AD 2000: Ecumenical Evangelism
By Pastor M. H. Reynolds Jr. reprinted from Foundation magazine Volume XV, issue 5. FEA Press ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 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 1:8, 9
"ALL CHRISTIANS SHOULD FORGET THEIR DIFFERENCES AND JOIN FORCES TO EVANGELIZE THE WORLD BY THE YEAR 2000. WE CANNOT REACH THIS GOAL ALONE." On the basis of this attractive proposal, we are now witnessing the greatest and most deceptive push toward ecumenical apostasy the world has ever seen. Joining hands with "all" professing Christians to fulfill the Great Commission under the banner of AD 2000 Ecumenical Evangelism has even greater appeal because it is coupled with the false claim that the world could be completely evangelized by such a united effort by the end of this decade. This would supposedly provide a wonderful 2000th birthday present for Christ at His return.
The AD 2000 Ecumenical Evangelism Program is receiving unprecedented favorable responses from those who fail to recognize the unscriptural principles upon which any such movement could possibly function. Thus, an ecumenical- evangelical steamroller is being created of unparalleled proportions. In the past, efforts by liberal ecumenical leaders to forge an unscriptural unity on the basis of "peace," "love," "social action," etc., have failed. However, it now appears that this newest tactic of Satan to produce an unscriptural, ecumenical unity through the use of "Evangelism" has a great potential for success unless God's people wake up to what is really happening in the name of
Evangelism. This dangerous program should be exposed and rejected by all who truly love Jesus Christ and desire to obey and please Him.
God's Holy Word, the Bible, makes it very clear that there is only one Gospel to be preached. Without equivocation God declares that anyone who preaches any other Gospel is under His curse. Why? Because any other Gospel is a perversion of the one true Gospel. So strong is the command of God in this matter that the Holy Spirit makes it plain that if the apostle Paul were later to bring another gospel; or if an angel from Heaven should preach any other Gospel, Paul himself and/or any such angel would be under God's curse. Please carefully read Galatians 1:6-10.
The only Gospel which can save anyone is the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Eph.2:8, 9). This is the only Gospel which is, "...the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth" (Rom.1:16). It is the Gospel proclaimed throughout the New Testament. The following are only a few of the many Scriptures which make this clear: Acts 15:7-11; Rom. 10:8-17; 1 Cor. 15: 1-11; Eph.2: 1-10; Titus 2:11-15; 2 Peter 1:1; 3:14-18; 1 John 2:25; 4:9,10; 5:10-13; and Jude 1-4.
It is the believer's privilege and responsibility to preach that one true Gospel "to every creature," beginning at home and reaching out to others around the world as God makes that possible (Matt. 28:18-20). Those who know and have believed the Gospel, love the Gospel and have a sincere desire for others to hear this Gospel. Those who have no such concern for the eternal, spiritual condition of the lost are either terribly backslidden or have been deceived by preachers of "another gospel" resulting in their being professors of salvation rather than possessors of eternal life.
Without question, there is a great need today for every true believer to do everything Scripturally possible to preach the one true, soul-saving Gospel to as many as possible as soon as possible. Time is running out. The coming of the Lord "draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28). Admittedly, the need is great and urgent! However, this Scriptural desire to evangelize the world should never entice believers into employing unscriptural methods and unbiblical alliances. Yet, that is exactly what is happening before our very eyes as leaders from Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches are saying with one voice, "We must forget our differences and all join together to evangelize the world for Christ by the year 2000." Such a proposal has an understandable appeal to every Christian, until it is examined in the light of the Scriptures.
First of all, this proposal for "all Christians" to forget their differences and unite for the purpose of evangelizing the world, completely ignores the fact that Roman Catholic, Orthodox and many Protestant churches preach another gospel - a false gospel - a gospel which rejects salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and makes baptism and other so-called "sacraments" and good works essential to salvation. To join hands, therefore, with those who preach a false Gospel is absolutely forbidden by God. Christians can never accomplish the task of world evangelism by uniting with those who are under God's curse. It can only be human reasoning, lack of spiritual discernment, and satanic deception which have led so many Christian leaders and others who themselves claim to believe and preach the one true Gospel, to join hands with those who preach another Gospel --a false gospel.
In the second place, those who attempt to justify unscriptural alliances in the preaching of the Gospel on the basis that "it is impossible to accomplish the task of world evangelism in any other way," are flying in the face of God's strong condemnation of those who say, "Let us do evil, that good may come. . . " (Rom.3:8). Satan has promoted this false philosophy through the years. It is a major tenet of Godless communism -"The end justifies the means." It has been used by the Roman Catholic church through the centuries to build its size, wealth and power. It would be a tragedy of greatest possible proportions if Bible-believers in these last days were to be deceived by the same satanic philosophy, only this time when it is applied to worldwide evangelism.
Unprecedented confusion abounds today in every part of the world and in almost every area of life. Thousands of voices are clamoring to be heard, each offering human solutions for dealing with the mounting problems in the church and in society. The latest fad which is gaining increasing acceptance is the very dangerous philosophy which says, "Let's recognize that there is some truth to be found in the teachings of all the competing beliefs. Let's just admit that 'all truth is God's truth' and therefore the solution to the problems of the church and/or the world can be found by combining those elements of truth which each group holds in common; and by agreeing to hold in abeyance issues in which there are still areas of disagreement even though those differences may be very important." It is these false and dangerous suppositions which have led to the rapid growth of AD 2000
Ecumenical Evangelism programs. This was also the basis for the drafting and circulation in 1994 of an amazing statement called, "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium."
No wonder many believers today find themselves in a spiritual quandary. Many long-time and highly esteemed Christian leaders have either modified their previously held Biblical positions or have abandoned them altogether. The things they are saying and the advice they are giving now would have been unthinkable forty or fifty years ago. However, today it seems that in theological matters "anything goes." There are some leaders who claim to preach and teach the truth, but at the same time mix truth with error, asserting that separation from false teachers, disobedient brethren and the world is unloving, extreme or even unchristian. No, Bible separation is in fact an indispensable manifestation of the kind of love that is commanded in the Scriptures. For example, read the following: Isaiah 8:20; 59:12-15; Jeremiah 9:3; John 17:17; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18;
2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14, 15; 1 John 2:15-17. Every professing Christian's message and ministry must be tested by the Word of God alone, not by the opinions of men. It is obvious that this is not being done by those who have set the agenda for these ecumenical programs and those who have become involved in AD 2000.
Speculation concerning the possible significance of the year 2000 is increasingly being voiced by all kinds of individuals and groups. New Ager's are predicting all sorts of cataclysmic changes based upon astrology, one of Satan's tools to deceive. The Bible warns about the dangers of following the counsels of "the astrologers, stargazers and monthly prognosticators" and pronounces a sure and swift judgment for all who embrace these false teachers and teachings (Isa.47:11 - 15). We must also warn about the dangers of following the teachings of some well- known teachers of Bible prophecy who have used the year 2000 as a focal point for "date-setting" as to the return of Christ, the rapture of believers, the beginning of the Great Tribulation period, and/or the ushering in of the
Kingdom of God on earth. Of course, those involved in the AD 2000 Ecumenical Evangelism movement make many additional false assumptions which, in turn, lead undiscerning believers into a myriad of unscriptural and harmful relationships and coalitions.
Without question, the two most influential religious leaders in the world today are Dr. Billy Graham and Pope John Paul II. Both men receive praise from millions of people around the world. Both have glowing words of praise for each other. Both give the impression that they are on the same team in the battle between Christianity and paganism. However, a careful examination of the words of these two leaders inescapably leads to the conclusion that both men are deceiving themselves and others. Later in this article, further details will be given to confirm this conclusion.
The AD 2000 Ecumenical Evangelism concept began as a only a trickle but has developed into a raging torrent. Very unorganized at first, it has become one of the best organized movements of our day. Most of the best known Christian (?) leaders of this decade are involved in one way or another in the promotion of this very unscriptural movement.
At the present time (1995) the AD 2000 Movement is centered around two groups. The first group is the AD 2000 International Coalition of Christian Leaders. Composed of 200 key leaders from various denominations, its chairman is Paul Cedar of the Evangelical Free Church, a denomination which officially repudiates Biblical separation. In 1993, Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Luis Palau and Kyun Chik Han of Korea were added to the list of Honorary co-chairmen of ICCL. The July/ August, 1993 issue of the Mission Frontiers Bulletin explained the goals of its members in these words: "All have a primary commitment to cooperate with other Christians in the vital ministry of world evangelization in the decade of the 90's. These International Coalition leaders share the vision of the AD 2000 and Beyond Movement. They are 'front line ' leaders, implementers, activists, equippers, and mobilizers in the ministry of world evangelism. Coalition members give leader- ship to the involvement of their own constituencies and share spiritual counsel with the various AD 2000 boards, committees and resource network leaders. They will seek to rally support and resources of all kinds to see the objectives of the movement fulfilled."
With an interlocking membership and similar goals, the second group is "Global Consultation on World Evangelization by AD 2000 and Beyond. (GCOWE). In the historical section of this article which appears later in this report, be sure to read the GCOWE's own account of their first meeting held in Singapore in 1989. In May 1995 a second meeting was held in Seoul, Korea. The following report was given in World Vision's MARC Newsletter for September, 1995 as follows: "Many national, international and denominational differences willingly were set aside as global mission leaders united to pray, plan and expand their vision. Four thousand Christian leaders from 186 countries met almost continually for nine days in May during the Global Consultation on World Evangelization held at the Korean Center for World Mission in Seoul."
In this same publication the following report was given by John Robb who was identified as "MARC's unreached peoples director." Note how he embraces the false teachings of many Charismatic leaders with regard to the necessity of casting out demon spirits in a particular area before the gospel can bring conversion . We quote, "Robb said participants shared a lot of great stories during their first evening together. A delegate from Zaire shared how a people group in that country had been resistant to the gospel for 50 years. Local Christian leaders did some research on this people group and learned of a strong practice among them of worshipping the spirit of the river in the area. A group of Christians went to the river and prayed, commanding the spirit to leave the area and claiming that area for Jesus Christ. In the weeks and months that followed their prayer session, thousands from that people group came to the Lord Jesus." We must point out, however, that the Bible knows nothing of casting out "territorial demons" This false teaching has been spread for many years by Dr. Peter Wagner of Fuller Seminary.
Another name to remember in the AD 2000 Movement and especially in connection with GCOWE is Ralph D. Winter, one of the real veterans and a chief promoter of these movements. In his recently published 45-page booklet titled Thy Kingdom Come, he gives a very helpful historical record of previous attempts to initiate greater cooperation in world evangelization. Winter also makes some statements which are Scriptural. However, he includes in his booklet several statements and conclusions which should be rejected by everyone who is willing to test all of men's opinions by the Word of God.
The historical portion of Thy Kingdom Come goes back to 1806 and to statements made advocating cooperation in world missions by pioneer missionary William Carey. This historical report then moves to the year 1906, one hundred years later, when John R. Mott was "impressed by the immediate significance of a world-level meeting constituted specifically by missionaries and mission executives." In 1910, such a meeting was held in Edinburgh, Scotland. Ralph Winter reluctantly admits that this 1910 meeting eventually led to the organization of the World Council of Churches. He also calls attention to the fact that "Missionaries working in Latin America loudly complained that the conference did not accept delegates from Latin America or Europe. It was assumed that the reason for this was that the conference organizers considered Catholics as saved -and thus did not consider Latin America 'an unoccupied field' -- The Bible was there, etc."
It was not an "assumption," but a fact that the 1910 conference leaders refused to classify countries in which Roman Catholicism predominated were in need of the gospel although some conservative evangelicals including John Mott opposed such an unscriptural view. It is indeed ironic that the current AD 2000 Movement goes even further in the wrong direction. Today's leadership now consider all Roman Catholics to be partners in evangelism rather than those in need of hearing and believing the one true Gospel.
The historical portion of Thy Kingdom Come is factual and as we read the list of meetings which led to the present AD 2000 Movement. In the providence of God, Dennis Costella and I were able to personally provide press coverage for several of these meetings so that FOUNDATION magazine could publish factual, firsthand reports concerning the increasing compromises in these meetings and the serious consequences which would result.
Thy Kingdom Come contains much error. There is twisting of Scripture, misapplication of Scripture and strategies for world evangelization which are absolutely contrary to the Word of God. On pages 16,17 we read, "A closely related principle is to try to get group decisions for Christ. If only one person decides to follow Jesus, do not baptize him immediately. Say to him, 'You and I will work together to lead another five or ten, or, God willing, fifty of your people to accept Jesus Christ as Savior so that when you are baptized, you are baptized with them.' Ostracism is very effective against one lone person. But ostracism is weak indeed when exercised against a group of a dozen. And, when exercised against two hundred it has practically no force at all." Is any such thing taught in Scripture or even a hint given? Of course not.
The influence of Charismatic leaders and their unscriptural teachings is very strong in the AD 2000 Movement. Paul and Jan Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) have built the world's largest television/radio network by means of pressurized financial appeals which have raised millions of dollars from undiscerning listeners. They are able to deliver huge audiences to individuals and organizations who will praise them and never expose their false teachings and practices.
Pat Robertson and his Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) does the same and reaches out in every direction to form religious and political alliances contrary to the Word of God. He is a leading proponent of the false, prophetic notion that the church will bring about a supposed worldwide revival in the end time, followed by its experiencing the prophesied tribulational judgments. The pre-tribulation rapture of the Body of Christ, the church's Blessed Hope, is expressly denied.
Dr. Jack Hayford has been and is a key figure in introducing evangelicals to the Charismatic heresies which he presents, not in fiery fashion, but in an attractive, calm way. We saw and heard him do this at Billy Graham's Lausanne II Congress in Manila in 1989 where 4,336 evangelicals were in attendance from all over the world. The AD 2000 Movement was also heavily promoted there.
Consider also the bold, shocking words regarding the end times of Michael Green, another prominent religious leader. He is a noted evangelical speaker, author and theological professor. He was a major speaker at Billy Graham's International Conference For Itinerant Evangelists held in Amsterdam, Holland July 12-21, 1983, and also spoke at the North American Congress on the Holy Spirit and World Evangelization held in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1987 - a meeting sponsored by Charismatics and Roman Catholics.
In his book The Futures Of Christianity, Green wrote, "I have argued in The Futures of Christianity ( 1987) that "the glad acceptance of Christ as Saviour and Lord, as the One who can bring us to the Father as no other teacher can, is entirely compatible with a willingness to learn from other teachers. In the past Christians gladly learned from Greek philosophers and Roman poets. In our time Christians can be taught about community life under God by Jews, about devotion to God by Muslims or Hindus, about detachment from the passions by Buddhists, about the sacredness of nature by animists, and about goodness by atheists...."
Such statements by Michael Green bear the unmistakable mark of satanic deceit. The early Christians did not learn from Greek philosophers and Roman poets-once they heard and believed the Truth, they rejected their false teachings. Any believer today who, following Green's unscriptural advice, seeks to learn important truths from Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, animists and atheists, is on very dangerous ground both spiritually and morally. Michael Green's message at the Amsterdam '83 Conference also gave the evangelists gathered there a huge dose of worldliness. His messages were typical of many heard at Amsterdam - containing some precious truths, but diluted or even negated by the philosophies of men - the wisdom of the world ... Green's remarks included such shocking, unscriptural advice as the following: "Don't talk about the new birth, talk about liberation ... Identify with and befriend secular society. Become one with them. Read their materials. Get out of our Christian ghetto mentality...."
Among ecumenical leaders, certain individuals stand out such as Jean Campbell, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, who claims to be an evangelical. A key figure in the worldwide ecumenical movement is Dr. Eugene Stockwell, director of world mission and evangelism for the World Council of Churches. He has moved freely in meetings aimed at bringing the two diverse groups together. In 1989, I personally covered the big WCC's World Conference on Mission and Evangelism in San Antonio, Texas where Stockwell was rejoicing in the fact that, for the first time, religious leaders from several religions were present as consultants, not visitors. These included Two Hindus, Two Muslims, Two Jews, A Buddhist, A Sikh, A Jain, and Three People of Traditional Religions .
Two months later the Assistant Editor of FOUNDATION, Pastor Costella, covered the sessions of Lausanne II in Manila where Stockwell was courting evangelicals. In an interview with Costella, Stockwell said, "There have been some very good contacts-some of them very quiet contacts-over the last few years with the leadership of the Lausanne Committee and with the World Evangelical Fellowship. . . We agreed to continue meeting and I am sure that will happen." The present WCC General Secretary, Conrad Raiser, is reaching out in all directions as well.
In 1994, a book was written by Jay Gary The Star of 2000--Our Journey Toward Hope. This book contains so much error, coupled with unscriptural suggestions and recommendations, that it seems incredible that any Christian leader would recommend it. Yet, Gary's book received enthusiastic endorsement and commendation from many top evangelical leaders. This book listed many of the older as well as the newer groups that were using AD 2000 as a springboard to further their own particular agendas and it received enthusiastic commendation from many well-known leaders. These included Bill Bright and Paul Eshleman of Campus Crusade, David Bryant, President of the Concerts of Prayer International, Dr. Joe C. Aldrich, President Multnomah School of the Bible, Dr. E. Brandt Gustavson of the National Religious Broadcasters, and Dr. David B. Barrett, Editor, World Christian Encyclopedia. The list also includes Dr. Joe A. Harding, Vision 2000, United Methodist Church, John Dawson, Youth With A Mission, Dr. Paul Cedar, Evangelical Free Church of America, and Fr. Tom Forrest, C.Ss.R who heads the Roman Catholic Evangelization 2000 program.
While Jay Gary has done much research concerning groups which are using the AD 2000 theme, his writings conclusively reveal that he is a "blind leader of the blind." He quotes favorably a strange mixture of New Age writers, United Nations enthusiasts and liberals from both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. He writes about subjects such as Trends 2000, Threshold 2000, Agenda 2000, and AD 2000 as the year of Great Jubilee. Gary approvingly quotes Robert Muller, former Assistant Secretary of the United Nations, who in his book New Genesis; Shaping a Global Spirituality wrote, "My great personal dream is to get a tremendous alliance between all the major religions and the UN. . .On the occasion of Earth Day, I proposed that humanity should hold in the year 2000 a world-wide Bimillennium Celebration of Life, preceded by unparalleled thinking, perception, inspiration, elevation, planning and love for the achievement of a peaceful, happy, and godly human society on earth." Neither the United Nations politically, nor the AD 2000 movement religiously, nor a combination of both can achieve a "godly human society on earth." We should be looking for Christ, and working and witnessing for Him, but only He can bring His Kingdom. Sound doctrine is being abandoned.
It is clear that Jay Gary is a false teacher to be exposed, not a forward-looking evangelical guide to be followed! Yet, he occupies a strategic position in the AD 2000 Movement. In 1991, he founded the Bimillennial, Global, Interaction Network (BEGIN) through which he and other AD 2000 leaders can share ideas and goals. Gary describes one of the purposes of BEGIN as follows: "To link up with a global network of groups and individuals who are working together to insure that the year 2000 is celebrated as a planetary jubilee by the whole human family." All of this is dangerous, unbiblical nonsense that must be fervently opposed.
The history of ecumenical evangelism actually began with the ministry of Dr.Billy Graham some fifty years ago. Starting out as a fundamentalist, the success of his mass evangelistic crusades led him into increasing postures of compromise. At the beginning of his ministry, he wanted to reach Roman Catholics with the Gospel. Now, Roman Catholic Cardinals, bishops and priests often serve on his sponsoring committees. He uses Roman Catholic counselors in his crusades and refers those who make decisions for Christ back to their own Roman Catholic churches.
When Billy Graham started out, he recognized the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical bodies as agents of Satan. Now, he works closely with their leaders and has nothing but the warmest relationships with them. Several years ago, Graham even said, "World travel and getting to know clergy of all denominations" has helped mold him into an "ecumenical being." Admitting that he was separated from some of them by theology, he none-the-less said, "All that means nothing to me anymore." What a change! What a tragedy!
In 1966, Billy Graham held his first big World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin, West Germany. Even at that early date, the theme had an ecumenical ring to it--"One Race, One Gospel, One Task." Further world congresses were to follow--1974 in Lausanne, Switzerland; 1983 and 1986 in Amsterdam; and 1989 Lausanne II in Manila. Each congress broadened the borders of its participants and encouraged evangelicals to reject Biblical separation completely, traveling instead the unscriptural ecumenical pathway.
Dr. Bill Bright is the other evangelical leader whose compromising influences have been so widely felt. There was "Explo '72," his massive "evangelistic mobilization and training program" held in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, in 1972. This was followed by a program called "Key 73 Evangelism" in which Roman Catholics, Orthodox, ecumenists, evangelicals, and charismatics all participated. Later, Bright held "Explo '74," a rally in Seoul, Korea, where a huge crowd of over one million people were indoctrinated in the same spirit of ecumenical evangelism.
Dr. Bright has Roman Catholics on his staff and on some Campus Crusade witnessing teams (Athletes in Action, etc.). Following a press conference in San Diego at a meeting of the Council on Biblical Inerrancy in 1982 of which he was chairman, I personally asked Dr. Bright how he could Scripturally justify his policy of having Roman Catholics on staff and working with them in evangelism. His answer, "I can work with anyone who calls Jesus, 'Lord'." I reminded him of the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23 where Christ plainly revealed that many who call Him "Lord, Lord" are actually "workers of iniquity. " Dr. Bright made no answer but turned and walked from the room in silence.
Other evangelistic movements such as Youth For Christ, Young Life, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Navigators and others have modified many of their original standards and are walking the ecumenical path. World Vision, financed largely by appeals for contributions to help needy people around the world, has become a chief vehicle for breaking down distinctions between truth and error in the theological realm. This is accomplished by the financing of numerous pastors' conferences, especially in third world nations, in which the ecumenical spirit is promoted and Biblical separation disdained.
Schools like Moody and Biola, once bastions of fundamentalism and Biblical evangelism, now espouse principles and positions their founders warned and wrote about. Fuller Theological Seminary was founded by the late Dr. Charles E. Fuller, a fundamentalist pastor who blessed the hearts of many through his Old Fashioned Gospel Hour broadcasts. But, as his ministry grew, his theological position weakened to the extent that when he founded the school which bears his name, its first president was Dr. Harold Ockenga, the man who became known as the "Father of New-evangelicalism." From that weak founding position, Fuller Seminary has become one of the largest, most influential but most dangerous seminaries in the world--a place where ecumenists, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, charismatics, and compromising evangelicals can all feel right at home.
In the field of foreign missions, the spirit of ecumenical cooperation has carried most of the original, fundamental faith missions into fellowships and joint efforts which please men but disobey the Word of God. Missionaries who once held God-given convictions concerning Biblical separation from error have increasingly been cooperating in programs of ecumenical evangelism such as Evangelism in Depth, Africa for Christ, etc.
In 1942, the National Association of Evangelicals was formed to provide fellowship for those who repudiated the fundamentalist position of Biblical separation. Later, the World Evangelical Fellowship was established to provide a similar compromised fellowship for evangelicals on the world level. The continuing compromises of both organizations have brought them ever closer to ecumenical apostasy and an emphasis on "social action."
There is no question that Billy Graham and Bill Bright have been the chief architects and promoters of ecumenical evangelism. Through five decades of increasing compromise, they have laid the groundwork without which AD 2000 Ecumenical Evangelism would not be possible. The cumulative effects of compromise have not only swept most evangelical churches and organizations from their Biblical moorings, but many fundamental churches and organizations have succumbed to the pressures and are no longer standing for truth and against error.
Another important factor in preparing the way for the AD 2000 Ecumenical Evangelism was the rise of the charismatic movement in the 1960's and their subsequent influence in bringing Roman Catholics and Evangelicals together.
A Charismatic-Roman Catholic coalition called the North American Renewal Service Committee was formed in the mid 1970's. Under the theme "A Congress on the Holy Spirit and Evangelism," this unscriptural coalition held three large meetings--Kansas City in 1977, New Orleans in 1987, and Indianapolis in 1990. These huge rallies brought together a veritable "mixed multitude" of Roman Catholics, Charismatics, Pentecostals, Evangelicals and Ecumenists with a goal of attaining greater "unity and power." However, such mixtures can never be justified without disobeying, ignoring or twisting the Scriptures. (2 Pet. 3:14-18).
Sadly, the vast majority of Christians today are in the same situation described by God in Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...."They are either uninformed or are being misinformed as to the true situation concerning the apostasy and compromise of churches and denominations. They simply do not know what is really going on behind the scenes. But how could they know? Evangelical leaders such as Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Leighton Ford, Luis Palau, and others are trying to appease those on both sides of the theological fence. To make matters worse, many fundamentalists have delayed so long in telling their people the truth, that they now remain silent for fear of losing members and support, even though the situation grows worse by the moment.
In years past, many secret and semi-secret consultations were held by top ecumenical and evangelical leaders in the interests of so-called "Christian unity. "The compromising evangelical leaders formerly were afraid their constituencies would object if it were known they were having "unity" talks with ecumenical liberals. In keeping with God's instructions to be "watchmen," we did our best to warn believers about what was going on behind the scenes. One significant instance of a top-level consultation took place February 20-24, 1989, in Stuttgart, Germany. It was a "semi-secret" meeting in that the names of the participating evangelicals were never revealed and no official statement was issued following the consultation. However, a report given by the WCC Ecumenical Press Service at its conclusion was so significant that we quote it in full as follows:
EVANGELICAL, WCC REPS JOIN IN EVANGELISM CONSULTATION
STUTTGART, Germany. For the first time, official representatives of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, World Evangelical Fellowship, and World Council of Churches have met together to discuss evangelism and the attitude of the organizations towards each other here, 20-24 Feb. 1989.
The consultation did not issue a statement, nor was a list of names of participants released. Though segments of the WCC membership describe themselves as evangelical, WEF and LCWE are explicitly evangelical organizations, and have been critical of WCC approaches to evangelism and other aspects of church life.
The gathering was convened and chaired by Walter Arnold, executive secretary for missions and ecumenical relations of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Wurttemberg (Federal Germany), and David Gitari, bishop of the Diocese of Mount Kenya East in the [Anglican] Church of the Province of Kenya.
David is a member of the WCC Central Committee. His denomination supports both the WCC and more strictly evangelical organizations. Until 1986, Gitari, vice-moderator of the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, chaired the WEF theological commission. In a brief written comment afterwards, Gitari and Arnold said the meeting was "conducted in a spirit of love and understanding, even though there were at times disagreements on theological and methodological issues. There was a stimulating discussion regarding commitment to the cause of world evangelization.
"All participants expressed their gratitude for the opportunity of sharing together their convictions regarding evangelism. The effort was to hear each other in honesty and sensitivity." Representatives of each organization made presentations on "the nature and practice of evangelism-how we perceive it and how we go about it."
Gitari and Arnold said "hope was expressed to continue further discussions" after the WCC World Conference on Mission and Evangelism in San Antonio (Texas/USA) in May and the LCWE world gathering in Manila in July.
The 21 participants spent their mornings studying the New Testament book of Ephesians and worshipping together. Bible study was led by Vinay Samuel, a parish pastor in the [United] Church of South India, and general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion. One of the participants, Eugene Stockwell, WCC director for world mission and evangelism, saw the first importance of the meeting on the fact that it took place at all. He said there was "very frank sharing of [theological and practical] points of difference" on evangelism. But, he observed, "what unites us is greater than what divides us--commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior."
Asked for examples of some differences, Stockwell said evangelical critics of the WCC sometimes accuse it of giving too much attention to social, economic, and political matters "instead of a clear call to biblical evangelism, as they would put it. On the other hand," he said, "while affirming the authority of the Bible, some in the WCC constituency would not want to use words such as 'infallible' or 'inerrant' to describe it."
WORLD EVANGELIZATION A REALITY BY AD 2000?
Perhaps the best way to further document the serious unscriptural principles upon which this current program of ecumenical evangelism is being built, is to quote excerpts from several press releases and statements made by AD 2000 leaders in the recent past. This will provide a historical background of the AD 2000 movement for those who may not be familiar with it. It should also be noted that the leaders who made these statements are even more active than before in pushing the unscriptural AD 2000 philosophy and programs.
The following quotations are taken from a press release from the Southern Baptist Press of December 16,1988:
Evangelical leaders to try again for unified worldwide efforts. One hundred years and six months ago, evangelical leaders met in London to coordinate their efforts to spread the Christian message throughout the world by the year 1900. They made speeches but reached no clear decisions, and ultimately achieved no strengthening of world Evangelization efforts.
Today world evangelical leaders are trying again. A pivotal juncture will be the Global Consultation on World Evangelization by AD 2000 and Beyond, scheduled for Jan. 5-8,1989 in Singapore. Each of the 300-plus evangelical leaders expected to attend the consultation is affiliated with a denomination or organization planning to help evangelize the world by the year 2000. Their plans, however, are largely independent of each other, observers have noted.
No single group is sponsoring the consultation. Its organizers include people affiliated with such denominations as the Southern Baptist Convention and the Evangelical Churches of West Africa and such organizations as the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Campus Crusade for Christ and World Vision International.
Third World evangelicals will comprise more than half the participants,' said Thomas Wang of Hong Kong, chairman of the consultation's program planning committee. Wang, a native of China, is international director of the Lausanne Committee.
Planning for the meeting began in May 1988 and from the start, Wang said, "We hoped, we prayed that this movement will have an international ownership. We look forward to a real cross-pollinization between evangelical leaders in the West and the Third World."
Consultation organizers hesitated to make predictions about what will result from such a broad-based gathering. But they have taken steps to provide the participants with possible options for specific decisions.
A team of 15 missiologists has drafted a 50-page working document listing 104 options that will be discussed during the four-day meeting. The establishment of an AD 2000 Global Task Force, staffed by representatives from various Christian denominations or organizations, is one such option.
"The Singapore consultation's focus on world evangelization," Wang said, "differentiates it from the Lausanne Committee's second International Congress on World Evangelization to be held next July in Manila. In addition to discussions of the AD 2000 emphasis, the Lausanne event will stimulate fellowship among the 4,000 participants and focus on a broader range of issues."
"Whatever happens at the January consultation will enrich and strengthen the July congress," Wang said. "These two complement each other. It's like a two-stage rocket."
The first stage of this evangelical/ecumenical evangelism "rocket" was launched in Singapore January 5-8, 1989. With the title, "Global Consultation on World Evangelism," (GCOWE), this larger group issued a public statement which as also so significant that we quote it in full:
SINGAPORE---"We believe that it is possible to bring the gospel to all people by the year 2000."
"We humbly confess our pride, prejudice, competition and disobedience that have hindered our generation from effectively working at the task of world evangelization."
These are among the declarations in a "Great Commission Manifesto" adopted by more than 300 Christian leaders from some 50 countries. Their unanimous vote, in a unison shout of "Amen!" came during the Jan. 5-8 "Global Consultation on World Evangelization by AD 2000 and Beyond in Singapore."
"The AD 2000 movement has now laid a foundation," said Thomas Wang, chairman of the consultation's steering committee, after the meeting. Wang also is international director of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. The consultation reflects a new era when Christians are expanding their efforts beyond institutional structures "to a task, a common task," said Bill O'Brien, the consultation's program chairman and executive vice president of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. Through an openness to missions leaders from a wide range of Christian traditions and a focus on world evangelization by the year 2000, the consultation enabled "a much broader scope of the body of Christ to come to a plateau where we can meet without other encumbrances," O'Brien said.
More than half of the 300-plus participants were missions leaders from the Third World.
"We see afresh," the consultation's manifesto states, "that cooperation and partnership are absolute necessities if the Great Commission (Christ's command to share the gospel with all peoples) is going to be fulfilled by the year 2000."
Four basic aims are listed in the manifesto:
1.Focus particularly on those who have not yet heard the gospel.
2.Provide every people and population on earth with a valid opportunity to hear the gospel in a language they can understand. It is our fervent prayer that at least half of humanity will profess allegiance to the Lord Jesus.
3.Establish a mission-minded church planting movement within every unreached people group so that the gospel is accessible to all people.
4.Establish a Christian community of worship, instruction in the Word, healing, fellowship, prayer, disciple making, evangelism and missionary concern in every human community.
The manifesto notes that Christian compassion must extend to "those who live under the bondage of sin and ...victims of poverty and injustice."
And it acknowledges that "only in the power of the Holy Spirit" can the world be evangelized. Christians "must be more impressed with God's great power than any force arrayed against us."
Expectations were high during the final session until Wang unexpectedly announced that the Consultation's Steering Committee would not seek to form an implementing task force. The action left unclear whether any continuity for the movement would be established. However, just before dismissal, Ralph Winter, general director of the U.S. Center for World Mission, rose to ask for a meeting with participants wanting a means of follow-up, a "meek and mild" information office to allow participants to maintain contact with each other. About 100 participants who stayed for the meeting adopted Winter's proposal. Several Christian organizations and 85 individuals expressed interest in covering start-up expenses. It will be a one-person office that could be accountable to a "board of reference" of members of the former steering committee who agree to assist.
The steering committee decided to disband, Wang explained, to give consultation participants "total freedom to decide what they want to do for the future."
Said O'Brien, "I was convinced that the AD 2000 movement is of God" and that appropriate persons would come forth to move it forward, whether at the end of the meeting or a later date.
Winter said he appreciated the steering committee's efforts and its humility in placing the movement's future in the hands of consultation participants. At the same time, he said it would have been a disaster that no one initiated a method for consultation participants, who hail from each continent, to keep in touch.
Winter, several months before the consultation, had said it could be "the meeting of the century" and, moreover, "the most important meeting Christian leaders have ever proposed" if it ultimately results in the evangelization of the world's peoples for the first time in history. Some 1.3 billion of the world's 5 billion people are untouched by
Christian evangelistic efforts, according to missions researchers. After the meeting, Winter said his assessments of the consultation's potential significance had not changed.
Beyond the steering committee's decision to disband, the consultation was filled with tense moments that, somehow, never dampened "an uncanny relaxedness and mutual trust," as Winter put it, among the participants, despite their wide range of cultural and religious backgrounds.
Latin American participants, in a "statement of concern" about Roman Catholic participation in the consultation, said "the religious-political force of the Roman Catholic Church is using all means available and is in fact the most fierce opponent to all evangelistic efforts on our part."
Only a half dozen Catholics were present, but one of several "case study" segments of the program focused on Evangelization 2000, a Catholic plan for world evangelization.
The Latin American evangelicals said cooperating with Catholics "goes beyond our historical and biblical commitment." One church leader said being known as "ecumenicals" in their home countries would "destroy" their ministries.
Apart from their concern regarding Catholicism, the Latin Americans said they intend to have "the broadest cooperation" with fellow evangelicals' efforts to carry the gospel worldwide.
Gino Henriques, a Catholic priest from India who heads Evangelization 2000 in Asia, responded to the Latin Americans' concerns by saying, "For whatever hurts they have received from Catholics, I'm not only grieved but I would beg pardon for those hurts, and I love them in the Lord." "I was not aware of this undercurrent that was going on," Henriques said, "because of all the kindness and fellowship I've experienced here." Stephanie Culhane, a Franciscan missionary working to start prayer networks throughout the world, said, "There needs to be a lot of repentance ... a lot of forgiveness and healing in the body of Christ." Another point of tension during the consultation involved a 50-page, 104--point "kaleidoscopic global plan" for evangelization prepared by a team of 15 missiologists, headed by David Barrett, an Anglican missionary from Wales noted for missions research.
A key proposal in the plan entailed the creation of an AD 2000 Global Task Force to spread a vision for world evangelization and to strengthen and increase cooperation among groups with specific goals and plans. It also would help foster or enhance local and national evangelistic movements throughout the world.
In the first of several small group working sessions, numerous participants affirmed the global plan, but among a minority, concerns and questions were voiced. Among them: that the plan could be perceived as top-down, ignoring grass roots input; that an additional structure should not be formed that might duplicate the roles of the Lausanne movement or the World Evangelical Fellowship; that the plan's theological base and spiritual emphasis needed strengthening; that it is too detailed to be effectively communicated to their constituencies....
"The kaleidoscopic global plan," the steering committee said in a written statement, "would become part of our ongoing 'tool boxes,' and it will be revised to include key points from more than 300 pages of suggestions submitted by the participants or their working groups."
The plan includes an array of declarations and steps toward world evangelization, such as the creation of "a Christian equivalent to Worldwatch" to monitor social, political and religious conditions and trends throughout the world; cataloging all Christian resources that can aid world evangelization; and translating key materials into the six languages used at the United Nations and, ultimately, into some 100 languages spoken by 1 million or more Christians throughout the world....
"We had differences of opinion, methodology and procedure," Wang said, "but in the areas of world evangelization, missions and a burden for fulfilling the Great Commission, we are in total harmony."
A FAITHFUL MINORITY SPEAKS UP AND PROTESTS
A faithful minority was present at Singapore. They refused to compromise and refused to remain silent concerning the sin of seeking to evangelize the world in cooperation with the enemies of Christ--the Roman Catholic Church. We quote the entire statement they issued at the close of this GCOWE meeting:
LATIN AMERICAN STATEMENT OF CONCERN
We, Iberoamerican participants at GCOWE, Singapore, January 5-8,1989, most respectfully manifest: CONSIDERING:
1. That we were invited to this Consultation because of our already deep and known commitment to our Lord's great Commission given to His disciples, in our full agreement with the Lausanne Covenant.
2. That we came to GCOWE 2000 with the understanding that the goal was to study how to accomplish the task of world evangelization by the year 2000 and beyond. We praise the Lord for this vision and express our deep and sincere gratitude for the invitation that was given to us to participate in such consultation.
3. That during the celebration of the GCOWE 2000 itself, we have come to realize that the working documents, the Steering Committee, the presence of certain groups, some of the materials being presented at the literature table, the intention 10 present a case study from the platform, and even the draft of the Manifesto, manifest the activity and evidence the presence of Roman Catholic elements that are not characteristic of most evangelical gatherings. The reality goes beyond our historical and Biblical commitment.
4. That in our Iberoamerican continent, the religious--political force of the Roman Catholic Church is using alln means available and is in fact the most fierce opponent to all evangelistic efforts on our part.
5. That Iberoamerican Roman Catholicism is to the present day incompatible with our evangelistic vision: Mary more than ever holds the first place in the faith, tradition supersedes the Bible, salvation by works over the work of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary, the supreme authority of the Pope, the religious syncretism and some other well known Roman Catholic expressions.
IN THE LIGHT OF THE ABOVE CONSIDERATIONS, WE DECLARE OUR DEEP CONCERNS:
1. Our disagreement for the inclusion in this consultation of groups not identified with the Biblical principles manifested in the Protestant Reformation.
2. We recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of non-Protestant/non- evangelical people and churches. However, we cannot cooperate with the structures they represent.
3. We respectfully requested with all the strength possible, avoid the participation of the Roman Catholic-related sectors from this program, since this could have serious implications in future involvement in the AD 2000 Movement.
4. We request that this Statement of Concern be communicated to this consultation and all other means that have previously publicized it.
5. We renew our commitment to global evangelization and the broadest cooperation within the theological framework of the Lausanne Covenant.
As far as we have been able to determine, the request to publicize the concerns of these Latin American believers has thus far not only been disregarded but deliberately suppressed. We quote from the Southern Baptist Press of January 13, 1989. Observe that there are only words of enthusiasm-no indication of any protest at all:
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)-Southern Baptist foreign missions efforts will never be the same, if recent experiences of its top foreign missions executives have any impact, they reported.
The president and executive vice president of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board participated in the Global Consultation on World Evangelization by AD. 2000 and Beyond in Singapore Jan. 5-8. FMB President R. Keith Parks, and Executive Vice President Bill O'Brien, made their first report of the meeting to executive board members of Southern Baptist Woman's Missionary Union Jan. 11. For both, it was a meeting unlike either had experienced before, they said. O'Brien called the gathering of "Great Commission Christians" from all around the world one of "the most dynamic evolutionary processes" of which he has ever been a part.
"It is a new day in the history of world evangelization," O'Brien said.
"The meeting was unusual," O'Brien reported, describing it as "a plateau where we can gather together devoid of man-made measurements of righteousness and simply strip the labels off and accept each other as persons re-created in Jesus Christ and who want to be obedient to the Great Commission. And that's where we came out.
"As we all left Singapore to go back to our differing places in 50 nations, there was the quiet assurance in our hearts that God is doing a new thing among us. And we all want to be a part of it.
"If it could happen for 314 (representatives) from 50 nations--that many organizations, that many confessional backgrounds, that many differing traditions--could it not happen within one little denomination called Southern Baptists?"
Both Parks and O'Brien praised the unity in purpose of the Christians who gathered in Singapore. O'Brien told the group the participants agreed to not "further divide the body of Christ by introducing another confessional statement that some can agree with and some cannot."
"It will take the efforts of the entire convention working in new ways if the world is to be evangelized by the year 2000," Parks stressed. "Southern Baptists are going to have to be willing to corporately die to self. So many of us have been so committed to maintaining a Southern Baptist identity and supporting 'our' missionaries that we've lost the commitment to reach the whole world for Christ.
"We're going to have to be willing to be prayerfully committed to whoever is with us, whether they happen to be one of our missionaries of not, if we're really going to have a part in reaching the whole world."
Statements such as these are very unscriptural and very dangerous for all who follow this AD 2000 Ecumenical Evangelism program. Every faithful servant of God has been given the important responsibility of being a "watchman" (Ezekiel 33:1-16; 2 Timothy 4:1-5). We certainly recognize our human limitations in seeking to exercise this God-given ministry, but we are challenged to say with David of old, "Is there not a cause?" (1 Samuel 17:29).
We are thankful that ". . . the foundation of God standeth sure," and may God help all who name the name of Christ to depart from iniquity even though it is currently being promoted in the cherished name of "evangelism." 2 Timothy 2:19.
SEVERAL DANGERS INHERENT IN AD 2000 EVANGELISM
First--this new ecumenical evangelism requires the acceptance of Roman Catholics, the Orthodox Churches, and liberal Protestants as partners in evangelism, rather than those who need to be evangelized.
Second--the Roman Catholic Church, which has been and continues to be one of the Gospel 's worst enemies, is especially deceptive today because it has a new "evangelical face" and "evangelical tongue" while continuing to preach a false gospel.
Third--Evangelicals have followed the path of compromise for so long that they have lost almost all spiritual discernment and have become "blind leaders of the blind." All who follow their leadership are in danger of falling into the ecumenical ditch!
Fourth--the Charismatic movement, with its false teachings concerning the Holy Spirit and its claims of new revelations from God, has become a catalyst to bring together liberal Protestants, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Charismatics, Pentecostals and Evangelicals into unscriptural fellowships and ministries, especially in "evangelism."
Fifth--the unscriptural Pentecostal/charismatic teachings are now being promoted within evangelical churches under the deceptive titles of "Power Evangelism" or "The Third Wave Movement." The two best known proponents of this supposedly less extreme, modified version of the dangerous, deceptive Pentecostal/charismatic teachings are Dr. Peter Wagner of Fuller Seminary and Dr. John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship. Both are fully committed to the unscriptural AD 2000 Ecumenical Evangelism movement.
Sixth--the silence of so many fundamentalists with regard to compromise and apostasy has left most of God's people in ignorance as to how the devil is using "evangelism" to produce an entirely new understanding of what "evangelism" really is and how God says this important ministry should be accomplished. So successful has been the devil's plan to use "evangelism" to forge an unscriptural ecumenism, that there has never been a time in history when a larger number of diverse groups are singing the same song, "We must get together to evangelize the world." There has never been a time in history when more plans are being devised to accomplish this ostensibly Scriptural task. In fact, many leaders have called the 1990's...
THE DECADE OF EVANGELISM
What about it? Shall we cooperate? Shall we become silent neutrals? Or, shall we be faithful to the Word of God in rejecting and exposing the dangers of this new program of ecumenical evangelism? The latter response is the only Scriptural one-the only one God can and will bless. The excerpts in this article from various significant statements and press releases are given with the hope and prayer that they may be used of God to help believers understand the very insidious nature and tremendous scope of the deceptions involved in AD 2000 ecumenical evangelism.
FACTS TO CONSIDER CONCERNING AD 2000 EVANGELISM
The evidence to prove that ecumenical evangelization is a tool of Satan to build the harlot church of the antichrist would fill several books, but surely the information already presented should provide ample proof of just how dangerous and deceptive AD 2000 Ecumenical Evangelism really is. Consider carefully the following facts:
Fact One--Those who are willing to participate under the umbrella of the ecumenical AD 2000 Evangelism program may use different titles for their own denominational evangelism programs, and may deny being involved in AD 2000 Evangelism even though their leaders are a part of it.
Fact Two--Evangelization 2000 is the name given by Roman Catholics to their own brand of AD 2000 Evangelism. Headed by a Roman Catholic priest, Tom Forrest, and set up specifically by Pope John Paul II, this movement uses a great amount of evangelical terminology and evangelical methodology of reaching the masses, but it repudiates the biblical Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and binds its "converts" to the devil's doctrines of sacramentalism and Mariolatry. Nevertheless, this Roman Catholic program is one of the largest "evangelization" efforts in the world. Numerous retreats and seminars are scheduled, a flood of literature has been distributed, and public media is used to further its unscriptural teachings.
Fact Three--Without doubt, the most extensive program of all those which endorse and participate in AD 2000 Evangelism is that sponsored by Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ. Called New Life 2000, this ecumenical evangelistic effort consists primarily of showing their "Jesus film" to more than 5 billion people over the next 6 years and that at least 1 billion of these will respond to His call and receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Boasting that this "Jesus film" is "the single most effective tool for evangelism in the history of Christianity," extravagant but unsubstantiated claims are already being made for its results. However, New Life 2000 is clearly ecumenical and unbiblical even though it is well financed and is deceiving many sincere believers who are interested in "preaching the Gospel to every creature."
Fact Four--Evangelicals in the USA are quite easily brought into evangelistic cooperation with Roman Catholics, whereas large numbers of evangelicals in Latin America, most of whom have been saved out of Romanism, know from first hand experience that it is a false religious system!
Fact Five--Older evangelical leaders are doing their best to influence the younger generation of evangelicals to accept their compromised positions as being the most workable and successful programs regardless of the fact that such positions are contrary to the Word of God which they still profess to believe.
Fact Six--Several important major meetings were held in 1989, all of which had a tremendous influence on the future direction of evangelism and of the whole ecumenical movement. These included The National Council of Churches' Governing Board Meeting, the World Council's World Conference on Mission and Evangelism, the Southern Baptist Annual Convention, Billy Graham's Mission '89 in London, and the Lausanne II International Congress on World Evangelization in Manila, Philippines.
Fact Seven--Evangelical leaders, especially at the Lausanne II meeting in Manila, July 11-20, had to straddle the fence on the issue of AD 2000 Evangelism to avoid offending the Roman Catholic leaders with whom they already work. At the same time, they did not want to lose support of leaders like those who prepared and signed the Latin American Statement of Concern quoted earlier in this article.
Fact Eight--Dr. Leighton Ford, chairman of the Lausanne Committee, was the closing speaker at the ecumenical "National Festival of Evangelism" called "Congress '88" in Chicago. Who was the opening speaker? None other than Roman Catholic Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. The publicity for this ecumenical meeting said, "Evangelicals, mainline churches and Catholics consciously combined the themes of unity and evangelism."
Fact Nine--Those who love the Lord and recognize the absolute necessity of preserving the purity of the Scriptures and of the Gospel should fervently pray that God will open the eyes of deceived believers. They should also do everything possible to place the documentation in this article in the hands of others without delay so they will recognize the duplicity of those who are openly disobeying the Word of God while still claiming to be evangelical.
Very few evangelicals are aware of the fact that the Roman Catholic hierarchy headed by Pope John Paul II has an entirely different message for Roman Catholics than for Bible believing, Bible obeying Christians. Note carefully the official statement issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in the U.S.A. It is a warning against Biblical fundamentalism, carefully drafted to avoid needless offense to their ecumenical partners but clear enough to convince any born again Christian that Roman Catholics still preach a false gospel. We quote their official statement in full:
A PASTORAL STATEMENT FOR CATHOLICS ON BIBLICAL FUNDAMENTALISM
This is a statement of concern to our Catholic brothers and sisters who may be attracted to Biblical Fundamentalism without realizing its serious weaknesses. We Catholic bishops, speaking as a special committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, desire to remind our faithful of the fullness of Christianity that God has provided in the Catholic Church.
Fundamentalism indicates a person's general approach to life which is typified by unyielding adherence to rigid doctrinal and ideological positions--an approach that affects the individual's social and political attitudes as well as religious ones. Fundamentalism in this sense is found in non-Christian religions and can be doctrinal as well as biblical. But in this statement we are speaking only of Biblical Fundamentalism, presently attractive to some Christians, including some Catholics.
Biblical Fundamentalists are those who present the Bible, God's inspired Word, as the only necessary source for teaching about Christ and Christian living. This insistence on the teaching Bible is usually accompanied by a spirit that is warm, friendly and pious. Such a spirit attracts many (especially idealistic young) converts. With ecumenical respect for these communities, we acknowledge their proper emphasis on religion as influencing family life and workplace. The immediate attractions are the ardor of the Christian community and the promises of certitude and of a personal conversion experience to the person of Jesus Christ without the need of church. As Catholic pastors, however, we note its presentation of the Bible as a single rule for living. According to Fundamentalism, the Bible alone is sufficient. There is no place for the universal teaching Church--including its wisdom, its teachings, creeds and other doctrinal formulations, its liturgical and devotional traditions. There is simply no claim to a visible, audible, living, teaching authority binding the individual or congregations.
A further characteristic of Biblical Fundamentalism is that it tends to interpret the Bible as being always without error, or as literally true, in a way quite different from the Catholic Church's teaching on the inerrancy of the Bible. For some Biblical Fundamentalists, inerrancy extends even to scientific and historical matters. The Bible is presented without regard for its historical context and development.
In 1943 Pope Pius XII encouraged the Church to promote biblical study and renewal, making use of textual criticism. The Catholic Church continued to study the Bible as a valuable guide for Christian living. In 1965 the Second Vatican Council, in its Constitution on Divine Revelation, gave specific teaching on the Bible. Catholics are taught to seethe Bible as God's book--and also as a collection of books, written under divine inspiration by many human beings. The Bible is true--and to discover its inspired truth we should study the patterns of thinking and writing used in ancient biblical times. With Vatican II we believe that "the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching firmly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation" (Constitution on Divine Revelation, no. 11). We do not look upon the Bible as an authority for science or history. We see truth in the Bible as not to be reduced solely to literal truth, but also to include salvation truths expressed in varied literary forms....
Our Catholic belief is that we know God's revelation in the total gospel. The gospel comes to us through the Spirit-guided Tradition of the Church and the inspired books: "This sacred Tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and New Testament are like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth looks at God" (Constitution on Divine Revelation, no. 7).
A key question for any Christian is: Does the community of faith which is the Lord's Church have a living Tradition which presents God's Word across the centuries until the Lord comes again? The Catholic answer to this question is an unqualified "yes." That answer was expressed most recently in the Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Second Vatican Council. We look to both the Church's official teaching and Scripture for guidance in addressing life's problems. It is the official teaching or magisterium that in a special way guides us in matters of belief and morality that have developed after the last word of Scripture was written. The Church of Christ teaches in the name of Christ and teaches us concerning the Bible itself.
The basic characteristic of Biblical Fundamentalism is that it eliminates from Christianity the Church as the Lord Jesus founded it. That Church is a community of faith, world wide, with pastoral and teaching authority. This non-church characteristic of Biblical Fundamentalism, which sees the Church as only spiritual, may not at first be clear to some Catholics. From some Fundamentalists they will hear nothing offensive to their beliefs, and much of what they hear seems compatible with Catholic Christianity. The difference is often not what is said--but in what is not said. There is no mention of the historic, authoritative Church in continuity with Peter and the other apostles. There is no vision of the Church as our mother--a mother who is not just spiritual, but who is visibly ours to teach and guide us in the way of Christ.
Unfortunately, a minority of Fundamentalist churches and sects not only put down the Catholic Church as a "man-made organization" with "man-made rules," but indulge in crude anti-Catholic bigotry with which Catholics have long been familiar.
We believe that no Catholic properly catechized in the faith can long live the Christian life without those elements that are had only in the fullness of Christianity: the Eucharist and the other six sacraments, the celebration of the Word in the liturgical cycle, the veneration of the Blessed Mother and the saints, teaching authority and history linked to Christ and the demanding social doctrine of the Church based on the sacredness of all human life.
It is important for every Catholic to realize that the Church produced the New Testament, not vice-versa. The Bible did not come down from heaven, whole and intact, given by the Holy Spirit. Just as the experience and faith of Israel developed its sacred books, so was the early Christian Church the matrix of the New Testament. The Catholic Church has authoritatively told us which books are inspired by the Holy Spirit and are, therefore, canonical. The Bible, then, is the Church's book. The New Testament did not come before the Church, but from the Church. Peter and the other apostles were given special authority to teach and govern before the New Testament was written. The first generation of Christians had no New Testament at all--but they were the Church then, just as we are the Church today.
A study of the New Testament, in fact, shows that discipleship is to be a community experience with liturgy and headship; and demonstrates the importance of belonging to the Church started by Jesus Christ. Christ chose Peter and the other apostles as foundations of his Church, made Simon Peter its rock foundation and gave a teaching authority to Peter and the other apostles. This is most clear in the Gospel of Matthew, the only Gospel to use the word church. The history of twenty Christian centuries confirms our belief that Peter and the other apostles have been succeeded by the Bishop of Rome and the other bishops, and that the flock of Christ still has, under Christ, a universal shepherd.
For historical reasons the Catholic Church in the past did not encourage bible studies as much as she could have. True, printing (the Latin Bible was the first work printed) was not invented until the mid-fifteenth century, and few people were literate during the first sixteen centuries of Christianity. But in the scriptural renewal the Church strongly encourages her sons and daughters to read, study and live the Bible. The proclamation of the Scriptures in the liturgical assembly is to be prepared for by private bible study and prayer. At the present time two decades after Vatican II, we Catholics have the tools needed to become Christians who know, love and live the Holy Bible. We have a well-ordered Lectionary that opens for us the treasures of the books of the Bible in a three-year cycle for Sunday and Holy Day Masses, and a more complete two-year cycle for weekday Masses. Through the Lectionary the Catholic becomes familiar with the Bible according to the rhythm of the liturgical seasons and the Church's experience and use of the Bible at Mass. We have excellent translations (with notes) in The New American Bible and The Jerusalem Bible. We have other accurate translations with an imprimatur. We have an abundance of commentaries, tapes, charts and bible societies....
In areas where there is a special problem with Fundamentalism, the pastor may consider a Mass to which people bring their own Bibles and in which qualified lectors present a carefully prepared introduction and read the text-without, however, making the Liturgy of the Word a Bible study class.... "We need to educate--to reeducate--our people knowingly in the Bible so as to counteract the simplicities of Biblical Fundamentalism."
A similar Roman Catholic warning concerning the dangers of fundamentalism was issued by the Bishop's Conference of the Philippines on January 24, 1989, no doubt in anticipation of discussions which might result from the Lausanne II Conference held later that year, July 11-20, in Manila (we personally covered this meeting with press credentials issued to FOUNDATION magazine). These Catholic leaders made it clear that, in warning about fundamentalism, they did not refer to "mainline Churches like the Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines," but rather to those fundamentalists whose "literal interpretation of Biblical passages ... is then used to aggressively attack Catholic teachings and practices like our teaching on the Blessed Virgin Mary and our veneration of sacred images."
The program called AD 2000 Evangelism is unscriptural and very deceptive. While not every religious group uses this exact terminology, they all agree that it is a wonderful idea for Christians to forget their differences and work together in evangelism so that the task of evangelizing the world can be completed by the year 2000. Such words easily capture the fancy of the Church and the world, but are contrary to the Bible. God's Word says, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." Ephesians 5:11. What is more clearly an unfruitful work of darkness than the preaching of a false gospel?
It is, therefore, deplorable to realize that many evangelical and fundamental leaders who have the ears and eyes of multitudes through their publications and radio and television broadcasts, give absolutely no word of warning. In fact, they encourage their followers to participate.
The time has come for all true believers to take a public stand on the AD 2000 Ecumenical Evangelism issue. Every born again Christian needs to decide which side they are on--which way they are going. To evangelize the world by AD 2000 would be a curse, not a blessing--a gift to Satan, not to Christ--if the gospel preached is not the one true, pure Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. This is a tremendously important consideration! The eternal end of precious souls is at stake.
It is time for every faithful Christian leader, pastor, evangelist, and missionary to declare "all the counsel of God" concerning the "grievous wolves" from without, and those from within who speak "perverse things." We must watch, warn, and then commend believers "to God and the Word of His grace." Acts 20:26-32.
Biblical concern for the spiritual welfare of Roman Catholics, Orthodox, liberal Protestants and others who preach a false gospel is not demonstrated by joining hands with them in evangelism as though we were already "one in Christ. "It can only be manifested by lovingly and clearly giving them the true Gospel, knowing that only the Word of God, coupled with the convicting and converting work of the Holy Spirit, can produce the New Birth. This is our desire.