“World Economic and Social Development”

The World Council of Churches, meeting at Uppsala in 1968, adopted a third report entitled, “World Economic and Social Development.” This document, too, serves as evidence why the faithful Christian and true church cannot belong to this world-wide organization. The document enters into an area which is not within the scope of the work of the church. In the document, conclusions are drawn which are opposed to the teachings of Scripture. There is not even an attempt made in the document to base conclusions upon the instruction of Scripture. Plainly, it is a document composed by men, based upon human philosophies, presenting solutions which are contrary to God’s Word. 

Several facts become obvious as one reads this brief report. First of all, it points to a developing unity or oneness of mankind. Now in this, I believe, the report is correct. Only this report presents the oneness as good—a goal towards which it strives. It does not recognize the developing oneness today as a sign of the coming of the antichristian kingdom which will unify mankind for a brief time. And this oneness becomes the incentive for the, W.C.C. to promote equality of man and nations. The report states:

We live in a new world of exciting prospects. For the first time in history we can see the oneness of mankind as a reality. For the first time we know that all men could share in the proper use of the world’s resources. . . . 

Christians who know from their Scriptures that all men are created by God in His image and that Christ died for all, should be in the forefront of the battle to overcome a provincial, narrow sense of solidarity and to create a sense of participation in a world-wide responsible society with justice for all. . . . 

The church is called to work for a world-wide responsible society and to summon men and nations to repentance. To be complacent in the face of the world’s need is to be guilty of practical heresy. As we try to meet this challenge, we recognize the importance of cooperating at every level with the Roman Catholic Church, with other non-member churches, with non-church organizations, adherents of other religions, men of no religion, indeed with men of good will everywhere. . . . 

Churches are called, in their preaching and teaching, including theological education, to set forth the biblical view of the God-given oneness of mankind and to point out its concrete implications for the world-wide solidarity of man and the stewardship of the resources of the earth.

Secondly, and in harmony with earlier pronouncements, the W.C.C. emphasizes that the church must actively carry out its programs of justice for all men—even by means of revolution if necessary. Notice:

The death of the old may cause pain to some, but failure to build up a new world community may bring death to all. In their faith in the coming Kingdom of God and in their search for his righteousness, Christians are urged to participate in the struggle of millions of people for greater social justice and for world development. . . . 

The building of political structures suitable to national development involves revolutionary changes in social structures. Revolution is not to be identified with violence however. In countries where the ruling groups are oppressive or indifferent to the aspirations of the people, are often supported by foreign interests, and seek to resist all changes by the use of coercive or violent measures, including the “law and order” which may itself be a form of violence, the revolutionary change may take a violent form. Such changes are morally ambiguous. The churches have a special contribution towards the development of effective non-violent strategies of revolution and social change. Nevertheless we are called to participate creatively in the building of political institutions to implement the social changes that are desperately needed. . . . 

The Church must actively promote the redistribution of power, without discrimination of any kind, so that all men, women and young people may participate in the benefits of development. . . . 

The churches should . . . participate in a responsible way in movement for radical structural changes necessary to establish more justice in the society. . . . 

Churches in developing countries should . . . take an open and public position calling on their communities to realize the need for revolutionary change. . . .

In order to achieve its desired goals, the W.C.C. would promote a union among peoples and nations. They would advocate lifting men out of the narrow confines of nationalism, and imposing upon them a form of international government and control. In this, the W.C.C. is advocating exactly what Scripture foretells concerning the end-days: there will be a healing of the wound of the beast (Rev. 13), so that all men will wonder after it. The W.C.C. does not seek that unity for which Christ prays in John 17, a unity of His disciples based upon that unity reflected within the Trinity, but rather it seeks a unity of all men. Thus would this organization promote the “kingdom of God” among mankind here on the earth. The report states it this way:

Collective international action to improve conditions conducive to development is called for; e.g., creation of supra-national structures to deal with regional and world economic planning involving the stabilization of the world market; an international taxation system to provide funds for development. . . . 

They (the churches) should especially consider how the present economic structures in which national sovereignty plays a decisive role can be transformed into a structure in which decisions affecting the welfare of all are taken at the international level. . . . 

The World Council of Churches must, continue and increase its cooperation with United Nations agencies in the field of development. . . .

Upon the above foundation, the W.C.C. in its report lays out a general plan for the improvement of man on the earth—an improvement which, in this report, is exclusively concerned with the physical. It advocates the development of “underdeveloped” nations. It urges aid to underdeveloped countries, and suggests that “developed” nations pay 1% of their gross national product to these poorer nations. It urges nations to work toward the elimination of hunger; of oppression of the poor by the rich; of unjust government. It sets forth a program that has found wide appeal especially in the eyes of idealistic youth of our day. Its motives seem so good; its goals so high. The W.C.C. is “Christianity in action.” 

It is not so striking, I suppose, that in a report such as this, there is no reference to Scriptural passages. The W.C.C. does not bolster its arguments by referring to Scripture. Many heretical sects do substantiate their false teachings upon certain passages of Scripture wrested out of context. But in this document, the WCC. does not even deign to try that. One receives the impression that the W.C.C. stands above the Bible—and will render its judgments even in spite of or in contradiction to Scripture. 

Another striking thing in this document is that though the name of Christ is used (I believe three times), yet His work, His atonement, is not mentioned. Christ came into the world to redeem unto Himself His chosen people and deliver them from this world. The W.C.C., in this document, rather concludes that since “Christ died for all,” now we have to seek to create a “world-wide responsible society with justice for all.” That is the spirit of the antichrist which denies Christ openly—or which cleverly ignores His work and posits something else in its stead. 

The document is an illustration of what happens when the “church” plunges out of its field. The faithful church is not interested in the area of economics nor of social development in the way this report suggests. Christ did point out that we were to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Christ warned His disciples not to set their hearts on clothing, food, or drink. He calls those who are so concerned with their food and clothing “of little faith.” Christ reminds the disciples that they must not fall into the error of the Gentiles who exactly seek always for material things. He directs them to look to their heavenly Father Who knoweth our need—and provides according to His promise. Christ admonishes the disciples to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness—and all these things will be added to you. (Matt. 6) The W.C.C. would have been better served if its report had reviewed and analyzed the meaning ofMatthew 6

That Scripture is opposed to the revolution advocated (in cases of necessity) by the W.C.C., is plain fromRomans 13. One need not study long nor hard to discern that this passage exactly commands the Christian to submit to civil government—even if it is a wicked government, as that which ruled the world when Rom. 13was written. 

The church of Christ has the singular calling to preach Christ crucified. The church does have a calling with respect to the poor, too. For the mercies which are manifest to the elect church in the cross of Christ, will be reflected in faithful giving, in a manifestation of mercy, toward those in need. In these days of affluence, of government aid, of social security, of societies for the support of those who are ill—the church has almost forgotten what its calling is. It would be beneficial for the church if a careful study were also made concerning the proper calling of the church with respect to works of mercy. But this calling of the church is far removed from the one suggested in the report of the W.C.C. The faithful church could never adopt their suggestions—in fact, would have a calling to separate from them on the basis of this evil report.