One of the greatest dangers to Christianity today is the deliberate suppression of biblical truth for the sake of unity. The danger intensifies as we see many highly visible and influential Christians are jumping on the Vatican's ecumenical bandwagon. Instead of warning believers that this false unity is the emergence of the "last days" apostate church, evangelicals are embracing and applauding those who are engineering it. Instead of obeying biblical exhortations and examples to: keep the gospel pure, we are tolerating those who preach another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9) be sanctified by the truth, they are joining hands with unbelievers (John 17:17). hate everything false, they are tolerating doctrines of demons and counterfeit gospels (Psalm 119:104, 128). expose and name the agents of compromise, they are enduring them (Eph. 5:11, 2 Tim. 1-4).
The Church Must Be Warned
Amazingly, we seldom hear warnings against apostasy from our pulpits. Rarely are false teachers, who seductively lead people away from the true faith, exposed. These apostates are appearing as ministers of righteousness and are facing very little opposition. They successfully deceive the undiscerning because pastors and church leaders are not speaking out against them. Very few Christians are warning the church of these ferocious wolves dressed in sheep's clothing. The twenty-first century church needs strong leaders like the apostle Paul. He warned the early church, "even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears" (Acts 20:30-31). Throughout the Scriptures we are exhorted to test every spirit, every teacher and every doctrine because men are so easily deceived.
The Vatican's Strategy
It is indeed disturbing to see so many evangelicals unaware of the Vatican's strategy for bringing the world under the dominion of the papacy. The Vatican has made a concerted effort since 1965 to bring their "separated brothers' back home to "holy mother the church." In his 1995 encyclical Et Unum Sint, Pope John Paul II said he intends "to promote every suitable initiative...to increase the unity of all Christians until they reach full communion" and "to encourage the efforts of all who work for the cause of unity." The pope's stated desire is "to gather all people and all things into Christ, so as to be for all-an inseparable sacrament of unity... expressed in the common celebration of the Eucharist." During a week of prayer for Christian unity Pope John Paul II said, "I gladly take this opportunity to call the attention of all believers to the ecumenical commitment that marked VC II. The council rightly defined the division among Christians as a scandal. The council Fathers felt the need to beg pardon of God and of their brethren for the sins committed against unity." He asked Catholics "to cultivate an authentic spiritual ecumenism" through the Virgin Mary [not through the Lord Jesus]. The success of the pope's push for unity can be seen by the announcement made last year by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He urged all Christians to recognize the Pope as the supreme authority of a new global church (6/99 CRN News). In a document called The Gift of Authority, he describes the Pope as a "gift to be received by all the churches." It would do us all well to heed the words of C.H. Spurgeon, "Ignorance has been one of the grand agents of Popery ever since her establishment; by it, the eyes of men have been so blinded that they can scarcely discern between good and evil, and follow implicitly any guide even until they fall into the ditch of perdition."
Catholic priest Tom Forrest, who is head of Evangelization 2000 said, "Our job is to make people as richly and as fully Christian as we can make them by bringing them into the Catholic Church. So evangelization is never fully successful, it's only partial until the convert is made a member of Christ's body by being led into the Catholic Church."
The Vatican's ecumenical movement goes beyond the unity of all professing Christians. Their strategy is to bring all religions under the power and influence of the papacy. Pope John Paul II has been traveling the world to build bridges to all non-Christian religions. In a recent speech he said, "Christians and Muslims, we meet one another in faith in the one God...and strive to put into practice...the teaching of our respective holy books. Today, dialogue between our two religions [Roman Catholicism and Islam] is more necessary than ever. There remains a spiritual bond which unites us and which we must strive to recognize and develop." Even Mother Theresa had the ecumenical spirit as noted from her book Servants of Love. She stated, "we went every day to pray in some temple or church. The Archbishop gave us permission to do so. We prayed with the Jews, the Armenians, the Anglicans, the Jains, the Sikhs, the Buddhists, and the Hindus. It was extraordinary. All hearts united in prayer to the one true God."
As we watch the Vatican we can see a seductive strategy for uniting all Christians. They masterfully and deliberately redefine biblical terms to make them more vague, ambiguous and acceptable to both Catholics and Protestants. An example of this is the 1999 Lutheran-Roman Catholic "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification." In the declaration, Rome uses equivocal and indefinite words to affirm the doctrine of "justification by faith alone" but, at the same time, continues to affirm the anathema's that condemn all who believe this doctrine. We must not be misled. Rome has not changed its position on things that really matter! Instead they take advantage of professing Christians who lack discernment or who are unwilling to contend for "the faith."
Two Kinds of Unity
Tragically, the evangelical community continues to move away from sound doctrine for the cause of unity. This only fuels the fires of ecumenism. When church leaders are willing to suppress doctrinal truth they are allowing the walls that separate the church from the world to come down. Doctrine is what divides believers from unbelievers. While unity and brotherhood sound wonderful to a hostile world full of fighting and killing, the Bible condemns any unity that is not founded in God's truth. False unity is based upon man's ambitions and is independent of God (Gen. 11:1-9). Religious unity is the false unity of the Antichrist (Rev. 17-18) and should be resisted by God's people. Biblical unity is based on apostolic truth (Eph. 4:3,13) and is a work of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). Biblical unity is not man-made, but man is exhorted to keep it. Biblical unity is impossible apart from the one true and settled faith taught by the Apostles. God's people are called upon to "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). There is no spiritual unity whatsoever between those who believe the Gospel and those who do not. True Christian unity is modeled when believers are united together in mind, faith and purpose to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, while submitting to the authority of His Word.
Contending for the Faith
As the ecumenical movement gathers momentum, we must be strong and continue to contend for the faith, no matter what others might do or say. Let us pray for our evangelical leaders to return to the authority of Scripture for every issue of faith. Let us use God's Word to lovingly admonish any church leader who encourages unity with apostates or unbelievers. And finally, let us resist the pressure to participate in any activity or event that will deliberately suppress or compromise biblical truth for the sake of unity. We must return to the infallible, inerrant and inspired Word of God to heed its warnings and obey its commands. The Bible exhorts us to test all teachers and spirits (1 John 4:1,6). We are to expose false teachings and the evil deeds of darkness (Eph. 5:11). Christians are to lovingly confront and rebuke false teachers (Titus 1:9, 13). We are to separate from those who persist in teaching error (Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10). If we ignore these exhortations we may be disqualified for service (2 Timothy 2:20), or worse yet, be identified with the false teachers themselves (2 John 10-11).