Saturday, June 18, 2005

Ecumenical Danger

Phillip Johnson earlier this week discussed the issue concerning the ecumenical cooperation of evangelicals with groups marginally associated with Christianity such as Roman Catholics. Some of the comments generated by that post have compelled me to post on the subject here. It seems that many evangelicals do not grasp the gravity of the issue as it pertains to the truth becoming obscured due to our apprehension to magnify the truth of God’s Word for fear of breaking the alliance with those groups. Ecumenical co belligerency for the sake of championing moral and social causes has the unfortunate tendency to place the importance of Biblical truth on the back burner.

The general public identifies as being closely tied to Christian values such things as taking a stand on moral issues such as abortion and pornography. This is due to the fact that it is usually Christian groups that are the most outspoken on these issues, especially since Christianity stakes its claim on absolute truth concerning right and wrong. When these causes are undertaken under the auspice of Christian virtue, it creates the illusion that we are on the same page with groups such as Roman Catholics when it comes to the Gospel, especially when those participants bear the label “Christian”. These moral crusades are often labeled as such. (e.g.: Christian Coalition, etc.) The world does not recognize the differences. Anybody who names the name of Christ is considered a Christian. Laying aside crucial differences only obscures the truth and adds to the confusion concerning the message of the Gospel. Not only does the world get a distorted view of what it means to be a Christian, but also people within the church have become inept at distinguishing these differences.

What I have observed is that a growing number of Evangelicals are confused concerning the crucial doctrinal differences between Evangelicals and Catholics. In fact, even within evangelical churches the crucial differences are seldom discussed. A few years ago I was attending one of the adult Sunday school classes at the church I was a member of at that time. One of the men attending made a comment about Mother Theresa and made the statement that she was a great born again Christian. The leader was one of the pastors of the church. He replied with a statement that affirmed the man’s comment, saying, “Yes, you are so right.” I went up to him at the end of class to confront him on the issue. He did a lot of back peddling and emphatically stated that it was the man in the class that believed Mother Theresa was a believer, not him. I told him that he was agreeing with the man by affirming his statement. About that time the gentleman that made the statement was approaching the pastor, so it was a convenient opportunity for him to “ditch” me and engage in a conversation with this particular gentleman. I am not attempting to tarnish Mother Theresa’s legacy as a great humanitarian. But she continued to embrace the false teachings of Roman Catholicism. I know that we cannot look into anyone’s heart like God can and know his or her spiritual condition in terms of saving faith. I cannot judge what is in one’s heart, but I can judge their doctrine. If her writings are an indication of what she really believed, then it appears that she did not adhere to Biblical saving faith.

Evangelicalism has made the excuse that they are merely cooperating with Catholics for social causes. However, this has extended to spiritual causes over time as well. Look at Promise Keepers. Let me say that I am grateful for those men who have been reached with the Gospel and whose lives have been changed as a result of PK. But I am increasingly concerned with the overt ecumenical dialogue that I fear is misleading many of the men who participate. The movement deliberately makes a point not to discuss the crucial differences and avoid any language discussing doctrinal issues that would offend Catholics (as a general rule, the movement is doctrinally weak). In fact, some of the men who participate in the leadership of the movement are devout Roman Catholics. I fear that many of these men are continuing to embrace the false Roman Catholic view of salvation.

In addition, we need to understand the real motives behind the ecumenical movement. It is the Roman Catholic Church that is the predominant force pushing the ecumenical movement. This is one of the outcomes of Vatican II. I grew up Catholic and I was the first in my immediate family to be saved. I remember when my mother would bring home church bulletins from the Catholic Church. In some of these bulletins was information on how to carry on dialogues with non-Catholics for the sole purpose to win them back to the Catholic Church. Rome’s intent is to woo Evangelical Protestants back to the “Mother Church”. The ecumenical dialogue is not some innocent plea to band together merely to battle the culture war, but rather a dubious attempt to win us back to what they consider the “one true church”. In fact, Keith Fournier’s book “Evangelical Catholics” is essentially a ploy to win Evangelicals and ex-Catholics back to “Mother Church”. An ample amount of literature is published in order to accomplish this. There are many Catholic web sites such as “The Mystical Rose Catholic Page” that has an entire page dedicated to attempting to win people back to the RCC.

It is also interesting that Catholics are now adopting many of the Evangelical terms that we use – “Born Again”, “Saved”, etc. Of course they also adopt their alternate meanings to harmonize with Catholic dogma. This is in order to dupe Evangelicals into thinking the Catholic Church is just another Evangelical church.

We need to exercise discernment and not be deceived by the flattering dialogue from the Roman Catholic Church, especially if it is under the guise of noble endeavors like battling the “culture war”. It is likely that I will comment further on this subject in future posts.

1 comment:

John Haller said...

Amen. This is a HUGE issue. The final descent into apostasy will not be a fall, it will be a little slip.