Unity by any Means

The gospel of ecumenism.

A.C.F is an associate editor of THE MINISTRY.

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."                                          

A.C.F

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A.C.F is an associate editor of THE MINISTRY.

March 1967

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