[A] new forum growing out of a deeply felt need to broaden and expand fellowship, unity, and witness among the diverse expressions of Christian faith today. CCT is inclusive of the diversity of Christian families in the United States — Evangelical, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Pentecostals, historic Protestant, Racial and Ethnic churches.CCT's by-laws list celebrating a common faith in the Triune God fostering evangelism that is faithful to the proclamation of the gospel as two of the group's specific tasks. An examination of the list of member organizations/churches makes one wonder how this can ever be accomplished given that between the groups there are conflicting views of biblical authority, not to mention what the message of the gospel is.
Beneath the listing of member organizations is another list of churches and organizations who are described as "in decision making process or present as observers." In her original post on the subject, CRN's Ingrid Schlueter interpreted the presence of the EFCA's name on this list as meaning that we are considering joining the group (an assertion she repeats here) and asks:
Is this what the Evangelical Free Church really stands for? Linking arms for spiritual growth with Roman Catholics? Does Scriptures teaching on salvation matter to these people? Do they know more than the Reformers? Was all of that a waste of time: the 95 Theses, the martyrdoms, the suffering for the sake of truth?She concludes:
Also interesting are the left-wing organizations on this list, including Jim Wallis’ Sojourners which has no problem with homosexuality. We are seeing a complete meltdown of theological and moral standards among evangelical denominations. Time to get out, quickly.The morning after I read Ingrid's initial post I arrived at my office to find an email from a regular attender at our church who had received, along with a number of others, a forwarded copy of the post. She was writing me to ask if there is any truth to the report. I told her that I had emailed EFCA President Dr. Bill Hamel the day before to inquire about the matter myself and had been assured that the Free Church was not a member of CCT nor was it intending to become one.
Due to CRN's high volume of traffic and the severity of the charge that the EFCA has such little regard for biblical orthodoxy, I asked President Hamel for permission to publish his response to me. He kindly granted it. Here are his comments:
The Evangelical Free Church is not a member Christian Churches Together nor is the EFCA planning to join. I have attended one of their gatherings and I have told those in leadership that even if I was inclined to join that I could not do so without at the very least board support and perhaps national conference support.I am a regular reader of the Christian Research Network's blog as I was when it was Slice of Laodicea. I share their concern for and commitment to purity of life and doctrine. In many cases I concur with their critique of contemporary evangelical messages and methods (though, more often than not, I take issue with their mannerisms). I have frequently admired and hoped to emulate their courage to say hard, unpopular, yet true things for the sake of the gospel. That said, it is unfortunate that by failing to thoroughly investigate a matter before leveling charges such as those above against fellow believers, they run the risk of deafening the ears of many to what of value they have to say.
CCT is an attempt to find action points where denominations can work together. Because groups like ours tend to resist such "ecumenism" they have built an unique decision making model where all have to agree to move ahead on a project or you have the freedom to vote no but giving the group the freedom to move forward and list you as one who does not agree. I do not think the grandiose vision of CCT will work...what we agree on is very narrow. I have requested observer status thus allowing me the opportunity to interact with the attendees without being a member. Many evangelical denomination heads are either members or observers giving me the opportunity to meet with them plus in the past it has been helpful to know the heads of mainline denominations and Roman Catholic leaders. Since the leadership of CCT does not want to accept my statements regarding membership they may think that eventually as an observer I will move forward with membership. It would have been very helpful for CRN to connect with me before damaging their credibility by publishing false information.
William J. Hamel, President
Evangelical Free Church of America
It is ironic (and providential) that today Ingrid laments ministries turning on themselves
UPDATE: (For some reason the post mentioned in the previous sentence no longer appears on CRN's site. The full text is available, however, at CRN.Info and Analysis.)