Ecumenism – What’s Wrong With Church Unity?
What is ecumenism?
The principle or aim of promoting unity among the world’s Christian Churches.
Oxford English Dictionary
Sounds good, but what sounds good is not always actually good. What does Paul say?
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
So what is Paul saying? Firstly, although he is writing to the church in Ephesus, it is not just that church to which he refers, but to the “body of Christ”. He recognises that the church at Ephesus does not have unity of faith and by his reference to the “whole body”, implies that disunity with other churches also exists. The objective, he says, is that by speaking truth in love, they (all churches) will grow up into Christ. Paul explains that what is currently preventing this unity of truth is the Christians’ penchant for false doctrine that is dispensed by, “the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”: perhaps not helped by the “itching ears” of 2 Timothy 4:3.
Christ himself said that deception, particularly in the end times, is something that we must guard against. He said,
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
So is the Ecumenical Movement seeking to lay aside disunity as they claim? Are they speaking truth in love? Are they proclaiming the true Christ – or is there another agenda?
The movement is, of course, worldwide but there is no one body that encompasses all the ecumenical efforts around the world. Nevertheless, the objectives of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and, for example, Churches Together in England (CTE) seem virtually indistinguishable.
The WCC is a “fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
For those who accept the Trinity concept, this may seem like a laudable objective.
CTE say that they are “a visible sign of their member churches’ “commitment as they seek a deepening of their communion with Christ and with one another, and proclaim the Gospel together by common witness and service. Its strength comes from people from different traditions finding new ways to work and worship together.”
The problem here is that the Bible describes only one tradition. Any tradition that is not of Christ is of man’s making. The correct ways of working and worshipping in the body of Christ are prescribed in the Bible and any “new ways” of doing so are again, the invention of man.
Paul told the Romans,
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
Sadly, Christians today are so caught up with the traditions, ceremonies and false holy days that they have been taught all their lives, that they have completely lost sight of what the Bible actually says. Much of what Paul called, “simplicity and Godly sincerity” (2 Thes 1:12) has been lost in a muddle of false teachings, doctrines, and heretical practices. The fact that there is such division and diversity amongst the churches is undeniable proof of this. Paul told the Thessalonians to have nothing to do with unscriptural traditions, yet modern Christians shrug off his warning and happily continue to attend their “church”, believing that they following the principles of Christ. Ecumenism does not look bad when the teaching is normally shallow and lightweight.
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
2 Thessalonians 3:6
Baldock Baptist Church, on their website, comment thus on CTE members’ universal acceptance of The Alpha Course as an introduction to the faith:
“The Alpha course in Christian basics was developed by [Nicky Gumbel] the strongly charismatic leader of Holy Trinity Brompton [HTB] – the church credited with introducing the ‘Toronto blessing to the UK’. We share the opinion of those who regard this course as falling far short of what is necessary to introduce people to the Christian faith. It is doctrinally so shallow that churches of all theological convictions are willing to use it, it promotes a very light-weight view of sin, and it virtually declares what we believe about the way of salvation to be of little consequence.”
Commenting first on the Alpha Course and then on the Toronto blessing, a former escapee of HTB says,
“These weaknesses almost certainly stemmed from Nicky Gumbel’s aim (that was well known at HTB at the time) to repackage the Gospel to make it more appealing to today’s generation… One of my friends had gone out to Toronto and hadn’t stopped shaking since her return, to such an extent, that six weeks later she suffered a tear in the bowel which she put down to her shaking. Another friend who was helping with the children’s work had to be restrained from exhibiting extravagant gesticulations in front of the children, and one of the Conference speakers, who had been in the military, had developed involuntary muscular twitches which he exhibited as he spoke.”
Repackaged the Gospel to make it more appealing
The Toronto blessing is so contrary to Bible teaching that it can be simply described as heretical. It relies on mass hysteria and stirring emotions and it invites demons as a quick internet search will confirm. Nowhere in the Bible are such practices or such results described. In fact, can you think of any Bible character that receives Jesus with anything but reverence, solemnity and simple joy? These practices have nothing to do with the Spirit, yet they are practised by some of the churches involved in the ecumenism; whilst others hold ceremonies steeped in Catholic tradition with all its portentous symbolism – again, completely without biblical foundation. Paul said:
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
That “one body” cannot be found by cobbling together a plethora of human practices and false teachings, it must be derived from the one true source – the Bible. Perhaps the only thing the list of churches of the CTE, which includes Anglican, Baptist Union, Methodist, Elim and 45 others have in common, is a total disregard for the Jesus of the Bible. They, it seems, teach another Jesus. With these churches, genuine unity in the true body of Christ is obviously impossible. But there is much worse in the Ecumenical Movement.
A prominent absentee from the list of churches, apparently at both national and international level, is the Roman Catholic Church. Given Pope Francis’ enthusiasm for ecumenicalism, this may seem strange; but there is an explanation. For whilst the so-called Christian churches of the CTE and the WCC are keen to join forces in a spirit of Christian unity, Pope Francis has a much bigger agenda. He is not only concerned with the Christian church, but rather an all-encompassing religious world church.
Relentlessly, since his election in March 2013 Francis has been courting any religion who will listen to him. He has met with Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Hindus, Muslims, Jews and others. This is a step too far for the Christian Churches of the WCC, at least for now, and so a respectful distance is maintained so as to not rock the boat. The picture (left) though, reveals the true closeness of the relationship with all the major Christian denominations – and it is clear who leads!
Anyone familiar with Revelation 17:1-18 will not be misled by what is going on here. The Bible characterises false religions as “harlots” and Revelation describes a great harlot that will sit upon all “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” and “with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication”. The “inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”
It really isn’t a huge jump to see that the Pope has the end-times, one-world church already under construction. In 2017 Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State said, “Some have tended to see ecumenical endeavour as a question of church, or as an internal Christian affair in which our unity will be good for the growth or even survival of Christ’s church, [however] the pursuit of ecumenical relations between different Christian churches should no longer be described as an “internal Christian affair” but has become a “moral imperative” due to the precariousness of the global political system… our world faces today an unprecedented number of challenges on every front.” In other words, the ecumenism is not driven by Christian obligation at all, but by politics.
Perhaps it is time for Christians to recognise, as Paul warned, that many of the mainstream churches have been “infiltrated by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”. This may not the doing of the local pastor, vicar or bishop who is a victim of the deception just as much as their congregations. This deception goes back to the early days of the church when Paul himself saw the effect and sounded the alarm.