(This is the first part of a three-part article)
Recently, while preparing a presentation about the ecumenical movement for a Friday night meeting at my local church, I came across several startling Bible verses and quotations from the Spirit of Prophecy which struck me with such force that I have felt moved to share with a larger audience. This is the impetus for this article.
I started my research by visiting various web sites.
The Roman Catholic web site was warm and fuzzy; “Welcome! Come and join us! Doctrine is not important. Most Catholics do not even know what the doctrine of transubstantiation is. We just want our “Separated Brethren” to join with us again. So, the doctrine which many people died for in the 16th century, is no big deal today in the 21st century.
The Presbyterian web site was the most direct and conservative. Their view was that the ecumenical movement of the 21st Century was directly trying to undo the work of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. To support this position, they quoted the decretal of Pope Paul VI from the second Vatican Council. (If you remember, the Second Vatican Council was convened in the early 1960’s by Pope John XXIII, and at his death it was continued by Pope Paul VI.) Here are the quotations that the Presbyterians took from Pope Paul VI’s decretal.
“…it is only through Christ’s Catholic Church, which is ‘the all-embracing means of salvation’ that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation. We believe that Our Lord entrusted the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God” (Paragraph 3)
“…when the obstacles to perfect ecclesiastical communion have been gradually overcome, all Christians will at last, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, be gathered into the one and only Church in that unity which Christ bestowed on His Church from the beginning. We believe that this unity subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose…” (paragraph 4)
Thus, it becomes very clear that the Roman Catholic position continues to be that their communion is the only source of salvation and that everyone must become a member of that communion to receive any blessings from God including but not exclusive to—salvation. In short, you must become a Catholic to be saved.
The Presbyterian disagreement with that pressure to join the Roman Church were based on the following points:
Roman Catholicism is not truly “Christian” due to the following teachings:
The Mass represents a repetition of the sacrifice of Christ. (Doctrine of Transubstantiation)
The unscriptural veneration of Mary and the Saints.
The promotion of Mary as a mediatrix between the sinner and God.
The erasing of “original sin” in baptism.
“And a host of other unscriptural doctrines.”
They supported their position with a large number of Bible texts which are solid “Adventist” favorites (it is indeed encouraging to see people of God using His word properly outside of the Adventist community).
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20 ).
“As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9).
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” ( 2 Corinthians 6:14 - 7:1 ).
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” ( Ephesians 5:11).
Then I went to look at what the Adventist Church had on the web about Ecumenism. What I found was a very formidable document, about 20 pages in length, extremely well written, very politically correct and gracious in tone. It was something to be proud of.
The only problem with the document was that it was about 30 years old. It was written in the 1980’s. It was addressed to the issue of the World Council of Churches. It did not mention in any way any of the current happenings in Christianity.
The incident which has made this document passé was the signing of the Document “From Conflict to Communion” by Pope Francis and by Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation in the Cathedral of Lund, Sweden on October 31, 2016. This is the youtube link to watch the ceremony for yourself:
The first to speak was Bishop Younan:
“Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, welcome to this Ecumenical prayer, which commemorates the 500 years of the reformation. For over 50 years, Lutherans and Catholics have been on a journey from conflict to communion. With joy we have come to recognize that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. On this journey mutual understanding and trust have grown.”
Next to speak was Kurt Cardinal Koch; the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity:
“So it is possible for us to gather today. We come with different thoughts and feelings of thanksgiving and lament, joy and repentance. Joy in the Gospel and sorrow for division. We gather to commemorate in remembrance the thanksgiving and confession and in common witness and commitment.”
Next to speak was Rev Martin Junge; General secretary of the Lutheran World Federation.
“St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12 ‘If one member suffers, all suffer together. If one member is honored, all rejoice together.’ As we read in From Conflict to Communion ‘what affects one member of the body, also affects all the others.’ For this reason, when Lutheran Christians remember the events which let to the particular formation of their churches, they do not wish to do so without their Catholic fellow Christians. In remembering with each other, the beginning of the reformation, they are taking their baptism seriously.”
Kurt Cardinal Koch next stated the following:
“Encouraged by the Second Vatican Council, Catholics gladly acknowledge and esteem truly Christian enrollments from our common heritage which are to be found among our separated brethren. It is right and? (I could not understand the word in his thick German accent,) to recognize the riches of Christ, and virtuous works in the lives of others who are bearing witness to Christ, sometimes even to the shedding of their blood. For God is always wonderful in His works and mercy of all price. In this spirit, Catholics and Lutherans embrace each other as sisters and brothers in the Lord. Together they rejoice in the truly Christian gifts that they both have received and re-discovered in various ways through the renewal and impulses of the Reformation. These gifts are reason for thanksgiving.“
At a later point in the service Bishop Younan said the following: “We lament that even good actions of reform and renewal have often unintended negative consequences.”
Again, at a still later point in the service, Bishop Younan said:
“We confess our own ways of thinking and action that have perpetuated the divisions of the past, as communities, and as individuals. We build many walls around us; mental, spiritual, physical, and political walls, that result in discrimination and violence. Forgive us, Lord.”
What I see here is that the Lutheran leadership have appeared to capitulate on virtually every point and yield to the Roman Church. The final two statements of Bishop Younan seem to be asking for forgiveness of the Roman Church for the brash actions of Martin Luther. They would never be caught dead making such “Unkind” remarks that he made about the Papacy. Thus, we have seen the movements which were prophesied in Revelation and clarified in The Great Controversy have gone from prophecy to history.
Later on, in the program Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien, Vice-President of The Lutheran World Federation made the following Comments:
“With this joint statement, we express joyful gratitude to God for this moment of Common Prayer in the Cathedral of Lund. As we begin the year of commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the reformation. 50 years of sustained and fruitful Ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans, have helped us to overcome many differences, and have helped our mutual understanding and trust. At the same time, we have drawn closer to our neighbors often in circumstances of suffering and persecution. Through dialogue and shared witness, we are no longer strangers, rather we have learned that what unites is much greater than what divides us. In response to the five imperatives we pledge to witness together to God’s merciful grace, made visible in the crucified and risen Christ. We acknowledge our joint pastoral responsibilities to respond to the spiritual thirst and hunger of our people to be one in Christ. Many members of our communities yearn to receive the Eucharist at one table, as the complete expression of full unity. We long for this wound in the body of Christ to be healed. This is the goal of our ecumenical endeavors. Now we call upon all Lutheran and Catholic Parishes and Communities to be bold and creative, to be joyful and hopeful in their commitment to continue the great journey ahead of us. His Holiness, Pope Francis and the NWF President, Bishop Younan will now sign the joint statement as a statement as an expression of the commitment of our two communions.”
At that time the Pope and Bishop Younan signed the document “From Conflict to Communion.” When the document was signed, Bishop Younan reached out his arms to embrace the Pope, who, after a moment allowed himself to be embarrassed by the Bishop and finally returned the embrace. That reminded me of Ellen White’s statements one of which we will see later in this series that says that the Protestants will be the first to reach across the abyss to clasp hands with Rome. This gesture was symbolic of that statement.
This is not the only ecumenical news. Tony Palmer, a now diseased Anglican Bishop, was talking as the Pope’s special envoy to a group of Pentecostal pastors under the leadership of Kenneth Copeland. This meeting took place several years ago and also has some monumental issues found in it. Kenneth Copeland has also made several inflammatory statements on his own which he praises the Roman Church and attacks Protestants.
This is the link to the Tony Palmer presentation to the Pentecostals.
Below is the link to Kenneth Copeland’s bashing of the “Protestants”.
Due to the lack of space, I cannot in one article present all of the information which I have discovered while researching for my presentation. So, in this article, I have presented mainly the news itself. I have only shown what has passed from prophecy into history.
In the next article I will discuss the theological issues which this news brings to Christianity in general.
Then, in a third article, I will discuss how these issues impinge upon the Adventist Church in general and finally how they impact us as individual Seventh-Day Adventists. I suggest that you take the time to watch these video’s so that you are “up to speed” with what is happening. Also keep your eyes open for the following Articles.
“The Issues with the Gift of Tongues and the Pentecostal Movement”.
And finally, “Issues within the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in view of Ecumenism and Pentecostalism.”
Dr. Nelson graduated from Medical school at Loma Linda University. He is Certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology and the American Board of Pain Medicine. He lives with his lovely wife, Becky in the Dayton, Ohio area.