Judged out of Their Own Mouth
REPRESENTING all of Europe’s professed Christian churches, 638 delegates met last May in Basel, Switzerland, for the European Ecumenical Assembly “Peace With Justice.” They adopted, by a vote of 94.5 percent, a final document that can therefore be viewed as a consensus document of European Christendom. Let this document answer a few questions we might appropriately ask. (The numbers in parentheses refer to document sections.)
Are these churches worshiping the one true God, Jehovah, and maintaining proper Christian unity?
“We owe our life to God the Creator, the triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit; who in his mercy has revealed himself to humanity in Jesus Christ. Irrespective of persisting confessional differences we all share in this faith.” (21)
“As a result of baptism and the response in faith to the hearing of God’s word, we Christians are already one in Christ, even though we are not yet in full communion. We seek to overcome the differences which still exist in doctrine and practice in order to come to a full communion.” (39)
“We have failed to overcome the divisions among the churches and have often misused the authority and power given to us to strengthen limited and false solidarities like racism, sexism and nationalism.” (43)
Have they lived up to their claim of being followers of the Prince of Peace?
“As Christians we believe that true peace will be granted by walking with Christ, even though we often shy away from following him to the end. His renunciation of violence flows from that love which seeks even the enemy in order to transform him or her and to overcome enmity as well as violence. This love is ready to suffer in an active way. It exposes the unjust character of the act of violence, makes accountable those who use violence and draws the enemy into a relationship of peace.” (32)
“We have caused wars and have failed to use all opportunities of working towards reconciliation and mediation; we have condoned and often too easily justified wars.” (43)
“Schisms and religious strife have had a great impact on European history. Many wars have been religious wars. Millions of men and women have been tortured and killed for their beliefs.” (48)
Have they followed Jesus’ example of speaking truth, seeking righteousness, and showing respect for life and God’s creation?
“Churches and Christians have failed in many respects and have not always lived up to the standards of God’s calling sometimes even failing to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ . . . For too long we have been blind to the implications and demands of the Gospel in respect to justice, peace and the integrity of creation.” (42)
“We have failed to witness to God’s care for all and every creature and to develop a life-style expressing our self-understanding as part of God’s creation.” (43)
Are they ignorant of the reason for world problems?
“What are the root causes of the threats we are facing today? . . . The real causes . . . are to be sought in the very heart of humankind, in human attitudes and mentalities.” (18, 19)
“The impasses in which we find ourselves ultimately have their roots in the fact that God’s ways have been abandoned.” (41)
Despite this admission, are they turning their back on rule by man and putting their trust in God’s established Kingdom?
“Three important and momentous developments call for special attention: the improvement of East-West relations in the CSCE [Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe] process; the democratic reforms in the Soviet Union and other East European countries; the process of Western European integration (Single European Act, which takes full effect as of the beginning of 1993).” (51)
“The international framework of the United Nations should be made more effective. They have proven that they can be helpful in solving regional conflicts, in assisting the development efforts of many countries, in dealing with environmental problems. Therefore, there is a need for the governments of the world to increase their support of the United Nations and to translate this support into tangible form.” (83)
Is there any indication that they may change their policy of political involvement in the near future?
“1992 will moreover mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of a period of European expansion to the detriment of other peoples. This calls us to work for a just and peaceful relationship both between the countries within Europe and between Europe and the other parts of the world in particular the Middle East for which Europe bears much historic responsibility. We urge our churches to support the struggle of the people in Latin America, Africa and Asia for social justice, human dignity and the preservation of their environment.” (84n)
What is the Bible principle to be applied in judging the religions that drew up this final document?
Matthew 12:37 says: “By your words you will be declared righteous, and by your words you will be condemned.” (See also Luke 19:22.) How does European Christendom measure up? Do her words declare her righteous, or do they condemn her? In view of the above quotations, can there be any doubt?
[Picture Credit Line on page 19]
Swiss National Tourist Office