The Charta Oecumenica includes a whole series of declarations of intent from the signatory churches. An ecumenism of “good will”. However, squaring the circle requires turning away from the gospel and results in rebellion against God.
Inhalt / Content
The Charta Oecumenica was “ceremonially” signed by the first participating churches on April 22, 2001 in Strasbourg. Included from the start were, among others, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), represented by the then chairman Manfred Kock, the Association of Evangelical Free Churches in Germany (Baptists), represented by the then president Pastor Siegfried Großmann, and the Roman Catholic Church, represented by the then chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Karl Cardinal Lehmann.
On May 30, 2003, the Charta Oecumenica was also recognized and signed by the Working Group of Christian Churches (ACK) during the Ecumenical Church Congress in Berlin. Any membership in the ACK also results in the acceptance of the Charta Oecumenica.
The following are the 12 topics or objectives of the Charta Oecumenica.
For this declaration of intent, the biblical statement in Ephesians 4:3-6 is used:
“Strive to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the peace that binds you together. One body and o n e spirit, just as a common hope has been given to you through your calling; o n e Lord, o n e faith, o n e baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all“
In this context, the signatory of the Charta Oecumenica recognizes the belief in “the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”. In this sense, the term “Catholic” is quite interchangeable with the word “universal”, because this word means nothing else. A unification of all denominations into one “Body of Christ” as the universal, i.e. Catholic Church.
But there is a huge catch here. The Roman Catholic Church sits at almost all the tables of ecumenism, but does not see itself as a part of this association, but rather as the actual body of ecumenism. The former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, expressly emphasized this on June 30, 2000 in a note about the expression “sister churches”. In a letter to “the Most Reverend Chairmen of the Bishops’ Conferences,” Ratzinger sent the following message:
“Unfortunately, the use of this expression has recently been expanded in certain publications and by some theologians active in ecumenical dialogue to mean on the one hand the Catholic Church and on the other the Orthodox Church, leading to the opinion that in In reality, the only Church of Christ does not exist, but must be restored anew through the reconciliation of both sister churches.“
As head of the Inquisition, Cardinal Ratzinger and later Pope Benedict XVI had considerable stomach pains because the “one body of Christ”, which can be found in the Roman Catholic Church, could be called into question in the course of ecumenism. An affront. Ratzinger therefore saw it necessary to dig deep into the annals of this church.
In point 4 of his note to the “Most Reverend Sirs”, the Prefect recalled two letters from Metropolitan Nicetas of Nikomedieia (dated 1136) and Patriarch John X Camateros (in office between 1196 and 1206). Both protested (but neither were Protestants) in their time “that Rome presents itself as mother and teacher and thus abolishes her authority. According to them, Rome is only the first among sisters of equal dignity“.
It was about the dispute at the time between the Church in Rome and the (Eastern) Church in Constantinople. If it was a question of the term sister church, then only in connection with the Western and Eastern Church.
In point 10 of his note to the bishops’ conference, Ratzinger gets to the point:
“In the true sense, sister churches are exclusively particular churches (or particular church associations, such as patriarchates or ecclesiastical provinces) among themselves. It must always remain clear, even if the expression sister churches is used in this correct sense, thatthe universal, one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is not sister but mother of all particular churches“
In the strictest sense, the confession of faith in the Charta Oecumenica, which was also signed by the ACK, does not even mean the return of the daughters to their Roman mother, but rather the re-merging with her into a single body. You could also call this process assimilation. Who is the supreme shepherd of this body, who is also accepted by the ACK members, should be known. In fact, the signatory of the Charta Oecumenica itself has become the Catholic Church.
This “one body and one spirit” described in Ephesians cannot be the body and spirit of the gospel. How should this be possible? There is only one Gospel, but beyond that there is a Roman Catholic Church and countless Protestant denominations. In addition to the so-called Apostolic, they all also have other creeds with mutual deviations. Inevitably, in the course of ecumenism, compromises must be made from the original identity.
Even a tiny change leads to loss of identity. Ecumenism is therefore the self-abandonment of one’s own identity, regardless of whether one originally conformed to the gospel or not. However, faithfulness to the gospel can no longer exist within ecumenism. This is certainly not the case when one is “melted down” in the body of the “universal, one, holy, catholic and apostolic church”. A church that has been going astray since the early Middle Ages and has not yet retreated a millimeter from its doctrines. Deification of the Virgin Mary and Adoration of the Dead, to name just two examples.
With this declaration of intent, the signatories commit themselves to proclaiming the Gospel “through word and deed for the salvation of all people.” To this end, the exchange of experiences in “catechesis and pastoral care in the local communities” is encouraged. Since they see themselves as the “whole people of God”, the members see themselves as obliged to convey the Gospel to the “societal public” as well as the awareness of political responsibility.
To this end, members should discuss evangelization initiatives with other churches. Agreements should be made and “harmful competition and the risk of new divisions” should be avoided. Signatories of the Charta Oecumenica (ACK members) undertake not to persuade anyone to convert through “moral pressure or material incentives”. A desire to convert must not be prevented.
“One” gospel, but each with their own catechism? The Charta Oecumenica sees itself as the set of rules for the “one body of Christ”, but promotes dialogue between the different catechisms. How is this supposed to work and what would the practice look like? Proclaim the gospel but discourage conversion? The commission of Jesus Christ to His followers is clear and clear. Preach the gospel and baptize people!
A real rubber-stamp paragraph is the prohibition of trying to persuade a person to convert through “moral pressure”. What all falls under this definition? Also the suggestion that worshiping the dead or praying for the dead is an abomination to God and therefore a serious sin? Is it also a “moral pressure” to point out to a believer that the 10 Commandments were once changed by the Roman Catholic Church and adopted by the Protestant churches (Info)?
You are also seen as a “harmful and divisive competitor” if you point out the absolute validity of the 10 Commandments (Info)?
This aspect of “moral pressure” becomes particularly interesting when considering ACK members from the ranks of the Seventh-day Adventists (STA). In addition to active participation as guest members, some communities have already decided to become full members of this ecumenical movement. As is well known, the SDA church observes the biblical Sabbath according to the Fourth Commandment (Info). All other signatories of the Charta Oecumenica follow the Roman Catholic tradition and observe Sunday services while ignoring the Sabbath.
How can this be reconciled? There are no technical compromises at this point. Is it undue moral pressure to make other believers aware of their error about Sunday observance?
The supreme shepherd of Rome also wants to recognize a “great danger” in evangelization among the members of an ecumenical association and has made this unmistakably clear. In May 2018, Pope Francis strictly prohibited conversion within ecumenism. “It is not permissible. Conversion is the strongest poison against the ecumenical path. Conversion among Christians is therefore in itself a mortal sin” (Catholic News Agency, May 11, 2018).
Since ecumenism also involves the inclusion of other religions under a common roof, Francis is still extending his ban. “You are not a follower of Jesus if you try to convince non-believers.” (Swarajya, December 25, 2019)
That is a strong statement. Conversion (“moral pressure”) among ecumenical members and also the conversion of non-Christians are a mortal sin and a witness to the rejection of Jesus Christ.
As a reminder: The signatory of the Charta Oecumenica recognized the Pope and his instructions as the highest authority.
This section of the Charta Oecumenica deals with the “shattered past” of mistakes and misdeeds. There were “warlike conflicts, human guilt, lack of love and frequent abuse of faith and churches for political interests.” This seriously damaged the credibility of the Christian witness.
Therefore, ecumenism must lead to repentance and the renewal of hearts. A movement of reconciliation. Therefore, members commit to eliminating prejudice and overcoming self-sufficiency. Ecumenical openness and cooperation for Christian education must be striven for.
In fact, there was a great deal of murder and manslaughter in the history of the church. Entire areas of the country were “cleaned up” by her. In a monopoly position until 1517 and then in the catchment areas that remained for their inquisition. Things weren’t exactly peaceful on the Protestant side either. The Anabaptists would have reported this. But ecumenism requires a stoic forgetfulness of history.
The institutions that are part of the ecumenical movement today and also the supervising “body mother” have decided how to deal with history, just in time for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation:
“What happened in the past cannot be changed. However, what is remembered from the past and how it happens can actually change over time. Memory makes the past present. While the past itself is unchanging, the presence of the past in the present is changeable. Looking ahead to 2017, it’s not about telling a different story, it’s about telling this story differently” (“From Conflict to Community”, 2017, Chapter II, page 12)
A statement that speaks volumes for itself and requires (almost) no further explanation. This not only describes the character of this ecumenism, but also its “love for the truth”. Refurbishment is undesirable and out of place.
Ecumenism involves shared action in shaping everyday life. The signatories commit to advancing the actions of church life at all levels. This includes defending the rights of minorities and reducing misunderstandings and prejudices between majority and minority churches.
Active cooperation between churches of different denominations is a consequence of ecumenism. But it seems that peaceful coexistence between the churches is no longer possible without a mutual agreement. Anyone who enters into alliances with others should in any case check whether these are consistent with their own convictions, let alone compatible with the gospel. The Old Testament gives numerous examples of covenants entered into by the ancient people of Israel, which were regularly described by God as “fornication” in a spiritual sense.
The Holy Spirit should “work in us and through us,” according to the Charta Oecumenica. The word of God should be heard together. Some churches still have reservations about prayers conducted together in ecumenism, but many ecumenical services, especially the Lord’s Prayer, “shape our Christian spirituality.” The signatories commit themselves to pray for Christian unity and to move toward the “goal of Eucharistic communion“.
In principle, the value of this declaration of intent would be settled with a single Bible verse, John 4:24:
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (see also Psalm 145:18).
There is a lack of truth and this means that this venture fails at its very beginning. The ecumenical prayer of the “Our Father” can actually be viewed as a joke in the matter. Which? The original, or the one that was tailored for ecumenism?
The “Our Father” according to Matthew 6:9-13 reads, for example (King James Version):
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.“
Such an “ecumenical modification” according to the German “Good News Bible” is::
“This is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven! Make your name big in the world. Come and establish your rule. Exert your will, on earth as well as in heaven. Give us what we need to live today. Forgive us our trespasses, as we have forgiven all who trespass against us. Do not let us be in danger of being unfaithful to you, but save us from the power of the evil one.“
The ecumenical congregations not only pray an abbreviated “Our Father”, but with this variant they also raise the question of which God they actually worship!
The objective of the Charta Oecumenica to celebrate the Eucharist as a common celebration has a very special quality. A thoroughly “motherly” ritual of Rome. The former regional bishop of Bavaria, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, who has since resigned and moved to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, demonstrated how serious this desired acceptance is on the part of the once Protestant member churches. As a kind of farewell self-recommendation for lasting recognition in his retirement, Bedford-Strohm expressed that he could hardly wait for a Eucharist celebrated together with the Church of Rome (Info).
However, this ritual, traditionally called “Holy Mass” by the Roman Church, is the height of the ongoing blasphemy and mockery of Jesus Christ (Info). Paired with the pagan worship of the sun, symbolized by the wafer. Taken from the half-moon-shaped cup. The headdress of the Egyptian “goddess” Isis. The actual figure behind the Catholic “Queen of Heaven” Mary (Info).
The dispute between the biblical Lord’s Supper and the Catholic Eucharist was and, to a certain extent, still is the central obstacle to the final self-abandonment of the subsidiary churches. The adoption of the Catholic Eucharist is evidence of merging with the body of the Roman mother and thus also the complete abandonment of one’s own identity. This marked the apostasy of all signatories of the Charta Oecumenica and thus also of all members of the ACK.
This part of the Charta Oecumenica highlights the “different theological and ethical positions” between the churches. However, this diversity, which is normally seen as a gift, shows “contradictions in doctrine, in ethical questions and in canon law determinations”. These ultimately led to divisions between the churches. “Historical circumstances and different cultural influences” played a particularly crucial role. The “togetherness founded in Christ” demands a strengthening of the ecumenical community. “Without unity in faith there is no full church community.” There is no alternative to dialogue.
The signatories commit to dialogue at the various church levels. Results should be officially declared as binding by the church. If there is a risk of a split due to differences in faith and ethics, the conversation should be sought “in the light of the Gospel”.
There is only one gospel and therefore there is only this one truth. Any deviation from the truth is untruth. No matter how great the desire for diversity may be, the truth does not allow for diversity. It is only logical that all denominations would have to find the gospel without any compromises in order to represent the truth as a community.
If a church can actually claim the truth for itself, and ecumenism finds a common denominator of “faith”, then this only church that represents the truth must also, through a compromise, give up the Gospel as it is written. The final structure cannot therefore reflect the truth.
Ecumenism should strive to promote unification of the “European continent”. As churches of the “Christian faith” we are committed to “a humane and social Europe in which human rights and fundamental values of peace, justice, freedom, tolerance, participation and solidarity come into play.” The danger must be countered “that Europe will develop into an integrated West and a disintegrated East.” Any “Euroentrism” must be avoided.
The signatories of the Charta Oecumenica undertake to defend the fundamental values against all interventions. Any attempt to “abuse religion and the church for ethnic or nationalistic purposes” must be resisted.
A daring tightrope walk. Position 2 rightly denounces the historical abuse of power by faith and church for political interests, in order to use this call. to get Europe back into full political gear. The required goals can also be found in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti (2020). An orientation of society according to (Hellenistic) Roman Catholic social teaching.
The EKD churches in particular have clearly shown where the limits are set for the defense against any interference with basic values in their position on the vaccination campaigns that have been organized and their condemnation of people with different opinions. The EKD council chairwoman Annette Kuschus called for compulsory vaccination and combined this with practicing charity.
A wealth of Europe consists of the diversity of “regional, national, cultural and religious traditions”. The efforts of the signatories of the Charta Oucumenica should be directed towards assessing political and social issues. The affiliated churches “jointly promote the process of democratization in Europe.” Any nationalism that leads to the oppression of other peoples and national minorities must be countered. The task also included strengthening women for equal rights in all situations.
The church as a moral giver for “all situations”? The ambitions of the member institutions for the socio-political are visibly more pronounced than any desire to proclaim the Word of God to people. So far, such intentions have not even been mentioned. The positions required here could also come from a political party conference.
Humans have a responsibility to preserve the earth’s assets. It is “horrifying” to observe that “the earth’s assets are being exploited without regard to their intrinsic value, without regard to their limitations and without consideration for the well-being of future generations.” The beauty of nature is gratefully acknowledged through faith in God’s love. The signatories of the Charta Oecumenica commit themselves to the further development of a lifestyle against the “reign of economic constraints and consumer pressures”. To this end, ecumenical networks and church environmental organizations are supported “in their responsibility for the preservation of creation”.
The preservation of creation and the abandonment of “consumption and compulsory consumption” to the previous extent. Such visions can also be found in the encyclical Laudato Si’ and in Fratelli Tutti, both by Pope Francis. The belief in the “preservation of creation” has already been officially declared a religion (Info). A project that requires the complete transformation of society for the desired “integrity”.
But where is the aspect of the gospel at this point? Nowhere. The goals set by this “creation movement” affect the Word of God to the extent that they turn it into its opposite (Info).
God made an everlasting covenant with the people of Israel. In faith it is certain that “our Jewish sisters and brothers are loved by God, and that because of the fathers.” The calling and grace granted by God are irrevocable (Romans 11:28-29). The signatories of the Charta Oecumenica deplore and condemn “all manifestations of anti-Semitism, such as outbursts of hatred and persecution.” For any “anti-Judaism, we ask God for forgiveness and our Jewish brothers and sisters for reconciliation.” All forms of “anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism in church and society” must be countered. Dialogue with Jewish brothers and sisters should be sought and intensified at all levels. “Deepen the relationship with Judaism”
Indeed, injustices and atrocities have been committed against the Jewish people over the centuries. Until around the middle of the 16th century in the “name of the Roman Catholic Church” and subsequently also by the Protestant churches. There is no justification for this.
The term “Anti-Judaimsus” describes hostility to Jews based on religious motives. This motive sometimes led to the separation between Christianity and Judaism. Very early on, the Church of Rome used narratives that clearly differentiated Christianity from Judaism. This particularly includes the term “Jewish Sabbath” for the biblical seventh day of the week. The Church of Rome undertook a real campaign against this very early on (Info).
When comparing the gospel of any religion other than Christianity according to the Word of God, a unique narrative could be formed. Because loyalty to God’s Word automatically leads to the rejection of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and also Catholicism. In this sense, “anti-Islamism, anti-Hinduism, anti-Buddhism and also anti-Catholicism” are present here.
In the meantime, it is enough to quote the statement of Jesus Christ in John 14:6 to tend to be classified as an “anti-Semite”. Such voices have been heard for some time, as Dr. Cornelis P. Venema, president and professor of doctrinal studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary, described in his book “The Promise of the Future” (2012). The sense of proportion seems to have already been lost here. All that remains is to either accept or reject this statement of Jesus Christ that salvation is only possible through Him. The latter automatically led to the rejection of Jesus Christ as the only way to the Father. It is obvious that ecumenism presupposes this rejection of Jesus Christ.
Encounters between Christians and Muslims should be intensified within a Christian-Islamic dialogue. The focus here is on conversations about belief in “one God” and the understanding of human rights.
The question of whether the God of the Bible is the same God of the Koran can be answered very quickly. The God of the Bible has an only begotten son and the God of the Koran does not. Jesus Christ of the gospel is the only begotten Son of God who died on the cross. Isa (name for Jesus in the Quran) is not the only begotten son of God, but only a prophet. Furthermore, he did not die on the cross. According to the gospel, Jesus died for our sins in order to purchase the right of His grace toward us. In the Koran, man redeems himself through the good works that please Allah. There are also a number of other differences and even contradictions when it comes to the Koran.
How will agreement on theology ever come about at this point? The bottom line is that this may not be necessary. The goal is the collective recognition of a single highest authority, regardless of one’s own religious affiliation. The common denominator of these dialogues will therefore be found in the “preservation of creation”.
The signatories of the Charta Oecumenica are aware of the plurality of “religious and ideological beliefs and ways of life”. This is a feature of European culture. The churches undertake to recognize and advocate for the freedom of religion and conscience of people and communities. In order to pursue common concerns and bear witness to the Christian faith, one should be open to conversations with “all people of good will.”.
The willingness to engage with other world views and religions is in the nature of ecumenism. But who defines the actually highly Catholic concept of “good will”? What exactly is that supposed to be? Is “good will” only given when the person you are talking to is fundamentally on the same line as you are pursuing yourself? Do moral and ethical questions also play a role here? Who then defines at this point which morality is “good or bad”?
The German political landscape provides a very good example of what dealings can look like if “good will” is not even granted. The dialogue is directly refused. Anyone who showed “good will” on this question should define this term a little more precisely, otherwise the decision rests exclusively with the person who has the moral authority to interpret it.
Purely from the perspective of the Gospel, it can be summarized that the Charta Oecumenica means a direct rejection of the Word of God in the context of ecumenism. The Bible and the Word of God it contains should be rejected in favor of the formation of a united human family. However, the body of Christ consists exclusively of those people who remain faithful to the word, bear the testimony of Jeus Christ and also keep all (!) commandments.
Participation in ecumenism means nothing other than organized, world-wide rebellion against God.
Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Bible verses from King James Version