All Roads Lead To Rome?
Alfred E. Bouter
Book Review: "All Roads Lead To Rome?" or "The Ecumenical Movement"
author: Michael de Semlyen; Dorchester House Publications
224 pages with soft cover, price £5.95(7) revised 1993 edition
Available from Chapter Two, London [tel 020 8854 5389] or Believers' Bookshelf [fax 1(905)563-5811]
The front cover of this book shows Pope John Paul II, offering incense to "Our Lady of Fatima." The author at once presents a challenge to us. Is it right to play down the importance of biblical truths and values for which believers have given their lives in martyrdom? Is it right to compromise for the sake of unity? I quote from the book's back cover: "This book seeks to explain some of the background to this push for unity above all else and urges the reader to contend for the faith and hold fast to a true biblical and Christ-centred gospel of salvation by faith alone."
In the Preface, Mr. de Semlyen defends the martyrs in the days of the Reformation, who chose the narrow path (Matt. 7) in order to uphold God's Word without compromise. In the Introduction, the reader is summoned to reject man-made unity based on compromise. To illustrate this further, we read in his Foreword about recent developments. He quotes Cardinal Hume saying that our present Decade of Evangelism is meant to bring people into the "one true Church, founded on St. Peter, the rock." We also read that Evangelization 2000 is the result of a "vision" of Charismatic leaders.
In twenty-one chapters, with several interesting pictures to undergird his points, the author provides information that is alarming. He shows a gradual and steady increase of the Roman Catholic Church's power and influence, especially in the growing ecumenical movement. First he gives an overview of the developments in this century, including the Renewal movement and Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship and the Second Vatican Council. Then in the following chapters the author discusses some basic Catholic doctrines, especially concerning the Mass, the Virgin Mary, and Tradition. He also shows how these things conflict with Scripture's clear statements.
Mr. de Semlyen sounds the alarm with regard to evangelical leaders, particularly Billy Graham. As his manner of co-operation has become popular among many evangelical leaders and their followers, the author questions the moral integrity and biblical correctness of this attitude towards the pope. At the end of the book we find an overview of the decade in which we live, with its promotion of peace, its church mergers, and emphasis on unity. It refers to popular projects like Evangelization 2000, Lausanne international congress and charismatic renewal, as well as to the impact of the ecumenical movement and the World Council of Churches. In the 1993 revised edition of this book a helpful bibliography and index have been added.
The author speaks from the Protestant tradition, according to which the papal leadership is equated with Daniel's little horn. Although there are some clear parallels, and there is room for such a moral application, I believe that in the biblical framework of dispensational teaching, this little horn refers to a future, soon coming world leader, who will display certain papal features without being entirely identified with "Rome."
Those who can find the time to read Andrew Miller's Church History, will find it a welcome addition to the book we discuss. Mr. Miller provides much background information, as he draws the lines up to the last century. Mr. de Semlyen draws them on till our present day. In his last chapters he appeals to us to sound the trumpet clearly. He also shows the need for a "loving confrontation," in a spiritual attitude, in contrast to the harsh confrontation which is sometimes the case in certain extreme Protestant groups. Taking a right biblical stand is the more urgent because of the prevalent attitude of no confrontation at all, in many of the (neo-) evangelical denominations and groups. In contrast to the author, I believe that sounding the trumpet and taking a stand does not imply political involvement, as he seems to suggest.