Much is being heard, also in Reformed circles, of the World Council of Churches (W.C.C.). In our country, the Reformed Church in America is a member. The Christian Reformed Church is not — but there is considerable agitation within it to change this situation. The argument is often heard that a scriptural, confessional, Calvinistic church can influence such an organization far more from within than from without. This attitude appears to me to be very similar to that of the proverbial fly who enters into the “parlor” of the spider.
The W.C.C. and its related organizations continue to reveal themselves. This revelation of its character was made again last July in Geneva, Switzerland. At that time there was held a “Conference on Church and Society.” This conference was under the auspices of the W.C.C.; it consisted of a body of “experts”‘ who would speak to the W.C.C., but also who revealed the general direction in which the W.C.C. is going. Twice I have attempted to obtain the documents which were approved at that gathering — but I have not received them to date. However, an interesting account and analysis of this Conference was presented in the latestChristianity Today by Alice Widener (February 17, 1967). The article was reprinted from the magazine U.S.A., Vol. 12, Nos. 24-25. I intend to quote from this article, and especially those quotes that article contains from the documents of the Conference itself.
THE BEASTS OF REVELATION 13
As one reads an article as that appearing inChristianity Today shivers go up and down one’s spine. Here one sees presented an unfolding of that which Revelation speaks of. In chapter 13 there are presented two beasts—terrible beasts. The first comes from the sea with his seven heads, ten horns, and ten crowns. Without entering into detail, we can state that this beast represents the political world power as it reaches its climax and culmination in the kingdom of the antichrist. The second beast with horns as a lamb and voice of a dragon represents the social-religious-scientific aspect of the kingdom of the antichrist. This second beast “exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” This second beast uses its powers of persuasion (it has a voice of a dragon) to convince men to worship the first beast. Yet the second beast comes as a mild lamb (it has horns as a lamb) which serves to convince many that there is in this beast nothing to fear. One cannot help noticing that when a gathering such as the recent Conference on Church and Society, under sponsorship of the W.C.C., takes place, there is both in declaration and appearance a close resemblance to that second beast of Revelation 13.
The Conference on Church and Society emphasized particularly four points: “(1) Modern technology….; (2) The need for accelerated development in Asia, Africa, and Latin America….; (3) The struggle for world peace….; (4) The problem of just political and social order and the changing role of the state.”
Though there were various documents treated at this Conference, and though I have only brief excerpts of these, yet several points seem to emerge.
First, this brain-child of, the W.C.C. would like to see a one-world power, or at least a supranational organization, with power to act in various spheres. The conference called for a “gradual imposition of supranational approaches upon national efforts.” There is the recommendation that the Church urge governments “to introduce economic, political and social education into ‘national school systems to support also the idea of “a diminuation of national sovereignty.” In another place the Conference proposes a “supranational authority (over) the two major nuclear powers.”
This supranational power must see to the proper and equal distribution of wealth:
Unfortunately the level of government contributions has only rarely been determined in consultation with the receiver. These contributions, even to international agencies, are voluntary, short-term commitments. However, the transfer of capital and skill through governmental channels must be considered a long-term process, and more formal, medium or long-term arrangements and commitments are becoming increasingly necessary for the efficient operation of these agencies and the carrying out of development programs.
To carry out the above “long term arrangements and commitments,” eventually there will have to be “a system of international taxation.”
To carry out the plans of this Conference, a virtual dictatorship will be necessary. The plans involve nothing less than a “restructuring of the world economy.” This “restructuring” would also require force to carry it out and would, admittedly, work hardship for many:
The fundamental restructuring of the world economy necessarily implies temporary dislocation and possible suffering for a large number of people. The first task of the churches in this situation is to speak to the government or power structure responsible and to insist that prior measures be taken to prevent or at least to minimize and alleviate the difficulties which individuals and groups may have to face. Only after every preventive measure has been taken should the Church prepare people to accept and overcome these problems and impart the vision of a wider world order for which restructuring is a necessary preliminary.
Secondly, this Conference, supposedly representing the thought of the “Churches” and reflecting (supposedly) the testimony of Scripture, presents a “morality” which is wholly against the thought of Scripture and the law of God. It minimizes the calling of the church to preach the gospel and, in fact, scoffs at the position of the church in the past ages. It rejects the idea that it is enough “to seek to save souls and improve individual characters on the assumption that good people will produce good government.” And it scorns the past position of the church: “the problem of the contemporary structure of the Church is that it was devised for a past form of society, which was static, generally agrarian, and religiously conformist.”
What then is the calling of the church? What are the rules it must follow? The proposals of the Conference of “churchmen” are shocking. It suggests that the church must even encourage revolution to carry out that plan to “restructure” society.
Political involvement at times confronts Christians with especially difficult issues such as the use of constitutional or extra-constitutional methods of political action, the use of violent or non-violent action, and the rights of minorities or other oppressed groups within the life of a nation.
. ..In many cases where legislation violates an acceptable constitution, and no speedy means of legal relief are available, the Christian may be called to civic disobedience (sit-down strikes, passive disobedience or deliberate violation of laws). In cases in which the constitution itself is inadequate, the Christian is called to work for its amendment in the interest of firmer guarantees of human rights. Where such changes are impossible, the Christian may come to the conclusion that he has no alternative but to violate the constitution in order to make possible a better one…. We understand that laws may be defied in the defence of the constitution, and that the constitution may be defied in defence of human rights.
. . ..No generally valid over-all prescription can be given for the ways in which changes in the organization of political and economic power in developing nations should occur and how Christians should respond to such changes….
There are, however, at least two generalizations which can be made about the approach of Christians to the reorganization of the structures of power in the “Third World.” One is that wherever small elites rule at the expense of the Welfare of the majority, political change toward achieving a more just order as quickly as possible should be actively promoted and supported by Christians. The second is that, in cases where such changes are needed, the use by Christians of revolutionary methods — by which is meant violent overthrow of an existing political order — cannot be excluded a priori. For in such cases, it may very well be that the use of violent methods is the only recourse of those who wish to avoid prolongation of the vast covert violence which the existing order involves. But Christians should think of the day after the revolution, when justice must be established by clear minds and in good conscience. There is no virtue in violence itself, but only in what will come after it. In some instances significant changes have been made by nonviolent means, and Christians must develop greater skill and wisdom in using these.
One would almost think that those people have never read Romans 13. One final fact emerges from the documents of this Conference. The “Church” wants to cooperate in all of this with the world — in fact, must conform itself to the world in order to accomplish its goals. The Conference stated, “In many parts of the world today, the Church represents a relatively small minority, participating in the struggle for the future of man alongside other religions and secular movements. Moreover, it can hope to contribute to the transformation of the world only as it is itself transformed in contact with the world.” And again, “AS Christians, we are committed to working for the transformation of society working in and through the established institution’ s according to their rules.”
There is left no Christ. There is no preaching of the gospel. There is no maintaining of the truths of the Word of God. There is no care for that truth that the church and its members are pilgrims and strangers on the earth. There is no looking for the kingdom of heaven. None of this appears to be the concern of this Conference. What is seen is the rising of the second beast of Revelation 13. Watch him! You will be hearing more and more of him in the “conferences” which the “churches” hold.