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.
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.