I Believe in Ecumenism
I believe in Christian ecumenism because I believe in its greatest proponent: Jesus Christ. Nearing His death, Christ prayed, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” [John 17:20-21]. “There is one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.” [Ephesians 4:4-5]. There are many denominations in the Body of Christ on Earth, but still one body; likewise, there are many different kinds of worshippers, but one God.
The walls that have been erected to separate one group of Christians from another are a blasphemy against God Himself and are products of those who preach a false gospel. “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” [1 Corinthians 15:1-4].
God’s Word clearly teaches us only two things are necessary for salvation: belief and baptism. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.” [Mark 16:16]. As I have studied the scriptures I find that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone. God provides us with the grace of the atoning sacrifice of Christ through baptism and together with faith we are made righteous before God. I believe that baptism is a promise for all people, not only adults. Baptism transfers grace and provides the Holy Spirit to each person who has been baptized into Christ’s death. My brothers and sisters in Christ are Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Baptist, Church of Christ, and from other denominations.
I grew up in the Church of Christ, but I came to realize that God’s plan of salvation couldn’t be confined to roughly ten million Church of Christ members spread throughout a world home to six billion. Now that my eyes are open I see that Christ’s Church doesn’t have ten million members, it has two billion! Fully 30% of the people of the world are baptized, professing Christians. Christians are now the majority on every continent on Earth, except Asia!
I believe Christians should answer Christ’s call for unity. Christians will never be able to agree on every detail of doctrine, tradition, or worship (at least not on earth), but we can all agree on the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith: One God as the Trinity, the gospel of Jesus Christ, one holy Church, one baptism for the remission of sins, and our future habitation with God. The ultimate bonding element in a united Church is love: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” [John 13:35]
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.