The Great “Global” Church: Religious & Political Ecumenicalism

                           Evangelicals & Catholics Together, 1994
                                The Manhattan Declaration, 2009

Isaiah 8:12; 2 Corinthians 6:14
       Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
       What communion hath light with darkness?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): We are all talking about ecumenicity, and the argument is put forward that, because of a certain common danger, it is not the time to be arguing about points of doctrine; rather we should all be friendly and pull together…Some are rejoicing because Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are drawing nearer together. “What does the past matter?” they say, “Let us have the right spirit, let us come together, all of us, and not be concerned about these particularities.” I have but one comment to make about this matter, and I regret to have to make it. To me, all such talk is just a denial of the plain teaching of the New Testament, a denial of the Creeds and the Confessions and the Protestant Reformation! It is carnal thinking, in addition to being a denial of the truth.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Some look on Romanism as simply one among many forms of religion, neither worse, nor better than others.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: We Protestants, of course, hold up our hands in horror at the Roman Catholics, especially the Jesuits, when they tell us that “the end justifies the means.” It is the great argument of the Church of Rome, but it is a common argument in evangelical circles. The “results” justify everything. If the results are good, the argument runs, the methods must be right—the end justifies the means.

LORD SHAFTESBURY (1801-1885): I know what constituted an Evangelical in former times; I have no clear notion what constitutes one now.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Yes, we have before us the wretched spectacle of professedly orthodox Christians publicly avowing their union with those who deny the faith, and scarcely concealing their contempt for those who cannot be guilty of such gross disloyalty to Christ. To be very plain, we are unable to call these things Christian Unions, they begin to look like confederacies in Evil.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: We are not prepared to recognize all who ‘call’ themselves Christians as ‘being’ Christians. This is what these people are doing. They assume that if a man says I am a Christian and he belongs to a church, it does not matter what he believes, it does not matter what he denies, if he regards himself as a Christian then they regard him as a Christian.

J. C. RYLE: The spurious liberality of the day we live in, helps on the Rome-ward tendency…The consequence is that myriads of ignorant folks begin to think there is nothing peculiarly dangerous in the tenets of Papists―and that we ought to let Romanism alone and never expose its unscriptural and Christ-dishonouring character.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The increase in Roman Catholicism is due to one thing only, and that is a weak and flabby Protestantism that does not know what it believes…And if there is one great world church it will be because the Church of Rome has absorbed all the rest and swallowed them in their ignorance!

J. C. RYLE: Unity is a mighty blessing; but it is worthless if it is purchased at the cost of truth.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I am a believer in ecumenicity, evangelical ecumenicity. You and I have been called to a positive task. We are guardians and custodians of our New Testament heritage. We believe the Bible. We take it authoritatively. We don’t impose our philosophies and ideas upon it, and we’re the only people who are doing this. God has given us this solemn task of guarding and protecting and defending this faith, in this present evil age in which we find ourselves. But, my friends, we’re not only the guardians and custodians of the faith of the Bible itself. We are the representatives and the successors of the glorious men who fought this same fight, the good fight of faith in centuries past. We are standing in the position of the Protestant Reformers. Are we accepting this modern idea that the Reformation was the greatest tragedy that ever happened? If you want to say that it was a tragedy, here was the tragedy, that the Roman Church had become so rotten that it was necessary for the Reformers to do what they did.

C. H. SPURGEON: You Protestants who are today flinging away your liberties as dirt-cheap will one day rue the day in which you allowed the old chains to be fitted upon your wrists. Popery fettered and slew our sires, and yet we are making it the national religion!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Brethren, we are again in a day of uncertainty. Everything is in a state of confusion. Re-alignments are taking place in the church; those who hold lightly to the Truth, and those who even deny it, are tending to come together, and they will undoubtably end in a so-called “great world church” which is no church at all. The question we must face urgently is: How are we going to confront them?

E. J. POOLE-CONNOR (1872-1962): If all who have not departed from the doctrine of Christ—all who, in particular hold fast to the Holy Scripture as the authoritative, the inerrant, the veritable, Word of God—determine that they will no longer encourage those who would unbar the door to Rome, or break down the wall that separates the Evangelical faith from Modernistic denials of it, a great testimony might yet be borne. But let it be emphatically repeated—words are not enough. It is action that is demanded. The lesson is so placarded that all that run may read it. Evangelicals who remain in complacent fellowship with those that deny their faith are not only failing to stem the tide of apostasy; they are accelerating its pace.

HUGH LATIMER (1483-1555):* If they say, “This was done by a council, determined in a council;” what is it the better, if the council be wicked?

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): At this time more especially will we speak, that by grace are ye saved through faith, because never was the maintaining this doctrine more seasonable than it is at this day. Nothing but this can effectually prevent the increase of the Romish delusion among us. It is endless to attack one by one all the errors of that ‘church.’ But salvation by faith strikes at the root, and all fall at once when this is established. It was this doctrine which our Church justly calls the strong rock and foundation of the Christian religion, that first drove Popery out of these kingdoms, and it is this alone can keep it out.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Our unthankfulness for, and light esteem of God’s Word, will do more than anything to help the Pope into the saddle again…The Gospel preaches nothing of the merit of works; he that says that the Gospel requires works for salvation, I say flat and plain, is a liar.

E. J. POOLE-CONNOR: Experience shows the necessity for so decisive an attitude. In any witness against error it is not what men say but what they do that counts. If orthodox followers of Christ publicly identify themselves with those who have discarded His doctrine, the fact that their own teaching is Evangelical will account for little. Co-operation in the council chamber and on the public platform will far outweigh any sentiments that the lips may utter.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: If they say that they are ready to co-operate with the Roman Catholics, and their view of salvation, they are denying what they are uttering on one hand with their mouths, so the gospel is being compromised.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): There is no coming to an agreement with them, without renouncing God’s truth.

J. C. RYLE: Never forget the principles of the Protestant Reformation―and let nothing tempt you to forsake them.

C. H. SPURGEON: It is easy to cry ‘a confederacy,’ but that union which is not based upon the truth of God is rather a conspiracy than a communion.
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*Editor’s Note: Hugh Latimer was burned at the stake during the reign of Queen Mary Tudor for denying the Catholic mass and maintaining the doctrine of Justification by faith alone. Queen Mary is known forever as “Bloody Mary” for her execution of nearly 300 Protestants during her attempt to re-establish Roman Catholicism in England. At the stake, Latimer encouraged his fellow martyr Nicholas Ridley with these words: “Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”

 

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