KGITM School Paper.
I. The Need and Importance of Studying This Topic.
II. What Is the World Council of Churches?
A. Its Background
B. Its Confession and a Brief Historical Survey
C. Its Purpose
1. Avowed Purpose
2. Actual Agenda
D. Its Structure
E. Its Actual Operation
III. The Collaboration of the HRC with the WCC
A. The Beginning
B. The Result
C. The Way of Apostasy and the Situation Today.
IV. Our Response to Ecumenism
The Bible tells us that in the end times there will be a united church which, under the mask of Christianity, will turn against God’s true church and persecute it (Rev. 13:3). God’s people should be aware of this because the spirit of Antichrist is already at work in deceiving many and in turning them from the way of biblical obedience. This has been especially true in the last one hundred years when there has been a massive effort to bring the churches together in a false unity. This is particularly evident in the modern ecumenical movement where the World Council of Churches (WCC) has been in dialogue with the Church of Rome and Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Hungarian Reformed Church is an active member of this WCC.
To understand this neo-pagan movement we have to go back in history. The Renaissance embraced Thomas Aquinas’ teaching about the Aristotelian emphasis on particulars. This gradually led to the humanistic view that particular things, including man, are autonomous. For a time, the 16th century Reformation rolled back this tide of humanism, but gradually, as the authority of the Bible weakened, Protestantism itself began to drift away from its basic teachings.
In the beginning of this drift from basic Christian teachings, secular man was optimistic about trying to find meaning to life by way of reason. The Enlightenment’s thinkers soon realized, however, that in starting with himself, man could not build a unified system of truth. This led Frederick Coplestone to say: “According to Hegel, the universe is steadily unfolding and so is man’s understanding of it. No single proposition about reality can truly reflect what is the case. Rather, in the heart of the truth of a given proposition one finds its opposite. This, where recognized, unfolds and stands in opposition to the thesis. Yet there is truth in both thesis and antithesis and when this is perceived a synthesis is formed and a new proposition states the truth of a newly recognized situation.”1
This was the beginning of dialectical thinking, meaning that the opposite of a true statement can also be true. Kierkegaard went one step further by saying that the use of reason leads only to pessimism whereas non-reason leads to faith and optimism. If we understand the role of existentialism and rationalistic liberalism in denying biblical inerrancy and supernaturalism, we can understand why many modern religious people gave up the importance of doctrine and accepted the view that truth is relative. The World Council of Churches was founded on this ground.
The history of the WCC is usually traced back to Edinburgh in 1910 when delegates from different denominations came together to discuss the need of evangelizing the world. This shared concern led to the formation of the Faith and Order movement in 1920 and gave an assist to the Life and Work movement. On August 23, 1948, a new ecumenical organization was founded in Amsterdam: The World Council of Churches. “It became the most visible international expression of varied streams of ecumenical life in the 20th century. Two of these streams 3 Life and Work (L&W) and Faith and Order (F&O) 3 merged at the first assembly.”2
The WCC declared that its basis was “a fellowship of churches that accept our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour.”3 This short confession was enlarged and re-formulated at New Delhi in 1961: “The WCC is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”4
At first sight it seems that the WCC’s purpose is to try to evangelize the world and promote unity and cooperation among Christians, but because dialectical theology is now so widely accepted in its religious circles, the question must be asked: Does its usage of Christian vocabulary have the same content and meaning as the Bible’s? Why is this question so important? Christianity is based on the basic belief that the personal infinite God has revealed Himself and His will through the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. If this fundamental truth is denied, man is left with a changing Christianity that can be anything to anyone and, in reality, is no Christianity at all.
WCC leaders commonly speak about the Bible as being the Word of God, about the need of relying on the Bible, but do they mean by this that the Bible is God’s written revelation and that it is infallible and inerrant in its every word? No, their view of the Scriptures is that of the liberal theologians: the Bible is not the written Word of God; it contains errors and contradictions. In 1971 the WCC stated in Louvain: “The authority of the Bible is not a fixed quality belonging to the Bible per se… traditionally the basis of the authority of the Bible was seen in its inspiration… We now affirm it is not a starting point on which biblical authority can be based.”5 If the inspiration and ultimate authority of the Bible is denied, there is then no way to reject or affirm someone’s religious beliefs because faith has no objective basis; it belongs to the area of non-reason. The WCC, therefore, may be described as a syncretistic movement, meaning that it recognizes pagan religions as acceptable ways to God and their adherents as equal and true partners in worship.
Let us consider one example which supports this claim. In 1991, the WCC organized a huge congress in Canberra, Australia, where Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other non-Christians were invited to participate. The February, 1993 issue of the Reader’s Digest presented the congress in this way: “Before the opening worship service began at the last general assembly of the WCC in Canberra, delegates passed through the smoke of burning leaves. This was a pagan cleansing rite…. The next day as two painted, loin-clothed Aborigines cavorted, South Korean theologian Chung Hyun Kyung invoked spirits of the dead and exhorted the audience of more than 4,000 to read the Bible ‘from the perspective of birds, water, air, trees’ and to ‘think like a mountain’.”6
It may seem to many that only an angel of light could speak such sweet words as: accepting the “otherness” of pagans; all religions point to the same final reality but in different ways; God accepts good people even if they have never heard of Christ. And for this reason it may seem that there is love, tolerance and light in the WCC. It also has the support of hundreds of denominations as well as money and a powerful and influential governing body. But truth and light must be defined by the Bible. In this regard note what the Apostle Paul says: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach any gospel to you other than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). The Bible rejects the syncretistic idea that every religion is basically the same, leads to the same end, and is as acceptable before God as Christianity is. There is no other way to the Father except through Jesus Christ. “There is no other name under heaven given among man by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The WCC uses Christian vocabulary and ecumenical theology to hide its real purpose. It is necessary for them to do this; otherwise, they would lose the support of millions of people and their ability to influence world affairs. As mentioned, the WCC was founded upon a passion for reaching the vast numbers of people who have never heard the gospel, but the WCC forgot the Great Commission.
Joseph A. Harriss, in his article entitled “The Gospel According to Marx,” exposes the real purpose of the WCC. “What has become primary is politics.”7 And it is politics, not the Bible, which shapes the WCC’s purpose and action. This is why the World Council of Churches has supported revolutionary Marxist movements in Africa which brutally killed many blacks and whites. The WCC has also supported communist activities in Europe. Furthermore, it has not condemned anti-Christian activities in Marxist countries. It has been silent when many Christians in these countries were killed for their faith. Father Gleb Yakunin, who was persecuted for his beliefs, said: “The WCC failed to defend our Christian brothers in Eastern Europe and the U.S.S.R…. If the WCC had spoken out, the persecutors would have reduced their zeal.”8 It can be concluded, then, that the WCC has abandoned the basic beliefs of Christianity: biblical inerrancy (and thus the final authority of the Bible), the need and importance of Christ’s propitiatory and vicarious atonement, not to mention others. This is apostasy. The teaching of the WCC about the Bible and salvation of man contradicts what God has revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures; consequently, it teaches a false gospel which comes from the father of all lies. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isa. 5:20).
Today there are 337 churches, including the Hungarian Reformed Church (HRC), which are members of the World Council of Churches. On the dawn of December 25, 1945, László Pap, an eminent professor of the Budapest Theological Seminary, set out for Switzerland. There he contacted people who were his friends and who were, as he confesses, the “great apostles of ecumenical thought.”9 Among these were William Temple, John R. Mott, Hellstern and others. Thus the bridge between the HRC and the developing World Council of Churches began to be constructed. In 1948 László Pap was in Amsterdam as the representative of the HRC at the time of the formation of the WCC and elected to be a member of the Central Committee of the WCC. He was the right man for the HRC to send because of his liberal, ecumenical theology. To mention just one example, during the Second World War he led daily devotions for Protestants and Catholics. According to his own confession, on these occasions the Ave Maria was not missing, either. Once a Roman Catholic man came to him to confess and to ask that he be granted remission of sins. “That I carried out properly,” László Pap reported.10
After the Communists took control of Hungary in 1948 the HRC became an instrument in their hands. Bishop Károly Tóth said, “We should not fear the Marxist criticism of religion, rather we should boldly expose ourselves to it. The faith that comes from the collaboration with Marxists, will be a faith of endured criticism….”11 The HRC served faithfully the totalitarian regime outside the Hungarian borders as well.
For its part the WCC welcomed the HRC and supported it financially, helping it become a hotbed of Communist ideas. Thus the HRC became an instrument of the atheist Soviet Empire. Hungarian Reformed delegates from Transylvania participated at WCC’s meetings too. Dr. István Tokés, who was Professor of the Chair of New Testament Studies at the Kolozsvár Theological University, said that it was rumored in the 70’s and 80’s that some of the Hungarian Reformed delegates who went to the WCC’s meetings were in reality men from the Romanian state security. This could be true since it is known that KGB agents often participated as Russian Orthodox delegates in WCC assemblies.12 Also, it is worthy to note what Dr. László Szabó wrote in an article on how the WCC and HRC worked together in promoting anticapitalist propaganda. First, he states that the dialogue between the HRC Bishop János Péter and the Russian Orthodox leader, Metropolitan Nikolai, helped the Russian Orthodox Church became a WCC member. In 1954 the HRC even conferred an honorary doctor’s degree on Metropolitan Nikolai. Second, the HRC supported all of the WCC’s resolutions that were against Western armament, nuclear weapons, racism, exploitation and capitalism. Dr. László Szabó summarized the HRC’s purpose in this way: “The delegation of our Church considered… its most important task to promote the acceptance of the socialist society system as a world wide system….”13
Many will argue that the HRC had no other choice in those hard times. The Russians were very tough and the church had to survive. But what happened after 1989 when the Communist regime collapsed in Hungary? Did the HRC separate itself from the WCC and its liberal, syncretistic theology? To the contrary, it is still a member of the WCC. It proclaims ecumenism louder than ever and employs every possible means, including television, radio, newspapers and books, to spread its false, humanist gospel.
Every year in Hungary and in many other countries the WCC organizes ecumenical weeks of prayer. In Budapest the year 2000’s week of prayer was opened at a festive ecumenical service in Saint Stephen’s Basilica where illustrious church leaders were present from various denominations: Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed, Unitarians, Methodists, Baptists, Serbian and Romanian Orthodox. The meeting’s motto was “God Has Visited His People.14
The generally accepted opinion about these ecumenical worship services and what is taught in the HRC about them is that these meetings are great blessings to the participants. These occasions teach the acceptance and love of non-Christian “otherness”; help the unity of Hungarians; testify that the Hungarians are an enlightened and civilized people; and emphasize the idea that this is the only way by which the Hungarians who live as a minority in foreign countries can survive. Dr. István Tokés put it this way: “In the ecumenical life of our Reformed Church this proved to be the most evangelically rooted yearly event… an incomparable gift.”15
It is vitally important to ask the following question even if the majority of people agree with the HRC’s teaching and practice of ecumenical worship: Is it biblical to worship God (the very heart and essence of the Christian life) with people who openly deny the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is it biblical to worship God with those who deny Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus? Is it biblical to worship God with those who teach universal salvation, worldly wisdom and relativistic ethics?
Let the Bible speak clearly: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?” (2 Cor. 6:14,15) How, then, can the HRC participate in these blasphemous “worship services” if, as the Bible clearly teaches, it is impossible for righteousness to be in fellowship with lawlessness? We can only conclude, then, that the HRC is another form of pagan darkness.
We are living in an age of deep spiritual darkness when there is a continuous effort to present truth as relative and uncertain. We must not allow the ecumenical spirit of this age to influence us. When the Apostle Paul rejected the gospel of the false teachers in Galatia, he made it clear that truth is absolute and that God revealed only one gospel through Jesus Christ as the basis of the Christian faith. It is impossible, then, for everyone to be right when they speak about religious matters. If one statement is true, its opposite cannot be true. Thus, we have to make a decision. We may deny that the Bible is God’s inerrant and infallible Word and that it has final authority in matters of faith and life. And we may deny that Jesus Christ is the only savior and mediator and walk in the way of worldly glory. This may seem good but in the end will lead to destruction and hell. Or we may humbly accept the Bible and its teachings and stand up boldly to proclaim the only gospel that brings glory to God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. May we accept the righteousness which is revealed by God and not that which is imagined by sinful man!
March 24, 2000