All Around Us

A New Middle East Council of Churches 

Pastor Beshai Saeed Beshai, Pastor of the Suez Evangelical Presbyterian Church throughout Egypt, sent an article to the editor of our paper asking that it be published. Prof. Hoeksema and I decided to publish it under this rubric. It carries the title which appears at the head of this article and is slightly edited. It reads as follows:

“As I stated and foresaw in 1963, three church families: The Protestant (113), the Greek Orthodox, Chalcedonian (113), and the Oriental Orthodox, non-Chalcedonian (113), Copts, Gregorians and Syrians, have agreed to form jointly the new Middle East Council of Churches (M.E.C.C.), each church family representing the bodies of churches .belonging to its fellowship. I am sad that our Coptic Presbyterian Evangelical Church of Egypt is a member of the M.E.C.C. which in turn is a member of the W.C.C. in spite of many repeated disavowals of such membership in the W.C.C.

“Such a Council has become a strange mixture! a hybrid! a monstrosity ! The blood of our great grand-parents, Protestant martyrs of Egypt, forgotten and neglected, is trampled under false ecumenical feet. Nay, the most precious blood of Christ’s sufficient sacrifice is despised in this premeditated crime of involvement in such a sacrilege of the mass and its worship of the host and its mariolatry. Such is the M.E.C.C.! the synagogue of Satan! This new M. E.C. C. has three presidents: Bishop Samuel, Coptic; Bishop Hakim, Greek Orthodox; and Rev. Aharonian (Armenian) Protestant. It has a majority of two-thirds Orthodox churches, and one-third Protestant Churches. This Council will try to shape the future of the religious outlook in the new Near East.

“A dialogue is going on between this M.E.C.C. and the Roman Catholic Church to find a common ground on which the R.C. Church will agree to join this council. They are eager to prepare the way for its entry into the same religious set-up. Such dialogue will extend to other religious majorities of the Orient, until eventually, and after it is too late to separate, it will prove to have been dialogue with the Devil! It will be Antichristian! the religion of Antichrist! Syncretism, which means agreement of liars! Ai the supreme Council of the Evangelical Churches of Lebanon and Syria, a proposition was made to the floor that all small Evangelical Churches be suppressed.

“Bible-believing churches, look bout! Pressure and oppression may soon come upon you as is the case in many lands of Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, where the churches belonging to the W.C.C. are seeking to be the only ones officially recognized by the local governments.

“We need in our regions a ‘Continuing Presbyterian Church.’

“Brethren and sisters, pray for us.” 

From “Playboy” To “The Banner” 

We were not a little surprised to see in the March 21 issue of The Banner a guest editorial by Dr. Martin E. Marty, professor of the History of Modern Christianity at the University of Chicago and Associate Editor of The Christian Century.

Our surprise was due to the fact that Dr. Marty has often been under attack in the Missouri-Synod Lutheran Church as one who has consistently stood with the liberals in their controversies with the conservatives within the Missouri Church. He has, over the years, denied many of the fundamentals of the Christian faith. A number of years ago, he was part of a panel which discussed “Religion and the New Morality”. The discussion of this panel appeared in Playboy magazine in June, 1967. In the course of the discussion Dr. Marty openly, advocated fornication as a way of life under certain circumstances. The July, 1967 Playboy quoted Marty as saying: “. . . I could conceive, from the pastoral point of view, the legitimacy of something like adultery in extreme situations.” (Quoted from A Christian Handbook On Vital Issues, p. 747). This same book quotes Marty as saying: “Such doctrines as the Trinity, divinity of Jesus and the authority of the Bible are meaningless symbols because such beliefs have not resulted in any different type of action or reaction to the world.” (This quote originally appeared in the November, 1966 Cleveland Plain Dealer.)

Although the Editorial in The Banner was relatively innocuous, (it was a rather brief and general criticism of conservative theology), it strikes us as being very strange that The Banner could give editorial space to such an enemy of the Christian faith. To jump from the columns of Playboy to The Banner is a prodigious leap. One is astounded that The Banner should assist in this. 

Grade School Ecumenism 

A reader gave us a clipping from the Byron Center, Michigan paper which contained a picture and an article dealing with a joint mass held by students of a Roman Catholic School and the local Byron Center Christian School. The article is entitled: “Two Schools Participate in Ecumenical Mass” and reads as follows:

Holy Family School in New Salem extended an invitation to the sixth grade students of Byron Center Christian School, through their principal, Mr. Bonama, to join their sixth grade students in. attending a Unity Mass at St. Mary’s Church on January 23. The invitation was accepted and forty-four students from the Byron Center School came. Mr. DeArnent, a student teacher, accompanied them, as Mr. Babeldyke, the assistant principal was unable to come. Twenty-seven students from Holy Family school participated. Mrs. Genevieve Fein is their teacher, as well as the school principal. Rev. Ephraim Davanzo officiated at the mass.

Following the mass, refreshments were served in the lunch room and a film, “Africa, Land of Tomorrow” was shown. It is a missionary film by the Consolata Fathers.

This constitutes a dreadful sin on the part of those in Byron Center School who agreed to this. It is the responsibility of Christian School teachers to give covenant children instruction which is rooted in the Reformed faith—a faith for which their, fathers died, often at the hands of Roman Catholics. How can these teachers do this in any conscientious way when, by such a mass, the teachers tell their children that the mass is a legitimate ceremony in which to participate. Without saying anything about how the school can busy itself with matters that are ecclesiastical and belong to the institute of the church, and without saying anything about how young children can unofficially have a part in the celebration of the sacrament of the death of our Lord, it is impossible for these teachers ever to point their children to our own precious Heidelberg Catechism which calls the mass “an accursed idolatry.” What will these children think when they hear a sermon on that Lord’s Day in their church? What will go through their minds when they remember that they had a part in such a celebration? and that God forbids, idolatry upon penalty of death? What will happen when these same children grow up and take their place in the Church? when upon them falls the responsibility to defend the historic Reformed faith over against the corruptions of the truth by the Romish Church? They will be unable to defend their position, and will stand in the vanguard of a false ecumenism which brings Roman Catholics and “Reformed” together. And the responsibility for all this falls upon the heads of muddle-headed teachers who have abrogated their Christian and covenantal responsibilities to play games with the truth. 

Destination Anaheim 

The Missouri-Synod Lutheran Church is torn by trouble. Internal dissension is leading rapidly to a schism which will split the Missouri Church down the middle. Anaheim, California is the place where the next convention will be held; and most members of the Church believe that the convention in Anaheim will determine, once for all, the future of the Church.

In the March 10, 1975 issue of Affirm, the editor lists the major issues which will be on the top of the Convention’s Agenda and which will have to be resolved. We quote briefly from the article.

The growing feeling is that three or four major matters must be finally resolved at Anaheim. By grace they will be.

In whatever form the District publications and the resolutions state it, they essentially agree that Seminex must be abolished. (Seminex is the rival Seininary set up by those who taught false doctrine in Concordia Seminary and were put out of their teaching posts. H.H.) Of course, Missouri can’t prevent the Seminex group from continuing to function, if it chooses to do so, but it can determine to break off all relations with it, continue to refuse recognition to its graduates as candidates for Missouri’s ministry, and generally shut a firm door on this unhappy episode in Missouri’s history. . . .

There is further concern over the placement of Seminex graduates. Some of them have been installed as pastors in a disorderly manner, . . .

A growing consensus exists that Synod must deal with the question of District Presidents, their role, and the disobedience of some to her by-laws. Missouri can’t afford an array of these men proceeding to act officially as they choose. Anaheim, at a minimum, if Synod is to be restored to that decency and order the Scriptures call for, must ask erring presidents to apologize to the church, to undo their mistakes, to promise to end their practice of by-passing the regulations all Missourians have commonly agreed to; and it must create a means whereby those who refuse to act in this way can be removed from office by Synod’s president. . . .

Last July Affirm carried an analysis of what had happened at District conventions around the country. It reported that the large Michigan District had memorialized the Anaheim convention to make it a synodical policy that “all who continue their active support for ELIM be declared ineligible for synodical office or divine call into the preaching and teaching ministries of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.”

This request to act decisively on ELIM adherents will come before the convention as will similar requests. That ELIM has become a church within a church is commonplace among Missourians today. And as long as ELIM exists, it will present Missouri a serious problem. . . . (ELIM stands for “Evangelical Lutherans In Mission,” and constitutes an organization within the denomination which has sought to promote the causes of the liberals. H.H.)

These immediate issues arise out of the deep doctrinal differences between liberals and conservatives. What the Convention decides on these issues will determine the doctrinal direction of Missouri for many years.