The head of a Europe-wide group of Anglican, Orthodox and Protestant denominations has proposed the creation of a Council of European Churches that would include the Roman Catholic Church.
The President of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), the Rev Jean Arnold de Clermont, put forward the proposal at a recent meeting of the CEC and European Catholic leaders, reports Ecumenical News International.
De Clermont, the recently retired president of the Protestant Federation of France, told the meeting, “I would… suggest that we find the ways and means to come out of our present institutional structures and set ourselves the task in the next 10 years of creating a Council of European Churches, bringing together Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants.”
He said he was making the proposal based on his experiences at the Third Ecumenical Assembly, which brought together 1,500 Christians from the Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions in Sibiu, Romania, for nearly a week of ecumenical discussions.
The CEC leader said that denominatinal leaders at Sibiu had allowed institutional and doctrinal barriers to cause them to abandon “any expectation of a patient resolute quest for unity”.
“I had the feeling that I was hearing pleas justifying ecumenical stagnation, arising out of a desire not to expose oneself to challenges from others,” said De Clermont.
“The status quo is all the more pleasant when it is between friends, but it does not seek full visible unity,” he told the London meeting.
“It is not within our competence to make a decision without having a whole process of consultation with our churches,” he said about his proposal for a Council of European Churches.
“But I would at least wish to check with you whether you consider that placing such a challenge before us would serve the cause of Christian unity.”
The Caribbean Conference of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches and the Pacific Conference of Churches are all regional church bodies which already include the Roman Catholic Church.
God gives us strong admonitions to live for another world, another country. Our mode of operation is to be that of a pilgrim, not a consumer. When pagans compare our lives to theirs, we should look like idiots in their eyes. But I’m afraid most of the time we look pretty normal. We should have different economic strategies (kingdom giving), different time schedules (acts of mercy; times of personal, family, and corporate worship), different family priorities (parenting God’s way, time together), and different pursuits (kingdom of God, glory of God, people of God). However, I’m afraid that when the lives of most Christians are examined, they make complete sense to the average pagan. Materially, we have houses, cars, retirement plans, and five kinds of insurance so that we can have “risk-free” living. When it comes to our time, we spend more time having fun than serving the poor. We spend more time playing with our toys than meeting as believers, provoking one another to love and good works. I’m afraid that our diversions have become our delight in America. When it comes to what we live for, I’m afraid we display Babylonian desires for the latest and greatest . . . just like the pagans.
This thought has rolled around a lot in my mind mainly because of the reaction that I get from many Christians when they hear about our vision to plant a church in perhaps the darkest area of our city. On one hand, I’ve had very good friends wrinkle their noses when they hear that we are moving to the Five Points Neighborhood, the second-highest crime neighborhood in the city. I’m not sure of all the reasoning behind the wrinkle. It could be their own distaste for the area. It could be that our burden just doesn’t make sense. Or could it be that my life never really echoed a life that was willing to risk for the sake of the gospel? Did this decision seem out of step with my self-preserving bent? I don’t know. I just know that it’s time to repent of my self-serving ways and do something in my life that doesn’t make sense to pagans or . . . the average Christian . . . or perhaps even me. Without knowing it, I have often drunk at the fountain of the American Dream.
Am I scared? Absolutely. I do not want my home broken into. I do not want my kids hurt. My wife and I were on a plane flying to Orlando when I read a story in Christianity Today about a wife who did just what we are hoping to do in the city. On night she was raped while her husband was at a church meeting. (You can get her book here.) That stuff scares me to death.
On the back cover of John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life, he says,
I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider this story from the February 1998 Reader’s Digest: A couple “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball, and collect shells …” Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.” That is a tragedy.
Sadly, this type of wasted life is seen all over the Scriptures. When the twelve spies went to look at Canaan, ten of them shrank in fear even though God had already promised victory. Thousands of people wasted their lives because they valued comfort over godly courage. The Scriptures tell us that when a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it yields fruit unto life eternal. We don’t need more life in America; we need more death.
I want to encourage you to take a risk for the cause of Christ. Start some things only God can finish. Go somewhere where you don’t have all the answers before you begin—not for the sake of danger or to be viewed as heroic, but for the sake of the gospel and the glory of God.
- Teenager, can you think of pursuing something greater this year than academic honors or a starting position? What about starting a ministry from scratch to minister to those in your school or community who need help?
- College student, what about changing your major and ministry direction to go and be a missionary to a Muslim country where you face the real danger of being killed for your faith? That choice doesn’t make sense to pagans.
- Moms, can you think of ways to stretch your children to do something that pagans wouldn’t think a child could do?
- Dads, what about taking a missions trip instead of a family vacation? What about quitting your job, taking a pay cut, and going to work for a nonprofit organization that is doing the work of God?
- Pastors, would your congregation say that you are risking something for the sake of the gospel in your community?
- Retirees, are you using the best years of your life for the glory and work of God?
Someone once said that five minutes after stepping into heaven, we will know exactly how we were supposed to live. I know this—if we simply pursue the American Dream, we will hang our heads in shame. However, if we “fall into the ground and die,” we can anticipate a joyful entrance.
Jason Janz, SharperIron site publisher, is planting Providence Bible Church in downtown Denver. Formerly, he served as an assistant pastor at Red Rocks Baptist Church (Morrison, CO). He has a bachelor’s degree in Bible and is currently finishing a master’s degree in theology. He has been married to Jennifer for 10 years, and they have four boys. His interests include pastoring, reading, and wrestling with his boys. He likes SI because of how it helps serve pastors and church leaders.
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