Ecumenism seems to be alive and well in our church at the present time. It becomes especially evident when we hear of our church’s involvement in setting up a symposium with the World Council of Churches and the United Methodists, and all in partnership with the United Nations.
The stated purpose of this symposium is to deal with the role of the churches in international affairs, fostering an "inclusive, just and sustainable peace." The intent may sound commendable, but is that what we are called to do as the remnant church? Does the Bible give us any indication that world peace will achieved in these end times through the well-meaning efforts of religious and political organizations? Where is God in all this? Is He working through the WCC and the UN to further His cause in this world?
In spite of the warnings in Inspiration not to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness or be yoked together with unbelievers, our church leaders have pursued the ecumenical path for many years. Those who know the history of the book Questions on Doctrine published in 1957 will understand that the motivation behind the publication of that book was the desire to be accepted as one of the mainstream evangelical churches. This was a major step in compromising our doctrines in order to be accepted by the fallen churches. And our church leaders have continued the downward spiral until this present day, which is evidenced in our involvement in the ecumenical symposium of January 23, 2017.
There have been numerous instances where the ecumenical tendency has manifested itself. In 1977 a high official in our church in Europe gave the Pope a gold medal which he claimed was as a goodwill gesture form the Adventist church. Then in 1982 a number of our top theologians were involved in an ecumenical conference in Lima, Peru. The topic for discussion was Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry. At the end of the conference they published this statement which all the participants unanimously recommended as their agreed consensus.
“This statement published here makes a major advance in the ecumenical journey. The result of a fifty-year progress of study and consultation, this text on baptism, Eucharist and ministry represents the theological convergence that has been achieved through decades of dialogue under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
“Over one hundred theologians met in Lima, Peru, in January 1982, and recommended unanimously to transmit this agreed statement—the Lima text—for the common study and official response of the churches. They represent virtually all the major traditions—Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Reformed, Methodist, United Disciples, Baptist, Adventist and Pentecostal. The church’s response to this agreed statement will be a vital step in the ecumenical process of ’reception’."
How any true Adventist theologian could find a consensus of agreement on baptism, Eucharist and ministry among all the other theologians present at that conference is indeed a mystery. However, there have been many other manifestations of the ecumenical spirit among us since that time.
At the 1990 General Conference session in Indianapolis, an official of the Roman Catholic church was invited to address the delegates and extend greetings on behalf of the Catholic church.
Significantly, in 1993 a professor of the History of Christianity at La Sierra wrote a treatise entitled American Anti-Catholicism. It stated, “the Roman Catholic church has changed. . . It is no longer the Bible-suppressing, science-resisting, liberty-opposing, Protestant-hating . . . organization of former years, intent on ruling the world from Rome. Vatican council II transformed all that. To ignore the new realities and to refuse to come to terms with the contemporary Roman church is to choose to remain stuck in a religious no-man’s land, condemning a church that no longer exists. . .”
In the same year a professor of Biblical studies at Walla Walla wrote an article entitled “Beast Bashing Has To Stop,” in which he expressed a similar view to the one from La Sierra. It also is surprising how many times Catholic theologians have been given the pulpits in our largest churches on Sabbath morning. In one case, a thirteen week schedule had two Sabbath morning services given to Jesuit priests from a nearby Jesuit college. A third Sabbath service was taken by a science teacher from the Jesuit college.
In 1995, a devout Roman Catholic and former priest conducted the fall “Week of Spiritual Emphasis” at Pacific Union College in Angwin, California. There are, no doubt, other instances where ecumenism has been evident in our church. So the ecumenical symposium of January 23, 2017 should not come as a great surprise to wide-awake Seventh-day Adventists. It is just one of the final downward steps that will link many professed Adventists with the churches of Babylon. Isaiah describes them as saying:
“We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves“ (Isaiah 28:15).
Those who are linking with the fallen churches and cooperating with them in their agenda may feel that they have secured themselves by friendship from any future persecution. But in the end they will “renounce the faith and take their stand with its avowed enemies, toward whom their sympathies have long been tending “(5 Testimonies p. 463). It is one thing to work with other churches or organizations to promote a specific cause like temperance, and an entirely different matter to be part of a global organization which has political aspirations to ultimately bring the whole world under its control. Ellen White supported the Women’s Temperance Association and sometimes spoke at their meetings. But she did not lend her influence to support the things they were doing which were wrong, like promotion of Sunday.
We should remember that the Seventh-day Adventist church is not in this world just to be part of a mosaic of Christian churches, each with its special nuances of doctrines. God has committed to this church the special oracles of God, present truth which no other church understands or preaches. This is what gives reason for its existence. God told Israel:
My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore (Ezekiel 37:27-28).
God’s purpose for His people has always been to “be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation “ (Exodus 19:5-6). However, this does not mean that God’s people will be exclusive and withdrawn from those whom they can benefit and bless with a knowledge of the truth. While we continue to be in the world, we must not become part of it.
The great men of the world and other churches cannot understand or appreciate the commission that has been given to Seventh-day Adventists. We have a more important work to do in this world than unite with the political and religious organizations to promote their agenda, even though it may have some good things embedded in it. It will be our job to call people out of Babylon, the great confederacy of the world with the churches. But how can we do that if we are in partnership with that system?
Good and evil never harmonize. Between light and darkness there can be no compromise. Truth is light revealed; error is darkness. Light has no fellowship with darkness, righteousness no fellowship with unrighteousness “ (In Heavenly Places p. 260).
We need to heed the following inspired counsel that is so pertinent for us in this hour of earth’s history.
The time has come when, at any cost, we are to take the position that God has assigned to us. Seventh-day Adventists are now to stand forth separate and distinct, a people denominated by the Lord as His own. Until they do this, He cannot be glorified in them. Truth and error cannot stand in co-partnership. Let us now place ourselves where God has said that we should stand.... We are to strive for unity, but not on the low level of conformity to worldly policy and union with the popular churches (Mind, Character & Personality, Vol. 2, p. 559).
“But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’" (Matthew 25:5-6).
Floyd Sayler attended Walla Walla College as a music major and completed his diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music, University of Toronto. Along with a passion for Bible study & research, Floyd also enjoys writing for Creation Illustrated and the Adventist World magazines.