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All Articles For Examining Ecumenicalism

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From the current Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church has come forth a series of “decrees” and “constitutions.” Though both are binding upon that church, the latter is evidently a stronger declaration than the former. Both began with what are called “schemata,” prepared by committees for treatment at this present Council.

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We are in the process of examining one of the decrees approved at the third session of the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church: “The Constitution on the Church.” In this article I wish to call your attention to the third chapter of this decree, entitled: “On the Hierarchical Structure of the Church and in Particular on the Episcopate.” The chapter has been of rather great interest because it concerns itself with the old hierarchical order in the Romish Church.

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At its last meeting at Dallas, Texas on May 2-5, 1966, the eight churches engaged in the Consultation on Church Union adopted a document entitled, “Principles of Church Union.” This document was to be distributed within participating denominations for study and comment. Copies of these “Principles” are available at 25¢ a copy, and can be obtained from the Forward Movement Publications, 412 Sycamore St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. I intend to quote from this document in the present article.

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In the last issue we were noting what Dr. Harold John Ockenga, pastor of the Park Street Congregational Church in Boston, presented as the “Basic Theology off. Evangelism.” He insisted that proper evangelism must proceed out of the truth of the Trinity. We quoted some of his remarks concerning the position of the Father, the first Person of the Trinity, regarding evangelism. His idea of predestination by the Father from all eternity was nothing else but Arminian. The same arminianism becomes apparent in his discussion of the work of the Son and the Spirit in evangelism. 

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Ecumenism assumes many forms and shapes. The subject does not necessarily involve immediate merger of churches, but “ecumenism” is concerned with anything which would lead to unity. We may be reminded, too, that there can be both a good and bad ecumenism. It is true, as far as our churches are concerned, that the ecumenism of our day is for the most part evil. Churches are seeking unity not in true faith nor properly based upon the work of Christ on the cross. 

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In earlier articles I have brought to your attention that affiliation of churches known as the A.C.C.C. This council of churches has also sent communications to our churches, inviting us to attend their gatherings. It is part also of the International Council of Christian Churches. These councils of churches have been closely associated with the Dr. Carl McIntire organization. In fact, one complaint, possibly unjustified, was that McIntire was the “whole ball of wax” in these organizations. 

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To my mind, the most interesting of the decisions made at the Vatican Council is this one. It treats precisely of that matter which is such great concern of other churches of our day. It sets forth, too, a change in attitude, though not in doctrine, in the Romish Church. There was a time, and not too long ago, when Romish leaders would not deign to meet with those outside their own church domain.

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