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Posts Tagged ‘Ecumenism’

(image source: http://www.discerningthetimesonline.net/interfaith4.gif)

A number of readers have been commenting on my blog about Tres Dias and similar Cursillo-based weekends. One of my major concerns with these weekends is ecumenism.

A reader (Jeremy) pointed out that, on the plus side, some born again believers do attend these weekends; this affords them an opportunity to witness to unsaved attendees. I still have a problem with these weekends though, in spite of this. Read on.

I’ve “narrowed” my position on ecumenism over the years. Growing up, my family and my denomination (Ohio Yearly Meeting of the Evangelical Friends, now EFC-ER) actively supported Billy Graham crusades. I didn’t realize until recent years that the Billy Graham crusades became ecumenical years before, in 1957, encouraging mainline denominations to become involved. (I could give other examples of ventures we were involved in that I learned recently were actually ecumenical – the Billy Graham crusades is the best known example.)

Readers may ask, what exactly is wrong with ecumenical ventures? Let’s take a look at the fruit. Many ecumenical ventures now seem to be morphing into interfaith ventures. Such ventures are extending the right hand of fellowship to Catholics, Jewish people, Mormons, Muslims, etc.

The mainline/liberal end of the “Christian” spectrum is involved even in interfaith ventures with Hindus, Buddhists, etc. And… with Unitarian Universalists (which would include among others New Agers and Wiccans.) Note this quote: “The Unitarian-Universalist Association (http://www.uua.org/) has openly accepted Wiccans through the Covenant of Unitarian-Universalist Pagans (CUUPS)(http://www.cuups.org/).”
Source: http://www.angelfire.com/nv/scharff/wicca.html

Where is  ecumenism and the interfaith movement leading us? Toward the One World Religion, I’m afraid.

It still seems to me that separation (as much as possible) from all ecumenical ventures is always the best position for born again believers. So far, I have not heard of any ecumenical ventures where the born again attendees were able to bring significant numbers of mainline/liberal attendees to Christ. In many of the ecumenical ventures I’ve heard of, the opposite has happened – born again attendees and born again denominations have become more liberal. It seems to me many born again attendees are not well grounded in their own belief system. A similar scenario: born again kids going off to state universities and losing their Christian faith.

Bottom line: it appears to me “evangelism by ecumenism” does not work. Here is a link to many more articles documenting that “evangelism by ecumenism” has been a dismal failure: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/ecumenism.htm

If readers have heard of a truly “successful” Tres Dias weekend or other ecumenical venture (“successful” as in converting many non-born again attendees), I would be interested in hearing about it. This would be something to praise the Lord for – although as I’ve tried to explain above, I think the facts show that such a success would be the exception rather than the rule.

FOR ADDITIONAL READING

Unitarian Univeralists (articles in favor of them)

What is a Unitarian Univeralist?

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(revised 09/30/13)

Apparently there is some confusion as to whether three day retreats like “Emmaus Walk” and “Tres Dias” are heretical. I believe they are. Here we are going to look mainly at Tres Dias, but below you will find that Emmaus Walk and Tres Dias came from the same origin. These and other types of three day retreats are all part of the  Three Day Movement, according to a Wikipedia article.

Note – below I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

The Wikipedia article on Tres dias does not make mention of heretical teachings.  Yet, The Cutting Edge website gives a different picture:

These “total immersion experiences” that Rome uses to indoctrinate her followers has found its way into the Southern Baptists as well through the Tres dias. The Cursillo Movement, which originated in the Roman Catholic church and sprung out of Focolare, is a three-day learning, sharing experience of living in a Christian community. Tres dias is one of three major spiritual renewal movements that emerged from the Cursillo Movement. In an article by Todd Starnes, he tells of one Baptist preacher, Paul Mason’s concerns:

“When several members of a Georgia Baptist church were invited to attend a weekend of spiritual renewal, their pastor, Paul Mason, didn’t give it a second thought. After all, “Tres dias” (Spanish for three days) sounded like it was a normal, weekend getaway sponsored by a mainline religious denomination. But a few months after they returned from the retreat, Mason realized he had a problem on his hands at Central Baptist Church, Douglasville. ‘When I asked them how the retreat went, they told me it was a secret. They couldn’t talk about what happened during the weekend,’ he said. Mason noticed that couples who had attended the Tres dias retreat were secretly inviting other couples to attend the program. After the church’s Sunday school superintendent went to the retreat, he abruptly resigned his church position without reason. And within six months, Mason said the couples who had initially attended Tres dias completely ostracized themselves from the congregation. The result, Mason said, was a divided church. Determined to learn all he could about Tres dias, Mason uncovered some unsettling information about a spiritual movement that is raising concern in the Southern Baptist Convention. Davis said a number of Southern Baptist churches have contacted his office with stories of problems resulting from the retreats. ‘It’s very strange. Some church members have done extreme things, selling possessions, becoming secretive. It’s almost like the weekend retreat has become the focus of their spiritual lives.’ George Osment, a lay leader at First Baptist Church, Scottsboro, Tenn., said the spiritual intensity is so great that leaders of one Tres dias retreat refused to allow a camper to leave. ‘This person wanted to go home but they wouldn’t let him. He saw what was going on and wanted to leave,’ Osment said. ‘They formed a circle around him and prayed over him.’ Osment said the secrecy surrounding the retreat has caused division in their congregation. ‘It’s very sad,’ he said. Said Davis: ‘Anything that involves a measure of secrecy sends up a red flag. There’s no need for anybody in a Christian church to keep anything secret.’”

And apparently Bro. David Cloud discussed this, in an article which I could no longer locate on his website. I am reposting the article by Bro. Cloud on this, which I found here, prefaced by an introductory comment as follows:

Below is an article by David Cloud I found a few years back. Unfortunately I didn’t save the link. Cursillo movements have been popular in Georgia since the 90s. “Walk to Emmaus” is part of the Cursillo movement and is usually associated with Methodist churches although people from various denominations attend. Tres Dias is another one.

Beware Of Ecumenical Weekend Retreat Movements

By David Cloud

Weekend retreats that emphasize spiritual renewal are becoming increasingly popular with church members, but believers must beware of the teachings and fellowships that are often experienced at such meetings. While many Christians with good intentions may think a renewal weekend will help their Christian walk and witness, many such weekend retreats are Charismatic and ecumenical in nature. Three movements that have become popular of late are Tres Dias, The Emmaus Walk and Chrysalis (aimed at teenagers). These retreat movements have emerged from the Roman Catholic Church’s Cursillo Movement and are now often sponsored by mainline denominations. The Tres Dias Movement, which broke off from a United Methodist Cursillo Movement in the 1980’s and is now nondenominational, describes itself in the following manner: “Christian, ecumenical, similar to the Cursillo movements, a Christian support group movement, a prayer/study/action small group movement.”

Recently, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) warned its members to be wary of the Cursillo-type movements, saying that such movements are secretive and divisive. SBC’s Tal Davis told Baptist Press that the focus of those who attend the Tres Dias weekend retreats “is no longer on the gospel or evangelism, rather the experience they’ve had” (BP, 12-29-99). According to Baptist Press, Davis has heard from a number of SBC churches who have reported problems as a result of the retreats. “Some church members have done extreme things, selling possessions, becoming secretive. It’s almost like the weekend retreat has become the focus of their spiritual lives,” Davis said. Paul Mason, pastor of Central Baptist Church (SBC) in Douglasville, Georgia, said those within his church who attended the retreat were secretly inviting others to attend. When he asked about the retreat, those who attended told him it was a secret and that they could not discuss what happened during the weekend of the retreat.

Mason noted that “one area of concern is the potential for participants to manifest Charismatic tendencies” (BP, 12-29-99). Defenders of the Tres Dias and other Cursillo-type movements reject the notion that these movements are Charismatic and secretive. Wilson Burton, Jr., a member of a Church of Christ congregation and a member of Tres Dias’ international board, told Baptist Press that even though some who attend the retreats experience Charismatic manifestations ranging from laughter to healing, Tres Dias is not Charismatic. “It is an encounter with the Holy Spirit,” Burton said. “The ministry is ecumenical in nature and actively seeks the participation of persons from all Christian denominations” (BP, 1-18-00). He also told Baptist Press that Tres Dias does not preach one theology but rather stresses what all denominations hold in common.

A careful look at the orientation, history and essentials of the Tres Dias movement, and other Cursillo-type retreat movements, reveals that such movements are unashamedly ecumenical in scope. One Baptist Press article noted that “Baptist, Lutheran, Church of God or Catholics, among others, may be represented on any given weekend” (BP, 1-18-00). Likewise, such retreats are often dominated by Charismatics within each of the denominations. No Bible-believing Fundamentalist should have any part of such a fellowship.

FOR FURTHER READING

Christian discernment articles exposing Cursillo, Tres Dias, etc.

The Cursillo movement is much larger than Tres Dias and Emmaus Walk, which are listed under Analogous Retreats in this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cursillo

And this article is also very helpful and revealing. It is about DeColores, which also falls under the Cursillo movement: http://www.michianachristianembassy.com/web_documents/decolores-many_colors__many_questions.pdf

Todd Starnes, NAMB official cautions churches to be wary of renewal weekends (Dec 29, 1999)

Walk to Emmaus and Churches of Christ

Tres Dias (includes links at the bottom to many additional articles)

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(blog under construction – revised 01/27/12)

In this blog I critiqued the Global Wesleyan Alliance (GWA), which I believe is being formed as an Emergent alliance.

So I was not surprised to learn that a hybrid Emergent/Dominionist alliance was formed back in 2006, in this case between Holiness denominations and Pentecostal denominations (which grew out of the Holiness movement): the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium (WHC).

Actually, the GWA is just now being formed, and it is an Emergent alliance from the get go. The WHC, formed in 2006, has also been into Emergent teachings and Dominion Theology from the very beginning.

I just learned from Manny Silva of the “Concerned Nazarenes” Facebook Group that the WHC met recently. (A press release about the meeting was publishing in the Nazarene Holiness Today, so it seems the postmodern Nazarene leaders have had their fingers in yet another Emergent pie for years now.) Manny wrote:

Unity is a big word here again. Note one of the participants- Jack Hayford – who is connected to C. Peter Wagner and the New Apostolic Reformation.

Among the various heretical charismatic/Third Wave denominations, the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) jumped out at me. They are Oneness Pentecostals (aka Jesus only Pentecostals), as this article of theirs clearly shows.   Most discernment ministries do not even consider them born again Christians – but rather a cult – since one of the key doctrines in a truly Christian doctrinal statement is the doctrine of the Trinity, which the UPCI denies. So why would the WHC even consider allowing the UPCI to join? This is just one example of the WHC’s terrible lack of discernment.

Another denomination that jumped out at me is the UMC (United Methodist Church). It is liberal/mainline, increasingly Emergent, and a member of the National Council of Churches.

I could go on and on describing heresies of the WHC’s participating denominations, But I am instead providing this link to the list of WHC participating denominations, for you to examine them yourself.

Regarding both the GWA and the WHC, it appears that neither group includes the Conservative Holiness denominations. I assume the GWA and the WHC 1) don’t want the Conservative Holiness denominations to join, or 2) the Conservative Holiness denominations have enough discernment and common sense not to join.

And here is an interesting pdf document for download, that discusses the origin and development of the WHC. On page 1, the Evangelical Friends denomination (EFCI) is listed as one of the denominations helping prepare The Holiness Manifesto. I find it interesting that the EFCI takes part in various Holiness ventures like this, without actually joining multi-denominational Holiness organizations. I can only conclude that the EFCI prefers instead to join ecumenical efforts with non-evangelical (nonchristian) Quaker denominations. Most significantly, the EFCI takes part in the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), which they joined in 1970. [In case you’re wondering, many of my blogs on this blogsite deal specifically with the EFCI – the denomination of my childhood (it was still biblically sound at that time) and later the denomination of  Spiritual Formation heretic Richard Foster.]

But I digress. The EFCI is considered a Holiness denomination, but so far it is not a member of the WHC.

In this blog, I have merely discussed the WHC participant denominations. For further documentation that the WHC is a deeply Emergent/Dominionist consortium,  check out my blog critiquing the WHC’s “Holiness Manifesto”, published in 2006.

FOR FURTHER READING

Apostles, Prophets, and Aberrant Doctrine: Book review of Understanding the Five Fold Ministry (edited by Matthew D. Green), by Holly Pivec – This book review mentions Foursquare leader Jack Hayford, as well as the Assemblies of God, all connected with the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium.

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(revised 12/12/13)

When addressing evangelicals, Emergents like Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet discuss topics like ecumenism, Catholicism, and “big tent Christianity.” Yet elsewhere they reveal their true goals, openly endorsing the Interfaith Movement/Interspirituality and the One World Religion (which will eventually become the one world religion of the Antichrist). Demonically deceptive.

The following seems to be the strategy most commonly used by Emergents in destroying evangelicals (particularly the youth):

Step 1) Introduce evangelicals to the devotional writings of heretical so-called Christians throughout the ages. Use the endorsements by numerous born again Christians to persuade evangelicals that these heretics are acceptable. One such born again Christian who nievely quoted nonchristian heretics in more innocent times (before the advent of Spiritual Formation) was A.W. Tozer. Another was the otherwise wonderful Nazarene theologian H. Orton Wiley, who wrote:

The literature of devotion which makes the greatest and most direct contribution to the spiritual life has been built up from the rich spiritual experiences of the saints in all ages… Among the devotional writers, whose works have been generally accepted [emphasis mine] throughout the church, may be mentioned the following: Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ; Theologica Germanica, first discovered and published by Martin Luther; Francis de Sales, Defence of the Standard of the Cross, and An Introduction to the Devout Life. Among the Quietists we may mention, Molinos, Spiritual Guide; Madame Guyon, Method of Prayer; and Fenelon, Maxims of the Saints… Among the Friends are the writings of George Fox, Robert Barclay, William Penn and John Woolman. (Christian Theology, Vol. 3, pp. 63,64)

Step 2) Introduce evangelicals  to Spiritual Formation. Specifically, the discipline of contemplative prayer – which technically is not prayer but occultish contemplative spirituality.  Richard Foster, influenced by “Catholic Buddhist” Thomas Merton and others, built upon the writings of the devotional heretics mentioned in Step 1 above, popularizing  his unique occult perversion of biblically sound prayer practices.

Step 3) Introduce evangelicals to the contemplative practices and sacraments of Roman Catholicism specifically. Persuade evangelicals to accept Catholics as being “born again Christians” (even though, in reality, Catholics hate the term “born again”).

In this 3-part series of articles, Richard Bennett discusses Emergent Brian McLaren’s emphasis on Catholicism: http://www.the-highway.com/emergentchurch1_Bennett.html (Click on “next” at the bottom to go to the second, then third article.)

In part 2 of the series Bennett says:

“McLaren is at no loss to demonstrate how his “emergent thinking” works. The object of his book [A Generous Orthodoxy] is to lump all Protestants and Catholics together, which would be the new ring around the Protestant Catholic split, and to move beyond that into Eastern mysticism, which would be the new ring around Catholicism.”

Bennett apparently is contending that McLaren’s goal in pushing Catholic contemplative practices and rituals on evangelicals is not Catholicism itself, but Eastern mysticism, aka occultish contemplative prayer/ contemplative spirituality).

Step 4) Introduce evangelicals to the contemplative practices of other religions as well as the New Age movement (labyrinth prayer, for example).

Step 5) Introduce evangelicals to the Interfaith Movement/ Interspirituality. Several examples: The Taize pilgrimage and the Wild Goose Festival. Note – the “theology” of the Interfaith Movement is very similar to the “theology” of Unitarian Universalism.

At first evangelicals were fellowshipping with Catholics. Then we made the interfaith jump to establish ties with Jewish groups as well. Now we are dialoguing  with Islam organizations. What’s next? Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. etc.? Unfortunately, according to End Times prophecy, this is coming.

Step 6 Introduce evangelicals to the teachings of Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, Phyllis Tickle and other Emergent/ Emergence leaders regarding the One World Religion (which will eventually become the one world religion of the Antichrist).

FOR FURTHER READING

The Emergent Church Teaches One World Religion!

The Goal of the Journey – to be one

New Age Sympathizer Leonard Sweet to Speak at Seventh Day Adventist Conference

One Lie to Rule Them All (includes links to many additional articles about the Interfaith Movement)

Shane Hipps,  Co-Pastor With Rob Bell, Says All Religions Valid

ADDENDUM – Involvement in the Interfaith Movement by Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, etc.

Personally, I do not believe postmoderns (Emerging/Emergent/Emergence leaders) are pulling us back to a pre-modern form of Roman Catholicism. That being said, it’s actually a win-win situation for postmoderns to push Catholic contemplative practices and sacraments on evangelical denominations. Why? Because Roman Catholicism itself “ain’t what it used to be.” As you probably are aware, there is a huge emphasis at the highest level of Roman Catholicism on the Interfaith Movement.

In light of End Times prophecy, the Interfaith movement in my mind is where the real danger lies. And yes, I would say Roman Catholicism is the most power proponent of the Interfaith Movement. Here’s an interesting article about the jump from Ecumenical to Interfaitlh. And guess who is a major playor?  Catholicism: http://www.letusreason.org/Emerge10.htm

There are also other major players:

Interfaith ventures by the National Association of Evangelicals:
http://www.cephasministry.com/world_church_evangelical_manifesto.html

Interfaith ventures endorsed by CotN professor Dean Blevins http://sadnazarene.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/dean-g-blevins-nazarene-theological-seminary-religious-education-association-north-american-interfaith-network-youthfront-nain-rea-john-1518-20-18-if-the-world-hates-you-you-know-that-it/

Interfaith venures endorsed by Nazarene Theological Seminary: http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/does-nazarene-theological-seminary-support-the-interfaith-movement/

Another link – the United Religions Initiative: http://www.cuttingedge.org/News/n1094.cfm

And a good Christian response to the Interfaith movement: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/faith/christian_worldview/why_is_a_christian_worldview_important/when_no_one_is_wrong.aspx

And yet another discernment article that mentions Catholicism and other interfaith ventures: http://www.wordconnect.org/page_article14.php

The history of the Interfaith Movement: http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/forcing-change/11/interfaith.htm

An expose of Interfaith “rules of conduct” for promoting conversions: http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/forcing-change/11/10-commission-pluralism.htm

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(revised 10/22/11)[blog under construction]

I stumbled across this fascinating article by Quaker universalist Chuck Fager. In spite of his heretical views, Fager has been very helpful in confirming what I have said all along: various Gurneyite Quakers (aka Evangelical Friends) were on opposite sides of Quaker ecumenism.

Specifically, Edward Mott (along with J. Walter Malone) strongly opposed Quaker ecumenism. Dr. Everett L. Cattell (as well as Walter R. Williams and Byron L. Osborne) favored Quaker ecumenism. I knew Dr. Cattell and his two cohorts personally; I deeply respected and admired all three men in the past. But upon learning of their ecumenical stance, I feel deeply betrayed. I stand squarely in Edward Mott’s corner, opposing Quaker ecumenism.

Chuck Fager’s article shows remarkable insight by a man who strongly rejects the born again message of salvation (“Christ as Lord and Saviour”, not just “Christ as Teacher and Lord”). I find it equally remarkable today that many Evangelical Friends cannot discern the dangers of ecumenism in general, and Quaker ecumenism specifically.

Click here for the original text of Fager’s article. I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets].

QUAKERS OF THE YEAR: EVERETT CATTELL AND EDWARD MOTT
(Chuck Fager, A Friendly Letter, January 1985)

Forty months ago, in Issue #6 of this letter, I wrote optimistically that the spirit of divisiveness [this shows Fager’s bias – it is not “divisive” to stand up for the biblically sound doctrines of separatist, fundamentalist, born again Gurneyite Quakerism; also, Fager knows full well that where Quaker ecumenism has crept in, doctrinal compromise has always followed] seemed definitely on the wane among Friends, substantially replaced by that of ecumenical dialogue [“dialogue” always means compromise, as David Cloud points out here] and cooperation. Yet in the past year, it has become clear that a struggle between these conflicting attitudes is continuing and may well be intensifying, and that its outcome is by no means clear.

Two men in particular, Edward Mott and Everett Cattell, seem to me to epitomize these contrasting attitudes. While both are deceased, their statements and attitudes still sum up best the forces at work among us. Indeed, repeatedly in 1984 it almost seemed as if I were witnessing a clash between these two eminences, which has led me to nominate them as Quakers of the Year. Both were evangelicals, Mott from Oregon(now Northwest) YM [actually Mott served in New York Yearly Meeting (Gurneyite), then in Ohio YM (Gurneyite), then in Oregon YM (Gurneyite)], Cattell from Ohio YM, now the Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region. Mott was prominent in  the 1920s through the 1940s, as clerk of Oregon YM and a well-known preacher; Cattell spent most of these years as a missionary in India, returning as president of Malone College in Ohio. Both were active in Quaker ecumenical relations, but from almost exactly opposite directions, and to opposite effect. [Interestingly, Mott and Cattell both were connected with Cleveland Bible College, which later became Malone College- now Malone University. Yet Mott and Cattell held opposite views regarding Quaker ecumenism.]

Does Continuing the Conversation spell Death?

Everett Cattell, while a lifelong, committed evangelical, was also a pioneer of
recent Quaker ecumenical contacts. Two of his most memorable statements in this regard came out of the 1970 St. Louis Conference of Friends leaders, the first when he admitted candidly, “I struggle in my heart to define what a Quaker is today. I do not know the answer.” The second remark came later, when as conference chair he gravely recommended, “Let the conversation continue.” [I would not say Cattell “gravely” recommended this; on the contrary he seemed thrilled to recommend this over the protests from some other Evangelical Friends at the Conference.]

Cattell’s remarks and attitudes contrast starkly with those of Edward Mott. As he [Mott] stated plainly in his memoirs,

“Orthodoxy and heterodoxy cannot coalesce… The attempt to fellowship and work with unbelievers (which is what he considered other varieties of Friends –Ed. [Fager]) spells death. Any conclusion to the contrary is ruinous to all concerned.” [Mott was right – events since 1970 have shown that, as stated above, ecumenical ventures with non-evangelical Quakers has always been followed by doctrinal compromise.]

At an All-Friends Conference in 1928, he [Mott] delivered a speech intended, he said, “To thwart the very purpose for which the conference was held, the promotion of fellowship among the groups.” (It [Mott’s intent] largely succeeded, too.) As Clerk of Oregon YM he led it out of the Five Years Meeting (later renamed Friends United Meeting), and pushed successfully to cut its ties with the AFSC [American Friends Service Committee]. He railed repeatedly against the moves toward yearly meeting reunification then underway in Philadelphia, New England and elsewhere. Mott’s sentiments were sincere and consistent, and not unusual among fundamentalists of his generation, Quaker and otherwise.

Dealing With a Born-Again Separatist Movement

For his part, Everett Cattell did not minimize his differences with liberal Friends. Yet his was an evangelicalism which, contrary to Mott, was able to conclude at St. Louis that “There are good reasons for continuing dialogue with such folk… ” Again, like Mott, Cattell practiced what he preached, both among Friends and other denominations. [What Fager failed to mention here, is that Dr. Cattell was a New Evangelical. New Evangelicals have no problem “dialoguing” with non-evangelical denominations and establishing ecumenical ties.]

If Cattell’s attitude was in the ascendant only three years ago, what has happened to put these sentiments in eclipse? Much of the answer, I believe, can be found in a recently-published, widely-read book by a very influential non-Quaker fundamentalist: The Great Evangelical Disaster, by the late Francis Schaeffer. It is a clarion call to action by conservative Christians in denominations which are, in Schaeffer’s view, fatally infected with notions of “the pluralistic church.” Such a body is one in which there is room for more than his brand of theology, based on his view of the Bible as “objective, absolute truth in all the areas it touches upon,” and the interpretations he draws from it. Most Friends groups would fall in to this category [of pluralistic churches], even many of the evangelical ones [I’m assuming Fager was referring to “progressive evangelical” churches here, such as those in NWYM. Remember, Fager wrote this in 1985 – and Evangelical Friends heretic Richard Foster, for example, had been active in NWYM since before 1978]. Schaeffer’s manifesto is not only widely-read; the outlook it expresses is also being heeded by many, , as a platform for action. [“Some” is the key word here. By 1985, many Evangelical Friends had become “brainwashed” as New Evangelicals, increasingly accepting the concept of pluralism to one degree or another. Many of these “New Evangelical” Friends did not take Schaeffer’s manifesto to heart. Granted, they may have stayed away from denominations belonging to the ecumenical National Council of Churches. Yet they saw little danger in ecumenical ties with heretical non-evangelical Quaker denominations.]

Schaeffer calls on his adherents to “stand clearly for the principle of the purity of the visible church… ” To do this will require “discipline of those who do not take a proper position in regard to the teaching of Scripture.” This discipline is to be imposed at all levels and in all settings of church activity, because “the church belongs to those who by the grace of God are faithful to the Scriptures.” However, if “a denomination comes to a place where such discipline cannot operate,” then the orthodox members must prepare “to step out.” (Quotes from Schaeffer, pp. 55, 74, 82, 85, 87.)

In the light of these passages, both the rationale of many recent events and the
echoes of Edward Mott’s broadsides against association with “Hicksite modernistic Friends” of half a century ago are unmistakable. For that matter, Schaeffer also hears echoes of the 1920s and 1930s here. He insists that “we must recognize that there is a direct parallel between what happened in the early decades of this century and what we are facing today…” (p. 88)

Have we really been treated to such rhetoric as this among Friends in 1984? My answer is yes, repeatedly: in the pages of Quaker Life; at the FUM Triennial; in the flap over Elizabeth Watson and the Friends Ministers Conference (see Issues #35 and #44)[of Chuck Fager’s A Friendly Newsletter]; and in other incidents. [Unlike Fager, to all these protests against Quaker ecumenism I give a hearty “Amen!”] As these have accumulated, I have attempted to maintain the earlier optimistic attitude about the overall trend of events: I still thought I heard more of Everett Cattell in the air than of Edward Mott and Francis Schaeffer.

Riding the Wave of History Onto the Rocks of Division

But no more. In the political arena, supporters of the Schaeffer-Mott perspective [technically, Schaeffer became a New Evangelical in the 1940s or 1950s, while Mott remained a separatist fundamentalist his entire life – click here for an article providing hints of Schaeffer’s drift away from J. Gresham Machen and separatist fundamentalism] won a smashing victory in the 1984 presidential election; they feel confident they are riding the wave of history. And events show that they are determined to press ahead with their vision of a purified Christianity, in Quaker circles as elsewhere. Indeed, they can hardly do otherwise: as Schaeffer and Mott repeatedly pointed out, their basic principles are at stake; this is a matter of conscience for them.

What will be the outcome of such efforts? If the parallels with 50 years ago hold true, they will likely yield a melancholy harvest of separations, bitterness and recriminations, even among the orthodox. That is due not least to the fact that their Number One targets for “discipline” are not liberals–who are considered already lost–as much as other evangelicals, particularly those who are prepared to tolerate liberals in an “unpurified,” pluralistic Quakerism. Schaeffer admits and laments this unhappy record, and urges the church’s “true owners” to exercise their discipline over heretics in a loving spirit, rare as such a process may have been in church history, Quaker and other.

Everett Cattell On Coping With Such Campaigns

The arena in which this struggle among Friends should become most intense is
likely to be, as it long has been, Friends United Meeting. Yet it is clearly not limited to FUM. There are also several yearly meetings, spanning the continent, whose unity seems to me to be at risk from such drives to establish the “purity of the visible church” against the infiltration of pluralism. Everett Cattell understood the divisive potential of these trends, even in 1970. He called for Friends to consider some form of organizational “realignment” which would “set each other free to be himself,” and make dialogue and cooperation possible within a symbiotic relationship qf mutual respect without compromise. He argued this might be the only real alternative to eventual acrimonious ruptures.

Here as elsewhere, Everett Cattell now seems to have spoken wisely to our condition. And the question can fairly be asked: Is it now time for some Quaker bodies, faced with the likelihood of a rerun of the upheavals of the 1920s and 1930s, to explore the idea of Cattell’s realignment? And is it time for those Christian Friends who are comfortable with the diversity among Friends today to consider how best to preserve and defend their conviction in the face of this intensifying challenge?

A year ago I would have considered this whole topic a minor matter, and the names of Cattell and Mott would not have occurred to me as possible Quakers of the Year. It does not seem minor anymore; and these two, while not perhaps the happiest nominations, now seem  unquestionably the appropriate ones.

They say hindsight is 20/20. Since Fager wrote this article in 1985, the pendulum has swung away from the “Schaeffer-Mott” scenario. Richard Foster’s Spiritual Formation teachings have continued to spread like wildfire in both evangelical and non-evangelical Quaker denominations. And the Emerging/Emergent/Emergence teachings have also taken deep root in all Quaker denominations, having become popularized around 1990-1995. The EFCI is in a sad state of affairs as far as separatist fundamentalism is concerned. In fact, today EFCI leadership fully supports Dr. Cattell’s ecumenical steps at the 1970 St. Louis Conference. It appears that, if anything, Quaker denominations – evangelical and non-evangelical – are headed not for a “realignment” (aka an agreed-to split) but for an Emergent “Convergent Friends” movement. God help the Evangelical Friends, if they continue to head down this road of ecumenical Quaker apostasy.

Addendum: It would be interesting to see Chuck Fager’s analysis currently regarding the state of Quaker ecumenism – particularly involvement today by Evangelical Friends.

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