Closer Relations with Rome!
(Understanding Prophetic Events-2000 PLUS! - Series - Part 2)
Some Protestants favour closer relations with Rome; many others do not!
Last week we began to examine the call to Protestants, for unity by Bishop Tony Palmer and Pope Francis at the Kenneth Copeland Ministries Ministerial Conference.
The question is this, is Tony Palmer calling all denominations to be reconciled to God, or is he calling all Protestants to be reconciled to the Catholic Church? He goes on to say, “If you are Born Again you are Catholic because,” he says, “the word Catholic does not mean Roman, it means universal.” He then says to take back what belongs to us, that is to be Catholic! But in the book of Acts chapter 11:26, we are told that the church in Antioch were first called Christians (not Catholic), even the church at Rome.
The name “Christian” bound the believers together, though they were in many self-autonomous churches. The name “Catholic” came about through centralization of the churches (not all), into a denomination. It is clear to me that denominations do not inherit the Kingdom of God. In fact it’s true to say, that it’s only in the last 15 years since “The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” - JDDJ (1999), that the Catholic church has excepted and made a declaration along with the Lutherans, that salvation is by Grace and not works. I dare say that if that is true, then the Catholic Church has been preaching a false gospel for hundreds of years!
Those who favour the ecumenical encounter say... that the Holy Spirit is moving in an unusual way in the Roman Catholic Church, and that the Evangelicals should be very careful in their anti-ecumenism, or they may be opposing the Work of God. The other group asks if it is possible that the Spirit should approve an ecclesiastical relation that can compromise certain truths that He Himself has inspired. Besides, they say, if the Spirit has begun an extraordinary work among the Catholics, is it not certain that an anti-Biblical ecumenism would hinder it rather than help it?
Supporters of the ecumenical dialogue affirm that opposition to it demonstrates a serious lack of love toward Catholics. Opponents say that out of love for Catholics they desire to preserve the integrity of the Gospel - and who has demonstrated more love (for in the Scripture love is not divorced from the truth) than those who have given their lives as pioneers or martyrs?
Another argument in favour of Catholic-Protestant ecumenism is the affirmation that the Perfect Church doesn’t exit on the face of the earth. The reply to this argument is that although it is conceded that there is no perfect ecclesiastical community, this doesn’t oblige anyone to unite with a Church whose errors are evident in the light of the Bible.
Evangelical uncertainties about the future of Catholicism should not pressure them into rejecting it, some say, for it is not known what is going on inside. Others disagree with the principle of “waiting,” because there are norms in God’s Word “that guide the Church along paths of right doctrine and morals, or must she depend only on the march of human events to determine her way?” The path of evangelical relativism, Núñez fears, and “the parenthesis of waiting may send many souls into an eternity without God, without Christ, and without hope...”
Aggiornamento (that means, "a bringing up to date," which was used to mean a “spirit of change and open-mindedness” during the Second Vatican Council - otherwise known as “Vatican II” - in 1959), should not lead to an unfounded optimism that minimises the post-conciliar differences and maximises the similarities, for aggioraments has not ushered in any fundamental changes in questions of: tradition, authority of Scriptures, papal infallibility, synergism, sacramentalism, mariologg, purgatory, and prayers for the dead. This also includes praying to Saints for miracles, then stigmata, such as in the case of the late Padre Pio, of Pietrelcina, who is famous amongst the Catholics here in Italy.
Our confessions are considered incomplete, and Roman Catholicism in “the Church par excellence” for “the ecclesia semper reformanda is also the ecclesia semper eadem.” Núñez agreed with Francis Schaeffer’s belief that Roman Catholicism was moving more and more toward a humanism that would make a relationship with ecumenical Protestantism more compatible.
The latter affirms that it is “not necessary or even correct to evangelise Catholics” because “they are already incorporated into the redeemed community as a result of their baptism in the Catholic Church....”
The Evangelical must be positive in his teaching and practice but “relevant proclamation of the Christian Message includes also the clear and conclusive denunciation of error, where ever this threatens the life of the Church that Christ bought with His blood.”
Individual friendships with Roman Catholics are to be Encouraged
But Ecumenical dialogue was discouraged.
In reality, to maintain burning in our hearts the flame of evangelistic zeal is one of the best antidotes against any theological or ecclesiastical movement that threatens the Church with paralysis in her missionary function.
The official translation of the final “Evangelical Declaration of Bogota” (1969) decided by a vote of the Congress that:
In a continent where the majority is nominal Catholics, we cannot shut our eyes to the ferment of renewal within the Church of Rome. The “aggiornamento” faces us up both with risk and opportunity: change in liturgy, ecclesiology, politics and strategy still have untouched the dogmas, which separate evangelicals from Rome.
Nevertheless, out trust in the Word of God, the distribution and reading of which continue to accelerate within Catholicism, value use to hope for fruit of renewal, and they present us with an opportunity for dialogue on a personal level. This needs to be an intelligent dialogue, and it demands from our churches a deeper and more consistent teaching of our own evangelical heritage, so as to avoid the risks of a false and misunderstood ecumenism.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Heavenly Father, I thank You that You lead me into all truth, by Your Word and Spirit. Thank You for the gift of wisdom, love and grace, Amen.
CONFESSION OF THE DAY
Jesus is Lord over my spirit, my soul, and my body. He has been made unto me wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. I am a member of the Body of Christ here on earth. I honour Him and live to bring glory to His name. To which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord! Scripture declares I have the mind of Christ; therefore I can have His mind on every issue, especially His thoughts, feelings and purposes towards His own Body.
(TAKEN FROM: ISRAEL, THE CHURCH AND THE ENDTIMES, by Dr. Alan Pateman - pages 165-167. Published by APMI Publications, Available as PDF version. Other formats available soon.)