By Jeff Wehr
“When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the influence of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result.” The Great Controversy, 445.
We have been witnessing the uniting of the churches for some time. Let us consider the trends toward unity.
1964 Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism
“The restoration of unity among Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only.” Decree on Ecumenism, Vatican II, 1964
For centuries Protestants and Catholics had distanced themselves. But beginning around the 1980s, the Catholic Church was able to pull the Protestant churches into the political process through pictures of aborted babies. In time, these social issues superseded doctrinal beliefs, and the evangelical churches were in full swing with the Catholic power on social and political issues. They found a common enemy in the secularists and pro-choice advocates.
1994 Evangelicals and Catholics Together
The document, Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT), was signed by leading evangelicals and Catholics that formed a spiritual ecumenism. As the document opens,
“As Christ is one, so the Christian mission is one. That one mission can be and should be advanced in diverse ways. Legitimate diversity, however, should not be confused with existing divisions between Christians that obscure the one Christ and hinder the one mission. There is a necessary connection between the visible unity of Christians and the mission of the one Christ.”
Is the mission between Evangelicals and Catholics the same? No. The mission is as different as the doctrines are different. True unity is based on truth, not by pretending that there are no theological differences or by minimizing those theological differences. Yet this approach will inevitably lead all false religions to will bind together on two great errors, Sunday sacredness and the immortality of the soul.
The document reads, “. . . It is neither theologically legitimate nor a prudent use of resources for one Christian community to proselytize among active adherents of another Christian community.” ECT 22, 23
I had always assumed that one of the major reasons behind this ECT document, and ecumenism in general, was to keep evangelicals from proselytizing Catholics into Protestant churches, especially in South and Central America, where Catholics were going into Protestant churches by the millions.
ECT seems to be Rome’s attempt to stop the mass exodus out of the Catholic Church and to draw Protestants back to the fold of Rome.
It does this by focusing on the evils of our age—pornography, abortions, and such. But nowhere in the document is the gospel defined.
But what is the solution for the evils of our day? It is the gospel, not political religious action groups. So ECT turns Evangelicals and Catholics more into a political machine than true unity in Christ.
1995 “That All May Be One,” by John Paul II.
1997 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification issued between the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and the Lutheran World Federation.
1998 The seventh meeting between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches.
2003 International dialogue between the RCC and the Mennonite World Conference.
2005 Dialogue Between Catholic Church and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches
2006 Joint Commission for Dialogue Between Roman Catholic Church and the World Methodist Council.
2007 Growing Together in Unity and Mission: Building on 40 years of Anglican and Roman Catholic Dialogue.
2010 The Seventh Meeting of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
by Jeff Wehr