A Critique of the World Council of Churches by the International Council of Christian Churches
by Dr. Carl McIntire, President
International Council of Christian Churches
The two councils of churches, the International Council of Christian Churches and the World Council of Churches, were formed in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1948. During these 35 years, the two have been appealing to the churches over the world and working among them. The issues, however, which have brought these councils into existence, have made it clear that the two have been set on divergent courses and that a widening chasm between the two is growing deeper. Today the ICCC has 399 denominations in 93 countries.
There is a place and need for a council of churches, Christian co-operation and emphasis on unity among Christians the world over. A worldwide fellowship of Christian churches and believers is a glorious prospect indeed. The 20th Century itself has commanded such councils: the shrinking of space and time by transportation, communication, instantaneous television and all that God has unfolded out of the mystery of His creation has made possible the coming together of the churches. There is an Una Sancta.
ICCC NEEDED - WCC INCLUSIVIST
There would have been no occasion for the ICCC if the World Council of Churches had been bringing the churches together on a clear, strong, unequivocal doctrinal basis which encompassed the foundation truths of the historic Christian faith. This could and would have been possible if in the earlier years of the century the churches of the West, particularly Germany, Great Britain and the United States, had not brought into their bosoms the attacks against the Holy Scriptures and their rejection made by what has been called the GrafWellhausen German Higher Criticism. Here the Bible, its truth and authority, were questioned and even discredited as the explicit Word of God. From this development there came in the structure of the churches what. is known as inclusivism now called pluralism. This means that there were many divergent views, belief and unbelief, within the communion of the ecclesia. This produced confusion, conflicts and separations and two councils of churches.
"Ecumenical," it must be recognized, is a good word historically. The ecumenical councils were a great blessing to the churches in earlier centuries. They clarified the doctrinal conflicts - Christological, trinitarian, soteriological - on the basis of what the Scriptures taught and what the church was to believe as God required.
In this century it became the Christian groups around the world, some of which were involved in bitter separations because of false doctrine, with breaks occurring in the United States particularly, and in China also, who reached back into church history and determined that there would be a genuine Christian council where the Word could be historically used with propriety. Such a council of churches indeed could serve as an agency or arm of Bible-believing churches to preserve the faith and proclaim the everlasting Gospel.
Thus the ICCC became a fellowship of evangelical churches to promote a revival of Bible Christianity and to warn against the unbelief and its consequences inside the house of God. These questions concerned all Christian churches over the world.
The ICCC proceeded to adopt a lengthy declaration or confession containing the common evangelical doctrines to which the churches originally subscribed. All churches in the past had these historic doctrines in their creeds. The Apostles Creed was adopted also. The WCC, on the other hand, adopted one and then nullified it by short sentence reservation; the WCC was not concerned with the manner in which the churches would interpret this statement. This left the WCC without any valid doctrinal foundation. Later, as a result of pressure, this statement was edited to make it appear more orthodox, but the conditioning clause still remained.
This basic difference in their foundations determines and explains all that has happened between the two bodies. The division between the two councils occurred because of their different positions on Holy Scripture.
The churches in the ICCC believe that the Scriptures are indeed the Word of God, holy, pure, infallible and inerrant. "God is not a man, that he should he." The WCC book for this assembly, entitled Theological Explorations of the Theme Jesus Christ the Life of the World, states, "In our working groups there are at least six possible ways of viewing the authority of Scripture." With the ICCC there is only one way of viewing the authority of Scripture. The Bible is a special revelation given by the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, in order to present to a lost world and to sinners dead in their trespasses, the message of God's grace and that Jesus Christ alone is the Redeemer. Here it is clear that He is the life only of those who are born again and not of those who die in their sins and go to hell. Here there is a break with the WCC in Vancouver. Christ, "the light of the world," yes; but He is only the life of believers.
Four hundred years ago at the time of Martin Luther and the break there in the church, there was no question on either side concerning the authority of Scripture. It was the Word of God. The problem at that time was simple - the Church of Rome nullified the Scriptures by its traditions.
Today, after these centuries, there is no longer a book produced by "holy men of God" who "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." There is no longer a scroll upon which Jesus placed His hand and said, "The scripture cannot be broken"; "They are they which testify of me"; and, "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures." The difference between the two councils is that the ICCC has the Bible as the very Word of God with God the author thereof, as it has always been confessed in such creeds as the Westminster Confession of Faith. Meanwhile the World Council of Churches does not know exactly what it has.
No finer description of what has taken place has been presented than in the Christian Century, the U.S. ecumenical journal, June 8-15. It came just in time to explain the differences as these two councils assembled. The article is by Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, and is entitled "Hope and Fear in Ecumenical Union." The bishop made this address on the occasion of a Lutheran-Episcopal eucharistic fellowship. He asserted, "Christianity for the first time in its 2,000-year history is floating free in a sea of relativity, unable to maintain any of its traditional authority claims." And so he says, "The ecumenical movement, however, finally announces loudly that no one has the truth, the heritage, the tradition." It is this that the ICCC challenges completely.
Jesus Christ said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away." He alone was raised from the dead. His resurrection declared that His sacrifice for sin had been accepted by God and that He was "the Son of God with power."
WCC'S DIFFERENT CONCEPT OF THE CHURCH
This, of course, has led to a different concept of the church, and for the WCC, the unfolding dream of bringing all into one great, final world body. Dr. Philip Potter, WCC general secretary, insists as he has here, that this is their Holy Spirit-inspired goal.
Their pluralism, with their varying beliefs concerning the Scriptures, has so multiplied that in all these churches, including the Roman Catholic Church itself, there are cross ties connecting the different views concerning Christ, the virgin Mary, the sacraments and the ministry. All these are to be united, and they do wish for a final consummation. Their present slogan, "Unity in Diversity," is correct.
On the other hand, it is the ICCC that affirms that the church is only "the pillar and ground of the truth." There is no truth in the church! It only ministers and declares God's Word, as John Calvin taught. The truth is in Jesus Christ. "I am ... the truth." He said. "Thy [God's] word is truth," He emphasized in John 17. ICCC churches are candlesticks, bearing the same light; many lampstands, one light.
So it is when the church is singing in Heaven. All tell the Lamb that He is worthy "to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." "For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Their cultures, their races, their colors, all lifted the same paean of praise for their eternal redemption.
The ICCC is just as much committed to peace and justice as the WCC could possibly be, also to the problems of poverty and the issues that plague the churches. The problem, however, is that the ICCC seeks to deal with these issues from the basis of what the Bible says, as presented in the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount and the eschatological promises of Jesus Christ. It has to be peace by strength because the "heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked"; and, "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace" (Luke 11:21).
The Law of God, in all of its fullness, returns as the standard of conduct for every believer and the standard of righteousness for every nation. Let no one forget that Jesus said that there would be "wars and rumours of wars but the end is not yet."
The world is not about to be dissolved tomorrow by an atomic explosion as is constantly being emphasized as being possible. Jesus Christ is "the first and the last," and by Him, Paul says, "all things consist-," they are held together. This peace offensive accents fear, minimizes faith, exalts man, demotes God, and pleases the Devil. It rejects the eternal Word and it descends to the dialectic of Hegel and Marx for the world's future without God. The Prophet Daniel described the terror of the world dictator whom he said, "by peace shall destroy many" (8.25).
In these 35 years the WCC has moved closer to, if not actually into, the Soviet orbit on world affairs. I was in New Delhi in 1961, at its Third Assembly, and I saw Metropolitan Nikodim walk across the stage to the applause of all, and the Russian Orthodox Church was received. This opened the way for all the Eastern bloc churches, controlled by Marxist states, to enter. In Uppsala in 1968, the very next assembly, Nikodim was in charge of the allimportant Credentials Committee, dealing with all who entered. In 1975 in Nairobi, the Fifth Assembly, Nikodim was made a president of the WCC. Time magazine reported that when Eugene Carson Blake was being considered for the position of general secretary, it first had to be cleared with Nikodim. When a maneuver was made by William P. Thompson, then president of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., to block Nikodim's election in Nairobi, he failed. Of 747 total votes, the Council gave Nikodim over 500. It is in this context of this same power for the Soviets that this Assembly is conducting its affairs in Vancouver.
It was in Nairobi that Nikodim presented the elaborate document on "peace and Justice" on behalf of the Christian Peace Conference, of which he was president. The program outlined there on point after point - its Liberation Theology, its Program to Combat Racism, its use of violence when necessary to change social structures - became the comprehensive program of the WCC. It is affirmed and re-echoed in speech after speech. Nikodim is gone. He fell over dead in the presence of the Pope. But Metropolitan Filaret has taken his place and Vitaly Borovoy articulates his Marxism with Christian verbiage and with his staccato attack focused upon the United States of America. Borovoy has made individualism and the individual's responsibility to God for his life, liberty and property, the enemy of society and mankind. Freedom becomes collectivism.
The righteous pronouncements of the prophets must be heard again, even if they come from the congresses of the International Council of Christian Churches. "Woe unto them ... that put darkness for light" and "if ... the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" The Saviour Himself warned that in the last days "many will come in my name and shall deceive many." But, He emphasized, "the end is not yet." The day of grace is still here, Today is still the accepted time. Today is the day of salvation. The chasm between the two councils indeed confronts the Christians of the world. Ultimately, the issue is freedom versus slavery.
It was in Melbourne, Australia - and I was there in 1980 - that the World Council's Commission on World Mission and Evangelism heard Metropolitan Geevarghese, one of their spokesmen, put it directly, as he pressed for the classless society as the Kingdom of God: "The poor," he said, "can never become richer unless the rich become poorer, either voluntarily or by the force of a totalitarian government. The way for the first alternative is the cross and the way for the second is the sickle and hammer. If the Cross-bearing of the Christians will not bring about a just classless society by the force of Christian love, God may permit the sickle and the hammer to do so as He chose Cyrus the heathen to fulfill His purpose once. In any case the Nazarene is bound to win ultimately." So, Communism may and could bring in the Kingdom of God for Jesus Christ. This leads directly into the claim that the Soviet churches themselves are making for Marxism. One cannot suppress the publications which come from the Soviet-licensed churches. The Russian Baptists are all here in Vancouver as members of the World Council of Churches. I have seen them and known them all through the years. They never change: same stories, same figures, same great premiers - Stalin, Krhurshev, Brezhnev. They love to print eulogies of them when the anniversaries come around. Both the Russian Orthodox Church under Patriarch Pimen and the Russian Baptists all presented their effusive eulogies at the death of Brezhnev.
Today, I had another providential meeting with A. M. Bychkov. He told me he expected to see Stalin in heaven. I invited him to defect and pressed him to do so. He reminded me that I tried to get him to defect when he was in Boston. Never has a clergyman defected. The KGB is particular and takes no chances, because the area of penetration of the clergy is so valuable. Their presence in the WCC gives them the platform and the psychological acceptance for the Soviet's use of the churches and religion. This is primarily in reaching the church people of the world, and deceiving the West.
Alexi Stoyan, in Paris in 1962, when the Russian Baptist Church joined the WCC, invited me to come and be their guest in Moscow. He said, "Don't be afraid, don't be afraid. You can trust us." Bychkov, who is here as a delegate of the WCC, met me at the door last week and called me "Carl," and said, "Do you know my name?" I said, "Yes, you are Bychkov." At the meeting of the Baptist World Alliance in Toronto in 1980, we met at the entrance. Before I could say any thing, he gave me a big Russian bear hug. Yet, last year, when I applied for a visa to, go to Moscow as an observer to Patriarch Pimen's World Conference of Religious Workers for Saving the Sacred Gift of Life From Nuclear Catastrophe, the Soviet government refused to allow me to enter the country.
What do the Russian Baptists say? This is what they put in their Brotherly Messenger on the fortieth anniversary of the Revolution: "While the Christian Western world speaks much of its Christian civilization and about the ideals of Christianity, yet in practice acts quite contrary to these ideals, fellowship is daily built up in the USSR which in all areas of life is recreating the righteousness of the Kingdom of God."
It was in Geneva in 1966 at the Conference on Church and Society of the WCC, that Nikodim and Borovoy made clear their position. Nikodim said, "I should like to say that Christians in the Soviet Union, as Archpriest Borovoy has already said in his commentary, have not only accepted the socialist revolution that took place in our country, but have and are active builders of a classless socialist society, which is free from exploitation."
Thus it is that Borovoy reports that young people are coming into their churches. The young Marxists are ready to move into their churches and to attend Billy Graham's meetings and let Dr. Graham say what he pleases in order to deceive the Christians of the West into thinking that there is religious liberty, when in fact the Marxists are using the churches which is the only respect that they could possibly have for them. It was Alexandr Solzhenitsyn who wrote in 1973, "The church is ruled dictatorially by atheists a sight never before seen in two millenia!"
THE KGB - SECRET PARTNER IN WCC
Talk about the KGB the Soviet secret police, if you will. It was Yuri Andropov who directed it for IS years before he became premier. We emphasize here that we are dealing with the ideologies, dressing up and sanctifying Marxism, using everything about Christianity, its tradition, anniversaries, creeds, even its Scripture, to lead men to believe they can trust the Communists. But they are inspired by Satan himself. He uses all his agents in these last days to bring all mankind under totalitarian power.
Satan brought our first parents down to the grave. Death still reigns everywhere. He attempted to bring Christ down from the pinnacle of the Temple and offered to give Him the kingdoms of the world. Now he is out to have the kingdoms of the world serve and prepare for the unveiling of his Antichrist, who, the Bible says, will appear. The special instrument of his power is the antiGod Soviet conspiracy. His designs are against the souls and liberties of men who fear God, would maintain Christ's church and obey His commission to carry the one Gospel to the ends of the earth.
Here again, Satan turns things upside down. "Woe unto them:' the Scriptures say, "who call evil good and good evil." Those who justify the wicked for reward and condemn the righteousness of the righteous are on hand today. The two worlds in which these councils live and move are of a different or er. Satan, who is a person, with legions of demons at his command, has never in 2,000 years of his assault upon Christ and the church, been so successful in getting entire denominations to change their creeds, bring them up-to-date, and to believe that by producing out of their pluralism a consensus to guide their future, they are being led by the Holy Spirit. All that the WCC produces is one consensus after another guide the churches. The Bible is not a consensus. The church is not an instrument of man. Only the one true Gospel washes away sin by the blood of the Lamb. That conditions of this magnitude would engulf the churches in the latter days was made clear by the apostles. Paul told young Timothy, "Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." Then the Apostle emphasizes that, "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained" (I Tim. 4: 1). It is in this area that the ICCC with its "good doctrine" bears its testimony. It is in this area that the deepest cleavage is to be seen between the ecumenists on one hand and those on the other who are calling for a 20th Century Reformation, the returning of the churches to the faith of our fathers, which was once delivered unto the saints.
This critique, 1983, has brought to the surface two great providential revelations as seen in Cape May '83 for the ICCC and Vancouver '83 for the WCC.
First, at the ICCC Congress, the Third World churches came in strength, the blacks from Africa, the browns from Asia. Sixty-five churches joined the Council. Among them was the largest black association of believers in Africa, the Reformed Independent Association of Churches in Southern Africa, led by Bishop Isaac Mokoena, which reported in its application four-and-one-half "Ilion members. These churches in Africa have come to realize that the Program To Combat Racism is an instrument of Satan to make their countries Communist. They want their internal problems worked out in their own country without the pressures and guns of the Communist world and the World Council of Churches.
The WCC is losing the black churches of Africa. They are turning to the ICCC with their missionary and Bible Christianity. In prayer and faith they are looking to the Almighty God for grace, strength and courage. They do not want bloodshed and violence of the class struggle. They do not want Castro and Andropov They need and want the help of other Christians who believe in Jesus Christ, that there is neither Jew nor Greek, black nor white, bond nor free. They are against the World Council of Churches.
In this struggle for the churches of Africa, which the WCC has sought to use, the ICCC is now in the vanguard. It is not Christians, but the Communists, who are making the race issue the bloody nightmare that it is, and it is this that the Christians of the world must reject. They must refuse in any way to finance the revolutions that produce an Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and now are determined to take Southwest Africa and South Africa itself.
The WCC is on the wrong side of this struggle; and those in its midst, who initiated the Program to Combat Racism, with its moral and financial support for Marxism, should be repudiated by the Christians of the world.
There are genuine Christians in South Africa, both black and white, who believe that God can guide and care for them, as their relations develop and they maintain peace and good order among themselves. Apartheid, which deals with man's relationship with man, they both made and denounced as the greatest of heresies, only to direct world attention from their own multiplied heresies of faith, including making Jesus Christ the John the Baptist for Karl Marx.
The Almighty God is sufficient for these things. Let the churches' attention be turned primarily to the worldwide conspiracy of the Communists to bring all mankind into their totalitarian slavery. Changing social structures means eliminating capitalism and patriotism. Without liberty there can be no life. God is the Author of Liberty, and this liberty is under His Law and for His glory.
The second revelation is what has been clearly manifested in this WCC Assembly. Call it what you will. I call it "the parade of the gods." Their own CANVAS, the WCC daily, reported on July 27, "5 Faiths Represented." It reads: "For the first time in its 35-year history, the WCC invited representatives of five world religions to address its Assembly. They spoke in the plenary on 'Life, A Gift of God,' bringing affirmations of life from their own sacred writings."
The Ecumenical Press Service reported that the General Secretary of The Islamic Conference, Shayk Ysuf Kahn, declared, "The Christian personification of God in Jesus Christ is something Islam could not do." This is the ultimate. The Bible is the only Book of life. The passion for peace among all mankind, regardless of their religion, has had its effect in pressuring the WCC with its pluralism, to include in their realm of life the non-Christian religions and their idols.
They have come together in an "interfaith fellowship," as they name it, where they pray together, read their scriptures together, as conveyers of life. How impossible! Shades of the prophets of Baal. Where is there an Elijah? Will the prophet who calls down fire from heaven please stand up! Jesus Christ has been demoted to the level of a Buddha. Nothing could be more devastating to the Christian religion. This has occurred here in the unfolding of the WCC's ecumenism for the first time. The feminist deities of Greek mythology may also find recognition and companionship as ecumenists move to address the God of Israel as "she."
The Apostle Paid, in his first letter to the infant church in Thessalonica, said, "Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1:9, 10). In Athens, Paul said, the God who made heavens and earth "dwelleth not in temples made with hands." The Corinthians he commanded totally to separate themselves from the temple of Apollo on the other side of town.
It is in the tenth chapter of John that Christ said, "I am the good shepherd." "A stranger," He said, "will they not follow." He went as far as to say that "All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them." Buddha was one of these. He repeated, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish."
This is the end. The missionary fields of the world, where the nationals have not caught up with the WCC's ecumenism, will now turn away, To welcome them stands the ICCC. It holds high the Book which they believe and love. They will never have an unregenerate Hindu dancer on the platform of their church assemblies. Jesus Christ said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." He promised that He would return personally, visibly. He would raise the dead. Mohammed, Buddha, cannot do this. They, too, are in their graves. Christ alone possesses all power, the power of the Almighty God, which indeed He is.
The ICCC has as its glorious text Revelation 1:9, where- John the beloved said that he was "your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the Isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." He saw Christ glorified, and recorded, "I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."
Never have the Holy Scriptures been so perverted. The Bible itself warns against using the Word of God deceitfully. Texts are taken out of context as a pretext to promote world revolution. Borovoy of Russia. supporting the Soviet system, sounded like a Fundamentalist angel in his speech. The WCC says that it does not know exactly what the Scriptures are, but they have been used in many of their speeches to attempt to pacify the enraged of the people in the pews of their churches. Bible words become code words. This strategy constitutes the bombardment against South Africa. Allan Boesak's call for the churches' support when the oppressed take up guns, and his making the custodians of order - the police to be the criminals, is the same line that was used in the United States during the Vietnam violence when the police were called "pigs." Boesak has given a green fight to generate violence and for the Soviets and the Cubans to provide more weapons and troops. The WCC has given them encouragement.
The ICCC is seeking to maintain the historic Christian faith. The WCC, with its pluralism, relativism, and recognition of the pagan religions as "living faiths," constitutes a rejection of the virgin-born, sinless, crucified, risen and coming again, eternal Son of the living God - the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
A great apostasy, a Babylon, is among the churches. Bible-believing churches are now making their choice. They have a choice. There is an alternative. Here is a council of Christian churches which God has raised up and given to His people. The seventeenth chapter of John describes their oneness, their spiritual unity with Christ, Our Lord prayed, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us."
Here is the glorious witness that we must have together today. We stand together, suffer together, work together, occupy together, and when Christ returns, we shall go up to be with Christ together. And, so, as the redeemed of the Lord, we unite in praying, "Even so come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen."