1. Representing a number of different Christian churches.
1.1 Promoting or relating to unity among the world’s Christian churches: ecumenical dialogue
When we consider dangerous movements and individuals, we immediately consider those groups and individuals that we have been trained to consider: the movements of weaponized Islam, perhaps a select few dictators, the mass murderers who seem to be everywhere, or even black males. However if we step outside of our media influenced mindset, the bible believer must remember that the most important influences upon society are the spiritual influences and therefore its greatest dangers arise from this source.
It might be surprising to find that from a biblical standpoint, among the most dangerous persons are the Ministers who become carriers to the spiritual disease that disables churches and leaves communities spiritually defenseless. By this I do not mean the obvious charlatans of whom we are all aware, but the respectful and apparently doctrinally sound Ministers who provide the false teachers and apostates with relationship and theological cover. It is the ecumenical minister who, although he may not accept the label, by his association or his teaching legitimizes pastors, churches and movements with whom God has prohibited cooperation. It is these men who are asymptomatic carriers of the spiritual disease of ecumenism. It is they who make what is deadly palatable to believers and well-meaning Pastors who are then in turn contaminated and spiritually nullified.
Ecumenism contends that there is a value in the cooperation of Christian denominations of every variety to achieve spiritual or moral ends in society. To the ecumenist, the pursuit of peace, the defeat of abortion, racial reconciliation, abolition of hunger are all considered suitable targets for the efforts of the United Nations of Christian sects. To him there is power in numbers. However this methodology is rejected in scripture as worse than the evils it seeks to overturn.
Deuteronomy 7:1–4 (KJV 1900)
1 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; 2 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: 3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
The bible teaches that man is spiritually dead [Eph 2.1] and therefore lost, separated from God. The mechanism of his salvation and rescue is the gospel: that Jesus Christ died in the place of sinners and that men and women are restored to fellowship with God through faith in this gospel [Jn 3.16-18]. This message is proclaimed by the church, those redeemed individuals already rescued from the penalty of sin. Pastors, ministers or elders are the spiritual leaders of local churches and are those responsible for equipping the church to do the work of proclaiming the gospel [Matt 28.18-20; Eph 4.11-15].
A Spiritual Retrovirus
When the Christian minister becomes the source of spiritually destructive information or behavior, the entire system by which the community is spiritually protected breaks down. A retrovirus has now contaminated the local church that retards effective evangelism and discipleship through that local church with the result that in the community, the natural tendencies of sinful mankind become progressively exaggerated and deadly [Rom 1.20-32]. How then is the Pastor made the carrier of a spiritual virus that damages the church and through it the community at large?
Why Quarantine is Necessary
God specifically forbids the amalgamation of the believer in Christ and scripture with false religious systems [ecumenism]. For example, the evil of abortion is not abolished by the joint participation of bible believers, plus those who believe portions of the bible, plus outright false teachers, but by the proper function of the church in evangelism and discipleship. It is God’s invisible involvement in the world through disciples of every generation that provide the cumulative influences by which the moral values of society are purified and maintained [Proverbs 11.10-11; 14.34; Matthew 5.13-15].
The argument of scripture is not that those who disobey sound teaching are incapable of desiring an end to injustice or incapable of valuing human life. Scripture teaches that the false doctrines they believe and the disobedience to the scripture that these false beliefs imply are greater dangers to mankind than the problems ecumenism seeks to solve. This is because, via the transmission of false religion, the ecumenical association in itself injures the local church, which is the sole means provided by God for the rescue of souls and the preservation of mankind. It is their desire to seek solutions outside the auspices of God’s instruction in the scripture that makes them dangerous. No one accomplishes the Will of God by violating the Word of God.
The unbelief and false doctrines of these people are contagious to the obedient, therefore God demands a quarantine of the sources of false teaching.
Romans 16:17 (KJV 1900)
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
Jude 3–4 (KJV 1900)
3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
These ministers are asymptomatic because although they enable the spread of false doctrine by their associations, recommendations and teaching, they do not obviously display the symptoms of doctrinal contamination to those most likely to suffer as a result of it. Like the biblical king Jehoshaphat [1Kings 22], they maintain a high personal biblical standard while exposing the believing nation to the religion of Jezebel.
The efforts of Albert Mohler to find common ground with the Catholic Church, the doctrinal cover provided by John Piper, D.A. Carson, Tony Evans and Wayne Grudem for the charismatic movement and the many, many pastors across the nation who have locked arms with false teachers and opened their pulpits to men [and increasingly women] who have no business feeding the flock of God are all examples of this problem.
Therefore the minister who insists upon such associations places a dynamite charge at the joists of society. He unleashes a retrovirus which disables the spiritual defenses of the community making it vulnerable to the ravages of uncontrolled sinful natures of men. Under these circumstances, every institution in society is accelerated in its decay. The state itself becomes a participant in evil rather than a controller of it.
All true followers of Christ and the scriptures must repudiate ecumenism. This repudiation is a painful thing in that it involves the breaking of ministry relationships resulting in criticism from one’s peers, the loss of influence (in some circles, but an increase in others) and the loss of honorarium dollars. This repudiation runs counter to the entire spirit of our times, which values a pluralism and tolerance that accepts all belief systems except biblically driven Christianity. Despite this, it is the commitment to which every genuine Christian pastor is called. Not only does this separation honor God, it also protects the congregation and the community.
2 Timothy 4:1–5 (KJV 1900)
1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.