Tag Archives: ecumenism

Another NCC self-parody

See Fighting Poverty With Faith Mobilization Concludes with Capitol Hill Briefing by false teacher Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie.

The National Council of Churches (NCC) calls this “Fighting Poverty with Faith,” but virtually all their actions are political.  It is like saying, “I’m going to show my faith in God by appealing to Caesar.”

This effort is too large for any single church or religion, which is why the member communions of the National Council of Churches are so pleased to join with the Jewish Council on Public Affairs and Catholic Charities in Fighting Poverty with Faith.

Note how weak their faith is: Their “god” (apparently not the one of the Bible) is so impotent that they need other religions to help out.

If they really wanted to help, they’d go teach Junior Achievement classes.

Or they’d just encourage kids to finish high school and not have sex before marriage.  If you do that you are very, very unlikely to end up poor.  But the fakes are too busy pushing Planned Parenthood-style “have sex whenever you are ready — and you get to decide when you are ready!” programs.

Does anyone know where the NCC funding breakout is?  My understanding is that as churches give less they have turned to Liberal political groups for funding, sort of like pro-abortion atheist George Soros helps fund false teacher Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis.

Guest post: Authentic Ecumenism and Rebuilding Christian Culture in One Easy Step

Uber-commenter LCB was kind enough to provide a guest post while I’m in the middle of a madly busy stretch — closing on houses, moving houses then moving a daughter to where she’ll be dancing — all in 8 days. We’re talking “hair on fire” busy. Mercifully, it has gone pretty smoothly, though it has cut into my blogging time severely (Google Reader = “844 new items” and number of new posts = 0.).

I’ll be phasing back in over the rest of August (still lots of home projects to do, and my boss does like me to make an appearance at work now and then). In the mean time, enjoy this excellent and challenging piece by LCB.
In a previous comment section a few of us chatted about liturgy, a fancy word that describe our collective worship of God. Almost all Christians are in agreement that liturgy is a core component of Christianity, though there is often debate about what that liturgy should consist of. There is no doubt that, from the earliest days of the Church, Christians gathered together to worship. St. Paul even provides us, at various points, with hymns that were likely used in early Christian group worship (no doubt followed shortly after by early Christian complaints about the music).

Today I’d like to look at what the early Christian monastics (such as The Early Desert Fathers, some of whose wisdom can be found here – http://www.amazon.com/Desert-Fathers-Sayings-Christian-Classics/dp/0140447318 – can teach all Christians of all stripes today in 2009. In this we’ll consider 3 things:

1) The vocation to prayer
2) Psalms– giving God back what he has given us
3) Rebuilding Christian culture and communities in an anti-Christian world

The early Christian monastics faced a surprisingly similar set of circumstances as we do today in America– Christianity had become so widespread that it was ‘too easy’ to be a Christian. Further, the cities which Christians often lived in had become increasingly corrupt and sinful. By the fall of Rome its debauchery was so well known that one story says, “The women, when they heard the barbarians had broken through the gates, asked excitedly “When do the rapes begin?””

Facing this set of circumstances, many decided to ‘flee’ the cities. Though St. Benedict would become the most famous of these, Anthony Of Egypt (or Anthony of the Desert) probably played a more crucial role in ‘popularizing’ what become monasticism. I think these early monastics serve as a fruitful topic of authentic ecumenical dialog (not the wishy-washy watering down of doctrine that sometimes occurs) because their circumstances were similar to ours today, and because most the early monastics had no connection to the always-controversial Catholic Priesthood. They had a very specific vocation: to pray.

1) The vocation to prayer should be at the core of evey individual Christian’s relationship with Christ. Though few are called to the radical life of prayer of these monastics, all of us are called to daily prayer and communication with God. Further, these Monastics demonstrate how seriously we should take that daily prayer and communication and provide an excellent way to examine our own prayer lives. Are we living the poverty level that God wants us to live at? Are we praying with the frequency that God wants us to pray at? Do we fast with any frequency, even in small ways? Are we dedicating some time each month/season/year to being really and deeply alone with God, perhaps through retreats?

And finally, do we seriously work at opening ourselves to God’s grace, especially to overcome our temptations?

2) The primary form of prayer for these monastics (and monks to this day) is the Psalms. The significance of the Psalms to the prayer life of a Christian is difficult to overstate. These are the prayers that God has giving to us, His people, for use in praying. These are the same prayers that Jesus prayed regularly throughout his life. These are the words that are on his Sacred Lips at the very moment of his death.

Praying the Psalms daily (usually from memory– when was the last time you memorized a Psalm?) forces a person to really engage in mature spiritual growth. A person will quickly reach the plateau where the prayers become ’empty words’, in that they aren’t filled with emotions and often seem point. And yet we return to them every day. Even when it’s hard we learn to remain consistant, to trust that the prayers God gave us are indeed pleasing to Him. Further, we will be forced to enter deeper into the mystery of these prayers, to understand their infinite depth and boundless wisdom in new ways. But this won’t be done alone.

3) When we pray these prayers, as the early monastics did, we should do so as a community. This can be as small as our family, or it can be some of our neighbors, or an even larger groups. But, when we pray as a community, we help support our brothers and sisters in Christ. We learn in a deeper way that we have an obligation towards each other, to help each other stay the narrow path and make it to heaven. And to help each other to pray.

Once I spent a few days at a monastary, and it was a wonderful experience. Until the 4 AM bells woke me up for early prayer. I just couldn’t get out of bed, I was so tired. But the bells were so loud, and the community expected me there, to join them in praying to the Lord Our God. When my own desire to pray wasn’t enough, the community was there to ‘keep me on track.’ This lesson I feel is especially important. That in the hard times we help our brothers and sisters to ‘stay on track’, and continue to pray. It is easy to stop praying in the hard times. But as anyone who has tried to follow the Lord knows, when prayer stops evil surely follows.

Further, aren’t these the kind of communities we want to live in? Communities with our Brothers and Sisters in Christ? Communities where people are helping each other prayer and journey towards the Kingdom? Communities where prayer and worship of God become a central value?

In an anti-Christian world, where Christianity has become so ‘easy’ and the cities are filled with morality, many of us can not flee the cities. But we can flee the immorality and begin building new Christian communities and a new Christian Culture. The monastic dedication to prayer preserved Christian culture during the utter collapse of civilization in Europe. By embracing the lessons of those early monastics, and embracing their foundational dedication to prayer, I am convinced that we can rebuild Christian Culture new again.

And I believe that is best done by praying the Psalms as a community.

Good and bad ecumenism

cross1.jpgEcumenism is a movement promoting unity among Christians.  It is biblical in concept, given that Jesus prayed for believers:

John 17:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

But there is good and bad ecumenism.  If the unity is based on the essentials of the faith, that is to be encouraged.  But if it is gained by abandoning the essentials then it isn’t real or desirable unity.

Many times, such as with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the National Council of Churches (NCC), “unity” is achieved by watering down key doctrines.  Those organizations are virtually indistinguishable from radical left politics. 

But I’ve come across many excellent examples of ecumenism.  Interestingly, they were not founded on ecumenism but on a common desire for service, fellowship and worship.  When I step back and analyze them I can’t help but notice the diversity of denominations, ages, races, etc. of Christians united for good.  The following organizations come to mind:

  • Christians @ HP employee network group — we had lunch time Bible studies with a wide variety of people, yet denominational differences never got in the way.
  • Kairos Prison Ministry — people from many denominations unite behind the essentials and accomplish incredible things.
  • CareNet Pregnancy Center — you’ll find a variety of backgrounds helping to save lives now and for eternity.
  • World Vision and similar charities — millions are served by non-denominational, Bible-based organizations.

My advice is to focus on the essentials and living out authentic Christian lives, then ecumenism will follow.  But if you lead with ecumenism you’ll get weak, watered down organizations at best and may end up with something non-Christian.