Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Not in Left Field--Up in the Bleachers
When I was at Gordon-Conwell back in the early 80s, I remember being a bit surpised that Dr. Richard Lovelace, one of the great historians of spritual renewal (remember his Dynamics of Spiritual Life? it's still a classic) had a very high opinion of the IRD. I often see the IRD trashed by the theo-left as they describe an organization that I scarcely recognize. I guess nobody likes watchdogs if you're the one being watched...
IRD: World Council of Churches Still Out in Left Field
Allie Martin & Jody BrownAgapePress
An official with the Institute on Religion and Democracy says the recent meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) is further proof that the organization favors social issues over the spreading of the gospel. The Institute also is taking issue with a "letter of penitence" offered by representatives of U.S.-based denominations at the gathering.
Every seven years, the WCC holds its general conference. Last month the WCC met for ten days in Brazil. During the course of the conference, the 350 member denominations of the World Council criticized the use of military forces to fight terrorism, denounced the U.S.-led war on terrorism, and also called for more projects and dialogue between Muslims and Christians. Mark Tooley, director of the United Methodist Action Committee of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), says the WCC's actions are alarming, but not surprising.
"Unfortunately, for at least the last 40 years, the World Council -- rather than focusing on Christian evangelism and unity -- has instead turned very sharply to the theological left and focuses on radical liberation theologies that very often tend to be very anti-Western and anti-American," says Tooley.
Despite the somewhat expected nature of the announcements, the IRD spokesman says they should be cause alarm for any Christian whose denomination is in the liberal organization. "If you're a member of one of the 34 [U.S.-based] denominations who belong to the World Council of Churches, you need to find out how much money your denomination is giving to the [WCC]," he suggests.
"Fortunately the amount given by U.S. churches... has gone down over recent years, but it's still somewhat significant," Tooley continues. "I believe, for example, Methodists give the World Council at least several hundred thousand dollars a year."
Representatives from the 34 U.S.-based churches in the WCC apologized to other nations for the U.S.-led war in Iraq. In fact, that group issued a letter -- written in the form of a penitential rite -- asking God's forgiveness for America's war-related policies and charging the Bush administration with grave sins against the environment and the poor.
IRD interim president Alan Wisdom says while confession of sin is "a duty" for all Christians, "it is our own sins that we should confess -- not the sins for which we wish to fault our political opponents."
Wisdom asserts the penitence expressed by the denominations' representatives is false. "These church leaders are not confessing their own sins; they are trying to confess the sins of George W. Bush, who never asked them to perform that service for him," he says. "Nor did the members of their own churches ask them to make this kind of statement on their behalf." The IRD leader calls the letter a "blatant political abuse of the sacred Christian rite of confession."
Denominations represented during the oral reading of the letter to the full WCC Assembly included the United Church of Christ, the Orthodox Church in America, Church of the Brethren, and Disciples of Christ. That contingent stated the letter also had the consensus support of other U.S. delegations at the conference, including the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Episcopal Church (USA).
To that list could be added the delegation of the ABCUSA. The WCC isn't just out in left field...they're up in the bleachers.