It has been our hope and prayer that this conference would be a blessing to all who have gathered together here, and that the content presented, the information communicated, the heart's cry of every speaker, would go forth from this place to the glory of our precious Lord and Savior, for the further proclamation of His gospel and for the edification of His Body - those who have come or will come to know and trust in Him alone for their salvation. Some of our endeavors here have been approached with great delight and joy, especially the things which are obvious with regard to the wondrous love of Christ our Savior. Some things presented were a bit more somber, reflecting concerns that grieve many of us. But in this concluding part of the conference, the four of us approach with fear and trembling. On the one hand, we do not want to do anything that would bring harm to the body of Christ. We all have a godly fear about doing something that would displease the Lord or bring reproach to His name. On the other hand, where we recognize clear damage being wrought with regard to the cause of Christ and His gospel, we are compelled by our love for Him and for His truth to address what we see taking place. A summary of our concerns about that agreement, and its follow-up known as ECT II, may help you to better understand what we are about to do.
The ECT documents are deceitful at best, destructively heretical at worst. The ECT documents have led multitudes of Christians to believe that there is agreement between the Church of Rome, with its false gospel, and the Gospel in which evangelicals have put their trust. The ECT documents have introduced much confusion with regard to the simple Gospel message. The ECT documents have done immeasurable harm by hindering the worldwide proclamation of the gospel, especially for evangelical missionaries in Catholic countries. And finally, foundationally, and most critically, the ECT documents deny the biblical Gospel of salvation.
We would be thankful beyond measure if somehow these pernicious documents could be completely eradicated, never again to be considered by anyone. But these documents have the backing of numerous evangelical leaders, those who simply by their stature and prestige have led multitudes to follow them in their acceptance of ECT I and II.
In the five years since the signing of the first agreement, the evangelical signers have received a great deal of feedback, personally and publicly, feedback critical to both the document and their support of it. That criticism, much of it in the form of detailed analysis, has been presented with the hope that these men would see the grievous error in what they have done, that they would repent of their signing and reject the document publicly. None of us here in any sense is judging the heart or motivation of any of the ECT signers. That is an issue between them and the Lord. Nor are we questioning their salvation. However, our love for them and for the Body of Christ compels us to call upon them to publicly renounce the ECT accords and to ask the church at large for forgiveness for their past participation in these accords. We do this in simple obedience to the Scriptures.
We look to the example of Paul, who opposed Peter "to his face in the presence of all" (Galatians 2:11-14). He accused Peter of "hypocrisy" of not being "straightforward about the truth of the Gospel." Paul writes that Peter " was to be blamed." We also see that we are to rebuke them publicly "that others may also fear" (1 Timothy 5:20). Paul wrote that those who stray from the truth in their teaching are to be warned and rebuked so that they might repent and to "refute those who contradict sound doctrine" (Titus 1:9-13).
As I read the names of the evangelical signers of the ECT documents prior to our prayer for these men, I would ask that you bring them before the throne of God, that He might bring them to repentance in this very grievous matter. I would also ask that if you are in accord with this public call to repentance, if you share our conviction, if this is also your conviction before the Lord, please stand with us as we pray for these men.
Note: All the conference attendees, except for a couple, stood in support of the statement and in prayer for the signers to repent. Please pray for these men, that they will recognize their error and the division they have caused within the evangelical church.
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