The Ecumenical Movement Part 4: Moving toward the Super-Church -- By: Rene Pache

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 108:430 (Apr 1951)
Article: The Ecumenical Movement Part 4: Moving toward the Super-Church
Author: Rene Pache


The Ecumenical Movement
Part 4: Moving toward the Super-Church

Rene Pache

(Continued from the January-March Number, 1951)

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 111–157, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–47 respectively.}

It is evident to anyone who is awake that the ecumenical movement looks toward the formation of a single world-church. It is affirmed that the prayer of John 17:21, “that they might be one,” cannot be answered as long as the present denominations exist. Religion in Education speaks then as follows: “The Bible knows nothing of a purely invisible unity of the church on earth; the only New Testament words for ‘denomination’ (as we know them) are ‘schisms’ and ‘heresies.’“1 If the denominations themselves are heresies and schisms, of course, their reuniting in a single universal church is to be regarded as the highest attainment. To attain this union the greatest divergences in faith and doctrine are tolerated. The Reverend Canon Richardson writes in that regard: “It is by the external visible unity of Christians that all will know that Christ has come from the Father—and not by the acceptance of correct theories concerning inspiration and expiation on the part of a favorite sect.”2 Denominations, therefore, are ecclesiastical enemy number one, responsible for all the evils from which the world and Christendom suffer, and they must be done away with. We will see later on what response may be given to such claims.

If all ecclesiastical distinctions are done away, the inevitable result is one super-church. Certain ecumenical leaders

immediately cry, “No, that is only a potential danger, which we on our part propose to avoid.” Visser’t Hooft writes that one may fear (1) either that the ecumenical council would become a central administrative corps, drawing the churches into decisions without their consent such as they might not be prepared to make or (2), again, that it might constitute a super-church seeking to dominate its member churches.3 The constitution of the movement makes it clear “that the world council will not be able to legislate for the churches, nor to act in their name except in cases later specified by the churches which constitute it.” And the explanation is added: “The assembly of the central committee has no constitutional authority over the churches which form the council…. The council exists to serve the churches and not to control th...

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