Seventy-years ago, following the ravages of the Second World War, people across the world were scandalized by the divisions within “Christianity.” They saw the thousands of denominations as defiance of the prayer of Jesus Christ in John 17:20-23 that all believers be united. To that end, the World Council of Churches (WCC) was created in 1948 and the National Council of Churches (NCC) was founded here in the U.S. in 1950. In 1964, at its Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic church reversed its former militant approach and issued the document, “Unitatis Redintegratio” (Restoration of Unity), which called for the unity of all Christians. In the decades that followed, nominal Protestant denominations have increasingly joined together and with Rome in an effort to unite all “Christians”
What are Gospel Christians to think about these ecumenical efforts? The mainline Protestant denominations that comprise the NCC and WCC drifted into liberalism/modernism generations ago. They no longer hold to the Bible as the Word of God and they no longer teach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. As for the Roman Catholic church, it teaches a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. And while it pleads for unity, the “unity” that it refers to equates to eventual submission to the Roman pontiff:
“…when the obstacles to perfect ecclesiastical communion have been gradually overcome, all Christians will at last, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, be gathered into the one and only Church in that unity which Christ bestowed on His Church from the beginning. We believe that this unity subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.” – Unitatis Redintegratio, Section 4.
Gospel Christians may differ on various secondary beliefs, but WE ARE UNITED in the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. God’s Word warns us not to join with false teachers and pseudo-Christians who propagate false gospels.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” – Matthew 7:15
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting.” – 2 John 10
Christians should NEVER join together with religious unbelievers who call themselves “Christians,” but who propagate false gospels. We need to evangelize these lost souls, not embrace them as fellow believers.
Preacher, writer, and teacher, Will Graham (photo above), recently contributed the five excellent short articles below to Evangelical Focus magazine that summarize the guiding principles to Christian unity. When it comes to uniting with others who profess to be Christians, we must never, never, never accommodate false gospels or compromise Biblical truth.
A Manifesto of Church Unity – Introduction: Part One of Five
Church Unity is Unity in the Truth – Part Two of Five
Church Unity is Unity in the Light – Part Three of Five
Church Unity is Unity in the Spirit – Part Four of Five
A Manifesto of Church Unity – Conclusion: Part Five of Five