Ecumenical vs. Evangelical


Mike Riccardi of The Cripplegate lays out some of the the problems that can result from trying to mix oil with water, as you will see in the case of trying to mix liberalism and historic orthodox Christianity. The result is that the Person and work of Jesus Christ has been compromised for the sake of unity.  And what we now have is a liberal/progressive “social justice gospel” that saves no one. Those pushing for ecumenicism may have started out with good intentions, but as the saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

One example Riccardi offers of someone’s good intentions paving the road to hell is the Rev. Billy Graham, who has been highly criticized for his ecumenical beliefs. In a quote from a 1997 interview with heretic Robert Schuller, the well-known and highly regarded evangelist demonstrated the inevitable end of ecumenism when he said to Schuller:

“I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ. . . . They may not know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something they do not have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved and going to be with us in heaven.”

Mike Riccardi has the story of the ecumenical movement that we urge you to read. He writes:

One of the most devastating attacks on the life and health of the church throughout all of church history has been what is known as the ecumenical movement—the downplaying of doctrine in order to foster partnership in ministry between (a) genuine Christians and (b) people who were willing to call themselves Christians but who rejected fundamental Christian doctrines.

In the latter half of the 19th century, theological liberalism fundamentally redefined what it meant to be a Christian. It had nothing to do, they said, with believing in doctrine. It didn’t matter if you believed in an inerrant Bible; the scholarship of the day had debunked that! It didn’t matter if you believed in the virgin birth and the deity of Christ; modern science disproved that! It didn’t matter if you embraced penal substitutionary atonement; blood sacrifice and a wrathful God are just primitive and obscene, and besides, man is not fundamentally sinful but basically good! What mattered was one’s experience of Christ, and whether we live like Christ. “And we don’t need doctrine to do that!” they said. “Doctrine divides!” Iain Murray wrote of that sentiment, “‘Christianity is life, not doctrine,’ was the great cry. The promise was that Christianity would advance wonderfully if it was no longer shackled by insistence on doctrines and orthodox beliefs” (“Divisive Unity,” 233).

The Emergence of the Social Gospel

The result of this kind of thinking was the social gospel of the early 20th century. If what it means to be a Christian has little to do with creeds and everything to do with deeds, then what makes someone a Christian is whether they’re laboring for the betterment of society—feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, working for justice, and so on. And so across denominational lines, professing “Christians” were coming together to promote unity around a common mission, even if they didn’t share a common faith. In 1908, more than 30 denominations representing over 18 million American Protestants set their doctrinal differences aside and met in Philadelphia at what is called the Federal Council of Churches. Their great concern was not the Gospel, but how to address the social issues of the day: race relations, international justice, reducing armaments, education, and regulating the consumption of alcohol. This was the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement.

Now, in each of these denominations there were faithful Christians who recognized that—as much as social ills mattered—the body of Christ was not defined most fundamentally by a common social agenda, but by a common confession of faith in the Christ of Scripture. These faithful men, led by the great Presbyterian professor J. Gresham Machen, among others, understood that there were certain fundamental truths that no one claiming to be a Christian could deny. A Christ who is not fully God is a fundamentally different Christ than one who is fully God. A salvation that can be more-or-less earned through good morals and good deeds is a fundamentally different salvation than the one purchased freely on the cross by our wrath-bearing Substitute. A religion built upon the authority of man’s ideas is a fundamentally different religion than one built upon the authority of God as revealed in Scripture. And so these men—pejoratively labeled Fundamentalists—insisted that the doctrinal fundamentals of the Christian faith were non-negotiable, and that, if they were abandoned, it didn’t matter how many people-who-called-themselves-Christians you could gather into one place: there was no true unity. Continue reading

See our White Paper on Progressive (Social Justice) Christianity

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7 Responses to Ecumenical vs. Evangelical

  1. Manny1962 June 26, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

    Hi Marsha, very timely indeed! It is incredulous how people don’t get this! This is right out of scripture, the falling away when most will abandon scripture and follow the doctrines of man (demons!) The numbers grow daily!

  2. Marsha West June 26, 2017 at 2:01 pm #

    Pro-family groups are largely responsible, Manny. A I said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  3. Maggie June 26, 2017 at 3:06 pm #

    I am grateful that Jesus–and not man–is the head of His Church. The true church would not have survived otherwise, of course. Because of man’s sinful nature, it is so easy to veer off into being legalistic or cultish in trying to be “orthodox” in beliefs. Or to go the other way and be open to all sorts of new “liberal” ways in attempting to be inclusive.

  4. G J June 27, 2017 at 11:46 am #

    From “Finding Faith”…

    When the going gets tough… the meek find… faith.

    Jesus Christ asked… when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)?
    When He returns… what is Jesus Christ looking for? The faith He mentions… is He thinking of
    something in particular?

    Noted faith in the Bible—are there specifics… or, does any belief(s) fit the meaning of this faith?

  5. Albert Maule June 29, 2017 at 11:46 am #

    Thank you very much. I need/want to know, learn more about this subject, related subject. Thank God for this ministry/Ministries. I work with/near international students at a National park, & American young people as well, so this is extremely helpful. Also, I’ve been full-time involved in a social- Gospel type of environments (and I’ve been leaving the N.A.R. movement finally). Anyways, I’m wondering if this is a good strong analogy: “I’m either pregnant, or not. (I’m either a Christian or not). God bless. Thank God for the bible, I’m finally getting the dust off of it.

    • Marsha June 29, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

      This is such an encouraging comment, Albert. You made my day! Yes, thank God for His Word, the Bible, for without it we cannot learn about Him and His ways. We are thrilled that our ministry has helped to lead you out of the NAR cult. You’re right that a woman cannot be a little bit pregnant, either she’s pregnant or she’s not. Same goes for Christianity. If a person is not regenerate (born again), he/she is not a true Christian, he/she is a counterfeit. “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” Mat 7:16-20

      God bless you as you bless Him,

      • rascott247 June 29, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

        You have changed the meaning of what Jesus taught in Matthew 7. The passage is about false prophets vs. true prophets not true Christians vs. counterfeit Christians. This is a common misconception.

        Start at v15 not 16 (additions for emphasizes in parenthesis).

        Matthew 7:15-20 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they (false prophets) are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them (false prophets) by their fruits (false prophecies). Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree (true prophet) bears good fruit (real revelation), but a bad tree (false prophet) bears bad fruit (false revelation). 18 A good tree (true prophet) cannot bear bad fruit (false revelation), nor can a bad tree (false prophet) bear good fruit (real revelation). 19 Every tree (prophet) that does not bear good fruit (real revelation) is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them (false prophets).

        Not one single Christian I know bears only good fruit! The passage is not meant to teach that any do but if in a true vs false believer context it would do exactly that. Any honest examination of oneself will show that we all bear both good and bad fruit. And you can’t tell a false prophet by their actions (sheeps clothing) but by their words ( bad fruit/ false prophecies).