Adventists, Catholics, and Hewlett-Packard

The Hewlett-Packard Company has a slogan that not only makes their employees stop and think, but it should make us think as well. It is, “Do we know what we already know?”

In light of recent world developments, I have done some serious reflecting. No doubt you have too. I’m seeing events taking shape that seem to have a ring of familiarity. I ask myself, “Am I taking seriously what I already know?”

Last year I had the privilege of speaking for a satellite crusade from Brazil. It was carried on 157 television stations and numerous downlink sites across South America and beyond. In light of that, I’ve been reminded of the Catholic Church’s response to the staggering growth of what they refer to as “sects” in Brazil.

At the 31st National Conference of Bishops in Brazil, Bishop Sinesio Bolm stated, “We will declare a holy war, don’t doubt it. The Catholic Church has a ponderous structure, but when we move, we’ll smash anyone beneath us.”

For obvious reasons, we should not be too specific in our speculation as to how this will all play out for us as Adventists, particularly in light of the church's explosive growth in Latin America and other parts of the world. According to Adherents.com, we are now the eighth largest international church in the world.

But once again I hear the words of Daniel, John the Revelator, and Ellen G. White who said, “And let it be remembered, it is the boast of Rome that she never changes … she is silently growing into power … stealthily and unsuspectingly she is strengthening her forces to further her own ends when the time shall come for her to strike” (The Great Controversy, page 581).

Many of us were impacted recently when we saw the picture of our last three U.S. presidents paying homage as they knelt before the casket of Pope John Paul II. They were accompanied by heads of state from 60 countries. We couldn’t help but think of the verse in Revelation 13:3, “ … and all the world wondered after the beast.”

So with the reign of Pope John Paul II the Catholic Church has successfully, as predicted, reestablished itself as a recognized geopolitical power. It has gained significant credibility and favor with people in the United States and around the world.

Now there is a new head of the Catholic Church. Traditionally, popes put great significance on the names they choose for themselves. It is interesting that this new pope has named himself Pope Benedict XVI. The first 14 Benedicts were hard-line popes reigning during the Dark Ages (575–1798), a time of great persecution for God’s people. And Benedict XV was known for his emphasis on ecumenism. Immediately after the new pope, Benedict XVI, was elected, he announced that the first priority for his administration would be ecumenism. What does that mean? How will he strategize to accomplish it?

Now I write this article realizing that some might misinterpret what I have said. This is not a judgment on the many sincere Christian members of the Catholic Church. It does not even judge the moral characters of the popes themselves. That is rightly God’s responsibility. This article is talking about a system that has in the past demonstrated its ability to be an evil agency of the Devil and has the potential to be so again.

I realize that in recent years there are some prophetic revisionists within the Adventist Church. Despite the reformation view and our own Adventist historic position, they are advocating a multiple interpretive application to the beast power of Daniel. They believe that it may no longer even apply to the Catholic Church. This is despite the dozen or so specific characteristics described in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 that, when put together, clearly exclude any other entity or individual other than the Catholic Church. These individuals might have trouble seeing any significance to recent events as they relate to our Great Controversy world view.

But for most of us, we are again reminded of another inspired statement, “We are standing upon the threshold of great and solemn events. Prophecies are fulfilling … only a moment of time, as it were, yet remains” (6T, page 14).

Yes, I believe that we better take notice of “what we already know.” “Prophecies are fulfilling.”

June 01, 2005 / Editorial
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