Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Joint Spiritual Efforts with Other Denominations

These thoughts are not meant to promote animosity or cause hateful feelings toward believers from other denominations. It is simply an outline of what we believe the Bible teaches on joint spiritual ventures, or what is sometimes called “ecumenical efforts”. We as Anabaptists believe the Bible doctrine of separation, but may have not always understood well what our relationship to other denominations should be.

1. Ecumenical programs constitute a type of unequal yoke. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
The Bible also says, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). And again, “As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed”  (Galatians 1:9).
Is it right to join hands in spiritual ministry with believers who condone murder by abortion, divorce and remarriage, female leadership over men, non-resistance, and other things clearly stated in Scripture?.

2. Joining hands as a matter of course with Christians from other denominations or religions in religious ministry is a sign of ecumenicalism and a slide towards apostasy. We don’t condemn them to hell, neither do we deny that many of them are sincere. God will be the final judge at the end of time, but we are not allowed to join hands with them now. Many Anabaptist Christians are losing or have completely lost this concept. Will we stand up and be an example to them?

3. We are told to not have company with them, and to admonish them. “If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15).
            “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….from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:3, 5).

4. Take a look at Jehoshaphat’s ecumenical compromise with Ahab. “Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab…..And Ahab king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Wilt thou go with me to Ramothgilead? And he answered him, I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war” (2 Chronicles 18:1, 3).
            Do we need to “enquire at the word of Lord” (verse 4) to know this is wrong? Jehoshaphat did it anyway, and this is what God told him: “These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace” (verse 16). God has always been displeased when His children made alliances with Gentiles, whether Jews or New Testament Christians.

5. We are commanded to come out from among the system of the world and of false religion, and be separate from them. “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4; 2 Corinthians 6:17).
            Do we want to be implicated?

6. When we join hands with people of other beliefs in an affiliated way, we compromise and stain our testimony and our message. When we join in religious ministry with Christians of other faiths and denominations, we begin to compromise our own faith and ministry.
For example, at our programs we warn about eternal judgment, but if our friends from other denominations teach there is no eternal lake of fire, how can we give a clear effective message from the stage? We teach that we live under Christ’s New Testament Law, but if they teach we are also under a portion of the Old Testament Law, how can we freely teach what the Bible says in Galatians 5:4, that “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the [Old Testament] law; ye are fallen from grace.” We teach the Bible is the final and complete revelation from God, but if they teach that it is not, and that we can fully trust the writings of other “inspired” men or women, how can we begin to put our ministries together on the same level, on the same stage?

            Compromise is a crucial underlying principle in all ecumenical efforts. The common denominator is sought, and sharing any disagreeing view is severely looked down on. Is it possible to be a pure and bright light when it must be hid under a bushel?

Note: This is a shorter version of an article meant to accompany a statement made by New Heights Quartet on their blog in regards to an ecumenical event organized by a group of Anabaptist believers in Goshen, Indiana. The organizing committee of this Acappella Gospel Sing invited a Seventh-Day Adventist quartet to present a program this year's (2016) event.

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