The fourth report adopted by the World Council of Churches in its meeting at Uppsala in 1968 is given the title which is placed above this article. The title itself suggests again a concern with a “social” gospel—especially in distinction from the gospel of Scripture.
Now it is true that the church of Jesus Christ can be, nay, should be, interested in justice and peace. For God is called the God of peace (I Thess. 5:23). Peace is of God and surpasseth understanding (Phil. 4:7). Peace must be preached (Eph. 2:17). But peace is specifically identified in Scripture as the fruit of the work of atonement, which is enjoyed by the individual ONLY in the way of regeneration (Eph. 2:14-17).
God is likewise the God of justice (I John 1:9). He is the God Who does not justify man as he is born in Adam, for in His sight shall no man living be justified (Ps. 143:2). But God justifies His elect (Rom. 8:33). It is this justification through the blood of the Lamb which is the basis of true peace (Rom. 5:1). The truly just are those who live by faith (Rom. 1:17). And these. justified ones walk in justice towards others (James 2 and other passages).
Therefore, it is striking that when the paper adopted by the W.C.C. speaks of justice and peace, it speaks of a justice and peace which Scripture does not know, nor does it really seek to relate its own idea of justice and peace with that justice and peace accomplished by Christ on the cross of atonement. I would like to point out how this is true.
First, the paper speaks, by way of introduction, of certain “Christian Insights.” These “insights,” however, are “Christian” in name only. Among other things, it is stated,
The Word of God testifies to the unity of creation, and to the unity of all men in Christ. . . . This calls us to action oriented to the brotherhood of all men. . . .
The Word of God bears witness to Christ who sacrificed himself for his brethren. . . . By this we are challenged not only to ask sacrifices of others, but to make them ourselves. . . .
The Word of God testifies that in Jesus Christ, God makes the world new. . . . We are called at the same time to critical examination and to unhesitating involvement. . . .
The Word of God testifies that the reconciling work of God makes an end to all division and enmity. . . . This drives us to seek to open and to keep open the lines of communication between races, age groups, nations and blocs, in order to bring about reconciliation. . . .
Though of necessity I quote only part of the “Christian Insights,” it should be obvious that these “insights” suggest a certain “Universalism.” The work of Christ is applied to all men on this earth—these all are beneficiaries of it. Secondly, these “insights” suggest that the purpose of Christ’s work was to establish a certain Utopia on this earth—that Christ’s work brings the elect to glory is not even mentioned. Thirdly, these “insights” speak of reconciliation—not in the sense of reconciliation of God with the sinner, but only in the sense of reconciliation of the sinner with the sinner. These “Christian Insights,” therefore, represent pure, unadulterated modernism—insights to which no true child of God could subscribe. Yet these “insights” are the basis for the judgments and conclusions which follow in the position paper.
Several problems are presented and briefly discussed in this paper. First, there is a brief summary of the problem of peace and war. Simply stated, One could say: the W.C.C. is against war. The W.C.C. does not recognize war as the fruit of sin; nor will they admit that the only possible way of removal of war is through the atonement of Christ and regeneration by His Spirit. No; they are rather opposed to war because it is the “gravest affront to the conscience of man;” the “encouragement of wars by proxy” is an “international scandal which governments must no longer tolerate or permit.” Their position towards war and peace must be hardly different from that of many non-Christian sects that presently exist.
The article continues by emphasizing the need of “protection of individuals and groups in the political world.” The section is divided into parts: one treating the subject of human rights, the next speaks of majorities and minorities, then follows a section on race relations, and finally the question of refugees and displaced persons is covered. All of these subjects are treated only briefly. Striking it is here too, that improvement is suggested along lines which have nothing to do with the gospel, nothing to do with the idea of sin and grace. Men are encouraged, and the church must actively encourage, to establish an earthly kingdom without injustice. Among other statements, are found these:
Churches should strive to make their congregations feel that in the modern world-wide community the rights of the individual are inevitably bound up with the struggle for a better standard of living for the underprivileged of all nations . . . .
. . . Protection of conscience demands that the churches should give spiritual care and support not only to those serving in armed forces but also those who, especially in the light of the nature of modern warfare, object to participation in particular wars they feel bound in conscience to oppose . . . .
The churches must be actively concerned for the economic and political wellbeing of exploited groups so that their statements and actions may be relevant.
Then follows a division treating “economic justice and world order.” There are presented several suggestions to accomplish this:
The full development and use of a wide variety of national, regional and world instruments, with the United Nations acting to review and correlate them in an overall strategy of world economic and social development . . . .
Express in their own life the truth that all men are created equal in God’s sight, and share a common humanity . . . .
. . . They should also stress that economic justice cannot be achieved without sacrifice and support the establishment of an international development tax. . . .
Give greater priority and more money to ministries of reconciliation and service on an international scale, and especially where the most explosive forms of injustice are to be found . . . .
There is presented finally a very revealing discussion of “international structures.” This section shows how that the majority within the W.C.C. are striving for a united world community. One can compare what is stated with what Scripture reveals in Revelation 13—and he must be struck by the similarity. The W.C.C. states:
But today the national unity has become too small, particularly among the weaker nations. Both the need for self-protection against economic domination by more powerful nations and the mutual assistance in development afforded by economic cooperation suggest the desirability of regional organizations. These can contribute to peace both internally as an instrument of reconciliation between their members, and externally as a form of cooperative security. They offer a practical intermediate step towards the goal of one world community . . .
It is imperative that the churches support the building of strong agencies of regional cooperation and concern themselves closely with political developments at the regional level. The churches also should cooperate together regionally . . . .
Christians should urge their governments to accept the rulings of the International Court of Justice without reservation. Christians should also give unrelenting support to the development of an international ethos. We are convinced that there is a moral sense in all men to which appeal can be made, but which still needs to be publicly articulated. The UN is essential to the pursuit of justice and peace in the world . . . .
The overcoming of the present inadequacies of the UN depends chiefly on the extent to which men will accord to the essential authority. We therefore reaffirm the strong support of it stated by the preceding assemblies of the World Council of Churches.
It ought to be evident that this document advocates the establishment of peace and justice through a one world community which has gained the support of a united church. The peace and justice sought will doubtlessly then be the peace and justice of the kingdom of the antichrist. This peace and justice does not proceed out of the cross. It is not based upon atonement. It follows rather out of a willingness of all men to cooperate.
The position of this paper is summarized in its conclusion. Notice again how the emphasis is upon the possibility of working together—not only working together with other churches, but working together with those of other “religions and all men of goodwill” everywhere. The W.C.C. works for a united church and a united world; it actively works for the establishment of the kingdom, of the antichrist. They conclude by stating:
The growing dimensions of the ecumenical movement offer new possibilities for concerted contributions to international relations. There is an increasing demand for common action by all Christians in the international field, and new possibilities in many sectors of the international situation for joint or parallel action by Christians. Even if differences in historical ecclesiastical structures, cultural backgrounds, political systems and styles of action present substantial obstacles to cooperation, these possibilities must be fully explored. More serious efforts at dialogue with the adherents of other religions and all men of good-will provide a potential resource on a wider scale. At the same time, responsive Christian witness to the world of nations should be expressed at the parish level. There is no parish so small or isolated that it should feel free of involvement in this common responsibility through prayer, education, consultation with the Christians of the nations concerned and through ecumenical service and action at local level.
But there is no room for Christ!