The very first element of the Resolution creating the CEEC.CHURCH addresses the catholicity of the Church. in it we state our position that the CEEC.CHURCH is an ecclesial communion within the one Church of Jesus Christ. As the Nicene Creed frames it: Christ’s “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”
In this context, the word “catholic” refers not to the papal church based in Rome but to the universal, global church. It is our position that if you have confessed with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believed in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you have been saved (Rom 10:9-10). We further believe that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17) As such, all who are saved and made into this new creation the Apostle Paul speaks about are, by biblical definition, part of the Body of Christ.
In holding to that biblical and historical definition of salvation as we are pressing for the unity of the Body of Christ, we are, therefore, not describing unity with Muslims, Mormons, Jews, Buddhists, or any other person or group outside the historic Christian faith. We are speaking wholly and entirely about people who are in Christ, and who acknowledge Him as Savior.
Perhaps the real question here is this: If Jesus Himself says a person is in Christ, on what basis do we dare say he is not? Or, to phrase it a bit differently, if He invites people to His Table, on what basis could we possibly choose to exclude them from fellowship or the Lord’s Supper? Isn’t the final arbiter of who is in Christ…well, Christ?
It is the deliberate choice of the CEEC.CHURCH to extend fellowship and communion to our Christian brothers and sisters—those who are in Christ by virtue of their faith in Him—whatever denominations, churches, or synods they may choose to worship in; instead of being like the prodigal’s older brother, standing outside of His feast of thanksgiving and refusing to enter. We, who have been commanded to love one another, must be committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ. We must be committed to building authentic relationships within the Body of Christ.
Shouldn’t we look for opportunities to pray with and for one another? Shouldn’t we decide to stand alongside each other and support each part of the Body as it fulfills the role to which God called it? Why do we have such difficulty seeing that the hand cannot possibly fulfill the role of the eye and only disaster awaits if it tries. It is the only way we can succeed.
The CEEC.CHURCH deliberately chooses to extend open arms to those in the Body of Christ who accept freely and conform willingly to the essential principles of the gospel, but who choose a different worship expression than we do. We must celebrate and affirm biblical and anointed spiritual ministry throughout the world to everyone. There is only “one faith, one hope, and one baptism, one God, and Father of us all.” There is one Head, Jesus Christ, and one pure body of Christ, the Church. We have committed to the path of unity in the bond of peace, whether someone stands within our particular denomination or alongside us in theirs, so long as they are in Christ.
As has been so well said in the vision statement of Life Church, “We do not exist for the church. We are the Church, and we exist for the world. The world needs to hear the gospel. But, the sad fact is, we have proven utterly ineffective in completing the Great Commission as a divided entity, at odds with ourselves.
Abba Eban, an Israeli diplomat who served as Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, once observed, “History shows that men and nations behave reasonably only when they have exhausted all other alternatives.” We are now some two thousand years into the mission Jesus delivered to us, and we have become divided into well over 33,000 denominations, synods, assemblies, communions, churches, and fellowships. Have we not yet exhausted all other alternatives? We have focused inwardly for too long to try and make every part of the Body like us.
The CEEC.CHURCH asks: How about choosing unity?
The fact of the matter is that, when we accept the offer of grace from Jesus and are adopted into His family, we find ourselves now suddenly grafted into a family of others who have accepted the same offer of forgiveness. In the CEEC.CHURCH, we deliberately attempt to reflect this truth in our lives and ministries.