The Ecumenical Hall of Shame

Some evangelical Christians will find this post incredibly offensive. They will ask, “How could anyone besmirch the character of these great men and women of God?” It’s not surprising that the evil one would bring deadly error into the church via popular pastors, theologians, and para-church leaders. We have a Biblical mandate for pointing out those who accommodate and compromise with false gospels.

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A month ago, I presented a series of posts examining the inaptly named, “Christian Hall of Fame” (see here). That series gave me the idea me to compile a list of “evangelicals” who have played prominent roles in the betrayal of the Gospel in the cause of ecumenical unity with Roman Catholicism, with its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. The confusion and damage caused by these twenty-five men in their embracement of Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity cannot be overstated. While most of these people accomplished some good things, all of them muddied the Gospel of grace.

Many would categorize all of the individuals on this list as “evangelicals,” but it’s doubtful if several of them were/are redeemed. This is certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list, but only a collection of some of the most influential ecumenists that come to mind. Additional suggestions are welcome.

The names below are hyper-linked to their respective Wiki articles.

Bill Bright (1921-2003) – Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and one of the ten evangelical formal endorsers of the initial “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” (1994) ecumenical declaration.

Edward John Carnell (1919-1967) – Theologian, apologist, and former president of Fuller Theological Seminary. Along with Harold Ockenga and Carl Henry, Carnell provided the intellectual “clout” behind Billy Graham’s popular ecumenical outreach.

Chuck Colson (1931-2012) – Founder of Prison Fellowship ministry and The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and co-founder of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) ecumenical initiative.

Kenneth Copeland (1936- ) – Pentecostal televangelist and purveyor of the prosperity gospel. In 2014, Copeland partnered with Tony Palmer in organizing highly publicized meetings of Pentecostal and charismatic leaders with pope Francis.

William Lane Craig (1949- ) – Theologian and philosopher. Disciple of influential ecumenist, Norman Geisler. Outspoken in his acceptance of the RCC as a Christian entity.

Paul Crouch (1934-2013) – Pentecostal founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), which has consistently championed the cause of ecumenism with its programming.

James Dobson (1936- ) – Founder of the nationally popular Focus on the Family radio-book ministry, who undiscerningly enlisted Catholic clergy and laity in his culture battle to “save the family.”

Jerry Falwell, Sr. (1933-2007) – Baptist pastor and founder of the Moral Majority who melded evangelicalism and American nationalism, thereby subordinating Protestant and Catholic theological differences in the interest of conservative political activism.

Norman Geisler (1932-2019) – Theologian and philosopher who steered evangelical pop apologetics (see Craig, McDowell, Strobel, Turek, Zacharias, etc.) toward ecumenism with Rome.

Timothy George (1950 – ) – Theologian who co-authored the ecumenical Manhattan Declaration and was a prolific contributor to Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT).

Billy Graham (1918-2018) – The most famous evangelist of the 20th century. Graham discreetly enlisted the support of local Catholic bishops for his crusades, beginning as far back as the 1950s. His cooperation with the Roman Catholic church became increasingly less cautious in the 1960s. The personal information collected from Catholics who came forward at Graham’s crusades was turned over to Catholic workers, who informed the “seekers” that they had merely rededicated themselves to their baptism and/or confirmation.

Franklin Graham (1952- ) – Continues his father’s ecumenical legacy although with a stronger emphasis on Christian-American nationalism.

Carl F. Henry (1913-2003) – Theologian and first editor of Christianity Today magazine. Henry, in partnership with Billy Graham and Harold Ockenga, founded the “Neo-Evangelical” movement, which distanced itself from separatist fundamentalism and advanced a more accommodating and compromising approach to Roman Catholicism. It was often said that Henry was the “brains” behind the less-academically-inclined Graham.

Richard Land (1946- ) – Prominent Southern Baptist and founder of The Christian Post internet news site, which routinely presents Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity. Land was one of the three evangelical signatories of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT), along with Chuck Colson and J.I. Packer.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) – British author, apologist, and high-church Anglican who determinedly paved the way for ecumenism between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Chuck Colson cited Lewis as the inspiration behind Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT).

Walter Martin (1928-1989) – Considered THE evangelical authority on cult religions. His book, “Kingdom of the Cults” (1965), famously did not reference Roman Catholicism. Martin said of pope John XXIII that he believed he was a “sincere Christian.”

Mark Noll (1946- ) – This “evangelical” historian has been at the center of the ecumenical movement with his book, “Is the Reformation Over?” (2005) – Noll definitely thinks it is – and as one of the ten evangelical formal endorsers of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT).

Harold Ockenga (1905-1985) – Pastor and theologian, who, along with Billy Graham and Carl Henry, pioneered the “Neo-Evangelical” movement, which advanced conciliatory rapprochement with Roman Catholicism.

J.I. Packer (1926- ) – The influential theologian lent his considerable reputation to the ecumenical movement as one of the three evangelical signatories, along with Chuck Colson and Richard Land, of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT).

Tony Palmer (1966-2014) – South African Anglican who brokered the landmark 2014 ecumenical meetings between pope Francis and Pentecostal and charismatic leaders.

Pat Robertson (1930- ) – Charismatic (theology not personality) founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and host of The 700 Club. Along with Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, Robertson was a leader of the Christian nationalist movement of the 80s and 90s and was one of the ten evangelical formal endorsers of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). Robertson has consistently identified the Roman church as a Christian entity.

John Stott (1921-2011) – Influential English-Anglican priest and theologian who steered English (and American) evangelicals towards rapprochement with Rome.

Billy Sunday (1862-1935) – Prominent evangelist of four generations ago who set the stage for Billy Graham by sending the personal information collected from Catholics who came forward at his evangelistic services back to Catholic workers for follow-up.

Rick Warren (1954- ) – Influential leader of the seeker-friendly, church-growth movement. Often referred to as “America’s Pastor.” Warren has close connections with the U.S. Roman Catholic hierarchy and has often spoken at Catholic institutions.

Ravi Zacharias (1946-2020) – Pop apologist and disciple of Norman Geisler, who routinely referred to prominent Roman Catholic clergy, laity, and “saints” as Christians in his talks.

Dishonorable mention: Jerry Falwell, Jr. (following in his father’s footsteps of propagating ecumenical Christian nationalism), Richard Foster (popularized Catholic mysticism, contemplative prayer, and Ignatian spiritual formation among evangelicals), Nick Hall (Pulse founder and organizer of ecumenical “Together” events), Robert Jeffress (Baptist pastor and Christian nationalist), David Jeremiah (pastor, contributed to the Catholic-controlled “A.D.” project), Greg Laurie (charismatic pastor and evangelist fully embraces the RCC as a Christian entity), Bill McCartney (founder of the ecumenical Promise Keepers), Eric Metaxas (author and radio host, regularly refers to Roman Catholics as Christians in his messages), Beth Moore (popular writer and speaker fully embraces the RCC as Christian), Stephen J. Nichols (Reformed theologian and author of a children’s book listing Jesuit co-founder, Francis Xavier, as a “hero of the faith”), Nancy Pearcey (theologian, co-wrote the pro-ecumenical, “How Now Shall We Live?,” with Chuck Colson), David Robertson (Reformed pastor and theologian), Lee Strobel (pop apologist and disciple of Norman Geisler and Rick Warren who propagates ecumenism with Roman Catholicism in all of his materials), Carl Trueman (Reformed theologian and featured writer for Catholic ecumenical journal, “First Things”), Frank Turek (apologist, Geisler disciple), Dallas Willard (along with Richard Foster popularized Catholic mysticism, contemplative prayer, and Ignatian spiritual formation among evangelicals). This list is admittedly limited, but the folks mentioned above are some of the more notable offenders I’ve come across in my 5-years of blogging.

44 thoughts on “The Ecumenical Hall of Shame

    1. Does not compute, Michael. You have “liked” hundreds of my posts that pointed out the deadly errors of Roman Catholic doctrine, but now you’re outraged that I named the names of accommodators and compromisers who say Roman Catholicism is fine?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Roman Catholic Roma Downey produced the “A.D. The Bible Continues.” There were two official tie-in books, one for Catholics by Veronica Burchard and one for Protestants by Jeremiah, all part of the great melding. Yes, Laurie is deep into ecumenism.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Yes, “Some evangelical Christians will find this post incredibly offensive” but I’m much more concerned about what offends God. Unity in the Body and ‘ecumenicalism’ are often made synonyms. But I find this resulting difference: when leaders join together “ecumenically” they become wealthier, more expansive and influential in the world. When the Body of Christ unites they are persecuted and ostracized but the power of the Gospel launches forth with unction and conviction.
    We’re not called to build a Kingdom here…the honor is building the Kingdom of God.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Lisa Beth, thank you for your good comments. Yes, the popular conception of “Christian unity” sacrifices vital doctrines and glosses over irreconcilable differences in the cause of very shallow ecumenical harmony.
      Roman Catholicism unabashedly, without apology, propagates a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Protestant ecumenists must leap frog over that fact in order to embrace Rome.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Good work, Tom. Lots of research. Good reference to the modern preachers.

    For me, a few surprises. Sigh. Most names expected, and of those many had multiple “faults” in their preaching. (In my not-so humble opinion.)

    Something I’ve thought about from time to time: Yeshua was, is, always will be, 100% pure in “doctrine.” No preacher can come that close to that perfection. Martin Luther was antisemitic. Wesley and Whitefield disagreed on doctrine. Just to name a few. Maybe having one questionable doctrinal view is okay???? I don’t know. Rev. Graham is an example of a typical preacher. Mostly right-on, doing what he was called to do: evanglize.

    I cringe when I hear a preacher pray “let my words be the words of G-D,” or something like that. I much prefer a preacher to ask for those listening to be annointed to hear what G-D has to say.

    It points as always to the need for all to discern what is preached, to judge rightly if it is from the L-RD FOR US INDIVIDUALLY. I emphasis individually, for the Word is Living and needs to be ingested by each person in a personal way, guided by Spirit.

    Keep up the good work!

    L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comments and support, Jonah Z. Some would object that most of the individuals I have named have otherwise done great work for the Kingdom and should not be criticized for their ecumenical stance. Billy Graham was widely revered as the “Protestant saint.” Speaking as an ex-Catholic who came out of the RCC with its false gospel, it was very grievous to me to see these men attempting to bridge the irreconcilable divide between Rome and Gospel Christianity. Can you possibly imagine an evangelical leader embracing Mormonism or the Watchtower as Christian entities and encouraging others to do so? Graham and his ecumenical colleagues (Henry, Ockenga, Carnell, etc.) slowly but systematically tore down the barricades and allowed the enemy inside the camp. Few evangelicals know the history of Graham’s determined ecumenism. If you’re interested, there’s “Promise Unfulfilled” by Roland McCune and “Evangelicalism Divided” by Iain Murray from a British perspective.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I certainly agree with you, Tom. The worst thing is that as protestants lean toward Rome, the Pope is leaning toward incorporating Muslims, and has already been dancing with other false religions.

        May G-D continue His work through you.

        L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, JonahZ. Yes, one would think ecumenically-minded “evangelicals” would see red flares with the pope’s overtures to Islam and his unabashed statements that all religionists and even atheists may also merit heaven if they are “sincere” and “good.” But many so-called “evangelicals” are drifting into Universalism as well.
        Thank you and may the Lord bless you in your service to Him!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. And many many more. Matthew 24
    Were these men truly born again from the beginning? Makes me wonder.
    The Seed and the Sower come to mind in Matthew 13

    –Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
    –Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

    And then we also have Daniel Wallace and James White. Adhering to the modern translations and trashing the King James Bible

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the comments, Jackie. We disagree on the KJV 1611-Only issue, but I don’t debate with adherents. James White has probably put in more hours and effort debating the errors and dangers of Roman Catholicism than any other evangelical Christian I can think of.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Sinful man has a deep need to make visible idols, even out of certain Bible translations [other religious idols, denominations, extra-biblical doctrines, church buildings, church traditions, church leaders. Bible teachers…] the KJV is another just another version. And yes, it is sentimentally idolized.
      The King James Only movement are wrong – the version has faults. The original 1611 is highly papal, giving the holy days for ‘virgin’ Mary [annunciation day], Pope Gregory’s birthday, notes leading to the chapters & verses of extra biblical Apocrypha, etc, etc. The fact many editions have been made since 1611 show it had & has mistakes [mentions Easter, rather than Passover]. It isn’t trashing a version to point out its mistakes and limitations [and it is still a useful Bible]. Language is fluid and word meanings are ever changing; the KJV Tudor English language does have its limitations in communicating, witnessing the gospel clearly to 21st century people

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Excuse me, I fully disagree with you and then some. I am guilty of many many (twice) things, but I’ll never never (twice) say to the King James Bible that the Bible is just another version.

        This is not my blog so I am going to leave at that.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Jackie. I generally avoid debates over the inspiration and inerrancy of the King James translation, so I hesitated in posting Patrick’s confrontational comments. I will direct Patrick to your blog if he wishes to continue the discussion.

        Like

      1. I’ve read Geisler’s “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences” (1995), which is one of the strangest books I have ever read. A link to my review is far below. He spent 400 pages detailing how many of the RCC’s doctrines are un-Biblical, including its works-centered view of justification, but at the very end of the book he does a startling 180 and concludes the RCC is still a Christian entity. My jaw just dropped as I read his conclusion. I just received his other book on Catholicism, “Is Rome the True Church?” (2008). It’s out-of-print and used copies are VERY expensive, but I happened to time it right and came across a cheap copy. I know for sure that Geisler takes the same accommodating tack as his earlier book. He influenced so many pop apologists to accept ecumenism with Rome.

        I appreciate your suggestion of Eugene Peterson. Definitely. He produced his “The Message” paraphrase in a Protestant version AND a Catholic version, including the Apocrypha. I don’t know how you feel about Bible paraphrases. I have a NLT and refer to it sometimes to try to get a clearer understanding of a particularly difficult passage, but I think Peterson takes it waaaaaay too far with his pop culture colloquialisms that have no connection with the actual text.
        It’s quite a coincidence that you mention Peterson. A blogger who cut ties with me over this particular post routinely quoted from “The Message” for his “Scriptural” support in his posts. I never brought it up. Generally speaking, a person who quotes from “The Message” is not going to be concerned about ecumenism with Rome.

        https://excatholic4christ.wordpress.com/2020/05/21/throwback-thursday-trying-to-force-a-square-peg-catholicism-through-a-round-hole-the-gospel/

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hi, Tom! I wrote you a response earlier, however, I don’t think it went through. First I am sorry to hear about this fellow blogger, that is sad. I saw that Peterson had an ecumenical version of The Message. I have never been a fan of that paraphrase. I used to use the NLT in my devotional time and ESV for study. Now I just use the ESV for both. There was a time when Peterson did not want his paraphrase to have study notes, because it was a paraphrase. I will be honest, I am more forgiving of The Message being quoted than The Passion Translation (TPT). I do believe that Jesus’s Good News is being sacrificed on the altar of cultural relativity. Thank you for addressing pop culture colloquialisms. Even more thank you for shepherding me!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hi Mandy! I checked my spam file for your earlier comment, but found nothing. I’m sorry it didn’t make it through.
        Thank you for your additional thoughts on The Message. I think it’s a travesty. I compromised my own convictions to a degree by “liking” blog posts that used quotes from The Message so the parting of ways worked out.

        I’m not familiar with The Passion Translation so I googled it and quickly saw its serious deficiencies via a few critical articles. I also use the ESV.
        Speaking of Bible translations, here’s a little personal background. I spent my first 8 years as a born-again Christian at an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church that used the KJV, but didn’t insist that it was the ONLY legitimate translation as many IFB churches do. I’m a bit of a square peg because I’m too “liberal” for traditionalist/fundamentalist churches that hold to KJV 1611-Onlyism and Christian nationalism and I’m too “conservative” for most “mainstream” evangelical mega-churches that teach ecumenism with Rome is fine among other compromises. Some of the bloggers who share my concerns about ecumenism with Rome are also adamant followers of KJV 1611-Onlyism, which becomes their litmus test of who they will fellowship with.
        Thanks, Mandy! I’m happy to help. The Lord brought me out of the RCC after 27 years and gave me a desire to study it extensively afterwards to help others.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true. Only a few could be categorized as theological scholars. Most of the people on the list pushed ecumenism at the popular level.

      Like

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