The Error of Popular Ecumenicalism

Webster’s Dictionary defines ecumenicalism as that which “promotes or tends toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation.” Jesus himself prayed for unity among his followers (John 17:20,21). Who would argue that division between those who profess a faith in Christ is a good thing? But unity at the sacrifice of truth is not a good thing. So while ecumenicalism itself is a godly desire, popular ecumenicalism as promoted and practiced today seeks to set aside doctrinal differences and find common ground on a simple and sincere profession of faith in Jesus. And that simply does not go far enough for those who believe that the Bible is authoritative in all areas of our lives.

         If the only thing God had to say to humanity was “Have faith in Jesus” he could have saved himself and others a lot of trouble, not to mention boatloads of paper and leather! But of course he had much more to say. And therein lies the error of popular ecumenicalism—the setting aside of biblical doctrines that will inherently divide. Jesus held no illusions as to the effect his teaching would have on people. In fact he said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). How’s that? The “Prince of peace” didn’t come to bring peace? That’s what he said. This is so because truth must take precedence over a veneer of “I’m O.K., you’re O.K.”. Peace between God and man is achieved when we believe in Jesus and are baptized into him (Mark 16:16; Galatians 3:26,27). That is the starting point of biblical unity. That’s where we can know we have been saved by the blood of Jesus and been added by the grace of God to his church. Not only that, it’s also where we can know who our brothers and sisters in Christ are.

         As members of Christ’s church, God has a great deal to say about how we must then live as his people. Paul wrote to Timothy, “I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). He later told Timothy to “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). Apparently doctrine does make a difference.

         Ecumenicalism is a nice idea. But it is sheer fantasy to believe that it can be achieved and maintained along with an adherence to Scripture.

Brad Fry

Published in: on October 27, 2010 at 10:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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