number 5, december 9, 1998

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Evangelicals liken WCC to a polygamist husband

By Martha M. Cruz

The WCC was likened yesterday to a polygamist husband who, after failing to come to terms with his wife and children, builds a new homestead and takes on a new family instead.

The image came from evangelicals following the council’s proposal to create a forum allowing for increased participation of non-member churches and ecumenical organisations

"After a marriage of 50 years ... (the husband) fails to get consensus in his homestead and he goes for a soft option," said Nima Joyce, an assembly delegate from the Anglican Church of the Province of Uganda, inm her address to a Padare on "Evangelicals and the Ecumenical Movement".

"He marries another wife ... (but) since he is the same, weak-willed, weak coordinator, the problems (of) the first marriage will resurface as soon as the honeymoon is over."

The offering, sponsored by the assembly’s Visitors Program, continued discussion on several controversial issues that have surfaced in the assembly, notably in the areas of human sexuality, women, and ongoing relationships among the WCC member churches.

The group’s leaders, expressing dissatisfaction with what they consider the predominantly liberal Protestant focus of the WCC, invited participants to other presentations scheduled throughout Wednesday, including a Padare on Orthodox-evangelical dialogue, sponsored by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

In her address, Diane L. Knippers, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (USA), who is attending the assembly as an accredited journalist, offered literature from her organisation.

"There are glaring omissions in the political and social agenda of the ecumenical movement and one of the major omissions is the persecution of the church," Knippers said. "Officials from the WCC go to Khartoum and have conversations with the government of Sudan and don’t address the situation of Christians there. The WCC has a shameful record on this subject.

"We came here with the mandate of the positions held by our churches on issues," said Joyce, who was one of several presenters. "There are big questions about the methodology and spirit in which the ecumenical movement is working."

She challenged the WCC to take all issues "back to the foot of the cross and see what the Bible has to say" rather than discussing "global issues as ecumenical issues."

An example, she said, was the "Living Letter" to the WCC Assembly presented on behalf of the Decade Festival participants.

"When the issue of sexuality was raised (at the Festival), by a representative of the lesbian movement who was not even a church delegate, the African delegates called a meeting to deliberate. Orthodox women, Latin American women, Arab women joined our deliberations.

"We came up with a position that was not even mentioned. The position expressed in (the statement presented to the assembly) was not the position of the majority."

Other evangelicals acknowleged they have significant theological differences with Orthodox Christians but hope to find common theological ground with them.

"We want to be taken seriously by the Orthodox," said a Pentecostal from Romania. "Our goal is not to steal (members) from Orthodox churches, but to fulfill the Great Commission and reach souls. There are many evangelicals in Romania who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and stay in the Orthodox Church."

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Read other articles in this issue:

Help create fair world -- Mugabe
Evangelicals liken WCC to a polygamist husband
They work for peace in cities
Churches should defend the voiceless
Received by the President
Human chain to cancel debt
Indian delegates retrace footsteps of St Thomas
Making peace possible
Mugabe's liberty bell cracked

8th Assembly and 50th Anniversary

copyright 1998 World Council of Churches. Remarks to webeditor