Ecumenicity is not a dirty word. Jesus Christ said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love.…” Love is wonderful to have; but when it is narrowed down to the love of one Christian for another Christian, then we have reality. John said, “We know that we have passed from life unto death, because we love.…” Whom? “The brethren”! I have lived long enough to know that the hardest people to love are the brethren. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.” Ecumenicity! Where does it start? In my humble opinion it starts within this fellowship that you and I have espoused, namely, the American Baptist family. The Southern Baptists can’t get along with anyone except themselves. The American Baptists can get along with everyone except themselves. Is this true?
I am in active contact with the presidents of the Conservative Baptist Association of America, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the North American Baptist General Conference. I am more interested in Baptist ecumenicity than I am in another form. I don’t care how ecumenical we say we are as American Baptists, or how much we point to our affiliation and activity in the conciliar movements, if we fail to see that we have far more in common with our Baptist family than with any other Christian body. What is the meaning, validity, relevance, and dynamic of fellowship with non-Baptists?
I not only believe in Baptist ecumenicity, that is, in cooperating, understanding, and communicating as Baptists, but I believe in Baptist unity.
We must go on. If you are going to project your imperfection and join an imperfect church called the local Baptist church, and if you are going to project the imperfection of your local church into what is ...1
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