It should be quite clear to any observer of news and trends that we are heading (as the Bible foretells) for a world government and a world religion—and that the two will be united. Gone will be any "separation between church and state." It should be equally clear that a basic requirement of the world religion (steps toward which are rewarded by the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion) will be that it must be inoffensive and universally accepted.
"Political/religious correctness" is essential to the false unity desired by this world. "Spirituality" without truth will be the rule. The world will have returned to Babel, where the "city" (i.e., the secular government) and the "tower" (i.e., the religion) were united: "[L]et us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven..." (Gen:11:4). Those who persist in the claim that some teachings are wrong will be silenced for the good of society. That trend is already reflected by TBN's Paul Crouch, whose prayer demands immunity from correction: "God, we proclaim death to anything or anyone that would lift a hand against this ministry...."1.
Such unity, fully realized at Babel, appeals to human wisdom. God's response, however, was to "confound the language of all the earth: and...[to] scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth" (vv 6-8). At Mars Hill, Paul explained God's purpose in so doing: "[He] hath determined...the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord..." (Acts:17:26-27).
Instead of seeking the Lord, man has sought to become the Lord of the universe. His inventive genius has fulfilled God's pronouncement that "the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Gen:8:21); and has proven the accuracy of God's dire warning: "nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do" (Gen:11:6). The world has grown more wicked and violent with the increase in man's education, knowledge and technology. Truly, we are "a generation of nuclear giants but moral midgets."
And now, in rebellion against God's judgment at Babel, man is determined to unite the world as it was then. Lockheed Corporation has boasted in a Scientific American ad that through its computers it was "undoing the Babel effect" by uniting the world in one language once again. IBM and other scientific corporations have made similar boasts. It is imagined that to unite the world would put an end to competition and conflict between nations and usher in a golden era of peace and prosperity. In fact, it will bring the reign of Antichrist and the wrath of God poured out upon this earth.
The world will never be united and at peace until Christ, the Prince of Peace, rules in person from David's throne. And even then, after 1,000 years of His reign, millions upon millions of those who have been forced to obey will rebel against Him (Rev:20:7-9). The Millennium will be the final proof of the incorrigible evil of the human heart. The only hope is through the creation of a new race that has died in Christ, having accepted His death as its own, and which has been "born again" of the Holy Spirit to be indwelt by the Spirit of Christ. Each of these who inherit the new heavens and new earth can truly say, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me..." (Gal:2:20).
True unity is found only in Christ. Those who belong to Him are "one body," having "one hope...one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all..." (Eph:4:4-6). These are His body, His church, His bride. Of them Christ said, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (Jn:17:14,16). The true church could never be popular with the world, much less united with it in common cause. Christ said, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you....If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you..." (Jn:15:19-20).
These few words from Scripture are sufficient to condemn the Roman Catholic Church. Its long history of partnership with and even dominion over governments (as foretold in Revelation:17:19), and the power which it wields in secular circles, mark it as apostate. The Pope receives ambassadors from all major countries who come begging favors; and he himself is received with much pomp and ceremony all over the world by heads of state, from President Clinton to Arafat or Castro. On the same basis we recognize the error of evangelicals who attempt to wield political clout through alliances with the ungodly, who seek to build a base of influence within state and federal governments in cooperation with Catholics, Mormons, Moonies, et al.and do it in the name of the Christ who was hated, mocked and crucified by the religious and political rulers.
In Christ's prayer for unity He specifically said, "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me [out of the world]; for they are thine" (Jn:17:9). Nowhere in Scripture is there any hint that Christians are to "change the world" (which is under God's judgment) or "meet community needs" as Promise Keepers advocates. We are to call out of this world "a people for his name" (Acts:15:14). Christ's concern was for His church, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us...even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one..." (vv 21-23).
Christ's prayer was answered through the Father and Son indwelling believers by the Holy Spirit. Having become the "children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal:3:26), we are united in God's family for eternity. That unity cannot be shared outside that family. And that unity is expressed through adherence in word and deed to God's Word and truth (Jn:17:6,8,14,17).
Never are we told to make unity, but to "keep the unity of the Spirit" (Eph:4:3) which we already have in Christ. Our lives and the doctrine upon which our lives are founded are to express God's Word and His truth. Any deviation therefrom denies the unity which is ours in Christ. Those who are not members of Christ's body through having believed the gospel are not part of this family, and there is no "unity" believers can fabricate to make them so.
Sadly, Promise Keepers (PK) has taken upon itself to forge such a false unity. I watched in shock and dismay as Pat Robertson, interviewing PK founder Bill McCartney, suggested that PK was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and McCartney responded that indeed it was: that the church had never been united in its history, but that PK was going to bring it all together for the first time!
Any true Christian would also have been shocked at the contrast between Christ's prayer for unity in John 17 and the prayer for unity offered by Roman Catholic PK board member Mike Timmis at the huge October 4, 1997 PK gathering in Washington, D.C. Timmis prayed, "[W]e recognize that we do have doctrinal differences...but, Father, we will not let these differences destroy our unity...this applies to Protestants of all persuasions; it applies to the Orthodox Church; it applies to Roman Catholics, of which I am one!"
Promise Six of the Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper pledges to ignore "denominational barriers" as of no significance. Yet at least some of the divisions between those who call themselves Christians are due to very serious doctrinal differences. We have fully documented elsewhere the fact that Roman Catholicism is a false gospel of salvation through sacraments, works, purgatorial suffering, indulgences, prayers to Mary, etc.; and which, by its very nature, offers no assurance. Such doctrinal differences create an impassible barrier to Christian unity; and, indeed, mark Roman Catholics (and the Orthodox whose doctrines of salvation are the same) as outside the family of God. It is no kindness to further delude these lost souls by embracing them as Christians.
Ruth and I had a very fruitful time in Romania last fall with good meetings in five cities, including at the University of Bucharest, a sports arena and other secular locations. The response was good, with souls saved and lives changed. Everywhere we saw the evil of the Orthodox Church, which cooperated with communism and is now persecuting evangelicals. The Orthodox Church has had no objection to its members being atheistic communists. The latest census in Romania had two categories of Orthodox: believers and atheists.
During our recent visit, with sorrow we watched the Orthodox faithful line up in a large cathedral to kiss the icons which they believe are windows to heaven, to run their fingers across the sarcophagi of "saints" as an uncertain step toward salvation, or to pay the priest for special prayers that might also bring them closer to meriting heaven. Typical was my conversation with the head priest in an Orthodox cathedral:
Dave: How can I get to heaven? Priest: You've got to pray. D: How much must I pray? P: You've got to pray all the time, everywhere. D: Can I ever know that I'm going to get to heaven? P: You can never know. The cults like the Baptists teach that you can know, but the official teaching of the Orthodox Church is that you can never know whether you'll get to heaven. D: But what did Jesus do on the cross? P (taking me to the center of the church and pointing high up on the ceiling to a picture supposedly of Jesus): He's looking down on all of us! (At this point a wedding party entered. They had just been married by the civil authority and needed the blessing of the church, for which they had to pay about one month's wages. The priest had to attend to them, ending our conversation—one which left me weeping inside for the deluded Orthodox "believers"!)
It is unconscionable for PK to embrace Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy as the true gospel, but such folly reflects today's mood. Even the world desires religious unity. And now for the first time in the history of the church we have in PK an organization with the backing of many evangelical leaders and capable of gathering millions of men and tens of thousands of pastors in support of the most flagrant ecumenism.
In Atlanta, Georgia early last year PK gathered 39,000 pastors. The conference brought together representatives of the apostate World Council of Churches and National Council of Churches, evangelicals, Mormons and Roman Catholics, including 600 priests. PK Vice-President of Pastoral Ministry Dale Schlafer declared that this new unity is based not upon doctrine (i.e., truth) but upon relationships. By contrast, biblical unity is a doctrine which must be defined. Some doctrinal differences are as vast as the distance between heaven and hell.
The estimated 1 million men PK gathered in Washington, D.C. pledged a "Covenant" read by Dale Schlafer. Included was the following restatement of Promise 5: "We covenant, by Your grace, to actively support the mission of our churches. Where we have criticized our pastors, and withheld our support, we commit to follow their spiritual leadership and to pray for them daily."
What about Rodney R. Romney, pastor of Seattle's First Baptist Church? He teaches that each must "realize one's own godhood" and that "Christ meant to establish a world religion that would...synthesize every creed..."2 There are hundreds of such pastors and churches. Yet PK insists that every church, Protestant, Roman Catholic or Orthodox, and every pastor must be supported. What a set-up for Antichrist and the coming world religion!
Raleigh Washington, PK vice-president, declared that "Promise Keepers have no intention of working to overcome doctrinal distinctions," which he implied are as legitimate and irremovable as "racial distinctions."3 In keeping with its roots in John Wimber's Vineyard movement, PK leaders make prophetic pronouncements, claiming the backing and inspiration of God for their ecumenical agenda and faulting anyone (layman or pastor) who does not give PK his wholehearted support. At the recent St. Petersburg, Florida clergy conference, McCartney had the temerity to declare, "God has given me to say...that every church that names the name of Jesus is supposed to give Promise Keepers $1,000..."
Even the worst cults "name the name of Jesus." McCartney "estimated that about 300,000 Christian churches exist in the United States, which means that a donation from each one would translate into about $300 million."4 Imagine any other organization daring to state that it is God's will for every church to give it $1,000! We don't doubt the sincerity of PK's leaders, but we doubt that they have the mandate from God to push their agenda on the church--and they do have an agenda and are pushing it.
PK now claims a self-appointed leadership over all churches and Christians. At Washington, D.C., McCartney said, "We have a plan...Baptists...Lutherans...Roman Catholics...we've been divided...but now we're being reunited...! Nobody can go out of here without the same [PK-devised] plan...every man connected to a church; every church connected to each other...! You've got to...say to your pastor..., 'You lead me! I put my faith in you [Romney or whomever] as my leader!'"
McCartney went on to say, "Now pastors...we are asking you to connect with the other pastors [no matter how apostate] in the community...come together in prayer....And then...call your men together, and tell them about the needs in the community...[and] meet the needs in the community....Promise Keepers is sponsoring nine pastors' conferences [in 1998]...be sure that your pastors participate...! We need a unity of command! [Under PK, of course.] We need to have everybody on the same page...! [PK's page.] Now I want you to hear this: On January the first, in the year 2000, we're calling for every church that names the name of Jesus Christ to gather at twelve o'clock noon on the state capitol [in their area]...we're asking every pastor to come with his men....We're going to...sweep this nation...! And then...Promise Keepers [in ad 2000] is going to turn and go globally!"
Great plans, but not biblical, audaciously imposed upon the church. What is most astonishing is the numbers of men and pastors who have been swept up in the PK vanguard. Let us rather "keep the unity of the Spirit" through adherence to sound doctrine in obedience to our Lord. TBC