A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT
by Keith Malcomson
Ezra 4:3, “Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel.” Neh.2:20, “The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.” Acts 8:21, “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.”
The term ‘Ecumenical’ comes from the Greek word, oikoumene, meaning the entire land mass where people live. It is used 15 times in the New Testament and was specifically used in the first century to define that region of land within the Roman Empire where Roman citizens lived (Lk.2:1; Acts 17:6). But it could also define the entire globe beyond the imperial borders where all men lived (Mt.24:14; Lk.4:5; Acts 17:31). Within Roman culture to speak of something being ecumenical was to refer to something that extended across the borders of every nation, culture, and language under Roman rule. When the Roman Imperial State united with the early Catholic Church, during the reign of Constantine the Great, in the fourth century, the term “ecumenical” was taken and used by the Catholic Church to refer to their new form of international church unity.
The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (273-337 AD) was one of the greatest political and military leaders of history. He rose to power in 306 AD as one of four imperial leaders within a very divided empire. By 324 AD he had managed to unite the entire empire politically by defeating his opponents and enemies on the battlefield. He then turned to the task of uniting the empire religiously. Religious unity was essential to the peace and prosperity of the empire. To do this he had to forge a plan to quench church disputes and to unite the many distinct church movements across the empire. He planned to merge all churches into one unified and visible Catholic Church within the empire.
In 325 AD he called for the Council of Nicaea. He sent invitations to 1,800 bishops—1,000 in the east and 800 in the west. It was estimated that at most 318 bishops attended this first great Catholic Ecumenical Council although very few attended from the west—not even the bishop of Rome. Many very large and widespread as well as pure Christian movements, like the Donatists and Novatians, refused to have anything to do with this attempt at counterfeit unity. During this council, the Nicene Creed was drawn up which was a basic statement of faith which all bishops and churches were to sign as a vital part of creating a unified Catholicism. Amongst these bishops were Arians who denied the eternal deity of Christ (that he was God). About twenty-two of these bishops initially refused to sign this creed but through the persuasion of Constantine and then his threat that anyone not signing it would be excommunicated and exiled, this was reduced to just two. By this means visible Catholic unity was created. It was accomplished under the supervision of the emperor and by religious and political threats. Throughout the whole council, he emphasised and promoted the virtue of compromise by all to accomplish unity at all costs. Remarkably the Nicene Creed is still looked to by many Christians as a basic statement of faith which should be used to unite all churches.
He closed the council with a final exhortation on unity and uniformity. He called upon them all to forgive and forget and to leave all judgment of one another to God. However, in 326 AD he issued an imperial edict against Christians who gathered outside of this united Catholic unity. The edict ruled that the meeting places of all these Christians were to be confiscated, including their own homes. They were forbidden to gather together for any kind of meeting. Again in 331 AD, he delivered another edict of persecution against all Christian groups outside of Catholicism which was especially aimed at the godly Novatians. Their premises were confiscated and the order was given to destroy their writings. While Constantine is remembered in secular and religious history books as the man who stopped the persecution of Christians within the Roman Empire the truth is that he initiated a thousand-year persecution of biblical Christianity by the Catholic Church.
NEW WORLD ECUMENISM
At the end of the 19th century Evangelical Christianity in America came under a terrible attack from German Liberalism and Modernism as well as from English Darwinism and Evolution. During the last 25 years of that century these teachings secretly filtrated into Christian colleges in the US and gained some of the main positions in training facilities for ministers. This gave birth to a host of new spiritual movements and teachings that were fundamentally against the Bible. These included the Social Gospel and a new Ecumenical Movement. These two movements worked hand-in-hand during the following years.
The two main planners and financers of this new Ecumenical Movement were John D. Rockefeller (1839– 1937), and Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919). These were the two richest men in the world. They planned and financed ecumenical and interfaith organisations between 1900 and 1910. Their vision was to unite the entire Christian world as an aid to furthering their ideas of political world federation and union and apostate Protestantism would be its main tool to accomplish it. The men who worked closest with Rockefeller and Carnegie were Protestant ministers who had rejected Evangelicalism and embraced Liberalism and Evolution. Enormous wealth was placed at the disposal of these religious ministers to infiltrate Protestant denominations like the Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists. This new movement spread to Europe with initial plans to unite Protestants and Catholics through joint conferences from 1910 to 1914 when the First World War broke out. Some of these religious ministers wrote books as early as 1919 promoting a one-world government, a united economic system, a one world military force, and a united religious establishment.
One of the most cunning instruments used in the creation of this new movement was John R. Mott (1865–1955). He was a young American Methodist converted in 1881 at college who immediately got involved with youth ministry. Evangelicalism in Britain and America was experiencing a remarkable missionary movement under the influence of Hudson Taylor, A.J. Gordon, D.L. Moody, H.G. Guinness, A.B. Simpson and A.T. Pierson, that was interdenominational and international. Mott rose to leadership amidst this widespread movement and targeted the remarkable energy of youth within Evangelicalism. In 1900 he published a book entitled, The Evangelization of the World in this Generation. He quickly became the number one young Evangelical Missionary statesmen in the world. This led to him hosting the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910 when 1,200 church leaders gathered together. What most do not know is that he made initial contact with the Rockefeller’s in 1895 and maintained close contact with them receiving constant financial gifts including individual gifts of one million dollars and more at a time. From 1907 Carnegie, who was a militant Darwinian atheist also started financing his work with large annual gifts. Mott sat on the boards of both men in planning and strategizing the creation of this new Ecumenical Movement.
After the 1910 Edinburgh Conference Mott tried to forge organised church unions in numbers of countries especially targeting the youth. He attempted to join Liberals together with Evangelicals in his missionary ventures and he sought to reach out to Catholics as his brothers in Christ. From 1920 till 1955 he was involved in almost every major attempt at organizing a visibly unified world church in America as well as on every other continent of the world. In 1948 at the creation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Amsterdam he was named its honorary president for life. He earned the title of “Father of the Ecumenical Movement.” While the Rockefellers were heavily financing Mott in creating a world church they were doing the very same thing in the political world. They financially supported and promoted politicians who created the United Nations (UN) in 1945. The Rockefellers purchased the HQ properties for the UN and the WCC. These projects were mutually beneficial in pursuit of world federation. In fact, politicians in Britain and America who were heavily involved in working towards the creation of the UN between the two world wars were also heavily involved in creating the Ecumenical Movement. Ecumenism was a chosen tool of globalists to create religious unity for political purposes.
The Catholic Church kept very distant from the activities of the Ecumenical Movement in the early 1900’s and in fact for more than fifty years. It taught for a millennium that it was the only true church of Jesus Christ and that salvation could only be found within her walls. It was separatist and militant. Although it no longer called for the public martyrdom of Biblical Christians it was still utterly opposed to lessoning or losing its power through ecumenical union with other churches. She constantly called for unity but a unity that involved all other churches returning to her in recognising the pope as their only head and Catholic doctrine as truth. This was their only basis of unity.
While various men connected with Mott had made great, but unsuccessful, efforts to draw Rome into Ecumenism, it was an Anglican Englishman, Lord Halifax and his son, who were most successful in these efforts. Halifax senior for most of his life was involved in pursuing talks on reunion between Anglican and Catholics and met with at least two popes in this pursuit. He and his son were close associates of the Rhodes society in Britain which was made up of politicians working covertly towards a world government. Halifax junior was a prominent member of the Rhodes society and one of Britain’s most prominent politicians between the two great wars. One of the most vital tasks of the politicians in the Rhodes society in Britain was the creation of the Ecumenical Movement.
The closest Catholic associate of Halifax senior was Cardinal D.J. Mercier (1851–1926), who in turn imbued his ecumenical spirit to Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens. Between the wars, Liberalism was also making inroads into traditional Catholicism and this was critical in paving the way for major change. In 1962 Pope John XXIII, called the 21st Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church also known as Vatican II. Cardinal Suenens was one of the three men chosen for the task of reforming the Catholic Church and was soon responsible for the radical ecumenical change within the church. Pope Paul VI also appointed Suenens to oversee the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR). As a result of Vatican II and the CCR the Catholic Church was reformed and reshaped in the Ecumenical mould initiated amongst Liberal Protestant’s at the beginning of that century.
Catholicism suddenly became the most powerful, active and effectual tool for promoting the Ecumenical Movement that had ever existed. Suddenly Evangelical Christians were no longer called heretics but separated brethren. Official dialogue was established between the Catholic Church and most denominations. Many Evangelicals believed Rome had changed. Numbers of Catholics were now calling themselves born-again Catholics, speaking in tongues, and joining in meetings with Evangelicals. But most of them still prayed to Mary, venerated statues, attended the confessional and the Mass. As this Ecumenical spirit has gained control within Catholicism it has also led it into interfaithsm with recent popes frequently being involved in acts of worship with other religions and cults. This all is promoted under the title of love, tolerance and unity.
Over the past few years as the leaven of ecumenism has spread through the churches a false unity movement has become dominant within Evangelicalism that is remarkable to say the least. Leaders in the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), representing 7 regional and 129 national Evangelical Alliances has suddenly turned in this direction. So also has the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements with the foremost leaders in the prosperity movement, of the Toronto revival, and of a variety of international para-church ministries, all converging to unite with Rome claiming this to be a work of the Spirit. Just one hundred years ago all the major prominent leaders of every single Evangelical denomination and revival movement in America and Britain rejected the initial Ecumenical Movement described above as a departure from true unity and the first major sings of an apostasy that would lead to a world church and the rise of the Antichrist in world politics. We must never forget that the Ecumenical Movement was birthed in the hearts and minds of men who were Liberal and atheistic in thought who desired the creation of a counterfeit compromised church unity to aid their political aims for a world government.
*The information in this article is greatly condensed from The Scarlet Woman by Keith Malcomson.