Modern Ecumenical Movement (Apathy, and Syncretism)
Posted by commendatori on July 28, 2008
There is great emphasis in the church today on uniting professing Christians of all denominations and beliefs. The message is that we’re not so different after all… we can work together. Setting aside theological differences, we can help each other in the things we all agree upon. That effort is commonly referred to as “ecumenism,” which is defined as “the organized attempt to bring about the cooperation and unity of all believers in Christ.”
The foundation for this ecumenical trend has been laid and built upon over many years. We saw the beginning of institutional ecumenism in the 1960’s, with The World Council of Churches, mostly liberal mainline Protestant denominations who denied such essential doctrines as the inerrancy of Scripture and a literal, bodily resurrection of Christ. For years, Evangelicals distanced themselves from this institutional ecumenism because of the unsound theology of the groups involved.
Today, however, that spirit of compromise has invaded Evangelicalism. The more recent Catholic-Evangelical accord is an example of such compromise. In this accord, Evangelicals compromised essential doctrines such as justification by faith alone and the sufficiency of Scripture in order to unite with Roman Catholics on issues such as abortion and school prayer.
Compromising the Truth
The undiluted preaching from God’s Word and an authoritative stand on truth seem to be on the decline. What we’re seeing instead is a broadening of the gospel, a redefining of what it means to be a Christian, and a growing emphasis on inclusion and tolerance. Ecumenism has come to mean “reducing all elements of faith to the lowest common denominator. God’s Word is neglected, experience is valued above truth, a false and selfish “faith” is promoted, and sound doctrine and correction are despised as “divisive” and “unloving.”
Ignoring the Scriptures, numerous evangelical leaders today claim that a concern for doctrine causes division and therefore should be avoided for the sake of love and unity among the brethren. The Scriptures, however, couldn’t be more specific in its opposition to such a teaching.
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. [Romans 16:17]
Divisions are created by teachings that are contrary to sound doctrine.
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” [2 John 1:9].
Unity in the faith is impossible without the doctrine of Christ. Without such a foundation we have no basis for the faith, for the gospel, for knowing Jesus, or for knowing anything pertinent to the Truth.
The glittering terminology of ecumenical is seen, on close examination, to be as hollow as a soap bubble and just as slippery and hard to hold onto. Where is the “common ground” between belief and unbelief? A believer cannot ignore the “major theological differences” between him and an unbeliever. Instead, he should be cutting through those differences with the Sword of the Word to win the unbeliever to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I cannot agree to ignore an unbeliever’s condition without, by that very act, compromising my beliefs. For my beliefs include the Great Commission, which requires me to tell the world of the gospel of Jesus.
Modern Christian Ecumenical Movements
Even a cursory review of what has taken place in the Church during the last 25 years will reveal a fierce underming of the faith. Precisely as the Bible warns (Mt. 7:21-23; 24:4,11,24; 2 Thes 2:3; etc.), today’s most effective enemies of Christ are those who claim to be Christians and call mankind not just to any old false religion but to a counterfeit Christianity. Consider some of the following:
(ECT) Evangelicals and Catholics Together
The New Age Movement
Baha’i World Faith
The Christian Response to Ecumenism
Nineteenth-century preacher Charles Spurgeon was known for taking unpopular positions as he ministered God’s Word, and faced the same arguments confronting many Bible teachers today. His response to the seductive power of compromise for popularity’s sake was especially poignant: “What have you and I to do with maintaining our influence and position at the expense of truth? It is never right to do a little wrong to obtain the greatest possible good … Your duty is to do the right: consequences are with God.”
How, you might ask, can a Bible-believing church accept many of teachings held up today? Simple. Few read the Bible any more. Far too many people simply go along with whatever they are told as biblical, with no particular interest in checking it out for themselves. For those whom the Lord equips, He sets forth an essential for discernment:
“…If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [John 8:31-32]
For the sake of our growth in the faith and our development of discernment, we must “hold to” the teachings of God’s word. “Hold to,” or “continue” (KJV) means to submit to Christ’s teachings, to abide in them (i.e., to let our mental, physical and spiritual life be governed by them), and to remain in them, becoming steadfast in the faith. If we do this, then we are His disciples, we will know the truth, and will be set free by the truth.
How many times have you heard that somebody was “causing division in the church?” Well, maybe they were supposed to! After all, there are two things that cause division according to the Bible: truth and error.
Haven’t you heard the scripture,
“Do you suppose I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, rather division!”
That’s right! Jesus said that…
“from now on five members in one household will be divided three against two, and two against three” (Luke 12:51-52).
Hard words to hear! Yet, harder to accept. But, that’s what Jesus said and is preserved in the Holy Scriptures. He said that whole families would be divided over Him. And there are many occasions in the New Testament when whole assemblies of people were divided because of Jesus (John 7:43, 9:16, 10:19, Acts 23:6-7).
People who love the truth will divide from people who love lies.
Today, when there are so many who are professing religion, is it any wonder that some of the deepest truths in the Bible – repentance, faith, holiness, etc. – are also some of the greatest objects of debate in the Church. It must be said that those who truly want to know God’s views on these great pillars of Christian doctrine, will appear to be divisive – and rightly so, in an age when the great gospel message of salvation can be reduced to such a sugar-coated, bakery-item as, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!”
Can ecumenists by uniting, set the standards for the rest of the world? “Who’s kingdom is the earth anyway?” This worldly kingdom belongs to Satan until Jesus Christ returns. Jesus said in John 18:36,
“My kingdom belongs not to this world…”
He said he did not come to bring peace, but rather division.
Division that comes from the proclaiming of the truth will usually include some intense reaction and opposition, but it will also produce good fruit and the advancement of God’s kingdom (not to mention the conversion of souls.)
The Scripture is unmistakably clear: the primary attribute by which God wants to be known is holiness–He is totally separate from all that is sinful or defiled. Fifty-five times God refers to Himself in Scripture as the “Holy One.” Fifty-nine times He is called or described as being holy. There are only forty-three times where God is said to love or that He Himself is love. Interestingly enough, the word “holy” (or a form of it) occurs 651 times in Scripture. The word “love” (or a related form) whether human or divine is mentioned only 546 times. Although no attribute of God is mentioned more frequently in the Bible than that of holiness, there is perhaps no other characteristic so ignored and misunderstood as this one. Many seem to view holiness and love as being contradictory: holiness is too negative and divisive while love seems to be positive and accepting. But contrary to God’s nature is the notion that love must tolerate or even refuse to expose error. God’s love is compatible with His holiness. As believers follow the command to imitate their God (Eph. 5:1), they are not free to pick and choose which characteristics to copy. The modern day definition of love largely sets aside God’s demand to His children,
“Be ye holy for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44; 1 Pet. 1:15,16).
Holiness is the hub of the wheel from which all other divine attributes radiate. Anything that is genuinely at the heart of God should primarily reflect that same characteristic of holiness. With the blatant rejection of the Bible doctrine of separation (which finds its foundation in the holiness of God), Promise Keepers cannot be legitimately considered “at the very heart of God.” Whenever a movement becomes engrossed in compromise with error, it ceases to reflect that core attribute which God has chosen as His name (Isa. 57:15).
Still some would try to ignore the wrong of compromising methods and point out only the good that is seen. Some would even say that those who dare criticize a movement (as PK) which has enjoyed such phenomenal success are being nit- picky. If there can be an agreement on the “major” doctrines of Scripture, then why not get on the bandwagon of a good cause? To this Albert Dager makes the following remarks:
“The evidence of God at work is not outward results, but conformity to Scripture, which in turn results in outward change. Outward change without conformity to Scripture is merely human righteousness. Change of mind does not always equate to change of heart. A genuine change of heart results in the holding of Scripture in high esteem. Nor does it distinguish between so called `essential doctrine’ and `secondary doctrine’ … (2 Tim. 3:14- 17)… When the Holy Spirit says that all Scripture is given for instruction in righteousness, He isn’t speaking only of the so-called `Big Five’ doctrines the ecumenists are claiming as reason for unity. He means all of Scripture itself is the essential doctrine of the Faith” (Media Spotlight Special Report, p. 14).
He then continues with these comments:
“The end does not justify the means. The proper focus must be on the means itself, as well as on the end. . . Results are not the final arbiter of truth; one’s pious demeanor is not the final arbiter of truth; one’s ability to call fire down from heaven is not the final arbiter of truth. God’s Word is the only and final arbiter of truth” (Ibid.).
Behold the emergence of the ecumenical apostate church, the bride of Antichrist!
“Positive Christianity” is the enemy of the cross.
The truth offends those who don’t want to hear it. Yet to speak anything less is to trifle with the eternal destiny of souls. Ecumenism’s promise of “unity” is tempting, but it denies Christ and paves the way for the Antichrist and his new world religion. It is a unification that will ultimately lead to destruction.
True unity is not sought by pretending that there are no differences, as modern ecumenists have done, but by recognizing and respecting those differences, while focusing on the great orthodox truths all Christians share. Articulated in the classic confessions and creeds, it embraces such fundamentals as the Virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the authority of Scripture, and the Second Coming.
Man-made unity is not what God desires. He wants a holy people. Many Christians believe that unity in itself will bring about a holy revival. But unity cannot bring holiness, only holiness can bring about true unity. For when God’s people start seeking to live, worship and pray according to the Holy Word of God, then God Himself will answer Jesus’ prayer and make those who seek Him, truly “one!” THEN God will unite the hearts of those who love Him, and hate sin and error, and He will truly shine forth from the midst of such a people – the true people of God!
The unification of the various national identities, races, and religions can only be achieved through the eradication of sin. That means only through the Lord Jesus Christ can we become perfectly one. The other avenue to unite people, the program of the Antichrist, will only be accomplished temporarily through deception.