According to an article appearing in the Grand Rapids Press recently, the World Council of Churches states that it has reason to believe that “Roman Catholics are showing greater tolerance toward other churches.”
The W. C. C. conducted a study which revealed. “Very important members” of the Catholic hierarchy now favor complete religious liberty, It further revealed that “when this attitude becomes a prevailing one in the Roman Church, ‘new ways would open toward an ecumenical understanding’ between Protestants and Catholics.”
The author of the study report, Dr. A. F. Carillo de Alboronoz, said French Catholics are leading the movement for religious freedom. He described Maurice Cardinal Feltin, archbishop of Paris, as one of its most ardent spokesmen. Carillo said when the new opinion “becomes the official attitude of the church itself, a practical agreement with the Roman Catholic church on the real exercise of religious liberty in all countries will be possible”
The study also criticized Protestants by saying: “Too many Protestants seem to believe that all Roman Catholics (even those who defend religious liberty) are of bad faith . . . or that they have as a unique goal, political domination.”
Carillo said the ecumenical movement and the world Council should “substitute for this general distrustful attitude a truly ecumenical spirit of charity and understanding.”
It would seem that the above expressed opinion is an isolated one, not generally expressed in the Romish Church. Though it is true that Pope John is reported to have ideas of ecumenicity, and appears to have a more liberal outlook than his predecessors, the Roman Catholic Church is still a long way from discarding its stand sustained for hundreds of years, that it and it alone is representative of Christ in the world. Then, too, the recent persecutions perpetrated in South America against those who dared to stand up to the Roman Catholic Church would seem to belittle the report of a change of attitude.
However, we believe that the closer we come to the end of this dispensation the more the church, i.e., the nominal church, will unite. Antichrist, according to Scripture must come out of the church. So long as the Roman Catholic Church clings to the cardinal doctrine that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is come in the flesh, she can hardly be said to be antichristian. But if she becomes liberal, as we believe she is fast becoming, and she is able to unite with the liberal W. C. C., we can easily see and believe how this united church will produce this antichrist. In that case Willem Brakel and others with him would not be far wrong when they asserted that the antichrist would come out of the Roman Catholic Church. At any rate, it will be interesting to see if there will be any further developments as predicted by the W. C. C.
“Air Force Training Manual Draws N.C.C. Fire.”The February 29th issue of Christianity Todaypresents an enlightening article on the above subject which has also appeared in most of the daily papers and magazines, and which has stirred up considerable comment especially among the leaders in the National Council of Churches.
The occasion for the exchange of words between the National Council and the Department of Defense in the United States Government was the Air Force Manual recently published which expressed disparaging remarks about the N.C.C. The latter was charged in the Manual with the guilt of communistic activity against which the Air Force Reserves were warned.
Alongside of the article above referred to, Christianity Today also placed a copy of what the Manual said. We quote it in part.
“Subversion. Subversion is any activity by which any person or group willfully attempts to interfere with or impair the loyalty, morale, or discipline of any member of the Armed Forces, or American citizens in general.
“To establish a workable program of subversion, the Communists have discovered what they think is an almost foolproof weapon â€• the front organization. Have you ever heard of . . . The Abraham Lincoln Brigade, American Youth for Democracy, The League of American Writers, American Patriots, Inc., Committee for World Youth Friendship and Cultural Exchange, The National Committee for Freedom of the Press, National Federation for Constitutional Liberties, The Voice of Freedom Committee? These sound quite American, don’t they? Yet the Attorney General of the United States has officially declared them to be subversive Communist fronts . . .
“Don’t join any organization or sign a so-called ‘peace petition’ until you are certain it isn’t a Red front. You may check organizations against the subversive list in AF Regulation 124-5, ‘Designation of Organizations in Connection with the Federal Employee Security Program.’ This regulation lists more than 280 organizations whose political or social philosophies (not necessarily all Communistic) are foreign to the American concepts of democracy. Among these are a number of schools which presumably teach alien ideologies, such as the Samuel Adams School, Boston; the Tom Paine School of Social Science, Philadelphia; the George Washington Carver School, New York City; the Jefferson School of Social Science, New York City; the Joseph Weydemeyer School of Social Science, St. Louis; the Seattle Labor School; and the Philadelphia School of Social Science and Art. Also listed are the front organizations named earlier.
“Communism in Religion. From a variety of authoritative sources, there appears to be overwhelming evidence of Communist anti-religious activity in the United States through the infiltration of fellow-travelers into churches and educational institutions.
“The National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. officially sponsored the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Of the 95 persons who served in this project, 30 have been affiliated with pro-Communist fronts, projects, and publications. . .
“Dr. Harry F. Ward, long a recognized leader in the National Council of Churches, was a Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City for some 25 years, during which time he influenced thousands of theological students. Dr. Ward was identified by Louis Francis Budenz (an ex-Communist) before the Senate Internal Security Sub-committee as a member of the Communist Party . . .” So far the Manual.
It is especially the last two paragraphs above that evoked the wrath of the leaders of the N.C.C. According to the article accompanying the Manual Report, the Manual also quoted a newspaper editorial which “criticized a Protestant church convention for urging that Red China be recognized by the United States and admitted to the United Nations.”
“The implications of this editorial are clear,’ the manual observed. ‘Communists and Communist fellow-travelers infiltrated into our churches. The foregoing is not an isolated example, by any means; it is known that even the pastors of certain of our churches are card-carrying communists.’
“A reservist in Trenton, New Jersey, told his minister that he was disturbed at this and other parts of the manual. The minister notified the local council of churches, which in turn called NCC headquarters in New York’s Interchurch Center.
“James Wine, an associate general secretary of the NCC, immediately fired off a strongly-worded letter of protest to Defense Secretary Thomas S. Gates.
“Five days later. Wine and two other NCC staff members came to Washington because, according to a spokesman, the Defense Department ‘was not treating the matter with the sense of importance we thought it deserved.’
“The following day Air Force Secretary Dudley Sharp was quoted as having ‘categorically repudiated the publication’ as representative of Air Force views.
“Sharp also ordered the manuals withdrawn, only to learn that such an order had already been issued six days before. The Air Force said the manual was brought to the attention of ‘responsible, officials by a member of the reserve forces.’ An investigation was launched . . .” So far the article.
To us it appears that the charges were withdrawn because the Defense Department sensed that it was not good policy to vie with the NCC. But in spite of the fact that the charges were withdrawn, the damage is done, i.e., the NCC has been put under suspicion. And this is not something new. Various church leaders in and out of the NCC have voiced their criticism of the NCC which reputedly speaks for some 33 Protestant and Orthodox denominations in the United State. Ever since that famous convention in Cleveland, I believe it was in 1958, when the convention advocated that Red China be admitted to the United Nations, the NCC has been severely criticized and we believe correctly so. This we believe not so much because we conclude the organization is sympathetic to communism, but because we believe it is not the church’s business to put her nose in affairs that belong to the State Department alone.
Under this caption Rev. N. J. Monsma writes a well-documented article in the March issue of Torch and Trumpet.
Copiously he quotes from the Doctrinal Standards, Church Order, Formula of Subscription, and Reformed authorities on Church Polity to prove that the answer to the above question is affirmative. Professors, Ministers, Elders and Deacons who sign their names to the Formula of Subscription when they take office are indeed bound in their beliefs, according to Monsma. The reason why this is true, he asserts, is because these Confessions derive their contents from the Word of God. Monsma, it appears, will give no ground to the undenominational movements of our day who advocate “no creed but Christ” and “a return to the Scriptures.” This, we believe, is commendatory.
As far as we were able to observe there was nothing in the article of Rev. Monsma to which we could not subscribe. And we believe that all our people, especially those in office, would do well to read his article which we cannot quote here in its entirety.
We do not know what motivated Rev. Monsma to write on this subject unless it is expressed in the last part of his article where he writes under the sub-title “The Function of Confessions in Assemblies.” Monsma suggests that there are some who call those who refer to the Standards in the course of debate as being guilty of Dogmatism. With this he does not agree. Those who cry “Dogmatism” insist that only the Scriptures can be the authority on which decisions are made. But Monsma reminds them that the Standards themselves are expressions of Scripture, and therefore have authority. This, we believe, is the only safe rule for all ecclesiastical assemblies to follow. If this is not done, there is no possible norm for unity.
Space does not allow us to make any further comment at this time. There are, however, questions which the article provoked which perhaps on another occasion we will have opportunity to raise.