The similarity between the “teaching of Balaam” and Vatican II’s call for rapprochement

Yesterday at church, our pastor brought up the story of Balak and Balaam in his sermon. As you remember from Numbers 22-24, Balak was a king of Moab. Balak and the Moabites (descendants of Lot) feared Moses and the approaching Israelites. Balak called upon Balaam, a prophet from the East, to curse the Israelites. Much to Balak’s frustration, Balaam blessed the Israelites in accordance with God’s will. Three times Balak called upon Balaam to curse the Israelites and three times Balaam blessed them instead. But in Numbers 25:1-9, we learn that some of the Israelite men went on to commit spiritual fornication by consorting with the daughters of Moab and subsequently worshiping their god, the Baal of Peor. The Lord punished Israel by sending a plague, which killed twenty-four thousand. In Revelation 2:14, we learn that it was Balaam who had finally advised a very frustrated Balak to neutralize the Israelites by having the Moabite women entice them into committing fornication and idolatry. The Moabite attack on Israel wasn’t through military aggression, it was through “pleasurable” sensuality and compromise.

Any lessons for us today?

As I listened to the portions of the sermon regarding the “teaching of Balaam,” I thought of a similar circumstance in our own time. In previous generations, evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics squared off as adversaries in the battle for people’s souls. Evangelicals proclaimed the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone while Catholics propagated their false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and “ne’er the twain shall meet.”

But at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65),* popes John XXIII and Paul VI and their allies decided to drop their church’s militant, aggressive approach towards Protestants and try a totally different tack of accommodation and “compromise.” The Catholic hierarchy reached out to Protestants as “separated brethren” with the goal of eventually re-gathering them under Rome’s wings. Protestants have warmly responded to this friendly overture. The appeal of (c)hristian “unity” has increasingly drowned out concerns over vital doctrinal differences.

Just as the Israelites responded to the appealing enticements of the Moabites, many in the evangelical church have succumb to the “teaching of Balaam” and have allowed themselves to drift into spiritual fornication with Rome. They call Rome’s darkness “light” and they call all warnings to stay separate from Rome “darkness.”

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” – Isaiah 5:20

Protestants and evangelicals all over the world will be commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation tomorrow, but the reality is that many who hold to the labels of “Protestant” and “evangelical” have compromised and betrayed the New Testament Gospel of grace recovered by Luther and the other Reformers by embracing Catholicism and its false gospel of sacramental grace and merit in an attempt to establish (c)hristian unity. They have, in a figurative sense, set out “to whore with the daughters of Moab” (Numbers 25:1).

“But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.” – Revelation 2:14

*See the Second Vatican Council’s decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio (“Restoration of unity”), here.

16 thoughts on “The similarity between the “teaching of Balaam” and Vatican II’s call for rapprochement

    1. Thanks, sister! Christians always snicker, “Tsk, tsk” at the unfaithful, disobedient Israelites and then turn around and practice the exact same spiritual infidelity.

      Liked by 1 person

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