This, according to present plan, will be the concluding article on the World Council of Churches. It should be evident that if one is to judge the organization simply from a human viewpoint, that is, from the viewpoint of its outward success in achieving its own goals, a person would have to commend the W.C.C. It has succeeded in establishing a degree of oneness among its 300 million members,—a oneness such as has not been evident since the time of the Reformation. It is a “voice” to reckon with in political organizations of this earth. It is continuing its drive toward world government and a united church. And who knows how successful the organization will ultimately be in achieving its goals? But men of God must not judge according to human standards. When the organization is judged according to Scriptural standards, I am convinced that one must conclude that this organization is not “of God,” but of men. It must be condemned in no uncertain terms.
One other aspect of this organization I would consider with you: its attitude toward Communism. The reader may be aware that Dr. Carl McIntire, pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church at Collingswood, New Jersey, and speaker for the “Twentieth-Century Reformation Hour” (heard daily through the week over more than 600 radio stations in this country), has strongly condemned the W.C.C. because of its Communistic leanings and its membership which includes churches in the “iron curtain” countries. The latter churches, he claims, are infiltrated with communists and use the W.C.C. as a platform to proclaim the propaganda of Soviet Russia. Now McIntire condemns, and rightly so, the W.C.C. on many other points in addition to the subject of “Communism.” He condemns it for not requiring “unanimity in the acceptance of any one Christian doctrine and does not debar those of Unitarian belief from its fellowship.” He condemns it for “a misunderstanding of the meaning of the Lord’s prayer in John 17, in seeking to build an organic, visible, one-world church.” Again, he condemns it for conceiving the kingdom of God as “a visible, social order which actively promotes world socialism.” l But in this article I wish to consider particularly his charge of communistic leanings and influences in the W.C.C. I presume that McIntire considers this last as the most weighty objection against the W.C.C.; at least, his radio broadcasts and printed material appear to hit this point the hardest. I have no intent of entering into some sort of dispute with McIntire, but because of the prominence of this charge he has made, I think it well that we consider it too.
McIntire and “Amen Charlie”
You have probably heard the two on the radio. In recent years, their attacks against all that which appears to be leaning toward communism are well known. To nearly every charge that McIntire makes, “Amen Charlie” solemnly responds, “Amen.” (I refrain from commenting on the obvious theatrics of this.) This same McIntire is the author of a mass of literature which he offers to his radio audience. These will contain the substance of his charges made on the radio as well as documentation of these charges. From some of this printed literature I quote. Explaining the difference between the W.C.C. and the International Council of Christian Churches, the following statements are made:
The W.C.C. received into its membership all manner of church groups, including modernists, evangelic&, Unitarian, Greek Orthodox, and Communist-controlled. At New Delhi, December, 1961, the W.C.C. received into membership the Red-dominated Russian Orthodox Church . . . .
The W.C.C. has on its executive and central committees clergymen with Communist affiliations from Communist countries and holding positions in Communist governments, whose churches are dominated by the secret police. The Council includes such churches in its membership.¹
Again, in discussing the meeting of the Central Committee of the World Council which met in Rochester, N.Y., on August 27 to September 2, 1963, McIntire writes:
. . . Among the subjects receiving the widest publicity were the Council’s pronouncement endorsing the Test Ban Treaty; the unashamed call for “co-operation” with the Communists; the denouncing of all Christians who practice any form of segregation as “betraying Jesus Christ”; and the welcoming of the Roman Catholic Church into the ecumenical movement, . . .
All the committees set up by the Council to handle its business had representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church on them—except the Finance Committee. No representatives from the Iron Curtain countries were placed on the committee dealing with the raising of money.
Nikodim’s press conference used the platform of the World Council of Churches to announce that in Russia they have “freedom of worship” and that there is “no government interference” in the life of the church—the same line that the Communists have been preaching through agents and spies every time one of their spokesmen landed upon the shores of the United States. As one watched the delegation from behind the Iron Curtain move about, Archpriest Susemihl seemed again to be the one who was giving directions; and in the voting, Archpriest Borovoy would lift his hand first, others glanced his way and lifted their hands along with him. This was noted time and time again . . . .
Not one word was said on the floor or in any resolutions against the Communists, against Russia, or against any Communist activity in any part of the world1 The greatest single enemy that the Christian I church has, the great disturber of the peace in the world today, did not come in for any consideration or discussion. In fact, when Averill Harriman read his prepared text, the speech which he made, when he saw the Russians sitting on the front row, he left out a section which was critical of Russia—a section about “Communist aggression.”
So far as the Communist cause is concerned, the one development which overshadowed all others was the announcement that the world has now moved “from co-existence to co-operation.” In the unanimously adopted declaration on “The Test Ban Treaty and the Next Steps,” the Central Committee called upon the nations “to explore the possibilities of advancing from co-existence to the beginning of co-operation. General and complete disarmament is the desired goal.”²
In commenting on the Sixth General Assembly of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., meeting in December of 1963 in Philadelphia (affiliated with the W.C.C.), McIntire declares:
No resolutions were passed dealing with Communism, denouncing it, exposing it, warning the nation against it, or even suggesting that the Communists might infiltrate religion and attempt to twist the Biblical concept of the church to support the Communist concept of peace. . . .
The National Council leaders obviously live in some kind of dream world in which they themselves are blinded to the reality of the peril that confronts the world and the United States in the Communist conspiracy.³
Is McIntire Correct?
Several charges, I believe, McIntire has rather well substantiated. It appears that the Russian churches which were received into membership of the W.C.C. do send at least some delegates who, in guise of ministers or priests, are actually agents of the Russian secret police. He quotes the text of a statement made by one Russian churchman, Archbishop Nikodim, made in this country while here at the invitation of the National Council of Churches in this country. The statement surely indicates that these “churchmen” from Russia do not hesitate to use the opportunities of such visits to present the Russian propaganda of freedom of worship in Russia. He declared in Denver, on February 27, 1963:
. . . We have come to you from a Socialist State where our people, seized by labour enthusiasm is creating a new dynamic society, multiply the achievements of our Country in economy, science and culture . . . .
I presume you will agree if I say that, to ensure efficient work for itself, all this complex ecclesiastical organism requires normal relations with the State. The Church in the .USSR is disestablished from the State, and the freedom of religious worship is guaranteed by the Constitution.
The State does not interfere in the internal affairs of our churches. Soviet legislation provides for strict responsibility against wounding the religious rights of believers . . . .
We Churchmen get indignant over the attempts of the champions of the cold war to distort the picture of the real position of religion in our Country, and to try, for purposes of propaganda so alien to the interests of the Church, to present the problems of the existence of Church in a secularized society—which are common for the whole of Christendom today—as an indication of the alleged lack of freedom of religion . . . .4
Such a statement is made in the face of constant contrary reports from Russia itself. It would appear, too, that the decisions of the W.C.C. at times do aid and abet the cause of world communism.
However, a serious word of warning ought to be sounded against the presentation of McIntire. I agree that Communism, as it exists today, is an atheistic, wicked form of government. We must be opposed to all such godlessness too. But I fear that McIntire’s extreme overemphasis of Communistic dangers in the W.C.C. (and in our country), misleads many. Many of his adherents see Communists peering at them from behind every bush. I think I am not deluded about the dangers of “communistic takeover,” and the resultant persecution for the church. Yet, this ogre of Communism frightens many Christians to such a degree that they forget that the real danger for the Church in the last days is not Communism, but modernism and all false doctrine introduced by the antichrist. I know, McIntire also warns against many of the false doctrines taught by various members of the W.C.C.; but by far his strongest warnings are directed against the Communistic tendencies which can be seen in the W.C.C. and elsewhere. And while many fearfully watch and fight against that terrible threat of Communism, antichrist calmly begins to take over the “churches.” He probably will not be a Communist, and certainly will not arise out of atheistic Russia. When he finally is manifested, McIntire and many of his followers will begin to realize that all along they were pointing their biggest guns at the wrong enemy.
I believe we ought to learn from Scripture. Read what Paul writes in Romans 13. This is written possibly some seven years after the beginning of the rule of Nero in Rome. He headed an outspokenly atheistic government. Nero’s dastardly deeds are proverbial. I would suppose that even that Communist Stalin could not equal him in wickedness. Yet Paul does not plead for funds to oppose Nero. He does not urge all Christians to renounce the government. He does not warn about dangers of this godless regime infiltrating the church. No. Paul (speaking the infallible Word) says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God.” (Romans 13:1) Did not Paul disapprove of the godlessness of this government? Of course he did. Was not Paul aware that this very Nero had killed, and would continue to kill, many Christians? Surely he was. But such an atheistic power is so obviously opposed to the church that all were aware of it without much reminder. The church is even called to submit to such authority—except, of course, when it requires of us what is contrary to the Authority over all: Jehovah our God. But read Scripture carefully. Almost without exception, the warnings to Christians there are against all manner of falsedoctrine,—particularly such as arises from within the church itself. For that reason we must also oppose the W.C.C. and what it represents. Personally, I doubt that it will ever be taken over by Communism. But I do believe that there is real reason to believe that antichrist, at the end of time, will use such an organization to establish his one great universal “church” which will oppose Christ and His own until Christ delivers them.
¹ Quoted from the leaflet, “What is the Difference”, prepared and distributed by the 20th Century Reformation Hour.
² Quoted from the packet: “The World Council of Churches in the U.S.A.,” distributed by the above organization.
³ Quoted from the packet: “Voluntary Revolution”, distributed by the above organization.
4 Quoted from the text of statement by Archbishop Nikodim, released by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. as reproduced in the packet: “Eugene Carson Blake,” page 24, distributed by the 20th Century Reformation Hour.