Personal from Herbert W Armstrong WHY ARE the different branches of "Christianity" talking about UNION? WHY is it POSSIBLE for them to make overtures toward compromise? And anyway, is it not RIGHT that they should all GET TOGETHER? WHY should Christianity be divided? The Vatican Second Ecumenical Council is making many overtures toward both Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox church. They are even taking a conciliatory attitude toward Jews. Recently Pope Paul VI assured the non-Catholic Christian world of his purpose to clear away every obstacle blocking "Christian unity." The pope said, "We wish to assure you once more of our purpose and hope to be able one day to remove every obstacle, every misunderstanding, every hesitancy that still prevents us from feeling fully 'of one heart and one soul' in Christ, in His Church (Acts 4:32)." An example of the changing religious atmosphere was Cardinal Cushing's reported approving of Catholic young people in Boston going to hear Protestant Evangelist Billy Graham. And in reply, Dr. Graham was reported saying he felt closer to some Catholic traditions than "with some of the most liberal Protestants." Not only are many Protestant leaders beginning to make friendly gestures toward the Roman Catholic Church, but fundamentalist Billy Graham, in Boston, was recently quoted as saying: "The new program of common prayer and public meetings voted by the Vatican Ecumenical Council... is an historical event of tremendous importance to Christians everywhere. Nothing like this has happened in the last 500 years.... This could be the dawn of a new day in religious understanding." Some will wonder, HOW could Billy Graham make a statement like that? At the same time a prominent Jewish rabbi called for greater cooperation and understanding between conservative Protestants and the Jewish community. The BIG question is WHY is such compromise possible? Can you imagine Jesus Christ beginning to compromise and get together with the Pharisees? The answer leads directly to the question: WHAT IS THE SOURCE of these religious beliefs? What is the religious AUTHORITY? I suppose most people would answer that GOD is their authority — the source of their beliefs. But IS HE? Does GOD tell the Roman Catholics to believe one thing, the Protestants to believe something different, and the Jews something different from the other two? Did all the hundreds of differing and disagreeing sects and denominations calling themselves "Christian" receive their varying faiths from the SAME SOURCE? Quite obviously not! The Roman Catholic Church claims it has authority to bring Jesus Christ down out of heaven, and put Him in a little wafer. That is to say, they teach that the BREAD used at communion during mass is, literally, the actual BODY of Christ — not merely a symbol, but Jesus' body, literally hanged into that bread. Now it was reported that while a priest was passing out the little round wafers in a very old church in Europe, one wafer fell off the plate, and rolled through a crack in the floor. Under the church floor it was eaten by a rat. One might ask, "Can CHRIST be eaten by a rat? What KIND of a Christ do you have?" Perhaps the answer is in II Corinthians 11:3-4: "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth ANOTHER JESUS, whom we have not preached...." A man I know met a staunch believer in the Moslem religion. A discussion followed regarding the relative merits of the Bible and the Koran — of Jesus and of Mohammed. Suddenly the Moslem asked, "Do you believe in your God enough to FIGHT FOR HIM?" "No, my God doesn't need me to fight for Him," replied my friend. WHAT? You don't FIGHT for your God," exclaimed the Moslem in shocked disbelief. "Why, what kind of a God do you have, that you don't fight for Him? Every Moslem believes in his god so much that he will go out and FIGHT FOR HIM!" "Yes, I know," replied my friend. "You have to fight to protect your god, because he can't PROTECT himself or do anything for you. But my God is a LIVING GOD — the all-powerful, Supreme, Eternally LIVING God. My God fights my battles for me. My God is Supreme, and therefore I OBEY HIM. He RULES me, and guides me in the way I ought to go for my own welfare and happiness. But He also DOES THINGS FOR ME. He tells me to love my enemies — and HE will fight my battles for me. He heals me when I am sick. He is a LIVING God — not a dead god. He makes even my enemies to be at peace with me. He guides me in the way I ought to go, He rules me, and then HE DOES THINGS FOR ME — things I could not do for myself. "You see," my friend continued, "there is only one LIVING God. But nearly all the people in the world worship and serve dead gods. The Buddhist carries his little wooden god around in his pocket. Other people make up their own gods. Their gods are the work of their own hands — the invention of their own minds. But I am the creation of MY God! I didn't make Him — He made ME." Now we ought to begin to see the answer to the question, HOW can these differing religious groups compromise and get together? Their beliefs, their customs, are the inventions of HUMANS. In actual fact, they did not receive their beliefs from the true and LIVING GOD — or from His Word, the Bible. Their religions are of HUMAN ORIGIN. Therefore humans feel at liberty to alter or change their own beliefs and ways. But, one asks, didn't they all receive their beliefs out of the BIBLE? The answer is an emphatic NO! Didn't you ever wonder WHY people talk about their various INTERPRETATIONS of the Bible? Take, for instance, Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is DEATH; but the GIFT of God is ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ our Lord." Most Christian religions INTERPRET THAT — which is to say, they CHANGE ITS MEANING, to make it say precisely the opposite. They claim that the MAN is an "immortal soul." Man, therefore, they believe, already HAS eternal life — he CANNOT DIE! So, they INTERPRET this verse to MEAN the very opposite of what it SAYS, thus: "The wages of sin is ETERNAL LIFE (in hell); and eternal life is NOT the gift of God." There are others who INTERPRET "death" to mean "separation from God," and "gift of eternal life" to mean "eternal life which is NOT a gift, but which you already possess, spent in the geographical PRESENCE of Christ." This is the dishonest process by which religious bodies make the Bible say whatever they want it to say. Peter speaks of this twisting, distorting, and wresting of the Scriptures, "which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, BEWARE lest ye also, being led away by the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness" (II Peter 3:16-17). We ought to understand, therefore, how those who, like the Roman Catholic Church, reject the Bible as the supreme AUTHORITY — setting themselves, as a CHURCH, ahead of it as supreme authority (saying they have power to CHANGE the Bible — as they claim to have done by changing God's Sabbath to Sunday); or those who CHANGE the Bible to suit their own ideas and wishes by INTERPRETING it their own way — we ought now to understand how they can compromise and GET TOGETHER. But do they even HAVE the one true LIVING God? Just what determines WHO, or WHAT is your GOD? Actually, most people do not realize the true answer. WHOever, or WHATever you worship, fasten your affection on, and SERVE, is your GOD. One's country may — and often does — become one's god. Through a wrong kind of patriotism, many WORSHIP their country. Here is a Bible definition: "And they WORSHIPPED the dragon [Satan] which gave power unto the beast [Roman Empire]: and they WORSHIPPED the beast, saying, WHO IS LIKE UNTO THE BEAST? WHO IS ABLE TO MAKE WAR WITH HIM? (Rev. 13:4.) Satan is the god of this world. People do not think of him as the Devil — but as their GOD. People serve Satan, obey Satan, accept his lies and believe them and call them truth. And people worshipped THEIR COUNTRY, the Roman Empire, by saying, WHO IS AS GREAT AS OUR COUNTRY? WHO IS ABLE TO FIGHT AGAINST OUR COUNTRY? Your BIBLE says THAT IS WORSHIP! WHOever, or WHATever you serve and obey becomes your god. Your Bible says, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto DEATH, or of OBEDIENCE [to God's Law] unto righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16.) The very name — or title — "LORD" MEANS MASTER, or RULER, or the ONE YOU OBEY. Do you not understand what Jesus meant when He said, "And why call ye me 'LORD, LORD,' and DO NOT the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46.) To CALL Jesus LORD, or MASTER," is to call Him THE ONE YOU OBEY. To call Him that while you disobey Him is to LIE! So let's come to a RIGHT UNDERSTANDING of just WHO the true GOD REALLY IS! Let's see WHY this world's churches are able to compromise, and GET TOGETHER, and talk about UNITING. The one and only TRUE God is the EVERLIVING God who RULES by His spiritual Law of LOVE, summed up by the Ten Commandments — and who actually DOES THINGS FOR those who OBEY Him and RELY ON Him! No church has the TRUE God unless that church OBEYS God's Law — keeping ALL of His Commandments, living actually by EVERY WORD of the ENTIRE Bible (Luke 4:4), and unless it relies on Him, and Him alone for fighting its battles (against people or Satan), for healing, for guidance and direction, wisdom and understanding — for those things which are the prerogatives of GOD to do, and not man. There can be but ONE such Church. That Church must be the INSTRUMENT through which the one living God proclaims to the whole world — all continents — the SAME GOSPEL of the KINGDOM OF GOD which Jesus preached. That Church proclaims the Message of the LIVING God — that He is universe-RULER as well as Creator — it proclaims the coming restoration of HIS GOVERNMENT over the earth — it serves the LIVING God who rules with HIS LAW of love to God and love to neighbor, expressed in the Ten Commandments — the LIVING God who leads and guides and rules our lives — who intervenes in our behalf — who DOES THINGS FOR US which we are unable to do for ourselves — who works in and through us — who by His Spirit impregnates us, enters literally within us and lives His life IN US. There is one such Church and ONLY ONE. Since it is ruled and guided by the LIVING God, whose written Word MEANS what it says, it cannot and will not compromise or unite with the churches of this world. It functions by the POWER of the LIVING GOD! This is the same LIVING God who guided Noah in building the ark — who saved Noah and his family from the Flood. This is the LIVING GOD whom Abraham obeyed, and in whom Abraham trusted — who gave the PROMISES! This is the SAME GOD who guided and prospered Joseph — protected, delivered, rewarded him — because Joseph OBEYED Him. This is the same God who guided David, as a lad, when he went up against the ten-foot tall Goliath who dared to mock the LIVING GOD. This is the same LIVING God who sent plagues on the Egyptians — PASSED OVER Israelites, spared them from death — delivered them from slavery — parted the waters of the Red Sea. This is the identical, same LIVING God who fought the armies of Assyria for Judah's King Hezekiah, when the Assyrian Shalmanezer denied the POWER of the Everliving God. This is the same LIVING God who fought the battle for Judah when the Jews were attacked by the armies of three allied enemies — as a result of the OBEDIENCE AND FAITH of King Jehoshaphat — the God who said: "Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of the great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's." This is the same LIVING God who intervened to save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego from the burning fiery furnace, when they obeyed and trusted Him, saying to the King: "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and HE WILL deliver us out of thine hand, O King!" Isn't it time we asked: Is THIS the God of AMERICA — of BRITISH nations — of EUROPE? Do WE rely on HIM to fight our battles — or do we rely on our own military strength and on human allies who will turn against us? Is THIS the God of Protestantism — or of Roman Catholicism, and do they serve Him by keeping all His Commandments? Or do they disobey, twisting, perverting, and wresting HIS WORD by saying Jesus did away with God's Commandments? Do they trust HIM as their Great Physician, or rely on human doctors, who PRACTICE on them with drugs and medicines, when they are sick? Jesus said: "THINK NOT that I am come to destroy the law" — so they think He DID destroy it! God said, "REMEMBER!" in one of His Commandments — so THAT is the Commandment they FORGET. Speaking of the Christmas tree, God said: "Learn not the way of the heathen" (Jer. 10:1-4) — so they learn and practice the way of the heathen and set up their trees. The ETERNAL is the LIVING God who is very soon going to RISE IN JUDGMENT against our nations — against these religions — which deny Him, disobey Him, trust in any and everything EXCEPT Him, and in fact serve dead gods, in the form of interests, pursuits, sports, entertainments, love of money, pride, vanity, and selfishness. To serve and obey God is to go THE WAY that leads into peace, happiness, prosperity, and JOY. I know! I started on that way thirty-eight years ago, and it has led me into those rewards. The DAY OF RECKONING is fast swooping down on this rebellious world. God says He will do nothing, except He reveal it to His servants and prophets (Amos 3:7). HE HAS REVEALED IT — I HAVE PROCLAIMED IT!