicon
by Thayer defines the force of the Greek word translated "the Wicked
[One]" as "he in whom all iniquity has fixed its abode."
To those who would have exercised faith in God's prophetic
Word, the decision to sign or not to sign the ECT Accord would have been
simple. Did Christ parley with the devil so as to work out the redemption
of the "kingdoms of the world"? Did not Christ plainly state
to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world"? (John 18:36) It
is true that "society" has hit an all-time low. The depravity
of man is manifest over all the earth. There is only one solution - not
the evangelization of the third millennium as is anticipated, but the
coming of Jesus to put an end to human history as it is now being written.
There is only one message that should be proclaimed, and that message
is the message of the final atonement being consummated both in the courts
of heaven, and "the everlasting gospel" which makes it possible
- "the redemption in Christ Jesus." The line has been drawn
by Heaven, and the nations of earth have been given over to Satan to work
his will, which he is doing "with all deceivableness of unrighteousness"
gathering them together for the battle of the great day of God Almighty
to a place called in the Hebrew tongue, "the mount of the congregation."
(Rev. 16:14, 16; Isa. 14:13)
Of Interest -- In an endeavor to circulate the booklet - The SIGN of the End of Time, the Remnant Seventh Day Adventist Church of Nora Springs, Iowa, ran a two column six inch advertisement in the Mason City Globe-Gazette offering it free to all who would write to their postal address. The ad was headed in bold type - "Jerusalem" and stated "The Pope's Plan for Jerusalem" quoting Daniel 11:45. Next they listed Lucifer's design and quoted Isaiah 14:13. The question was asked - "Will they support each other?"
Among the responses they received was a letter from the
Roman Catholic priest of the Forest City parish. He also sent a similar
letter to the "Editor's Mailbag" of the Globe-Gazette,
which included an additional paragraph chastising the editor for permitting
such an ad to be published. The letter to them read: I
was rather amazed at your ad in Friday's Globe-Gazette. I had hoped
we were beyond the days when the papacy and the Catholic Church were alleged
by some to be in league with Satan. I hope that you will read the enclosed
brochures; they might be helpful in explaining the scriptural basis for
the papacy and the Church's role in its formation and interpretation of
If you wish, you may
send me your booklet - my parishioners and I are always interested in
learning about various attacks on the Church.
They did, and included the tract - "Antichrist - Who Is He?" - although he might have written for it after receiving the booklet. The tracts which the priest sent - "Peter and the Papacy" and "What's Your Authority for That?" - based primarily on the Bible, need careful analysis. The latter is aimed directly at the Evangelicals in its closing challenge. This is interesting in the light of the ECT Accord. We hope to say more concerning this tract in another issue of WWN. ---(1996 Aug) ---End---TOP
-- XXIX -- 9(96) -- E
& C T -- Part
THE CATHOLIC DIFFERENCE -- EDITOR'S
This issue concludes the series of reviews of the essays
in the book - Evangel icals & Catholics Together. In our judgment
the two most important essays are the ones by Dr. J. I. Packer and John
Richard Neuhaus. We devoted two issues of WWN to Packer's and
this issue in its entirety to what Neuhaus wrote.
There are certain salient points made by Nuehaus which
dare not be overlooked. He views the ECT Accord as a part of the objective
of Rome for the coming millennium - a "springtime of Christian unity."
He boldly outlines the Roman Catholic difference, and by difference he
does not only mean contrast with the position of the Evangelicals, but
also why the Roman position is superior and should be the ultimate one.
To justify this difference, he alludes to Scripture, not always accurately
but often with telling effect. We have not been able, because of space
limitations, to discuss in each instance his use of Scripture to justify
his position, but it should be evident what issues we will face in the
very near future and what we should be doing now to prepare for that confrontation
- studying the Bible carefully and thoroughly.
Let us not be naive. We shall not only face what Rome
is teaching but the combined forces which result from the hand clasp across
the gulf. We should not forget that in the first confrontation with the
Evangelicals, the Adventists lost. Perhaps it would be worth one's time
to review the SDA-Evangelical Conferences and really note what caused
the veritable rout on key doctrinal questions which were a part of basic
Adventism. We should also remember that the men were "historic"
Adventists who confronted the Evangelicals. Many of them but a few years
previous had been a part of the 1952 Bible Conference where "historic"
Adventism had been reaffirmed.
Inasmuch as we have devoted this full issue to the review of Neuhaus' essay, the article is long and involved. You will not get the full benefit intended by a one-time reading, and merely through a casual reading. You will have to do some serious thinking on the points raised and the answers projected by Neuhaus. "Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion." (Amos 6:1)
p 2 -- E &
C T - Part 7 -- The
final essay of the book, Evangelicals & Catholics Together,
was written by Richard John Neuhaus, a Lutheran minister turned Roman
Catholic, and who with Chuck Colson laid the groundwork for the Evangelical
and Catholic Accord. In his essay, Neuhaus attempts two things:
1) he addresses some of the criticisms which the
accord occasioned, and 2) gives
reasons to believe that at this time in human history, Christians have
a rendezvous with destiny. He titled his essay, "The Catholic Difference"
and chose a quote from John Paul II's book, Crossing the Threshold
of Hope -"Be not afraid!"- for his theme thought.
Neuhaus uses the term,
kairos, one word in the Greek for time, which suggests "an
opportune and decisive moment." He believes that God may be doing
something in anticipation of the coming Third Millennium. He perceives
of John Paul II as cognizant of this possibility as he looks forward to
the year 2000 as a "springtime of evangelism" and a "springtime
of Christian unity." He writes: "There
is a tremor of an intimation that something like a kairos may be
at hand." (p. 176)
As a part of this "tremor," Neuhaus
perceives the ECT Accord as making such an impact. He writes - "I
believe the declaration and the discussion it is generating will be a
continuing point of reference for many years to come."
Then he states his reason: The document "reflects
a historic reorientation in our understanding of the Christian mission
in and to the world."
After listing certain ideological political forces of this present century,
which he now considers to lie "in ashes," and the collapse of
"a secular Enlightenment," he writes: "It
is not too much to say, that as we enter the third millennium, the world
historical stage has been largely cleared to make room for the presentation
of the Christian understanding of the human drama, the Divine-human drama
that is the story of salvation. And it is not too much to believe that
it is this moment that God is bringing evangelicals and Catholics together
to present to the world its promised future in Jesus Christ." (p.
This should cause us to pause and sense the import of
this whole Evangelical and Catholic togetherness. It is a union across
the gulf that has long separated Romanism and Protestantism. But what
"gospel" and which "Christ" is to be presented to
the world? Neuhaus claims that "Christianity is today the champion
of universal truth." But again, the question must be asked not only
as Pilate asked it, "What is truth?" (John 18:38) - but as Jesus
answered it - "I am the way, the truth and the life." (John
14:6) As we continue to survey Neuhaus' essay, we shall see how he answered
it from the Catholic viewpoint.
From the Neuhaus viewpoint, the most important affirmation
of the Accord document is that "all who accept Christ as Lord and
Saviour are brothers and sisters in Christ. Evangelicals and Catholics
are brothers and sisters in Christ. We have not chosen one another, just
as we have not chosen Christ. He has chosen us, and He has chosen us to
be his together." Here again is a deceptive facet, and brings to
mind the original manuscript written by Wieland and Short in 1950. Two
chapters were devoted to "The True Christ vs. the False Christ."
In their revised edition of 1987, this was largely omitted or toned down
- and tragically at a time when the church and the religious world were
moving to what we see today. It depends on which Christ we proclaim as
Lord as to whether we are "brothers and sisters in Christ" be
it in the Church, or as a part of an independent ministry, or in fellowship
with a group outside of the Community of Adventism. There is but one true
Christ though there be many false christs.
This is equally true in regard to the gospel. There is
but one gospel and that gospel is "the everlasting gospel."
Tragically within Adventism today, there is being proclaimed by "the
many voices" a false gospel which purports to be the true gospel,
but verily a gospel that Paul would not recognize.
It is over this "most important affirmation of ECT"
that Neuhaus perceives a skepticism from both the left and the right.
He sees the "liberal" Christians as viewing the document as
a "sociopolitical compact" between Christian conservatives with
the theological affirmations as so much veneer. The Evangelicals on the
right who oppose this document do so because they believe that naive members
of their group have been taken in by the Roman Catholics. Neuhaus freely
admits that there has been very little theological criticism from the
Roman Catholic side. This in itself should be a cause for concern. Neuhaus
dimisses this concern by saying that Catholics "are accustomed to
ecumenical engagements" and that such engagements hold no fears.
He says that any talk about "ecclesial reconciliation" is premature.
That would be fifty or one hundred years down the road if time should
last. What then is the significance of this accord? He writes: "As
for our historical moment, it is enough that, after four centuries of
suspicion and hostility, we have found one another; it is enough that
we are able to address our differences with candor and clarity; it is
enough that we are learning to engage one another in mutual respect for
the institutions, traditions, and patterns of discipleship that have developed
over the years of our separation ... It is more than enough. It is something
like a kairos. (p. 180)
p 3 -- What if in the encounter of the wilderness,
Jesus had entered into an "ecumenical engagement" with Satan
and concluded that after all the centuries of separation, they had found
themselves and that they could work together for the good of the kingdoms
of this world. What a kairos
that would have been! The situation is no different in this encounter.
Paul states without equivocation that the machinations of "the man
of sin," "that Wicked one," are "after
the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders."
(II Thess. 2:9) There is no fellowship of righteousness with unrighteousness;
no communion of light with darkness; no concord between Christ and Satan.
(II Cor. 6:14-15) The moment such a dialogue would begin; that moment
there is the admission that there is some light in darkness; some righteousness
in unrighteousness. Only the conviction that we have a truth that admits
of no compromise, and hold to that conviction are we safe. However, we
must be sure we have that truth. Elijah was sure - why continue to vacillate
between two opinions? Jesus was sure - I am the way, the truth and the
It is at this very point that Neuhaus begins his defense
against the criticisms leveled against the Accord. He thought, so he states,
that the assertion in the Accord was "quite uncontroversial"
which read - "There are different ways of being Christian ... that
we are all to be one does not mean that we are all to be identical in
our way of following the one Christ." He indicated that certain evangelicals
objected that "there is only one right way of being a Christian and
that is the way revealed in the Bible." He said - "True enough."
but - and confused the diversity of gifts through the Spirit as evidencing
diversity of ways for becoming a Christian. While there are "diversity
of gifts" there is only one Spirit of truth, and while there are
"differences of administration," there is only one Lord - who
is the way, the truth and the life. (See I Cor. 12:4-5) We dare not confuse
the one gate and narrow way with the graciousness of God in giving us
manifold gifts as we walk in that way.
Neuhaus at this point begins a very subtle line of argument
to emphasize "The Catholic Difference." He emphasizes the term,
suggests that Roman Catholics are not the only ones who claim the term
"for all Christians who confess the great creed of Nicea affirm their
faith in the 'one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.'" Then he
emphasizes that the term, evangelical,
is a general term with no "copyright" attached. It is a term
which refers to the "good news" of the gospel embraced by all
Christians "although they do not always articulate that gospel in
the same way." (p. 181) In other words, the difference is between
the emphasis on Church (catholic) as community, and the emphasis on the
giving the "good news" (evangelical). To Neuhaus, the Accord
is simply saying that those formulating it found themselves to be both
catholic and evangelical thus they could be together.
While the question returns to the basic issue of what
is the true gospel, and there is only one, there is also another factor
which we need to recall. It is the injection of the Nicene Creed into
the presentation. The Faith and Order Commission of the World Council
of Churches has adopted the Constantinopolitan-Nicene version of this
creed as the basis of their objective to bring about visible unity within
the Christian community. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in its 1980
Dallas Statement of Beliefs incorporated the same version into its beliefs.
Neuhaus uses several pages of his essay in discussing
the meaning of "evangelical," and "Evangelical" in
contrast to "catholic,." and "Catholic." It is true
that evangelicals have no super church structure, but operate as individual
"spiritual entrepreneurs" each with his following. This seems
to disturb Neuhaus because he writes - "If in the
years ahead evangelicals develop a more communal and ecclesial understanding
of what it means to be a Christian, evangelicals and Catholics may come
closer together in appreciating the different ways of being Christian."
(p. 182) He see the evangelicals who are opposed
to ECT as people who are against Roman Catholicism, as well as against
mainline liberal Protestantism, but who if they perceived the necessity
as he perceives it, of having an "ecclesial" structure to be
a Christian, then there could be a closer "togetherness between Catholics
and all Evangelicals. He looks forward to this possibility and writes: As
we look to the possible reconfigurations of the entire Christian movement
in the twenty-first century - configurations that will also involve developments
in the Catholic Church - the Spirit may lead us to discover ways of being
together and acting together in a manner that comprehends differences
that are now thought to be dividing. That at least is the hope held out
by ECT. (ibid.)
Neuhaus wants "evangelicals" to be "Evangelicals,"
to be "a distinctive ecclesial community," because he perceives
that "serious engagement with different ways of being Christian requires
a measure of what might be described as ecclesial confidence." Behind
this whole attempt at "togetherness" is the concept of "unity
in diversity" but with "independent" identities involved,
how do you achieve a unity that is not so diversified that Rome finds
it impossible to accomplish its objectives.
With this background of thinking, Neuhaus enters into
"the Catholic difference." The Roman Church makes distinctions
among the various groups in which it is in ecumenical dialogue. Vatican
II distinguishes between "churches and ecclesial communities."
The churches of the East which composes the Orthodox Church are fully
churches. "The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes the
statement of Pope Paul VI that the communion with the Orthodox Church
is so profound 'that it lacks little
p 4 -- to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist.'" However, with other ecolesial communities and Christian groupings, the situation is different, sometimes dramatically different, from the Roman viewpoint. Neuhaus gives a spectrum of five stages of a group's progress toward Rome - hostility to coexistence to cooperation to sharing to full communion. He perceives ECT as having past hostility, coexistence to cooperation and entering into the "sharing phase" - "those sacred activities that spring from the heart of being Christians together" such as "evangelization, prayer, Scriptural study, and correction and edification in the gospel." (p. 186)
This whole picture should alert us as to the steps which
Rome is now taking to achieve its goal of the universal dominion she once
held. It should also alert us to the significance of the various ecumenical
moves which have been taken by the hierarchy of the Adventist Church in
the last few decades as well as help us to evaluate present activities.
It may not be direct contact with Rome but all ecumenical dialogue serves
but one purpose and that is unity, and the direction of that unity is
Romeward. There is but one acceptable unity, and that is unity in the
truth as it is in Jesus Christ.
Neuhaus indicates that even though the ECT Accord brings
evangelicals and Catholics to a position approaching the fourth stage,
it is still "a long way from what the Catholic Church declares to
be the goal of the search for greater Christian unity which is full communion."
(p.187) He indicates that this full communion may never be reached between
evangelicals and Catholics short of the final kingdom of God. The Vatican
II Council declared that "this holy objective - the reconciliation
of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ -
transcends human powers and gifts." The Council , therefore, stated
that they are awaiting a manifestation of "the power of the Holy
Spirit" to bring about this objective. Here is stated tho objective,
and a recognition of how they perceive that goal will ultimately be achieved.
While it will be termed "the working of the Holy Spirit" the
Bible declares it will be "the spirits of devils working miracles."
Neuhaus next proceeds to a discussion of what constitutes
the "Church." Is the true Church visible or invisible:
perfect or imperfect? On this latter question. Neuhaus uses Luther's phrase
simul justus et peccator
("at the same time righteous and a sinner") - which
Luther applied to the individual Christian, to describe the Church. He
borrowed another expression to deline the Church - "Chaste
Whore." In a warped application of an event at the Cross, Neuhaus
the cross, the dying Lord entrusts Mary to John, but note the startling
absence of Peter from this scene. In the New Testament, Peter represents
the institutional Church par excellence. Peter is, in Catholic teaching,
the rock on whom Jesus would build his Church, and he reflects at the
same time the cowardice and denial there is, until the end of time, an
inextricable aspect of Christ's body, the Church." (p. 190)
Neuhaus draws another line between the Church, and the
members of that Church. While admitting that one can use the expression
- "a sinful Church" - he noted that Vatican II carefully
avoided the expression because "sin does not implicate the Church
in its formal constituents (apostolic faith, sacraments, and ministry)"
but rather only the members, both clerical and laity.
"The concern here is to
acknowledge fully the sinfulness of the members of the Church, while taking
with full seriousness the truth that the Church is the body of Christ
who is like us in all respects except sin." (p. 191)
This lays the groundwork for the first question
- Is the Church visible or invisible? While admitting to the fact
that there is a Church invisible, Neuhaus declares - "The Church
is conceived and constituted Christologically" - and then quotes
Ignatius of Antioch - "Where there is Jesus Christ, there is
the Catholic Church." Ignatius meant "universal" not Roman
Catholic, and the converse is not true - that where the Roman
Catholic Church is, there is Jesus Christ. However, Neuhaus is trying
to make a point in regard to "the Catholic difference." This
should be fully understood. He wrote concerning Ignatius' observation: Twenty
centuries later, Vatican Council II elaborates that insight by affirming
that in local churches ' the faithful are gathered together through the
preaching of the Gospel of Christ [?], and [where] the mystery of the
Lord's Supper is celebrated .... In these communities, though they
may often be small and poor, or existing in the diaspora, Christ is present,
through whose power and influence the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
Church is constituted.' The local church is understood, first of all,
as the priests and the faithful gathered around their apostolically ordained
bishop in a particular place. Thus each diocese is a local or particular
church that is fully and rightly ordered by virtue of its communion with
another particular church, the church of Rome, which, in the words of
Saint Ignatius, ' presides in charity' over the entire Christian people."
As a point of passing observation, one would need to change
only a few words in the above paragraph and it would also describe another
hierarchical structure with which many of us are painfully familiar.
Neuhaus next passes to a discussion of "The Church: High and Low." He observes that Protestants have a low doctrine of the Church while Catholics hold a high doctrine of the same. The Protestant position was due to
p 5 -- a Reformation protest against the ecclesiastical
claims of Rome to authority and jurisdiction. Neuhaus declares that the
Catholic position prior to Vatican II - that there was no
salvation outside the Church - was responsible for this position.
However, he insists that since Vatican II there has been a change. In
support of this assertion, he quotes the Council document,
Lumen Gentium, "The sole Church of Christ is that which
our Savior, after His resurrection entrusted to Peter's pastoral care,
commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it ...
This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world,
subsists in (subsisti in)
the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by
the bishops in communion with him."
To the average reader, this does not reflect a change
but rather is saying the same thing over again in different language.
Neuhaus maintains that "scholars highlight the fact that the council
very deliberately said subsisti
in and not est.
That is, the Council did not say that the sole Church of Christ
is the [Roman] Catholic Church." Then the "double talk"
begins. "If one wants to know where the Church of Christ is, the
answer is that it is here, it subsists here, in the [Roman] Catholic Church."
Then Neuhaus quotes the
Catechism, and this is interesting in what it says. As
you read, analyze it carefully: Furthermore,
many elements of sanctification and of the truth are found outside the
visible confines of the Catholic Church: the written Word
of God, the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with other interior
gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements. Christ's Spirit
uses these churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose
power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted
to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead
to Him, and are in themselves calls to Catholic unity.(p. 195)
This is astounding. There is still no salvation outside
of the Catholic Church because what "salvation" is to be found
outside, is derived from and through the Roman Catholic Church. Neuhaus
calls this "a God-given gravitation" towards unity with Rome.
He says the "pull" works both ways. Not only have Protestants
returned to Rome - he himself is a prime example - but Catholics are drawn
into unity with other Christians "precisely because of their communion
with the Catholic Church, for it is here that they learned to recognize
as brothers and sisters those who are 'truly but imperfectly' in communion
with the one Christ and the one Church." In this conclusion, we see
the justification for ECT. (p. 196) How the Evangelicals who signed the
Accord, and/or wrote Essays for this book can continue their names on
the document is mystifying in the light of this forthright position stated
by Neuhaus, and are they deceived and thus blinded?
This opens some other questions: Can
I be in fellowship with other hierarchical systems structured as Rome
is structured, and not find an affinity with Rome which could ultimately
lead me into communion with Rome? Did not Dr. P. T. Magan
warn the delegates at the 1903 General Conference as they were about to
vote the new Constitution that any one familiar with church history could
come to "no other conclusion but that the principles which are to
be brought in through this proposed constitution, and in the way in which
they are brought in, are the same principles, and introduced in precisely
the same way, as they were hundreds of years ago when
Returning to an analysis of Neuhaus' essay, he becomes
at this point very explicit concerning the position and claim of Rome.
He writes: "The Catholic claim is that the Catholic Church
is the fully and rightly ordered expression of Christ's Church through
time." The chief reason he gives for this assertion is that of the
"Petrine ministry" as perceived by Rome. He admits - "Of
course the line of historical development from Petrine ministry to papal
primacy is not undisputed. But why is it to be recognized? Because "Catholic
doctrine recognizes that development as an instance of the Holy Spirit
continuing to guide the Church into the fullness of truth." (p. 19)
What can be said in answer to this reasoning for sooner
than many realize, we shall have to give an answer. Peter did preside
at the first business meeting of the Apostolic Church after the ascension
of Jesus. (Acts 1:15) It is of interest to note his "style"
as "chairman" - his appeal to the Scriptures, and the
decision made by the group. (vers. 16,23) Peter was the chief
spokesman on the Day of Pentecost (Acts. 2:14). However, he did not preside
at the first General Session of the Church. He had been superseded by
James. We have not perceived the whyfore because of our lack of in-depth
study: but the contrast of "style" can be distinctly
observed. (Acts 15:19) It might be more accurate if Rome claimed
a succession from James.
Following his claim for a "Petrine ministry,"
Neuhaus begins some more double talk. He says that ECT repeatedly insists
"that the only unity we can rightly seek is unity in the truth."
He recognizes that if such searching were done, there would be some risks
entailed. Somebody may have to change. He even goes so far as to write
p 6 -- the risk is welcomed if our deepest devotion
is indeed to truth and not merely to our present views of church affiliation."
Who can argue with that! Then he illustrates. He suggests that a Protestant
who comes to believe that the Catholic Church is "in fact the most
fully and rightly ordered expression of Christ's Church through time"
but who "may believe [that] the Catholic Church is wrong about a
number of teachings" does not believe that the Catholic Church "is
what she claims to be" when she claims to be "the authoritative
teacher of Christian truth." He is saying simply that certain things
taught by the Roman Church are actually not Biblical, but the Church guided
by the Spirit-indited "magesterium" is a continuing source of
truth. This line of reasoning and position is not foreign in Adventist
thinking. We need to ask ourselves whether we are following the Roman
position adapted to Adventist nomenclature, or are we truly Protestant
- "The Word of God alone is truth, and the basis of all truth."
Further, we need to recognize the continuing guidance of the Spirit into
all truth but in that guidance we need to see to it that it is not self
contradictory. We dare not reject advancing truth nor deny existing truth.
In the coming confrontation we will need to know what truth is in contrast
to tradition and fable.
Neuhaus approaches this question again from another angle
with telling force. He states that most evangelicals have "a high
Christology, having accepted the decisions of the great councils of the
fourth and fifth century as to the true interpretation of Scripture."Then
he comes in for "the kill"! He writes: " Implicit
in that acceptance is a trust in the Spirit's guidance of the Church,
not only in recognizing and defining orthodox Christology but also in
recognizing and defining the Scriptures to which orthodox teaching appeals.
With respect to the Bible, Christology, and much else, decisions were
made at a determinate time in a determinate place by a determinate community
that then called itself and today calls itself the Catholic Church."
Dare I write into my theology the positions of the Councils
- Nicea and others? Should I not rather know what the New Testament
writers, indited by the Holy Spirit, taught, and what that revelation
actually reveals in regard to truth? A deeper study of that Word will
bring forth advancing truth that can be trusted for the Word is verily
the Holy Spirit's "take off" point.
Neuhaus next turns his attention to the "Article"
upon which the Church stands or falls. He claims that the distracters
of ECT claim that a discussion of the doctrine of "Church" (ecclesiology)
is empty unless agreement is secured on the issues of "justification
by faith alone," because this is declared to be the basic true "gospel."
Then he adopted the approach that Paul used before the Jewish Council
(Acts 23:6-7), stating that certain sections of evangelicals were closer
to Roman Catholic perceptions of justification and sanctification than
were some of the evangelical distracters of ECT. However, since these
antagonists to ECT "have a strong and well-earned influence"
among those who do not hold to the "Lutheran or Calvinist" traditions,
in other words, those who are closer to Roman perceptions, he directs
his answer to the antagonists. He calls into perspective his own religious
experience which was "powerfully" influenced by the formula
- "justification by grace alone, through faith alone, because
of Christ alone." Then he writes - "The truth of
the gospel that the formula was intended to protect is, I am convinced,
entirely compatible ... with the authentic teaching of the
Catholic Church." He claims that the formula is a theological construct
of the sixteenth century that is not found in the Bible, and is absent
from the theological debates of the Reformation. He said that, because
of these "facts," the ECT Accord affirmed that which is "undisputed
The Community of Adventism is not exempt from this controversy.
Those who seek to attack this formula which is Biblically based, in spite
of Neuhaus' assertion, do so under the guise of an attack on Calvinistic
teachings. It should be kept in mind that to accept the Biblical revelation
of the doctrine of justification does not mean that one accepts the Calvinistic
corollary that "once saved always saved," or that such a deduction
is warranted. Too often, we simply do not rightly divide the Word of Truth,
or to phrase it another way, we throw the baby out with the bath water.
Let us restate the issue clearly. The position of the Roman Church is expressed in the Council of Trent - Vatican II did not annull it - that those who believe in justification by faith alone are anathema. This on the other hand is the Reformation position based on the declaration of Paul, who claimed to have been given this gospel by Jesus Christ. The question is simply - Is there a middle ground between Rome and Paul? There are those calling themselves "historic" Adventists who by their teachings declare there is. Thus we face a crisis as to what constitutes the "everlasting gospel" of the Three Angels's Messages and the fact that the message of 1888 was declared to be the Third Angel's message in verity.
The new Catechism of the Catholic Church was introduced
into the controversy by an article appearing in Christianity Today
(Dec. 12, 1994). In summary, Neuhaus replied: The
Catechism of the Catholic Church,s then, does not reject the distinctive
Reformation formula that justification is by grace alone through faith
alone because of Christ alone. Neither does it affirm it. It does affirm
its continuity with the Council of Trent, which condemned the formula
in the sense that it understood the
p 7 -- formula
at that time. (p. 204)
This is a poor attempt to explain the critical conclusion
drawn on this point in the CURE document which Packer and Horton had released.
(See WWN XXIX - 8(96), p. 2, col. 1; art. "E&CT-
6b") It is just plain double talk, because Neuhaus admits that the
Catechism affirms its continuity with the Council of Trent. On
the Gospel, Romanism has not given a single centimeter, nor will it.
Neuhaus seeks to explain what the Catechism would
have stated had it addressed the issue: Were
the Catechism to address directly the justification formula, it
would have had to make clear that grace is not alone but confirms human
freedom, that living faith is not alone but issues in a life of obedience,
that Christ is not alone but always to be found in the company of his
These three assertions in regard to the Reformation formula
if discussed would require a separate article. However, it is the last
part - Christ is always "in company with his Church"
- which Neuhaus emphasizes as he concludes his perception of "the
Roman Catholic difference." Note carefully his conclusions: The
Catholic cannot agree with ' the decision of the committed Christian with
respect to his communal allegiance ' if that decision means living in
permanent separation from the community in which the Church of Jesus Christ,
fully and rightly ordered, subsists ....
In Catholic teaching,
every element of Christian faith and life gravitates toward Christian
unity in communion with the Petrine ministry instituted by Jesus and continued
in the ministry of the bishop of Rome. (p. 214)
In simple language, the whole objective is back to Rome
and the Papacy. In a continuing section of his essay. Neuhaus becomes
emphatic on this point. He wrote: In
accord with the entirety of orthodox Christianity, from the first century
to this very day, Catholics are convinced that the Church is an integral
part of the truth intended for us by God. Permit me to put it more sharply,
for this is the heart of ' the Catholic difference' : For
the Catholic, faith in Christ and faith in the Church are one act of faith.
This is not just a passing issue in the dialogue between
Evangelicals and Catholics, this issue enters the community of Adventism.
Loyalty and relationship to the Church is at the heart of the present
conflict which has divided the Adventist Community. Do we continue loyalty
to the Church even though it alters the truth committed to its trust,
thus separating ourselves from Christ who is the truth; or do we follow
Him who is the truth and separate ourselves from the Church. To what and
to whom must our supreme loyalty be? To one segment of the Adventist Community
today comes the searching question - can I be loyal to the
message of righteousness by faith alone, and at the same time be loyal
to an organization which rejects the truth committed to its trust? Or
will I accept "the Roman Catholic difference" that Christ and
the Church are one.
What Christ intended the Church to be, and what the Church
is, are two different things. This is just what the Jewish Christian discovered
when he accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. The God of Abraham,
and the Jewish Church were not one. What then was he to do?
While this article will conclude the specific review of the Essays found in Evangelicals & Catholics Together, it will not be the last time that we will touch base with these presentations. There is much enlightenment in the issues raised here as to what we shall face a few years hence when the final confrontation between the religion of the Bible - the Gospel - comes head-on with the religion of fable and tradition. ---(1996 Sep) ---End----