The Problem with Ecumenism
In late February, there was a Pentecostal conference in Texas for leaders of various Charismatic Christian churches, held by Kenneth Copeland. Kenneth Copeland is a charismatic evangelist, who has been preaching for over 45 years. He has a large following of people from various Christian denominations and is known for prosperity preaching. This conference made the news and became a topic of discussion among many people, especially Christians, of all denominations. The message presented at this particular conference was about the unification of Catholicism and Protestantism.
Tony Palmer, an Anglican bishop and a member of the Convergence Movement, spoke at this conference as well. The Convergence Movement is a movement among evangelical and charismatic churches to blend their style of charismatic worship with other forms of Christianity, particularly Catholicism. They also include Celtic Christian Spirituality in their worship.
Palmer has been a close friend of Pope Francis for years. Palmer spoke to the group of Christian leaders and told them about how according to his beliefs, all Christians are Catholics. He started off the conference with an appeal for Protestants and Catholics to put aside their differences and become one church. Palmer asked the audience “If there is no more protest, how can there be a Protestant church?”
He went on to say that the main difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is that Catholics believed that we are saved by works and Protestants believed that we are saved by grace through faith. He told the crowd that there is no reason for this split anymore, because the Catholic church has now combined those two doctrines into one. However, this is very misleading because you cannot combine true and false doctrine, because they will never agree. If you change the truth even a little bit, it becomes a lie.
What Palmer failed to mention is that whether or not people are saved by grace or by works is only one of the many differences between Protestants and Catholics. He did not include the very important fact that when the protests were happening, Martin Luther actually posted the 95 Theses on the Church of Wittenberg, which was composed of 95 differences between Catholic doctrine and Protestant doctrine. Palmer decided to only focus on one of these in his speech, claiming that it was the only difference, while completely disregarding the other 94 points of disagreement that took place during the history of the Protestant revolution. The Bible makes it very clear that we are saved by God’s grace alone, because humans are sinful beings and could never do anything that would somehow make them good enough to be saved on their own. An example of this is Ephesians 2:8 which says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves – it is the gift of God.”
Palmer also continued to take God’s Word out of context by using John 17:20,21 in which Jesus said “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Jesus was the Word that became flesh and God’s word is truth. He does not want us to become united in false doctrine. Jesus wants unity to take place in the Spirit of truth. The true love and unity that God wants for us should not be based on false doctrine and compromising convictions. As Christians, we should always base our lives on the truth that we know, not just on feelings. Feelings can be corrupt and the devil can use them against us. God wants unity in the truths found in the Bible, not in feelings. In fact, in the very same chapter just a few verses back, John 17:17, Jesus prays, “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” So it’s important to pay attention to the consistent message throughout that chapter and throughout the Bible, rather than using one verse out of context to support a specific unbiblical agenda.
Then the conference continues with a message from Pope Francis, specifically addressing the leaders at this conference. A video of Pope Francis is shown, with him elaborating on the appeal for unification between the Catholic and Protestant churches. The Pope references the story of Joseph and his brothers. He compares himself and the Catholic church to Joseph, and the Protestant church to Joseph’s brothers. Joseph’s brother betrayed Joseph and then began to starve and then realized that they needed Joseph. They not only asked for forgiveness but they also bowed down to Joseph, and Joseph became their ruler. By making this comparison, the Pope is implying that the Protestant church did something wrong by standing up for biblical truth and that they need to make amends for their actions with the Catholic Church. This is simply not true. In fact, God calls us to hold on to His truth at all times, regardless of what others may say. Hebrews 10:23 tells us to hold unswervingly to the hope that we profess. Jesus and the promises found in the Bible are our hope.
The leaders in this room all rise to their feet and applaud, all embracing the message the Pope has just delivered, in much the same way that Joseph’s brothers embraced him and his leadership. Then Kenneth Copeland walks on stage. He begins to lead the group in prayer for the Pope. He also says, “When we pray, we receive words that are not our own,” referring to the false interpretation of speaking in tongues. Copeland then begins to speak in tongues, the crowd joining him. They are being led into deception because this is an unbiblical interpretation of speaking in tongues that does not come from God, but from Satan. The Bible makes it very clear that when the disciples spoke in tongues, they were speaking in other languages that they did not know, in order to preach the gospel to people who spoke those languages. There is no biblical support for a form of prayer that is unintelligible or a secret language that nobody else can understand. When Jesus lived here on earth, he taught us how to pray, and never once did he make any reference to praying in tongues the way that Copeland and much of the Charismatic movement practice.
After Palmer and Copeland lead out in a response video back to the Pope, Palmer invites Copeland to go to the Vatican with him sometime. In the book of Revelation, it is said that in the end times there will be one world church, and it will be an evil power. The unification between leaders in the Protestant churches and the leader of the Catholic church are the beginning of this one world church forming. This is predicted in Revelation 13. Ellen White also predicts this series of events in The Great Controversy .
Page 563 of The Great Controversy says, “Romanism is now regarded by Protestants with far greater favor than in former years. In those countries where Catholicism is not in the ascendancy, and the papists are taking a conciliatory course in order to gain influence, there is an increasing indifference concerning the doctrines that separate the reformed churches from the papal hierarchy, the opinion is gaining ground that, after all, we do not differ so widely upon vital points as has been supposed, and that a little concession on our part will bring us into a better understanding with Rome. The time was when Protestants placed a high value upon the liberty of conscience which had been so dearly purchased. They taught their children to abhor popery and held that to seek harmony with Rome would be disloyalty to God. But how widely different are the sentiments now expressed! The defenders of the papacy declare that the church has been maligned, and the Protestant world are inclined to accept the statement. Many urge that it is unjust to judge the church of today by the abominations and absurdities that marker her reign during the centuries of ignorance and darkness. They excuse her horrible cruelty as the result of barbarianism of the times and plead that the influence of modern civilization has changed her sentiments.”
Page 572 of The Great Controversy says, “As the Protestant churches have been seeking the favor of the world, false charity has blinded their eyes. Instead of standing in defense of the faith once delivered to the saints, they are now, as it were, apologizing to Rome for their uncharitable opinion of her, begging pardon for their bigotry.”
The events that took place during this conference accurately represent the predictions made in The Great Controversy. Throughout this meeting, Tony Palmer and Pope Francis mention that Protestants and Catholics should be apologetic, especially Protestants. They state that there is not a significant difference between the two churches. Copeland, Palmer, and Pope Francis all working together towards this common goal of unification signifies the beginning of the one world church, just as the Bible has predicted. The Protestants at this meeting are accepting of this message, and don’t seem to place any importance on the difference in doctrine. They don’t seem to have any issue with compromising some of their beliefs, and do not stand in defense of their faith but rather apologize and promote harmony between two conflicting biblical interpretations, which is precisely what was predicted in the Great Controversy.
Shortly after this conference took place, Seventh-Day Adventist ministry Amazing Facts, featuring Doug Batchelor, an evanglist in the Adventist church, released a video which showed the events of this conference, and what they mean in regards to biblical prophecy. The video can be watched here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsF2q-8ez08
We are living in times where the world is being corrupted at a rapid rate, and prophecy is continously being fulfilled as we speak. There is evidence all around us of Bible prophecy coming true, and soon the time will come when we will need to be able to defend our faith based on the truths that God has given us. At this time we need to make sure that we are ready. We need to be praying for one another and growing in our relationships with Christ. The Bible was given to us so that we could have knowledge of God’s truth and so that we may apply it to our lives. We should all pray for Jesus to give us a clear understanding of His Word, and of the prophecy of the end times, so that we can stand in defense of our faith and glorify God.
Have you seen the recent events regarding unification of the Catholic and Protestant churches? What do you think? Share in a comment below.
Posted on March 20, 2014, in Lifestyle, Spiritual Life and tagged 95 theses, amazing facts, anglican, biblical truth, Catholicism, charismatic, Christianity, convergence movement, doug batchelor, Ellen G. White, end times, ephesians, God, hebrews 10, Holy Spirit, Jesus, john 17, kenneth copeland, martin luther, One world church, pentecostal, Pope, Pope Francis, Prophecy, prosperity preaching, Protestantism, protests, revelation, revelation 13, speaking in tongues, spirituality, the bible, The Great Controversy, tony palmer, Truth. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.