More Ecumenical News
Lutherans and Catholics have now signed a "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification," in a major step toward ecumenical harmony reported in the October 30, 1999 edition of the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Dr. John Ford, a Catholic theologian who participated in the talks leading to the accord, stated that Martin Luther "had a good point" in his objection to the sale of indulgences. "Certainly no one can sell the grace of Christ" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, Oct. 30, 199, p. A-14). (Ford had best take up his argument with the Vatican itself, which as we reported in the November Trumpet Heraldhas only recently released a new manual on how indulgences can be earned.)
The Lutheran agreement with Catholics follows similar agreements between Lutherans and the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Reformed Church in America, and the United Church of Christ (Ibid.).
Meanwhile an article titled "Christians, unite!", appearing in the November 15, 1999 issue of U.S. News & World Report, declares that now "the ecumenical movement is broader than its founders ever imagined" when, fifty years ago, the National Council of Churches was formed (p. 100). The article notes that despite the relative powerlessness of the NCC in recent times, ecumenical strides have accelerated far beyond what early ecumenical thinkers envisioned.
The following statement makes it clear exactly why agreement between Protestants and Catholics on this issue is impossible. Quoting again from the Riverside Press Enterprise:
"Salvation is like a spiritual bank account, said Ford, who teaches at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The key difference between Catholics and Lutherans is who can make withdrawals. The Catholic Church emphasizes receiving salvation through the mediation of the church, 'kind of a middle man,' Ford said. Lutherans believe in a direct connection between the believer and God" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, Oct. 30, 1999, p. 14-A).
Since the papacy has in no way relinquished its stand on this pointthe core issue of the Reformationone wonders what they and the Lutherans really have to talk about.
Inspiration declares: "Let it be remembered, it is the boast of Rome that she never changes" (The Great Controversy, p. 581).
Speaking of the end-time Catholic-Protestant union, she declares, "This union will not, however, be effected by a change in Catholicism, for Rome never changes. She claims infallibility. It is Protestantism that will change" (Review and Herald, June 1, 1886).
The first of November witnessed more senseless violence as a disgruntled worker in Honolulu opened fire on fellow workers at a Xerox officethe worst massacre in Hawaii's recorded history. The following day, November 3, another gunman opened fire on workers at a shipyard in Seattle, Washington. That gunman is still at large as we go to press.
Again the words of the modern prophet come to mind: "The land [before the Flood] was filled with violence. War, crime, murder, was the order of the day. Just so it will be before Christ's second coming" (SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1090).
Accidents and Natural Disasters
The world was again stunned October 31 by another mystery plane crash, as EgyptAir Flight 990 plunged to its death in the waters off Long Island, New York, killing everyone on board. As we go to press, it remains a mysterylike so many other crashesas to how and why this happened.
Shortly thereafter, another planethis one smallercrashed in central Mexico, again killing all passengers.
The October 26, 1999 broadcast of the CBS Evening News reported observations from the U.S. Weather Bureau regarding the winter to come. The Bureau spokesman described "more wacky weather" likely to beset the country in coming monthsunnatural warmth in some places and extreme cold in others. The November 1 broadcast of the CBS Evening News likewise reported that the year 2000 is likely to see even more hurricanes and destructive stormsperhaps several hurricanes significantly stronger than the dreaded Hurricane Andrew of 1992.
November 12 witnessed yet another earthquake in western Turkey, this one registered at 7.2 on the Richter scale. Due to its occurrence in a less populated region, the death toll this time only reached the hundreds rather than thousands.
Again, inspiration warns:
"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).
"Disasters by rail will become more and more frequent; confusion, collision, and death without a moment's warning will occur on the great lines of travel. The end is near, probation is closing. Oh let us seek God while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near" (Messages to Young People, p. 90).
More News of Killer Beef
According to a November 11 report on CNN, it is now estimated by U.S. meat inspectorscontrary to earlier optimistic estimatesthat at least 50 percent of beef sold in the United States contains an E. coli bacteria which is responsible for at least 60 deaths and countless illnesses per year.
As we see the abounding of human wickedness, the following inspired prediction comes to mind:
"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).