The church now becomes powerful, very powerful.

The second part of the Confession of 1967 is entitled, “The Ministry of Reconciliation.” It is divided into two sections-Section A, “The Mission of the Church,” and Section B, “The Equipment of the Church.”

Everything revolves around “the church.” The section opens: “To be reconciled to God is to be sent into the world as his reconciling community. This community, the church universal, is entrusted with God’s message of reconciliation and shares his labor of healing the enmities which separate men from God and from each other.”

One immediately observes the major difference between this emphasis upon the church and what we find in the Westminster Confession. There the emphasis is primarily upon the individual and the work of grace in the life of the individual. It is not until Chapter XXV that there is a section dealing with the church. Instead, the Westminster document deals with the matters of justification, adoption, sanctification, saving faith, repentance unto life, good works, perseverance of the saints, assurance of grace and salvation, the law of God, Christian liberty and liberty of conscience, religious worship and the Christian Sabbath, the civil magistrate, marriage and divorce. It is the individual who is redeemed. He gives his testimony, and stands before God justified. He is the one in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost . . . ?” (1 Cor. 6 :19. )

In the new confession, on the other hand, there is very little emphasis on the individual. His new life, we are told, “takes shape in a community.” In the new confession it is the “reconciling” community, and this community “maintains continuity with the apostles and with Israel by faithful obedience to his call.”

But what is this “continuity”; what is “his call”? It is not the infallible Word of God. This would keep continuity. But this sentence is another one of these nebulous ideas which can mean what anybody desires to read into it, and which in this new confession seems to be the direct participation by the church in all manner of political and social action endeavors. In truth, the church maintains continuity with the apostles and with Israel by believing exactly what the apostles and Israel believed and by confessing the same faith that the apostles and prophets maintained. The faith of the apostles should be the faith of the church today, and since the church has expressed this faith in its various creeds through the years and centuries, and especially the Presbyterians in the Westminster Confession of Faith, there is no need or occasion for an abandonment of this faith or a reformulation of the belief of the apostles:

Under the section entitled, “Direction,” the new confession sets before the church an entirely new and untried path to tread, and in doing so it would make out of the church a second Jesus Christ. We read, “The life, death, resurrection, and promised coming of Jesus Christ has set the pattern for the church’s mission.” The pattern of the church’s mission is found in no such parallel. It is found specifically in the Great Commission in which the risen Lord, before His departure into Heaven, told His disciples, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28:18-20).

So far as this pattern is concerned, is the church to have a sinless life such as Christ had; a vicarious death such as our Saviour suffered; a bodily resurrection from the dead, such as His? And then, is the church to come, as He is coming, in the clouds of Heaven? At what point, therefore, is the church to die for sin? At what point is it to be raised from the grave in its present mission? We are confident that the ordinary reader, without a knowledge of the total program and the far-reaching implications of the ecumenical movement, would be at a loss to understand what is involved. Repeatedly, however, the emphasis in the World Couneil of Churches is that the churches must die. The local churches, and individual churches, must die, in order that they may arise in the larger, fuller, organic union of the ecumenical church. And when the church is finally united throughout the whole world, then she will have reached her promised “coming.” The ecumenical movement destroys and devours churches in order that it alone may be “the church.”

That such is the import of this particular parallel and pattern can be seen in this explanation, “In the power of the risen Christ and the hope of his coming the church sees the promise of God’s renewal of man’s life in society and of God’s victory over all wrong.” It is from this thesis that we move out in this section of the 1967 document not to confess a faith but to outline a program of action which is misnamed a confession of faith. The renewal of man’s life in society is the manifesto for the proposed actions in all areas of the current political strife. Thus, there is direction `The church follows this pattern in the form of its life and in the method of its action. So to live and serve is to confess Christ as Lord.” It would seem, therefore, that if one does not follow this pattern and carry out the specific line of action that is here confessed, one would indeed be denying Christ as Lord rather than confessing Him. Indeed, the document comes close to asserting this very thing m the later section dealing with “Reconciliation in Society,” with these words, “. . . the church which identifies the sovereignty of any one nation or any one way of life with the cause of God denies the Lordship of Christ and betrays its calling.” In order, therefore, to reach this ultimate goal, national sovereignties are going to have to be dissolved and some form of international order created which will be the kingdom of God society.

Absent from this new arrangement for the church’s mission is the concept of the church as set forth by the Apostle Paul as being “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3 :15 ) . The truth is the Word of God. This is where the Westminster Confession of Faith started. The. truth is not the church. There is no light in the pillar, or power in the ground. All the truth, all the light, all the power is in the written Word and the living Word, Jesus Christ.

The first real task of the church in its new direction is to deal with its own divisions and internal disunity. It is stated, “The unity of the church is compatible with a wide variety of forms, but it is hidden and distorted when variant forms are allowed to harden into sectarian divisions, exclusive denominations, and rival factions.” The Presbyterians, therefore, now have abandoned any thought of continuing over a period of years to be Presbyterians. What they have cannot be allowed “to harden.” They must be prepared to advance the unity of the church, even within a wide variety of forms. This, therefore, is a clear authorization in the creed, the Confession of 1967, for the implementation necessary for the United Presbyterian Church to become a part of the larger denomination now taking shape under the “Consultation on Church Union.” In this Consultation eight different denominations, as a result of a call issued by Dr. Eugene Carson Blake in the pulpit of Bishop James A. Pike in San Francisco on December 4, 1960, are moving to form one church. In fact, Dr. Blake has indicated repeatedly that this is just the first step in the larger, over-all church unity which will finally result in a reunion of all Protestantism, all Orthodox, all Anglican, and the Roman Catholic Church.

The first sentence under the section of the confession entitled, “Forms and Order,” reads, “The institutions of the people of God change and vary as their mission requires in different times and places.” And the present times and the present places now are requiring that this mission be done in a complete abandonment of exclusive denominations and the dying of the churches as they finally find their resurrection in the unity of a one-world church. In a real and favorable sense, for the ecumenical cause the United Presbyterian Church must die. All churches must die until they all finally live, not to die, in a world superchurch. It is this “coming” great church that will then bring renewal to society. The death of a church is a pattern for building the ecumenical church. In this sense the ecumenical leaders should appreciate the title of this book, The Death of a Church.

Having thus taken care of the whole ecumenical question as it relates to reunion, the new confession moves on to implement the church’s action “in society for the sake of mission in the world.” And as this line of thought is developed and a basis for action provided, it is, of course, garnished with a reference to prayer and Bible study, which are a part of the church’s worship and theological reflection.

At this point the individual accepts an entirely different position and perspective from that which he has in the Westminster Confession. We are told: “Each member is the church in the world, endowed by the Spirit with some gift of ministry and is responsible for the integrity of his witness in his own particular situation. He is entitled to the guidance and support of the Christian community and is subject to its advice and correction. He in turn, in his own competence, helps to guide the church.” The references, therefore, to the support of the church as he moves out into action in the social realm is obviously a basis for the justification of the participation of clergymen in the various revolutionary endeavors as they relate to civil disobedience, sit-ins, and civil rights in the United States. Here is the justification for civil disobedience, of which Dr. Blake himself was a prime example on the Fourth of July, 1963, when in Baltimore he deliberately defied the law, was arrested and carried on a paddy wagon to the police station. When an individual in the church feels led to engage in this sort of revolutionary endeavor of one kind or another, he may look for support to the Christian community, according to the new confession. The reference, however, to the church’s advice and correction could very easily provide the basis for General Assembly rebuke and action against any conservative in the church who sought to resist the endeavors of other church leaders in the promotion of the action sections of the new confession. Will there come a day when this aspect of the confession will also be implemented? And, finally, we are told that, in order for the church to become “a more effective instrument of the mission of reconciliation,” “Every church order must be open to such reformation as may be required . . . .”

The idea, therefore, that the church has a message, an unchangeable message, a commission from her Lord, which she must faithfully discharge, finds itself laid aside as the church adjusts its message, its form, its order, its program, its all, to the idea that it has become an instrument of the mission of reconciliation, and more particularly, as that reconciliation relates to the pagan world about us and the structures of world society.

Perhaps this is the most effective place in our discussion to introduce a consideration of the passage in Second Corinthians, chapter 5, where the Apostle Paul discusses this “ministry of reconciliation.” This phrase is found in verse 18 and it is made the title of Part II in the new confession. When one considers this text in its full setting, he sees how completely it has been perverted.

The reconciliation which is spoken of in the Bible has been fully and finally accomplished by the death of Jesus Christ. Paul says, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead” (2 Cor. 5:14).

Christ is the One who died for us all, and we all, therefore, were dead. “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (v. 15). Since Christ did this for us, we now are alive and we are living to serve Him as He is presented to us in the Scriptures. The reality of this new life was evident when we became new creatures, for the text says: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are, become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (w. 17, 18). It is thus clear that reconciliation was already accomplished on our behalf, for us, by Christ. The Christian does not need to be reconciled again and again, because this has already been accomplished for him.

Our ministry of reconciliation, then, is to carry the same message by which we were reconciled to those who are outside of the fellowship and the church of God. This message is the Gospel, which does not change from generation to generation, or from time and place as is here suggested. Thus God says, “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (v. 19 ) . At this point the liberals and the modernists have taken a phrase completely out of its context. This was all done on the Cross. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, but it is clearly indicated that this reconciliation was made possible only because Christ died for all who are the elect, and that this reconciliation is of those and for those who have been given to Christ by the Father. This is the Church, the true Church, the elect, and because of the finished work of Christ our trespasses are not imputed unto us who have been justified by grace through faith. Christians, therefore, have had committed to them the “word of reconciliation.” They go out to tell others that God will do for others just as He had done for them. So here is the ministry of the word of reconciliation.

Verse 20, then, stands out with sublime meaning to every individual who has been redeemed. “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” Is Paul here talking about some social system? Is he here talking about the Communist world being reconciled to the free world? Is he here discussing civil rights legislation, or implying a basis for civil rights political action in the United States in 1965? Such could not possibly be the case, as seen in the last verse of the chapter, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” The sinless Christ bore our sin in His own body on the Tree, and because God accepted His sacrifice in our room and stead we have been made righteous in Christ.

A glorious section of the Bible is here perverted, misused, and the word of reconciliation has been adopted by the liberals in this twentieth century as a shibboleth under which they have been able to introduce their spurious Christianity, with the goal of making the social structure into the Kingdom of God.

In the section dealing with the Bible the authors of this confession could not believe it to be the infallible Word of God. They lacked faith. In the section dealing with Jesus. Christ they could not believe Him to be sinless, the virginborn One who shed His blood. They lacked faith. In the section dealing with the church, they could not commit the church to the Great Commission, but out of the fruit of their own thinking they have evolved a program, and this program they now call a confession of faith. As they explain the basis for this program in these broad general terms, in point after point their unbelief is further manifest.

Before we leave this section, we should ask, for our own edification, What then is the true social program of the church? The answer is, The law of God, the Ten -Commandments. Here God has revealed to us His will in our relationship to Him and in our relationship to our neighbor. No church could possibly improve upon this. However, when the United Presbyterian Church lays aside the Holy Scriptures as the only infallible rule of faith and practice, it lays aside also the Ten Commandments. This is the reason the liberals have developed another message which they call the social gospel, and even write what they call social creeds.

It is relevant to recognize that in the removal of the Westminster Confession of Faith to the area of a Book of Confessions, where it takes its place among other historical documents that have such a value as the individual may be pleased to attribute to them, the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Confession was entirely eliminated. This was done. in order to further eliminate from the church’s life the full significance of the law of God. There each of the Ten Commandments was discussed in detail, first from the standpoint of what is required, and second, what is forbidden by each commandment.

This law is holy and righteous. Its transgression is sin both for men and nations, and it is the standard for all conduct for the redeemed. The so-called social gospel and the endeavors of the new confession in these areas is a shabby, superficial, and impotent manifestation of human, and even fleshly, desires when set alongside the law of the Lord, which is perfect and which rejoices the soul of those who believe in the God revealed in the Holy Scriptures. It is evidence of the death of a church when that church forsakes the law of God and offers a social program built on its own so-called creative understanding.