April 29, 2006

Ecumenism or Sheep Stealing?

There is real hypocrisy going on in the name of ecumenism today. More and more churches are saying that they want to come together in unity in the name of Christ, while at the same time working on ways to steal sheep away from the very churches they attend prayer breakfasts with. The "church growth" movement is not about bringing people to Christ; it is about bringing Christians into your congregation. That is known as "transfer growth." Churchianity has become a very competitive business at a time when very few unchurched people are open to hearing the truth of the Gospel.

The recent television commercials by a variety of churches and cults all say, "come to our church where you will be accepted and be a part of a real faith community." The commercials recently released by the United Church of Christ reveal just how desperate these dying churches are for persons to warm their pews. Their motto is: "The United Church of Christ seeks to be Multiracial Multicultural, Open and Affirming, and Accessible to All - A Church where everyone is welcome!" In the commercial, a variety of people sitting in the pews get ejected up and out, including two gay men snuggling together. The UCC’s definition of "Open and Affirming (OAA)" means "it has publicly declared that ‘gay, lesbian, bisexual’ (GLB) people or those of all ‘sexual orientations’ are welcome in its full life and ministry; e.g. membership, leadership, employment etc."

The words "Open and Affirming" mentioned on UCC’s website links to a website sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The program is called "Shower of Stoles" which "is a collection of over a thousand liturgical stoles and other sacred items from gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons from twenty-six denominations in six countries. Each stole contains the story of a GLBT person who is active in the life and leadership of their faith community in some way: minister, elder, deacon, teacher, missionary, musician, administrator or active layperson." The page has listings of OAA churches around the world so that GLB people can find a congregation that doesn’t expect them to reject their sinful lifestyles in order to be accepted in the "faith community." These include congregations from just about all the Protestant churches such as Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Mennonite, Quaker, Church of the Brethren, and a host of newer churches like the Metropolitan Community Church. 

So as the Protestant churches place ads to get others in the faith community to join their group, the Catholics are working overtime to bring former Catholics back to fill their own dwindling pews. During a recent visit to a Marian shrine in Santa Clara, I bought some Catholic tracts at the parish gift shop. One was fashioned after David Letterman’s "Top Ten" list that counts down from the tenth to the number one response. Here is the tract’s list without the elaboration they included under each heading. My counter-list is next to theirs.

From the Catholic tract, "Top 10 Reasons to Come Back to the Catholic Church"

My list of 10 reasons practicing Catholics do (or should) leave the Catholic Church

10.  Because they want meaning in life.
10. Because they need to lose their life in this world to find it.
 9.  Because childhood memories surface. 9. Because childhood memories of abuse at the hands of priests and nuns resurface.
8.  Because they made mistakes. 8. Because they realize the mistake they made in joining Catholicism in the first place.
 7.  Because they need to forgive others. 7. Because they have forgiven those who raised them Catholic and chose to move on.
 6.  Because they want to be healed. 6. Because they realize only Jesus can heal their souls.
 5.  Because the Catholic Church has the
 fullness of truth and grace.
5.  Because the Catholic Church has the fullness of apostasy.
 4.  Because they want their children to have a faith foundation. 4. Because they don’t want to abuse their own children by feeding them man’s religion.
 3.  Because they want to be part of a faith community. 3. Because they want to join the true body of Christ.
2.  Because they want to help other people. 2. Because they want to minister the truth to others and lead them to Christ.
1.  Because they hunger for the Eucharist. 1. Because they love the real Jesus and not the idol of the eucharist.

In a time of growing apostasy in the church of Jesus Christ, it is so important for the believer to know what the Bible teaches and to test all things, holding fast that which is true. Those coming after our souls are getting more and more clever at finding ways to direct us away from the foundation of the Word of God and get us to conform to this world’s programs under the banner of "liberty," "tolerance" and "love". We must hold fast our confession until He comes for us.

♥♥♥

Dear Jesus, rescue your people from the mouths of the hungry wolves. Strengthen us so that we do not tire of testing all things. Help us to take the risk of being unpopular in this world, and even in our churches, in order to fellowship with You outside the camp. Thank You for the joy of our salvation and that You loved us before we even knew who You are. Tighten up our armor so that we can take our stand against the wiles of the enemy. We look to You today for the grace to keep our feet from stumbling. To God be the glory, Amen!

 

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