Gary: Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature of our program, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call newsletter. Here is this week’s question: I have two related questions. I often hear you refer to Ecumenism. What exactly do you mean by that, and why do you seem to object to it?
Tom: Well, ecumenism, or e-CU-menism, as some say, is a movement among Christian churches to come together for the sake of unity. And the term is also applied to the practice of promoting cooperation and understanding among all religions—and, as we are noting more and more, to encourage tolerance. Now, wouldn’t you agree with that, Dave?
Dave: Well, that is part of ecumeni…the ecumenical movement, yes. “Let’s not quarrel with one another. Let’s dialog and try to come to a happy medium,” you know. A lot of talk about love—we want love. But Jesus said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” But the whole idea is wrong.
Tom: Oh, so now, this is where you object it.
Dave: (Laughing) Right. The whole idea is not biblical. If we want to read Christ’s great prayer for unity, which we get in John 17, it’s very clear. The unity is around the truth, the unity is around God’s Word—this is what He says repeatedly in His prayer: “Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth.” And then He says,…
Tom: Dave, let me just interject something. Sandwiched in…you refer to John 17. Well, John:17:11 says, “I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you; holy Father, keep through your name those who you have given me that they may be one as we are one.”
Now, a lot of the verses that are quoted with regard to this: Pick up with John:17:21, “…that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And the glory which ye gave me, I have given them, that they may be one, just as we are one.”
Now, between 17:11 and 17:21, the verse that you point out is right dead in the center of that: John:17:17: “Sanctify them by your truth, your word is truth.”
Dave: Well, let’s go on and read verse 23. Jesus is speaking: “I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one.” So, obviously, the unity that we have is because of our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. So, all those who are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, who belong to the Father, who are in the family of God, they are one. Christ’s prayer was answered.
Now, Ephesians 4 tells us we are to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Never does the Bible say we are to “make unity.” We are either united in Christ, we are either members of the Body of Christ, we either believe His Word and follow it, or we do not! So, ecumenism is an attempt to take people who have diverse beliefs, many of them contrary to the Word of God, some of them who don’t even acknowledge the gospel of Jesus Christ—they use words like “Christ” and “God,” and seem to honor Him, but at the same time they will not follow His teachings. They, many of them, have heretical beliefs contrary to God’s Word, and yet we’re going to unite together with them because “we want to get along with one another.” Well, we want to get along with one another, but let’s not unite theologically and spiritually with those who are not members of the family of God. It’s that simple. Now, if we are united, it is united in Christ.
Dave: There is no other way that you can unite people. So, to attempt some false unity, that’s what ecumenism is about.
Tom: Right. As you’re saying, “It’s so illogical.” For example, I mean we have people who give lip service to Jesus Christ, saying, “Oh, yes, He’s a great prophet.” However, you say, “Well, is He the Son of God?”
“No, He’s not the Son of God.”
So, they deny and reject Christ….
Dave: Now, the ecumenical movement goes even beyond that, Tom. At the moment, we’ve been talking about so-called Christian denominations. There are apostate Christian denominations. There are those who claim to be Christians, for example, who are not. Such as the Mormons—they have the wrong Christ, the wrong God, the wrong gospel.
Tom: Not the biblical one.
Dave: Right. Jehovah’s Witnesses, and involved in other cults, the Mind Science cults, and so forth. But now, ecumenism is even being taken beyond that by the pope, who wants to unite all religions. And you remember, he gathered is Assisi, Italy, to pray for peace, 160 leaders of the world’s twelve major religions. There were spiritists, there were witchdoctors, there were fire worshipers, there were animists and Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims. He has prayed with the Buddhist. His good buddy is the Dalai Lama, and it’s, “Well, let’s all get together for peace.”
No, it goes beyond that. He said, “We are all praying to the same God. And our prayers are creating a spiritual energy bringing about a new climate for peace.”
So this is a major problem with ecumenism. And now we overlook serious doctrinal differences. Not only that, we overlook the fact that people have a wrong god, they have the wrong concept of the whole purpose of God and of the way of salvation, but we’re going to unite with them, and we’re going to pray because we all use, sort of, “God” language.
Tom: See, it’s not just a wrong concept. It’s a matter of rejecting…
Tom: If you reject Jesus Christ for who He is and who He claimed to be, you have rejected the Son of God, who sacrificed Himself for us…
Tom: …that’s an incredible rejection!