Interdenominationalism -- By: Ernest Pickering

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 02:3 (Fall 1959)
Article: Interdenominationalism
Author: Ernest Pickering


Ernest Pickering

Professor of Systematic Theology
Central Conservative Baptist Seminary, Minneapolis

At no time in the history of the United States has interdenominationalism played such an auspicious role in religion as it is occupying on the contemporary scene. Since the Reformation the bulk of Protestantism has been contained within well-defined, historic, denominational frameworks. However, in recent years denominational alignments have come to have less and less significance theologically. In our generation, lines of denominational demarkation are being either erased or obscured by the swift rise of interdenomrnationalism.

Two Varieties Of Interdenominationalism

Present-day interdenominationalism falls roughly into two classifications, widely removed from each other doc-trinaliy. These are (1) liberal interdenominationalism, and (2) conservative or fundamental interdenominationalism.

The liberal form of interdenominationalism has made rapid strides in the last half century. The influx of religious liberalism into the church schools of America brought a repudiation of orthodox theology. This abandonment of Biblical convictions made it increasingly easier for the old lines Of denominationalism to be erased. Men without convictions find it comparatively simple to have religious unity.

Having been loosed from any Biblical convictions which had heretofore separated them, religious liberals found themselves engulfed in a tidal wave of interdenominationalism. Federated theological schools sprang up, merging the faculties and student bodies of various denominational institutions. Great emphasis began to be placed upon the “sin” of divided Protestantism. The National and World Council of Churches began to cast their shadow over all of liberal Protestantism, insisting that “petty” denominational squabbles be forgotten and everyone bask in a new sense of “togetherness.” The mergers of certain denominations began to be either contemplated or consummated. Liberal interdenominationalism was growing by leaps and bounds. The entire thrust of the ecumenical movement was behind it. It continues to develop and will finally culminate in the apostate “super-church” foretold in Scripture.

Side by side with this expression of liberalism has emerged a conservative or fundamental interdenominationalism. It is this aspect of the interdenominational scene that forms the main portion of this study.

While it is true that various forms of interdenominational activity are not new among orthodox Christians, it is also accurate to state that probably never in history has there been such a large, varied, and influential interdenominationalism among Bible belie...

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