Competing for Religious Authority & Control
Is the Pope challenging the Islamic world for Supremacy?
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
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Hello--and welcome to another edition of the Bible in the News. This is Paul Billington once again, as we look at the news over the past week, we see that the purpose of God as he has revealed it through the Scriptures of the Prophets, continues to work itself out in the events that are taking place. There can be no doubt that the main news story during the past week has been about the Pope upsetting Muslims by his remarks in Germany. We commented on this in our programme last week. Well, the debate has continued as to just what the Pope was trying to achieve. The debate was summed up in a headline that appeared in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: POLITICAL ERROR OR CALCULATED MOVE.
The paper said that many Christians feared that the Pope was seeking to push the Catholic Church "in an extreme conservative, if not reactionary, direction." The paper went on: "It is not for nothing that a columnist in yesterday's Guardian suggested in his analysis of the incident that "God's Rottweiler" was "showing his teeth."
Despite the expressions of "deep respect" for Islam, there remains the strong feeling that his remarks were, nonetheless, "a calculated move." Over some time now there has been a notable shift in the Vatican's approach to the Islamic world, and it has been made clear that if Muslims expect to enjoy religious freedom in Europe, then the Muslims must reciprocate, ensuring that Christians (especially Catholics) enjoy freedom of religion in Islamic states.
The Pope's argument of course, is totally false--both as far as his condemnation of violence is concerned, and as far as his claim than his brand of Christianity is based upon reason. The Catholic Church has a long history of using violence itself--the Crusades for example, the Inquisition for example, the massacres of the Piedmontese, the Albigenses--the famous massacre of St. Bartholomew which put to death Huguenots in France in 1572. The Pope’s religion is hardly one of non-violence is it! And when it comes to reason, how can anyone be converted to the Pope's trinitarianism on the basis of reason! How does he make one into three and three into one? How can he speak of reason and the "Mystery of Faith" in the same breath? In some ways Islam is more reasonable than Catholicism!
The fact is that Islam has been and still is penetrating the Christian West. Moslems are found in western countries in very large numbers and they have a political voice that is becoming stronger. The Moslems not only threaten western values like freedom, but they are becoming a threat to the centres of political power and have openly stated their intention to see the crescent flag hoisted on 10 Downing Street in London and over the White House in Washington. Do they want to see the Islamic flag fly from the top of St. Peter's in Rome also? Obviously, Catholics would not like that idea very much--and it could even stir up the German Pope to remember the days of the Holy Roman Empire and challenge the new Barbarian hordes that are spreading themselves across Europe!
But the question is, if a clash of civilisations is coming--and whether that clash explodes in the violence of war, or whether it remains an ideological struggle as Tony Blair sees it. What the Pope calls a "dialogue"—or whether the confrontation will involve all these--the big question is who will win?
What we are witnessing today is a competition for the rulership of the world. There is a religious aspect to this--and the question is, who is going to wield religious authority and control over the world in the coming years?
Today, the Protestant churches are a lifeless corpse. They were defeated by the Jesuits during the last century. The Pope has seen off communism also. If the leaders of Islam choose the path of dialogue, as the Pope says he wants, they will lose too. They are no match for the cunning and sophisticated polemicists of the Roman Church. This path would lead them into the same condition as Protestant. If Islamic nations choose the path of violence--including terrorism and military confrontation, the Pope will unite the Christian world against them. Russia, the United States, Europe (and the rest) have the power to decimate the Muslim world if they choose to use it.
We do not know how the issue will be played out--perhaps (even probably)--some Islamic nations will choose dialogue, and others violence. But whatever they choose, Rome will triumph. She will be able to say in her heart, "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow" (Revelation 18:7).
In the religious world, Rome will rise to the pinnacle--she will have no religious rival EXCEPT THE JEWS. As the power and threats coming from Islam recede, Israel will become rich and influential just as Ezekiel 38:12, 13 teaches us. In the words of Isaiah 17:11, "In that day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shall thou make thy seed to flourish." Israel's success and prosperity will become the envy of the world, and the growth of religious Zionism will antagonize Rome and all those who support her.
At that time it will not only be Iran that wants to wipe Israel off the map, but Christendom will also manifest the same desire to cut them off from being a nation "that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance" (Psalm 83:4).
A rumour concerning the imminent appearance of Israel’s long-promised Messiah will circulate among the Jews in the Land. Rome, and many in Christian churches, will declare that Antichrist is about to appear. Again it will be another competition for the rulership of the world. Who is going to wield religious authority and control over the world--the Pope and his Vatican or the Jewish Messiah?
This is the great issue that will face the nations of the world in the coming years. This is the issue of Armageddon. The kings of the earth (i.e. Europe) AND of the whole world will take counsel together against the LORD, and against his Anointed (or Messiah) as we read in both Psalm 2 and in Revelation 16:14-16.
Another scene of this is given in Revelation 17:13, 14.
"These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful."
Are you among the called? Are you one of these chosen ones? will you remain faithful to that calling?
If so, you will be with him.
Join us again next week when once more, God willing, we will talk about the Bible in the News.
Printed: Wednesday, September 20, 2006
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