The word ‘ecumenism’ evokes suspicion and anger in some quarters. Understandably so, because it has often been synonymous with compromise, and watering down essential truths of the Gospel.
‘Evangelical’ sometimes produces similar reactions. This is because it has often been seen as judgmental and too narrow in its reading of scripture.
Given that ‘evangelical’ should be a proper label for those who share the ‘euangélion’ or ‘evangel’ or ‘good news’, and given that ‘oikoumene’ from which we get the word ‘ecumenical’ is directly connected to the complete unity that Jesus himself prayed for, I do not think we can dismiss either word.
I first came across this audio from Peter Kreeft more than 10 years ago and was immediately attracted to the title – Ecumenism Without Compromise. Kreeft is talking specifically about ecumenical activity between Evangelicals and Catholics, and while I think he leaves one crucial question hanging, this talk still represents a significant challenge for all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.