From time to time I think about the ecumenical spirit that seems to be making its way into our society and even into our Christian churches today. I expect this from the Baha’i faith which says it doesn’t claim any type of exclusivity, but embraces all faiths and practices. I especially expect this from the Masons with its brotherhood which ranges from all religious persuasions and philosophies. I am, however, dumb-founded at how the Christian church is falling into this ecumenical trap. There is two ecumenical traps in which the Church is falling into: The universal/pluralistic religious ecumenical trap and the cultic ecumenical trap.
The first trap is the universal/pluralistic religious ecumenical trap. It is the most common trap the Christian church falls prey to. This is the trap where certain local churches and ministers decide to put all major theological differences aside with ecumenicalists of other faiths for the sake of uniting under a cause that all faiths can agree upon. This cause is usually social and ethical in nature. Theological exclusivity and objective theological truth is never present in such dialogues because for it to be present would destroy the whole spirit of universal religious/pluralistic ecumenicalism. How to make society better morally, religiously, and socially are the themes of universal/pluralistic religious ecumenicalism.
The second trap is the cultic ecumenical trap. This trap has over time become more common in the Christian church and is for most part undetected by most in the Christian church. This kind of ecumenicalism is seen on Christian television networks and takes place in Christian churches in the United States and abroad. No, it isn’t Christians joining forces with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons in the name of God and the goodwill of humanity. What it is is Christians uniting with other cultic groups like the apostate Catholic church, Oneness Pentecostalism, the Word of Faith movement, and other such groups. Despite the major doctrinal differences regarding the nature of God, the person and divinity of Jesus Christ and salvation, certain local churches and ministers worship with them, pray with them, and even evangelize the lost with them. How can this be? How can the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ be so theologically ignorant? How can the Church unite with the Catholic church who teach that Mary the mother of Jesus is the mother of God, the Queen of Heaven and flat-out denies justification by faith? How can the Church unite with Oneness Pentecostals who deny the Triune nature of God? The group which teaches that Jesus is Himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit all in Himself? How can the Church unite with the Word of Faith movement when their teachers teach that Jesus is not the unique and only begotten Son of God anymore and teach that we as Christians are just like Jesus?
The main problem with both kinds of ecumenicalism can be summed up as this: Religious Relativism. There is no absolute theological truth. There is no exclusive objective truth religiously. Particularly in the case of cultic ecumenicalism, there can be no other explanation one can give. Some may say, ” Perhaps they don’t know what those groups believe.” I beg to differ. With the widespread availability of material on the cults (Walter Martin, John Ankerberg, etc.), there is no excuse for not knowing better! I am sure letters have been written to these “Christian” ministers informing them about these cultic groups and how they depart from orthodoxy. Nevertheless these “Christian” ministers shun such warnings and instruction in the name of Religious Relativism.
In conclusion we should not be surprise at such compromises among those in Christianity, other religious groups, and cultic groups which claim to be Christian but are actually not. Truth is unimportant in these two forms of ecumenicalism which has been discussed here. Absolute objective theological truth is divisional in nature and these groups of ecumenicalists will not tolerate opposition to religious tolerance–Religious Relativism. We as Christians must champion the exclusivity which Jesus gave us when He said, ” I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father(God) except through me.(John 14:6). Without the Jesus of Scripture(the Bible) and his truth(John 8:31-32), a person cannot know God. (I John 5:11-12) There is a God who exist and He is revealed to us in Scripture. Religious Relativism and ecumenicalism in essence denies the existence of God and this is evident by the very existence of these two philosophical and theological worldviews.