Church history continues to become the most embarrassing of all the movements of history. In our twentieth century we are coming to a time of new definitions to the old words of the Christian Faith. We are still shocked by the Neo (New) concepts being promulgated by the electronic church and other contemporary popular presentations of so-called Christianity. We are urgently reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus: "when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8b). There will still be another new Bible to come out in 1981, and multitudes will continue to neglect humility and obedience before the old one. The true is never new! Men are in love with the new as they ever forsake the old landmarks that God has set up before us. There is the constant cry: "We need a Bible and a Church that will relate to our generation!" Oh, dear friends, if God ever prostitutes His Word and Work down to a relationship with this world of sinners, backsliders, and apostates, all everywhere throughout the entire universe will be lost! The Bible reveals the glad reality that God never changes—for nothing and for no one! We should realize just how fortunate we are since God has never been a backslider from His infallible and inerrant Word! He never will relate and become relative to this planet in its fallen condition. This does not mean He has forsaken earth in His love and provision of salvation through the Cross of Calvary. That continues to this present moment. "For God so loved the world . . ." is the legacy of the years.
In 1054 there was a division in the Church, East and West, because of the Iconoclastic Controversy. This was a division over a very meaningless thing.
In 1571 there was a division in the Church that resulted in the Protestant Reformation. This was a division well worth the suffering and agony involved.
Since those two great divisions of Church history, there has been a counter-movement made in the last 150 years to destroy so much of the biblical benefits which the Protestant Reformation brought to the world in leading it back to the Bible and the true work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of born again Christians.
In 1846 there was the Evangelical Alliance.
In 1855 there was the Y.M.C.A. and the Y.W.C.A. hopes of union of the Christian world.
In 1895 the Inter-Varsity Fellowship was born.
In 1910 the First World Missionary Conference met in Edinburgh, Scotland, under the leadership of John Mott, with about 1,200 delegates from 160 missionary societies.
In 1925 the Lutheran Archbishop Soderblom, of Sweden, supported a similar ecumenical hope with the slogan, "Dogma Divides; Services Unites."
In 1927, In Lausanne, the second ecumenical effort of worldwide consequences came about with an assembly of about 450 delegates from 90 denominations that gathered for a world conference on faith and church constitution.
In 1937, the 1910 and 1927 efforts united into a worldwide conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, again.
In 1938, in Utrecht, the Ecumenical World Council of Churches came into existence.
In 1948 this same movement gathered in Amsterdam as the "World Council of Christian Churches," under the leadership of Dr. Visser't Hooft. Three hundred fifty-two delegates from 151 different churches were present. They claimed to be "a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior." But the succeeding words declared, "This basis confesses Jesus Christ as God and Redeemer." It was the word basis that later became the battleground for unbiblical definitions of new concepts of what the other words really meant. The word basis opened up for any interpretation of the matter. At that time Anglicans, Lutherans, Baptists, Salvation Army, Quakers, Coptics, and others refused the acceptance of Roman Catholics.
In 1954, Evanston, IL, further search was made for a compatible acceptance for other groups of Christendom.
In 1961 there was the Third Full Assembly of the World Council of Churches, in New Delhi, India. Six hundred fifty delegates of 198 member churches of the W.C.C. came from approximately 60 countries. Along with visitors and 300 from the press, about 1,500 participants were present. Twenty-three new churches and fellowships, including Pentecostalists, comprised about 50 million people in all, including about 30,000 priests and 20,000 parishes. "The Geneva Ecumenism" was on the move with their ecumenicity. Three areas of discussions and deliberations came into being: (1) An interpretation of the previous "basis" was enlarged to include the Trinity, but the power of the blood of the Lord Jesus for personal salvation was omitted. (2) An amalgamation of the International Missionary Council, which had been founded in 1921 in London; 1928 in Jerusalem; 1938 in Tambaram, India; 1947 in Whitby, Canada; 1952 in Willingen, Germany; and 1957-58 in Ghana, was now brought into union with the W.C.C. (3) Orthodox churches from Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland came into the W.C.C.
In 1967, in Kandy, Ceylon, further dialogue was made concerning the "Cosmic Union" of Christendom.
In 1968 the Fourth Full Council met in Uppsala with their slogan: "All Things New." Along with this thought it was announced that the purpose was "to awaken Christ who sleeps in the night of all religions of the world."
By 1971 the Central Commission of the W.C.C. met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for further dialogue and hopes of international union of all churches.
In 1983 there will be another World Council of Churches meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the extent of this union includes Romanism as well as all the religions of the world in their hopes of ecumenicity.
I am simply amazed how the pulpits and the pews of former strongholds of historic evangelical and fundamental beliefs of Christianity have been shaken and fallen through these years of the ecumenical movements. Where are the biblical fathers of former times? Where are the spiritual giants of yesteryear? Well, although that question is rightly raised, we should not be discouraged by the implication; there are still those who remain faithful to God's Holy Word and will not sheathe their sword again until the Lord Jesus comes back to the clouds! There still remains a remnant that had rather burn than bow to the current compromises among the denominations of the land. It may well be, this time, that popes and priests and dogmas and decrees will arise from a Protestant apostasy rather than a Roman one; but there is no doubt that Rome is returning to lead the New Ecumenical Movements for the final manifestation of the Man of Sin—the Antichrist—to a religious and political world deceived by their sins and their heresies!
It is time for every Bible-believing Christian to be not only militant against the apostasy, but also magnificent for the Lord Jesus Christ!