Christians and the Ecumenical Movement
The Ecumenical Movement stands for “The organized effort to bring about unity among Christians.” The word comes from the Greek oikoumene, which means “the whole inhabited world.”
Jesus did pray for the unity of His church. He said, “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are” (John 17:11). And He added, “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (John 17:21). And Paul confirmed that Christians should be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
But Jesus specified that the only factor that would unify the church is the truth. He prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Therefore, God’s Word should be the unifying factor for all churches. Sadly, the modern Ecumenical Movement aims at unifying different Christian denominations (Protestants, Catholics, and non-Christian religions) by compromising Biblical truths.
There is nothing wrong when Christians from different denominations endeavor to unite to fight poverty, promote education or spread health principles. But this unity is different than the unity of faiths, doctrines and beliefs. There are huge doctrinal differences between the different churches.
Doctrines such as salvation by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), Jesus as the only Savior and Mediator (John 14:6, 1 Timothy 2:5), salvation by faith and not works (Romans 3:24, 28; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9) and the authority of Scripture (1 Timothy 3:16-17). These should not be compromised for the sake of an appearance of unity.
For example, Biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism are two different faiths that hold and practice different doctrines. The list of irreconcilable differences between these two churches make any unifying efforts between the two simply not possible.
The Ecumenical efforts cannot ignore the Bible’s commands to maintain unity and harmony (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 1:3-4). Christians must “test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Paul taught that we should seek to please God not man, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man” (Galatians 1:10).
Jesus in the great Commission said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus’ command was that the believers should ‘teach all that I commanded you.’ Thus, the ultimate goal of preaching is teaching the truth and getting sanctified by it.
In His service,