American Heritage Dictionary gives the definition of ecumenical as “of worldwide scope; universal; of or relating to the worldwide Christian church; concerned with establishing or promoting unity among churches or religions.” This heresy is very dangerous. This movement rest on the premise that doctrine is not important and it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you have a personal relationship with Christ. It is true that a personal relationship with Christ is the most important thing, but it is sound doctrine that leads us to Him. The thought is that “we’re all going to the same place; we are just taking different roads.” Those that promulgate this idea are usually very sincere, but unfortunately being sincere does not automatically make a teaching true.
There are many evangelistic teachers that take this ecumenical stand. And it is done under the banner of unity. Charisma magazine did an article on one particular well known female teacher in June 2003 in which they praise her saying, “she doesn’t get caught up in divisive doctrinal issues. In fact, she purposely steers clear of topics that could widen existing rifts between different streams in the body of Christ.” Did you catch that? She purposely steers clear of topics. Let me translate that phase. She refuses to teach certain parts of the Bible because if she did she might offend certain groups. To hold this view means that you will not teach the entire Bible as the Inspired Word of God because if you did you would be “widening existing rifts” among believers.
Ecumenical teaching is dangerous because it weakens the faith. Having a standard and raising up walls of separation is a way of protecting the local church from error and heretical, false teachings. And it is nothing new. Look at what Charles Spurgeon said many years ago,
“To remain divided is sinful! Did not our Lord pray, that they may be one, even as we are one”? (John 17:22). A chorus of ecumenical voices keep harping the unity tune. What they are saying is, “Christians of all doctrinal shades and beliefs must come together in one visible organization, regardless… Unite, unite!” Such teaching is false, reckless and dangerous. Truth alone must determine our alignments. Truth comes before unity. Unity without truth is hazardous. Our Lord’s prayer in John 17 must be read in its full context. Look at verse 17: “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” Only those sanctified through the Word can be one in Christ. To teach otherwise is to betray the Gospel. Charles H. Spurgeon, The Essence of Separation, quoted in The Berean Call, July 1992 p. 4.
Unity is very important but not at the cost of truth. There is an even wider and more dangerous ecumenical movement that states we should bring together in unity not only all Evangelicals but also all world-wide religions – Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, New Agers, etc. One example of this would be the 2007 document published in the NY Times titled, A Christian Response to A Common Word Between Us and You. The base is that Christians and Muslims come together in friendship and unity. American’s Pastor Rick Warren has received mass criticism for signing this document. And rightly so; you can see it here.
You can call it friendship, partnership, alliance, or common ground if you like, but the Scriptures call it yoked, fellowship, communion, concord, part, and agreement. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” 2 Corinthians 6:14-17.
We need to be careful when it comes to the promotion of ecumenical beliefs. It often masquerades as unity and love and it is hidden in our churches and dwells among many leaders. But the ecumenical movement treacherously opposes the truth.