Evangelical Protestants are increasing their study of larger possibilities for transdenominational cooperation, and a wide door of opportunity may be swinging open for champions of biblical concerns and historic Christian convictions.

In the present ecumenical arena, over which floats the banner of a Protestant-Orthodox pluralistic theology lacking in evangelistic spirit, the substance of evangelical witness has become distressingly thin. But the religious scene in America now shows signs of a new polarization that may in the long run prove as noteworthy as long-standing denominational structures and more recent ecumenical mergers.

Although in its beginnings the ecumenical movement was evangelically and evangelistically motivated, its development has been marked by a dilution of evangelical theology and a diminution of evangelistic mission. Many observers are hoping that the World Congress on Evangelism, planned by CHRISTIANITY TODAY for 1966, will stimulate somewhat of a return to the noble heritage of earlier ecumenism. The more recent deterioration of evangelical concerns by the ecumenical movement has penalized evangelical vitality inside the movement and stimulated evangelical activity outside it. As the evangelical inheritance has been dissipated by supradenominational ecumenism, interest in transdenominational evangelical cooperation has widened among churchmen both within and without the ecumenical movement.

This growing desire for coordinate evangelical witness coincides with the emergence of obstacles in American ecumenism. Despite the widely publicized “ecumenical tide” in the United States, membership in the National Council of Churches in 1964 included a smaller percentage (61.7) of the Protestant-Orthodox population ...

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

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

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