On March 26, 2012, Reformed pastor John Armstrong and Catholic Cardinal George of Chicago will come together at Wheaton College for “A Conversation on Unity in Christ’s Mission.” The flyer you see to the left reads: “An evening of dialogue exploring the common ground and current challenges that face Catholics and evangelical Protestants in Christian faith and mission.” The event came about last summer when Armstrong met with Cardinal George and asked him, “Would you join me in a public venue to further discuss this idea of missional-ecumenism?” The Cardinal agreed, and thus the “Conversation” at Wheaton in March.
A little background to our concerns: On July 23, 2007, Lighthouse Trails wrote an article titled, “John Armstrong ‘Enjoys’ Emergent Village Experience ‘Immensely.’” The article relayed that Armstrong had once read the unpublished manuscript of A Time of Departing and given Ray Yungen a hearty endorsement of the book. He told Ray at that time, in 2001, that he might even be able to get Harvest House to publish the book if Ray would remove chapter 6 of the book (the chapter on the “End of the Age”). Ray decided not to remove that chapter, and a year later, Lighthouse Trails was birthed and published the book. Our 2007 article explained our surprise that John Armstrong had begun to resonate with the emerging church, so much so that he called Tony Jones’ contemplative mystical promoting book The Sacred Way “excellent.”1
We found it astonishing that someone who had said a few years earlier that Ray Yungen was right-on in his deductions of contemplative prayer and found A Time of Departing to be exceptional could now be calling Jones’ book “excellent” and making statements to indicate he felt a spiritual comradeship with emerging church figures. It made no sense.
Fast forward to 2012 and the “Conversation on Unity” to be held at Wheaton College this spring. As Lighthouse Trails has documented for several years, the emerging church and the contemplative prayer movement are roads to Rome (i.e., a path for evangelicals and Protestants to unite with the Catholic Church). We cannot say whether John Armstrong has himself practiced contemplative prayer, which is an eastern-style meditation prayer method. But we believe that Armstrong’s resonance in 2007 with emerging contemplative mystics was connected to Armstrong’s desire to find “common ground” with the Catholic church.
Lest you think that we are being too quick to determine that Armstrong is on the road to Rome, consider this: On his personal blog, earlier in January 2012, Armstrong wrote the following:
There is a long history behind the worldwide call to prayer for Christian unity but I became acutely aware of the history of this call at the Center for Unity in Rome last March. Then in June . . . I visited the grave site of Fr. Paul Wattson, the man who launched this global week of prayer for Christian unity. As deeply interested as I am in this subject I am pleased to share news today from the Vatican Information Service of January 18. The Pope’s comments provide a gracious reminder of our common duty to the whole of Christ’s Church, not just our own communion or fellowship. 2
Armstrong then posted an article from the Vatican news, which in part stated:
Ecumenism, as defined by Vatican Council II and Blessed John Paul II, is “the responsibility of the entire Church and of all the baptised, who must augment the partial communion that already exists among Christians until achieving full communion in truth and charity. Praying for unity . . . must then be an integral part of the prayer life of all Christians, in all times and places, especially when people from different traditions come together to work for victory in Christ over sin, evil, injustice and the violation of human dignity.”3
This article is referring to the New Evangelization of the Eucharistic Christ that Roger Oakland documents in Another Jesus. This is a zealous effort by the Roman Catholic Church to “win back the lost brethren” to the “Mother Church.”
Why is that such a big deal that we, as Bible believing Christians, should pay attention to this? Because the “Eucharistic Christ” of the New Evangelization program is not the Jesus Christ of the Bible, and the “gospel” it brings is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Bible. Rather it is a false gospel that will mislead followers away from the only means of salvation, which is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and justifies a man by faith alone.
John Armstrong and a host of other evangelical figures who are following suit must not realize what they are doing. They should recall that many of those martyred by the Catholic Church were martyred because they would not say that Jesus was in a wafer, nor would they adhere to a works-based gospel. What would those martyrs say today if they could address evangelical/Protestant pastors and leaders who are marching off to Rome? Is this not a slap in the face to those who died, making their torturous, violent deaths of less avail? Though no less in God’s eyes, it makes those deaths less in man’s eyes. For what reason did they die, some will now ask? To stand against the doctrines of the Catholic church? But surely this is nothing worth dying for, and in fact perhaps it is something worth living for, they will mistakenly say.
To understand more about the New Evangelization plan for the “lost brethren,” we are posting here the entire chapter 6 of Roger Oakland’s book, Another Jesus. We hope you will take time to study this issue through the lens of Scripture. We believe if you do you will see why ecumenical “Conversations” to find common ground with Roman Catholicism will bring no good fruit for the furtherance of the Gospel.