What's happening to faith?
Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find [the] faith on the earth? (Lk18:8)
Christ raised a solemn question. If we believe Christ's coming could be soon, then we are living in the very time of which He spoke-a time when the faith would be in more danger of disappearing than ever before! Have we grasped the significance of our day and our individual responsibility to proclaim without compromise God's truth and to defend the faith?
Jude exhorts us to "earnestly contend for the faith once [for all time] delivered to the saints" (Jude3). Jude's epistle makes it clear that the faith (i.e., God's revealed truth, the gospel, which every Christian is to believe, obey and teach) never changes, that any revision or compromise thereof must be vigorously opposed and that contending for the faith is the responsibility of every Christian.
Perhaps most shocking is Jude's implication that the enemies of the faith ("certain men") will be influential church leaders. The phrase "have crept in" can only mean within the church; and "unawares" indicates that their betrayal of the faith is, astonishingly, no deterrent to their wide acceptance as Christian leaders!
Christ's warning is reaching its awful climax in our day. Examples are legion. "His Grace, Archbishop Tutu" of South Africa (of great influence worldwide) has declared, "The Holy Spirit is not limited to the Christian Church...." and of Mahatma Gandhi, a Hindu, "the Holy Spirit shines through him." R. Kirby Godsey, president of prominent Southern Baptist Mercer University, heavily supported by the Georgia Baptist Convention, denies the infallibility of the Bible, the unique power and authority of God, the validity of the Gospels' account of the life and teachings of Jesus, the efficacy of Christ's atonement and the uniqueness of Christ as the only Savior.
Bill Phipps, recently elected head of the United Church of Canada (a union of Canadian Congregationalists, Methodists and the majority of Canadian Presbyterians) rejects Christ's deity, His resurrection, His uniqueness as only Savior and a literal heaven or hell. Rodney R. Romney, pastor of Seattle's First Baptist Church, has taught for years that we are gods, and receives New Age messages from a "higher source," such as "this sacred place of your inner knowing...is the stepping-stone to the stars." Yet Phipps's and Romney's heresies seem quite acceptable to their denominations.
Zondervan recently published a book titled More Than One Way? Four Views On Salvation in a Pluralistic World-as though this were a question worth discussing! Echoing Billy Graham, who has said, "I respect other paths to God," Leighton Ford declared, "Preach the gospel, but don't be so negative as to refuse to endorse or work with those who belong to a group that proclaims a different gospel." Of course, there are no "other paths to God" and no "different gospels" to be "endorsed."
And here is Jerry Falwell posing in a warm hug with Sun Myung Moon after speaking at a plenary session of Moon's "Christian Ecumenism in the Americas" conference in Montevideo, Uruguay. Falwell has called Moon an "unsung hero [to] the cause of freedom" who was "to be commended" for his determination, courage, and endurance in support of his beliefs. In fact, Moon is a cult leader who opposes freedom and whose mind control tactics have enslaved his followers.
And what are Moon's beliefs which Falwell commends him for supporting faithfully? That Jesus failed in His mission, that Moon is the true Messiah, and that Jesus Christ has said, "The King of Glory...our precious Lord Sun Myung Moon and his beloved bride Hak Ja Han...reign as king and queen of the entire universe...[and] I, Jesus of Nazareth, known as the Christ, bow in humility before them...." Should Moon really be hugged and commended?
That for years Norman Vincent Peale could publicly promote numerous blatant denials of the faith (as we document thoroughly in Occult Invasion), yet continue to be praised by Billy Graham and other evangelical leaders, is staggering! His chief disciple, Robert Schuller (who calls Peale his mentor and the man who had the greatest influence upon his theology and ministry) not only promotes Peale's heresies and occultism but continues to have the largest TV audience each Sunday of any "televangelist." That he enjoys the continuing praise of evangelical leaders such as Graham is again a fulfillment of Jude's prophecy. Where are those evangelical leaders who are earnestly contending for the faith?
Schuller boasted to a pleased Graham that "thousands of pastors and hundreds of rabbis and...over a million Muslims a week" watch his Hour of Power. Imagine the ingenious tightrope-walking it takes to please this divergent audience! And what condition must the church be in if thousands of pastors are happy with a message that pleases rabbis and Muslims!
Schuller, whose Crystal Cathedral houses offices for "Christians and Muslims for Peace," told Imam Alfred Mohammed of the Muslim American Society that "if he [Schuller] came back in 100 years and found his descendants Muslims, it wouldn't bother him...." Apparently Schuller is unconcerned that Islam denies that Jesus is God and that He died for our sins (someone else died on the Cross in His place), offers a gospel of good works for salvation, and death in jihad as the only sure way to the Muslim's "heaven," where the faithful are rewarded with rivers of wine (which they are not permitted on earth) and harems of beautiful virgins.
Yet Schuller's approval of Islam meets with no public rebuke from the numerous evangelical leaders who, instead, encourage and praise him. Schuller has even commended all forms of Eastern meditation such as TM, Zen Buddhism and yoga as valid methods for "the harnessing, by human means, of God's divine laws...." How can church leaders of national and international recognition, to whom "the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28) looks for spiritual direction, stand by in silence (or worse yet, give their approval) while such poison is fed to blood-bought millions?!
We have thoroughly documented the fact that Sir John Marks Templeton promotes Antichrist's coming world religion and offers a prize for contributing toward its development. That Christianity Today would promote Templeton and his occultism, that Billy Graham, Charles Colson and Bill Bright would praise Templeton, endorse his Antichrist religion and accept that infamous prize for contributing to its development -and that other Christian leaders such as Dobson, Swindoll, Falwell, et al. would not rebuke such betrayal of the gospel- is an incredibly flagrant rejection of the mandate to contend for the faith!
Charles Colson and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus (an apostate Lutheran before his conversion to Catholicism) engineered the ecumenical documents (ECT and ECT-2) signed by some Roman Catholic and evangelical leaders, documents which promote Roman Catholicism's false gospel of works and ritual. Colson and Neuhaus were guided each step of the way by Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, whose approval of the wording of the documents was required. Bill Bright's opening words of his speech in a Catholic church in Rome accepting the Templeton prize were "Your eminence, Cardinal Cassidy..."!
Cardinal Cassidy reports directly to the Pope, who enjoys the fullsome praise not only of Graham and Schuller but of Hanford, Dobson, Van Impe, Hinn, Crouch, Christianity Today and others. John Wimber said, "The Pope's a...real born-again, evangelical charismatic...." Pat Robertson enthused, "Pope John Paul II stands like a rock...in his clear enunciation of the foundational principles of the Christian faith." Colson and Neuhaus, the visible architects of this betrayal of the Reformation and the millions martyred by the Roman Catholic Church, become subversives on behalf of the Vatican, while Packer, Bright, Robertson and the other evangelical signatories are willing cohorts.
Colson and Neuhaus convened a meeting in October 1997 between those who signed the infamous ECT-2 and Catholic bishops from Latin America led by Archbishop Oscar Rodriguez, president of the Council of Latin American Bishops Conferences. Present also was Cardinal O'Connor, Archbishop of New York. Addressing this group, Cardinal Cassidy declared that the "Catholic Church has evangelized Latin America over a period of five hundred years. It has established the Christian Church in that continent... [and] the church that has evangelized a country or people should be held in respect by others who come later on the scene. This sense of respect would seem to require that newcomers [i.e., evangelicals] not target for their evangelizing work the active, baptized members of the Church that has been responsible for the original evangelization...." And evangelical leaders present acquiesced to this disingenuous statement as though Rome's soul-damning gospel saves souls!
This agreement (approved by Colson, Packer, Bright, et al.) forbids evangelicals to evangelize the 90 percent or more of those living in Latin America who were baptized as infants into the Roman Catholic Church, a Church which teaches that baptism is essential to salvation, delivers from original sin and makes them Christians. They are looking to this Church, through its rituals and the repetition of many "sacrifices of Christ" in the Mass, to eventually get them out of purgatory and into heaven. The ECT documents place these deluded and lost souls out of bounds to the gospel. Most of the members of evangelical churches in Central and South America are converts from Roman Catholicism. What an eternal tragedy for their souls had this evil agreement been in effect and adhered to by evangelicals in these Catholic countries from the very beginning!
Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29
In his speech, Cardinal Cassidy called for "a new spirit of cooperation between Catholics and Evangelicals in Latin America...." What unconscionable hypocrisy! The truth is that the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America has for centuries persecuted and killed evangelicals, viciously opposed the gospel, and done everything in its power to prevent the salvation of souls. Such tactics having proved futile (the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church) and are frowned upon in this age of emphasis upon civil rights. So Rome seduces leading evangelicals into agreeing that baptized, active Catholics (how active?) are Christians and not to be evangelized!
Those who signed ECT and ECT-2, both Catholics and evangelicals, would rightly condemn Southern Baptist Bible teacher Jimmy Carter for his recent statement that Mormons are Christians and not to be evangelized. But how is his statement that "the people in my own local church have no interest in trying to condemn...[or] to convert Mormons..." any different from declaring that Catholics are not to be converted? Catholicism's gospel is just as false as Mormonism's.
The faith is under attack by any denial of either the inerrancy, sufficiency or sole authority of God's Word. We have documented that Christian psychology denies the latter two, while Roman Catholicism denies all three. The latter two are also denied by the alleged new revelations being so avidly pursued within the charismatic movement. And all three are rendered irrelevant when experience is elevated above doctrine as proof of "revival" at Toronto, Pensacola and increasingly elsewhere. The very "salvation" testimony of Steve Hill, revival evangelist a Pensacola's Brownsville Assembly of God, as given on TV's "20/20," is an example of this error: "I didn't believe in God, but...out of desperation...I said, 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.' I just began to say that name, and a power came through my body...."
Repeating the name of Jesus in desperation is not the faith for which we must earnestly contend. The gospel which one must understand and believe to be saved includes:
That Jesus is God ("If ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins... and whither I go, ye cannot come" Jn 8:24,21);
that He died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (lCor15:1-4);
that salvation must be received as a gift (a gift cannot be earned, paid for or merited - Rom 6:23);
that salvation comes by God's grace, utterly undeserved and not by works (Eph 2:8-10);
that Jesus, who is God from all eternity, became a real flesh-and-blood man to die in our place ("Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you" - Jn6:53 and by eat He means to believe: "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life" - v47).
The gospel alone is "the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes" Rom1:16). A sentimentality about the Cross won't save. The torture of scourging, nails in hands and feet and thorns on brow, which men inflicted, could only condemn, not save. To be saved, one must understand and believe that on the cross Christ became the sacrifice for our sins, bearing at the hands of God ("Yet it pleased the LORD [Jehovah] to bruise him...mak[ing] his soul an offering for sin" - Is53:10) the infinite penalty His own justice demanded. It is only because Christ paid that full penalty that we could be forgiven and receive eternal life.
It is not enough to mourn and weep over the compromise of the faith by others. Let each of us examine his or her own heart-and then do something to help. If tens of thousands of true Bereans would write and/or phone to exhort and encourage leaders to earnestly contend for the faith, leaders whose voices need to be heard, perhaps it would have an impact that could help to rescue multitudes before it is too late.
May it be said of each of us, as of the woman of Mark 14:8, that we have done what we could!