True aim of Roman Catholic ecumenism

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Ecumenism today can be seen in social/political change in the name of the ‘greater good’. Or in doctrinal statements drafted and signed by different “Christian” sects.

When dealing with such issues many Protestants speak up when it seems the Gospel is at stake. Other Protestants don’t always take to kindly to this. It seems no big deal to them to partner with others such as Roman Catholics.

Some Protestants have even endorsed books by Roman Catholics. Revert to Rome, Frank Beckwith, had some Protestant endorsements on his book Return to Rome. One of the Catholic endorsers writes that this book is “encouraging for Catholics who aspire to the New Evangelization so often urged by John Paul II.” A big stir was caused recently when Michael Horton endorsed a book by Catholic apologist Scott Hahn. Are these endorsements lending a hand to building up Rome? That remains to be seen.

Is all of this a big deal? Maybe. Why?

The Pope gives us an answer to why this might be a big deal as recently reported.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI defended his decision to invite disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholic Church en masse, saying Friday it was the “ultimate aim” of ecumenism.

Benedict told members of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that the invitation wasn’t an attack on the church’s reunification efforts with other Christians but was rather designed to help them by bringing about “full and visible communion.”

Ecumenism should be more of a position of “can’t we all just get along working together while we continue disagreeing” rather than one of “can’t we all just get along and work together while I try to convert you.” It is no secret, or it shouldn’t be that Rome does not believe those outside her have the fullness of the Christian faith. This being the case, it only makes sense to want to bring others into their fold.

Let’s stop pretending then.

The Vatican denied that it was poaching for converts in the Anglican pond and said its unprecedented invitation was merely a response to the many Anglican requests to join the Catholic Church.

The Vatican’s invitation “is not in any way contrary to the ecumenical movement but shows, instead, its ultimate aim which consists of reaching full and visible communion of the Lord’s disciples,” Benedict told the members of the congregation, which he headed for a quarter century before becoming pope.

So Rome is not looking for converts, yet she is? It’s understandable to reach out and help someone join an organization they want to join. If that were all it is then what’s the big deal? Rome sees the unity Jesus spoke of in John 17 as being fulfilled only if everyone joins them.

Either way it is refreshing to see an admission from the Vatican that the true aim of ecumenism is to bring others to mother Rome. It seems that when Protestants join with Rome in ecumenical efforts to affect social/political change (such as the Manhattan Declaration?) they may be opening themselves up to being evangelistic targets.

Is this always the case? Probably not, but when the head of your church tells you their goal in ecumenism, it’s certainly motivation for others to follow suit. It is easy to see how ecumenical partnerships open the door to this type of evangelism. The Gospel does seems to take a back seat to whatever the issue(s) may be in these partnerships.

Be aware. Remember what Paul wrote to Timothy.

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:16 (ESV)

The Reformation might be over, but the Reforming isn’t.

Update

I was asked – What if the true aim of Protestant engagement w/ Rome was [evangelism]? Why do we neglect this option? Don’t they need saving?

I was not neglecting this option, but gleaning the Popes reported position. The purpose is, in a sense, to warn Protestants. The topic is Rome’s position which does not mean others are neglected. It means that different Protestant positions were not the topic at this time.

Of course, Roman Catholics need saving. We all need saving. I would hope any Christians interacting with one another would exhort each other in the Gospel. That they would be aware and discerning in faith and love.

When it comes to ecumenical Protestants it seems that many have no problem with Rome’s Gospel, therefore, it is hard to see if they have the goal of evangelism. This can be seen in Frank Beckwith’s reversion and the number of Protestants that were happy for him. So it is hard to see an evangelistic goal when it is unspoken of and Gospel agreement is implicit in ecumenical forums.

It could still exist though.

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The above article was posted on January 19, 2010 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Jae January 25, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Dialogue in the Name of Christ is fostering christian brotherhood ; poaching for converts in the Anglican pond was never the intention of the Catholic Church – conversion is the movement, a free act of the intellect, mind and heart; it is not under duress or being forced against anyone’s will (like our Anglican brothers).

Peace in Christ.

.

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