The International Council of Christian Churches (I.C.C.C) has met a total of six times in its “Plenary Congresses.” One of the aims of these congresses is to express together what the member churches believe need emphasis at that particular time. These resolutions show rather definitely what the I.C.C.C. and its members believe. Therefore, in this concluding article on the organization, I would like to make brief quotes from those, resolutions adopted by the last Congress held in Geneva on August 5-11, 1965. The quotations which follow have been taken from theLutheran News, Vol. 3, No. 17, published on August 23, 1965.
THE RESOLUTIONS OF 1965
There were some ten resolutions approved at the Sixth Plenary Congress of the I.C C.C. These dealt with diverse but important topics. The more significant resolutions treated the subjects of the Bible, Christian education the ecumenical movement, the new morality, and Communism. As far as amount of material is concerned, one of the ten resolutions, “Resolution on World Communism and the Christian Church,” comprised more than one fourth of the total material adopted.
One can appreciate much of what was adopted at that last Congress and respond with a hearty “Amen.” There is, for instance resolutions on the Bible:
We. . .express our great sorrow at the declension from belief in the verbal inspiration of God’s Word which is now becoming increasingly apparent in so many denominations. During the past few years the anti-Christian character of some of the leaders of these denominations has become more and more clear, as they have become more and more brazen and outspoken in their denial of Biblical truth, and in their open declarations that God’s Word contains errors. . . .
Finally, we declare our complete confidence in the Bible, our uncompromising loyalty to its teachings, and our determination to hazard our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor in the proclamation and the defense of this treasure that God has given to His church.
Again, there is the encouraging statement concerning the Bible as the Word of God:
In our days many make a principal distinction between the Bible and the Word of God. According to them the Bible, as a book, is not the Word of God, but only a purely human thing. As such the Bible contains errors and mistakes. It is only in and through the proclamation of the Bible that it can become for us the Word of God. Therefore the facts which the Bible describes are not to be viewed as historical realities, but as given requiring special interpretation for our time. . . .
In obedience to what the Scriptures themselves teach, we confess and maintain that the Bible first becomes the Word of God for us in and through the proclamation. All that the Bible contains, just as it is written for us, is held by us to be the only and ever remaining Word of God. The Bible in its written form is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path,
On the other hand, we reject at the same time the false accusation that we make an idol of the Bible, as a book, and that we believe in the Bible of God instead of in the God of the Bible.
In its “Call to Reformation” the Congress adopted:
Such denominations, by tolerating false doctrine and by promoting false unity, are causing divisions,
we, the I.C.C.C., as believers earnestly beseech every Christian, every congregation, and every association of Bible-believing Christians’ to be mindful of our common calling to obey God more than men, and to notify their denominations that they can no longer be responsible for false doctrine and unbiblical affiliations. We urge upon these believers to petition their denominations for withdrawal from the Ecumenical Movement and for a return to the historic Christian faith, in accordance with the Word of God.
Another resolution I appreciated was one “On Christian Education:”
Many institutions of learning are either “neutral” regarding the Christ of the Scriptures or positively infected with the anti-Biblical spirit of rationalism scientism and humanism; this I.C.C.C., meeting in Geneva. . . J urges all Bible-believers everywhere to establish such institutions of training for our children and youth as will bring glory to God, be in accordance with the full counsel of God, and bring all thoughts also in the classroom into captivity to Christ, of whom, through whom, and unto whom are all things.
Another resolution condemns the World Council of Churches and the present-day ecumenical movement. Five points are briefly emphasized. First, the ecumenical movement and the W.C.C. represent a false concept of Christian unity. Secondly, the W.C.C. has no Biblical basis. Thirdly, the leadership of the W.C.C. includes men who have apostatized from the faith. Fourthly, The W.C.C. betrays the glorious heritage of the 16th century reformation. Finally, The W.C.C. acts as an instrument for building of a super-church.
There is also a resolution condemning the “New Morality.”
The “new morality” is in reality immorality, a blatant disregard of God’s Word and commandments. In holding that a man who really loves God does not need any laws, it takes a stand opposite to the words of Christ and the Bible in general. . . .
The churches of our time need a sincere return to teach the absolute authority of the Bible, to proclaim without compromise the holy law of God for conviction and repentance, but then also to a biblical preaching and teaching of free justification and salvation by the blood of Christ and by the Holy Spirit for the conversion and new birth of sinners. . . .
RESOLUTION ON WORLD COMMUNISM AND THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
This resolution, the longest of the ten adopted, shows, as far as I am concerned, two of the objections which could be raised to the joining with the I.C.C.C. In the first place, it seems to involve itself far too much in matters political. Secondly, the question arises in my mind: what is the conception of the I.C.C.C. regarding the Kingdom of God which shall be established?
I hasten to state that I can subscribe to much of the statement against communism. I have no doubt in my mind concerning its evil character today—particularly in its opposition to the church. But the question remains: is it the calling of the church to expend a major portion of its effort in opposition to one form of government which is manifestly atheistic? Did the apostle Paul, who lived during the days of that most wicked dictator Nero, show any opposition to that atheistic government? But allow me to quote a bit from the document.
By Communism we mean:
The philosophy, economic doctrine, politics, program and military adventures of the Communist parties of the world. These doctrines were first stated by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in the Communist Manifesto of 1848, developed by Lenin and Stalin, and thereafter believed and practiced by the Communist parties of the world under the leadership of the Soviet Union.
Then follows a list of ten aspects of the Communist movement which the I.C.C.C. finds particularly objectionable. I have no reason to question or dispute the ten points.
Among the eight points under a “Call to Christian Action,” that is, action against Communism, is stated this:
6. Pray for the liberation of North Korea, the Chinese Mainland, Viet Nam, Eastern Europe, Cuba and the Soviet homeland itself, to reopen all Communist-dominated lands to Christian evangelism, fellowship and liberty.
It is this idea in the battle against Communism which troubles one. For what does one here pray? It is far more than a prayer that God may keep His people in the midst of fearful persecution. It is more than praying that God may direct this persecution for the benefit of the church. It is more than praying that God, may direct the actions of even evil rulers that His purpose may be served; Here is a prayer that God may “liberate” various nations of their present governments. Possibly I read too much into the adopted statement. Yet it seems that there would be two basic ways in which these lands could be “liberated”: by revolution or by invasion of a foreign power. Must I pray that men may rise up in revolt against instituted government? Did the apostle Paul pray that this might happen to that evil ruler Nero? Did he not rather advise: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers”? He did not advise submission to their godlessness; for refusing such submission both he and others were imprisoned and even put to death. But there is no evidence that Paul sought the “liberation” of Rome. Or must I pray that the United States (or another foreign power) engage in warfare to overthrow of the governments in Russia, China, etc.?
Yes, we must be concerned with the church in persecution. We must likewise point out that any government which uses its God-given authority in suppressing the church and destroying its members, is misusing this authority and must stand condemned before God. And if this government would imprison me for condemning these evil actions, then so be it. But I will not rise in rebellion against instituted authority nor seek the “liberation” of nations. Paul did not either.
Related to the above is the question of the Kingdom of God which the I.C.C.C. actively seeks. I do not find much written on this particular question. There is the statement, set in contrast to the views of Communism, that “the Glorious Hope of the Church (is) in the personal return of Christ to set up His Kingdom, and the final destiny of all men in either Heaven or Hell.” The statement is carefully phrased, but seems to lend itself to a pre-millennial interpretation.
But much of the approach of the I.C.C.C. appears to be almost post-millennial. The idea seems to be that if we work hard enough, pray long enough, contribute faithfully enough, we can roll back the tide of Communism and establish governments more in harmony with the Word of the Lord, that is, “government by law based on the consent of the governed, maintained by free men for the glory of God.”
We can be encouraged that there are those who would yet combat the modernism, immorality, atheism of the day. But they must understand, and we must also remember, that the tide of wickedness will not be stopped—till Christ returns in judgment on the clouds of glory. One must continue to raise testimony against wickedness, but not with the idea that finally we will make of this world a better place. Certainly, the purpose of God will be fulfilled. Neither an atheistic Communism nor a non-theistic Democracy can defeat the purpose of God. But His purpose is that, through even intense persecution at the end-time, He will gather unto Himself His elect people and bring them into heaven with all its glory. There will they enjoy government as this world can not know. It will not be communism, nor dictatorship, nor democracy—but Christ Himself will be King forevermore.