Rev. Stewart is pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland. Previous article in this series: January 15, 2009, p. 179.
Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism (1964) is the Roman Catholic Church’s blueprint for restoring all professing Christians—especially the Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Protestants—to the papal fold. This will also serve Rome’s geopolitical goals: one world, one religion, one pope.
Early Protestant Ecumenism and the Edinburgh Missionary Conference
The ecumenical movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries involved Protestants with various backgrounds (Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Reformed, Lutheran, etc.) who were typically either Arminian or modernist (or both). Creedal subscription was lax. Few cared much for their church’s historic teaching, whether true or false. Besides, the common wisdom—then, as it is also now!—was that doctrine divides whereas service unites.
The service that especially united them and led to further false ecumenism was missions. According to many scholars, the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, or the World Missionary Conference, held in the Assembly Hall of the United Free Church of Scotland (14-23 June, 1910), was especially important in this regard.1¹
The spirit of the Edinburgh Missionary Conference is captured by this catchy slogan: “The Evangelization of the World in this Generation,” itself the title of the conference chairman’s best-known book (published in 1900). But this spirit was hardly the Holy Spirit. A century after the World Missionary Conference, the world has not been evangelized, but man-centered Arminianism is very much to the fore, and apostasy and false ecumenism continue apace.
The Edinburgh Missionary Conference decided to establish a Continuation Committee, through which the International Missionary Council (IMC) was established in 1921. The IMC furthered ecumenism and was closely related to the World Council of Churches (WCC; founded in 1948) until it became the Division of (later Commission on) World Mission and Evangelism (1961) of the WCC.
One man sums up this unification of the missionary movement and the ecumenical movement: John R. Mott, an American Methodist layman and leader of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), and the World Student Christian Federation.² Mott chaired the World Missionary Conference and was intimately involved in the formation of the World Council of Churches in 1948, which elected him as its first honorary president.³
No Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox missionary organizations were invited to the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, but there was an Anglo-Catholic and even a women-missionary presence. Moreover, “aspirations repeatedly surfaced” at its meetings “for the inclusion of Roman Catholic and [Eastern] Orthodox” in ecumenical endeavours.4
The World Council of Churches and other ecumenists will celebrate the centenary of the 1910 World Missionary Conference at “Edinburgh 2010.” Meetings will be held throughout the world, with the main venue being, as in 1910, the Assembly Hall, Edinburgh (2-6 June, 2010). John Mott would be delighted that the participants in 2010 will be drawn from the whole range of Christian traditions, including Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostal, and even Seventh Day Adventist. The organizers assure us that “Edinburgh 2010” will “show a better gender and age balance” than the conference of 1910. Political correctness (not biblical correctness) is very important for false ecumenists.
Roman Catholic Principles of Ecumenism
Many liberal Protestants foolishly hope that in their ecumenical relations with Rome, both sides will make concessions and meet somewhere in the middle. After all, this was and is a major part of ecumenical relations between doctrinally indifferent Protestants. Surely in their dialogue with the Roman Church, there will also be give and take.
There is also the issue of momentum. Why stop with ecumenical relations merely between Protestants? If one can compromise with other Protestants for the sake of missionary labors or greater numbers and political power, why not sacrifice the truth for greater communion with Rome? If Protestants can reject God’s sovereign grace for Amyraldianism and Arminianism; and can accept evolutionism, higher criticism, and political correctness; and can play down their denominational distinctives for ecumenism with other liberal Protestants, why should they not compromise with the Roman Church?5 And may not Rome, grateful for their approach, be open to finding some mutually acceptable middle ground?
Such naÃ¯ve Protestants should carefully read Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism (1964).6 Its section on Rome’s principles of ecumenism is clear (pp. 343-350). Jesus’ prayer for His church’s oneness (John 17:21) (p. 343) is perverted into unity under Peter (i.e., “Peter’s successor,” the pope), upon whom Christ builds His church and to whom He gave the keys of the kingdom and “entrusted all His sheep” (p. 344). All who are “separated from full communion with the Catholic Church” (p. 345) must return to the pope and the hierarchy of the “bishops” (p. 344) with their false sacraments—especially baptismal regeneration (p. 345) and Rome’s blasphemous “Eucharist” (p. 343).7
“Common Ground” is Roman Ground!
In its section on the churches of the Reformation (pp. 361-365), Unitatis Redintegratio seeks to establish common ground and build bridges—to use the ecumenical (and political) buzz words. With a striking use of “spin,” its opening sentence declares that the Reformation churches “are bound to the Catholic Church by a special affinity and close relationship in view of the long span of earlier centuries when the Christian people lived in ecclesiastical communion [with Rome]” (p. 361; italics mine). Yet the Reformation was a breaking of bonds with a false church in order to serve Jesus Christ!
Reformed truths are likewise stood on their head. Protestants who confess Christ as “the sole Mediator” are thereby led to Rome! “Inspired by longing for union with Christ, they feel compelled to search for unity [i.e., with the pope] ever more ardently” (p. 362). The Protestant “love, veneration, and near cult [sic!] of the sacred Scriptures” (p. 362) can be used by Rome in ecumenical dialogue, for “the sacred utterances are precious instruments…for attaining . . . unity” with the Vatican (p. 363). The fact that Rome has added to, and horribly adulterated, the two sacraments Christ has given us does not deter the Decree on Ecumenism from urging them as a starting point for “dialogue . . . concerning the true meaning of the Lord’s Supper, the other sacraments, and the Church’s worship and ministry” (p. 364). Even elements of the “ancient common liturgy” in Protestant worship (p. 364) may be urged as reasons to return to the idolatry from which God graciously delivered us.
Why should this be? Unitatis Redintegratioanswers, “the Catholic Church has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all the means of grace” (p. 348; italics mine), and the Holy Spirit uses the “separated churches” as “means of salvation” because they “derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church” (p. 346). According to Vatican II,
the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, along with other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit and visible elements…which come from Christ and lead back to Him, belong by right to the one Church of Christ [i.e., Rome] (pp. 345-346; italics mine).
Rome’s arrogance is unbounded. Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are brought into a certain, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church” (p. 345). All the grace received by Protestants comes through the Roman Church, and our baptisms (if Rome reckons them “proper”) unite us to the papacy.8 What a pronouncement! Better be anathematized by Rome than a recipient of its “blessings”!
Robert Zins sums it up,
Rome has unilaterally declared itself to be the judge of whether one’s religion does or does not have the necessary elements to qualify as a Christian religion. This absorption by decree does two things. First, it attempts to legitimize Rome since Rome is making the proclamation as though it were the official judge in the matter! Secondly, it minimizes the opposition to insignificance should anyone disagree.9
Like its fiery persecutions, though in a different yet no less deadly way, Rome’s false ecumenism is slaying millions.
Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Council of Churches (WCC), an international ecumenical grouping of about 350 churches, denominations, and church fellowships, encompasses over 560 million people in more than 120 countries.10 Its ranks include Eastern Orthodoxy, the Anglican Communion, and many Protestant denominations, but not the Roman Catholic Church. Yet Rome has worked closely with the WCC for more than three decades and sends observers to all major WCC conferences and assemblies. The Vatican also nominates twelve full members to the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission.11
The headquarters of another liberal, ecumenical body are also located in Geneva: the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), consisting of 75 million people in 107 countries. Over 45% of the 214 denominations in the WARC also belong to its neighbor, the WCC. Both the WCC and the WARC work with the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.12 St. Pierre’s Cathedral in Geneva has been used frequently for their false ecumenical services, as if to spit in John Calvin’s face. Calvin’s Geneva is now the seat of apostate Reformed churches as they fraternize with the See of Rome!13
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), consisting of 140 member church bodies in 78 countries and representing 66.7 million of the world’s 70.2 million Lutherans, is headquartered in Geneva, like the WCC and the WARC.14 In 1999, the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church issued the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. Luther must have turned in his grave at this denial of justification by faith alone! To use his terminology, in denying the truth of justification, these Lutherans declared themselves fallen churches and fellowshipped with a fallen church, the Roman whore.
In 2006, the members of the World Methodist Council, comprising 76 member denominations in 132 countries and representing about 75 million people, met in Seoul, South Korea, and voted unanimously to adopt the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.15
But it is not just the World Council of Churches and global ecumenical bodies of the Re formed, Lutherans, and Methodists, etc., who are fraternizing with Rome. Many Protestant denominations and parachurch organizations are also engaged in this spiritual fornication. If Rome were to be successful in bringing all the Protestants (with the Eastern Orthodox and the Anglicans) back into the papal fold, this would further Rome’s geopolitical goals, for it would place one-third of mankind under the sway of the Vatican.16 Next time (DV), we will look at the methods (or weapons) of Rome’s false ecumenism with Protestants.
1 The meeting place was ideal, since the United Free Church was basically non-confessional, for at its formation (1900) it incorporated into its constitution the Declaratory Acts (1879 and 1892 respectively) of the two denominations that formed it: the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church. Thus the United Free Church constitution, proceeding on the basis of a universal love of God (common grace), a desire of God to save everybody (free offer), and the existence of the image of God in all men, overthrew the doctrines of grace (sovereign predestination, particular atonement, total depravity, and irresistible grace) as taught in the Westminster Standards, and allowed for liberty of opinion “on such points in the Standards not entering into the substance of the faith,” specifically mentioning six-day creation. As N. R. Needham puts it, the United Free Church’s “liberal Evangelicalism” blended “a moderate higher criticism, an acceptance of the findings of contemporary science, and a commitment to evangelism and missions” (“United Free Church,” in Nigel M. de S. Cameron [org. ed.], Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology [USA: IVP, 1993], p. 838).
2 The seed for the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions (established in 1888) was planted in 1886 at a conference in Mount Hermon, Massachusetts, with D. L. Moody as the principal speaker.
3 Mott was highly esteemed around the world and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1946). Jesus said, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you” (Luke 6:26).
4 Cf. D. F. Wright, “World Missionary Conference,” in Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology, p. 894.
5 Contrast Proverbs 23:23: “Buy the truth, and sell it not.”
6 This decree (Latin: Unitatis Redintegratio, “Restoration of Unity”) is found in Walter M. Abbot (gen. ed.), The Documents of Vatican II (USA: The America Press, 1966). Henceforward, pages in parentheses refer to this book.
7 By “Church,” Roman Catholic authors mean the Roman Catholic Church; by “Catholic,” they mean Roman Catholic.
8 This easily leads to a re-interpretation of the famous dictum, “Outside of the Church of Rome, there is no salvation,” for Protestants are in the Church of Rome, though they may not know it.
9 Robert Zins, Romanism: The Relentless Roman Catholic Assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! (USA: White Horse Publications, 1994), p. 199.
10 The World Council of Churches’ building, the Ecumenical Centre, is also home to several other ecumenical organizations, including the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Student Christian Federation, the Conference of European Churches (CEC), Action by Churches Together (ACT), and the Ecumenical Church Loan Fund (ECLOF). Youth With A Mission (YWAM) has its headquarters in Geneva, though not in the WCC’s Ecumenical Centre.
11 If Rome were to become a member of the WCC, it would only be the most powerful church in a very large ecumenical body. Thus Rome sees it as serving its ecclesiastical and political interests not to join the WCC but to remain as the WCC’s most important dialogue partner.
12 The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is a very busy body, engaging in international theological dialogue not only with the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Anglican Communion, the World Council of Churches, and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, but also with the Lutheran World Federation, the World Methodist Council, the Baptist World Alliance, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), various Pentecostal groups, etc.
13 Commenting on Jeremiah 32:39, Calvin declared, “But as it is necessary for us to separate from the Papists if we wish to follow God, it is better a hundred times to separate from them than to be united together, and thus to form an ungodly and wicked union against God. Agreement or union is, indeed, singularly a good thing, because there is nothing better or more desirable than peace. But we must ever bear in mind, that in order that men may happily unite together, obedience to God’s Word must be the beginning. The bond, then, of lawful concord among us is this—that we obey God from first to last; for accursed is every union where there is no regard to God and to his Word.”
14 It is striking that Calvin’s Geneva, the center of the Reformation, which proclaimed the spiritual kingdom of God, has become not only the center of apostate Protestantism but also a center for the carnal, political kingdom of man apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. There the Geneva Conventions were formulated (1864, 1906, 1929, 1949), requiring decent treatment of non-combatants and prisoners of war. Geneva was the seat of the League of Nations (1919-1946) and is the European headquarters of the United Nations (UN), as well as five of the UN’s sixteen specialized Reagencies: the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), plus three other UN agencies: the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). Many other inter-governmental organizations, such as the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), are also based in Geneva. The world headquarters of non-governmental organizations based in Geneva include the Red Cross/Red Crescent; the Boy Scouts; various bodies dealing with airports, roads, cancer, heart disease, AIDs, etc.; as well as the International Baccalaureate program and the World Wide Web Virtual Library.
15 All around the world, Methodists were among the first to play the harlot with Rome. The reasons are obvious: their lack of a creed (to help moor them to any doctrinal formula) and their free-willism (for Rome is Semi-Pelagian), as well as John Wesley’s high churchism.
16 Cf. the on-line “World FactBook” of the CIA (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/xx.html#People).