Prof. Decker is professor of Practical Theology in the Protestant Reformed Seminary.
Thousands of observers, guests, advisors, and visitors joined the 811 official delegates to the Seventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Canberra, Australia, February 7-20. The theme of the Assembly was “Come Holy Spirit, Renew The Whole Creation.” Most of the issues, we are told, were not at all related to the theme. The issues which most excited the participants dealt with politics, racism, feminism, and ecology.
The host country, Australia, was the object of a scathing indictment concerning its treatment of the Aboriginal peoples on its continent. “The impact of racism by Australians on the Aboriginal peoples in this nation is not just horrific, but genocidal…. How can this society justify the destruction of an indigenous culture, language and spirituality?” Needless to say, the Aussies were outraged, not merely by the hyperbole of the above criticism, but by the failure of the WCC critics to concede that Australia did not seek justification but had long been attempting conscientiously to find solutions. Noteworthy too is the fact that the WCC put forth no solutions of its own, but only condemned the Australians.
The Assembly struggled long with the issue of the War in the Persian Gulf. After hours of debate it finally voted on a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, without Iraq first having to leave Kuwait.
On the second day of the Assembly, a young Korean woman, Prof. Chung Hyun-Kyung, made a dramatic presentation in dance and voice to one of the plenary sessions. She called on the spirits of all those who had suffered and died unjustly to be present at the Assembly. These included victims in biblical history as well as contemporary victims, such as those in the Bhopal tragedy. Finally she called on the spirit of Jesus. All of these together, said she, are “icons of the Holy Spirit who became tangible and visible to us.” Later in her speech she suggested that the Buddhist Bodhisattva Kwan In (or “Kuanyin” in Chinese) might be the feminine image of Christ. Human survival, she claimed, depends on putting all life, including trees, and people of all faiths or none, at the center of belief. Indigenous people of the world, she said, believed nature WAS “sacred, purposeful, and full of meaning.” The “old culture of death,” exemplified by the Gulf War, should be replaced by such a “culture of life.”
Chung’s presentation was ended with a vigorous dancing troop with Korean instruments. The presentation brought the delegates to their feet, cheering and applauding. Some participants said it was the point in the Assembly where the Holy Spirit was most present. Other delegates called it “syncretism” (a combination of heathen and Christian practices) or “paganism.” We agree with the latter. Chung may be a member of a Presbyterian Church in Korea, but her “theology” is a blatant form of pantheism.
The WCC also took ecumenism to its farthest limits—suggesting that Muslims, Hindus, and others achieve salvation in the same way as Christians, and warning the latter against “narrow” thinking. The Council’s Director of Inter-Faith dialogue, Dr. Wesley Ariarajah, said it was inconceivable to him that God listened to Christian prayers but ignored those praying to their particular versions of God. “As a Sri Lankan Christian who has read the Hindu writings and the scriptures of the Hindu saints I simply cannot believe that there have not been other people (than Christians) who are familiar with God,” he said. “It is beyond belief that other people have no access to God or that God has no access to other people…. My understanding of God’s love is too broad for one to believe that only this narrow segment called the Christian church will be saved. If you are a Christian you must be open and broad, not narrow and exclusive.”
Several thoughts come to mind. Scripture teaches that the heathen change the glory of God into am image made like to corruptible man (Rom. 1:18ff.). Holy Scripture also teaches that there is, besides the Name of Jesus, no other Name under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). And we are reminded of what the inspired Apostle John wrote to the church, “. . . even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know it is the last time” (I John 2:18). The WCC is not worthy of the name church. Nor is it difficult to understand that it will not be that long before those who by grace through faith believe in the Lord Jesus will be persecuted for their faith.
New York Times Service
REC News Exchange
Some Muslims at least are not as friendly to Christians as the WCC is to them, according to recent reports. Three Muslim converts to Christianity have been tortured repeatedly since their arrest and subsequent trial last November on charges of crimes against the government of Egypt, reports Amnesty International. The three, according to AI, were in “bad physical condition” when they appeared at a mid-December hearing, “suffering from hunger and the effects of continuing torture, including electric shocks.” The three men all converted from Islam to Christianity within the past six years. They were declared innocent of the charge of having conducted “actions against a heavenly religion [Islam],” last November. This ruling was appealed and they were rearrested. They now face newly created charges and a possible sentence of up to eight years in prison. They have been released on condition that they promise to leave the country. The church of which the three are members is under increasing pressure from the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior to reduce the profile of its ministry to Muslims.
The WCC refuses to acknowledge the fact that Islam and other heathen religions are false and that their adherents are enemies of the Christian faith. But Muslims know this and certainly regard Christianity as their enemy and a threat to their religion.
Parts of Africa are facing starvation equal to or greater than the famine in the mid-1980s. About twenty million people in the nations of Ethiopia, Sudan, Liberia, Angola, and Mozambique face starvation without immediate aid. The famine is caused by failing crops, low rainfall, and civil war.
This too is a sign of the times. Scripture tells us we shall hear of famines and earthquakes, in divers places, as well as of wars and rumors of wars (Matt. 24). Let us not fear these things, but let us be a people who live in joyful anticipation of the coming of the Lord Jesus.