Sep 2 1996
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth....The Lord is thy keeper:...The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The ministry the Lord has given us at The Berean Call can be lonely and discouraging. We are accused of being "negative" and criticized for criticizing, which causes us to examine our hearts frequently to be certain that we are obeying God's call and faithfully using His Word for "doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim:3:16-17).
Paul said that to "preach the Word" one must "reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim:4:2). Who is to do the reproving today? Many reprove the world for its immorality. Many point out the errors of the cults, of obvious heretics and extreme charismatics. But what of the highly regarded evangelical leaders? Who will love them enough to call them to account from Scripture? Will you? Will I? And who will correct us?
This is a newsletter which I would rather have left unwritten. I cried out to God, "Lord, I can't do it, I'm incapable of this task." Then I realized with joy, "Of course! I'm a nobody who can't do God's work! Praise God! He delights in working through weak, unworthy vessels!" I thought of the verses quoted above and rejoiced in the fact that "my help cometh from the Lord"!
I begin thus lest the remainder of this article leave some in despair. However, there is reason for concern. President Clinton claims to be a Christian (Southern Baptist) but his words and deeds deny it. He was reproved recently in an unprecedented letter signed by the present and all ten living past presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The reproof went as unheeded as our attempts for ten years to present lovingly, factually, biblically, and with great concern, certain grave errors of leading evangelicals. Nevertheless, we will not despair.
The Southern Baptist presidents themselves should explain why the SBC has been in "dialogue" with Roman Catholics (as have the Lutherans, Assemblies of God, et al.) for years. Christ did not say, "Go into all the world and dialogue." His command was to "preach the gospel"! Catholics are "dialoguing" with Buddhists. A recent Catholic-Buddhist conference in a Kentucky monastery purported to find "common ground" between Christ's suffering on the cross and the Buddha's "Four Noble Truths" and Buddhist meditation.1
The phrase "politically correct" has become so familiar and accepted that few remember the dismay which it first aroused in the minds of most Americans. Almost everyone realized that right and wrong would become blurred and integrity would fall victim to vote-getting. The truth no longer mattered. False promises bought votes, encouraging politicians to lie. America had become like ancient Israel, and God's retribution would follow:
And judgment is turned backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street.... (Isa:59:14)
A similar yet deadlier subversion has entered the church, deadlier because it affects one's eternal destiny. Emulating the "politically correct," Christian leaders have adopted "religiously correct" language and tactics to avoid offending anyone. We judge no one's heart, but whether intentional or not, a disastrous deception is sweeping the evangelical church.
Inoffensive and ambiguous ecumenical terms are being used without essential clarification: spirituality, love, faith, forgiveness, family values, traditional values, religious values, moral awakening, revival, etc. Religions "unite" around such ideas by pretending that they mean the same for everyone, when in fact they don't. God, Jesus Christ, redemption and forgiveness have diametrically opposed meanings for different groups. Even "Christian" must be biblically defined. Failure to do so often leads those who are not Christians to entertain a false hope, to their eternal loss.
Pat Robertson's "Christian Coalition" unites Catholics, Mormons, Moonies, Jews and other non-Christians in political/social action. To justify the word "Christian" in the title, its director, Ralph Reed, claims that the Coalition is bringing together "people of faith." That "religiously correct" phrase subtly equates any "faith" with "Christian"!
Similarly, Pat Robertson declares that "People of faith are under attack as never before...by forces which wish to destroy all religious values, all worship, and all freedoms for Christians like you and me...[so] we must lay aside certain Protestant differences to join hands to support those things upon which we all agree...."2 In fact, Coalition members hold many faiths whose "religious values" and "worship" are in opposition. It is folly to speak of "people of faith" standing together when individual faith must be abandoned to do so. And for a Christian to stand only for whatever "all agree" upon is to abandon Christ himself, whom the world hates and its religions reject or redefine. Far more than "Protestant differences" must be overlooked for Christians to join hands with non-Christians! The gospel cannot be shared with other members for fear of breaking up the coalition. And this unequal yoke is Christian?!
Robert Schuller is a master of "religiously correct" doubletalk. He calls upon "leaders of all religions...whatever their theology...to articulate their faith in positive terms" and to proclaim "the positive power ...of world-community-building religious values."3 So all religions can build a new world together, "whatever their theology"? Unabashed, Schuller declares, "That's what sets me apart from fundamentalists, who are trying to convert everybody to believe how they believe. We know the things the major faiths can agree on. We try to focus on those without offending those with different viewpoints, or without compromising the integrity of my own Christian commitment."4
When did Christ say, "Preach those things the major faiths agree on"? Isn't the gospel intended to convert the lost? Echoing Schuller, the Dalai Lama declared at the Catholic-Buddhist conference mentioned above that "members of different religions should not try to convert one another, but rather exchange ideas, study each other's traditions and conduct pilgrimages to each other's shrines."5 We expect such advice from a Buddhist, but not from Christian leaders!
Schuller must know that "the things the major faiths can agree on" do not include who God is, who Jesus Christ is, the way of salvation or much else of importance. Ecumenism sacrifices the very heart of Christianity for a false "unity." And this denial of Christ to avoid "offending those with different viewpoints" can be done "without compromising the integrity of [one's] own Christian commitment"? That says much about Schuller's commitment. Small wonder that, according to a recent Barna poll, 71% of Americans, 64% of those who call themselves born again and 40% of self-proclaimed evangelicals reject the idea of absolute truth! Sun Myung Moon's front organizations (Family Federation for World Peace, Women's Federation for World Peace, Summit Council for World Peace, etc.) promote "morals and family values." It is amazing to see who will join this self-professed "Messiah" in working for these "religiously correct" goals. Moon just hosted (7/31-8/2/96) another convention in Washington, DC. The highly paid speakers (reportedly $80-150,000 each) included former presidents Ford and Bush, Robert Schuller, Ralph Reed, Gary Bauer (president of Family Research Council, "the lobbying/research arm of Focus on the Family") and Beverly LaHaye. Entertainment was by Pat Boone and family.
Moon says that mankind fell from grace because Eve had sex with Satan, Christ failed in His mission, and Moon is the true Messiah. While evangelical speakers were careful not to offend their high-paying host with the true gospel, Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han, boldly proclaimed their false gospel. What a denial of Christ for Pat Boone to entertain, and evangelical leaders to speak, on the same platform where the host declared that he is perfecting the work "left uncompleted by Jesus"!6
Consider again the 1994 document, "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" (ECT). Embracing Catholics as born-again Christians whom evangelicals must join to evangelize the world, ECT mocks the Reformation, which labeled Roman Catholicism a false religion of ritual and works. Roman Catholics admit that "justification by faith alone" remains "a major sticking point" between Catholics and evangelicals. Yet Charles Colson, one of ECT's architects, says, "justification by faith alone...doesn't mean today among evangelicals what it meant in the reformers' time."7 Guess who compromised?
The Council of Trent damned the Reformers with more than 100 "anathemas" for believing what evangelicals still affirm (in spite of Colson) about justification through faith in Christ alone. For example, "If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law [Catholic rituals] are not necessary for salvation but...that without them...men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification...let him be anathema."8 "If anyone says that baptism is...not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema."9 "If anyone says that in the Mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God...[but] a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross [and] not a propitiatory one...let him be anathema."10 Is Trent still valid? Absolutely! Vatican II, Catholicism's highest authority, "proposes again the decrees of... the Council of Trent."11 In honor of the 450th anniversary of Trent (12/13/95), Pope John Paul II declared that "Its conclusions maintain all their value."12 Catholicism stands firm. Today's evangelicals have compromised, yet solemnly deny it.
At the recent Promise Keepers rally for pastors attended by about 39,000 in Atlanta, PK's Roman Catholic founder, Bill McCartney, declared that every Protestant and Roman Catholic was welcome to participate. Max Lucado exhorted the pastors, "In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, charity." We agree. But McCartney and Lucado failed to say that in the essential of the gospel, Catholics and evangelicals are not united but diametrically opposed. The highest expression of Christianity is the Lord's Supper for the evangelical and the Eucharist or Mass for the Catholic. For all its talk of "unity," Rome prohibits Catholics from taking the Lord's Supper and non-Catholics from partaking of the Mass.13 What delusion, then, to pretend to a unity that doesn't exist and to preach an evangelical gospel at PK rallies which would bring the anathema of their Church upon any Roman Catholics who believed it!
In our May issue we covered one of the most shocking compromises by evangelical leaders in our day: the acceptances by Billy Graham, Charles Colson and Bill Bright of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, and the encouragement of other evangelical leaders in this mockery of Christ. We thoroughly documented that Templeton rejects the God of the Bible and the Bible as God's Word, rejects Christ as the only Savior, and claims that heaven and hell are states of mind we create here on earth, that truth is relative and that Christianity is no longer relevant. Yet this man is highly acclaimed in evangelical circles, and one of his books, filled with the rankest heresy, was recommended in a full-page back cover ad in Christianity Today (CT).14 The deadly delusion grows with the backing of Christian leaders and media. At the same time we are condemned for addressing the problem.
Templeton believes that religion, like science, must progress until a universal religion is developed which is acceptable to all peoples. "To encourage progress of this kind," says Templeton, "we have established the Templeton Foundation Prizes for Progress in Religion." The anti-Christian nature and purpose of Templeton's "Prize for Progress in Religion" could not be clearer!
Bill Bright received the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion (progress he neither believes in nor contributed to) in a Roman Catholic Church in Rome 5/9/96. He began his acceptance speech with "Your Eminence Cardinal Cassidy," a slap in the face to the Reformers and martyrs. He went on, "The prestigious Templeton Prize, to me, because of the nature of its objective, is greater than any other prize that could be given for any purpose....I would like to thank and commend Sir John Templeton for establishing this prize...," etc. Astonishing!
Equally tragic, Bill Bright, who we have no doubt loves the Lord Jesus Christ and is dedicated to proclaiming His gospel to the world, failed to present the gospel. Like Colson's acceptance speech two years ago, Bright's lengthy speech was filled with "religiously correct" ecumenical terms: moral standards...unseen hand of God in my life...falling in love with Jesus...personal spiritual journey...worldwide spiritual awakening, etc. He came so close to the gospel (Christ had "an elaborate plan to redeem me"), but didn't explain that plan (Eph:1:7; Col:1:14). Bright referred to "His free gift of love and forgiveness," but never explained that the forgiveness is for our sins and that it is only possible because Christ paid the penalty we deserve.
As I read his speech, I fell on my face weeping and cried out in agony, "O God, has the compromise and deception become so great that good men who love You will praise Your enemies in Your name and think they are proclaiming the gospel when they aren't?" We cannot help but mourn. Malachi ends with Israel in a similar state and with these encouraging words to mourners: "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard" (Mal:3:16-17).
Let us "speak often one to another," encouraging one another to stand firmly on God's Word. Our help "cometh from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth." Paul asked prayer for himself that he might "speak boldly" as he "ought to speak" (Eph:6:19-20). Surely evangelical leaders today need that prayer, as we all do. Let us pray for one another and write Christian leaders, exhorting them to earnestly contend for the faith" (Jude 3). TBC