Do Protestants Believe in Ecumenism?


Broadly speaking, of course, it is impossible to identify a “Protestant” position on anything since, as Martin Luther quipped “There are now as many opinions as there are heads.” But, at least in regards to those who frequent these forums, from your perspective, do you – could you --have an equivalent position toward Catholics – as they are and as they now believe, and not as you would have them be – that Fr. Frank Pavone enunciated in a recent homily?:

Ecumenism. Christian unity. Don’t misunderstand what this is. This is not “Oh, let’s all join hands and make believe we’re the same.” We are not. There are very serious differences. Some people will say to me, “ Fr. Frank, you are Catholic. Don’t you believe that the Catholic Church is the one true faith?”

Of course I do. But I also know that I am not the one true faith. I also know that one of my Protestant Brothers and Sisters will often have a better grasp of some aspect of that one true faith than I do. I can learn from him or her. I can be inspired by him or her. Yes, I believe that the Catholic faith is the one true faith. But I also believe that if someone who comes to me and says I have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, I believe, I worship Jesus as Lord, and I believe His Word then I have to acknowledge the grace of the Holy Spirit working in that person and see that person as a brother or sister in Christ and that means what? That means interacting with that person and acknowledging that truth and celebrating together and worshiping together and trying to come closer together and giving witness for the cause of justice in the world.

It isn’t just an option nor an extra thing added on to what I do. It is at the heart of being Catholic and that we be ecumenical. The church is irrevocably dedicated to the cause of Christian unity. This is not some extracurricular activity. Jesus prayed that all may be one and He continues to pray that today as He intercedes for us forever as our great High Priest.

And so, these marvelous truths in these days are all coming together and are all summed up in one simple way. Jesus, our High Priest, intercede for us. Save us, O Lord. And grant that we may treat each other as equals…


I would say that I am far more ecumenical toward Catholics tha Catholicism as a whole is toward me. I.e., I recognize Catholics as full members of the One True Church.

This can also be said of Episcopalians as a whole–whatever issues with “Roman” Catholicism we may have, we do not dispute that the Roman Communion is fully part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Typically, the resentment Episcopalians feel toward RCs arises from our perception that you do not reciprocate our ecumenical overtures.

In Christ,




From my point of view, as a Lutheran (not as a Protestant but as an Evangelical Catholic – but that’s an issue for another thread), I consider Catholics as fellow travelers on the road that our Lord has bid us follow.

I belong to the ELCA which is active in ecumenical discussions and activities with the Catholic Church. While we cannot join together in receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord, we can pray together, worship together, and join together in proclaiming the Gospel through our daily lives.

In Christ,
Pastor Gary


I consider Catholics to be Christians and the Catholic Church to be an aspect of the Church of Christ, as are many other Churches Protestant and Orthodox. Our differences are great, yet we should try to work together in the Spirit of Christ regarding areas of theology, fellowship and social concerns where we have common ground. Other than the statement that the Catholic Church is the ONE true Church, I take no exception to Fr. Frank Pavone’s words quoted above.


I totally agree with this statement.:thumbsup:


Regular Baptists have aways stayed clear of the ecumenical movement. I do not think that they will ever imbrace it.

proud to be a Regular Baptist


What do Irregular Baptists think?


Amen. I totally agree.
We should try to come together as brothers and sisters in Christ instead of pushing each other apart.


My Independant Fundamental Baptist Church avoids the ecumenical movement. Personally not sure where I stand.


There is wisdom in that statement.

One aspect I am evaluating about the IFB’s.


Well, there’s a lot in the “ecumenical movement” as defined by mainline Protestants that is worth avoiding. The problem is that fundamentalists don’t make too many distinctions–they hear some (true) horror stories and write the whole thing off, as if all ecumenists are willing to dump the Resurrection for the sake of unity.

I recommend the writings of two ecumenical Protestant theologians: Lesslie Newbigin (Congregationalist originally, but served as bishop of the united Church of South India), and Geoffrey Wainwright (Methodist). Newbigin’s *The Household of God *is an excellent primer on ecumenism.

Telford Work, an old friend of mine from grad school, is a Pentecostal theologian who studied with Wainwright and writes good stuff on ecumenism. His essay “I belong to the One True Church” is a good introduction to Newbigin and gives an evangelical take on him.



Once and a while I read something that really articulates what I believe, but expresses it 100X better than I ever could. That article was one of them. Thanks Edwin for a new bookmark within my “Christianity” folder.


I read the essay, and it is wonderful. I will try to get the book you recommend from my local library.


I would agree 100% with Edwin on this.

As far as the question: Do Protestants Believe in Ecumenism?, I would respond the same way that Mark Twain did when he was asked if he believed in infant baptism: “Believe in it? I’ve seen it done!


I’m a Catholic, and I agree with you and Mark Twain. Every January, there is an ecumenical service for Christian unity. It is held at a different Church every year. Sometimes a Catholic Church will host the service, and other times a Protestant Church will host it. This year, it is being held at another Catholic Church in the neighbourhood, not mine. The sermon is going to be given by the Methodist pastor. The various Churches that attend are Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist, Church of Christ and Presbyterian. All of the pastors participate in the service, as do all of the choirs combined together from all the Churches. Then members of each congregation come. I am planning to attend. Obviously, the Protestants MUST believe in ecumenism since this service is happening.


Thank You


Catholic ecumenism means bringing all those who profess the name “Christian” back into the one fold (it’s basically evangelization, but geared towards heretical/schismatical Christians rather than pagans/infidels). This is what is taught by Leo XIII, Pius XII, the Second Vatican Council, and John Paul II among others. :thumbsup:

Protestant ecuemnism is agreeing on the fact that Jesus is Lord and Savior and saying the rest doesn’t matter so that we can all sing kumbaya together. This was condemend by Leo XIII, St. Pius X, Pius XI, and John Paul II among others.


Besides being untrue, that’s downright uncalled for and bigoted.



This is uncharitable. It is unfair to speak for a Protestant if you are not one. This is no different than Protestants saying things that are untrue about Catholics.


We have had a series of “prayer services” starting on Thursday of this week. The first service was held at our Catholic church, the second at a protestant church (not sure what kind) and the final service, held yesterday, was at a Baptist church.


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