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An Ecumenical, Unbiblical Quest for Unity

Almost four years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor of Light House Trails Research. Since then, it was named in the top ten letters to the editor for 2015, published in one of their booklets, included in many blogs on the subject, and then published in Ray Yungen's book, Simple Answers, (2017). Thought I'd share it with you....

Dear Editor,

When I came across a tweet including a picture of my pastor attending the recent Alpha Leadership conference in England, I was intrigued. I had never heard of Alpha, so I did some research. My concern deepened as I uncovered the focus of this conference. Unity. Ecumenical unity with the Catholic Church. The choice of speakers confirmed my concern: Father Raniero Cantalamessa, (Preacher to the papal household), Joyce Meyer, Archbishop Justin Welby, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

Nicky Gumbel, pioneer of the Alpha Course, vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton Church, (an Anglian church in London), opened the Leadership Conference with a speech titled, A Vision for a United Church.” His main point was that we should look to the trinity as the model of unity, for they are each a part of one body, and are unified. Here are some concerning quotes from this address:

  • “This crisis is a massive opportunity for the church to stand together and fight together.”

  • “Ultimately, unity is not doctrinal, it’s relational.”

  • “Unity is not an option—Jesus is still praying for our unity—so that the world will be one.”

  • “Unity doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything—disagreement is healthy.”

  • “I used to think if some part of the church is different from me, they must be wrong. Now I think, ‘wow, they’re different from me, I must have so much to learn from them!’"

  • "I have come to love the Catholic Church—If God has given them the same Spirit, who are we to oppose God?”

  • “The same Spirit lives in the Catholics, and the Orthodox, and the Pentecostals and the Protestants, even the Anglicans have the same Holy Spirit living within them. That’s what makes us one!”

  • “Unity doesn’t mean we’re not interested in the truth! The only way to get truth is through unity!”

  • “We live in a divided world that demands a united church.”

  • “Root of all problems in the world is division. Paul gives us the answer to this—it’s in relationships!”

  • “The Incarnation demands a visible expression of the invisible church. We may not get this in our lifetime, but we can have signs of it. I believe this conference is a visible sign of our invisible unity.”

I’m attaching my full notes on Gumbel’s 32 minute opening address. Will be taking notes on the other talks in the next few weeks and can send them to you if you’re interested.

Hope this helps-

J.

 

It is impossible to unite with a man-made religion that has a different gospel, a different Jesus, and promotes a works based righteousness. The ONLY way to have unity with Roman Catholicism is if we dumb down our doctrine enough to find common ground. Should we do this? Are we to forsake truth for the purpose of unity? Are we to ignore what Jesus taught us in Scripture in order to be loving and kind, united with people of other faiths?

Since this conference was held in 2015, other organizations have pursued unity between Protestants and Catholics promoting ecumenicalism at events, including this gathering called "Together 2016," where Pope Francis––in a video message––called for unity among all Christians at an ecumenical prayer rally in Washington, D.C. Thousands of Christians attended, and also heard messages from evangelical leaders such as Ronnie Floyd, Ravi Zacharias, Luis Palau, Josh McDowell, Francis Chan, Ann Voskamp, Jennie Allen (IF Gathering), Mark Batterson, and others. This event was all about "laying aside what divides us to lift up Jesus who unites us."

Wow. Do they not see what they're doing? Do they really believe that unity is more important than truth?

Here is an excerpt from an article by Mike Gendron, a former Catholic, briefly explaining the difference: (highly recommend his site, ProclaimingTheGospel.org).

Jesus and His Word teach...

  • You are saved by faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

  • All who rely on observing the law (commandments) are under a curse (Galations 3:10).

  • Salvation occurs at the moment you believe the Gospel (Ephesians 1:13).

  • Jesus purifies sin (Hebrews 1:3).

  • You can know for sure you are saved (1 John 5:13).

  • The sacrifice of Jesus is finished (John 19:30).​

The Pope and his church teach...

  • You are saved by faith plus works.

  • Obedience to the commandments is a condition for salvation.

  • Salvation is a process from baptism through purgatory.

  • Purgatory purifies sin.

  • You are condemned if you claim to be saved.

  • The sacrifice of Jesus continues in daily Mass.

 

Below are the notes I took from Nicky Gumbel's talk at the conference. Deeply disturbing, this ecumenical Scripture-twisting speech was given before six thousand evangelical pastors and leaders (including mine at the time). Two years later, two of the most senior leaders in the Catholic Church––Justin Welby (archbishop of Canterbury, & a speaker at this conference) and John Sentamu (archbishop of York)––issued a statement on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation that encouraged Protestant Christians to repent for the Reformation. You can read about that here.

 

“A Vision for a United Church”

• Nicky Gumbel, Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton Church, London

Alpha Leadership Conference 2015 (LC2015)

1- UNITY IS RELATIONAL—AROUND JESUS

  • quoted Ps 133:1,3 “How good and beautiful it is when God’s people live together in unity. For there the Lord bestows His blessing.”

  • there’s something so powerful about unity!

  • quoted Keller: “Unity is not simply the work of the Holy Spirit, but the very instrument through which the Holy Spirit works.”But unity is not easy!

  • Eph 4:3: Make every effort to keep the unity of the Holy Spirit.

  • It’s given to us, but we have to make an effort to keep it.

  • Paul is writing to people who are close to Jesus, who had seen Him, yet they’re struggling with unity! So if you’re struggling with unity, you’re not alone.

  • Why is unity hard?

  • No two people are completely compatible in marriage. Marriage is about how you deal with your compatibility. True of every relationship, every business. Hard to have unity in business, charity, local church.

  • in denominations we’re struggling with unity—btwn global church, look at some of the issues—women bishops, sexuality, contraception.

  • easy to split, start own group with those who agree with us

  • but Paul says make every effort to keep unity

  • How can we have unity?

  • Have right attitude. Be completely humble.

  • PRIDE CAUSES DIVISION.

  • Gentle, opposite of arrogance—humble, gentle. Just like Jesus- patient with one another.