THE gospel of ecumenism is on the way toward usurping the gospel of conversion and salvation from sin through the power of Christ our Lord. The religious press and church news on radio and television are filled with "encouraging" items concerning the successful progress of church unity. During the past year this theme has been given a pre-eminence that even the most enthusiastic supporters had hardly thought possible. The rapidity of this movement is startling.
Unity Spells Power
It was the Master's wish that we all become one, even as He and His Father are one. The basis of that oneness is in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the Sacred Scriptures. There is no other source. God is our Father, Christ is our Saviour, and the Holy Bible, the guidebook, is their revealed will. When a church departs from the Bible and establishes its own dogmas it cannot represent true Christianity. True Christianity is Bible-based only. One hears very little, if almost nothing, concerning unity of faith in major doctrines as so legibly revealed in the Sacred Word. Most of the discussion is centered around liturgy, forms, rituals, communion practices, and administration. Unity spells power, and for this advantage the churches are asked to sacrifice, minimize, or amalgamate their concepts of spiritual teaching so clearly presented in the Word of God.
How can this be acceptable when the apostle Paul so clearly states that "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" (2 Thess. 2:13)?
What is the truth that is so essential to our salvation? In our Lord's intercessory prayer He gives the answer: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17). That they may all be one in the truth; this must be the goal of unity. The foundation of that truth is not what man may think, interpret, or propose through traditions, but that which is clearly revealed in the Word of God that constitutes the groundwork of unity. "The followers of Christ are to be like Him—by the grace of God to form characters in harmony with the principles of His holy law. This is Bible sanctification."—The Great Controversy, p. 469.
Hands Across the Gulf
In the ecumenical spirit, it is of more than usual interest to note that recently the National Council of Churches has reached a hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman Catholic Church and for the first time, inviting the Catholic Church to serve as a nonvoting fraternal delegate to the National Council of Churches General Assemblies, to sit on boards and committees, and hold staff positions. Father David J. Bowman, S.J., commented that he feels "like a pioneer." "It couldn't have happened twelve years ago. The rising generation is all for this. There's no telling how far we can go," he commented in connection with this action by the Council's General Board, which opened the way for new cooperative relationships with Catholics.
This policy-making board officially declared that the Catholic Church is in "agreement" with the preamble of the NCC Constitution, which includes the statement that member communions "confess Jesus Christ as divine Lord and Saviour." Father Bowman observed that inter-religious cooperation and contact is definitely on the upswing. He pointed out that the Catholic Diocese of Texas is considering joining the State Council of Churches, as has been done in other areas, and "on the local level, parishes in Seattle have just joined the local council." He also said that there are fourteen areas now where Catholic parishes have joined local councils.
A Modern Commentary
In the light of all this, it is well for us to read again, Testimonies for the Church, volume 5, page 451, and The Great Controversy, pages 571-573, 588. It seems as though the thoughts on these pages were written as a modern commentary upon happenings at the very present time instead of being penned in 1844. Surely we should keep before our people an awareness of the unchanging aims of the Papacy and at the same time point out Protestantism's weakness in thinking there is no harm in minimizing doctrines that are unacceptable in order to advance the cause of ecumenism.
We pray for unity, "that they may all be one," chosen to salvation "through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."