One of the most significant events in 500 years of church history occurred on March 29, 1994: a joint declaration, "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium," was signed between the Vatican and many prominent evangelical leaders, with the apparent reconciliation of their theological differences. The Reformation a misunderstanding?
It certainly seemed that the compromise of the Gospel lay at the heart of this agreement. The Gospel has not changed. Were the many centuries of martyrs tortured to death over the doctrine of salvation by faith, the inerrancy of the Word of God, and the dramatic tenets of the Reformation all in vain? Were the millions who died for their faith simply victims of a gigantic misunderstanding? So it would seem.
A Woman Rides the Beast
This joint declaration led to a landmark book by Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast (video version), (which, if you haven't discovered it, is "must reading"). He carefully chronicles (and documents) the amazing story of the history of the Medieval Church, the true origins of the Roman Catholic Church and, most significantly, its posture today and its clear destiny in prophecy.
To put this into perspective, one needs to be aware of the bloody religious history of the struggle for power in the Roman Church. It should be borne in mind that one Pope (Innocent III), in just one day, murdered more Christians than all the Roman Caesars put together.
A Vatican Surprise!
What makes this particularly noteworthy is the remarkable event that occurred on May 21, 1995, on an abandoned Soviet airfield at an open-air, rain-soaked Mass in Moravia. (Moravia was a battle ground of the ferocious Thirteen Years' War in the 17th century.)
To a crowd of less than 100,000, Pope John Paul II asked forgiveness for the wrongs committed by the Catholic Church against Protestants and people of other faiths.
"Today, I, the Pope of the Church of Rome, in the name of all Catholics, ask forgiveness for the wrongs inflicted on non-Catholics during the turbulent history of these peoples," he said. "At the same time, I pledge the Catholic Church's forgiveness for whatever harm her sons and daughters have suffered."
The solemn language and its special formulation made this the strongest of recent papal statements examining the role and responsibility of the church for crimes committed and permitted in its name throughout the centuries.
In light of the tenacious doctrine of Infallibility, this is an amazing statement. In one sweeping admission, the tens of millions of Christians tortured to death throughout the past 1,500 years is now "swept behind us." Remarkable. But why?
In another letter issued this month (July 1995), the Pope made new overtures to the Eastern Orthodox churches, emphasizing the beliefs that bind the eastern and western churches despite their historic split.
His goal, he has repeatedly said, is to promote unity among the world's Christians "in anticipation of the Millennium."
The Coming Millennium
It is important to diligently search out the ambitions and character of the "One World Religion" prophesied in the Bible, most notably in Revelation Chapter 17. Dave Hunt's provocative book clearly portrays the identity of the "Woman that Rides the Beast."
The conspicuous priorities of the Vatican to assume leadership of the worldwide ecumenical movement have increasingly been made manifest--even to the pursuit of the administration of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem--and this remarkable change in posture of the Vatican towards Protestants would appear to be a giant step toward removing the obstacle of the bloody testimony of history.
Is the One World Church coming? Is the Woman of Revelation 17 preparing for her ride? Check it out for yourself. Be diligent and do your own homework! There are some really exciting times ahead!