Modern Ecumenists and the Return to Rome


I recently watched an ecumenical dialog at Wheaton College between Timothy George, Dean of the Southern Baptist Beeson Divinity School, and Francis Beckwith, a “Protestant” who recently returned to Rome. Words fail me at how disgusted I was as the cotton candy eating, Kumbaya singing and kid-glove handling of the damnable errors of the religion of Rome. This coming not from a pulpit sitting believer who has never studied doctrine related to Catholicism, but from a Dean of one of the leading Southern Baptist Seminaries who is obviously very well read in these areas. I’m still waiting for the outcry from the Southern Baptist Convention.

More could be said, but I will leave that to James White, a man I greatly respect and one whom I have learned a great deal from. A man who, like, Richard Bennett of Berean Beacon, is willing to speak out against the foundational errors of the Roman religion that separate it from true, Christ-centric, Biblical Christianity. One who also will challenge the ecumenists of our day who are causing a great many to stumble and are fueling the confusion between Rome and true Christianity, and further abetting the plans of the Pope to gather the “lost” sheep back into his open arms.

From the Alpha and Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog, James White writes:

I will be slamming more church doors in my face tomorrow on the DL [Dividing Line broadcast] as I begin working through the entirety of the Timothy George/Frank Beckwith dialogue from Wheaton. What I mean by that, of course, is that it is grossly unpopular to address, in a fair, biblical, historical fashion, the subject of Roman Catholicism, and even more so, to criticize non-Catholics who refuse to see the real issues of the gospel that are at stake when we speak of Roman Catholicism. But, it must needs be done. Someone has to speak up when men are intent upon reducing the gospel to a mere matter of opinion. So I will begin working through the dialogue–all of it–on the program tomorrow, beginning with Timothy George’s opening assertion that the gospel of Rome saves—not that he said those words, but, within the first minute he referred to Beckwith as his “brother in Christ,” making it very clear from the start that whatever “differences” that exist, they do not separate us from salvation. Beckwith likewise provided a number of quotes I will be adding to the chapter I had already finished (but will now expand) on whether he ever actually crossed the Tiber in the first place. (Source: Link)

The programs are not sound bites as the subject is too deep and important to cover with a 15 minute pod-cast. I encourage all those who really want to better understand the nuances of what we are dealing with in the evangelical world of ecumenical compromise, please listen to the following Dividing Line Programs.

  • 9/15 program – Program where James White begins working through the Timothy George/Frank Beckwith dialogue.
  • 9/17 program – Second program dealing with George/Beckwith dialogue.
  • 9/22 program – Third program as James works through the Beckwith/George dialogue from Wheaton.

8 thoughts on “Modern Ecumenists and the Return to Rome

  1. Dr. Peter Kreeft, a self proclaimed “Evangelical Catholic”, also speaks about Ecumenism (link to his discussion below). Kreeft is also on adjunct faculty at Norm Geislers Southern Evangelical seminary. In fact he is one of the speakers at the SES Apologetics conference this year.

    I have not listened to the Beckwith/George but I’m curious if you would have the same feelings about Kreeft and his discussion on ecumenism. The topic is very interesting to me and I’m curious for your thoughts.

    I am an evangelical protestant but have tremendous respect for and enjoy reading and listening to Dr. Kreeft as well as Frank Beckwith and Budziszewski

    Look forward to the discussion.



  2. Stephen – Thanks for your comment. Ecumenical talks are the tool du jour being utilized by the Papacy/Vatican to bring all peoples of all faiths and from all nations under the supremacy of the Pope. This, not so that Roman Catholicism will purge out the leaven of her anti-Biblical doctrines, but rather that “protestants” and evangelicals will change theirs and become more Catholic.

    There is much written about this but the words of Benedict below summarize this well.

    The Lord’s command to gather the peoples (i.e. all nations) together in the unity of his love still continues. This is our hope [of the Vatican] and also our mandate: to contribute to this universality, to this true unity in the riches of cultures, in communion with our true Lord Jesus Christ.” (Benedict XVI “Witnesses of Christ” to General Audience)

    A true protestant should have nothing to do with this movement and should rather speak out against it. Because it is a direct assault against the work Christ accomplished on the cross and the gospel entrusted to the apostles.
    Correction – I should have written:

    “A true Christian should have nothing to do with this movement and should rather speak out against it.”

    By protestant I meant one protesting Rome; but this term is largely meaningless today as it has been redefined to mean anyone who is religious and non-Catholic. And, just because one might protest against Rome, this does not by default make them a true Christian.


  3. Brother Michael — Thanks for your thoughts. That is the way I was taught as I grew up and I know my father still feels this way about most Catholics. I also think that there are a lot of bad Catholics out there that are neglecting most of their teachings and giving themselves a bad name. But I must admit that I am still on the fence about this. I’m still trying to figure this stuff out. I recently left my Southern Baptist Church to find myself in one of these new “mega-churches” similar to LifeChurch only to find myself leaving a few months later. I have since been visiting an Anglican Church and it has some appeal. I don’t know if I’m ever going to figure this thing out. Below are some excerpts from Kreeft’s talk on Ecumenism and they are very appealing to me.

    “But at the same time, reunion must be on Protestant grounds.  And these are equally non-negotiable.  What I mean by that is the essentially and distinctively Protestant point: the central Protestant point seems to be the opposite of the Catholic one, namely the simple all sufficiency of Christ alone. Jesus only.  Jesus plus nothing.  Jesus straight, not mixed drink.  If reunion is possible, that is its only foundation.  The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.
    What I mean by that strange statement is that the essence of evangelical Protestantism is to be one with Christ, to meet Christ, and that’s the best reason to be a Catholic.  That’s the reason for the Mass, and the Eucharist, namely the Protestant thing of meeting Christ.

    Catholicism seems to Protestants to violate that point.  Catholicism seems to Protestants to be “Christ plus paganism,” “the Ark plus the barnacles,” or “Christ plus many human traditions and historical accretions,” “Christ plus the pope,” “Christ plus Mary,” whatever.  The most serious Protestant objection to Catholicism as a religion, not just as a theology, is that it violates the scriptural teaching of the all sufficiency of Christ, the teaching that there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. 
    To Protestants, Catholicism seems to add other mediaries, other intermediaries between man and Christ: Mary, the saints, the Church, Sacraments, priests, human traditions. 
    Protestants will not and should not stop protesting against the Catholic Church until they see the totally Christocentric character of her and all her teachings. 

    And unless Protestants see this, how could they think of reunion with Catholics?  And how can they see this, unless Catholics show it to them?  And how can Catholics show it to them, unless they see it themselves? 

    Why should God let Protestants become Catholics when many Protestants, perhaps most, already know Christ more intimately and personally than many Catholics, perhaps most!  How can God lead Protestants home to the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church until the Catholic Church becomes that fullness that they knew as Protestants plus more, not any less!  When Catholics know Christ better than Protestants do, when Catholics are better Protestants than Protestants, then Protestants will become Catholics in order to become better Protestants! 
    When Catholics are evangelized, Protestants will be sacramentalized.  But not before!  Evangelizing comes first. 
    What we (Catholics) have to add, or rather, rediscover is something even more important then doctrines: namely the relationship that we have neglected.  A truer relationship with a person is even more important than a truer concept about him.  So that point will probably make many Protestants cheer. 

    As Catholics, these people may have gotten the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but they didn’t get the real presence of Christ in their hearts and in their lives.  They got the upper stories of the Catholic skyscrapers, but not the foundation.  Not the faith and the hope and the love relationship with Christ as Lord and Savior.  Therefore, in order to become good Catholics, they must first become good Protestants. 

    (speaking of protestants) God pulled them out of a Catholic Church and put them into a Protestant sect because God is spiritual gravity and God pulls us towards Himself, like a massive sun.  If His rays are blocked in one place, we must go elsewhere to find them, for find them we must!”


  4. Thanks for the post re:ecumenism.

    Sadly the protestant churches ,to a large extent, ceased protesting a long time ago;and began compromising.

    When the goal became preaching church rather than Christ crucified, the Roman church had many usefull ideas to accomplish the goals of churchianity.

    The Roman doctrine of ‘tithing”(which has no similarity to the Old Covenant teaching) was introduced to maintain the status quo.

    Then the priesthood of all believers was exchanged for the clergy/laity concept where the “man of God” stands 6ft above contradiction.

    Finally the concept of evangelism (going to make disciples )became proselytising( getting them in to the building which became the temple in the leaders thinking)

    With all those things in place it became very easy to run back to the arms of Rome


  5. Stephen – You obviously have done a lot of very serious thinking about these crucial matters and for this you are to be commended. I understand what you are saying about items of ecumenism being appealing. We all want peace, do we not? Who wants to fight and war with others who claim the name of Christ? I certainly do not and I take no pleasure in having to be at odds with people over doctrinal matters.

    Yet Jesus is clear in his word that he did not come to bring peace but a sword. He came to divide houses and literally to split apart families. This is a very hard word, but it is truth. And it is truth because Jesus is truth, absolute truth which will always divide away from it everything else that is not truth. That is, if we are willing to take a stand for truth and to defend it no matter what the cost.

    I likewise agree with you that the protesting with Roman Catholics must remain because “…the central Protestant point seems to be the opposite of the Catholic one, namely the simple all sufficiency of Christ alone. Jesus only. Jesus plus nothing.” This is exactly correct and we can only have common ground in Christ Jesus and not in the traditions of man that deny the gospel and his all sufficiency to save.

    And when a Catholic comes to believe in the simple gospel as revealed in the Scriptures, and to reject the myriad anti-Biblical additions/subtractions of Rome, then they will leave Roman Catholicism. This being distinct from Rome being reformed because this can never happen. For if Rome were to eliminate all that was non Biblical and to clear the decks as it were and start from a clean slate, she would no longer be Roman Catholic. The institution would cease to exist.

    Finally, regarding fellowship it sounds like you have been having a hard time. I can relate. I do not know where you live, but you may want to check out as there may be a local fellowship that meets house-to-house in your area. You should find most hold to the central tenants of the Christian faith although in all things this must be determined on a case-by-case basis. I trust you will find more life and sound doctrine than in the Anglican church.


  6. A Free Spirit

    Luke 12:51 Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you,not at all, but rather division. (Jesus of Nazareth)

    It is better to be divided by truth than united with error(Martin Luther)


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