<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Vatican and World Council of Churches to create a "code of conduct" for evangelism<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
By Jason Carlson
On Wednesday May 10th The Associated Press released the following story, "Vatican, churches work on conversion plan".[i] The story, by AP religion writer Brian Murphy, states that the Vatican and the World Council of Churches are partnering to create a "code of conduct" which would apply to Christian evangelistic efforts aimed at converting people from other faiths. Murphy reports, "Envoys from the Vatican's office on inter-religious dialogue and the Geneva-based WCC- which includes more than 350 mainline Protestant, Orthodox and related churches- are scheduled to open a four-day conference Friday near Rome to sketch out the broad outlines toward an eventual "code of conduct" on Christian conversions. The document could take at least three years to research and draft."
Rev. Hans Ucko, who is the head of the inter-religious relations office for the World Council of Churches told Murphy that the goal of the conference is to explore "the do's and don'ts" of trying to spread Christianity among other faiths. "This is complex moral and ethical territory. We want to open up a space to talk about this with other faiths," Ucko said. "What are the limits on seeking new Christians?" To assist them in formulating this "code of conduct" on evangelism, the Vatican and the World Council of Churches have invited members of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim religions to participate in the conference.
According to Murphy, the biggest challenge the conference organizers will face in their effort to implement this "code of conduct" is the fact that no Pentecostal or Evangelical groups will be taking part; and these two groups are the most fervent evangelistically and make up the fastest growing segment of Christianity. However, Murphy reports that Rev. Ucko hopes that contacts can be made with these "most zealous groups to try to find a common voice."
As I read this story this past week numerous thoughts and questions ran through my mind: How sad it is that the Catholic church has strayed so far from Scripture that they are now willing to set limits on Christ's Great Commission. How has Liberalism, Pluralism and Postmodern tolerance so blinded the World Council of Churches and the 500 million Christians it represents worldwide? I wonder what Stephen, Peter, Paul, or the countless other martyred evangelists of whom "the world was not worthy" (Hebrews 11: 38) would have to say about exploring "the do's and don'ts" of trying to spread the gospel?
This story is so tragic on so many levels, but sadly, it's not surprising. What we're seeing with the Vatican and the World Council of Churches here is nothing more than the logical fruit of abandoning the absolute authority of Scripture. We are literally seeing the fulfillment of Paul's warnings to Timothy unfolding before our very eyes as the Vatican and WCC no longer "put up with sound doctrine", but instead "turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4). In this case the myth is Post-modern religious pluralism.
This is the only explanation I can see for this move by the Vatican and the World Council of Churches. Their goal of creating a "code of conduct", a list of "do's and don'ts" for evangelism, demonstrates that they have totally strayed from accepting the clear testimony of Scripture, that Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6) and that there truly is "no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Instead of accepting these truths they have rejected them in favor of the false notion of religious pluralism. Religious pluralism is the anti-Christian position that says Jesus is not unique, he is not the only truth, and he is not the only way to salvation. And those who disagree with this position, those who take the Bible's directives for evangelism seriously for example, are intolerant, narrow minded, fundamentalist bigots. Can there be any other explanation for why the Vatican or WCC would pursue this venture of creating an evangelistic "code of conduct" inoffensive to other faiths?
Whether they admit it or not, the Vatican and the World Council of Churches are now full-fledged Postmodern religious pluralists who apparently do not believe that Jesus is the only hope for humanity. If this were not the case, there would be no justification for pursuing this anti-biblical "code of conduct" for evangelism. For if you take the Bible seriously and accept its revelation that humanity is lost in sin and desperately needs a savior, that savior being Jesus Christ alone, you would do nothing to hinder the biblical pattern of spreading this message. What the Vatican and Rev. Ucko fail to understand, or at least accept, is that the Bible knows nothing of setting "limits on seeking new Christians". To the contrary, God's word forthrightly admonishes the faithful to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19) and to "contend earnestly for the faith" (Jude 3) and to "preach the word" (2 Timothy 4:2) and to "not be ashamed to testify about our Lord" (2 Timothy 1:8).
Rev. Ucko and the Vatican say that the idea of Christians evangelizing people of other faiths is "complex moral and ethical territory." No it's not! There's nothing complex about it. It's a simple matter of recognizing that the Bible tells us that when it comes to the human race there are only two kinds of people: there are lost sinners and there are saved sinners (1 John 5:12). That's not too complex. We don't need a "code of conduct" for inoffensive evangelism, we don't need a list of "do's and don'ts", we need to take God's word seriously and we need to develop a Christ-like heart for the lost that compels us to take the gospel into a world running headlong into an eternity in Hell. We need to share the passion of Paul who declared, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile" (Romans 1:16). That doesn't sound to me like a guy who wondered if there were limits on seeking new Christians!
In times like these when the lines are being so clearly drawn, I think it would be fitting to close this article with the words of Joshua, that great leader of ancient Israel, "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).
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