Dec 302015
 

EcumenicalHandsFull Definition of ecumenical
1
: worldwide or general in extent, influence, or application
2
a : of, relating to, or representing the whole of a body of churches
b : promoting or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation

It has been noted on these pages recently that I am “ecumenical”.

Some note this with approval, others as an accusation.

The word itself has been hijacked by separatists and prophecy wonks as a term of derision and scorn.

It’s applied to folks that they believe are trying to bring about the New World Order and a one world religion, and are basically tools of the anti-Christ.

My goals are not guided by those ambitions, but by the words of Jesus.

““I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
(John 17:20–23 ESV)

I believe that orthodox Christians can have fellowship centered on the person of Christ and guided by the creeds and confessions the entire orthodox church accepts as marks of orthodoxy.

In other words, if you profess Christ and agree to what the church has defined as orthodox doctrine, you’re family to me.

We can disagree on all manner of secondary doctrines and you’re still family to me.

There’s one simple reason why I choose to believe this.

I could be wrong.

My personal beliefs line up with those of Reformed Anglicans.

That doesn’t mean I can ignore the work that other Spirit filled believers have written for over 2000 years.

There is “truth” that I can learn in all the different orthodox traditions.

It doesn’t mean I’ll affirm all that any group teaches, it means I respect the work of the Spirit among them.

It doesn’t diminish the differences…the distance between Rome and Geneva is more than geographic.

It does mean that we accept the confession of faith in Christ and treat each other as brethren made in the image of God.

My faith life has been a journey toward truth, not a one time deposit of it.

My views have changed on many things over the years.

They may change yet again…because I could be wrong.

Make your own application…

 

  44 Responses to “On Being Ecumenical”

  1. “True ecumeny, which sees the one church of Christ wherever the means of grace are yet preserved—through which the Lord calls to His church—even beyond the boundaries of one’s own ecclesiology, stands opposed to false ecumeny, which treats Christians of all denominations as brothers in faith. This false ecumeny tries to make visible and tangible that which we humans cannot see and touch, the church as the people of God, as the Body of Christ, as the temple of the Holy Spirit. This false ecumeny changes the ‘article of faith’ about the church into an ‘article of sight.’ It understands the unity of the church, which only the Holy Spirit can create and maintain, as something which we humans can produce. And it tries to produce this unity, in that it works to realize the one faith, the one baptism, the one sacrament of the altar as a compromise of various forms of faith, various interpretations of baptism, and various understandings of holy communion. In so far as it does that, this false ecumeny overlooks [the fact] that the various understandings of the means of grace are not only different possibilities of understanding the truth, but rather that soul-murdering errors and church-destroying heresy also hide among them. True ecumeny sees this. Therefore, it is able to recognize the true unity of the church only there, where it recognizes the one correct faith, the one correct baptism, the one communion of the Lord Christ. True ecumeny asks, therefore, not first about unity, but rather about truth. It knows that where the true church is, there, and there alone, is also the one church. In this sense it understands the high priestly prayer of the Lord, too, in which the ‘that they may all be one’ is linked inseparably with ‘sanctify them in Your truth; Your Word is the truth’ (John 17:17, 21).” – Hermann Sasse

  2. Michael, I think what you are describing is the ability and goodness of a fellowship of friends who can safely and with mutual respect discuss and even debate theological and church polity related topics among different Christian churches, without asking anyone to compromise their beliefs. This is wonderful. I wouldn’t call it ecumenical because you are not proposing that we worship together.

  3. Jean…good point.

  4. A month or so ago on my flight back from Turkey I got to sit next to a Greek Orthodox clergyman. While he was dressed in civilian clothes he shared that he was a Christian. He shared with me much about the history of the early Church and it was clearly evident that he certainly loves Christ and Him crucified. While this does not make me want to become a member of the Greek orthodox Church nor does he now want to renounce his tradition, we were both able to talk and appreciate one another. Serving and living as a Christian clergyman in Turkey is becoming increasingly more difficult. We both have our distinctives but agreed that we are not saved by them but by knowing Christ. We actually connected again for coffee a couple weeks ago. We both believe God pre-ordained this fellowship. Does this now make me ecumenical?

  5. It makes you both Calvinists… 🙂

  6. 🙂

  7. When we went on the mission field, leaving our home church fellowship, our entire circle of (church) friends…..leaving our life, as we knew it, behind, and then met other missionaries from every denomination I can think of…well that was the time I learned that “my tribe” was not the Alpha and Omega of the church. I learned, from first hand experience, there were so many other believers who loved and served Jesus and others. I learned that we could even serve together in feeding ministry, medical outreaches, and other gospel opportunities. We didn’t have to agree on everything, when we agreed that we all need the good news that there is no other name by which we must be saved. Jesus paid it all! In Christ we had fellowship.

  8. There should be a big scarlet E on the top of this blog to shame the Phoenix Preacher for his ecumenicalism. Plus it would help to warn those concerned that if they dare enter the blog they could later get smacked with the guilt by association card that they are part of the New World Order (and that they might even enjoy yoga exercises in secret).

  9. I can be ecumenical to a point. I can party and ‘fellowship’ with the best of them. I never draw the line on what people believe, however … I do draw the line at what people deny.

    At that point, I may put down the party favors. 🙂

  10. “it takes one to no one” they say… anyone who loves Christ and accepts Him as man’s only hope of redemption – no matter their dogma(s) of choice – is family whether they like it or not 🙂

  11. Where Christians really do themselves and the kingdom a disservice is when they do not cooperate on social justice issues, such as abortion and SSM. If the homosexual lobby could defeat a religious liberty statute in a conservative state like Indiana, where Christians probably outnumber LGBT by 100 to 1, then there’s something terribly wrong.

    I don’t see why RCC, Lutherans, Baptists, CC, etc. can’t join in the causes where they agree, such as abortion and SSM.

  12. The RCC, Lutherans and Baptists do — in the left hand kingdom.

    How well we do n church is another story. 😉

  13. The RCC, Lutherans and Baptists do — in the left hand kingdom.

    Then we do a supper crappy job at it.

  14. In the case of Religious Liberty Laws and such, there is more to it than just ecumenical cooperation. The whole tide of culture has turned against us in that one. It is hard to stand against. It will cost you something.

  15. Jean – not all RCC, Lutherans or Baptists are against abortion or SSM

  16. MLD,
    I agree with you, but the RCC U.S. Council of Bishops and the conservative wings of Lutherans and Baptists are. And they could easily turn out 1 million Christians anywhere any time if organized.

    Yes, Josh, Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said “pick up your cross….” And, yes, there are plenty of Christians who will. At least here in the heartland.

  17. “The word itself has been hijacked by separatists and prophecy wonks as a term of derision and scorn.”

    Jus wonderin, “Is the word wonk a term of derision?”

    LOL

  18. It seems that under Michael’s definition many of the churches I know, including all of the CCs I’ve attended- would be ecumenical. The devil is in the details of what the church has defined as orthodox- thats where, for example, the Roman Church goes off the reservation, in my opinion, since they do not belive that a profession of faith is enough to get you into Heaven.

  19. MLD- you think CC does not believe a profession of faith is enough to get you into Heaven? That is news to me. What else does CC require?

  20. Cookie,
    So what you are saying is that a profession of faith is now the substitute for the offering of bulls and goats? Now we offer up a profession of faith to please God? How does a profession of faith get you to heaven? Is it now the substitute substitute for the sacrificial life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

  21. Cookie – if you want to know what a CCer thinks on this tell them you made a profession of faith 5 yrs ago at a Harvest Crusade and that is all you ever did in the Christian faith. See what they tell you is lacking.

  22. “enough to get you into heaven”

    Is that the Gospel?

  23. “enough to get you into heaven”

    Is that the Gospel?”

    If one conceives of salvation as a transaction, you are creating a legal scheme.

    No that isn’t the Gospel.

    How about: Christ is Lord?

    How about: While we were totally helpless, Christ died for the ungodly?

    How about: Father forgive them (me, you) for they no not what they do?

  24. But Jean – I gotta do something! 🙂

  25. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

    That is what I mean by a profession of faith. This is accompanied by an indwelling of the Holy Spirit- which seals the believer for all eternity. That is what CC teaches.

    There is nothing further that needs to be done to “get into Heaven”. No mandatory church attendance. No partaking of the sacraments. No belief in the Co-Redeemer Mary. etc.

    Now- of course there are many fruits that are produced by the sanctifying Christian life. There are convictions of sin- mercy and forgiveness, a less than perfect life, etc. etc.

    But the BELIEF is what saves you and indwells you and seals you.

    The thief on the cross believed- and is in Heaven. That was all he needed to do. Thats all we need to do.

  26. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

    This can only happen after you are already a Christian – but what happened previous to that confession that made you a Christian.

  27. You don’t get it. You confession is the confession that you have already been saved. Not magic words to get saved.

  28. “This can only happen after you are already a Christian – but what happened previous to that confession that made you a Christian.”

    because … “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.”

    A good piece of advice I have heard more than once is: If you have to rely on a single verse of Scripture for a major doctrine, you’ve got a problem with your doctrine. I would probably expand that to say use caution if you’re relying on 2-3 verses.

  29. “You confession is the confession that you have already been saved. Not magic words to get saved.”

    The verse is twofold- confession and belief. You are missing the belief part.

    Belief saves you- not confession. When I was referring to “profession of faith” it was a sloppy way of saying that I believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior- believed he died on the cross- believed he rose from the dead and asked him to come into my life and indwell me and save me.

    Thta is what I meant by slippily saying “profession of faith”. If that is done with heartfelt belief- that is accepting the gift of salvation.

    I’m fairly new here and havent seen these conversations before about salvation- but if the community here does not accept that belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is what slavation (i.e. justificatino) is all about- I think I might be in the wrong place.

    Help me out here- is there somehting I’m missing? The Gospel is very simple- I cited one verse of MANY MANY MANY verses that support Salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ.

  30. Cookie, (Welcome! )

    I think you do have to do more than just believe to be saved because even the devils believe, etcetera and so forth.

    But don’t leave the blog because of me because I hold to the minority view here.

  31. Cookie, let me ask you this way – is the guy in my example @22 lacking anything?

  32. well, i’ll leave those with knives fine enough to split hairs to debate confession unto salvation – but we who are redeemed haven’t parked our brains at the church door either… isn’t it quite clear that the belief that saves is a belief that comes from one’s heart response, not from one’s head alone?
    if one wants to declare that they were saved and then believed it – i’d have to say the old saw’s tune rings more true for me that declares: “i sought the Lord and afterward i knew that He moved my soul to seek Him seeking me….”
    yes, it’s all of God, yes, He knows His own, He knows who will respond to His call, but salvation is out there for all mankind to receive or sadly ignore, missing the mark for a variety of reasons that distills down to unbelief
    can one make a confession of belief without “believing?” – seems like a rational conclusion when one thinks on it a while

  33. something just occurred to me 🙂 in the world there is what we term a “marriage of convenience” – one with no love, no intercourse on any level except the legal one
    i don’t think that our Lord’s Bride has any such provision – dunno tho, just a thot

  34. can one make a confession of belief without “believing?” – seems like a rational conclusion when one thinks on it a while

    Yes I suppose one can. But thats NOT what Im talking about. I think MLD is trying to just be a brat. He should know by now I’m talking about a true belief that comes with a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

    The guy at #22 who professed at a Harvest Crusade- either was real (and saved- and nothing else is needed) or it was just some emotional resposne that meant nothing.

    My contention is that I am ecumenical in the sense that I accept anyone who has had a “true” conversion experience by belieiving in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as a fellow Christian- regardless of their church. Xenia- the devil does not “believe AND receive”. Also – totehrs here who want to “add” to the Gospel- what are you adding?

    I guess I’m dense.

  35. Cookie – “He should know by now I’m talking about a true belief that comes with a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. ”

    I am just trying to get clarification – you say that your belief saves you and then you also say that the belief comes only ‘with a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit.’

    So which is it – belief precedes salvation or belief is a result of salvation (after you have the HS?)

    When you ask about adding to the gospel – can you describe the gospel? The gospel I know is Jesus doing all the work – the only thing I provide in the process is my sin.

  36. Cookie, what am I adding? The rest of the New Testament.

  37. It’s a mystery. When Peter was saved it was a concurrent action-God saved Peter as Peter professed Jesus as Messiah. It wasn’t linear. Somehow the Holy Spirit indwells as we believe. We have a part in this even though it’s ALL GOD. Its a mystery but somehow we must accept the gift. Otherwise everyone would be saved. Xenia I believe the rest of the New Testament is about the Christian life- not acts necessary to be saved but what you do once you are saved.

  38. Cookie,

    You are in the right place. Welcome!. Yes, MLD sometimes is a Brat, but he grows on us. Trust me on that. 🙂

    The passive reception of God’s grace by faith is a tough topic and one that I struggled with for a long time. I think you may be at the edge of a cliff. I would like to come up beside you and gently give you a nudge right off the cliff. The fall will kill … only your old Adam/Eve. But, you will live to tell about it. I promise. (“But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”)

    One of the Apostle Paul’s most succinct statement about salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone is found in 2 Cor 5:14-17:

    “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

    From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

    Faith in Christ means no longer having any faith in myself. It means dying to my self. Faith shows me exactly what a miserable sinner I am (not just that I sin – but that I am in rebellion against God 24-7/365). Even the smallest effort at moving to God is a gasp for air – a struggle to stay alive. Stop! Paul is quite clear, we must die in order to live. Adam, Eve and their progeny will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    The old Adam/Eve is the only pathway for sin and the devil to use to draw us away from our Savior. (Sin and the devil have no power over the new creation that we have in Christ.) Therefore, we must not let the old Adam/Eve up for air by looking at our works – even the seemingly tiny ones. We simply, daily, with praise and thanksgiving, look at what Christ has done for us, receive his forgiveness and, by resting in his salvation, the old Adam/Eve drowns.

  39. My issue was different.

    Going to heaven when you die as a shorthand for the Gospel is simply not the Gospel. The good news had reference points and no one in the first century was asking how to get to heaven. That is our baggage imported. That is American evangelical revivalism.

    Peter did not say I have good news if you confess Christ as Lord you will go to heaven. He said I have good news this Jesus has been raised from the dead and is the Christ we are seeking. If you repent, believing in him you receive the forgiveness of sins and will receive the Holy Spirit.

  40. Ah I see the matter of life in the Holy Spirit did arise

  41. When I berate ecumenism I’m speaking of joining up with Rome — you know, the ones who burned Reformers at the stake? The one who say they are the “one true church” and there is no salvation outside their institution, yet assurance of salvation is the “sin of presumption”. If you think they like you – boy are you deceived. Any who do not accept their false teachings, according to Trent, are anathema. They place a curse on you and you just love them. Something wrong here.

  42. Miss ODM,

    Did you not note what I said about the distance between Rome and Geneva?

  43. Yes but I was making my own application. – Happy New Year – love and peace!

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