The Trumpet Herald is a commentary on certain current events in the light of inspired prophecy.
The "Outlook" section of the August 30, 1999 issue of U.S. News & World Report led with the headline, "A step toward Christian unity," as it reported the recent accord between Lutherans and Episcopalians, voted at the church-wide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Denver, Colorado, on August 19. The August 20, 1999 edition of The Los Angeles Times ran the same story on the front page.
While both denominations will maintain separate organizations and structures, clergy will be interchangeable. Joint missionary and service projects will also be carried forward (Los Angeles Times) Aug. 20, 1999, p. A28). Both denominations already share the partaking of sacraments.
The U.S. News story reported the merger as bridging "a centuries-old rift between two major branches of American Protestantism, breathing new life into the worldwide ecumenical movement" (U.S. News, Aug. 30, 1999, p, 15).
Since in 1997 the Lutherans entered into full communion with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Reformed Church in America, they will serve as an important ecumenical link between a number of merging religious communities (Ibid.). When one also considers the recent acknowledgment of the Anglicans (Episcopalians in the U.S.) that the Pope is the "universal primate" of the church, it becomes clearer just where these mergers are eventually leading.
The inspired pen lets us know exactly where this accelerating unity between denominations will finally lead:
"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 enforce their decrees and 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).
The public schools are increasingly becoming the arena for conflict over the separation of church and state. This fall, as reported by the Council on Religious Freedom (CRF), the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case from Louisiana titled Helms vs. Jackson. Supporters of the suit which spawned this case seek to prevent government from giving aid to religious schools -
According to Freedom Alert, a quarterly newsletter of the Council, this case would well become "the most important church-state lawsuit to come before the Supreme Court in the last two decades" (Freedom Alert, Summer 1999, p. 2). At a time when school voucher programs and so-called "charitable choice" initiatives continue to weaken the wall between church and state, it is understandable why the CRF newsletter warns that this case "could have immediate and widespread practical consequences across the nation" (Ibid. p. 3).
As the Council's newsletter correctly warns, government aid leads necessarily to government regulation. What the state funds it has the right, indeed the duty, to control, While conservative Christians might wish for their hard-earned tax dollars to help fund religious institutions, perhaps too few have considered the adverse consequences of accepting these funds.
On a related front, the recent decision by the Kansas State Board of Education barring the teaching of evolution in Kansas public schools, seems to be an overreaction that may damage the wall between church and state. It should be noted that the Kansas decision did not give creationism equal time in the public schools as a commonly-accepted theory supported with scientific evidence, alongside the theory of evolution. Rather, this decision bans evolution from being mentioned in statewide tests (see U.S. News, Aug. 30, 1999, p. 32). While we believe the theory of evolution to be false and acceptance of it to be damaging to a faith in the literal accuracy of the Bible, it seems it would be more responsible and faithful to our heritage of free expression to have responsible proponents of both evolution and special creation to be allowed present their views (possibly in written format and on tests) rather than a ban on one or the other .
Again we cite the words of the modern prophet, written more than a century ago, that illustrate the dilemma of maintaing respect for the religious freedom of the individual while at the same time maintaining loyalty to Bible truth:
"While I do not see the justice nor light in enforcing by law the bringing [of] the Bible to be read in the public schools, yet there are some things which burden my mind in regard to . . . [God's] people making prominent their ideas on this point. . . . I remember particularly this point: That anything that should give the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent, should not be obstructed at all" (Spaulding and Magan Collection, p. 8).
"In the study of science, as generally pursued, there are dangers equally great. Evolution and its kindred errors are taught in schools of every grade, from the kindergarten to the college. Thus the study of science, which should impart a knowledge of God, is so mingled with the speculations and theories of men that it tends to infidelity" (Education, p. 227).
"Inferences erroneously drawn from facts observed in nature have, however, led to supposed conflict between science and revelation; and in the effort to restore harmony, interpretations of Scripture have been adopted that undermine and destroy the force of the word of God. Geology has been thought to contradict the literal interpretation of the Mosaic record of the creation. Millions of years, it is claimed, were required for the evolution of the earth from chaos; and in order to accommodate the Bible to this supposed revelation of science, the days of creation are assumed to have been vast, indefinite periods, covering thousands or even millions of years.
"Such a conclusion is wholly uncalled for. The Bible record is in harmony with itself and with the teaching of nature. Of the first day employed in the work of creation is given the record, "The evening and the morning were the first day." Genesis 1:5. And the same in substance is said of each of the first six days of creation week. Each of these periods Inspiration declares to have been a day consisting of evening and morning, like every other day since that time. In regard to the work of creation itself the divine testimony is, "He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast." Psalm 33:9. With Him who could thus call into existence unnumbered worlds, how long a time would be required for the evolution of the earth from chaos? In order to account for His works, must we do violence to His word?" (Education pp. 128, 129).
Nature's Savagery Rages On
Late August and the first weeks of September witnessed further acceleration of natural disasters. The savage Turkish earthquakes by now claiming more than 20,000 lives was followed by another in Turkey, and by yet another earthquake in Athens, Greece, which claimed more than 60 lives. Hurricanes Bret, Dennis, and Floyd caused extensive flooding on the Texas and the eastern U.S. coasts and yet another hurricane appears headed for Florida at the time of this writing.. Further devastation was inflicted by massive wildfires in at least six Western U.S. states during the same time period.
Again, from the words of the prophet:
"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).