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Doctrine in dialogue format
many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased
In today's episode we find Pastor Leo discussing current events with Pastor Ottoman Hassock. Listen:
"I've got something to show you Leo. Take a look at this, it's something I copied off the web last night."
"Yes Otto, I've seen this before, or something similar. It's really nothing new, and as far as I can see it's pretty well in line with Biblical prophesy."
"I don't see how this drive toward Ecumenicalism is in the Bible Leo. I know a political amalgamation is prophesied, but not a religious one."
"Doesn't the Bible say there will be a resurgence of the Roman Empire Otto? What was the Church's role at that time? Wasn't it amalgamated then? Doesn't the word catholic mean all-encompassing? Doesn't that sound to you like the direction and purpose of Ecumenicalism, to be universal in nature?"
"I suppose it does Leo, but I don't like it. I look at the Universalist church and see how it isn't a church at all, just a group of people meeting under the banner of the church. It makes my blood boil to see how they're deceiving the people and minimizing.... You're grinning Leo, did I say something funny?"
"Yes Otto, I guess in a way you did."
"Ok Leo, let me in on the joke. What do you find funny in what I said?"
"Well, I just couldn't help thinking of that old saying, the pot calling the kettle black. But I really shouldn't be thinking such things, not with an old friend at least."
"Ok Leo, you got me. How do you figure I'm at all like the Universalists. That is what you're getting at isn't it?"
"I don't mean you're like the Universalists Otto. Not yet at least. But as I see it, that's the direction you as well as so many other of the mainline churches are taking, only you don't realize it."
"That's a hard statement Leo. And not a statement I can let slide by. Tell me how I or my church is anywhere near like the Universalist church. We have a firm belief in Jesus and salvation. We don't incorporate all the other religions and philosophies. Can you deny this?"
"No Otto, I can't deny your basic tenets are fully Christian, but your essential philosophy is right next door to the Universalists, which in my opinion makes you one step away from accepting Ecumenicalism if, and what's more likely, when it should be forced on the churches if they are to continue to exist."
"Have you taken any trips to Mars lately Leo? Your talking way out there and making no sense at all. Maybe it's time you visited a head doctor and had a little chat with him."
"Maybe you're right Otto, but my sanity or lack of it doesn't change the facts. The church is snowballing its way into Ecumenicalism. And it, like you, is totally unaware of what its doing, yet it's pointing the finger at those in who's footsteps they are following."
"Ok Leo, I'll bite. Tell me how I'm walking in the footsteps of the Universalists. If you can show me one way I'm doing this I'll buy you a cup of coffee. But if you can't, then you're indebted to me a cup of espresso."
"That's a deal Otto. First, I want you to turn around and look behind you."
"Look behind me? Why, there's nothing there but a blank wall. What's behind me?"
"There's a long history behind you Otto, a history that should tell us where we've been, where we are, and where we're going. But because we don't look back at our history, we fail to see where we are and where we're headed. We condemn the ones who have already fallen over the precipice that we are rushing headlong toward."
"This is going to be a mighty fine cup of coffee you're about to owe me Leo. You still don't make any sense."
"That's because you're not looking behind you Otto. Look back about a hundred years, a hundred years ago in your own denomination. What do you see? What was your church like at that time?"
"My church? A hundred years ago? I'd say it was just about like it is now, but without the microphones and the amplifiers. What are you getting at Leo? What changes do you see?"
"Just considering the superficial, what has happened to the choir? What has become of the respect for the Lord and for the sanctuary? What's become of the alter call? Where is the true praise and the all night calls to worship? Consider the teenage rock bands and the coffee clutches, symbols of the world rather than of the Holy Nation, the set-apart ones the Church is supposed to be. These are only symptoms I know, but they are part of the change that shows our direction."
"You're reaching beyond your grasp Leo. The church you talk about went out with straw on the floor and the tent meeting. Times change, and the church has to change with it in order to survive. We haven't brought the world into the church as you surmise. All that you described is simply a minor compromise in order to bring the people into the church. The purpose of the Church is to bring people to salvation, that is, to get them baptized and into the family of God, isn't that correct? And that's just what we're doing, getting the people into the baptismal tank."
"You've brought to bear two of the essential points I'm trying to make Otto. One, you say the purpose of the Church is to get people baptized. This is not so. The purpose of the Church is to get people holy, separated, like Jesus, ready to be in the presence of God. You think a dip in the pool is all it takes to accomplish this. I firmly disagree. The only difference between you and the Universalists is the baptismal tank. They believe everybody will be saved in the end, you believe everybody will be saved - if they've bothered to get themselves wet. The other issue is compromise. Compromise is the essence of Ecumenicalism. The Ecumenical movement is an attempt to have all the churches compromise their values, their beliefs, and to all think the same way. In order to do this everyone has to surrender their firm beliefs and settle for a common denominator. This common denominator is the Universalist view. Do I still have to buy you that cup of coffee Otto?"
"Two cups Leo. I don't see your point at all. Jesus Himself said we should be baptized if we want to see the Kingdom of Heaven and to be saved. All the rest of the picture is of little consequence. But it's time I get back to the church and prepare for tonight's service. It's been delightful as usual Leo, and that cup of espresso is going to taste exceptionally good. I'll see you next week, same time same place then?"
"It's a date Otto. But I would like to add one word more if I may. Take all the Universalists, convince them to step into the baptismal tank, and what do you have, according to your way of thinking? Wouldn't you then have a saved Universalist? Give it some thought Otto, and I'll buy you that espresso next week."
2And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. 4But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (Dan 12:)
15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (2Tim 2:)
1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:)
7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar ["Saved, purchased"] people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1Peter 2:)
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