The statements with which we introduce this and the previous chapter indicate a dramatic change in the thinking of Christian leaders regarding Roman Catholicism from the days of Spurgeon to the present time. For 350 years most Protestant creeds identified the papacy as the system of Antichrist. That identification is now being dropped. The world's foremost evangelist has called Pope John Paul II "the greatest religious leader of the modern world ...." One of America's foremost "experts on the family" considers the pope to be "the most eminent religious leader who names the name of Jesus Christ." One frequently hears of leading evangelicals who have visited the pope and come away convinced that he is "born again." If so, how could he continue in that fraudulent office heading that corrupt religious system with its false gospel of works and ritual that is sending multitudes to condemnation?
Increasing numbers of today's evangelicals are accepting Catholics as Christians and seem to find no problem in joining with them in the evangelization of the world.
That fact is made clear by the very title of the historic joint declaration (referred to earlier) by Catholic and evangelical leaders: Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the 3rd Millennium. Evangelicals and Catholics are declared to be full partners in the Christian mission of taking the gospel to the world, and they are not to evangelize one another. "It is neither theologically legitimate nor a prudent use of resources for one Christian community [evangelicals] to proselytize among active adherents of another Christian community [Catholics]." Some of the leading Protestant evangelists are now conducting their crusades in partnership with Catholics. However, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains why he could not support such crusades in England:
I remind you that the Protestant Reformers were not just bigoted zealots or fools. Their eyes were opened by the Holy Spirit.... They saw this horrible monstrosity depicted in the Bible and they warned against it. At the risk of even losing their lives they stood up and protested....
A Christianity that merely preaches "Come to Christ" or "Come to Jesus" cannot stand before Rome. Probably what that will do ultimately will be to add to the numbers belonging to Rome. People who hold evangelistic campaigns and say, "Are you Roman Catholics? Go back to your church," are denying New Testament teaching. We must warn them!
We have shown that the beast of Revelation 13 and 17 represents both the revived Roman Empire and the Antichrist. The false church, headquartered in Rome, is the woman riding the beast. But that identification of the woman, which for centuries was almost unanimous among Protestants, is accepted by only a few evangelical leaders today. A new spirit of ecumenism is sweeping the Christian world. Consider the following from a Christianity Today editorial:
As we [Catholics and evangelicals] discussed the meaning of the gospel and what Christ meant to us, it became abundantly evident that we shared a common faith.... Traditional Roman Catholics accept the doctrine of grace alone.... They [Catholics and evangelicals] share the promise of the Father that they have been accepted by Him, and so they, His children, had better accept each other.
Nothing could be further from the truth, as we have thoroughly demonstrated. The Catholic view of grace, faith, and salvation is not at all what the Bible teaches. Yet misinformation about Catholicism persists. For example, Tom Houston, at the time international executive director of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism, told a plenary session of Lausanne II in Manila in 1989:
There are six saving acts of God in Jesus Christ.... The Incarnation ... the Cross ... the Atonement. .. the Resurrection ... the ascension ... Pentecost ... the Second Coming of Christ. Now all these churches (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Evangelicals, Orthodox, Pentecostals) believe in all these six saving acts. ... Let us make it our unflinching goal to stay together ... as reflected in the Lausanne Covenant.
So at last we learn from the previous director himself that from the beginning the Lausanne Covenant was intended to embrace Catholics and Orthodox! That revelation came as a shock to those participants who knew the heresies of Rome which Houston's speech denied. Delegates from Latin America, knowing Catholicism only too well, objected strenuously to the embrace of Catholics as Christians. Their protest was respected temporarily, but the momentum toward full fellowship with Catholics now seems irreversible.
A One-Way Street
Evangelicals who imagine an equal partnership with Rome seem blind to the obvious. The term "separated brethren," as used in Vatican II and ever since then in Catholic ecumenical documents clearly indicates that "unity" can be attained only by non-Catholics joining that Church. This fact has also been declared in numerous papal pronouncements to the Catholic faithful even before Vatican II. Typical is the following from Pope Pius XII:
We must not pass over in silence, or veil in ambiguous terms, the truth of Catholic teaching... that the only true union is by the return of separated Christians to the one true Church of Christ.
For those who do not belong to the visible body of the Church ... none can be assured of eternal salvation, because ... they are still deprived of the helps and heavenly favors found only inside the Catholic Church.
Again we see Rome teaching that a person cannot simply come to Christ and be saved through faith in His all-sufficient sacrifice for sin. There are other "helps and heavenly favors" which are necessary for one to be saved, and these are found only inside the Roman Catholic Church. Fortunately, the day has passed when this dogma had to be embraced under pain of death. That day, however, will come again, and perhaps sooner than we think.
Ecumenism is no equal partnership, but a one-way street to Rome. There is an all-out effort by Catholic apologists to refute the errors and inadequacies in evangelicalism. Thomas Howard's book describing his journey to Rome was titled Evangelical Is Not Enough.'' Tapes and books of this type are offered freely by Christian distributors and are carried without objection in most Christian bookstores. Yet many of these same distributors and bookstores which handle Catholic material refuse to stock books or tapes that are in any way critical of Catholicism, even though they present the truth.
The New Strategy: Ecumenism
Having lost her status as the official state church in most parts of the world, and no longer able to impose the death penalty for nonconformance, Rome has adopted new tactics. It was at her initiative, following the publishing of Dignitatis Humanae ("Declaration of Religious Freedom") at Vatican II, that the concordats in the few remaining countries where only Catholicism was allowed were changed to grant freedom of religion. This occurred in Colombia in 1973, opening the door to all religions and separating church from state. The same action was taken in 1974 in the Swiss canton of Valais, followed in 1975 by annulment of Article 24 in the 1940 Concordat with Portugal. Religious liberty was granted in Spain in 1976 by revision of the concordat to provide for separation of church and state, followed by similar action in Peru in 1980 and Italy in 1984. Finally, in July 1992, laws guaranteeing freedom of religion for non-Catholics at last went into effect in Mexico (though persecution and even killing of Christians by Catholics has continued). These moves did not reflect generosity on Rome's part but a clever strategy of taking the initiative to effect what was already inevitable in today's world.
Catholicism has become the ecumenical leader in a move to unite not only the "separated brethren" of Protestantism but all of the world's religions in a new world church. To large Hindu audiences in India in 1986 John Paul II declared: "India's mission ... is crucial, because of her intuition of the spiritual nature of man. Indeed, India's greatest contribution to the world can be to offer it a spiritual vision of man. And the world does well to attend willingly to this ancient wisdom and in it to find enrichment for human living." What an astonishing commendation of Hinduism!
One of the world's most influential Hindu leaders, Sri Chinmoy, known as "the guru of the United Nations" (where he holds twice-weekly meditations for staff), has been praised by more than one pope. Chinmoy's 80-plus meditation centers around the world have led millions into Hinduism's darkness, yet John Paul II considers him a friend and co-worker and has greeted him thus: "Special blessings to you. .. [and] to your members. We shall continue together." Pope Paul VI told Chinmoy, "The Hindu life and the Christian life shall go together. Your message and my message are the same." And now evangelical leaders are telling Rome that its gospel and their gospel are also the same!
Rome, of course, will be the headquarters of the new world religion, and the Catholic hierarchy will be in charge. Already she is preparing the way with amazing statements of accep-tance of almost anything from voodoo to evangelicalism, while at the same time attacking the latter. During his 1993 tour of Africa the pope "sought common ground with believers in voodoo ... suggesting that they would not betray their traditional faith by converting to Christianity." Explaining that "the Catholic Church ... wants to establish positive and coop-erative relationships with . . . various faiths in view of a mutual enrichment," John Paul II declared that "the Second Vatican Council ... recognized that in [all] diverse religious traditions there is something true and good, the seeds of the Word. It encouraged Christ's disciples to discover `the riches which a generous God has distributed among the nations."'
Try to imagine Moses suggesting that Israel "discover the riches" to be found in the religions of the idol-worshiping pagans around them, or Paul suggesting that the Christians in Ephesus "discover the riches" of the pagan worship at the temple of Diana! Then what are leading evangelicals doing in becoming Rome's partners?
Embracing All Religions
Like Mother Teresa, John Paul II praises all religions. Examples are legion, but we have space for only a few. In 1985, speaking to Muslims in Brussels, Belgium, the pope said: "Christians and Moslems, we meet one another in faith in the one God ... [and] strive to put into practice ... the teaching of our respective holy books." Islam's Allah is not the God of the Bible, nor could any Christian commend the teachings of the Koran. Meeting with Muslim leaders in West Africa in 1993, the pope "called on Christians, Muslims and animists ... to respect one another's religious beliefs...." How can one respect beliefs that lead people to hell? Far from asking us to "respect" pagan beliefs, the Bible condemns them.
Speaking to Shintoists and Buddhists in Tokyo in 1981, John Paul II commended the wisdom of their ancient religions which inspired them "to see a divine presence in each human being. ... [As Christ's Vicar] I express my joy that God has distributed these [religious] gifts among you"-an unthinkable statement in view of the errors of Shintoism and Buddhism! In Togo in 1985 the pope exulted that he had "prayed for the first time with animists." A conservative Catholic critic of his Church's astonishing ecumenism writes:
Originally, ecumenism was concerned with unity among Christians. But it is now, increasingly ...
seek[ing] the union of all religions, Christian or nonChristian. On May 19, 1964, Paul VI officially launched a Secretariat for the non-Christians ... [which] played an important role during the last two sessions of the Council [Vatican II].... Some months later, Msgr. Wojtyla [who became Pope John Paul II] declared:
Nostalgia for the unity of Christians makes common cause with that of unity for the whole human race.... This gives rise to the attitude of the Church towards the other religions, which is based on the recognition of their spiritual values, humans and Christians together, reaching out to such religions as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism ....
While the pope's embrace of all religions shocks conservative Catholics, it is actually consistent with history. From the very beginning under Constantine, when statues of Isis and Horus were renamed Mary and Jesus, and Pope Leo I (440-61) boasted that St. Peter and St. Paul had "replaced Romulus and Remus as [Rome's] protecting patrons," Roman Catholicism has always accommodated itself to the pagan religions of those peoples which it "Christianized." During a 1984 visit to New Guinea, Pope John Paul II presided over an outdoor celebration of the "New Mass" for natives. The Mass involved "dancers who pranced to the altar for the offertory procession, throwing up clouds of orange and yellow smoke, a pagan custom to ward off evil spirits ... [while] an 18-year-old college student read a passage of Scripture at the papal altar wearing her traditional clothes [nude above the waist]." The New York Times said the Mass was indicative of
the Roman Catholic Church's efforts to make its services more universal by integrating into its ritual and liturgy elements of the cultures of the peoples to whom Western missionaries brought their religion.
Such integration is as old as Catholicism. In Haiti every voodoo ceremony begins with Catholic prayers. There is a saying that Haiti is 85 percent Catholic and 110 percent Voudun The frightening spiritist cult of Santeria exploding across America is also a blend of African paganism and Catholicism involving "gods" passed off as Catholic saints who front for demons. Visiting the cemeteries in Rio de Janeiro on any religious holiday one finds the Catholic faithful there petitioning the spirits of their ancestors along with the Catholic saints. In Brazil and Cuba, spiritism and voodoo-related African religions of various kinds blend with Catholicism, and throughout Latin America native superstitions remain among Catholics. The use of images, holy water, and many of the rituals now part of Catholicism have been adapted from paganism.
Paganism Within the Catholic Church
One finds every shade of New Age, occult, and mystical belief inside the Roman Catholic Church itself. Catholic World had an entire issue affirming the New Age movement, without a word of condemnation or correction. Thousands of priests and nuns practice Yoga and other forms of Hindu or Buddhist mysticism. Catholic schools across the country, once looked upon as bastions of sound education, are as permeated with occult and New Age methods as are the public schools. Spirituality of the Catholic Educator presents a sampling of Catholic education today:
New Jersey/New York area Catholic schools utilize a program titled Energetics for Living: A Curriculum Enhancement Program for Peace Education, developed by Sisters Vergilla Jim, O.S.E and Claire Langie, O.S.U. Its purpose is "nothing less than the transformation of the child from within" through contact with the creative "energy" found "at the very center of their being" leading to an experience of "the interconnectedness and interdependency of all living creatures. . . ." Contact with the child's "sacred center" is effected through "the regular practice of meditation, visualization, relaxation, breathing, etc."
They have adapted the Hindu greeting "Namaste," which means "The God in me greets the God in you!"
Once the student sees that he and everything is God, "who would do violence to God or to any of his creatures?" asks Sister Loretta Carey, R.D.C., of Fordham University.
Sister Mary L. O'Hara, C.S.J., professor of philosophy at the College of Saint Mary, Omaha, specializes in promoting Buddhist and Hindu techniques for enhancing education in Catholic schools.
Catholic retreat centers around the world mix "Christianity" with Hinduism, Buddhism, and all manner of New Age beliefs and practices. Typical is the Ashram Ya Azim, a Franciscan Sisters' Center for Meditation in Willard, Wisconsin, which seeks to reach "Christ consciousness" through various New Age techniques. In its defense, Virginia Barta, president of the Franciscan Sisters in the USA, explains: "We can be Catholic and at the same time open ... to recognize the mystical truth in all religions."
At the start of his first U.S. tour, the Dalai Lama, who claims to be god and the fourteenth reincarnation of the original Dalai Lama, was feted at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral at what Time magazine called "an extraordinary interreligious festival" hosted by Cardinal Cooke. Declaring that "all the world's major religions are basically the same," the Dalai Lama was given a standing ovation by the overflow crowd. Cardinal Cooke called the event "one of the dramatic movements of the Spirit in our time." Surely not the Holy Spirit.
The entire May/June 1990 issue of Catholic World was devoted to Buddhism. The articles were all sympathetic, including favorable quotes from the pope. One article was even titled "The Buddha Revered As a Christian Saint"! John Paul II takes a broad-minded view of Buddhism and all other religions. He considers the Tibetan Buddhist Deity Yoga of his good friend the Dalai Lama, along with the prayers of witch doctors, spiritists, and every other religion, to be generating "profound spiritual energies" that are creating a "new climate for peace " Similar examples could be multiplied. According to a Los Angeles Times news report:
Pope John Paul II slipped off his shoes to sit quietly and solemnly with the supreme patriarch of Thailand's Buddhists at a Buddhist monastery in Bangkok....
The Roman Catholic pontiff later praised the "ancient and venerable wisdom" of the Asian religion.
Try to imagine the apostle Peter attending a Buddhist temple ritual and praising Buddhism's wisdom! Or Paul telling audiences of Hindus, as John Paul II did during his visit to India, that he had not come there to teach them anything but "to learn from [their] rich spiritual heritage" and that the world needs to heed India's "spiritual vision of man." The early Christians would never have been martyred had they taken a similar ecumenical approach to Rome's pagan practices.
Why Ecumenical Popes are Popular
John Paul II seems to be in failing health. Whether he recovers his strength and continues or is replaced by another pope will have little effect upon the future. While John Paul II is the most blatant and effective ecumenist yet, he is only following in the footsteps of his predecessors, and his successor will continue in the same direction. Pope John XXIII (who opened Vatican II) and Pope Paul VI (who closed it) joined such notables as the Dalai Lama, Anwar el-Sadat (a Muslim), and U.N. Secretary General U. Thant (a Buddhist) to form The Temple of Understanding, known as the United Nations of religion. Catholics have been prominent ever since in the leadership of this major effort to establish a world religion.
As further proof of the ecumenism of John Paul II's immediate predecessors, Paul VI gave his blessing to the Second World Conference on Religion and Peace in Louvain, Belgium, in 1974. Under Catholic leadership, the Louvain Declaration stated:
Buddhists, Christians, Confucianists, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims, Shintoists, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and still others, we have sought here to listen to the spirit within our varied and venerable religious traditions ... we have grappled with the towering issues that our societies must resolve in order to bring about peace....
We rejoice that ... the long era of prideful and even prejudiced isolation of the religions of humanity is, we hope, now gone forever.
It is interesting that the vast majority of Catholics, while refusing to follow papal dogmas in many respects, are only too eager to embrace the pope's ecumenism. And why not? The high percentage of Catholics who reject the basic teachings of the Church points toward a broadening "Christianity." A 1989 poll revealed that 25 percent of Catholics in America didn't believe in life after death, another 46 percent said no one really knows, and 55 percent believe they can dissent from official Church teaching while remaining Catholics. In a 1992 poll, 67 percent of Catholics favored ordaining women, 52 percent accepted abortion, 75 percent said priests should be allowed to marry, and 87 percent said married couples should make their own decision about birth control. In an April 1994 poll, "less than 29 percent of those under the age of 45 agreed that the `bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ."
In France and Italy the situation is even more amazing: 49 percent of French Catholics don't believe in the resurrection of Christ, 60 percent don't believe in heaven, 77 percent don't believe in hell, and 75 percent believe in neither purgatory nor the devil. In fact, "two-thirds of Catholic theologians [express] disbelief... in the existence of Satan ...."While 90 percent of Italians call themselves Catholics, only about 30 percent attend Sunday Mass; and national elections in Italy during the past decade have legalized both divorce and abortion in spite of pressure from the Church to the contrary.
`` Catholics are not alone in apostasy. A poll early in 1994 indicated that "4 out of 10 [Americans] who call themselves evangelicals don't believe there is such a thing as absolute truth. [Is "evangelical," like "born-again," becoming a meaningless term?] Of all U.S. adults, 71 percent say there is no such thing as absolute truth." Relativism and ecumenism go hand in hand. Those holding such loose views can easily be persuaded to join with almost anyone, provided the cause is compelling. Reviewing the book Rome Sweet Home (the story of Scott and Kimberley Hahn's conversion to Roman Catholicism), John W. Robbins wrote:
[Scott] Hahn's defection is one of several similar defections. They are occurring, not because Rome is a true church, but because of the apostasy of "Protestantism." . . . Just when the preaching of the Gospel is most urgently needed, it is rarely heard in "Protestant" pulpits.... Only the grace of God can save us from another Dark Age and the church that Luther recognized as the slaughterhouse of souls.
Uniting Everyone in "Prayer"
Since taking office in 1978, John Paul II has moved ecumenism a quantum leap toward the coming world religion. One of the pope's major tactics for unity is getting religious leaders together for prayer. He wants to usher in the new millennium with an unprecedented day of prayer with Muslims and Jews on Egypt's Mount Sinai, according to a letter published by the
One of John Paul II's most amazing feats was the gathering at Assisi, Italy, in 1986 of 130 leaders of the world's 12 major religions to pray for peace. Praying together were snake wor-shipers, fire worshipers, spiritists, animists, North American witch doctors, Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus, as well as "Christians" and Catholics. The pope declared that all were "praying to the same God." On that occasion the pope allowed his good friend the Dalai Lama to replace the cross with Buddha on the altar of St. Peter's Church in Assisi and for him and his monks to perform their Buddhist worship there.
The two most urgent causes, which will play an important part in uniting the world, are ecology and peace. It is increasingly believed that "peace" will be achieved by prayer to some higher power, and "any god will do," as Masonry says. Inspired by the pope's example at Assisi, "Interfaith Councils" are springing up across the United States, where Christians meet for prayer and social action with the followers of all religions. The procedure at one of the meetings was described by a participant:
Swami Bhaskarananda, a Hindu, chanted a prayer to God ... Ismail Ahmed, a Moslem, recited a short prayer to God ... as they stood in front of an altar adorned with pictures of Sri Ramakrishna, Jesus Christ and Buddha.
Prayer has been uniting all religions worldwide, and even under evangelical leadership. At the 1993 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C., Senator Kerry read John 3:1-21 (leaving out key verse 16), suggested that Christ was speaking of "spiritual renewal" and that "in the spirit of Christ ... Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, Christian" were meeting together for that purpose. Vice President Al Gore said, "Faith in God, reliance upon a Higher Power, by whatever name, is, in my view, essential."
God said, "If my people who are called by my name" will pray "I will hear from heaven. .." (2 Chronicles 7:14). It was not an invitation to the worshipers of Baal and Ashtoreth and other gods to join with Israel in prayer. That would have been an abomination! Yet today's evangelicals are joining a mixed multitude to pray and to work for social justice and peace.
Gathering Worldwide Momentum
It is amazing to what extent those who call themselves Christians are able to justify, for the cause of peace and ecological wholeness, participation in religious practices with those of all religions. There is a large movement in South America called "The First Assembly of the People of God of Latin America and the Caribbean" (APD) which is attracting a truly ecumenical groundswell of Catholics, Protestants, and pagans with the blessing of the Catholic Church. The phrase "People of God" comes from Vatican II, and the movement claims to have "brought to life the model of the pluralistic and service-oriented church outlined in Vatican II teachings." The National Catholic Reporter favorably reported on a recent convention in Brazil:
One [leader] held a silver scepter of Candomble, the worship of African gods.... Another, a Baptist minister, displayed a drawing of the world traversed by a crucifix.... Beside him, a voodoo priest from Haiti raised a pot of incense, spreading good energy over the crowd. And a pastor from the United Presbyterian Church read from Paul's letter to the Galatians.
The celebrants surrounded a Brazilian Catholic brother who lifted up a priest's stole. Each kissed the colorful band of cloth.
A much larger but similar gathering, the Parliament of the World's Religions, was held in Chicago in September 1993, and was attended by about 6000 representatives of the world's major faiths. One of the plenary speakers, the Dalai Lama, called for a worldwide "spiritual awakening" that could be heeded by all religions. A major event of the Parliament was the awarding to Charles Colson of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, the world's most prestigious and lucrative (monetary value about 1.2 million dollars) ecumenical award. It is given specifically for "encourag[ing] understanding of the benefits of each of the great religions." (Imagine Elijah accepting an award for "encouraging understanding of the benefits of Baal worship" or Paul on Mars hill "encouraging understanding of the benefits of paganism"!)
As always at such ecumenical milestones, Catholic leadership was much in evidence, including Chicago's Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and Fr. Thomas A. Baima, director of the Chicago archdiocese's Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. Roman Catholic theologian Hans Kung was "the main drafter of The Global Ethic ... promoting interreligious cooperation" produced by the Parliament and signed by most of the leaders present, including Rev. Wesley Ariarajah, deputy general secretary of the World Council of Churches. It was "the first time in history that representatives of all the world's religions-Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and 120 other religious groupsreached common ground on ethical behavior.... Representatives from the Vatican and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops were present" and reacted favorably. The Los Angeles Times reported:
Priests in Roman collars talked with saffron-robed Buddhist monks, and Rastafarians engaged in animated discussions with turbaned Sikhs.... On one night, followers of the neo-pagan Wicca [witchcraft] religion performed a full-moon ritual ....
Roman Catholicism is proving to be the bridge that brings together all faiths. That fact alone is not surprising, but it is astonishing to see evangelical Christians stepping onto that bridge on one end while at the same time Hindus, Buddhists, and pagans of every stripe are stepping onto it from the other. If we are indeed in the last days, as seems apparent, it will not be long until all sides meet in the middle.
A Stepped-Up Campaign
On September 16, 1980, John Paul II told the Catholics in Osnabruch, Germany, "Encourage in a charitable way your evangelical brothers [the Lutherans] to witness to their faith, to deepen in Christ their form of religious life." Is the pope merely enticing the Protestants or is he really letting down the standard, as many Catholics fear? On February 6, 1983, he spoke of going "beyond misunderstandings ... to find once more what is common to all Christians ...." Such expressions of ecumenism have been common and have drawn fire from conservative critics within his Church.
There is no doubt that John Paul II has been breaking new ground in his pursuit of "unity." He knelt beside then Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie at the Canterbury Anglican cathedral altar and the two leaders embraced. In 1981 the pope "invited Metropolitan Damaskinos to speak in his place. For the first time since the schism [A.D. 1054], an Orthodox prelate thus sat in the Chair of the Basilica." The mutual anathemas between Rome and Constantinople had been lifted in 1965. On August 2, 1982, the pope resumed diplomatic relations with three Scandinavian countries that had not been recognized by the Vatican since they had broken with Rome at the Reformation. On December 11, 1983, John Paul II became the first pope in history to enter a Lutheran church. He did so in Rome, where he took part in the service and stated:
I am here because the Spirit of the Lord thrusts us towards ecumenical dialogue, to find complete unity among Christians.
In 1987, Patriarch Dimitrios I was welcomed into St. Peter's Basilica by John Paul II, who introduced him as "His Holiness, Dimitrios I, our well-beloved brother in Christ" and exhorted the congregation to "hear the words of the chief Patriarch...." At the end of the Mass, Dimitrios returned to the altar "to bless the faithful." The pope responded, "The Catholic Church and the Orthodox have been given the grace to recognize one another as sister churches and to walk to-gether towards full communion." On December 7, 1987, Patriarch Dimitrios I and John Paul II signed a declaration similar to the recent joint Catholic-evangelical agreement in the U.S.: "Each of our Churches has received and celebrates the same Sacraments [and] ... we reject all forms of proselytism.... "
On January 31, 1994, Chinese Premier Li Peng signed into law documents 144 ("Regulations on the Management of Religious Activity of Foreigners Within China's Borders") and 145 ("Management of Places of Religious Activity Ordinance"). As Wen Wei Po, Hong Kong's major pro-Beijing newspaper, admitted, these regulations are intended to prevent "proselytizing" by foreigners. The Chinese government realizes the danger to Communism if evangelicals are allowed to obey Christ's command to preach the gospel to every person on earth.
A similar but voluntary ban on "proselytism" is a key element in the accelerating ecumenical movement. Billy Graham's World Mission '95 involves such a pledge on the part of participating churches. The instructions for France, for example, for participation in this crusade that will be broadcast worldwide by satellite are clear: "All the denominations (Catholic, Orthodox, etc.) are to be kept advised and cooperation is to be mutual among all ... in spite of differences in theology"-and there is to be absolutely "no inter-church proselytizing." Ironically, the headquarters of the Mission in France is in the town of Beziers, which readers will recall was wiped out by Pope Innocent III with the loss of about 60,000 lives as the "crowning achievement" of his papacy.
One of the most amazing displays of this "antiproselytism" compromise by evangelicals of Christ's command to preach the gospel in all the world to every creature (Mark 16:15) occurred in Colorado. In recent years the city of Colorado Springs has seen the influx of numerous evangelical ministries establishing their offices there. Evangelical youth were winning their Catholic and Jewish schoolmates to Christ, bringing complaints from Catholic and Jewish leaders. To bring peace to the community, evangelical leaders, among them James Dobson, Navigators director Terry Taylor, Young Life director Terry P. McGonigal, and local evangelical pastors, signed a "Covenant of Mutual Respect" with the local Catholic bishop and Jewish rabbi and others. The covenant itself was reproduced in the April 22, 1993, edition of the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph under the title "A Message to the People of Colorado Springs." It recognized the "Judeo-Christian heritage" common to all faiths represented by those signing the covenant and basically pledged to "learn from each other in a spirit of goodwill and mutual respect" rather than to evangelize. A Catholic newspaper reported triumphantly:
"The effort to evangelize by some communities was creating an atmosphere of animosity," said Bishop Richard Hanifen of the Diocese of Colorado Springs. About a year ago, Rabbi Howard Hirsch of Temple Shalom and Bishop Hanifen both found that Jewish and Catholic youths were being evangelized at school by other students of different faiths. Terry McGoni-gal, director of the Institute of Youth Ministries for Young Life, agreed that other Christian youths were being evangelized in schools as well....
To curb misunderstanding and to facilitate understanding, religious leaders from community churches and organizations began meeting informally to discuss the situation.... Youth leaders attended the first meeting June 26, 1992, to discuss whether the evangelization efforts were a problem, and determined they were....
Bishop Hanifen said in the future he hopes the group will explore all kinds of issues to learn the values of various faiths and how they view the Scripture. "Instead of trying to convince each other which way to settle issues, we hope to understand the processes of how we settle issues," he said. "I think with God's help, this will set the stage for the future for how our different traditions will behave, and that, I think, is very good for Colorado Springs."
The Charismatic Bridge to Rome
Oddly, at the same time that Rome is complaining about having Catholics evangelized, it is engaged in the largest evangelization program in history. "Evangelization 2000" is directed from the Vatican by Fr. Tom Forrest, to whom we have already referred. He organized a Worldwide Priests' Retreat which met at Vatican City in September 1990 to kick off the decade of evangelization. Interestingly, "The first purpose of the retreat [Forrest said] was to evangelize the priests." About 1000 of the 6000 priests attending responded to the call to "receive Christ as Savior and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Why should such an appeal be necessary, especially to priests, if Catholics are saved? And how could these 1000 really "receive Christ as Savior" in the biblical meaning of that phrase without denying most of the Catholicism they have been trained to perpetuate? That Tom Forrest is still a Roman Catholic priest who celebrates the Mass, believes in purgatory and indulgences, and dare not say that he is eternally saved indicates that he has never accepted the biblical gospel. Yet evangelicals accept him as a partner in the gospel.
Forrest is a charismatic. Much of the responsibility for the growing partnership with Catholicism lies with certain leaders in the charismatic movement. Charismatics were the first to hold joint Protestant-Catholic conferences and to accept one another as Christians. About 10 million Catholics in America and 72 million in 163 countries worldwide now "speak in tongues." That alleged ability was taken as proof by other charismatics that Catholics must be born again. The importance placed upon this experience caused even the most drastic differences in doctrine to be overlooked. The charismatic movement became the major bridge to Rome.
That there is a spurious "Holy Spirit" operating is evident. One of the first prophetic utterances in the Catholic charismatic movement (which began in the mid-1960s at Duquesne and Notre Dame Universities) was that "what Mary promised at Fatima is really going to take place." Yet the apparition of "Mary" at Fatima was demonic, as we shall document in the next two chapters. The "gift of tongues" was received spontaneously by many Catholics as they were engaged in prayers to Mary: "With Tom N. it was as he was finishing his Rosary ... with Sister M. it came as she knelt in silent prayer to the Blessed Virgin." The general effect upon Catholics of their "baptism in the Spirit" has been increased devotion to Mary and greater zeal for the many heretical dogmas of Romanism. The spirit that endorses such heresy will also endorse Antichrist.
On March 2-4, 1990, Robert Schuller hosted at his Crystal Cathedral the charismatic-Catholic-sponsored "6th Annual West Coast Conference on The Holy Spirit." The majority of the audience were Roman Catholics, as were about half of the speakers. The overwhelmingly Catholic audience was delighted to hear Schuller declare:
When I had the dream of this cathedral, I didn't want to build it without the blessing of the Holy Father. So I made a trip to Rome and I met with the Pope.... I took a picture of the cathedral and I told him I was building this and that [I wanted it to] receive his prayers of blessing. A photograph, of course, was taken of us and I have it hanging on my 12th floor... Then on the 30th anniversary of my ministry here I received the most beautiful full-colored photograph of the Holy Father bestowing his apostolic blessing upon my holy ministry, with a wonderful personal handwritten message ....
Bible prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes. Christ warned that the nearness of His return to take His bride home to heaven would be heralded by religious deception such as this world had never known (Matthew 24:4,5,11,24). So great would it be that even the elect would be in danger of being deceived. Men would be accepted as Christian leaders, even workers of signs and wonders, who were not Christians at all (Matthew 7:22, 23). Paul warned of the same deception and that it was the essential preparation for the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4), a preparation that has obviously been accelerating in our day.
In defense of his signing the historic document Evangelicals and Catholics Together, one Baptist leader exulted that it finally granted evangelicals recognition by Catholics as a legitimate religious group. The Reformers would hardly have been flattered by such "recognition." Moreover, the same status has long been granted to all religions by Rome. Nearly 30 years earlier Pope Paul VI had said:
The Church has this exhortation for her sons and daughters: prudently and lovingly, through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, and in witness of Christian faith and life, acknowledge, preserve and promote the spiritual and moral goods found among these peoples ....
This is Roman Catholicism, a "Christianity" that is able to accommodate itself to partnership with all religious beliefs and practices. The foundation is being laid for the world religion headquartered in Rome.