A Defense of Ecumenicalism: Part 3
When I looked at my article a few days after it was posted, it had 69 shares on Facebook (and don’ t forget that 1 Google+ share!). I knew some people had responded positively to what I wrote, and others negatively. But I didn’t think 70 people would share the thing!
Considering the way the article was received, I decided to further define, defend, and work through my stance on the need for church unity. This is not mention to be completely exhaustive, but just a further explanation. I did also respond to all the comments on the article, so check those to see if they answer any more questions.
Why I brought up the issues I did
When I was talking about the New Perspective on Paul and Wright or submission in the Trinity, I was not advocating that we should adopt such things or outright reject them. I was simply saying that we should know they exist so that we are not caught off guard or confused when they are presented to us or others.
Personally, I am neutral on both topics I mentioned in the article. I just wanted to say that as a church we need to have an awareness of what is going on outside our denominational lines.
Dealing with Differences
We should be careful and aware of doctrinal differences. Are there some dangers in pursuing unity? Yes. I understand that there are liberal, mainline churches out there that do not preach the gospel or respect Biblical authority. But that should not stop us from pursing unity with those believers and denominations that we can agree with and get along with.
Perhaps when I speak of Ecumenicalism, I should say Conservative Ecumenicalism. Don’ t try to jump right away to engaging with theological liberals. Begin with those you can respect, especially on Biblical authority. Begin working with other brethren assemblies, closed or open. Work with other theological conservative churches. Then take things from there.
What counts as “ecumenical”?
This is a good question. Does going to an interdenominational group on my college campus, or Bible study like BSF count as being ‘ ecumenical’ ? I would say yes. We should encourage and engage in these activities.
But that isn’t only what I am advocating for. I am arguing for churches, as local church bodies or through leaders of the local church, to talk to other churches. This could be with churches within and/or outside your own denomination.
Practical things to do
So, if you are interested in what I am advocating, how should we go about doing something about it? I don’t have all the answers or the exact way to do things.
Maybe the best thing to do is to just begin and see what God does. Have an elder sit down with another elder or pastor. Get others together. Continue to meet and pray together for guidance and wisdom. Worship and fellowship together.
Imagine if we had a local council of pastors and elders working together! Obviously, we cannot deal with every problem all at once, and such a thing like this will take a long time to come to its completion.
But this is something that we must be passionate about now, and begin to work towards now so that those who come after us will be passionate as well and build off of what we did, and then those that come after them will build off of their work and so forth.
Continue to pray and read over the Scripture passages I cited, as well as find other passages on this subject.
I would also highly recommend Peter Leithart’ s new book “The End of Protestantism”, which really inspired me to think on these things more. Also insightful is John M. Frame’ s “Evangelical Reunion: Denominations and the Body of Christ” which has an interesting chapter on which churches we should look to reunite with.