By contrast with the unification plans of the ecumenical movement, evangelicals often claim to enjoy the true unity of the Spirit. In a basic sense this is true. Yet the world is not impressed by mere assertion. In fact, evangelicals often seem to be one of the most divided and divisive forces in the ecclesiastical world even in their internal dealings. Splits, suspicions, wordy campaigns are common features. Squabbling about less essential matters seems to absorb the energy that should go to working together on essentials. And the tragedy is that the world both needs and would unquestionably be impressed and affected by a genuine manifestation of unity in spirit, purpose, and action on the part of evangelicalism. Indeed, it might be argued that such a manifestation is the only finally valid and effective criticism of modern ecumenism.

What should be the motivation of such unity? We must beware of secondary motives which may be right in their place but which in themselves are not enough. It is insufficient merely to seek to oppose to ecumenism a true counterpart. It is insufficient merely to think in terms of the strengthening of a cause. It is insufficient merely to desire the construction of a solid front against blatantly hostile forces like communism, materialism, liberalism, or resurgent Hinduism or Islam. It is insufficient merely to aim at a more efficient or economical evangelistic, missionary, educational, or social thrust. It is insufficient only to desire the creation of a stronger ecclesiastical or theological bloc.

The only motive that will really avail is a biblical one. To put it simply, Christ wills and prays for the unity of his people. This does not have to mean unification. On the other hand, it certainly ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: