What does the Bible say about the future?
Are inter-church unions creating a one world religion?
The news is evident of corruption in churches, particularly pedophile clergy and blessing sexual immorality. Many churches put social justice before presenting the gospel in truth and love - often as a reaction to other's presenting the "God's judgement" part of the gospel in proud self-righteousness and condemnation of those they are called to save.
These church unions seem to be dominated by liberal Christianity who avoid preaching the bad news, without which there is no good news. This "God loves all and Jesus died for all" is preached while contradicting the exclusivity of
John 14:6 Jesus answered "I Am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Some embrace the heresy that "All religions lead to God". I don’t hear much of the current Pope preaching the gospel of repentance, but rather his embracing of all God's children into Heaven and our need to nurture Mother Earth. This reinforces my typical protestant bias.
But we're all corrupt humans. Some say, "We'd have a perfect church if only we got rid of all the people." If we look for fault in others, we will find it - ask a good friend or, even better, a rival to help you find your faults ;-).
Some teach Revelation 18 calls us to have nothing to do with a corrupt church.
Revelation 18:4 I heard another voice from Heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you won’t take part in her sins, and so that you won’t be caught up in her punishment. 5For her sins have been heard about in Heaven, and God is calling her sins to account.
While I have great theological concerns with some denominations, I remind myself that even on that day before Babylon’s destroyed, God will call out his people, just as he dragged Lot and his family from Sodom before its destruction in Genesis 19. To denounce those who dwell among the wicked is to denounce Lot because he lived in Sodom. But 2 Peter 2:8 calls him righteous.
This warning derived from Revelation 18 aligns with scriptures that tell us to shun false believers who encourage or condone unrighteousness so that they might be shamed into righteousness.
1 Corinthians 5:1 It’s actually reported that there’s sexual immorality among you, even things that pagans find intolerable. A man’s sleeping with his father’s wife. 2And you’re proud of it! Instead, you should’ve gone into mourning and thrown this man out of your fellowship who’s been doing this. 3For my part, even though I’m not physically with you, I’m with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I’ve already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who’s been doing this. 4So when you get together and I’m with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit might be saved on the day of the Lord.
But Paul didn’t decree that this church be cut off. In fact, in his next letter, he encourages them to restore this man to fellowship:
2 Corinthians 2:5 If anyone has caused grief, he hasn’t so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent – not to put it too severely. 6The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is enough. 7Now, you should forgive and comfort him, so that he won’t be overwhelmed with depression. 8Please reaffirm your love for him.
Looking further into Revelation 18, we read:
Revelation 18:6 Give to her just as she’s given. Repay her double of what she’s given. In the cup which she’s filled, give her twice as much. 7As much as she’s glorified herself and lived in prosperity, give her equivalent punishment and grief. Because she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and I’m no widow, and I’ll see no grief.’ 8Therefore, her plagues will come in one day, death, mourning and famine. She’ll be utterly burned with fire. Because the Lord God is mighty who judges her.
I understand this to be prophecy of God’s judgement on the religious capital near the end of the Tribulation. At this time, before God destroys the city, he calls his people out. This implies that even unto the end, whatever Babylon is, God's people will be living there.
In 1 Kings 18 we see Elijah's showdown with the pagan priests. After this in his burnout, he complained to the Lord:
1 Kings 19:10 He replied, ‘I’ve been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me too.’
But in God's answer:
18‘I’ve kept for myself 7,000 people throughout Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.’
Even when it looks like a church, denomination, or union is totally corrupt, God still has his servants in there. We therefore cannot condemn every Catholic because we might have great concerns about their leadership. I know that there are wonderful spirit-filled believers among them. I deeply respect those who feel led to remain in spiritually poor churches, because they are the ones who keep them from complete apostacy.
When we condemn a part of the Church, we are cutting off a part of Christ's body. We each have different purposes. The hand does not perceive the world in the same way as an eye (touch vs. sight) neither does it interact with the world in the same way. But we each contribute to the whole. It sometimes takes a huge effort to understand the function of another part of the body. To put it rudely, we might consider a part of the body to be the anus, but without this we'd soon die bloated with our own crap.
Galatians 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you’ll fulfil the law of Christ.
The religion of the Tribulation
During the Tribulation, there’ll be a false religion. Some allege that this religion is already here as the apostate union of churches with other religions. However, the false prophet will not be revealed until after the 7-year world peace treaty is enforced. I expect that what we currently see is a precursor that will easily morph into the evil religion. Consider if the Rapture is Pre-Tribulation, the world left behind would be without the evil-restraining influence of godly believers. Many unworthy "Christians" will immediately understand what’s happened and will turn to God, as with many Jews. But the left-behind church leadership will explain away what has happened - as did the Pharisees of Jesus' time – in the same manner as they explain the cessation of the supernatural in the church. They will then fulfil the concerns alleged against the world church unions.
But the Antichrist will introduce a new religion:
Daniel 11:35 Some of the wise will stumble, so that they’ll be refined, purified, and made spotless until the time of the end, because it’ll still come at the set time.
36The emperor will do whatever he wants. He’ll elevate himself, to be greater than every god, and he’ll speak arrogantly against the God of gods. He’ll prosper until God’s anger is complete. Because what’s decided will be done. 37He’ll have no interest in the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor any god. He’ll elevate himself above all others.
I speculate it’ll be a revived original paganism as practiced before the flood and in Nimrod's Babel.
I find the accusations against our more liberal sister churches being of the Antichrist akin to labelling someone a Nazi or a communist in political discussions. Such statements kill respectful dialogue, and by demonizing those of other perspectives we alienate them from any positive influence we may be able to apply. I’m deeply saddened with the division political discussions have brought about, particularly among my German church family. Some minister to their migrant neighbors and others outrightly reject them because they come as a wave of lawlessness. I think it’s wrong that Germany failed to protect its citizens by controlling its borders with regulated immigration. But it’s worse that Christians refuse to minister to the foreigner in their midst – regardless of how they got there. I believe God has brought these people to Christian lands that they might bring the gospel back to their own after experiencing God's unconditional love through his Church.