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  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
. . .  John 3:16  . . .


 David C. Bennett, D. Min.



Psalm 119:63 “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.”

Words do have meaning and when words, especialy written words, which are seen but not heard, and are not to anothers liking, they may seem harsh, when in reality they were meant as love for the truth and for the people involved. The words f this paper are in the spirit of the latter. Jeremiah 15:16 “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

The doctrine of separation, especially ecclesiastical, is not a popular doctrine among many, for it sometimes carries the idea of one being belligerent, being superior, unloving, and of course being overly negative. Admittedly, there may be some like this, but this does not cancel the doctrine. Peter may have thought Paul could have been more tactful and caring when Paul “withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed” Galatians 2:11. Again, saying the truth in love does not always mean the person hears or reads it that way.

The Book of Beginnings is exactly that, for the doctrine of separation appears first in Genesis 1:4 “And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness” God, Himself, was the instigator of separation in separating the light from the darkness. This separation, light from darkness, follows through the entire Bible.

When believers present the gospel to the unsaved, the goal is separation. Acts 26:18 “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light…”  Here again the separation is from darkness to light. 

Luke 9:49, 50, relates an occurance in the life of the Lord’s disciples that may serve as an example of ecclesiastical separation during this gospel age. The Word says, “And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” Note, Jesus told the disciples not to forbid the man from ministering BUT He did not tell His disciples, to join the man in ministry! 

There is no doubt, many non-Baptists, love the Lord and desire to honour Him and His Word, BUT it must be understood, Bible truth declares that true Biblical local New Testament Church fellowship and cooperation is based on doctrine, Acts 2: 42.

May the Lord use the words of this paper to help someone understaand the necessity of ecclesiastical separation. 

Fellowship is Based on Doctrine

 Acts 2:42 “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

According to Acts 2: 42, doctrine and Christian fellowship are mutual friends. It is also significant that doctrine precedes fellowship, for doctrine is the basis, the foundation, for the fellowship!   

The word “doctrine” appears in forty-four verses in the New Testament.  According to Strong’s Greek Concordance doctrine means “instruction (the function or the information):--doctrine, learning, teaching.” Ryrie states, “The word doctrine is a perfectly good word that simply means ‘teaching’…” [1] Doctrine is simply Bible truth and Bible truth is doctrine!

Doctrine is important, for as William Evans says, “There is probably no greater need in the Christian church today than that its membership should be made acquainted with the fundamental facts and doctrines of the Christain faith.”[2]

The Word of God speaks of several types of doctrine. There is “sound” doctrine as given in four verses, (1) 1Timothy 1:10 “For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” (2) 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” (3) Titus 1:9 “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” (4) Titus 2:1 “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.” 

Then there is “profitable” doctrine, 2 Timothy 3: 16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Next, there is “good” doctrine 1Timothy 4:6 “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.” 

Therefore, there is sound doctrine, profitable doctrine and good doctrine! In 1Timothy 1:3 Paul says to Timothy “As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” Any doctrine apart from the “apostles' doctrine” was not to be taught. What one believes and teaches is important! Doctrine is foundational to fellowship when it comes to eccelsiastical cooperation or separation. 

In the study of Bible doctrine, William Evans lists those doctrines he taught his students. They are; the Doctrine of God, the Doctrine of Jesus Christ, the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the Doctrine of Man, the Doctrine of Salvation, the Doctrine of the Church, the Doctrine of the Scriptures, the Doctrine of Angels, the Doctrine of Satan, and the Doctrine of Last Things.[3]

Thiessen follows very closely to Evans’ division but is much more in depth in the treatment of each subject. Thiessen’s divisions are Theism, Bibliology, Theology, Angelology, Anthropology, Soteriology, Ecclesiology, and Eschatology.[4]

The study of Bible doctrine is a vast subject but there is one doctrine that seems to be missing from these two books, and most others, that is the doctrine of ecclesiastical separation. Ryrie does speak about “The Practice of Christian Living – Separation” but nothing concerning ecclesiastical separation.[5] 

In view of the doctrine of separation, “…the holiness of God is the foundation of all separation, whether personal or ecclesiastical.”[6]  The Apostle Peter declares in the first chapter of his first epistle, verses fifteen and sixteen “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” Paul wrote in 1Thessalonians 4:7 “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

Theissen says, “Holiness occupies the foremost rank among God’s attributes.”[7] Evens says much the same “If there is any difference in importance in the attributes of God that of His Holiness seems to occupy the first place.”[8] 

Speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ Hebrews 7:26 says,  “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” So individually, we are to be holy as He is, 1 Peter 1: 15, 16; Hebrews 7: 26.  As the local New Testament Church consists of individual immersed believers, the local New Testament immersionist Church is to corporately be holy, and separate from sinners or unbelievers as stated in 2 Corinthians 6: 17 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” 

In deliberation of the two, holiness and separation, Fred Moritz says, “the idea of separation is inherent in the word. It denotes that which is set apart by God for His service or by the heathen for the use of an idol!”[9] Seeking to live a holy, separated life before the Lord would include obedience to His Word, which is Bible doctrine. Paul tells us in Romans 6:17 “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”  Then in Romans 16:17 Paul writes “…mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Matthew Henry says, “If truth be once deserted, unity and peace will not last long.” Bible doctrine is truth, for Jesus said “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” John 17:17.

God’s holiness and Bible doctrine establishes the individual believers and the local New Testament Church’s ecclesiatical fellowship with whom they will fellowship and from whom they will separate. Most theology books do not give the doctrine of the local New Testament Church the emphasis it deserves, and this undermines a clear understanding of ecclesiastical separation.

A Short History

John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

Ephesians 4:15 “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”

2Thessalonians 3:1, 6, 14 “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you. 6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. 14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”

Dr. Thomas Strouse writes that in our day, “…as Baptists increased in numerical strength they decreased in doctrinal purity.”[10]  Ecumencial evangelism is a part of the quest for numbers and this weakens the teaching of doctrine!

What doctrines suffer in the ecumenical pursuit of numbers? In ecumencial evangelism, one doctrine put in exile for the Baptist is immersion. Immersion is a Biblical doctrine and practiced by Baptists from the first century. Paul Jackson aptly wrote, “Many people today have been ‘brainwashed’ with the concepts that…doctrinal convictions must be forsaken in the interests of evangelism…”[11]  When Baptist Churches and “evangelical” but non-immersionist churches, mutually co-operate in an evagelistic outreach “What docrines may be preached? Lest some be offended, the workers must be silent about immersion…”[12] It comes down to the fact of whether evangelism or Bible doctrine is more important.

Judges 2:10 “…and there arose another generation…which knew not…the works which he had done for Israel.” Some of the new generation of independent Baptists, are either ignorant of the Biblical doctrine of ecclesiatical separation or ignore it altogether, or simply do not believe it is a doctrine. Whatever the case, history does seem to repeat itself. There is a lack of discernment when it comes to ecclesiactical separation and it did not just happen over night. It is like the proverbial frog in the slow boilng pot. The situation of today has its roots deep in the interdenominational missionary conferences, faith missions and cooperative evangelistic meetings of yesteryear. 

The early desire to spread the gospel around the world through missions was the catalyst for most of today’s modern ecumenical movement. In this brief study, we will go back to 1886 when the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM) was “launched as 100 university and seminary students at Moody's conference grounds at Mount Hermon, Massachusetts, sign the Princeton Pledge which says: ‘I purpose, God willing, to become a foreign missionary.’”[13]

The SVM was interdenominational from the very inception. One of the leading lights for the SVM was Arthur Tappan Pierson (March 6, 1837 – June 3, 1911). Pierson was a Presbyterian pastor and considered an “early fundamentalist leader”.[14] That is, he held to the so-called fundamentals of the faith but of course, that did not include baptism by immersion for he was a Presbyterian! Pierson was a friend to many of the well-known personages of his time such as Moody, George Muller, C. I. Scofield, and Charles Spurgeon. Pierson truly had a hearts desire to see the lost come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and he “was credited (incorrectly, he believed) with coining the missionary slogan ‘The Evangelization of the World in This Generation.’”[15]

Pierson desired to see paople saved, but he was an ecumenist. It was Pierson that was instrumental in forming the “interdenominational bond among the student voluteers that had never before occurred in a broad-based missionary movement” and opened “…the way for the ecumenical movement.”[16]

The SVM “literally exploded on college campuses, so that by 1945 it is conservatively estimated that 20,500 students who had participated in the SVM had been sent overseas!”[17] Pierson was a pastor and influential leader in the SVM but the one SVM volunteer who most influenced other young people for missions was John R. Mott (May 25, 1865-January 31, 1955). Pierson was a Presbyteran and John R. Mott was a Methodist.  Both of course were non-immersionists.  When it comes to ecumenism, the Baptist always gives up the most!

As a young man Mott attended Cornel University and “In the summer of 1886, Mott represented Cornell University's Y.M.C.A. at the first international, interdenominational student Christian conference ever held. At that conference, which gathered 251 men from eighty-nine colleges and universities, one hundred men - including Mott - pledged themselves to work in foreign missions. From this, tw years later, sprang the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions.”[18]  Then it was not long before “The Student Volunteer Movement formally organized in 1888 with John Mott as its leader.”[19]

The interdenominationalism of the SVM paved the way for what would take place twelve years later. In 1910, Mott organized and chaired the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, which was composed of over one thousand delegates from all denominations.  Evangelism was the goal in spite of doctrinal differences! This was truly an interdenominational get together for the sole purpose of reaching the wrld for Christ. That sounds like a noble thing, does it not? Some of the delegates at this conference were the Archbishop of Canterbury, a Methodist missionary from Korea, Professor E.C. Moore of Harvard, Lord William Gascoyne-Cecil, son of the late Lord Salisbury and anti-evolutionist William J. Bryan of the United States. There was also a former mayor of New York City and former president of Columbia University, Seth Low, A. McLean, president of the Disciples’ Foreign Missionary Society, Missions-Inspector Pastor J. Warneck of Germany, and Presbyterian missionary secretary in the United States Dr. Robert E. Speer, to name but a few. Even though there were, no Roman Catholics present the Edinburgh Conference chaired by John R. Mott “is considered the symbolic starting point of the contemporary ecumenical movement.”[20] It was also at this conference, that the “…first steps were taken towards an institutionalized cooperation between Protestant mission councils.”[21] Consequently, the early missionary conferences, faith mission boards, and most missionary efforts were interdenominational. 

It is intersting that the Edinbourgh Missionary Conference did not utilize or place great emphasis on local churches or local church pastors because they only have “…indirect connection to the mechanisms of mission. Well-meaning church leaders often speak warmly of causes in great gatherings but do not necessarily have the administrative structure with which to follow through.”[22] The 1910 Conference was unique in that “It consisted solely and exclusively of delegates sent by mission agencies. (You could not be invited and decide to attend. You had to be delegated—and delegated by a mission agency, not by a church or denomination.)”[23] The local church is the Biblical New Testament organization but in ecumenical thinking, the local New Testament church was not relevant to getting the job of missions accomplished. The wisdom of man is higher than God’s wisdom, at least in ecumenical thinking.

It is intersting that Ralph Winters, an ecumenist, says the Edinbourgh Missionary Conference “was the William Carey paradigm. That is, it was not based on church leaders…”[24] From the early inception of the so-called faith missions, the local church has not received its proper Biblical place except for financial support. 

Ecumensim was the basis for the Edinbourgh Conference and Ralph Winters says, “has become known more for the kind of meetings that followed it (eventually leading into the World Council of Churches) rather than for the meeting it really was.”[25] Ecumensim seems to; almost, always, lead to liberalism and/or working in coopertaion with liberals! There is a necessity to repeatedly stress Acts 2: 42 in that it is doctrine, which should determine fellowship and cooperation!

By 1920, the SVM was beginning to decline for the same reason the majour denominations had declined and that was due to theological liberalism. Many of the fundamentalists were leaving the liberal denominations in the 30’s and 40’s and it is therefore not surprising that “In 1959 the SVM merged with the ``United Student Christian Movement'' and the ``Interseminary Movement'' to form the ``National Student Christian Federation.'' In 1966 a further alliance with the ``Roman Catholic Newman Student Federation'' and other groups to form the ``University Christian Movement'' occurred.”[26] Interdenominationalism will always lead to greater liberalism!

Returning back to Mott, in his later life, John R. Mott, as Ralph Winters laments, was influential in the formation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1948. In spite of Mott’s ecumenism, it was his “…conservative stance and strick adherence to evangelism that led to his declining influence during the last years of the SVM.”[27] A new generation of SVM’rs had arisen and they found his conservatism and emphasis on evangelism not relevant to their missionary agenda. 

John R. Mott believed the WCC “could strengthen the influence of Christianity in the world.”[28] A desire for INFLUENCE is the Achilles heel of Biblical Christianity. That influence in Mott’s case, was the ecumencial interdenominational liberal WCC. It is also said Mott sought to stay out of the debates between the fundamentalists and liberals in the United States, but his association with the WCC still brought criticism from the fundamentalists, and rightfully so for doctrine always comes before fellowship or evangelism. John R. Mott passed away January 31, 1955 leaving a legacy of ecumenism felt among all the denominations including independent Baptists to this day.

With ecumenism came the social gospel. Some of the fundamentalist leaders in the Presbyterian Church USA and the Northern Baptist Convention emphasized evangelism as priority number one “…and challenged any social involvement as liberalism. The renunciation of social involvement became a yardstick that the

fundamentalists used to measure the orthodoxy of missionaries and members of mission boards.”[29] Today, many Baptist churches and mission agenices have removed that yardstick.

However, as Dr. Ernest Pickering states, “A new generation of separatists has arisen.”[30] This “new generation”, is in the line of the “fundamentalist-modernist controversy in the early twentieth century…”[31] Those early fundamentalists were fighting against rank liberalism within their own denominations. For example, the General Association of Regular Baptists (GARBC) was formally organized in May 1932 when it became evident there was no hope in salvaging the Northern Baptist Convention. As Dr. Robert Ketcham wrote, “The necessity for the creation of a new Baptist body in this land was abundantly evident then. Every passing year has added evidence that the creation of such a Baptist body was not only justified but wise. We here set forth the reasons why it was necessary to withdraw from the Northern Baptist Convention (now the American Baptist Churches) and proceed to setting up this new Fellowship.”[32]  But even here these Baptists only stated the so-called fundamentals of the faith as “matters revealed in the Scripture on which there can be no diversity of opinion”.[33]  Those matters were

1. The eternal deity of Jesus Christ

2. The virgin birth of Jesus Christ

3. The sinless life of Jesus Christ

4. The substitutionary and atoning death of Jesus Christ

5. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ

6. The verbal inspiration and authority of the Bible as the Word of God.[34] These six are important, but for a Baptist there are other important doctrines to heed as well such as baptism by immersion. It is amazing how many Baptists see this doctrine as unimportant when it comes to cooperative evangelism. Perhaps that is the very reason the ecumenical situation exists among the independent Baptists today.

In 1932 and the years following, those churches which aligned themselves with the GARBC began supporting mission boards that had also come into being owing to their separation from liberalism. Dr. Ketcham said the GARBC needed, “…separated…mission agencies through which our churches can become articulate in the missionary task. Naturally…mission agencies must look to like-minded churches for support and cooperation.”[35] As history has shown these churches and organizations, often drift from their original position.

The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) was one of those with whom the GARBC formed a working relationship. ABWE began in 1927 because there were those who “…sensed an urgent need to provide fundamental Baptist churches and individuals with a mission agency that stood true to the Word of God in both doctrine and method.”[36] Note again that ABWE began as an agency “to provide fundamental Baptist churches and individuals with a mission agency that stood true to the Word of God in both doctrine and method”.

In closing this chapter, it is imperative to remember that even though Pierson and Mott had a great burning desire to see souls saved, they and the leading interdenominational evangelists of that day had a BIG, BIG part in the ecumencial leaven permeating the churches and missionary endeavours that is so prevelant today.

Many of todays organizations and prominent mission personalities such as  “The USCWM, the Lausanne Movement, Urbana Conference, etc. seem to showcase the SVM and seek to use it to motivate students to mold their lives after it. I am sure the strengths of the SVM resulted in people coming to Christ. But there were weaknesses. Some of these weakness are referred to in the following excerpt. These are the weaknesses of the Church Growth Movement, which may be built on similar foundations. Donald McGavran, Ralph Winter, C. Peter Wagner, David Howard, Elisabeth Eliott, Bill Bright, Billy Graham, Charles Fuller, Henrietta Mears, and on and on would have known about and been influenced by memories of the SVM.”[37]

Even though the fundamentalists of the last century repudiated and separated from the liberalism of their day, the effect of the SVM and its interdenominationalism has allowed the leaven of ecumenism to spread through the denominations and independent Baptists via missions/evangelism today. The end justifies the means is the name of the game. Numbers is the goal!  Remember what Ruth Tucker wrote, that the SVM’s interdenominationalism was a “cooperative effort among missionaries that had rarely been seen before; but it also paved the way for the ecumenical movement.”[38]



Acts 2: 42 “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Doctrine should always precede fellowship. There may be some with whom, we may not agree doctrinally on every point, but individually may enjoy fellowship at dinner or over a cup of coffee. However, when it comes to local churches fellowshipping (cooperating) in evangelistic campaigns and other ministries, doctrine negates any cooperation. An example is the doctrine of baptism by immersion as opposed to sprinkling.  Again referring to Paul Jackson’s statement, “Many people today have been ‘brainwashed’ with the concepts that…that doctrinal convictions must be forsaken in the interests of evangelism…” “What docrines may be preached? Lest some be offended, the workers must be silent about immersion…”[39]

Because Paul said, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” 1Corintians 1:17 does not assign the doctrine of biblical baptism as an unimportant, non-essential doctrine. The doctrines of salvation, eternal security, and the local church are important as well and they are very important when it comes to cooperation with other churches or Christain organizations. 

How far can churches or mission agencies cooperate before separation is required? Remember Galatians 5:9 “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Is fellowship in evangelism with non-immersionists, and others who are not in agreement with the Baptists Bible doctrine, so important, that fellowship in evangelism takes precendence to doctrine? In fact Jude desired to write concerning the “common salvation, (but found) it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” Jude 3. There is a time to teach concerning that wonderful doctrine of salvation common to all believers, but there is also a time to “earnestly” not “viciously”, contend for the faith! That contending has to do with separation as well, for in the next verse Jude warns of those who turn “the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ecumenism leads to liberalism which leads to those who turn “the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”          

Acts 20:31 “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” There is a time to warn against men, movements, and organizations! Ecumencial evangelism neglects doctrine and when the new convert, is later led into a local fellowship, doctrine will be taught. Will that doctrine be Bible doctrine or denominational doctrine? Paul states, in Ephesians 4:14 “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine….” Ecumencial evangelism is such a wind! 

Dr. Ernest Pickering in his booklet, “Should We Ever Separate from Christian Brethren” on page 11 gives six points when considering a mission board. The first point is “Do the leaders of the mission follow a consistent pattern of separation themselves or are they involved in questionable associations?” The fifth point is “Does the mission cooperate at home or on the field with organizations and persons who may not be consistent with their position?”  

Ecumenism and the lack of eccelsisatical separation are rampent in missions today and time for questions is now! In fact, for some mission boards the time to ask questions may be too late.

The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) mentioned earlier has had several board members and missionaries depart owing to ABWE’s lack of eccelsiastical separation. ABWE is a mission board, which began, for the sole purpose of helping fundamental Baptist churches send their missionaries to the field, but it has been drifitng into ecumenical associations for many years. The slide into new evangelicalism is a slippery slope. Where does it end? If history is correct, it will culminate in liberalism!   

A little background to ABWE might be appropriate at this time. ABWE began in 1927 “When the Foreign Board of the Convention imposed restrictions upon Dr. Thomas' evangelistic activities in favor of purely medical work in the hospital at Iloilo and gave other evidence of favoring fellow-missionaries' more liberal programs…”[40] That Board spoken of here was under the auspices of the Northern Baptist Convention. The Convention, as with all conventions, became more powerful than the churches. Often time’s people will change churches sooner than leave the convention. The Northen Baptist Convention had become liberal through its schools and the churches were turning liberal through those pastors trained in the Convention schools. In turn, the missionaries with the Foreign Board were liberal as well for they too, were trained in the Convention’s liberal schools!  

It was in this climate, that there was a sense of “…need to provide fundamental Baptist churches and individuals with a mission agency that stood true to the Word of God in both doctrine and method”[41] and ABWE came into existence. Those early participants in the formation of ABWE undoubtedly loved the Lord, longed to see souls saved, and churches planted, as today’s ABWE personell do. However, something has happened. The memory of the battles fought and the reason why ABWE even exists seems to be but a memory and simply words on paper.  Note again, ABWE’s very existence was “to provide fundamental Baptist churches and individuals with a mission agency that stood true to the Word of God in both doctrine and method.”[42] It cannot be emphasized enough, the words “fundamental” “Baptist” and “true to the Word of God” in “doctrine” and “method”. Does ABWE still hold to these words in practice?

Here are some examples of ABWE’s compromise, in departing from the words, fundamental, Baptist, true to the Word of God in doctrine and method.


ABWE has become more involved in social ministries and historically these social ministries have led many organizations further down the slippery slope to liberalism. President of ABWE, Dr. Micheal Loftis wrote in his Partner Update-December 2007 that, “When the 2004 tsunami devastated coastal areas of Southeast Asia, killing thousands, many of you prayed fervently and shared generously—nearly a million dollars were donated.  ABWE used that money to help tsunami survivors who had lost family members, homes, and—particularly in the case of commercial fishermen—their livelihood. Relief efforts took place in India, Indonesia, and Thailand. On Nias, an island in Southeast Asia that was heavily hit by earthquakes after the tsunami, our international partners sent several teams to do relief work, rebuild destroyed houses and churches, hold medical clinics, and plant churches (Underlining added).”[43] There is a place for compassion but who are these “international partners”? With whom is ABWE cooperating to perform their humanitarian work?

Well, a google search found one example of ABWE’s partners in its socal outreach. The following COVENANT WORLD RELIEF RESPONDS TO FULANI REFUGEE CRISIS says, “UNHCR has committed to providing relief aid for six months (through January 2008), with food distributions every month. Covenant World Relief will provide two additional distributions of food and supplies and will help with other needs at the nutrition centers. Other partners in this effort include the Baptist General Conference, the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE), SIL Cameroon, the International Christian Church of Yaounde, Multnomah Bible College, the Rain Forest International School senior class, and Medical Centers of West Africa (Underlining added).”[44]

Birds of a feather will flock together or as its original 16th century form puts it “As commonly birds of a feather will flye together” is just as true! If doctrine is the basis for fellowship, then ABWE must agree doctrinely with theses other birds, Evangelicl Covenant Church, the Baptist General Conference and Multnomah Bible College or there would have been no collaborating in this humanitarian effort! 

Now who or what is the UNHCR. The initials UN give a hint. UNCHR is an acronym for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Being an arm of the United Nations should bring up a red flag and would cause most fundamental Baptists real concern! Because the UNHCR is, an affiliate of the ungodly UN, it is no surprise that in 1999, the new elected co-chair of the UNHCR Reach Out Steering Committee was “Dr. Elizabeth Ferris, of the World Council of Churches.”[45] ABWE is on a very ecumenical slippery slope here! 

Most if not all, UN affiliates are composed of those who are ungodly and antagonistic, to the Bible and fundamental Bible belieiving Christians. Is it better not to do something, than work with the ungodly? 2Chronicles 19:2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD?”

What does a pastor in this Evangelical Covenant Church do if his personal conviction to baptism is immersion? The answer is he must compromise, for that is what ecumenism requires! “Since the Covenant recognizes both infant and believer baptism as true baptism it requires all of its ordained and licensed pastors to respect and administer both of these recognized forms of baptism. In accordance with the above principle the following requirements apply to all Covenant pastors:

1. While Covenant pastors may, and must hold their own convictions concerning baptism, Covenant pastors must guard against presenting their own view in such a way as to disparage the other.

2. A Covenant pastor must be willing to administer both infant baptism and believer baptism.”[46]

These statements would make a true Baptist’s blood boil! This is simply doctrinal compromise. The Evangelical Covenant Church is not compromising anything but ABWE by cooperating with this group is compromising true doctrine. That is unless ABWE no longer holds baptism by immersion as a Bible doctrinal truth. What other doctrine or doctrines will the ABWE forfeit? What doctrines are precious enough to ABWE to cease its ecumenical cooperation?  Is there any doctrine precious enough not to cooperate or does the social programme come before doctrine? Where will this compromise eventually lead ABWE?  Remember what Ruth Tucker wrote concerning the SVM and interdenominationalism, the cooperative effort among the missionaries “…paved the way for the ecumenical movement.”


History has shown that most church unions have ended in doctrinal liberalism. In spite of that, the leadership of ABWE, in their desire to plant churches and win souls for Christ, has seemingly decided cooperation with church unions, no matter what their affiliation, is acceptable. An ABWE missionary wrote, “Though most have turned away from the large cathedrals, small evangelical congregations are receiving visitors hungry for a life changing relationship. A small Baptist church in Southern Bohemia is committed to offering that relationship to as many as possible in Southern Bohemia. At present it is the only Baptist church in Southern Bohemia. It’s located in the town of České Budějovice and is a member of the Baptist Union of the Czech Republic.”[47]

As stated above history has shown that most church unions have gone liberal. Just the name Baptist Union conjures Spurgeon’s experience with the Baptist Union of Great Britian and the Downgrade Controversy. Is the Baptist Union of the Czech Republic any different?

The web site says these Czech Baptists fellowship, “With those who share the same convictions” and that they “are united into the Czech Baptist Union (BJB), the European Baptist Federation, and the International Baptist Union.” Are the convictions of ABWE the same as these groups?

It is interesting that the European Baptist Federation with whom the Baptist Union of the Czech Republic is united “serves as the European representative for the Baptist World Alliance.”[48] Even the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has broken ties with the Baptist World Alliance (BWA). The SBC had decided the BWA was too liberal for them to continue fellowship. One paper carried an article that said “The Southern Baptist Convention voted yesterday to pull out of the Baptist World Alliance, accusing the worldwide organization of a drift toward liberalism that included growing tolerance of homosexuality, support for women in the clergy and "anti-American" pronouncements.”[49] The SBC did this several years ago but today ABWE will allow its missionaries to cooperate with and pastor churches united with the BWA! It is not a total surprise, then to read that the Baptist Union of the Czech Republic is in fellowship with the Baptist Union of Great Britian through its union with the European Baptist Federation.[50] The fingers of ecumencial compromise are long! Has the Baptist Union of Great Briain changed since Spurgeon’s time? What Spurgeon left then and what the SBC has recently left, ABWE is now cooperating with! Birds of a feather will flye together!

The Baptist Union of the Czech Republic is also a member of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic. Some of the member churches of the Ecumenical Council are; the Apostolic Church , the Baptist Union in the Czech Republic, the Brethren Church, the Czechoslovak Hussite Church, and the United Methodist Church.[51]  It is bad enough ABWE has stooped to this low of ecumenism but ABWE is not alone in this. The far-reaching finger of liberal ecumenism entraps not only ABWE but also those churches in the USA, which support ABWE missionaries. The desire to reach the lost, to build or rebuild churches does not justify the means by which ABWE is seeking. Bible doctrine establishes Bible fellowship!




Interdenominationaism leads to liberalism. Ecumenism’s foundation is fellowship, not doctrine. Ecumenical evangelism is, various denominations laying aside their doctrinal differences to work together to reach the souls of men. This is the Billy Graham type of evangelism. Evangelism takes precendence to any distinctive doctrine, for example baptism by immersion. This is why Baptist fundamentalists ave usually criticized the Billy Graham crusdes.

One avenue of evangelism ABWE Australia takes is “In cooperation with Australian ministries like Ecom (Evangelising Commerce), ABWE is reaching a worldwide audience from a single location” and the ABWE missionary “coordinates Ecom's In-House Ministries.”[52] From the web site, it seems Ecom is predominately Anglican, and Anglicans sprinkle babies. So it appears immersion must be set aside, but what other doctrines does the ABWE missionary tos aside for the sake of evangelism? 

The same ABWE missionary “also assists with a weeknight Ecom function called City Bible Extra.”[53] The speakers for the City Bible Extra come from several denominations of which one is “the senior minister at St Augustine's Anglican Church…” “Whether its over lunch, a beer, a coffee or a sporting fixture” this minister “…is passionate about encouraging people to push their investment horizons out to eternity and to start allocating their resources i the light of forever…”[54]

Another speaker listed on the City Bible Forum is “a pastor at the Annandale Community Church”.  This church describes itself as “a contemporary church.”[55] Other speakers for the City Bible Forum are the Dean for the Anglican Diocese of Sydney and another Anglican senior minister. What are the Anglicans compromising?  Not only do Anglicans not practice Biblical baptism but many, along with the Archbishop of Sydney, who is a theological conservative onmany issues, is sadly also a “theistic evolutionist”[56] as many Anglicans are. One wonders how this ABWE missionary fits into all this interdenomiantionalism for the sake of evangelism! Perhaps ABWE has set aside all Baptist doctrinal distinctives, in order to evangelize? 

The City Bible Forum also has a small Bible group meeting on Thursday evenings in Sydney and guess where it meets, Scot’s Presbyterian Church. Do you get the impression the City Bible Extra is not particular about doctrine? However, Presbyterians and Anglicans certainly have more in common with each other than they do with Baptists. One common denominator for them is that they sprinkle babies. This is what a missionary with the ABWE, a Baptist mission agency, s involved!  

One primary teaching of the ecumenical movement has been and still is, is the universal church. This teaching is the bedrock of ecumenism. Ecom’s statement says, “The one universal Church, which is the body of Christ, and to which all true believers belong.”[57] When a Baptist becomes involved with baby sprinklers in evangelism the universal church teaching takes number one priority, and the local New Testament Church, and Biblical baptism by immersion receives less attention, if it receives any at all. Also missing will be the doctrine of ecclesiastical separation, for how could this be taught with Anglicans, Presbyterians, and a Baptist cooperating! 

ABWE, other similar Baptist mission boards, and some Baptist church associations have begun their slide down the ecumenical slippery slope to liberalism and if history proves anything, it shows that once the downward spiral has begun there is seldom reprieve. However, with the Lord’s intervention these Baptist groups may still come to realize “to obey is better than sacrifice (or numbers, or prestige, or good humanitarian works)…” 1 Samuel 15: 22, and that true Biblical fellowship is based on Bible doctrine, including baptism by immersion.


Psalm 119:63 “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.”

1Corinthians 15:33 “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”

When words written are not to anothers liking, they may seem harsh when in reality the words were those of love for the truth and for the people involved. Love without truth is not love. 

There are many with whom this writer can enjoy individual fellowship and not agree with the other person’s position on many things including sprinkling, interdenominational cooperation and ecumenical evangelism. Most know what they can discuss in a friendly get together and usually, purposely shy from those issues with which they do not agree.

However, when it comes to a Baptist church cooperating with a non-immersionist church, or an apostate church, the line is drawn and is not to be crossed. It might make one feel all nice and fuzzy to get together with others for the good cause of winning souls to Christ, but this type of evangelism is to relegate the Bible and doctrinal truth contained therein to a secondary position. Whom we hang around with is important!

It is sad, that it is already too late for many Baptist churches and organizations, to shut the door to ecumenism, because the horse has already bolted. They have begun the slide down the slippery slope and Ms. Liberalism is waiting with her arms wide open at the bottom.

Much of this interdenominational ecumenical dilemma lies at the very doors of the Baptist schools. They are not teaching, (1) the Scriptural position of being a Baptist, (2) Biblical ecclesiastical separation, and (3) they are not warning the future pastors and missionaries of the disobedience and danger of ecumenism.

Ecumenism is a lie of the devil and leaven to the churches. Ecumenism says that God does not mean what He says, just like Genesis 3: 4 when the Serpent contradicted God by saying to Eve “Ye shall not surely die”.

Doctrine is the foundation for true Biblical fellowship and cooperation. It is always the Baptists, which give up the most to engage in ecumenical evangelism and humanitarian endeavours. May we Baptists shun those areas that will increase unto more liberalism and more ungodliness, and allow His Word to be the lamp that lights our path as we walk this side of heaven, Psalm 119: 105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”.


[1] Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine, p. 5.

[2] William Evans, The Great Doctrines of the Bible, Foreward

[3] Ibid., Contents

[4] Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, pages 7 – 20.

[5] Charles C. Ryrie, Biblical Theology of the New Testament, pages 206 – 210.

[6] Fred Moritz, “Be ye holy” The Call to Christain Separation, p. 7.

[7] Thiessen, p. 129.

[8] William Evans, The Great Doctrines of the Bible, p. 37

[9] Moritz, p. 112.

[10] Thomas M. Strouse, I will Build My Church, p. 107

[11] Paul R. Jackson, Doctrine and Administration of the Church, p. 99.

[12] Ibid., p. 98

[16] Ruth A. Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, p.262.


[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[27] Ruth A. Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, p.273.

[28] Ibid., p.273.

[29]  quoting Patterson, “The Loss of a Protestant Missionary Consensus,” p. 78.

[30] Ernest Pickering, Biblical Separation, p. 10.

[31] Ibid., p. 10.


[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid

[38] Ruth A. Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, p.262.  

[39] Paul R. Jackson, Doctrine and Administration of the Church, pp. 98, 99

[40] Message Magazine Online-Vol. 49, No. 1, Spring 1997

[42] Ibid.








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