For the time being, I intend to allow the matter of the Vatican Council to rest. I still intend to present the ideas of the last decrees promulgated at the last session, but until the present time I have not received a complete copy of these.
There are various “international” councils of churches, in addition to the well-known World Council of Churches. None are as large as this latter, yet they are worthy of our consideration. The question which we also face as churches is the measure of cooperation which is possible between our churches and others which apparently maintain many of the cardinal truths of Scripture. Our Synod faced this concretely last summer when it had to act on an invitation from the I.C.C.C.
The International Council of Christian Churches is an organization, headed by the well-known Dr. Carl McIntire, purporting to be composed of “Bible believing” churches. It numbers in its membership some 100 denominations, most of these rather small compared to the goliaths belonging to the W.C.C.
SYNOD RECEIVES AN INVITATION
We, as one of the “Bible believing” denominations of our land received an invitation (evidently also sent to all “Bible-believing” denominations) to attend the Sixth Plenary Congress of the I.C.C.C. to meet at Geneva, Switzerland on August 5-11, 1965. The letter reads as follows:
Enclosed you will find a copy of the official Call, which also constitutes an invitation to attend the Sixth Plenary Congress of the International Council of Christian Churches. We would be pleased to have observers, visitors, or any who may be led to do so, attend this congress and partake of the blessings of the congress fellowship and to observe the I.C.C.C. in action.
With the applications for membership which the Council has received and which are now being processed, the Council will have over 100 denominations in its constituent membership. We ask your prayers for this meeting of the brethren.
Carl McIntire, President
Our Synod made short work of this bit of business. Without any careful study of the organization, for which there was not time, Synod declined the invitation. Briefly, Synod decided:
Synod decides not to accept the invitation to the Sixth Plenary Congress of the I.C.C.C.
(1) One third of the churches membership in the I.C.C.C. comes from the Holiness churches.
(2) Many of the other member denominations are outside the pale of Calvinistic Protestantism.
THE I.C.C.C. REPLIES
Because it had been my intent to discuss this organization in these columns, I wrote some time ago to the president of the I.C.C.C. (Carl McIntire) in order to find out what his reaction was to this decision of our Synod. To introduce this discussion of I.C.C.C. I would like to present a copy of the letter of reply.
“Your letter to Dr. McIntire of Sept. 27, 1965 has been received. He has asked me to thank you for your interest and for the questions you have raised, He had expected to answer you personally before now, but his many duties have prevented his doing so.
“Under separate cover we are sending you information concerning the I.C.C.C. The Sixth Plenary Congress Book, which sells for $3.00, in news book size, gives a good survey of the history, purpose and work of the I.C.C.C. “We do not have a list of our constituent bodies available for distribution. It is not true that ‘one third of the churches with membership in the I.C.C.C. comes from the Holiness churches,’ but it is true that many of the other member denominations are outside the pale of Calvinistic Protestantism.
“The Bible Presbyterian Church is Calvinistic, as is the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches. The St. Thomas Evangelical Church in India with its 30,000 members is Calvinistic, and Bishop Adjuoga of Kenya leads a fundamental Anglican group of some 60,000 members. Other Presbyterian and Baptist groups throughout the world are also Calvinistic. I do not believe that we have ever made a survey of Calvinistic groups within the I.C.C.C.
“The basis for our Christian co-operation is the Bible awhile Dr. McIntire and others of us are Presbyterian through and through in our denominations, we also concede that Methodists and other non-Calvinistic bodies are truly “born again” and therefore within the scope of a Council of Churches. When one considers the basis of membership of the NCC/WCC, the National Association of Evangelicals and the World Evangelical Alliance, one also sees the need for the International Council of Christian Churches built upon the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God. The testimony of this Council is needed today more than ever before.
“When the I.C.C.C. was established in Amsterdam in 1948, the organizers believed that they had adopted the ‘least common denominator’ upon which any Bible believing Council could be built.
“The Council has very limited functions which are clearly defined in its constitution. It is not a Church, nor does it pretend to do the work of a Church. There is no celebration of the Lord’s Supper, as is common in WCC meetings. The Council, as such, does not hold any evangelistic meetings, nor does it do the work of mission societies. It is to hold up the banner of the truth of the infallible Word of God in an age of apostasy and denial of the Faith. “We trust that this is helpful to you.
“Yours in His, Service, Margaret Harden.”
HISTORY OF THE I.C.C.C.
The I.C.C.C. was formed first upon a call issued by the American Council of Christian Churches which met in Detroit, Michigan on October 18, 1947. They declared: “The time has come in the providence of our gracious God when a council of Christian churches to bear testimony to ‘the faith once delivered unto the saints,’ and to represent Bible-believing churches throughout the world should be established.”
Shortly after, on August 11-19, 1948, the I.C.C.C. was formed in the city of Amsterdam, The Netherlands when various denominations met in the English Reformed Church (the same church in which the Pilgrim Fathers worshipped while they were in the Netherlands). At this gathering there were 150 participants representing 39 denominations from 26 different nations. The theme of that first “Congress” was: “The Christ of the Scriptures.”
It was at this first meeting that a doctrinal statement for this international body was drawn up:
The doctrinal statement was first drafted by representatives of various denominational bodies. It was then discussed in the plenary session in almost gracious brotherly spirit. It was then returned to groups representing five languages for translation—English, French, Dutch, German and Chinese. Suggestions and alterations were considered and decided upon by each language group. Then a committee brought to the full plenary session the completed document, which was discussed.
Never was there a deliberative assembly where there was a finer or more gracious spirit and manner. All, had complete understanding that we were united in what we believed and were desirous of stating our beliefs in a way that would be easily translatable into the various languages and which would protect the testimony from the subtle shades of modernistic interpretation of the hour.
To see the doctrinal statement worked out in this manner with such fellowship of love and labor was indeed a blessing and all who participated thanked God, for the privilege. The doctrinal statement was unanimously approved, and men stood and praised God from whom all blessings flow. All the other matters of the congress were worked out in a similar way. (from: 6th Plenary Congress, page 33)
There have been a total of six “congresses” held of the I.C.C.C. The second congress met in August of 1950 in Geneva Switzerland and had 450 participants from 42 denominations. In August of 1954 the third congress met in Philadelphia with 1,500 participants and 54 denominations represented. The fourth congress was held in Rio-Petropolis, Brazil in August of 1958. This had 500 participants and 62 denominations represented. The fifth congress was held in Amsterdam again on August of 1962. There were 700 participants and 83 denominations present. At the last congress in Geneva last August, 111 denominations were represented. The theme was: “Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” It was to this last congress that our churches were also invited to send observers or participants.
The above history is intentionally brief. The Council is composed of denominations from around the world. And apparently these denominations are those which subscribe to the basic doctrines of Scripture.
Next time, D.V., I hope to consider the constitution of this organization. For from this can be determined precisely what is the basis for the I.C.C.C. and what its professed goals are.