Joint Working Group (JWG)
Roman Catholic Church--World Council of Churches--Seventh-day Adventists
A "plenary meeting" between the Joint Working Group (JWG), which included "Seventh Day Adventist participants," the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches (WCC) was held on Monday, May 5, through Sunday, May 11, 2003. "The meeting was held at Oasi Santa Maria, a centre for spirituality, under the direction of Monsignor Colucci of the archdiocese of Bari-Bitonto. . .." (Final Communique of the Joint Working Group, "Pontifical Council for Promoting of Christian Unity," Holy See, Vatican City, www.vatican.com, emphasis supplied).
Notice that at many of these ecumenical gatherings the officials of the Roman Catholic Church lead out. In this case "Monsignor Colucci of the archdiocese of Bari-Bitonto." Also it is stated that this particular place selected for the meeting (Oasi Santa Maria) is "a centre for spirituality."
"Archbishop Francesco Cacucci and the whole local church welcomed the JWG in the traditional spirit of the Bari region," the Vatican Final Communique of the JWG reported further, "renowned for its history of contacts between Christians of various Churches [including SDAs], drawn to the Basilica of Bari which houses the tomb of St. Nicholas." (ibid., JWG, Vatican Report, emphasis supplied).
a. Why would Seventh-day Adventists be a part of those who were "drawn to the Basilica of Bari?" b. Should SDAs be impressed by "the tomb of St. Nicholas?"
Now, dear reader, I realize (as a non-college educated lay person) that I am just not quite as bright as some. About St. Nicholas I show my ignorance, because I really did not know that Santa Claus was dead! I did not know that St. Nicholas and his reindeer were off to the great Purgatory in the sky. Really, historic Adventist friends, I am astonished to learn that the highly educated Seventh-day Adventist leadership aspired to visit the tomb of St. Nicholas! The Vatican report stated further about St. Nicholas that, "The members [including SDAs] participated in the celebration of the translation of the relics of St. Nicholas at the waterfront in Bari. . .." (ibid., emphasis supplied). And the Vatican report stated that the "celebration" was "presided over by Archbishop Cacucci, which highlighted the strength of popular devotion to St. Nicholas, who is venerated by the Christian East and West. . .." (ibid., JWG, Vatican Report, emphasis supplied).
If that was not enough, dear reader, "On Sunday [May 11, 2003], the members of the JWG [including SDAs] prayed at the tomb of St. Nicholas and visited the Archbishop at his residence. . .." (ibid., emphasis supplied).
"How do you know that Seventh-day Adventists were part of this Joint Working Group (JWG) who were praying at the tomb of St. Nicholas?" you ask.
"The representatives from the Catholic Church reported on the wide scope of bilateral relations and dialogues," the Vatican report continued, "between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, Mennonite, Pentecostal and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as well as consultations with the Seventh Day Adventists and Evangelicals." (ibid., JWG, Vatican Report, emphasis supplied).
Although the above statement admits only of "consultations with the Seventh Day Adventists," the following statement reveals much more involvement by SDAs:
"An opening ecumenical prayer service was held in the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta in Cassano delle Murge, at which Archbishop Cacucci presided," the Vatican reported further, "with testimonies presented by local Orthodox, Waldensian [?], Baptist and Seventh Day Adventist participants." (ibid., JWG, Vatican Report, emphasis supplied).
There you have it. Seventh-day Adventist were participants in this "plenary meeting. . . between the Joint Working Group (JWG), the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches." Not only that, but at this opening ecumenical prayer service, "testimonies [were] presented by. . .Seventh Day Adventist participants" along with others. (ibid., JWG, Vatican Report, emphasis supplied).
Contemporary Seventh-day Adventist leadership fail to understand that involvement in the Ecumenical Movement with the major evangelical denominations necessarily would eventually involve the SDA Church in becoming participants with the "Pontifical Council for Promoting of Christian Unity." As far back as 1926 Seventh-day Adventist leadership adapted an ecumenical position with those of other faiths: "#1. We recognize every agency that lifts up Christ before man as a part of the divine plan for the evangelization of the world, and we hold in high esteem the Christian men and women in other communions who are engaged in winning souls to Christ." ("Relationship To Other Societies," General Conference Executive Committee, 1926, emphasis supplied).
Notice that since 1926 the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church "recognize every agency that lifts up Christ." This would include the Roman Catholic Jesuit missionaries, apostate Protestant churches, evil spirit-filled Pentecostal churches and others. SDA leadership also recognizes these fallen churches of Babylon as "part of the divine plan for the evangelization of the world." Further, this official statement passed by the General Conference in 1926 has now been "broadened" in 1995 "to deal with religious organizations in general."
Back in 1926, long before ecumenism was in vogue, the General Conference Executive Committee adopted an important statement that is now a part of the General Conference Working Policy (075). This declaration has significant ecumenical implications. The concern of the statement was for the mission field and relationships with other "missionary societies" [including The Society of Jesus -- "Jesuits"]. However, the statement has now been broadened to deal with "religious organizations" in general. It affirms that Seventh-day Adventists "recognize those agencies that lift up Christ before men as a part of the divine plan for evangelization of the world, and. . .hold in high esteem Christian men and women in other communions who are engaged in winning souls to Christ." In the [SDA] church's dealings with other churches, "Christian courtesy, frankness, and fairness" are to prevail. . .. (Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Second Revised Edition, 1995, Art. "Ecumenism," emphasis supplied).
Eleven years had passed since the death of Ellen White in 1915 when this action by the General Conference was approved in 1926. If the leading brethren had tried to pass such an action while the servant of the Lord was alive she would have responded: "There is as great a difference in our faith and that of nominal professors, as the heavens are higher than the earth." (Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 2, page 300, emphasis supplied).
Four Adventists Attend the Ecumenical Council "Vatican II"
By 1962 the Roman Catholic Church led out in the Ecumenical Movement with the great ecumenical Vatican Council II. This great ecumenical Council of the Papacy was attended by, not one, but four Seventh-day Adventists "observers."
First, the friendliness of the welcome. You see, I've been there several times, that is, to Rome. Always a sort of an iciness there, but not any more, not any more! And it was evident in so many ways. For instance, in the giving of these press passes,  Brother [Marvin E.] Loewen was there from Religious Liberty,  Brother [Raymond F.] Cottrell from the Review and Herald,  Brother [Bert B.] Beach was there from northern Europe, and  I was there from the Signs, and provided you had a good reason for asking for a pass, you got it. If you were an editor or a correspondent for a real newspaper, they gave the pass, and they gave them to people of all faiths. Here, four Adventists got these passes. . .. (Arthur S. Maxwell, Editor, Signs of the Times, "The Outstretched Hand," A Sermon Report, given at the Loma Linda University Seventh-day Adventist Church, Loma Linda, California, emphasis supplied).
Although he was not an editor of a paper or magazine, according to Maxwell, Bert Beverly Beach attended Vatican Council II as an observer. "Brother Beach was there from northern Europe," (ibid.) . At that time Beach was the President of the Northern Europe Division of Seventh-day Adventists.
In 1973 the very same Bert B. Beach coauthored a book with Lukas Vischer, Secretary of the World Council of Churches. The title of the book, So Much In Common, "Between the World Council of Churches and the Seventh-day Adventist Church." The book was published by the World Council of Churches, Geneva, Switzerland, 1973.
"In connection with a recent consultative meeting of secretaries of World Confessional Families held in Rome," W. Duncun Eva reported, "B. B. Beach, secretary of the Northern Europe-West Africa Division, one of the 15 participants and the only Adventist in the group, presented a book and a medallion to Pope Paul VI on May 18, ." (W. D. Eva, Adventist Review, "Book, Medallion Presented to Pope," August 11, 1977, (847), page 23, emphasis supplied).
"The medallion was a gold-covered symbol of the Seventh-day Adventist Church," W. D. Eva reported further. "The medallion is an engraved witness to the. . .validity of the Ten Commandments. While the other commandments are represented simply as Roman numerals, the words of the fourth--'Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy' -- are written out." (W. D. Eva, Adventist Review, "Book, Medallion Presented to Pope", August 11, 1977, (847), page 23, emphasis supplied).
The phrase "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" is exactly the way it appears in any Roman Catholic Catechism. The engraving should at least read, "The seventh day is the sabbath." However, no Adventist should presented the Pope with a gold-covered medallion period. But B. B. Beach presented the gold-covered medallion to Pope Paul VI "as a symbol of the Seventh-day Adventist Church." Considering the evidence so far, perhaps this action by Beach was proper after all!
"I thought you would like to see mine [press pass]," Arthur Maxwell continued further. "It's the only document I have which has the crossed keys and the triple crown on it." Then he added, "I have to be careful when I show this. I don't want anybody to think I'm going over to the Church of Rome." (ibid. A. S. Maxwell, emphasis supplied).
"The crossed keys and the triple crown." To a Roman Catholic the "crossed keys" stand for the belief that the apostle Peter was the first Pope, and that the Lord gave to him the keys of the kingdom. "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19). And we all know what the "triple crown" signifies -- that the Pope is the king of "heaven, earth, and the lower regions." (See, Mary E. Walsh, The Wine of Roman Babylon, The Southern Publishing Association, 1945).
"I sat closer to the Pope than any of the cardinals," Maxwell boasted. "I was only forty feet away from him for three or four hours, and I had the clearest view, just as clear as some of you forty feet away." (ibid., Arthur S. Maxwell, "The Outstretched Hand," emphasis supplied).
One would think from this statement that Maxwell was looking upon the Pope as he is reverently viewed by members of the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, Maxwell's expression was as though he was sitting at the feet of Jesus Christ Himself!
"The reason I know he was forty feet away--I stepped it out after the service was over," Maxwell stated, "because I thought, 'Nobody will ever believe me, that I sat so long, so near to His Holiness.'" (ibid., Arthur S. Maxwell, "The Outstretched Hand," emphasis supplied).
Here we have a leading Seventh-day Adventist calling the Pope "His Holiness!" Can you just see, dear reader, Maxwell stepping off the distance between his seat and the throne of the Antichrist? How in the world could a high official of the Seventh-day Adventist Church call the man of sin, "His Holiness?" Pioneer Seventh-day Adventists would be astonished that an Adventist would refer to the Antichrist as "His Holiness." It is astounding to discover that Maxwell and the other Seventh-day Adventist "observers" were deceived, just as verily as were other Protestant "observers," by the cunning flattery of the Roman Catholic Church. What would be the response from Ellen White and other pioneer Adventists if told that, "I sat closer to the Pope than any of the cardinals."
The New Face of Ecumenism
In 1995 the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia commented on Vatican Council II as follows:
"It would appear that the organized ecumenical movement reached a pinnacle of enthusiasm and influence in the late sixties, in the immediate aftermath of Vatican II," the SDA Encyclopedia states. "Since then the WCC has gone into a period of ecumenical doldrums and even decline." (Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Second Revised Edition, Art. "Ecumenism," emphasis supplied).
"Much ecumenical activity now takes place outside of the WCC on the local level in the form of unstructured interdenominational youth and lay Bible study and prayer groups, fellowships, and community service endeavors." (ibid., Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Second Revised Edition Art. "Ecumenism," emphasis supplied).
We see the new face of the Ecumenical Movement in the current political agitation to establish prayer and the ten commandments in public schools. We see the new face of the Ecumenical Movement in the current political agitation for government "vouchers" for Church Schools. This action on the part of government would be the beginning of the establishment of Church and State.
We see the new face of the Ecumenical Movement prevalent in contemporary Adventism in the following five phases of compromise. (1) We see it in the more vibrant "Celebration" worship services, directed toward the youth. (2) We see it in the watered-down outreach literature and evangelism of the contemporary Seventh-day Adventist Church. (3) We see the new face of ecumenism in "community service endeavors." This last was the reason given for merging the Seventh-day Adventist hospitals in Colorado with the Roman Catholic "Provenant" system. (See, Judith Graham, staff Business Writer, "Provenant-Adventist, May Become Partners," The Denver Post, January 13, 1995). (4) We see the new face of ecumenism in interchurch "fellowships." Some churches have even held "interchurch" Super Bowl parties. (5) We see the new face of ecumenism in "lay Bible study and prayer groups."
Here we quote James White on the issue of fellowship with other denominations:
"On a vital point connected with the teaching of the word of God, we are at issue; and the union that would otherwise exist between us, is of course destroyed," James White wrote in regard to our relationship with other denominations. "Where there is not agreement in theory, there can be, in the Christian sense, no real communion of heart and fellowship of feeling." (James White, Editorial, "Fifty Unanswerable Arguments," Review and Herald, January 14, 1861, emphasis supplied).
Now, in 1995, the 1926 General Conference Working Policy (075), "has now been broadened to deal with 'religious organizations' in general." Further, the contemporary SDA leadership recognize that "long before ecumenism was in vogue," the 1926 "declaration has significant ecumenical implications." (ibid., Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Second Revised Edition, 1995, Art. "Ecumenism," emphasis supplied).
The above statement by Ellen White that, "There is as great a difference in our faith and that of nominal professors, as the heavens are higher than the earth," is the last sentence in an important testimony. Let us now consider the complete testimony in context:
Those who engage in the solemn work of bearing the third angel's message, must move out decidedly, and in the Spirit and power of God, fearlessly preach the truth, and let it cut. They should elevate the standard of truth, and urge the people to come up to it. It has been lowered down to meet the people in their condition of darkness and sin. It is the pointed testimony that will bring up the people to decide. A peaceful testimony will not do this. The people have the privilege of listening to this kind of teaching from the pulpits of the day. But God has servants to whom he has entrusted a solemn, fearful message, to bring out and fit up a people for the coming of Christ. There is as great a difference in our faith and that of nominal professors, as the heavens are higher than the earth. (ibid., Spiritual Gifts. Vol. 2, pages 299, 300, emphasis supplied).
"God has committed to us the special truths for this time to make known to the world," Ellen White reminded. (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, page 236).
In these last hours, "God has given to us," Seventh-day Adventists, "the special truths for this time to make known to the world." He has not given this message to the Sunday-keeping churches of Babylon, nor to the Jesuit missionaries of Rome. The third angel's message is a warning against Rome -- not an endorsement of Rome as just another "agency that lifts up Christ before man!" Our commission is to call the people out of Babylon, not to join hands with Babylon. We are not to please the churches of the world by emphasizing doctrines Seventh-day Adventist leadership alleges we hold in common with them.
"The world is against us, the popular churches are against us," Ellen White stated, "the laws of the land will soon be against us." (ibid., Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, page 236, emphasis supplied).
How can we "recognize" the "popular churches" that are "against us" as being "a part of the divine plan for the evangelization of the world?" Notice also that the contemporary Seventh-day Adventist leadership hold "in high esteem the Christian men and women" who teach the false doctrines of the Protestant churches -- the churches that the Scripture calls the harlot daughters of Rome.
The 2003 Plenary Meeting Vatican Report Concluded
"Well, how does this "plenary meeting" with evangelicals and Adventists involve the Papacy?" you ask. Again, wherever and whenever the Papacy is involved -- they will lead out!
"The whole event was organized by the Ecumenical Group of Bari," the Vatican report stated, "under the leadership of Fr Angelo Romita." (ibid., JWG, Vatican Report, emphasis supplied).
Once again we note that at ecumenical meetings the Roman Catholic Church almost always leads out. Again we ask, Why are Seventh-day Adventists involved with the ecumenical aspirations of the Papacy and the World Council of Churches?
"The protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf," Ellen White replies, "to grasp the hand of. . .the Roman power. . .." (ibid., Great Controversy, p. 588).
"A visit was made to the Dominican Patristic Institute of Bari which is a centre for ecumenical dialogue, research and learning, bringing together Christians principally from Catholic and Orthodox backgrounds," the Vatican report continued. "A visit to the museum of the diocese of Bari-Bitonto helped to illustrate the important crossroads that Bari has been for Christians from Byzantine, Slav, Latin and Armenian traditions for over 1000 years." (ibid., JWG, Vatican Report, emphasis supplied).
One Thousand Years
"The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant, by the virtue of her divine mission," James Cardinal Gibbons wrote, "changed the day from Saturday to Sunday." (Pamphlet, The Christian Sabbath, Baltimore, Maryland; published by The Catholic Mirror, 1893, emphasis supplied).
"Shall this power, whose record for a thousand years is written in the blood of the saints, be now acknowledged as a part of the church of Christ?" Ellen White asks, then replies to her own question: "Her spirit is no less cruel and despotic now than when she crushed out human liberty and slew the saints of the Most High." (ibid., The Great Controversy, page 571).
The Papacy Then and Now
"But Romanism as a system is no more in harmony with the gospel of Christ now than at any former period in her history," Ellen White warned. "The Protestant [SDA] churches are in great darkness, or they would discern the signs of the times." (ibid., The Great Controversy, page 565, emphasis supplied).
"Protestants [and Adventists] have tampered with and patronized popery;" Ellen White stated, "they have made compromises and concessions which papists themselves are surprised to see and fail to understand." (ibid., The Great Controversy, page 566, emphasis supplied).
"Catholicism indeed resembles much of the Protestantism that now exists," Ellen White wrote, "because Protestantism has so greatly degenerated since the days of the Reformers." (ibid., The Great Controversy, page 571, emphasis supplied).
Have we Seventh-day Adventists also "degenerated" to the point that we also are becoming like the Church of Rome? Today one could rephrase Ellen White's statement to read:
"Catholicism indeed resembles much of the Adventism that now exists,
because Adventism has so greatly degenerated
since the days of the Pioneers."