Ecumenism is a word that has great value if it is properly used. It is, at least in terms of recent church history, a new word used for a very old idea. It arose in the context of early 20th century missionary conferences. The idea was to heal the divisions in the church for the sake of mission. The common concern was that denominational differences should not hinder the mission of Christ and that John 17 become a reality in the life of those who labored for the kingdom in non-Christian lands. As the liberal social agenda came to the fore and dominated this movement the word then began to loose its original meaning. This is why evangelicals ran away from it.
I am an active ecumenist, but in the older sense. I am also an ecumenist in the new sense, the sense that believes it is right to bring about the coalescing of the members of various Christian churches, East and West, for the sake of Christ’s mission. I believe a healthy ecumenism will stand openly for doctrinal, moral and devotional orthodoxy, not for liberal denials of Christ and the gospel. Because we share a common commitment to the kerygma, and to one another, this should be pursued. Through honest doctrinal debate we can reach a deeper level of understanding and real unity, not organizational oneness. This must be pursued in the context of moral and devotional Christianity or it will utterly fail. This is what I am promoting by using the acronym ACT 3: Advancing the Christian Tradition in the Third Millennium.