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WWN 1995 Jan - Mar


1995 Jan -- XXVIII -- 1(95) -- ROME'S VISION FOR CHURCH UNITY -- WILL THE WCC WORK THE MIRACLE BEFORE IT? -- The focus of the Adventist Community at the time of the Seventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1991 at Canberra, Australia, was centered on the daring act of some young dissidents in releasing a banner before the assembly which read - "Seventh-day Adventists believe ... THIS PROPHESIED ROMEWARD UNITY IS THE SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST!" There can be no question that the Spirit of the Lord directed the timing of this bold act because "at the very moment" that the young men released their banner, "the closer links between the WCC and Roman Catholic Church were being discussed." (The (Australian) Record, March 23, 1991, p. 10) This act tended to overshadow a consideration of the basics involved in the links between Rome and the WCC; however, it is not too late to do so, and it needs to be done.

"When you're on to a good thing stick to it." This was declared to be "the current and continuing philosophy colouring the relationship of the Roman Catholic Church to the World Council of Churches," in the lead article of The Catholic Leader for February 24, 1991. The article was captioned - "WCC and Church: Rome's Vision of the Future." This emphasis - Rome's Vision for the Future - dare not be overlooked. The artide was based on questions and answers given at a news conference which involved Archbishop Edward Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. (Cassidy was also the leader of the Vatican's observer group at the Seventh Assembly of the WCC)

What is Rome's "vision" and how are they using the WCC to achieve this vision? Cassidy emphasized the fact that the Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC by stating, "We are not members and have never been members of the WCC," and he "didn't foresee any likelihood of a change of the current observer status for the Roman Catholic Church at the WCC." [This is to all intents and purposes the same language used by the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in describing their church's relationship to the WCC] Cassidy very frankly stated

p 2 -- that       "from Rome's point of view, the WCC was rather long on social and political issues and short on theology and doctrine."        However, he described the links between the two groups as       "close and constant,"       "a very special one, unique in its form."       While there is a Joint Working Group between the WCC and the RC Church, Cassidy indicated that the Faith and Order Commission      "was of particular interest to the Roman Catholic Church as it dealt with matters of doctrine, questions of faith and order, 'and those other questions in which we are primarily concerned in our relationships with the WCC."'        At the present the Roman Catholic Church is represented on the Faith and Order Commission by 12 theologians. It is through this commission that the Roman Church is seeking to realize its "vision."

The Faith and Order Commission of the WCC and the Roman Church have the same goal - "full visible unity." In a message to the Seventh Assembly of the WCC in Canberra, Pope John Paul II declared:      "The present tragic situation of our troubled world confirms once again humanity's need for reconciliation, its need for an ever more authentic witness of the biblical (sic) message of peace, justice and the integrity of Creation. But the sad fact is that our testimony to these values is less convincing to the degree that the world continues to be confronted by our divisions. Herein lies the urgency of the ecumenical task." (Our emphasis)

[This excerpt from the papal message was placed in a special emphasized "box" in the midst of the article outlining "Rome's vision of the future" appearing in The Catholic Leader cited above]

The Faith and Order Commission is charged by the World Council       "to keep always before them their accepted obligation to work towards manifesting more visibly God's gift of Church unity."       In fact the Commission's By-Laws declare their stated aim to be       "to call the churches to the goal of visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship, expressed in worship and common life in Christ, in order that the world might believe." (Faith and Order Paper, #111, pp vii-viii.)

The first major step toward this goal came in 1982 at Lima, Peru, with the adoption of the statement on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM). It has been heralded as        "an ecumenical event of unprecedented proportions."      Inasmuch as       "virtually all the confessional traditions are included in the Commission's membership,"       "it is unprecedented in the modern ecumenical movement"        that       "theologians of such widely different traditions should be able to speak so harmoniously about baptism, eucharist and ministry"       as was done in this statement. (ibid. p ix)

One of the issues which arose during the Seventh Assembly of the WCC involved the celebration of the eucharist. The observers of the Roman Church were banned from partaking of the shared
eucharist as celebrated at the session even though, from the released reports, the Lima liturgy was used. In the press conference, Cassidy was asked why in view of the Pope's message to the Assembly, the Vatican didn't       "okay a 'concession' by officially allowing other Christians to receive the eucharist at celebrations under Roman Catholic auspices, and vice versa." (EPS 91.02.74)        Cassidy's response should be carefully noted.   He judged       "that sharing the eucharist is the 'ultimate sign and seal' of church unity, and thus a step with many and major doctrinal implications." (ibid.)

To assess the import of this judgment, we must note what BEM said in regard to the eucharist. The statement is divided into three sections:    I.    The Institution of the Eucharist,    II.     The Meaning of the Eucharist, and     III.    The Celebration of the Eucharist. Section II contains thirty three paragraphs plus commentaries on several of the paragraphs.

Paragraph 8 reads in part -       "The eucharist is the sacrament of the unique sacrifice of Christ ... What it was God's will to accomplish in the incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, God does not repeat. These events are unique and can neither be repeated nor prolonged. In the memorial of the eucharist, however, the Church offers its intercession in communion with Christ, our great High Priest." (emphasis supplied)

The comment on this declaration reads:       "It is in the light of the significance of the eucharist as intercession that references to the eucharist in Catholic theology as 'propitiatory sacrifice' may be understood. The understanding is that there is only one expiation, that of the unique sacrifice of the cross, made actual in the eucharist and presented before the Father in the intercession of Christ and of the Church for all humanity."

Drawing still closer to Roman teaching, paragraph

p 3 -- 13 reads in part:        "The eucharistic meal is the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, the sacrament of his real presence. ... Jesus said over the bread and the wine of the eucharist: 'This is my body ... this is my blood ...' What Christ declared is true, and this truth is fulfilled every time the eucharist is celebrated. The Church confesses Christ's real, living and active presence in the eucharist."

The explanation of how this is true is given in the next paragraph of the document. It reads:     "The Spirit makes the crucified and risen Christ really present to us in the eucharistic meal, fulfilling the words of institution. The presence of Christ is clearly the centre of the eucharist, and the promise contained in the words of the institution is therefore fundamental to the celebration. Yet it is the Father who is the primary origin and the final fulfillment of the eucharistic event. The incarnate Son of God by and in whom it is accomplished is its living centre. The Holy Spirit is the immeasurable strength of love which makes it possible and continues to make it effective. The bond between the eucharist and the mystery of the Triune God reveals the role of the Holy Spirit as the One who makes the historical words of Jesus present and alive."

It should be observed that in this statement the whole of the eucharistic question is tied to the foundational doctrine of Catholicism - the Trinty. Having gone so far as to embrace the Roman concept of the eucharist - the very presence of Christ in the bread and wine, why the ban of the Roman Catholic observers at the Seventh Assembly?

It needs to be noted that the Lima text received unanimous approval for transmission to the various churches for critique. For the first time in the history of the ecumenical movement, the Roman Catholic Church responded officially to the document. A 40-page text was prepared by the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. According to Faith and Order Director Gunther Gassmann, the response included "affirmation of large sections of the BEM text."( EPS 87.07.32) Not having access to this 40-page text, we can only judge by the Ecumenical Press release which indicated that the major objection of Rome was in the section on "Ministry." Rome expressed its conviction that       "ordained ministry requires sacramental ordination by a bishop standing in the apostolic succession." (ibid.)        It is only such a ministry who can celebrate the eucharist. In other words, "the Petrine role of the Bishop of Rome," along with the assumed creative power of the priests, is at issue.

In section III - The Celebration of the Eucharist - the document reads:       "As the eucharist celebrates the resurrection of Christ, it is appropriate that it should take place at least every Sunday. As it is the new sacramental meal of the people of God, every Christian should be encouraged to receive communion frequently." (p. 16; emphasis supplied)

We noted above that Cassidy perceived of the celebration of the eucharist as the "ultimate sign and seal" of church unity. How does Rome relate the eucharist and unity? In an expanded edition (1991) of a Handbook for Today's Catholic, "the Last Supper" is defined according to Vatican II as       "a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us." It is further declared that "this mystery is the very center and culmination of Christian life. It is the 'source and summit of all preaching of the Gospel ... the center of the assembly of the faithful."' (p. 34)

In another section of this Handbook, the reader is told how to receive communion. (p. 42) It is so simple; you just say "Amen," when receiving the wafer, and "Amen" as an "Act of Faith," when the priest "raises the eucharistic bread or wine." But what does the "Amen" say? "In this way you profess your belief in the presence of Christ in the eucharistic bread and wine as well as in his Body, the Church." In other words, you are in "unity" with Rome!

THE NEXT STEP -- While BEM was considered "as a search for a new way to approach sacramental questions that divide churches, so as to promote unity, a second Faith and Order Study is seeking to discover whether Christians today can confess their faith together ecumenically."   However, the Commission is not drawing up a new Statement of Faith, but          "rather, it asks whether churches today can ' witness to, confess, live out and celebrate in common ... the same apostolic faith that was expressed in Holy Scriptures and summarized in the creeds of the early church."' (One World, Jan-Feb., 1988, p. 15) The emphasis is not on

p 4 -- the Scriptures but on the creeds. The Creed chosen is the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of A.D. 381. This Creed defined Rome's teaching on the Godhead which is the central doctrine of that Church. In the Handbook noted above, the following statement is found:        "The mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of Catholic Faith. Upon it is based all the other teachings of the Church. In the New Testament there is frequent mention of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit ...

"The Church studied this mystery with great care and, after four centuries of clarification, decided to state the doctrine in this way: in the unity of the Godhead there are three Persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - truly distinct one from another. Thus in the words of the Athanasian Creed" The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three gods but one God." (pp. 11- 12)

We may respond, what's wrong with this? I believe in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit - "the heavenly Trio." Then I am ready to make the final affirmation of faith in the ecumenical movement. Or am I? So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true, that unless my mind is worked by the Holy Spirit, I will not be able to discern the difference. Instead of letting the Roman Church study the Bible for me and tell me what the doctrine of the Godhead should be, I need to study the Scriptures for myself, and know what is truth. Our problem is that there are contradicting voices today in the Community of Adventism, some expressing the Creed of A.D. 381, and there are other voices far a field in the other direction. Basically the Roman belief is One Substance in three manifestations; One God, yet, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The use being made of this doctrine in the ecumenical dialogue is most interesting. At the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order held in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in August, 1993, the self assigned task was to      "'re-vision the goal of visible unity' in terms of koinonia."       The Moderator of the Commission, Mary Tanner, an Anglican, called this       "the most promising theme of contemporary ecumenical theology."       An orthodox theologian, Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon, stated that      "the notion of the church as koinonia is rooted in the faith of God as trinitarian."       A report released by the Conference, defined koinonia as    "a gracious fellowship in Christ."       It       "depicted this shared life of Christians as rooted in the Triune God, who is the 'ultimate reality of relational life.' Consequently, 'unity in diversity are inseparable; both must be safeguarded within the structure of the church." (One World, Oct. 1993, p. 15)

It is at this point that "the vision of Rome" and the "re-vision of the Faith and Order Commission" meet.

Cassidy, in the news conference in Canberra at the time of the Seventh Assembly of the WCC said that any form of union would open up the whole area of very interesting ecumenical dialogue, "namely the diversity that one would look for in eventual unity of the Churches. I think that is something we have no doubt about in our ecumenical approach. We are not working towards uniformity among the Churches of the world. We are working towards the unity in faith and in communion...

"So I think we have no desire to make everyone look like a French or Australian Catholic, but to create a true unity of faith with a diversity of peoples and cultures according as the situation will develop." (The Catholic Leader, op. cit., p.3; emphasis theirs)

"Unity in faith" is exactly what the present thrust of the Faith and Order Commission is attempting. Faith and Order Paper #153 - Confessing the One Faith - is "An Ecumenical Explication of the Apostolic Faith as it is Confessed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (381)." In the preface, a Roman Catholic cleric, Jean-Marie Tillard OP, and Moderator of the Apostolic Faith Steering Committee of the Faith and Order Commission wrote:      "The coming together of all Christians in an authentic communion of faith, evangelical life and mission requires the common confession of the apostolic faith. As many of the responses to the Lima document on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry have shown, Christians cannot be truly united unless they recognize in each other the same apostolic faith, which is witnessed in word and in life. The document Confessing the One Faith is an instrument to draw the churches to a common understanding of this faith, which has to be confessed, especially in the celebration of baptism and eucharist, and proclaimed through the missionary work of all the Christian communities." (p. viii; last emphasis ours)

p 5 -- THE ADVENTIST CONNECTION -- In 1965, the first meeting between Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders and representatives of the World Council of Churches convened under the sponsorship of the two organizers, Dr. B. B. Beach of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and Dr. Lukas Vischer of the Faith and Order Secretariat. The annual meetings which followed were formalized "in the sense that the employing bodies of the SDA participants have authorized and financed their presence and the executive committees of the three [European] Adventist Divisions involved have given their blessing by facilitating the selection of the SDA representatives; the World Council of Churches has defrayed the expenses of its group. The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has been kept informed regarding the meetings, tbough it has taken no direct, active part in the Consultations except through its three European Divisional branch offices." (So Much in Common, p. 98)

As a result of these Consultations, a statement regarding the SDA Church was published in the January, 1967, issue of the Ecumenical Review. Based largely on the book, Questions on Doctrine, this essay was       "intended to serve as an introduction to the Seventh-day Adventist Church for any interested parties in the membership of the WCC." (ibid., p. 57)        The essay closed with an invitation for the Church to join the WCC and was so interpreted by the SDA leadership. In a series of three articles responding to the essay, the Associate Editor of the Review & Herald, Raymond F. Cottrell, addressed this invitation in the final article.

What is striking about Cottrell's response for not joining the WCC is that he used the same reason as given by Archbishop Cassidy in 1991 as to why the Roman Catholic Church does not join, namely that the WCC is long on social and political issues but short on theology. Then Cottrell suggested that the Faith and Order Commission invite an Adventist presense to speak for them in the Commission's deliberations. He wrote:      "It is with no small measure of regret that SDA's do not find it possible, as an organization, to be more closely associated with others who
profess the name of Christ. On the other hand, if the Secretariat on Faith and Order, for
instance, were to invite SDA's to appoint someone competent in that area to meet with
their group from time to time and represent the SDA point of view, we could accept such an invitation with a clear conscience." (R&H, April 6, 1967, p. 13)

The invitation was not long in coming. The Central Committee of the WCC appointed Dr. Earle Hilgert, then vice-president for Academic Administration at Andrews University as a member of the 120 member Commission on Faith and Order. The leadership of the Church endorsed this selection. Events moved so rapidly in 1967 that Dr. Hilgert was able to attend the triennial meeting of the Commission in Bristol, England, July 30 to August 8, 1967. Dr. Hilgert has since become an ordained Presbyterian minister and served on the staff of McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. His replacement on the Faith and Order Commission was Dr. Raoul Dederen, also from Andrews University.

This request to be a part of the Faith and Order Commission is difficult to understand. The very By-Laws of the Commission clearly state that the aim of the Commission is       "to proclaim the oneness of the Church of Jesus Christ and to call the churches to the goal of visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship, expressed in worship and common life in Christ, in order that the world might believe." (Faith & Order Paper, #111, p. viii)       To know this aim, and then request to be a part of this objective is to deny the very uniqueness of Adventism. Evidently, the leadership of the Church did not do its home work well; they did not read the fine print before signing on, or it was a deliberate move to take the Seventh-day Adventist Church into the Ecumenical mainstream.

With the appointment of Roman Catholic theologians to the Commission in 1968, the course was set. The first major step toward the realization of the Commission's stated aim came in 1982 in the transmission of the "Lima text" (BEM) to the churches,     "along with the request for their response as a vital step in the ecumenical process of reception."

It is over this text and its transmission that there has been deception practiced by two "independent" ministries in their vilification of the leadership of the regular Church. On the back cover of the "Lima text" is to be found the

p 6 -- following statement:       "Over one hundred theologians met in Lima, Peru, in January 1982, and recommended unanimously to transmit this agreed statement - the Lima text - for the common study and official response of the churches. They represented virtually all the major church traditions: Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Reformed, Methodist, United, Disciples, Baptists, Adventist and Pentecostal." (Emphasis supplied)

When Osborne and Trefz were in working tandem, they charged that the leadership of the Church officially approved of this "Lima text," and cited the above statement. Not only did they misconstrue the statement, but they failed to check the fact that the Seventh-day Adventist Church did respond to this BEM document, and what that response was. This is deception of the highest order and reflects back on the integrity of the men involved in such practice. Dr. Dederen himself informed me that he and another member of the Commission abstained from voting approval of the BEM document, but did join in the vote to transmit the text to the churches for response. This information was transmitted to Trefz, but no reply was received.

The response of the Church to the "Lima text" was through the General Conference's Council on
Inter-Church Relations. While noting this "text" as "unquestionably one of the World Council of
Churches' most significance publications to date," in each area - Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry -
the reply noted wherein there was agreement and wherein there was disagreement. On the
"Eucharist," the reply reads - "The Faith and Order Statement appears to make the liturgical
act the basis of redemption rather than the person's experience of repentance and forgiveness." It challenges the use of the phrase, "the presence of Christ" in the Lord's Supper asking does this mean, "present with" or "present in"? The "Conclusion" on the Ministry section states that "as it stands, it is too Catholic in intent, too influenced by the Orthodox, Anglican and Roman Catholic members of the Faith and Order Commission."

The Faith and Order Commission has not stopped with merely "the eucharistic fellowship" aspects of their stated goal, but has moved to how the churches can express their faith in common. For this purpose, another paper was prepared by the Commmission, # 153, "Confessing the One Faith." I wrote to the WCC Faith and Order Commisison asking if the Adventist Church had responded to this document, and if so, what was the response. In a letter dated 19 September 1994, Dr. Gunther Gassmann, Director of the Commission replied that the Adventist Church has not yet responded. It is to be recalled that the report in One World (Jan-Feb 1988), announcing the advanced step beyond the BEM document, stated that the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of A.D. 381 was "already officially recognized by many churches."(p.15) This is true, and includes the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is "the formula of one God existing in three co-equal Persons." (Early Christian Doctrines, p. 88) This is the formula adopted at the Dallas Session in 1980. Fundamental Statements of Belief, Number 2 - "The Trinity" - reads:    "There is one God: Father, Son, an Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons."      The leadership of the Church does not need to respond to the Faith and Order Paper #153 because it already confesses the Creed which is to be the basic confession of the "one faith."

The Consultations began officially in 1966 between representatives of the Adventist Church and representatives of the WCC. In 1967, the Adventist Church was represented on the Faith and Order Commission whose stated aim was "to call the churches to the goal of visible unity in one faith." In 1988, the Faith and Order Commission embarked on its objective to achieve this goal. The Adventist Church in General Conference session had anticipated this goal and voted it as a Fundamental Belief of the Church in 1980. Is this merely the outworking of apostasy, or does this constitute evidence of sinister workings in the Church structure?

The hour is late, and decisions must be made. It should be coming increasingly evident that certain major independent ministries do not have the answer, and are not really seeking to find the answer, yet they continue to "fleece the sheep." (See Eze. 34:1-10)

Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, word, koinonia. koinwnia, (koinwnoV), fellowship, association, community, joint participation, intercourse; in the N.T as in the class. Grk.

p 7 -- LET'S TALK IT OVER -- There is an interesting word found in three languages - the Hebrew, Greek, and English, and perhaps even in other modern languages - which is pivotal in one's relationship to the issue at stake in the ecumenical quest for "visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship. In the Hebrew it is 'amehn; in the Greek it is amen, and in the English, Amen.

That which is conceived by Rome as the "ultimate sign and seal" of church unity is realized by saying, "Amen." "In this way," they say, "you profess your belief in the presence of Christ in the eucharistic bread and wine as well as in his Body, the Church." However, there is another, "Amen." The root in the Hebrew, 'MN, involves truth, and expresses belief. It was said of Abraham, "He believed ('mn) in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness." (Gen. 15:6) Abraham said "Amen" to God.

In the final issue it will be simply, to whom and to what you say, "Amen." Will it be "the mystery of iniquity," or the "mystery of godliness"? Each claims to be a manifestation of Christ, one in a wafer, the other in the flesh. The Roman Church speaks of the Eucharist as "Jesus' paschal mystery." Paul writes of another "mystery" being "Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col. 1:27) If as claimed that the presence of Christ is in the consecrated wafer, then by partaking, is it not Christ in you? Are we transformed by a liturgical act or by the working of the Spirit of truth? Is it through showy ceremonies that a man is transformed, or by the still small Voice speaking to his heart?

Rome speaks of the Eucharist as a "bloodless" sacrifice which the priests offer continually but it cannot make the comers there unto perfect. There is only one sacrifice for sin by which men are perfected. Basic in this whole ecumenical thrust is the doctrine of righteousness by faith; is it by faith or by liturgy? The doctrine of the incarnation: did Christ come in the flesh, or did He come so far removed from man that He must now come in a wafer?

Step by step, we can be drawn toward Rome, and to him who abode not in the truth, or step by step, we can be drawn to the God of truth (Isa. 65:16; Heb. 'amehn) through Him who is the way, the truth and the life. It is so simple. Just say, "Amen." BUT say it to the right Person!

So Much in Common - a publication of "Documents of interest in the conversations between the World Council of Churches and the Seventh-day Adventist Church," co-authored by Dr. B. B. Beach and Dr Lukas Vischer of the Faith and Order Secretariat of the WCC. The Adventist Laymen's Foundation has exclusive rights to its publication and distribution. You may obtain a copy by contacting the Foundation.

Of Interest - The Assyrian Church and the Vatican are set to heal their 1500-year rift according to the Ecumenica1 News International. Separated in A.D. 431 in a theological dispute about the person of Christ, they now plan to restore "full communion" between themselves. The agreement does not call for "one church." Each church will keep its identity and faith, and maintain its own leadership, "but the faithful of each church would be able to receive communion from the other church's priests." The agreement signed on November 11 will not immediately restore "full communion" but will establish a theological committee "to remove impediments to communion." The Assyrian Church is a member of the World Council of Churches. (ENI 94-0117) Will the decisions reached in the removal of "impediments" serve as a pattern for unity on the celebration of the Eucharist by all? --- (1995 Jan) --- End --- TOP

1995 Feb -- XXVIII -- 2(95) -- AN EXPOSE OF A SATANIC HOAX -- Rene Noorbergen, retired Journalist, and for Adventists, the author of Ellen G. White, Prophet of Destiny, has released a new publication, The Fatima Factor in the Final Hours. It is "the Expose of a Satanic hoax; the Dragon of Revelation 12-13 in final attack!"

Noorbergen became      "increasingly interested in the claims and warnings that have been voiced by Pope John Paul II and other leading politicians in recent times."       These claims did not come as a total surprise to him:       "for while researching the material for this book [he] came across significant Bible prophecies indicating significant future moves in the fields of politics and religion that place the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church in a less than favorable light. Not only have they given many Biblical doctrines unorthodox and controversial interpretations [but] tradititions too, have added exclusive measures of confusion to their unique brand of Christianity!" (p. 1)

As a result of these insights, Noorbergen       "decided to invite Pope John Paul II to clarify and explain the actions and positions of his denomination in these various areas of [his] concern."        He submitted a written list of questions to the Pope's secretariat as a basis for an exclusive interview in Rome or a response in written form. This format Noorbergen had followed many times in previous interviews with heads of State when still an active foreign correspondent. This list includes such notables as Dwight D. Eisenhower, Konrad Adenauer, Charles de Gaulle, Dag Hammarshjold, David Ben Gurion, Paul Henry Spaak, and Emperor Haile Selassie.

In seeking to reach the Pope, Noorbergen used      "all available channels at [his] disposal ... such as diplomats, friends, as well as distressed members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy,"        but to no avail, although some of the intial reactions had appeared promising. Even an appeal to the highly influential Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was useless. Finally, on November 27, 1993, he gave it one last try and FAXED an urgent appeal for help to Cardinal Rosarlo Casaroli, the Vatican Secretary of State. It too, was fruitless as had been the other attempts.

It should be noted that when the Pope released his recent book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, he used the same format as Noorbergen had attempted - answers to a series of questions proposed by a journalist, Italian Vittono Messori. Messori's introduction to the Pope's book tells why he was chosen. He wrote:      "I was told that I had been chosen to conduct the interview because of the many religious books - especially The Ratzinger Report (1985) - and articles I have written over the years, with freedom of a layman, but also as a believer who knows that the Church is given not only to the clergy but to each of the baptized." (pp. v, vi)

Noorbergen could not produce these credentials. The questions he submitted to the Pope are much more penetrating, and would require some direct answers that the Pope evidently did not wish to give. Noorbergen comments on this point, noting:      "Is it perhaps possible that Rome cannot supply any defensible Bible-based answers? The conclusions contained herein [his book] were forced on me by the lack of meaningful response. I tried." (p. 2)

Here is the final list of questions which he

p 2 -- submitted to Pope John Paul II:
1)     Do you endorse the following statement as found in The Catholic National of July 1895 -   "The Pope is not only the representative of Christ, but he is Jesus Christ Himself, hidden under a veil of flesh"? [The reader should note the close parallel between Noorbergen's first more concise question and the first question asked in the Pope's book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope. The Pope's answer comes close to the statement in The Catholic National!]

2)     I have been assured by Roman Catholic Scholars that the Bible text in Revelation 12:1 refers to the appearance of the Virgin Mary at Fatima, and that you are supposed to be the man child referred to in verse 6 of the same chapter. Can you please comment on this?

3)     Do you see any connection between the crown of twelve stars the woman was wearing in verse 1 and the European Community of twelve nations and the rulership with the rod of iron by the man child and your pontificate? If so, can you please explain?

4)     The cooperation between you and former U.S President Ronald Reagan in connection with the fall of Communism has been widely publicized here in the United States. Are there any other major cooperative projects being worked on?

5)     Without my being specific and too inquisitive, can you possibly confirm whether the next major area of focus for your pontificate is in one of the following areas:

a)     International politics?
b)     International social legislation?
c)     Religion or manner of worship?

6)     Is one of the major aims of your pontificate making Roman Catholicism the predominate religion of the globe?

7)     Do you have any special counsel to be included in my developing manuscript on the connection between The New World Order and the Fatima messages?

8)     Does the following statement by the Catholic author, Malachi Martin, in The Keys of This Blood, p. 492, correctly reflect your position?

"John Paul II insists that men have no reliable hope of creating a viable geopolitical system unless it is on the basis of Roman Catholic Christianity."

9)     Does your understanding of "religious freedom" include the rights of the Moslems to keep Friday holy, and the rights of Jews and certain Protestant religions to celebrate the 7th day Sabbath as God's Holy Day on which to worship?

10)     How do you react to those Protestants who see your denomination as the Dragon of Revelation chapter 12? Can you please comment on this.

11)     Inasmuch as you claim to represent Christ on earth, do you also claim to have received any special personal revelations about His soon return? either from Him directly or from His mother the Virgin Mary?

12)     Can you possibly help understand how and through which channel the social doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church as outlined by your predecessor Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum one hundred years ago, have found their way into the European's Community's SOCIAL CHARTER OF THE EUROPEAN WORKER ?

13)     Does the third FATIMA message contain instructions or suggestions about how to come a unity of faith in this world in preparation for the second coming?

14)     Can you please have someone confirm or deny a vision reported to have been experienced by your predecessor Pope Pius X in 1909 during which he saw the destruction of Rome and the Pope leaving the Vatican, walking over the bodies of his dead priests?

15)     At what age and period in your life did you first realize that the end of this world is closing in on us?

16)     What would you consider your most important advice to humanity at this point in time? (pp. 3-6)

Note on Rene Noorbergen - His education was received at La Sierra University, the University
of Tennessee, and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He is an accredited war
correpsondent for both the US armed forces and the UNEF. For thirteen years he was a radio
correspondent and commentator for a division of the Netherlands Radio Union. He has written
nineteen books up to this time among them several
international best sellers. His articles have appeared in leading newspapers of the United States, Great Britian, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway and Germany.

You may order your copy of The Fatima Factor In the Final Hours. .

p 3 -- WHICH CHRIST? -- In a recent issue of Christianity Today [CT] (December 12, 1994), J. I. Packer, a leading Evangelical voice, and Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Systematic Theology at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia, defended his signing of the statement of accord between Evangelicals and Roman Catholics. The subtitle to the article reads - "The recent statement 'Evangelicals and Catholics Together' [ECT] recognizes an important truth Those who love the Lord must stand together."

Packer's conclusion is worth noting. He wrote:      "I conclude, then, on grounds of biblical
principle, reinforced by current pressures and precedents, that ETC's modeling of an
evangelical-Roman Catholic commitment to partnership in mission within set limits and without convictional compromise is essentially right, and I remain glad to endorse it. In days when Rome seemed to aim at political control of all Christendom and the death of Protestant Churches, such partnership was not possible. But those days are past and after Vatican II can hardly return. Whatever God's future may be for the official Roman Catholic system, present evangelical partnership with spiritually alive Roman Catholics in communicating Christ to unbelievers and upholding Christian order in a post-Christian world needs to grow everywhere, as ECT maintains. This should be beyond question." (p. 36)

Apart from the naivete of the conclusion, the bottom line is that Rome and the Evangelicals are not preaching the same "Christ" to a "post-Christian" world. The question is, however, "Is the Christ proclaimed by either, the true Christ, or are they both proclaiming a false christ?"

Pope John Paul II in his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, devotes a chapter to church unity - "In Search of Lost Unity" (pp. 144-151). He, too, appeals to Vatican II. Quoting John XXIII who convened the Council - "What separates us as believers in Christ is much less than what unites us" - John Paul II comments:      "In this statement we find the heart of ecumenical thinking" (p. 146; emphasis his). Indicating that the Second Vatican Council continued in that directon, he wrote:      "The Council documents gave a more concrete form to John XXIII's fundamental intuition. All of us, in fact, helieve in the same Christ." (p. 147; my emphasis)

The question is, Do we? From what is the concept of the Roman Catholic Christ derived?
Carefully, observe the Pope's answer:        "This faith is the fundamental inheritance of the teaching of the first seven ecumenical councils, which were held in the first millennium. So there is a basis for dialogue and for growth in unity, a growth that should occur at the same rate at which we are able to overcome our divisions - divisions that to a great degree result from the idea that one can have a monopoly on truth." (ibid; emphasis his)

The Christ of Rome is not the Christ of the Bible, but the Christ as defined by the Councils. Keep in mind that the visible unity which the Faith and Order Commission is seeking to project - a Commission dominated by Rome - is the creed of the Church Council of A.D. 381. Admittedly, it is not a Christological statement in the truest sense, but it involves the conception of Jesus Christ in the Godhead.

Another subtle suggestion made by the pope involves what he calls "a monopoly on truth." The genuine Christ of the Bible declared for Himself such a monopoly. He stated:        "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." (John 14:6)        It was Peter who unequivocally proclaimed:       "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)        Peter's so-called infallible successor says this is the cause of disunity in Christendom.

How are we to relate to truth? Inasmuch as truth is progressive, we may not have all the truth at any one moment of time, but what we can have at any one moment in time is truth, pure and unadulterated. This is the righteousness of Christ. That truth as it is in Jesus will preserve us from accepting a false christ, or a false doctrine about the true Christ.

If the New Testament record teaches us anything, it teaches us that one cannot rely on the dogmas of the Church Councils. The testimony of Paul to the elders of Ephesus is explicit.       "For I know this," he said, "that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disiciples after them." (Acts 20:29-30)        The whole symbolism of the book of

p 4 -- Revelation speaks this same warning. The Bible also teaches that there is to be an Elijah Message. (Mal. 4:5) Reflecting the spirit and the power of the first Elijah, there will be a clear and decisive call to distinguish between truth and error, between the true Christ and the false christ.

The issue, as to the genuine Christ in contrast to the false christ, is not something removed from the Adventist Community, but is in reality very critical. In the Community of Adventism, and this includes the regular Church and the various "independent" ministries, there are at least four different "Christs" worshiped, or professedly believed in. One "Jesus Christ" is believed to have come in the nature of Adam before the Fall; another in the nature of Adam after the Fall; and a third "Christ" is portrayed as having some of both natures; while a fourth "Christ" is presented as coming "born, born-again." All of these "Christs" cannot be the same. Thus the individual member in the Community of Adventism must determine which Christ he worships; which Jesus is his Saviour. All of the controversy which has been raging within Adventism over the doctrine of the Incarnation during the past four decades has not been mere semantics.

Using the same question Jesus asked the Jews, we ask, "What think ye of Christ? whose son is He?" (Matt. 22:42) At that time, the question was Christ's divinity; today it is His humanity. That question, those to whom it was addressed had to answer it before the week was out. While in the
Judgment Hall, Pilate asked them to choose between Barabbas - a name which translated means, "a son of the father," and "Jesus which is called Christ," who is the Son of the Father, the Messiah. (Matt. 27:17) Interestingly, textual evidence indicates that Barabbas also had the name, Jesus, so that the question asked by Pilate could read - "Whom will ye that I release unto you? Jesus, the Barabbas, or Jesus the one called Christ." (See 2nd edition of the United Bible Societies' text of The Greek New Testament)

The issue can be further amplified by the dictum found in I John 4:3 - "Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of antichrist." While John was primarily directing this dictum towards the Gnosticism of his day, it is apropos today regarding the question of what "flesh" Christ took upon Himself in becoming man. Was He made of the seed of David according to the flesh (Rom. 1:3), or was He not? To deny this is to adopt "the spirit of antichrist." Again, the Greek preposition, anti, does not mean as in English, "against," but rather, "in place of " - a false christ.

This same basic issue should be involved in the thinking of those who are defending their signing of the accord between Evangelicals and Roman Catholics. It is the basis of a deceptive unity held out by the Catholic Church to further the ecumenical dialogue - we all "believe in the same Christ." This simply is not true. While the Evangelicals believe in a Christ different from the Christ of the Scriptures, they do not believe in a Christ born of an "immaculate" Mary. While they do not accept the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, they devise another theory - the sanctification of the womb of Mary - to escape the plain confession of Paul that Jesus "was made of the seed of David according to the flesh."

It doesn't require the insight of a theologian to see that a "Christ" born of a woman who "in the first moment of her conception ... was preserved free from every taint of original sin," is not the same "Christ" as one born of the kind of a mother from whom every other child of humanity is born. This returns us again to the basic question - "What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?" Plus - "Can two walk together, lest they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3)

Postscript - The fact of the incarnation is so simple though surrounded by the mysterious
question, "how?" The Divine Logos who "was made flesh" pre-existed "with God." (John 1:14,
1) That Divine Identity united Himself to a body developed in the womb of Mary "made of the seed of David according to the flesh." (Rom. 1:3) This union was accomplished by "the power of the highest." (Luke 1:35) How? That remains a mystery which I accept by faith.

The resulting God-man - a Being never before known in the universe - did no sin. He is set forth distinctly as "the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." (Rom. 1:4) The fact that Jesus clothed in an identical humanity such as I possess, lived a life free from sin, I accept by faith. Believing, I give "thanks to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Cor. 15:57)

Why rob God of such a victory, and deny to man the true Christ - a Saviour - who achieved that victory?

p 5 -- E C T -- PART 1 -- In the previous article, we noted the defense that Dr. J. I. Packer of Regent College gave in justifying his signature to the document - "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" (ECT). Last year we commented on a Seventh-day Adventist viewpoint of this document written by Richard L. Fenn, Director of Public Affairs for the North Pacific Union. (WWN 9/94, pp. 5-7) Since that time, we have had an opportunity to read this document carefully, besides the original comments upon it from the Evangelical viewpoint, and also Charles Colson's explanation of the rationale which dictated its formulation.

It is our conviction that this document should not only be read but also be studied by every concerned Seventh-day Adventist who is desirous of obtaining a comprehensive understanding of the trends that are leading to the final conflict between truth and error. In this article, we will document certain details behind its formulation as to participants and its authority as a voice for Roman Catholics and Evangelicals.

The idea for ECT "was born during discussions between Prison Fellowship Founder, Charles Colson and Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus of the New York City based organization Religion and Public Life. Neuhaus's (sic) organization coordinated the meetings and discussions that produced the document." (Christianity Today (CT), May 16, 1994, p. 53)

In the very first paragraph of the document, it confesses - "This statement cannot speak officially for our communities." However, the stated objective is clearly defined - ECT "does intend to speak responsibly from our communities and to our communities." Though not an official statement from the two communities, Neuhaus indicated that "appropriate parties at the Holy See" gave the effort their "stongest encouragement." (CT, op. cit.)

The participants in the formulation of ECT included two Jesuits, Avery Dulles of Fordham University, and Juan Diaz-Vilar of the Catholic Hispanic Ministries as well as officials of the Church. The Evangelicals were represented by Dr. Kent Hill of Eastern Nazarene College; Dr. Richard Land and Dr. Harry Lewis, both from the Southern Baptist Convention; Dr. Jesse Miranda representing the Assemblies of God; and Dr. John White of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Besides the fifteen who formulated the document, twenty five others signed the statement. These included among the Evangelicals, Bill Bright of Campus Crusade; Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network; Dr. Richard Mouw, Fuller Theological Seminary; Mark Noll, Wheaton College; Os Guiness of Trinity Forum and J.I. Packer of Regent College. The Catholic endorsements included constitutional attorney William Bentley Ball; Michael Novak and John Cardinal O'Connor of the Archdiocese of New York.

Colson speaks of the document as addressing "today's culture war." (CT, Nov. 14, 1994, p. 136) The article in CT (May 16, 1994) discussing the release of what was termed "an unprecendented statement of accord," called the present confrontation in the public square a "cultural conflict." It notes the common moral and social agendas of the two communities, which includes "support for unborn life, the preservation of religious freedom, and parental choice in education."

Inasmuch as many of the statement's primary drafters are better known for their contribution to public and international policy than for theological expertise, some media outlets portrayed the effort as "a marriage of convenience." Neuhaus strongly rejected this interpretation and stated:         "By far, the document's most important single statement ... is the affirmation that evangelicals and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ. Everything else flows from that." (CT, May 16, 1994, p. 53)

The primary opposition to the statement came from among the Evangelicals. Packer in his defense for signing the statement wrote - "I was surprised at the violence of the initial negative Protestant reaction." He charged that these Protestants said:        "bleak, skewed, fearful, and fear-driven things about this document - for instance, that it betrays the Reformation; that it barters the gospel for a social agenda; that it forfeits the right to share Christ with nominal Roman Catholics; that by saying ' we are justified by grace through faith in Christ' it abandons justification by faith alone; and that its backers should be dropped from evangelical fellowship." (ibid., Dec. 12, 1994, p. 34)        Bob Jones III forthrightly defined the statemen as evidence that "the ecumenical church, which will be the church of the Antichrist, is rapidly forming." Evidently this opposition was perceived as possible by the formulaters of the document, even though Packer was taken by surprise. Neuhaus indicated that early drafts of the document

p 6 -- "sought to distinguish between evangelicals and fundamentalists," but was abandoned. (CT, May 16, 1994)

The document - ECT - not only states what its objectives are, but also what it does not attempt to do. The formulators wrote:    "We do not presume to suggest that we can resolve the deep and long-standing differences between Evangelicals and Catholics."    By this, it is understood to mean, theological differences.

However, as Randy Frame, one of CT's Senior News Writers, comments, "Either stated or implied throughout [the document], is the assertion that these differences do not have an impact on Christianity's core essential beliefs and thus should not prevent the communities from working together." (ibid.; emphasis supplied) Colson in his defense of the accord states that "ECT calls all orthodox believers to unite on the great truths of the faith against both secular modernism and theological liberalism." (CT, Nov. 14, 1994, p. 136)

Colson's rationale is most revealing. He indicates that "today's cultural war is taking place at a level much deeper than politics. At root, it is a battle for truth - and to fight effectively we need a distinctive Christian presence and world view." He cites the thinking of the Dutch Calvinist Abraham Kuyper who indicated in such a war where secularlism is involved, "Rome is not an antagonist but stands on our side, inasmuch as she recognizes and maintains the Trinity, the deity of Christ," and other fundamental doctrines. Then Colson adds, "likewise, when Catholics battle the church's internal enemies - theological liberalism - the great divides within Christendom no longer fall along denominational lines but between conservatives and liberals within denominations." He then cites J. Gresham Machen, a defender of Protestant orthodoxy, who at the turn of the century wrote:       "We should not obscure the difference which divides us from Rome. The gulf is indeed profound. But profound as it is, it seems almost trifling compared to the abyss which stands betwen us and many ministers of our own church."

Colson closes his defense by stating -       "Let's be certain that we are firing our polemical rifles against the enemy, not against those fighting in the trenches alongside us in the defence of the Truth." (ibid.)   (To Be Continued)

LET'S TALK IT OVER -- The rationale for, and the defense of, the ECT document leaves one dazed. Colson quotes J. Gresham Machen, and in Fenn's "Viewpoint" analysis of the document, he quotes, Pat Robertson as saying :        "Frankly, I feel I have a lot more in common with this pope than with liberal Protestants. The real battle is not between Protestants and Catholics anymore; its between conservative Christians fighting for the fundamental truths of the faith, and liberals who deny the central truths of Christianity." (Gleaner, June 6, 1994, pp. 2-3)

These phrases, "fundamental truths," "central truths," and Colson's decisive conclusion - "in defense of the Truth" ("Truth" in caps) are phrases from Adventist's vocabulary. We are familiar with the fact that in the final conflict, the counterfeit will resemble the true (GC, p. 593); and that "the track of truth lies close beside the tract of error" (Spec. Test., Series B, #2, p. 52). But now that which is set forth as the objective of ECT is called "the defense of the Truth." We say we are proclaiming "The Truth." There are not two Truths! Does it mean then that we are facing the same choice that the Jewish nation of old faced, Jesus that is called the Messiah, and Jesus Barabbas, the son of the Father? (See page 4, col. 1)

We see in ECT a uniting on such points of doctrine as are held in common by the two communities, but were there compromises made on the part of the Evangelicals? Some Evangelicals think so. They believe that the historic teaching on justification by faith alone, was diluted in the agreed phraseology - "we are justified by grace through faith because of Christ." Or is it just semantics?

The parallel, between the experiences and decisions leading up to the release of the ECT document with the resulting reaction on the part of many Evangelicals and the experiences within the Adventist Community over the SDA-Evangelical Conferences, is evident. Neuhaus indicated the discovery that "evangelicals and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ" was the beginning from which everything else flowed. T. E. Unruh in writing of the SDA-Evangelical Conferences said that on the second day there was a breakthrough and Walter Martin confessed his conviction that "Adventists who believed as did the conferees were truly born-again Christians and his brethren in Christ." (The

p 7 -- Adventist Heritage (AH), Vol. 4, #2, p. 38) From this has flowed all the doctrinal compromises which have plagued the Adventist Community since those fateful days in 1955-1956. Even as the conferences between the Evangelicals and the Roman Catholics sought to deal with the "fundamentalists" in the ranks of the evangelicals, so the Adventists sought to isolate the opposition in Adventism by telling Barnhouse and Martin that the Adventist community had a "lunatic fringe" who would be disturbed with the position taken by the Adventist conferees. (Eternity, September, 1956, p. 6)

Even as Packer indicated his suprise at the opposition in the evangelical ranks (p. 5, col. 2), so likewise Unruh revealed a similar surprise to the reaction of many Adventists to another "document," Questions on Doctrine. He wrote:      "It came as a surprise to the planners, after the demonstration of a solid concensus from world leaders in the church and the preview in Ministry of what was to come, that Questions on Doctrine should be subjected to attack from Adventist sources." (AH, op. cit, p. 44)

Some more parallels can be indicated. The formulators of ECT had to decide what were the "core" doctrines, in other words, certain basic theological concepts which they held in common, and consider the others upon which they disgreed, no matter how major they might be, peripheral to their objective. This they did. We did likewise in our accord with the Evangelicals. Froom in his book, Movement of Destiny, writes of "the eternal verities." (p. 33) We define the 27 Fundamentals as "core" doctrine, no matter how far they stray from, or delete in certain vital areas, the pioneer position. Acceptability and common cause appear to be the motivation which these parallels project.

The sequence - discovery of kinship, agreement on certain concepts held in common, a united front (and attack) against the opposition - would indicate a master plan from a single source placed in operation. It is important that we understand what is taking place. In the next issue of WWN, we plan to give a section by section analysis of the document - ECT.

" The track of truth lies close beside the track of error,
and both tracks may seem to be one
to minds which are not worked by the Holy Spirit,
and which, therefore,
are not quick to discern the difference between truth and error.
Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 2, p. 5 2

---(1995 Feb) ---End---- TOP

1995 Mar -- XXVIII -- 3(95) -- EVANGELICALS & CATHOLICS TOGETHER -- PART 2 -- WHAT DO THEY AFFIRM?   FOR WHAT DO THEY HOPE?  FOR WHAT WILL THEY CONTEND? -- The unprecedented statement of accord drafted by a select group of Roman Catholic and Evangelical leaders was conceived during a discussion in 1992 between Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, and Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic priest and editor of First Things. Two years later this group of 15 released the document "Evangelicals ~ Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium" (ECT). While the central emphasis is "Christian" mission, the "Introduction" also includes the item of "faith." The statement frankly admits that it will address what was discovered by this select group about their areas of unity and about their differences.

Conscious of the fact that the close of the present decade would bring an end to the Second Millennium, they sought to visualize and formulate their response to what their Christian "mission" should be as they begin the Third Millenium. They stated - "As Christ is one, so the Christian mission is one." While accepting what they termed, "legitiniate diversity," they nevertheless affirmed - "There is a necessary connection between visible unity of Christians and the mission of the one Christ." While this accord is primarily focused on the achievement of this oneness between Evangelicals and Roman Catholics, they noted that there were other Christian organizations outside of these communities - the Eastern Orthodox and Protestants not commonly identified as Evangelical - included in the prayer of Christ that "all may be one." (John 17:21)

This select group perceive their two communities - the Evangelical and the Roman Catholic as constituting "the growing edge of missionary expansion at present and, most likely, in the century ahead." They recognize that there has been serious conflict between the two groups, and still is in different parts of the world. They see this "scandal of conflict between Christians" as obscuring "the scandal of the cross, thus crippling the one mission of the one Christ." Their call for a united front is motivated by their perception of the forces which they perceive as facing the Christian community - · Islam, in the Middle East, and "secularism" which

p 2 -- dominates Western Society. They declare that "we dare not by needless and loveless conflict between ourselves give aid and comfort to the enemies of the cause of Christ."

What do they plan to do about it? They will seek to avoid confict between their two communities, and where it does exist, they will do what they can to reduce and eliminate it. They "are resolved to explore patterns of working and witnessing together in order to advance the mission of Christ." However, they do not wish any "appearance of harmony" to be "purchased at the price of truth." They declare:      "Our common resolve is made imperative by obedience to the truth of God revealed in the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, and by trust in the promise of the Holy Spirit's guidance until our Lord returns in glory to judge the living and the dead."

Because of this resolve, they perceive the mission which they have embraced together as "the necessary consequence of the faith that [they] affirm together."

[Comment:- Who can fault the logic used? Should there not be a common front to the enemy? Are not the divisions and the resulting confusion a scandal? Is it not imperative that we obey the truth of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures? Should we not trust the promise of the Holy Spirit's guidance? But can we embrace the Roman Catholic community whose head is identified in prophecy as one "whose coming is after the working of Satan." (II Thess. 2:9) Has not the embracing of Evangelicalism played havoc in the Community of Adventism and adulterated the truth committed to our trust? Is the united front placed before the enemy to be an accommodation so as to increase the numerical strength? Or should it not rather be pure truth, unadulterated, as the basis for confrontation with error in whatever guise it may appear?]

In the second section of this accord, the formulators set forth what they affirm together.

The first paragraph is typically evangelical. It states that "Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the first and final affirmation that Christians make about all of reality." That the Roman Catholic parties of the accord would affirm this is difficult to understand. It is true that the Pope's book - Crossing the Threshold of Hope - had not been published when this accord was drawn up. However, this affirmation is in direct contradiction to the premise of the first question asked the Pope. Vittorio Messori prefaced his question with the assertion that the Pope "is defined by the faith as the Vicar of Jesus Christ (and is accepted as such by believers). The Pope is considered the man on earth who represents the Son of God, who 'takes the place' of the Second Person of the omnipotent God of the Trinity." (p. 3) Then read carefully the question asked:       "Have you ever once hesitated in your belief in your relationship with Jesus Christ and therefore with God? Haven't you ever had, not doubts certainly, but at least questions and problems (as is human) about the truth of this Creed which is repeated at each Mass and which proclaims an unprecedented faith, of which you are the highest guarantor?" (p. 4)

This position assumed by the Pope, and believed by the faithful, is, however, one of long standing. Rene Noorbergen in his first question for the pope [See WWN, 2 (95), p. 2] quoted from The National Catholic (July, 1895) the assertion that the Pope "is Jesus Christ Himself, hidden under a veil of flesh." Who then is Lord? There cannot be two!

It would seem that the formulators of the accord traded off positions held by each to find a common affirmation. The second affirmation reads - "We affirm that we are justified by grace brough faith because of Christ." A key word, "alone" is missing. The Roman Catholic position as stated in the Council of Trent is that faith plus works is the basis for justification. There are even those among the "independent" ministries of the Adventist Church who advocate the Roman Catholic position as formulated at that Council. But this is not the Protestant position of the Reformation, nor the Biblical teaching as set forth by Paul. This second affirmation statement is so worded that it can be read either way by the two "communities" to the accord.

The third affirmation was declared by Neuhaus to be "the document's most important single statement." (Christianity Today (CT), May 16, 1994, p. 53). This reads:       "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 together (John 15). However imperfect our communion with one another,

p 3 -- however deep our disagreements with one another, we recognize that there is but one church of Christ. There is one church because there is one Christ and the church is his body. However difficult the way, we recognize that we are called of God to a fuller realization of our unity in the body of Christ. The only unity to which we would give expression is unity in truth, and the truth is this: ' There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.' (Ephesians 4)" (Emphasis supplied)

This is walking straight into the arms of Rome. One well known Evangelical who has opposed ECT regards it as evidence that "the ecumenical church which will be the church of the antichrist, is rapidly forming." (CT, May 16, 1994, p. 53) But another question comes striking home, How will you answer "this truth" that there is only "one body," when faced with the challenge from that "ecumenical church"?

The fourth affirmation only compounds what was affirmed in the third. In its composite formulation it states:    1)    "that Christians are to teach and live in obedience to the divinely inspired Scriptures, which are the infallible Word of God;" and    2)     "that Christ has promised to his church the gift of the Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth in discerning and declaring the Scripture." (Can one fault these affirmations'?) Two examples are cited of the Spirit's leading:   
1)     "the formation of the canon of the Scripture;" and    2)     "the orthodox response to the great Christological and Trinitarian controversies of the early centuries." The church's "faithful reponse to the Spirit's leading" led to the formulation of the Apostles Creed, which the accord states, "we can and hereby do affirm together as an accurate statement of scriptural truth." This section closes with the Apostles Creed in full.

Here is where some problems begin in earnest. The 27 books which comprise our New Testament were first listed by Athanasius of Alexandria (4th century) in his 39th Festal Letter addressed to his bishops. This listing was affirmed by regional councils in North Africa in 393 and 397 A.D. This fact causes the Roman Church to claim that she is "the mother of the New Testament" and that the "only authority which non-Catholics have for the inspiration of the Scriptures is the authority of the Catholic Church." (The Faith of Millions, pp. 144-145) Thus she can interpret that of which she is the "mother." We counter claim that "the development of the canon was a gradual process, presided over by the Spirit of God." (SDA Bible Dictionary, pp. 187-188) Yet at the same time, through these very agencies, the Christological and Trinitarian pronouncements were made plus the establishment of Sunday sacredness. How does one accept the working of the Spirit in one area - the canon of the New Testament - and claim that in the other areas - Christological and Trinitarian pronouncements - it was not the working of that Spirit? Or should we do as Luther did, re-evaluate the canon of the New Testament? To choose this later approach would bring us back to square one, to the eclecticism which caused the drawing up of a canon in its first initiative. The simple answer is that the Scriptures do not sustain the Creeds of the Councils; but this leaves as an open question the workings of God in the centuries between the Apostolic Church and the full formation of the Papacy. Even in the Apostolic period, the Scripture plainly states - "The mystery of iniquity doth already work." (II Thess. 2:7) This fact alone should cause us to give closer scrutiny to the divisive issues which affected the Church as revealed in the New Testament itself.

The third section of the accord expressed what the two groups hoped together. First, they desired that "all people will come to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour." They stated that "the church is by nature, in all places and at all times, in mission." Noting that "unity and love among Christians is an integral part of our missionary witness to the Lord," they "pray that our unity in the love of Christ will become ever more evident as a sign to the world of God's reconciling power." They recognized that the "communal and ecclesial separations" have been "deep and long standing." While acknowledging that they did not know either the schedule, nor the way to "greater visible unity," they indicated that the God "who has brought [them] into communion with himself through Christ intends that [they] also be in communion with one another." They committed themselves to "begin now the work required to remedy what [they] know to be wrong" in what has hitherto been the "existing patterns of distrustful polemic and conflict." This section of the accord reiterates an obvious axiom that as "we are drawn closer to [Christ] - walking in that way, obeying that truth, living that life - we are drawn closer to one another." It further marks out that the work of moving toward visible unity "requires trust and understanding, and trust and understanding require an assiduous attention to truth."

p 4 --How does the accord propose to accomplish this objective? Recognizing that there are real disagreements between the two communities, they assert that "misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and caricatures of one another, however, are not disagreements. These distortions must be cleared away if [they] are to reach through [their] differences in a manner consistent in what [they] affirm and hope together on the basis of God's Word."

Frankly admitting that they are unable to resolve "the deep and long standing differences between Evangelicals and Catholics" suggesting that "these differences may never be resolved short of the Kingdom Come," in the fourth section of ECT - "We Search Together" - they list "some of the differences and disageements that must be addressed more fully and candidly in order to strengthen between [them] a relationship of trust in obedience to truth." Here is the list:

1)    "The church as an integral part of the Gospel or the church as a communal consequence of the Gospel."
2)    "The church as visible communion or invisible fellowship of true believers."
3)    "The sole authority of Scripture (sola scriptura) or Scripture as authoritatively interpreted in the church."
4)    "The 'soul freedom' of the individual Christian or the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the community."
5)    "The church as local congregation or universal communion."
6)    "Ministry ordered in apostolic succession or the priesthood of all believers."
7)    "Sacraments and ordinances as symbols of grace or means of grace."
8)    "The Lord's supper as eucharistic sacrifice or memorial meal."
9)    "Remembrance of Mary and the saints or devotion to Mary and the saints."
10)  "Baptism as sacrament of regeneration or testimony to regeneration."

Recognizing that this list of ten differences is by no means a complete listing, the conferees assert
that on some of these questions, even among Evangelical Protestants "there are significant
differences between, for example, Baptists, Pentecostals, and Calvinists." The accord document states that the general contention of Evangelicals concerning these points is that the Catholic Church "has gone beyond the Scripture, adding teachings and practices that detract from or compromise the Gospel of God's saving grace in Christ." The Catholics, however, contend that such practices and teachings "are grounded in Scripture and belong to the fullness of God's revelation." The rejection of their position, Catholics maintain, "results in a truncated and reduced understanding of the Christian reality."

Recognizing that they "cannot resolve these disputes" in this accord, yet the conferees and signatories "testify now that in our searching together [they] have discovered what [they] can affirm together and what [they] can hope together and, therefore, how [they] can contend together." The next section of the document - "We Contend Together" - gets down to the nitty-gritty of ECT - their "political agenda."

The document declares:     "Christians, and the church corporately also have a responsibility for the right ordering of civil society."    They maintain that they are seeking   "to secure a greater measure of civil righteousness and justice, confident that [Christ] will crown [their] efforts when he rightly orders all things in the coming of his Kingdom."

Where did Christ ever entrust His church with the ordering of civil society? In the theocracy of Israel, He did order civil society. Is it the restoration of a theocracy that the formulators and signers of ECT want? If so, who will be the earthly administrator of such a theocracy? Are there two kinds of righteousness, "a righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ" (Rom. 3:22) and a "civil righteousness"?

The document further declares;    "We contend for the truth that politics, law, and culture must be secured by moral truth. With the Founders of the American experiment, we declare, 'We hold these truths.' With them, we hold that this constitutional order is composed not just of rules and procedures but is most essentially a moral experiment. With them, we hold that only virtuous people can be free and just, and that virtue is secured by religion."

Why this contending? Because in the judgment of the formulators, "Americans are drifting away from, are often explicitly defying, the constituting truths of this experiment in ordered liberty."

p 5 -- In the next "breath," the accord declares;    "More specifically, we contend together for religious freedom. We do so for the sake of religion, but also because religious freedom is the first freedom, the source and shield of all human freedoms.

"Religious freedom is itself grounded in and is a product of religious faith, as is evident in the history of Baptists and others in this country. Today we rejoice together that the Roman Catholic Church - as affirmed by the Second Vatican Council and boldly exemplified in the ministry of John Paul II - is strongly committed to religious freedom and, consequently, to the defense of all human rights."

This deduction of the position of John Paul II is difficult to accept in the light of what Malachi Martin declares to be the pope's position. According to Martin, "he insists that men have no reliable hope of creating a viable geopolitcal system unless it is on the basis of Roman Catholic Christianity." (Keys of This Blood, p. 492) Further the pope's track record in Ireland, and Bosnia doesn't confirm his commitment to the "defense of all human rights."

In the wording of this ECT document are phrases and terms which create questions as to meaning and application, such as "the right ordering of civil society" as a responsibility of the church. How is the "virtue" of a society to be "secured by religion"? What is "ordered liberty"? How does this relate to "religious freedom"? All of this in the ECT document is set in the framework of "the American experiment," which is declared to be not just a "constitutional order" of rules and procedures but is declared to be "most essentially a moral experiment."

In the community of Adventism the expression, "religious liberty" is used rather than "religious
freedom." In the first Ammendment to the Constitution, the specific word "freedom" is applied to speech and the press, but not used in defining the limits of government in regard to "the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The dictionary observes that, liberty "may imply more strongly than 'freedom' a release from restraint or compulsion." (Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, art. "freedom") This may be why it is so used in the document, ECT. The conferees write - "We strongly affirm the separation of church and state, and just as strongly protest the distortion of that principle to mean the separation of religion from public life." They declare that "we contend together for a renewal of the constituting vision of the place of religion in the American experiment."

There is no question that "virtue" is needed in public life, and that "virtue is secured by religion." But is it an imposed virtue, or a virtue developed within the individual as a result of a personal encounter with God? Let the church provide the environment for such an experience, and then let the person so transformed enter the public square, if convicted to do so, and evenhandedly promote law and justice according to the civil constitution. However, to interpret "the American experiment" as "most essentially a moral experiment," and declare that "religion" was a part of "the constituting vision" and must be renewed, is rewriting history, and is fraught with danger to true religious freedom.

The ETC "moral" agenda for government is clearly stated:

1)     "With the Founders [of the American experiment], we hold that all human beings are
endowed by their Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ... Our goals are:    to secure due process of law for the unborn, to enact the most protective laws and public policies that are politically possible, and reduce dramatically the incidence of abortion."

2)     Inasmuch as the present culture in America is perceived as a "culture of death," they "will do
all in their power to resist proposals for euthanasia, eugenics, and population control that exploit the vunerable, corrupt the integrity of medicine, deprave our culture, and betray the moral truths of our constitutional order."

3)     "In public education," [they will] contend together for schools that transmit to coming generations our cultural heritage, which is inseparable from the formative influences of religion, especially Judaism and Christianity." They affirm that since in a democratic society that recognizes that "parents have the primary responsibility for the formation of their children, schools are to assist and support, not oppose and undermine, parents in the exercise of their responsibility.

4)     "We contend together for a comprehensive policy of parental choice in education. This is a moral question of simple justice ... We affirm policies that enable parents to effectively exercise their right and responsibility to choose schooling that they consider best for their children." [This is just another way of saying -

p 6 -- state aid for parochial schools]

5) "We contend together against widespread pornography in our society, along with the celebration of violence, sexual depravity, and antireligious bigotry in the entertainment media."

6)     "We contend for a renewed spirit of acceptance, understanding, and cooperation across lines of religion, race, ethnicity, sex, and class. We are all created in the image of God and are accountable to him. That truth is the basis for individual responsibility and equality before the law."

7)     "We contend for a free society, including a vibrant market economy."

8)     "We contend together for a renewed appreciation of Western culture. In its history and missionary [out] reach, Christianity engages all cultures while being captive to none. We are keenly aware of, and grateful for, the role of Christianity in shaping and sustaining the Western culture of which we are a part."

9)     "We contend for public policies that demonstrate renewed respect for the irreplaceable role of mediating structures in society - notably the family, churches, and myriad voluntary associations."

10)   "Finally, we contend for a realistic and responsible understanding of America's part in world affairs. ... U.S. foreign policy should reflect a concern for the defense of democracy and, wherever prudent and possible, the protection and advancement of human rights, including religious freedom."

To some of these contentions, we can say, "Amen," while others are open to critical review and assessment. There can be no question that these, for the most part, constitute a political agenda, reflecting the "religious right" in America. However, those formulating and signing this document "reject the notion that this constitutes a partisan 'religious agenda' in American politics." This section - "We Contend Together" - closes with the following paragraph:       "We are profoundly aware that the American experiment has been, all in all, a blessing to the world and a blessing to us as Evangelical and Catholic Christians. We are determined to assume our full share of responsibility for this 'one nation under God,' believing it to be a nation under the judgment, mercy, and providential care of the Lord of the nations to whom alone we render unqualified allegiance."

There remains one more section - "We Witness Together," and a "Conclusion." (To be concluded)

Note: All direct quotations unless otherwise indicated are from the document - Evangelicals & Catholics Together - as published in First Things, May, 1994, pp. 15-22)

SOME BACKGROUND -- This document - ECT - which involved Evangelicals as well as Roman Catholics has never been published in full in the leading voice of the Evangelicals, Christianity Today (CT). The Evangelical conferee Charles Colson, who helped "spark" the dialogue which led to the accord, is a frequent columnist in the journal. Leading Evangelicals were participants in the formulation of the statement as well as signator who endorsed the document. Yet it is from the Evangelical community that the attack on the statement is most vocal and strident.

On the other hand, this document was published in full in First Things, a journal of Religion and Public Life, edited by Richard Neuhaus, the Roman Catholic counterpart to Colson. Neuhaus is a Lutheran minister turned Roman Catholic priest. Among the participants was the Jesuit Theologian, Avery Dulles, son of the former Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, who also had reverted to Romanism. To understand the force of what this document is saying, one must understand the thinking of Neuhaus, inasmuch as his imprint is obvious on the statement.
Neuhaus wants religious and moral values returned to public life, or "the public square" as he calls it. Further, in an article in The Christian Century (July 11-18, 1990), he wrote that "for the present and the foreseeable future, the leadership in religion's cultural-forming tasks has passed to evangelicals and Roman Catholics." (p. 672) This is why he perceived the dialogue and statement so important. He also pre-empted negative Roman Catholic official reaction by contact "with appropriate parties at the Holy See" who gave their "strongest encouragement." (CT, May 16, 1994, p. 53) An "educated guess" based on the research done for this brief

p 7 -- observation leads this editor to believe that one of those "appropriate parties" was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Defense of the Faith. The Center on Religion and Society, which Neuhaus directs, sponsors an annual Erasmus Lecture (even the name chosen for the lecture series is significant). For the 1988 lecture, Neuhaus invited Ratzinger, who then took part in a two-day private conference on modern scholarship and the Bible which was attended by some forty religious scholars. It appears that Neuhaus is in accord with Ratzinger's objective of reasserting orthodoxy and tightening of ecclesiastical discipline under the rule of Rome. (Current Biography Yearbook 1988, p.424)

Neuhaus took his Lutheran ministerial training at Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis. One of the teachers who made a permanant impression on his life was Arthur Karl Peipkorn, an ecumenist who became a leading figure in the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue. Neuhaus has come to believe "that Lutheranism has always been a movement of reform 'within and for the one Church."' He looks upon the Reformation as a "'tragic necessity' - a necessity because reform was necessary and a tragedy because the unity and universality of the Church was undermined."

Due to the present moral decline Neuhaus believes that "'this is the moment in which the Roman Catholic Church in the world should be the lead Church in proclaiming and exemplifying the Gospel' and the moment when the Catholic Church in the United States should take the lead in reasserting Christian principles in the American public arena." Further, he believes that "the Reformation understanding of the Gospel is ... more boldly proclaimed by Rome than by many of the churches that lay claim to the Reformation heritage." (ibid, p. 423)

His publications have been numerous and have provoked wide spread discussion. In his book, The Catholic Moment, he looked to the Roman Catholic Church in the United States to assume "its rightful role in the culture-forming task of constructing a religiously informed public philosophy for the American experiment in ordered liberty." He agrees with Pope John Paul II's view that the liberalization begun at Vatican II in the Roman Church has been "gravely distorted" and that much of what is called Roman Catholic Christianity is in fact apostate. His final emphasis in the book is on the effort of John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger to restore a conservative balance in the Church." (ibid.) Neuhaus cannot be dismissed lightly, but must be taken seriously, and this is why the ECT document and what its objectives are must be carefully scrutinized. Further, the comment by Bob Jones III, an Evangelical, that this accord is evidence that "the ecumenical church, which will be the church of the antichrist, is rapidly forming," dare not be overlooked.

" Those who condemn history as a mere rattling of ancient skeletons
only betray their unfamiliarity with the subject. ...
It is impossible to understand our times without a knowledge of
the conditions which brought them about;
and it is equally impossible to make intelligent decisions for the future
if we have only an uncomprehending view of the age in which we live. "
John 0. Hicks, The American Nation, preface.

---(1995 Mar) ---End----

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