Note: On the first Sunday of January, 2000, I presented to a combined adult Bible class a list of items that the church must thoughtfully address if we are to be a viable voice in the new millennium. I was asked to expand that Bible class presentation into a series of bulletin articles which were published in the church bulletin. They are reprinted here in the hope they will be helpful to even more people. These may be freely used as deemed appropriate.
| Introduction | The Bible & Truth-#1 | Bible Inspiration-#2 | Bible Interpretation-#3 | Nature of Church-#4 | Possibility of Unity-#5 | Worldliness-#6 | Christian Experience-#7 | Christian Missions-#8 | Christian Hope-#9 | Human Nature-#10 | Christian Living-#11 |
What is the nature of Christian unity? What is a proper attitude toward ecumenical or cooperative movements or efforts?
Historically, we have generally issued a blanket, uncritical, even vociferous rejection of ecumenicalism. Is ecumenicism as it is generally practiced in our contemporary world merely "agreeing to disagree"? How can we, if at all, be discerning, affirming the biblical foundations of genuine ecumenism? After all, we must recall that one of the foundational pillars of our American Restoration Movement was unity. Can we affirm the good in an effort while continuing to claim the freedom to reject what is not within the scope of biblical authority? Such has been most difficult in our heritage, especially so in the twentieth century. One can only hope that we will creatively rethink what the faith requires in this specific area as we forge a future.
While they are two separate issues, to raise ecumenical questions also raises questions of cooperation. How, if at all, shall we be involved in moral and ethical issues such as abortion, pornography, etc. What of involvement in loose alliances of ministers who at least bring the possibility of dialogue? What about involvement in various activities with others who do not share the specific parameters of our faith, e.g. "Meet at the Pole," abortion rallies, or combined efforts to oppose pornography or other immorality?
The Restoration Movement had as its two great pillars in its early days a dream for the return for Scripture and a dream for the unity of believers. Do we still believe these are simultaneously possible? Have we given up on the dream? Must a Christian choose one or the other? Can we have allegiance and loyalty to God and his word and to God's plan for his people at the same time?
Simplistic answers are easy and abound on every front. Who will think seriously about our dilemma and help us find our way through the jungle of contemporary religion, so we might fulfill Jesus' prayer in John 17? Will we? Can we?
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