Ecumenical bodies are unifying the church. But to what end?
The Bible gives a clear warning of an end time apostasy. In the context of the revealing of the 'man of lawlessness', Paul writes:
"Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first ..." (2 Thes 2.3)
Here, 'apostasy' means a 'falling away from the true faith'. It can also mean 'defection' from one's belief. Apostate Christianity can be seen as a departure from true biblical Christianity, a departure from true doctrine:
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine ... they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths." (2 Tim 4.3,4)
We are also told what causes this defection:
"... in the later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons ..." (1 Tim 4.1)
How is this working out today? Good examples are the liberal church views on interfaith, homosexual acts, gay marriage, evolution and replacement theology (the church replacing national Israel).
The apostle John received his revelation from Jesus Christ during his exile on the island of Patmos. It was there that he received the letters to the seven historic churches in Asia (Revelation 2 and 3).
Image courtesy D. & E. Kiel
But these letters also apply to the state of the church at any one time; there are always suffering (persecuted) churches, faithful churches, and apostate churches. It is a sad fact that much of Christendom (Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic) can be claimed to be apostate.
Scholars also see the letters as depicting the historical progression of the church, with the Laodicean church being the end time church. Of all the seven types of church, the Laodicean church is the only one not to be commended in some form by Christ. It is the only one not indwelt by Christ; He stands outside, waiting to be asked in by any in that church who repent and ask Him in (Rev 3.20). 'Laodicea' means 'men's opinions ruling in place of God'. This is how Christ sees such a church:
"You say 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing', and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked ..." (Rev 3.17)
We can readily identify such a church today! It is a worldly, wealthy, powerful, political church.
The apostle John had a revelation of a woman sitting on a beast:
"... I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast ... the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls ... and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, 'BABYLON THE GREAT, MOTHER OF HARLOTS ...' and I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus ..." (Rev 17.3-6)
There is a great deal of description here, enabling clear identification of the woman:
From Rev 17, historical records and present day events (see opposite), it is clear to many in the Protestant and Orthodox churches that the woman is the Roman Catholic Church.
The symbol of a woman riding a beast is particularly common in the European Union. It is clearly portrayed in both the Brussels and Strasbourg buildings of the EU Parliament, and at the building of the Council of Europe in Brussels. This is not suprising since the Vatican in Rome is in the heart of the EU! In Greek mythology the woman is Europa, and her image is found on the new 2013 Euro banknotes.
Europa carried away by a bull
(German Maritime Museum)
Image courtesy Hannes Grobe. See wikipedia.org
End Times - Summary
End Time Signs
The True End Time Church
Electronic ID - Human Implants
Middle East War
Israel - its Purpose
Equality Law & End Times
Roman Catholicism - Babylon?
Climate Change - IPCC
Climate Change - Hoax
Prophecy Coming True
God Judging Nations
Second Coming of Christ
End Times - Indepth Study
End Times - The Millennium
Apologetics - Summary
Truth - What is it?
Truth - The Source
Laws of Life
Pluralism - Ways to God
Entry to Heaven
After Death - What?
Israel's Legal Borders
Israel Goods Boycott
The Palestinian Problem
Reality - Verify the Bible
Morality & Ethics
Age of the Earth
Biblical Dating of Earth
Young Earth Creationism
Atheism is Illogical
Evolution - the Truth
It's God's Weather
A Hurting World
Religion Is Bad News
Steps You Should Take
Gifts For You
Promises For You
Adam: real or symbolic?
The Persecuted Church
Authority in Christ
Browse the Bible
St Peter's square, Piazza San Pietro, Vatican, Rome
© Pictures of Rome courtesy of Rome.info
Formation of the World Church
The Reformation of the 16th century eventually led to the numerous independent Christian groups we know today: Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Charismatics, Unitarians, Methodists and so on. The Reformers were 'Protestant' in that they 'protested' against and rebelled from the supreme authority of the pope.
An early attempt to reverse this fragmentation was the Evangelical Alliance (EA) founded in England in 1846. Today, the EA vision includes 'Working for a united Church'. And the 1910 World Missionary Conference of major protestant denominations and missionary societies has been described as the formal beginning of the EM. So ecumenism was birthed in an attempt to unify the Protestant churches. The word 'ecumenical' literally means 'the inhabited earth' or 'the whole world', so here we have the birth of a 'world church'.
Today, the EM is led by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and promotes worldwide unity between all the major Christian groups:
"A united church is no optional extra." [Desmond Tutu, WCC, Brazil, 2006]
Although initially involving mainly Protestant and Orthodox churches, the WCC now has Catholic observers and the Catholic Church is a full member of some of its committees. Whilst the EM is not an interfaith initiative, it does promote unity despite significant doctrinal differences, and so a casualty must inevitably be truth! This point is often ignored by the EM as it stresses Jesus' prayer for oneness and unity amongst His followers (Jn 17.20-23). And so the relentless move to unity continues:
Roman Catholic Church: The restoration of unity among all Christians was one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). The Council's Decree on Ecumenism claimed that Christ founded only one Church, and that division openly contradicts the will of Christ. But the Catholic Church acknowledges that doctrinal and structural differences between Protestants and itself create many obstacles to full ecclesiastical communion. It claims:
"The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. Although the ecumenical movement and the desire for peace with the Catholic Church have not yet taken hold everywhere, it is our hope that ecumenical feeling and mutual esteem may gradually increase among all men. Catholics, in their ecumenical work, must assuredly be concerned for their separated brethren ..."
Anglican Church: The Anglican Church claims that "Ecumenism is at the very heart of Anglicanism". Accordingly, an aim of the Anglican Communion is:
"To encourage and guide Anglican participation in the ecumenical movement and the ecumenical organisations, to co-operate with the World Council of Churches and the world confessional bodies on behalf of the Anglican Communion, and to make arrangements for the conduct of pan-Anglican conversations with the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox churches, and other churches." [ACC Constitution 2(f)]
The apostolic constitution, "Anglicanorum coetibus," issued by Pope Benedict in November 2009 allowed Anglicans the option of entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. The Anglican Church saw this as "a positive contribution to a wider dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion".
Baptist Church: It is claimed that Baptists have never been linked with Protestants and have never been identified with the Roman Catholic Church. Nevertheless, the Baptist approach to ecumenism is rooted in the recognition that it is insufficient for the Baptist Church to be alone, and that "ecumenism is an inescapable reality for all of us". Yet, despite a clear commitment to ecumenism expressed in formal votes, there are also doctrinal problems e.g. the issues of baptism and structural unity. Baptists believe that unity needs to be bottom up!
Methodist Church: In its Ecumenical Statements, the UK Methodist Church affirms its commitment to work with ecumenical partners wherever possible. Its ecumenical strategy includes:
"A vision of one Church for one World; a desire to share in a common life with all Christian people; and a commitment to seeking the full visible unity of the Church.
However, like the Baptists, it recognises that successful ecumenical working does not ignore the differences between Christians and between Christian denominations.
Orthodox Church: Eastern Orthodox Christianity (which embraces the Greek Orthodox Church) draws on elements of Greek, Middle-Eastern, Russian and Slav culture. Some challenge Orthodox doctrine, particularly on salvation.
The Orthodox Church stands out from other mainstream churches on EM. Whilst it shares the aim of Christian unity, it is not prepared to compromise its doctrine. For instance, at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the Archbishop of Athens suggested that the Anglican Communion might take the opportunity "to examine to what degree the Church has remained faithful or has deviated from the Pauline teaching and principles". The Orthodox assert that only they have retained the fullness of the Truth, handed down by Christ to the Apostles, and handed on by them to the Church, down to the present day. In his book "Our Orthodox Christian Faith", Athanasios Frangopoulos says:
"there are not many Churches but one - the Orthodox Catholic Church."
Some go even further and claim that the EM is heresy:
"Modern ecumenism is both a movement and an ecclesiological heresy. It poses a grave threat to the very 'pillar and foundation of the Truth' (1 Timothy 3:15) itself - the Church."
The following video highlights some characteristics of apostate churches, and ecumenism is one of them. Are YOU in one of these churches?
The Roman Catholic Church is determined to reclaim the ground lost during the Reformation. It claims:
"The Catholic Church is the one, holy, apostolic Church of Christ. This one Church of Christ ... constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in (is) the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops." [Vatican doctrinal congregation]
So whilst Rome acknowledges that "numerous elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside her structure", she still claims that the Catholic Church is "the one true Church with the fullness of Christian teaching", and that other Christian denominations (essentially Orthodox and Protestant) are "separated churches and communities that suffer from defects".
False Doctrine: Rome's claim to be the one true church was recognised by Wycliffe, Huss, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Whitefield, the Wesleys, and others as unbiblical. This also applies to Rome's claim on salvation:
"It is only through Christ's Catholic Church, which is 'the all-embracing means of salvation,' that they (the 'separated brethren') can benefit fully from the means of salvation." [Vatican decree on ecumenism]
In other words, the Catholic Church has replaced Jesus as the only way of salvation by declaring itself necessary for salvation! The false doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church leads many to identify Rome with the apostate Laodicean church of Revelation. This church is identified as worldly rich but spiritually poor. It stands in the place of Jesus and so Jesus stands outside the church, knocking on the door and asking those inside to return to Him (Rev 3.20). Here is hope for individuals caught up in Roman Catholicism. See more false doctrines in the video below:
Rome first gained full political control under Pope Vigilius (537 - 555 AD). This power enabled the church to carry out its will by force and she only gradually lost this power via the Protestant Reformation (starting 1517) and the French Revolution (1789-1799). Rome's persecuting power was finally broken when Napoleon imprisoned the Pope in 1799. As outlined below, Rome is now regaining that lost power.
Opus Dei ("Work of God"): Opus Dei is part of the Catholic Church and is made up of priests and laity. Some priests hold the top government positions whilst the laity include academics, doctors, parliamentarians, government ministers, judges and journalists. It gives the Vatican worldwide political power to impose its moral code through legislation and public policy.
America: With the election of Catholic John F. Kennedy to the White House, Catholics felt more confident politically. Support for their social and political platform was given by Pope John XXIII. From 2009, the Supreme Court had a Catholic majority.
The United Nations: The Roman Catholic Church has elected to participate in the UN as the 'Holy See' (the Pope, the College of Cardinals, and the central departments that govern the Church). In 1964, Pope Paul VI established the first Holy See 'permanent observer' at the UN, and the Holy See now participates actively in UN conferences, influencing international deliberation on a wide range of issues.
Europe: Some claim that Catholicism is 'hollowing out' in its traditional European strongholds (parishes, monasteries, schools, universities and charities). And there is massive dissent from the church's teaching on morality. Poland is the only place where seminaries are full and priests abound. Nevertheless, the authority of church and state remains and it is claimed that Rome has an on-going agenda for Europe:
"(Europe will become) 'the greatest Roman Catholic superstate the world has ever known ... the greatest single human force ever seen by man, united within the ancient boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire by the common spiritual bond of religion.'" [Papal encyclicals of Pius XII and John XXIII]
The Vatican has also managed to get the principle of subsidiarity adopted by the EU. In effect, this means that churches remain under national law and must not conform to EU human rights legislation.
The Vatican is operating on a worldwide social, political and religious (ecumenical) level in order to 'absorb' what it regards as the 'separated churches' (esssentially the Protestant and Orthodox churches) into what it regards as the one true church, the Roman Catholic Church. Rome is regaining her lost power and control. Why? Is there an agenda?
Scripture says that all those who truly follow Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3.12), and this comes in many ways. Jesus said:
"An hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God." (Jn 16.2)
Whilst this could be seen as Muslim persecution of Christians, it could also apply to the Roman Catholic Church. Historically, Papal persection of Christians has been 'justified' on the grounds of heresy - denying the seven sacraments, and in particular the sacraments of communion (mass) and confession (the right to forgive sin).
Papal persecution started in earnest with the Waldenses in France under Pope Alexander III (1159-1181) and with the Eastern Orthodox Church via the Crusades, followed by the Papal Inquisition (13th century), the Spanish Inquisition (15th century) and the Huguenots (16th century). Individuals such as John Calas were martyred as late as the 18th century. Horrific detail of the tortures used can be found at Fox's Book of Martyrs. How many suffered?
"From the birth of Popery in 606 to the present time, it is estimated by careful and credible historians, that more than 50 million have been slaughtered for the crime of heresy by popish persecutors ..." [John Dowling, 'History of Romanism', first published 1845]
Given Rome's tyrannical actions in the past, her growing worldwide political influence via the UN and the EU, her determined and autocratic drive to a 'one world church', and her erroneous doctrine, there are strong grounds to see if Rome can be identified in Bible prophecy. Many identify Rome as the ecclesiastical babylon (false church) of Rev 17, if only that the woman seen there is sat upon (controlling) a (political) beast and is "drunk with the blood of the saints" (Rev 17.6). And, like Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, Bunyan, Huss, Knox, Edwards and Wesley, many identify the Papacy with the Antichrist.
Furthermore, can Rome be aligned with the second beast of Rev 13.11-18, the false prophet? Is this beast the Antichrist, rather than the first beast? There are good grounds to believe that this is the case - see Who is the World Dictator?. If this is the case, then we can expect Rome to force false worship and the 'mark of the beast' upon the world (Rev 13.15-17).
A Controlling Mechanism - a World Church: Let us assume that Rome is the future persecutor seen in Rev 13.11-18 and Rev 17. How might this work out in reality? As discussed in The Pattern of Papal Persecutions, a mechanism is being prepared and involves the collaboration of Rome, the EU and the UN:
"It would be advantageous to the EU to have a cultural 'seamless garment' which would maintain a grassroots unifying force between individual states and the developing central authority. Proffering such a garment to the EU, Rome likewise needs the European Court and the law courts of the member countries to classify as 'sects' Bible believing churches, thus preparing the ground for legal extirpation of all those who will not bow to her edicts. In the global sphere, the UN desires sovereignty and thus needs a world police force. In that arena, the Church of Rome, whose system exists within every nation represented in the UN, in turn needs a world court by which to enforce the wearing of her cultural 'seamless garment'. This would subsume the globe's 'multiculturalism' under one culture, counterfeit and apostate Christianity. Given their respective goals, these three entities might readily find it to their advantage to work in tandem."
According to prophecy, the apostate World Church (the ecclesiastical Babylon of Rev 17) will suffer sudden and catastrophic destruction. How? Destruction comes from the other end time Babylon - the commercial and economic Babylon of Rev 18. This final world system, controlled by a humanistic World Government and the powerful ten-horned beast of Rev 13.1 conspires to destroy the ecclesiastical Babylon:
"And the ten horns ... and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, ... and will burn her up with fire" (Rev 17.16)
Why does this happen? A plausible explanation is that the political beast of Rev 13.1-10 is godless and its leader, the end time world dictator, demands that the world worship him alone (2 Thes 2.4)(Rev 13.8). The end time World Church, although corrupt and 'Babylonish', will probably still acknowledge God as supreme above all creation, and so stands in the way of the aspirations of the end time world ruler.
Dear reader: if you are seeking the true and faithful church, beware of deception. Bible prophecy foresees a powerful but apostate world church and many see this as headed by the Roman Catholic Church. The Protestant Reformers recognised this and came out from Papal control. Today, Jesus calls to the faithful who find themselves in an apostate church:
"COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE" (2 Cor 6.17)
Bible quotations are from the New American Standard Bible