ECUMENISM ... Where do you draw the line?
by Sandy Simpson, Deception In The Church, 1998

This is a short essay to illustrate, with some irony, just how unbiblical, subjective and relativistic Ecumenism really is.  A few definitions first:

ecumenism  - n : the doctrine of the ecumenical movement promoting cooperation and better understanding among different
religious denominations; aimed at universal Christian unity [syn: {ecumenicism}, {ecumenicalism}]
interfaith - adj : involving persons of different religious faiths; "an interfaith marriage"; "interfaith good will"  (Websters Dictionary)

"Ecumenism" starts innocently enough. Is begins with a tolerant perspective of other denominations.  Then it moves on to acceptance of cults.  Finally it ends in a desire for unity with other religions, evolving into what is called "Interfaith".  This process is brought about by a wrong exegesis of Scripture, using verses such as the following out of context:

1Jo 3:11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
Mt 7:12  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Ro 1:20  For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Heb 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no-one will see the Lord.
Tit 3:2  ... to slander no-one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility towards all men.
Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
1Co 7:7  I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another
has that.
Ro 11:32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
Joh 12:32  But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."

Other verses used and misused are:

Acts 5:38 - Gamaliel's advice
Ephesians 4:3-6 - endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit
John 13:35 - love one for another
John 17:21 - that they all may be one
Mark 9:38-40 - Forbid them not
Matthew 5:11-12 - persecution or correction?
Matthew 7:1 - judge not, that ye be not judged
Matthew 18:15-18 - tell him his fault between thee and him alone
Romans 14:4 - who art thou that judgest
Romans 16:17 - divisions.

Some of the more astute Bible scholars from among you will already see that, given an ecumenical world view, these verses are already taken way out of context.  But let me weave some illustrations for you that will show just how insidious Ecumenism is and where it is heading.  Some of the Ecumenism I will write about has already become reality.  Some is coming sooner than you think.  Following are some of their arguments I have heard.  This represents a fairly typical progression from "unity for unity's sake" among Christians to Inter-Faith Globalism among all the religions of the world under one "Church".

So now, off to the land of satire.  See if you can "spot the loony" statements in the following bogus Ecumenical apologetics Steps #1 - #4.

Step #1

The Roman Catholics are my brothers.

Roman Catholicism was the first church.  Our basic doctrines are the same.  After all, we use the same creeds.  Just because they have added tradition to the Scriptures as an equal authority in their church doesn't mean they aren't Christians.  They are good people and only God can judge who will be saved.  We place far to much emphasis on certain aspects of their beliefs that seem foreign to us.

We say they "worship" Mary ... they say they "revere" her and that we don't really have a very high view of the mother of Jesus.  After all, she keeps appearing to them, telling them to be good and follow the pope.  Maybe they have a point.  In a sense Mary is the mother of God.  She certainly deserves to be the Queen of Heaven.  In a sense it was through her that grace came to men so why not say that grace comes through her?  What's so awful about that statement?  Women need good role models today.  God is Spirit and genderless, so why not give women a God they can relate to, one that is female?  And who better to represent God as a woman than Mary?  Let's just get over this silly minor doctrinal stuff.

We call it "Hades" .. they call it "Purgatory".  Big deal.

They call it "purchasing indulgences" ... we call it "buying prayer cloths".  The church gets the money, we get the deeds.  In fact, if we have enough faith, we get one hundred-fold what we put in.  We all benefit.

They call them "statues", we call them "idols".  But they say they don't worship the "statues" they are just there to remind them of things.  What about our paintings of Jesus or banners strung about our churches?  I'm sure God doesn't object to things that focus our attention on Him.

They pray for dead people.  Well, doesn't the Bible say of Jesus that he preached to the dead?

1Pe 4:6   For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

If He preached to them, it is obvious they can be saved after they are dead, so why not pray for them?

Hey, the pope could be a direct apostolic descendant from Peter, who knows?  If so, wouldn't that give him a special kind of authority since the Bible says of Peter:

Mt 16:18   And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Maybe the wine and bread does actually transform into blood and flesh during the mass.  I mean, it does eventually anyway, right?  Maybe that is what they are talking about in the mass in some metaphysical sense.

A thorny issue has always been over the fact that Roman Catholics still teach that salvation can only be obtained through the sacraments administered by a priest in the Roman Catholic church.  You know, God did give the church the right to "bind and loose" things on earth.  Why not the loosing of salvation too?  Maybe there is a grain of truth to the notion that only through the "church" as a whole can salvation come.

Roman Catholics do agree in principle that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  They have a bit of a problem with the "by faith alone" part, but that's a minor issue.  They don't teach salvation "by grace through faith in Christ alone", per se, but they agree to it.  On paper anyway.  At least in that "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" document that many Christian leaders signed including:

39 Catholic and Evangelical leaders such as Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, Pat Robertson, President of CBN, J.I. Packer of Christianity Today, Richard Land and Larry Lewis of the Southern Baptist Convention, Jesse Miranda of Assemblies of God, Dr. John White of the National Association of Evangelicals and President of Geneva College, Os Guiness of Trinity Forum and Dr. Mark Noll of Wheaton College, Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship, Dr. Kent Hill, Dr. Richard Land, Rev. Avery Dulles, John Cardinal O'Connor, Archbishop Francis Stafford, Bishop Carlos Sevilla, George Weigel and Michael Novak, etc.

Let's focus on what's important.  Just because the Roman Catholic church stresses "works" a little more than we do doesn't mean they are heretical.  We need different views of the same subject anyway.

The Roman Catholic church does do a wonderful job on social issues.  We agree with them in so much like the important abortion issue.  Why not just overlook the minor areas where we disagree.

Are we willing to say that Roman Catholics are not saved?  Isn't that kind of attitude being judgmental?  We need to leave the judging to God.  Anyway, most Roman Catholics don't even know what their church is teaching.  Don't we tend to lump all Roman Catholics together under one Roman Catholic Church?  What would make us do such a thing since their pope and catechism are so open to interpretation by the laity?

Many Roman Catholics don't attend church much anyway, and when they do they don't pay much attention to the doctrinal stuff.  All this business about stuff like ...

Tradition Is Equal With Scripture
Interpretation Of The Bible Is To Be Done Only By The Pope And Bishops
Mary is: Sinless, a Perpetual Virgin, the Mother of God, the Queen Of Heaven, the Co-Redeemer with Christ
Doctrines of the Rosary And Prayers To Mary
Salvation Only Comes Through The Catholic Church
All Grace Comes Through The Catholic Church
No Christian Unity Apart From The Catholic Church
Salvation Includes The Muslims
The Doctrine Of The Supremacy Of The Pope
Prayers From The Dead
Prayers For The Dead
Salvation Comes Through Baptism Infants Are Born Again Through Baptism
Penance Necessary For Salvation The Church Can Forgive Sins
Doctrine Of Purgatory
Doctrines Of Indulgences And Good Works For The Dead
Sacraments And Liturgy Communicate Grace
Sacraments Are Necessary For Salvation
The Mass Is A Re-Sacrifice Of Christ
The Mass Is A Conversion Of Bread And Wine Into The Very Christ
Priest Has Supernatural Power To Convert The Bread And Wine Into Christ
Mass Conducted In Communion With The Dead
Elements Of The Mass To Be Worshipped And Carried In Processions
All Sins Must Be Confessed To A Priest
Forgiveness Of Sins And Escape From Purgatory Through Indulgences
Salvation Through The Good Works Of The "Saints"
Veneration Of Relics
Veneration Of Images ...

... which are in their latest 1998 catechism from Vatican II that they recite, but they don't really pay attention to it or follow it ... what's the big deal?

When they give a wrong response to questions like "What do yo have to do to get into heaven?" it doesn't mean they don't know the truth deep inside their souls when they state, almost unanimously, that "all I have to do is be a good person, take the sacraments, and do good works?"

The Roman Catholic church is the "mother" church.  They are opening their arms to wayward Protestants in love.  The Roman Catholics are really our brothers in the body of Christ and we should join together with them in ministry, starting with Jubilee 2000.  What an opportunity!

Step #2

The Mormons are my brothers.

Look how effective their "two by two" ministry teams have been.  They are seeing record church growth in the last few years.  That kind of success speaks for itself.  The Lord must really be blessing them.  We shouldn't be harsh in our criticism of a church that the Lord is blessing, should we?

Sure they follow the "Book Of Mormon" by Joseph Smith.  Let's face it, it does have much truth in it.  After all, half of it is a direct rip-off of Isaiah.  Joseph Smith, although a prophet, was not perfect.  But then God doesn't expect prophets to be perfect under the post-Pentacost new covenant.  After all the Bible says:

1Co 14:29   Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.

So modern-day prophets aren't 100% accurate anyway, more like somewhere in the neighborhood of , oh, 66% like Bob Jones and Paul Cain prophesied.  Anyway, what Joseph got wrong is not that important anyway.  Let's major on the majors and minor on the minors.

Then of course there is their term "a burning in the breast".  Isn't that the same thing as our "check in my spirit" or "it just felt right to me" or "I felt the anointing coming up my legs to my thighs" as John Kilpatrick has experienced?  Just because they use a different term for it does not make them cultists.  The Holy Spirit does work through our feelings.  We often make decisions on the basis of a feelings when there is no Scriptural principle or example that applies.  That's often the case in our new modern-day life.  The Bible just doesn't address all the problems of our highly evolved, advanced society.

Their concept of God the Father having a human form is not that different from what Christian leaders are teaching on Trinity Broadcasting Network.  Famous leaders with many credentials like Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn tell us that God the Father created us in His own image, and since He used the span of his hands to create the universe, He must have a physical body like you and me.  He must live on a planet like Earth that He used to pattern the Earth from.  We can use the same force of faith that God used to create reality today when we proclaim and declare things in God's name.  Why do we criticize the Mormons when we are allowing some of our most famous teachers and theologians to teach the same thing?  Is that being fair?

Isn't it entirely possible that Lucifer really was the brother of Jesus Christ like the Mormons and Kenneth Copeland claim?  After all, they were all called "sons of God"!

The Mormons are effective witnesses and they are helping many people.  They read the Bible and claim the same basic doctrines as the rest of Christianity.  And their television advertisements ... excuse me ... "public service spots" are just marvelous!  Just because they differ slightly in a few of the doctrines listed below doesn't give us the right to disfellowship them from the Body and call them a cult!

TRINITY: Mormonism is a polytheistic religion. Joseph Smith declared, "I will preach on the plurality of Gods. I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 370). Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie spoke about the Godhead in this way, "Plurality of Gods: Three separate personages: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, comprise the Godhead. As each of these persons is a God, it is evident, from this standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exists. To us, speaking in the proper finite sense, these three are the only Gods we worship. But in addition there is an infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds without number, who have passed on to exaltation and are thus gods" (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 576-577).

GOD THE FATHER: Joseph Smith explained, "I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did" (LDS History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 305).

GOD THE SON: Brigham Young stated, "The birth of the Saviours was a natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood, was begotten of his Father, as we were of our father" (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, p. 115). Mormon Apostle McConkie explained, "And Christ was born into the world as a literal Son this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. He was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events (Mormon Doctrine, p. 742). Jesus, according to Milton Hunter of the LDS First Council of the Seventy, is the brother of Lucifer. "The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer, son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and covetous of power and glory, this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind" (The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15).

GOD THE HOLY GHOST/HOLY SPIRIT: In Mormonism a distinction is drawn between the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit. As LDS Apostle Marion G. Romney stated, "The Holy Ghost is a person, a spirit, the third member of the Godhead" (Ensign May 1977, 43-44). The sixth LDS prophet, Joseph F. Smith explains that the Holy Spirit is not a person but rather an impersonal force. "You may call it the Spirit of God, you may call it the influence of God's intelligence, you may call it the substance of his power; no matter what it is called, it is the spirit of intelligence that permeates the universe" (Mormon Doctrine, McConkie, pp. 752-753).

MAN'S DESTINY: As Lorenzo Snow, fifth prophet of the LDS Church exclaimed, "As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be" (Ensign, February 1982, pp. 39-40). This means that every worthy male, according to the standards of Mormonism, will become a god and rule over their own planet. But what about the women? That question was answered by Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth prophet of the Church, when he spoke of Man's salvation or exaltation as it is called in Mormonism. "The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fullness of his kingdom. In other words we will have the privilege of becoming like him. To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fullness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings. There is no end to this development; it will go on forever. We will become gods and have jurisdiction over world, and these world will be peopled by our own offspring. We will have an endless eternity for this" (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 2, 48).

Other Doctrines of the LDS

1) God the Father is married and there is a Mother God (Answers to Gospel Questions, Joseph Fielding Smith, Vol. 3, pp. 143-144).

2) All men and women who have ever lived on Earth are the spirit offspring of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. Every person was conceived and born in a pre-existent spiritual realm (Mormon Doctrine, p. 589).

3) Black people are black because of their misdeeds in the pre-existence (Three Degrees of Glory, LDS Apostle Melvin J. Ballard, p. 21).

4) Temple ceremonies include Baptism for the Dead, Washing and Anointing for the living and the dead (Mormon Doctrine, McConkie, pp. 72-74, 226-228).

5) Salvation or exaltation, whereby men become gods, is based on one's own good works or merit (Church News, October 8, 1988, p. 23 and The Religion of the Latter-day Saints, Lowell Bennion, LDS Institute of Religion Director, p. 160).

6) The Bible is considered usable, but suspect due to its many errors and missing parts (Articles of Faith No. 8, Ensign January 1989, pp. 25, 27).

Isn't it time we accepted them as brothers in the body of Christ?

Step #3

The Moslems are my brothers.

We all worship the same almighty God.  They just call Him by another name.  This is because Ishmael had to go his own way and Isaac had to go his.  Those rumors about a "crescent moon" god from the land of Ur called Al Ilah are viscous.  We can argue about who went where and who is the rightful heir to the promises of God in the old covenant, but we live in a new day today.

The Moslems have much higher moral standards than most Christians do.  We need to follow their example.

They also highly esteem Jesus and Mary, even though they don't fully realize their significance.  But God will surely judge them by their works since so few of them have had the opportunity to hear the gospel.  Will God require the Jews to accept Jesus as Messiah?  Who is to say who will be saved in the end?  After all, the Catholics say, and they have a point,

"The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."

These are direct descendants of Abraham!  We need to treat them with the same regard as we treat Israel today.  God's plan for Israel is different than His plan for the Gentiles, or the Church.  God doesn't expect everyone to accept Jesus as the Messiah, the only way to salvation ... until Jesus is revealed in glory.

Here are some of the minor doctrinal differences we have, not worthy of note, really ...

"Islam rejects the Trinity doctrine, the deity of Christ and His Sonship, claiming that Jesus was only a great prophet. Muhammad is considered to be the greatest prophet whose coming was allegedly predicted by Christ. Islam is fiercely monotheistic. In addition to good works, salvation is sought though observance of the Five Pillars: reciting "there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger," praying five times per day, fasting, giving alms (donations to the poor), and a pilgrimage to Mecca. Historically, Islam experienced tremendous growth often by forced proselytism - unbelievers (infidels) were offered conversion or death. While many Muslims exhibit tolerance towards other faiths, even today Islamic fundamentalism promotes Jihad (holy war), against those of other religious and political views."

Just because they are sometimes intolerant doesn't give us the right to be that way.  We must love all men.  Maybe they just picture God a little differently than we do.  Maybe Mohammed had a number of redeeming virtues that we tend to overlook.  There are Christian denominations that reject the Trinity.  We have all lived together so far.  In fact, these Third Wave "revivals" lately are bringing us back together in a unity that you have to experience to really understand.  We need to "experience" God today.  He is manifested in far too complex ways to attempt to understand Him through the Scriptures with our minds.  We need to come to a deeper spiritual level of love on the issue of understanding the Moslems.  Only the river of the Holy Spirit can accomplish that as He continues to pour Himself out on all men.

Surely the Moslems are truly our brothers, if not in the body of Christ, then in God the Father.

Step #4

Everyone is my brother.

All religions have the knowledge of God.

Ro 1:20   For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

If a man recognizes God's eternal power and divine nature, isn't that enough to save him?  That's what we do when we, as Christians, believe in Christ, isn't it?  That's one of the most important facets of the gospel message.

What about all the people of the past of other religions who never had the chance to hear the gospel?   You don't think that God would be so unfair and unjust to condemn them for knowledge they did not have access to?  Even today, billions have little or no knowledge of Christ and are unlikely to have it soon.  Isn't it possible that men and women who live a godly life, worshipping God under many different names, will be saved in the end?  Why then, as Christians, should we be the cause of division and strife?

We are told to love people and let our light shine.  Let's focus on the positive issues, promoting a better world and world peace.  Let's save the planet, for heaven's sake!  What's more important than taking care of what God gave the first man, Adam, dominion over, as Benny Hinn reminds us?  Let's focus on the pressing issues of today, not dead doctrinal divisions that have only brought pain and strife.  Why should Christians remain the cause of such worldwide wars and fighting as they have for centuries.  Isn't it time to let the "river of the Spirit flow" to all mankind?  Doesn't the Bible say:

Joe 2:28   "And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

All mankind will experience God's Holy Spirit.  That's what it says in Joel!  It is a free gift, open to all men, not just Christians.  We need to share the Spirit with people from all walks of life.  We can transfer the Spirit to them easily, as demonstrated and taught to us by great Christian leaders like Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Cain, John Wimber (deceased), Charles Kraft, Oral Roberts, Rodney Howard-Browne, John Arnott, John Kiplatrick and Steve Hill, among many others.

A person doesn't even have to believe in Jesus Christ to "get it" or to "jump in the river".  A great revival and spiritual awakening is coming to the earth as prophesied in Joel and by countless modern day apostles and prophets.  If we don't get with it as Christians, we will be left behind when Christ finally comes as a result of the whole world receiving the Spirit and being purified.  "God's in a hurry now" is what that spastically shaking young girl from a divorced family prophesied at Brownsville.  We'd better listen to prophetesses like her or we will be in danger of the "unpardonable sin" like Michael Brown warns us.  The end is coming.  Christ will return spiritually in His Church and then the Church will rule the earth.

The whole world is loved by God and thus we as Christians can do no less than to call every man our brother in the body of Christ.


Had enough laughs for one reading?  By the way, I leave the conclusions up to you.  Think about what has been said in defense of Ecumenism here. Hogwash, yes.  But it's that subtle brand of Ecumenical "hogwash" that an awful lot of Christians are willing to slop down these days.

Better wake up, fellow born again Christian, dear saint, or you too will be swept away in this swill of end time apostasy.

Copyright 1998 Deception In The Church
May be freely distributed in it's original format without changes of any kind.