At first glance, these movements - especially the ecumenical movement - seem like long overdue answers to a growing problem of religious division and intolerance. Adherents of ecumenism aim to focus more on the common ground between people of different beliefs than on the differences that divide them. They promote their agenda by encouraging unity on the beliefs they label as "important," "significant," or "central to faith," and dismissiveness on the issues they label as "minor" or "insignificant." Their mantra is essentially "agree to disagree" in order to find common ground, arrive at a compromise and move forward together.
While this mentality seems logical and appealing, it is actually very dangerous and is yet another clever way the adversary has discovered to deceive believers. When we consider the "important" and "significant" doctrinal issues "central to faith" on which ecumenism claims all Christians should agree, we find that many of them are anything but easy to agree on. These are primarily the trinity, eternal damnation of unbelievers, water baptism (in some form), and the existence of one gospel, among others. The varying beliefs held on these topics are deemed "divisive" and not worth arguing over. One person believes in paedo (infant) baptism while another believes in credo (believer) baptism, and ecumenism says, "Rather than focus on when baptism should be done, find common ground in the fact that you both believe in water baptism and don't get caught up in the petty details."
Could this supposedly unifying method sound any more appealing? Putting aside our differences, we make friends and find peace... or so it seems.
In reality, neither side is challenged on what it believes which prohibits either from coming to true knowledge, understanding, or maturity. In Ephesians 1:17, Paul reminds us that our greatest need as believers is "the spirit of wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of [God]." Ecumenism exists as a giant roadblock that stands in the way of truth.
That isn't the only threat it poses, though. The drive to "unify" believers acts as a gateway drug of sorts which leads to worse problems. Its appeal is intoxicating for those who buy into its message of tolerance and oneness. This euphoric mindset ultimately causes many in the ecumenical movement to take their unification message beyond the scope of fellow Christians in an effort to unify people of other religions, citing their "spiritual unity" because of their belief in a higher power. Pope John Paul II famously invited Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, and other religious leaders to the Vatican for a major event promoting spiritual unity. He was praised by the world for this seemingly mature and wise gesture.
The real question is: should believers be ecumenical or stand firm in truth? Clearly, the latter is the answer, although many find this hard to accept. Throughout all history, God has called out a small few to know and herald the truth. When we adopt an ecumenical attitude, the boundaries of truth disappear and we become increasingly lost. We begin labeling anyone who claims to believe in God a true believer, regardless of what they believe. We start viewing all our beliefs as petty and unimportant when the supposedly greater goal is unity.
Indeed, unity should be our goal, but only among true believers and not at the expense of truth. How, then, do we recognize true believers? The answer: by what they believe!
Put simply, a believer is defined by his or her belief. To say you believe in the God of the Bible but to believe nothing that's true about Him is like saying you believe in America while describing China. To claim you understand the evangel when you possess an understanding contrary to it is like claiming to understand calculus while describing algebra. If much of what you believe about something isn't true, then your belief is in a lie and is false. Period. This doesn't seem fair and is certainly not politically correct, but God has purposed it this way in accordance with His plan and has chosen to reveal His truths to few in this age. We should count ourselves fortunate to be part of that few and avoid the enticing urge to unify with false believers. This, of course, does not mean never associating with them, but it does mean not appeasing them.
The alternative to standing firm in our faith is a denial of our faith. When we blindly tolerate and accept the false beliefs of anyone who claims to be a believer, we discredit the truth and dishonor God. If someone claims to be a believer but believes in eternal torment, free will, the trinity, and that he has to attend an institutional church every Sunday to keep favor with God, then he is, by definition, not a true believer because he believes in a false God. This statement is not judgmental, unloving or prejudice - it is factual. In reality, the truly unloving thing would be to show approval of this man's beliefs so that he continues believing a lie.
The more you believe and share the truth, the lonelier you will be. For myself, this post may even serve as proof of that fact as it may anger many readers. Accept that truth requires division in order to be made apparent (1 Cor. 11:19) and resist any urge to dismiss the truth in the name of unity with those who profess faith but believe a lie. Promote unity, but only among like-minded, true believers, knowing that the ecumenical movement is yet another clever satanic ploy.
© 2012 by Stephen Hill
© 2012 by Stephen Hill