The second week of July 2000 saw a new stride in the advancing ecumenical movement, as Lutherans and Episcopalians voted to effectively unite their denominations. While each church will retain its name, pastors and pulpits will be freely shared.
It should be remembered that both Episcopalians (in England called Anglicans) as well as Lutherans have signed agreements of doctrinal harmony with the Roman Catholic Church. By their adoption last year of the "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification," Lutherans have effectively apologized for the Protestant Reformation. Earlier last year, Anglicans acknowledged the Pope to be the "universal primate" of the Church.
What has happened this past week merely moves this process one step further.
We think of a Bible prediction that some students see applicable to this situation:
"And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach" (Isa. 4:1).
Could this refer to the apostate Christian churches coming to Christ in the last days, asking to be called by His name despite the eating of their own bread (false doctrines) and the wearing of their own garments (their own righteousness)?
As we have seen before, Inspiration has predicted these same developments:
"When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to support their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result." (The Great Controversy, p. 445).
Mad Cow Disease Again
The July 16, 2000 broadcast of the CBS Evening News reported a new outbreak of the so-called Mad Cow Disease in a community not far from London. According to British authorities, it appears that this disease has been transmitted to schoolchildren and others through school lunches. A number have died already because of the new outbreak of this illness, and it is estimated that many more will. In this particular community it is estimated that as many as 20 percent of the young people may have this disease.
Looking forward to the coming of Jesus, Inspiration predicted:
"Disease in animals is increasing in proportion to the increase of wickedness among men. The time is near when, because of the iniquity of the fallen race, the whole animal creation will groan under the diseases that curse our earth" (Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 366).
AIDS in Africa
The recently concluded AIDS conference in South Africa focused in large measure on the spread of this disease in sub-Sahara Africa. It appears that the vast majority of AIDS victims in the world live throughout black Africa. Among other things, those in attendance at this conference estimated that soon the average life expectancy for young Africans will be no more than 30, unless something drastic arrests the rising incidence of AIDS, most of which is caused by sinful human behavior.
The Associated Press reported on July 14 in its story about the AIDS conference:
"In general, experts know how to stop AIDS: Educate people about how the disease spreads. Promote condom use. Discourage promiscuity. Control other sexually transmitted diseases. Treat pregnant women."
Speaking of the last days, our Lord prophesied:
"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places" (Matt. 24:7).
We can sadly expect that AIDS and other fatal diseases will continue to flourish and claim millions more victims in poverty-stricken third-world nations as the final events near. >
More Savage Weather
The first two weeks of July 2000 saw more outbreaks of bizarre and destructive weather patterns. Windstorms and floods in the American Midwest (including the cancellation of over 200 flights at Chicago's O'Hare airport in early July), the worst drought in 100 years in the American Southeast, as well as forest fires in Greece and Bulgaria brought on by excessively dry conditionsall continue the pattern of strange and harsh weather this newsletter has chronicled for many months.
Again we recount the inspired prediction:
"Even now he [Satan] is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. . . . These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous" (The Great Controversy, pp. 589, 590).