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Building Bridges

Young people, are you aware of the subtle changes that are taking place around you today? Now anyone knows that this world is a very fast paced place. Things around us change almost faster than we can comprehend. But I would like to consider with you just for a few minutes the ever-increasing changes that are seemingly sweeping the church world of today toward the end of the ages.

Today there is a relentless tide of ecumenical movement which, without any doubt, will lead to the creation of the false church which will give its support to the anti-christ. We are in effect living during one of the signs of the times we often hear about.

One does not have to look very far in any direction to be able to see that this world and all the wickedness which it contains will soon fill its cup, and our Heavenly Father will bring down judgment against it.

But there are more than signs of the world’s wickedness which point to the fast approaching end of this world.

The church world is caught up with the idea that bridges must be built between all differing denominations as well as different beliefs. The idea of churches uniting together is emerging as one of the most important callings of the church; and it does seem quite possible that perhaps if success were achieved in one particular area of the church world, it could very well touch off a movement to unite the churches worldwide.

All of these calls for unity among the churches does indeed present problems for us. After all, we have ties established with different groups around the world, and there is nothing wrong with that; we must share the truth of God’s Word as He has given it to us. But today’s calls for unity stress unity as being more important than maintaining the truth of God’s Word.

The churches seem all too willing to seek compromise on basic beliefs if only it can somehow lead to the much sought-after unity. The churches must be willing to give up some of what they hold as true in order to build bridges between themselves and the neighboring church world.

Churches spend much time and effort in an attempt to develop a dialogue which will result in a sound basis of union between them. Each side seems somewhat reluctant to get the ball rolling, and for now, that may be the case; however, once the ball does start to roll, the effect will be similar to a row of dominoes; all the churches will fall into line.

One thing no one wants to bring up anymore is any differences between churches. All attempts are made to steer clear of any negative comments. Everything has to be up-beat and positive. Any differences which do exist between churches are toned down.

The areas of common ground are stressed. After all, with the church world united as one super church it is easy to imagine, or so they say, the good that could come from that. We could quite possibly have a heaven on earth.

Dr. Ronald Runcie in his sermon on the occasion of his enthronement as 102nd Archbishop of Canterbury declared that his archiepiscopate would be dedicated to building bridges between God and man, between the secular and the spiritual in society, and between the churches of divided Christendom.

And as if to prove that last point, a wider spectrum of Christian churches were present in Canterbury Cathedral than at any previous enthronement ceremony since the Reformation. There were also five Roman Catholic cardinals, a large group from the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental churches, together with leaders of the Lutheran and Reformed churches, the Free Churches of Britain, and even representatives of the Jewish, Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh faiths.

Perhaps there is no one in the church world today who seems to be advocating unity more than the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul 11. He is fast moving to the forefront in this regard.

The Grand Rapids Press of February 21, 1981, quotes parts of a speech given by Pope John Paul II in Manila. He declared that the Roman Catholic Church accepts the truth and goodness in Asia’s major religions; and he called for dialogue and cooperation among Christians, Buddhists, Moslems, and Hindus.

In what Vatican sources described as the most far-reaching call for interfaith dialogue ever made by a pontiff, Pope Paul said the church “wishes to do everything possible to cooperate with other believers in preserving all that is good in their religions and culture” so that all people may live “as brothers and sisters”.

As a result of these and other efforts, there is a profound change taking place in the entire world which also has its effect on us. The idea of church unity is fast becoming more and more appealing. And we can be sure that just such an effort is the result of the devil and his hosts working while there is still time, for they know that they have but a short time.

However, we know that scripture assures us that God will always have His remnant that will not bow the knee. We should pray without ceasing that our churches will receive grace from our Heavenly Father so that we may remain true to Him and His Word. As John writes in Rev. 14:12, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus”.