Insight on the News
In Budapest, Hungary, in October 1986, 15 Catholic theologians and philosophers met with 15 Marxist intellectuals. The meeting was convened by the Vatican Secretariat for Unbelievers and the Hungarian Academy of Science to discuss the evolution of moral values.
Among the Catholics present were French Cardinal Poupard, chairman of the Secretariat for Unbelievers, and Austrian Cardinal Koenig, a specialist on the Catholic Church’s relations with communist nations. The Marxists included the heads of the Hungarian Institute of Philosophy and of the Soviet Institute of Scientific Atheism.
The French daily Le Monde reported: “Marxist intellectuals recognize that they are faced with a crisis of moral values, the seriousness of which they measure by the number of suicides, the use of drugs, and the consumption of alcohol. According to the Catholic delegation, in their search for a solution they [the Marxists] are counting on the cooperation of the Christian churches. On the Roman [Catholic] side, the twofold purpose was to evaluate better how man and morals fit into a Marxist society and to ‘examine the moral basis for concrete coexistence between Christians in the Eastern [communist] countries and Marxists.’”
The true solution to the moral problems of the day will not be found in conferences between conflicting ideologies. Rather, it will be found when Jehovah’s Kingdom in the hands of his Son, Jesus, overturns the present system of things, building in its place a new world under that heavenly Kingdom.—Daniel 2:44; Revelation 21:4, 5.
Liberation theology—a movement that condones violence as a way to “liberate the poor and oppressed,” especially in the Third World, is becoming more popular. This was the topic of discussion at the Second International Assembly of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians held in Oaxtepec, Mexico, December 8-13, 1986. Why are these religious scholars more determined as to their goals for social change than ever before?
Although in 1985 the Vatican released an instruction condemning liberation theology, the Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation sent out in 1986 stated that it is “perfectly legitimate that those who suffer oppression on the part of the wealthy or politically powerful take action.” “Armed struggle” is now approved of as a “last resort.”
However, while on earth, did Jesus Christ get involved in the world’s social movements? No, on the contrary, when the apostle Peter resorted to “the sword” to defend God’s Son, Jesus rebuked him by saying: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) The Bible promises that true liberation will come through divine intervention when God rids the world not only of poverty, international strife, racial discrimination, and oppression but also of tears, pain, sorrow, and death. (Revelation 21:4) Surely, this will be true liberation!
Baptism of Children Refused
A German Protestant minister from Frankfurt recently informed church authorities that he henceforth would refuse “to baptize unaware children of his parish.” Explaining why his own baptism as an infant was not worthy of the name baptism, 58-year-old Klaus Hoffmann said: “It neither fulfilled the prerequisite of a Biblical baptism, that is faith, nor had the right symbol, namely immersion.” In support of his view, he chose to be rebaptized and thus “underwent the Biblical baptism of immersion,” reports the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
At first, church officials suspended Hoffmann from all duties, but the judgment was commuted to “a leave of three months for research purposes.” With what results? The newspaper reports that his further research on the matter only confirmed “that within the Bible there is no support for infant baptism. Also, writings of the first Christians are silent as to the introduction of this act until the third century.”
Not surprisingly, religious authorities cite tradition as the basis for this act. However, in spite of these facts, infant baptism continues to be practiced throughout much of Christendom. Does such clerical support make it right? Jesus instructed his followers to baptize, not babies, but believers who were taught to keep all his commandments. He himself was not a baby but “about thirty years old” when he was immersed in the waters of the Jordan River.—Luke 3:21-23; Matthew 28:19, 20.