In what is a surprise to many Seventh-day Adventists, a General Conference Representative was involved in an ecumenical audience with the pope on Wednesday, October 12, 2016. Seventh-day Adventists are not supposed to be engaged in ecumenical affairs.
“Each year, the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions (CS/CWC) brings together the Secretaries/General Secretaries of world communions (including Baptist, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Reformed, Anglican and Orthodox) and ecumenical organizations such as the World Council of Churches, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Global Christian Forum,” wrote Bishop Dr. Harald Rein, Secretary of the International Bishops’ Conference, who represents the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht.
While this is not an official meeting (it never passes resolutions or holds a press conference), nevertheless this ecumenical gathering has been conducted annually for the last 20 years. How long Seventh-day Adventists have been involved is unknown. But they are certainly spending money, presumably tithe, to do this sort of thing. The secretary of the group is Ganoune Diop, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Director of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
The conference is hosted at the “headquarters” of one of the member churches each year, and this year the group was invited to the Vatican, the seat of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Members stayed at the convent of the Sisters of Holy Child Mary in Vatican City.
The primary aim of the conference is to “enable the members to inform each other about important events and current developments in their churches,” wrote Rein. “Each meeting also has an overarching theme of current interest. This year, as in 2015, the conference focused on the compatibility of bilateral dialogues between two churches with respect to a third church… The discussion centered on… the right methods… the different aims, strategies and definitions of “unity” and “full communion.”
The ecumenical meeting included an audience with Pope Francis before his Wednesday general audience. He made a few off-the-cuff remarks.
In his brief address, the pope referred to two phrases used by Dr. Martin Junge, General Secretary of the World Lutheran Federation: “Jesus is with us,” and “Jesus is journeying with us.” “These phrases made me reflect, and they pose two questions: am I capable of believing that Jesus is with us? Am I capable of journeying with all, together, and also with Jesus? Often we think that ecumenical work is only that of theologians. It is therefore important that theologians study, they agree, and they express their disagreement: this is very important. But in the meantime ecumenism journeys on. It journeys with Jesus, not ‘my Jesus against your Jesus’, but with our Jesus. The journey is simple: it consists of prayer, with the help of others. Praying together: the ecumenism of prayer, for each other and all for unity. And then, the ecumenism of work for the many who are in need, for many men and women who today suffer as a result of injustice, wars, these terrible things… All together, we must help. Love for our neighbor. This is ecumenism. This is already unity. Unity in journeying with Jesus.”
The pope went on to add that there is another form of ecumenism that typifies our age: that of blood. “When terrorists or world powers persecute Christian minorities or Christians,” he observed, “they do not ask: ‘Are you Lutheran? Are you Orthodox? Are you Catholic? Are you Reformed? Are you Pentecostal?’ No. ‘You are Christian.’ They recognize one only: the Christian. The enemy is not wrong: he recognizes where to find Jesus. And this is the ecumenism of blood. Nowadays we are witnesses to this, and I think of the Orthodox brethren beheaded on the beaches of Libya, for example: they are our brothers. They gave witness to Jesus and they died saying, ‘Jesus, help me!’ With His name: they confessed the name of Jesus”.
“Therefore, ecumenism in prayer, ecumenism in our journey, and the enemy teaches us the ecumenism of blood. Thank you, many thanks for this visit.”
Obviously, ecumenical gatherings like this are designed to lead the churches closer to each other and particularly to Rome. God’s word forbids this. There is only one place where it leads – Sunday laws.
“The wide diversity of belief in the Protestant churches is regarded by many as decisive proof that no effort to secure a forced uniformity can ever be made [see Revelation 13]. But there has been for years, in churches of the Protestant faith, a strong and growing sentiment in favor of a union based upon common points of doctrine. To secure such a union, the discussion of subjects upon which all were not agreed–however important they might be from a Bible standpoint–must necessarily be waived.” The Great Controversy, page 444.
“Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law? They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood.” Psalm 94: 20, 21.
Photo Credit: L’Osservatore Romano