Idolatry, Demons, and Ecumenism

“Every false religion in the world is not just wrong. It is demonic. It is energized and powered by the kingdom of darkness that is ruled by Satan himself,” says Mike Riccardi. He goes on to say “There is absolutely no fellowship or spiritual partnership between the people of God and the people of this world.” So, if we’re in relationship with those who teach doctrines of demons, should we break fellowship with them? You must, says Riccardi. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. And he offers plenty of Scripture to back up what he says. Bottom line: “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” 1 Cor 10:21

In the comments below the article, Riccardi responds to a question. In his thoughtful answer he urges believers not to pray with apostates:

We cannot pray together because they do not pray to the one true God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And that’s precisely the point of 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1. Paul calls the Judaizers unbelievers, and then speaks about how the Corinthians must separate from their idolatry. But the Judaizers weren’t pagans, or even Jews. They were professing Christians who believed in the necessity of faith in Jesus for salvation; they just didn’t believe in the sufficiency of Christ’s work for salvation. And yet Paul likens them to idol-worshipers, because it didn’t matter that they called their god “Jesus,” that was “another Jesus” (2 Cor 11:4), nothing more than an idol, akin to the idols of the pagans.

In the same way, because Roman Catholics — though they believe in the necessity of faith in Christ — nevertheless do not believe in the sufficiency of faith in Christ for salvation, the god they worship is one fashioned by their own minds, and is not the God of the Bible. For that reason, it would be as blasphemous to join them in prayer to their false gods as it would be for us to pray with Hindus to their gods, or with the ancient Greco-Romans to their pantheon of gods.

Sadly, there are scores of false converts who truly believe they’re born again Christians. So,

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Now to another stellar article by Mike Riccardi that’s published on The Cripplegate:

Depart, depart, go out from there;
touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify ourselves, you who bear the vessels of the Lord. ~ Isaiah 52:11

Whom can the faithful church of God legitimately partner with in ministry? That question has been a point of contention among professing Christians for the past 100 years. And that’s been illustrated by what is known as the ecumenical movement, the history of which we surveyed last week.

And the principal dogma of the ecumenical movement of the 20th century was that anyone who called themselves a Christian was to be regarded as a Christian. It didn’t matter if they were a theological liberal who denied the bodily resurrection of Christ or penal substitutionary atonement, or if they were a Roman Catholic who denied the Gospel of justification by faith alone. The important thing was that those who called themselves Christians, and held somewhat to a “Christian” view of morality, were able to unite together in order to show strength in numbers, and therefore to compete in the culture wars for larger societal influence. Whether it was religious liberty, the unborn child’s right to life, race relations, a free-market economy, or improving education—all good things!—winning the battle over these social issues became more important to these people than the doctrine that divided them. So they downplayed the importance of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith in order to partner together on these issues.

Again, this is always done in the name of seizing influence, which, it is always assumed, is absolutely necessary for successful evangelism and for revival. It’s a fundamentally man-centered concept of salvation, because it supposes that unbelievers will be more likely to convert to Christianity if they see how popular, influential, and culturally relevant it is. The fruitlessness of this kind of thinking was illustrated in a classic interaction between a pro-ecumenical minister and Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The man believed the ecumenical movement to be a sign of hope for the future. He said, “But surely, when so many churches are coming together in a World Council of Churches, revival must be on the way.” Do you recognize the unspoken assumption? “If we can have worldwide movements and such large gatherings in the name of Christ, surely unbelievers will want to join us!” And Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ reply was just brilliant.  He said, “You seem to be arguing that if you succeed in bringing together a sufficient number of dead bodies they will come alive!” (G. N. M. Collins, “The Friend,” Chosen by God, 262–63).

Lloyd-Jones’ response reveals a different fundamental conviction about human nature and about what it means to be a Christian. Becoming a Christian isn’t joining a cultural movement. It’s not deciding to join a social club or some sort of fraternity. Becoming a Christian happens when a sinner who is spiritually dead is miraculously raised to spiritual life by God’s sovereign work of regeneration. A Christian is one whom God has made alive from the dead through the preaching of the one true Gospel of Christ. And those who are possessed of different fundamental convictions concerning the Gospel are not just “separated brethren;” they are the one spiritually alive and the other spiritually dead. And as Lloyd-Jones said, it doesn’t make a difference how many dead bodies you could gather into one place. What matters is whether God, by the Holy Spirit, breathes spiritual life into men and women by the preaching of the Gospel.

That is the test of whether Christianity is advancing in the world. Not how big our churches can get, but whether sinners were united to Christ by faith in the Gospel, and thus had found forgiveness of sins in Him. And if that’s what mattered, then it is the height of folly to downplay the importance of the doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the only way of salvation, in service of a substance-less “unity.” There can be no genuine unity between those who have been saved from their sins through the Gospel, and those who yet remain enemies of that Gospel—no matter what people are willing to call themselves. And so there can be no partnership in ministry between believers and unbelievers, because there is such a radical difference between them. And history has shown us that when we water down fundamental doctrinal distinctives for the sake of a bigger “tent,” we lose the Gospel—the Evangel itself. And if you lose the Gospel, there is no ground for genuine unity.

And it’s precisely this issue that Paul takes up in 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1:

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ 17Therefore, ‘Come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. 18And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ Says the Lord Almighty. 7:1Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

The apostolic instruction could not be clearer: because there is this radical, objective difference between believers and unbelievers at the most fundamental level, there can be no partnership between them in ministry.  Continue reading


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