Ecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation. It is used predominantly by and with reference to Christian denominations and Christian Churches separated by doctrine, history, and practice. Within this particular expression, ecumenism advocates the idea of a single Christian unity.
While the idea of ecumenism is valiant on one hand, there is a deceitful counterfeit movement with the same agenda brewing on the horizon. The coming One-world religion.
Universal religion is not a new idea. In fact, it has been tenaciously mandated time and time again throughout history. It was achieved by Constantine the Great in 325 AD when Universal Catholicism was established in the Roman Empire.
It was a compulsory demand during the Christian Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition as the Crusades began with the fervent desire to liberate the Holy Land from the Muslims. These campaigns numbered 8 major crusades and dozens of minor crusades over two centuries. From the year 1095 to 1291, it is estimated over 1 million people were murdered in the name of the Christ.
Some historians believe that upwards of millions of Jews were tortured and executed by the order of the Spanish monarchy at their refusal to convert to the Universal religion from the 12th to the 14th century.
Christianity has not been the only forced religion. In the past 15 years over 300,000 people have been killed as the result of Islamic Jihad. This is added to the 1.7 billion murdered in the Name of Allah since the 7th century. They believe if one doesn’t convert that they must die.
We must all come to the nauseating realization that Satan uses religion to promote torture, murder, hatred and superiority, creating huge chasms of division. Then he propagates the lies of false unity such as Christlam and Coexist as the world’s answer.
The Church has been infected with this contentious spirit as every denomination is acutely aware of their differences, highlighting and often championing those differences. In fact, the church seems to channel more energy in fighting against itself than fighting Satan and his agenda to divide.
Why is the Church the epitome of division? Mainly, because the church was founded on the basis of separation. Christianity divided itself from its mother roots, the rich and pure Judaism that Yeshua taught and walked out in His time just 300 years before.
The Premise of Pride
Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom. Prov.13:10
Everyone is aware of the self-righteous except the one exalting himself. Ask the God of Truth to reveal any unclean thing within you. Humble thyself and God will exalt you!
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Rom 12:3
I appeal to you, brthers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10
Pride and self-righteousness in the church has lead to many disasters.
- Abuse of Power – Ego, fame, constant accolades, over exaggerated admiration can create an atmosphere of idolatry. This spirit is powerful, creating arrogant and narcissistic leaders.
- The Love of Money– Misuse of tithes and offerings, the unchecked pursuance and love of money poisons the faithfulness of one’s relationship toward God. Desire for personal gain that justifies an excessive income, the latest of new cars, houses, planes etc.. is often justified instead of effective church programs and outreaches that could be a blessing to the body or the community. (Maybe even the world).
3.Church Politics– Pleasing those who have a higher income and developing a hierarchy of privilege, favors, kickbacks, and position toward the rich often plagues the church.
- Unfruitful Debates – This spirit often becomes a church sport as verbose rhetoric and hot arguments create closed mindedness, haughtiness, unwillingness to listen then condemnation and judgementalism toward others.
Even God says “Come now, and let us reason together”, saith the LORD Is. 1:18
Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. (destruction or ruin) 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
2 Tim 2:14
- Proof testing– This actually is a little twisted as worshipping the bible becomes a focus instead of the Giver of the bible. Often texts that don’t agree with the mindset of a Christian causes him or her to ignore texts. They will scour the Bible for scriptures that lend credence to their own notions and theories. It’s sad that that they will ignore texts that command love and submission to one another and instead consign a brother to Hell or maybe “less than Christian” because they interpret the Word differently.
The Word has advice for those who battered by others who have succumbed to this spirit:
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. Tim 6:3-5
The apostle Paul counsels us to look to God and not man for wisdom:
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. I Cor 2: 4,5
- Logomachy- This is best explained by “a battle of words”. Many are listening for familiar euphemisms, judging semantics and always assuming error. The rabbis have a saying concerning this problem– “ Some people strain gnats and swallow camels”!
Yeshua said Matt. 7:15-27, You shall know them by their fruits. We all know that there are many wolves within the church and they show forth BAD FRUIT! These are quite often the instigators of church splits, excommunications, persecution, gossip, condemnation, exclusivity and rejoicing in persecution. Some may exhibit xenophobia (hatred for other ethnicities, countries, groups of people…Israel to mention a few).
Hatefulness – This is the opposite of love. Holding those who have sinned in the body in contempt (charging that “these Christians are not saved and are going to Hell!)” Kicking a believer when he’s backslidden (also known as shooting the wounded) is not a practice of our Messiah. Yeshua forgave the adulterer, he ministered to those who lacked resources or understanding. He did not point condemning fingers but rather He was patient and compassionate toward sinners. Hatefulness is bad fruit!
Greek thinking – This classical mindset is problematic in the church. The Greeks held to the premise that only one way is right and 2 opposite truths can’t be right. But Hebraic thinking is like 2 sides of a coin. God is compassionate but is also capable of acting in wrath. Both are right! God operates in a perfect spiritual dynamic tension. And as long as the church thinks in ‘Greek’ these thinkers will find themselves confused, and maybe even at odds with God’s character and purposes.
So, what will truly create a true ecumenical church? It’s not just faith in Yeshua – its actually internalizing the faith OF Yeshua. Every Christian denomination has the teachings of Yeshua as part of their common history. The 1st century Jewish faith of our Lord is our matrix. His faith and how He taught us to live is quintessential and predates the Protestant Reformation and Catholicism.
Start with Hebraic Thinking
The birthplace of our faith is in the root of Hebraic thinking. A Christian in Atlanta may look at a Christian in L.A. and say you shouldn’t wear shorts to Church you must dress like us – in dresses and suits and ties.
A Lutheran may look at a Pentecostal and say you shouldn’t be so exuberant and loud in worship. Sing to Lord reverently from your hymnals.
Some say we should we pray only with understanding while others insist on praying in tongues.
While Greco-Roman thought comes to the conclusion that opposites can’t both be right, the Hebraic mindset says that both can be true. It’s all in the matter of the heart and obedience to God’s convictions.
For the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7
Then what am I to do? I will pray with the spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me] and I will pray with the mind [using words I understand]; I will sing with the spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me] and I will sing with the mind [using words I understand]. 1 Cor. 14:15 AMP
The Prayer of Yeshua – Hear it how He would have prayed it.
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. 6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may one, as we are one. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovest me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it : that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. John 17:1-26
God’s Answer is love!
Regeneration – We must not divide and conquer but love and lift one another up.
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 2 Pet 1:3-10
When will we get about the business to fulfilling Yeshua’s prayer?
The greatest law is to love God with all your heart mind and strength and love neighbor as yourself. We are admonished to avoid conflicts pertaining to controversies within the church.
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Tim 2:23
By the same token true unity respects other’s convictions and religious practices. Some may not drink wine like John the Baptist while others may not be convicted to abstain from wine like Yeshua. Neither is less noble than the other. Let everyone be persuaded in their own mind.
Remember we all have different callings and giftings. We must not be exclusive (a cult) but inclusive with our knowledge and acceptance. We must not be crystallized but be melted down by love, Being flexible, malleable and accommodating to other Christians wherever they are in their Christian walk – allow others to live out their convictions and speak truth in love. We must accept one another. Not on the basis of what we believe (or our differences) but rather in Who we all believe in. Realize that the movement of Christianity has gone into every culture of the world and it has developed differently in all cultures.
Let Him Lead
This might come as a surprise, but it is not your job to lead others into truth –
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. John 16:13
Discovering Jewish roots is a providential movement and exegeting scriptures from the Hebraic context can bring us to unity – now that is your part!
Metaphorically, we. as Christians, were torn from our mother’s arms at a very young age and through the centuries we now have an identity crisis – we struggle with our Greek upbringing trying to understand our Hebraic adopted family. I feel it is essential for the health of the Church to restore itself to the roots of Yeshua’s faith.
The unifier is Yeshua, He is the agent of unity and the facilitator of harmony.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call- 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Eph. 4:1
Just as the Spirit declared His regenerating love in you, allow that love to minister to all those the Spirit sends your way. Declare His love to all that have received Him and those he has opened His truth to so that they may continue in their good work to His Glory.