We are living in a day when there are many assaults on the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are: -
(1) Continual attacks on the truths of the Gospel.
Many of our religious leaders deny the deity of our Lord; the substitutionary atonement of the death of our Lord and His bodily resurrection, the plenary inspiration of the scriptures and the doctrines of the Gospel.
(2) Constant emphasis of the social Gospel.
The world sees the church as a place to do good in such areas as Refugee help and working amongst the deprived. Whilst we acknowledge the necessity for concern for those who have need, we would question whether this is the prime consideration of the Christian church.
The socialist society has brought about the present Drug Culture and tbe Pornographic explosion with its violent attitude.
(3) The many "goals" propagated by the false sects.
The Jehovah' s Witnesses, Mormons and the Christian Scientists still seek a hearing upon our streets, together with the proliferation of the many New Age brainwashing movements.
(4) The increase of heathen religions.
We are faced with the alaming fact that Islamic Mosques, Hindu and Sikh Temples and other religious buildings are now being erected at a faster rate than Christian churches in our land.
(5) The superficial attitude of Evangelicals.
We as Evangelicals have shut our eyes to what is happening around us and become insular in our work for God.
The greatest attack on the true Church of Jesus Christ is the insidious infiltration of the Roman church into Protestantism. We learn from history of the various ways Rome has used in the past attempting to undermine and destroy Protestantism.
The Church of Rome has used in its strategy open persecution when countless numbers were tortured on the rack and many more put in prison for their faith. The flames of the fire and the use of the bullet have been the means of killing so many who dared to stand against popery.
Rome has used slander and contempt in order to gag the outspoken and fearless, is order to stop the truth. Rome has not been above undermining a whole nation to execute its purpose and aim. It was Lenin who taught his followers the strategy of 'undermining the economy' of a country in order to take over, and we have witnessed the success of this strategy all over Europe during the last century. Rome is a big player in the world of high finance, and although she loves her wealth, her main aim is the manipulation of the economies of the countries it invests in. Rome has been known to be active in the damaging of a Nations moral health, as it subtly promotes pornography and drugs, so that it can take over weak and corrupt nations with its religious and political systems.
Although in Britain we have been subjected to a great deal of the Roman strategy as I have indicated, today her ways are more of stealth, secrecy and surreptitiousness. That is why it is important to highlight infiltration as one of our great dangers today. The dictionaries' definition of infiltration is very interesting: 'to cause to enter gradually and imperceptibly'. It gives the example of occupying troops or the work of spies.
It is my conviction that this has been Rome's strategy for a long time within our nation. The media its largely controlled or greatly influenced by the Roman Church, and every word or movement of the Pope is reported as if it were the most startling, amazing or urgent thing to report. Our schools, colleges, legal system, political structures, Government and even the Royal family have all been infiltrated by the Jesuit strategy.
It is even more alarming to see the same this happening in the Protestant Church. In England we have a state church which still claims the vast majority of the population as its members, even though many will never darken its doors. The Church of England was the continuing church after the Reformation, but it was never thoroughly reformed. Since the Reformation it has canied on with many of the 'popish' ways of the former church. As someone has apply put it 'it came out of Rome, but Rome never came out of it' .
Recently it was reported in the press that over 1000 so-called 'priests' had left the Church of England to convert to Rome, mainly over the issue of the decision to appoint women 'priests'. All these were 'High' churchmen who already accepted the doctrines of the Church of Rome, and the only difference they had before their move to Rome was that they looked to Canterbury rather than the Vatican! Those that are left fall into a number of categories, but mainly into two - Liberals and Evangelicals. The Liberal wing of the church seems to disregard the 39 Articles as irrelevant and practise a sort of 'spiritist' religion. The Evangelical side of the church pays lip service to sound doctrine but still practises popery with its insistence on vestments, the swinging of incense, the sign of the Cross, the read prayers, the display of an , 'altar' for the sacraments, thus necessitating a relegated pulpit on the side, prayers for the dead, the division of 'priest' and laity and the constant remembrance of saints' days. It seems to me that the Church of England has always been ready for a bloodless coup!
I want to look at three main areas - the World Council of Churches, the Charismatic Movement and the recent Evangelicals and Catholic dialogue, where it seems to me that great infiltration is taking place.
(1) The World Council of Churches
I begin with the WCC because it seems to me that historians will call this the Age of Ecumenism, the Era of Unity or the Time of Reconciliation. This has been brought about mainly because of the work of the World Council of Churches.
The WCC was inaugurated fifty years ago at Amsterdam, Holland, in 1948, but the Ecumenical movement dates back to the Edinburgh missionary conference of 1910. The avowed purpose was to unite all Christians under one banner, and in order to do this its basis of fellowship is very wide to include all shades of opinion and interpretation. The enlarged basis of Article 1 of the Constitution was agreed at their New Delhi assembly:
"The World Council of Churches is a felowship of Churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour, according to the Scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling, to the glory of One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
These seem to be fine words at first glance that all of us could accept and applaud. However, the WCC issues a clarification document (page 182):
(a) That the foundation is not a touchstone, where the faith of Churches or persons can be judged.
(b) That the World Council of Churches does not concern itself with the manner in which the Churches will interpret the foundation.
(c) That it is left to the responsibility of every Church to decide whether it will co-operate on this basis.
The clarification document undermines the solid basis which the WCC begins with and allows any interpretation, any opinion and any Church of a so-called 'Christian' persuasion to participate in its membership.
It is interesting to note, therefore, that the Roman Catholic Church is not a official member of the WCC. It considers it is too liberal and wide in it s views for its full participation. However at local levels it is actively involved and is fully committed to the doctrine committee of the WCC which is called 'The Faith and Order Commission', where it is represented by twelve theologians who have worked together with the WCC considering three essential areas for unity:
(a) Baptism: The commission have already concluded that all who have a 'valid' baptism word be regarded as children of God and be able to participate in a future one-World Church.
(b) Eucharist: The Roman Catholic view of the Eucharist, as being the actual body and blood of our Lord, has been accepted by most and will form part of the proposed dominating World Church.
(c) Ministry: The debate concerning the ministry goes on, but it is agreed that a form of Episcopalian hierarchy is necessary with one Super-Head, thus paving the way for a future Pope to be that person.
Rome does not regard the so-called Christians in the WCC as heretics any more, but as separated brethren. The week of prayer for Christian Unity is always infiltrated by Roman Catholic priests, and the Friday of the week is devoted to special prayers that they might "unite separated brethren with the Chair of St. Peter's". Hence we see something of the subtle infiltration by the Church of Rome.
(2) The Charismatic Movement
We are all aware of the influence of the Charismatic Movement as it has swept through Churches in every part of the world. Emphasising the outward manifestations of tongues, prophesying and the supernatural, it has been described as 'a wind, fire or downpour from Heaven'. Healings of all kinds have been reported, some very bizarre, such as puppies raised from the dead, washing machines healed, petrol tanks supernaturally filled and people slain in the Spirit! The so-called 'Toronto blessing' has followed on swiftly behind the Charismatic Movement with even greater claims of supernatural experience. Whilst some have claimed to bark like dogs 'in the Spirit', others profess to have actually to have been to Heaven and back in the body!
There are many serious objections we have to this false movement as it deceives so many professing Christians, but are enquiry is concerning the participation of Rome within the ranks of this latest manifestation.
Some years ago a group of men burst on the Charismatic scene referred to as the Kansas City Prophets. This group became part of the World Vineyard Fellowship with its emphasis on visions, revelations and prophecy. Many of these men have now become leaders of the Promise Keepers movement. Where did they originate? Many came from the Catholic Charismatic Word of God community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
In 1975 Pope Paul VI endorsed this renewal movement during a massive rally in the city of Rome. Pope John II greeted the 4th International conference of Charismatic leaders, held in Rome in May, 1981, with these words: "Your choice of Rome as the site of this conference is a special sign of your understanding of the importance of being rooted in that Catholic unity of faith and charity which finds its visible centre in the see of Peter." David DuPlessis was acknowledged to be the leader of the Movement at that time throughout the world, he was hailed as Mr. Pentecost and was said to have done more that any other one person to influence the Protestant Church to be Charismatic and ecumenical. When asked a question with regard to unity with the Roman Church he replied that he looked for "nothing less than full ecumenicity"- meaning total unity with Rome under the Pope.
The Charismatic movement has done more to promote false unity with Rome than the Roman Counter-Reformation movement and the WCC combined. The subtle influence and infiltration by Rome has been seen here more vividly than at any time since Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses to the Church door at Wittenberg.
In 1971 the first known service was held at Guildford Cathedral where Roman Catholics, traditional Protestants and Pentecostals shared the same platform. Writing afterward, Michael Harper, a Curate of All Souls', Langham Place, London, and a leader of the infant Charismatic movement, said that it was "a moment when the walls of prejudice collapsed and prisons of entrenched doctrines were opened". Somebody else said: "Guildford revealed the world-wide, ecumenical scope of the new movement."
Before this, in 1967, Roman Catholic prayer groups had formed at the university of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, USA, seeking the Charismatic experience. They saw this as a means of bringing the 'separated brethren' back to the Mother Church of Rome under the Pontiff. Since those early days, barriers have been broken down, doctrine disregarded and Protestants and Catholics have joined together for worship, service and conference, but always with Rome being the dominant force.
This, surely, is another important way in which Rome, in keeping with her overall strategy, has infiltrated the Protestant Church.
(3) The Evangelicals and Catholics Together Movement
ECT is a new movement to promote an understanding between Evangelicals and Catholics so that they can work together towards a common mission. Encouraged to forget the past, to recognise what they have in common and to concentrate on evangelising a secular society together. These seem to be fine words and have been welcomed universally by many. The Vatican is said to have welcomed the movement with enthusiasm, as well it might.
Dr Jim Packer, a leading evangelical theologian and one of the endorsers of the CCT document, states: "Things are not as they were", and concludes: "ECT is a good beginning. I stand with it, I cannot do otherwise, and I thank God. Now I wait to see what God will do with it." The beginning of the movement is described as "peeping behind each other's doors". Gerald Coates, evangelical house church leader, declares: "We must stop fighting the battles of the past; it is time for Evangelicals and Catholics to get together to explore what God might have in mind for us." Charles Colson, one of the instigators of the new movement and one of the writers in the book defending the position of ECT, speaking for Evangelicals, says: "The divisions between us are not the battle of the hour."
It seems to me that it is essential for us to ask ourselves urgently:
(1) Is this God working, or is it a repackaging of Roman ecumenism?
(2) Have we, as Protestants and inheritors of the Reformation tradition, been deceived all along in our position, or is Rome adopting a new guise to seduce?
(3) Is this movement of watershed significance to us or should we recognise it as a subtle attempt to entangle us again with the yoke of bondage?
In 1985 Charles Colson, who founded the Prison Fellowship Ministries, as Chairman invited Rev Richard Neuhaus, a former Lutheran, but now a foremost Jesuit priest, and Carl Henry, the long-time editor and founder of Christianity Today, to address a gathering of Christian leaders. At that meeting they sensed "the Holy Spirit was moving them to do more".
There was a common acceptance the Christian culture was no longer an influence on modern society, that envy, greed and hatred rules people's lives and that crime without conscience has caused violence to increase to alarming proportions. To add to this, religion had become an irrelevancy to the majority of people. Charles Colson points out that Christians are losing the battle against the contemptuous media, an unrestrained consumerism, sexual libertinism, a hostile academia and the omnipresent hedonistic entertainment industry. He concludes: "Christians are both surrounded and outnumbered." In 1986 Neuhaus published his book The Naked Public Square which describes a sick society without an answer to its dilemma. George Wiegel, Roman Catholic President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington DC, suggests that there are "substantive reasons why the attempt to reclothe the naked public square is a joint task for Evangelicals and Catholics".
A historic meeting was held in New York in September of 1992. At this meeting were the seven Roman Catholics and eight Evangelicals who would eventually produce the ECT text. The main concern of the meeting was that "animosities between Evangelicals and Catholics threatened to mar the image of Christ by turning Latin America into a Belfast of religious warfare".
The Drafting Committee of the ECT document was made up of George Weigel, the Lay Catholic Theologian; Kent Hill, President of Eastern Nazarene College; Charles Colson; and Richard Neuhaus. The final document was approved in March 1994 and endorsed by a wider number of people a little later on. Besides the leading Catholic participants and endorsers we find the names of many so-called Evangelicals: Charles Colson, Prison Fellowship; Dr Hill, Nazarene College; Dr Land and Dr Lewis from the Southern Baptist Convention; Dr Miranda, Assemblies of God; Mr Brian O'Connell, World Evangelical Fellowship; Dr John White, National Association of Evangelicals; Dr Bill Bright, Campus Crusade for Christ; Bishop Frey, Trinity Episcopal School; Ralph Martin, Renewal Ministries; Dr Mouw Fuller, Theological Seminary; Dr Noll, Wheaton College; Dr Packer, Regent College; and Rev Pat Robertson, Regent University. There are many more that these who enthusiastically wished to add their names as endorsers.
The main thought of the ECT statement is:
(i) The Past must be forgotten.
"The divisions between us are not the battle of the hour. [...] The controversies that divide us are far less significant than the common threat that confronts us." The divisions and controversies which Colson mentions are those that began at the Reformation and are still the same today.
(ii) There is more that unites Evangelicals and Catholics than divides them.
They say that both believe in the Trinity and therefore the deity of Christ, His virgin birth and bodily resurrection, that He is the only Saviour of men and that the scriptures are divinely inspired. Both affirm together the Apostles' Creed as an accurate statement of Scripture and truth. The vehicle of the World Council of Churches is rejected in Colson's words: "This new ecumenism bears no relationship to new ecumenism which seeks unity by disregarding doctrinal differences"; and again: "The ecumenical movement among liberal Protestants sought to unite various denominations by eliminating doctrinal distinctions."
(iii) All Catholics and Evangelicals must be regarded as brothers and sisters in Christ. This is clear from their statement: "All who accept Christ as Lord and Saviour are brothers and sisters in Christ. [...] He has chosen us to be His together.
(iv) Together the two groupings have strength. It is estimated that the Catholic Church has 1 billion adherents, whilst the Evangelicals have 300,000, although some would put this figure higher.
(v) A commitment to a common task of evangelising the non-believing world. The ECT statement contains the words: "We hope together that all people will come to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour." Believing they preach the same gospel, they propose to work together for the salvation of souls.
You may ask how two seemingly irreconcilable groups have come this far. There have been many previous ventures of co-operation and unity, and these have been the evolution of this present movement. There have been:
The World Council of Churches
In 1960 the Pope sent Catholic observers to the New Delhi Assembly of the WCC, and since that time the Catholic Church has taken an active role as observer in many of the agencies of the WCC.
The Vatican Council II (1962-1965)
Some have concluded that the main purpose of this modern-day council was ecumenism. It was from this council that Rome began speaking about "separated brethren", and in section 3 of the Decree on Ecumenism "men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are brought into a certain, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church".
The Picket Lines
Evangelicals have already acted together over many religious and social concerns. The persecuted church in the communist countries, children's rights, anti-abortion, a pro-life ecumenism, euthanasia, embryo experimentation and human rights are some of the issues on which, protesting vigorously, Evangelicals and Catholics have worked together.
The Billy Graham Contribution
In the 1960's, Graham started his co-operative evangelicalism, with Catholics making up a considerable portion of those who attend his meetings and who if they make a response are sent back to the Catholic Church for counselling. A crusade was held in American Catholics' most hallowed location - the football stadium of Notre Dame University, in 1977, where Graham received a doctorate. He was entertained by the Abbot of the Shrine of the Black Madonna in Poland in 1978, and in 1981 Pope John Paul II granted him an audience at the Vatican.
The Charismatic Renewal
Mark Noll of Wheaton College writes in his contribution: "The spread of the Charismatic Movement has done a great deal to reduce the barriers between Catholics and Evangelicals." Dr Packer writes: "Charismatic gatherings, where the distinction between Protestant and Catholic vanishes in a Christ-centred unity of worship, fellowship and joy, are a further example working side by side."
All these have brought into being the position where Catholics and Evangelicals meet with a common belief, attitude and action.
Great names of the past are quoted as if they were in favour of a united front with Rome. These include John Calvin, John Wesley and Gresham Machen. Even Martin Luther is called in a Catholic book, a reformer of the Church. They speak in a derisory manner of Fundamentalism in 1890 as a mainstream, but in the 1990's as marginal.
In the ECT statement, the participants reveal their hopes under various headings.
The full statement title reads: "Evangelicals and Catholics Together - The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium". In the statement they say: "As the second millennium draws to a close, the Christian mission in world history faces a moment of daunting opportunity and responsibility. If in the merciful and mysterious ways of God the Second Coming is delayed, we enter upon a third millennium that could be, in the words of John Paul II, 'a springtime of world missions'."
The question of proselytising is discussed, and although again Evangelicals make noises about evangelising all, including Catholics, Mark Noll speaks for the main body of opinion when he accepts that it is "at best dubious and at works simply wrong for Catholics and Evangelicals to proselytise across the Catholic-Protestant border". In the official ECT statement it is put clearly that there is "a necessary distinction between evangelising and what is today commonly called proselytising or sheet-stealing. We condemn the practice of recruiting people from another community […]."
The assumption is that all Evangelicals are Christians and all Catholics are Christians.
Although the Evangelical side states that ECT is not about a total union with Rome, it is obvious that this is the ultimate aim of those participating from the Catholic side. The ECT statement says: "As Evangelicals and Catholics we pray that our unity in the love of Christ will become ever more evident as a sign to the world of God's reconciling power."
Avery Dulles, SJ, acclaimed as a leading Catholic theologian, takes his subject, in the supporting chapters, to the ECT statement: "the unity for which we hope". He envisages a visible unity in one faith and Eucharist fellowship, in order that the world may believe.
The ECT statement declares "for a fuller and clearer understanding of God's revelation in Christ and His will for his disciples".
They list some of the differences between the two sides:
This acknowledgement of serious disagreements shows how wide the chasm is between Evangelicals and Roman Catholics in their doctrine and practice.
- The nature of the church - visible or invisible?
- The authority of scripture or the teaching of the church?
- Individual freedom or magisterium?
- The priesthood - apostolic or all believers?
- The sacraments - symbols or means of grace?
- Supper - sacrifice or memorial?
- Baptism - means of regeneration of testimony to regeneration?
Working towards a common mission in the third millennium is the objective given by the ECT. There has been much expectancy in many quarters, as we near the new millennium, emanating especially from the Vatican, with the Pope speaking of the coming "springtime of world missions". The year 2000 AD has long been a target date in Rome's mind for evangelism.
The aim is to convert as many people as possible to Roman Catholicism by December 25, 2000 AD, when it is planned that the incumbent Pope will make a worldwide satellite telecast to a potential audience of five billion people.
It is more than significant, then, to find Evangelicals and Catholics together with an identical purpose.
Again our question must be: Which Gospel is to be preached in order to attract people to genuine faith in Jesus Christ in order that they may experience forgiveness of sins?
It is not popular to speak or write against heresy, but the Scriptures are strong in their language against all who distort, pervert, take away from or add to the Gospel of Christ. Paul, writing to the Philippians, warns: "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers" (Phil. 3:2); and to the Galatians: "[...] if any man preach any other gospel [...] let him be accursed." We indict those who seek to forward the Evangelicals and Catholics Together movement as deceivers and brand the document as encouraging a false gospel.
The acclaim that it has received only goes to show the bankruptcy of the so-called Evangelical Church with its lack of knowledge and understanding of the past and its lack of appreciation of what the Word of God teaches concerning the one and only true gospel. The Roman Catholic Church has not changed since the Reformation. Its language has, but its substance remains as before. The central act of worship for the Catholic Church is the Mass, where the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross is re-enacted. The Roman Church states that "in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really and substantially the Body and Blood, together with the Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ" and that there is made "a conversion of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood". Our forefathers called this "a mockery and blasphemous fable".
In one of the supporting chapters in the published book of the ECT document, Avery Dulles, the leading Jesuit theologian, says: "Of equal unitive significance with baptism is the one eucharistic bread, the means whereby the baptized partake of the body of Christ, by partaking of which the faithful enter into his saving death." Rome has not changed in its doctrine.
The Roman Catholic Church still proclaims its dogma of an infallible Pope. Dulles comments on this: "It is hard to see how Catholics could consider themselves to be fully reconciled with the churches that did not acknowledge the papacy as the bearer of divinely instituted Petrine ministry."
With all these unbiblical dogmas and unscriptural practices, how can Evangelicals have a common mission with Catholics? There are two questions which need to be asked and answered.
What is a Christian?
We may feel we could answer this simple question. However, in the context of our examination of the ECT document it is essential that we ask this urgently. In the ECT statement they suggest that "there are different ways of becoming a Christian", no doubt referring to the different expressions of the churches. Surely there is only one way of becoming a Christian. The Roman Catholic contributors in the document made no secret of the fact that they think differently from the Evangelical contributors on how an individual becomes a Christian. They continue in line with the official Roman Catholic teaching that all who belong to the Church of Rome and are partakers of her sacraments are in the process of becoming Christians. Avery Dulles tells us: "Any valid baptism causes the baptized to be truly incorporated into the crucified and glorified Christ, and reborn to a sharing of the divine life." Despite the new language used by Rome, such as "born again Catholics", "Evangelical Catholics" - Catholics who love the Lord and challenging adult Catholics to accept Jesus Christ as personal Saviour - the official teaching in the Catholic Catechism remains the same: "Baptism is the sacrament of spiritual rebirth. Through the symbolic washing with water and the use of appropriate ritual words, the baptized person is cleansed from all his sins and incorporated into Christ." This is baptismal regeneration which leads to a corporate salvation. We believe the Bible speaks of a personal salvation which is the free, unmerited gift of the God of grace. It is not through the church, baptism or any works or ritual that the individual is born again: it is simply that the operation of the Holy Spirit causes the individual to be born again. Of course we believe there are true believers in the unbiblical dark Church of Rome and they need to be delivered from this bondage.
What is the Gospel?
The mission must have a gospel to proclaim - but which gospel? Is it to be the Catholic gospel of works, merit and gained righteousness? The Bible tells us that our salvation is not of works, "lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:9). Elsewhere Paul reminds us that in the flesh "dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18). Writing to the Philippians, he tells them to have "no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3); yet Rome teaches baptism and faith and works and obedience to the church as the way of being saved.
In the ECT statement they affirm together that salvation is by being justified by grace, through faith, because of Christ. This is the crux of the issue: there are missing words!
The Reformers stated that we are justified by grace through faith alone, by Christ alone. Martin Luther called "justification by faith alone" the article upon which the church stands or falls". Sola fide was the reason why the Reformers left the Church of Rome. Without this there is no Gospel. Of course Rome could adopt Sola fide, but it never will because this would mean the fall of its whole religious system. Evangelicals could abandon the historic position of Sola fide, but this they are reluctant to do. The only other course of action is to regard this important doctrine as not essential to the Gospel. This is the option that been chosen by the evangelical compromisers of ECT. This is an alarming and sad betrayal of the Gospel. To omit the all-important and qualifying word "alone" is at least insufficient and inadequate and obscures the Gospel. At its most serious it is the presentation of another gospel and according to Galatians 1 should be accursed.
How is sinful man saved? Spiritually his mind is alienated, his eyes are blind, he is deaf to hear, dumb to sing praise and dead in trespass and sins. He needs to be made clean before a holy God. He requires righteousness to be able to stand before God and obtain eternal life.
Is there anything this dead, sinful man can do to save himself? Rome says yes: by its system of works or merit. The Bible says no: salvation is all of grace. God quickens us from our spiritual death, cleanses us through the blood of the Saviour and clothes us with the righteousness of His dear Son. He imputes righteousness to us for our salvation and imparts righteousness to us for our Christian lives. We are justified by grace alone through faith and by Christ alone.
We conclude by giving a strong warning that the "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" movement is another guise of the Devil, the angel of light, to distort, deceive and damage the work of the true Church of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 5:1 exhorts us: "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."