The appeal to share in a united Christian front strikes a responsive note in the hearts of all believers. Laymen and clergymen are aware of the threats to Christendom and to Christianity as East meets West and as the socialistic trend bids for supremacy over the individualism which Christianity has both fostered and fed upon. Called upon to witness for Christ in a world which is still choosing up sides, free church members sense the folly of Christian fractionalism as clearly as their counterparts in the Reformed and Catholic segments of the church. (The term “free church” is employed here to designate those Christian groups which are locally free to choose their own affiliations and are not obligated to accept commitments made for them by any collective or hierarchial action. Such a designation will include groups which are of the Baptistic or independent or congregational polity and tradition.)
Gone are the days when false pietism could dismiss the ecumenical cloud in the sky by repeating such epithets as “modernistic idealism,” or “visionary foolishness,” or “Catholic trickery.” The cloud has moved in and has enlarged to envelop the church of Jesus Christ; it has altered the spiritual and intellectual climate in which Christians live, and its fallout of blessing or cursing is upon us all. No church—not even the most detached and independently free church—can find shelter from its effects. The question is no longer, “Will the free churches be affected by the ecumenical mood of our times?” but rather, “How will this vital force affect the life of that segment of the church whose sensitivity and theology (and strength) has been drawn from concepts widely divergent from those which bind ecumenicists into the pluralistic and ...1
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