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RELATIONS WARM BETWEEN NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF  EVANGELICALS AND
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES

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In this century, a major division within Christianity has developed in reaction to liberal theological thought. Some believe that the split between conservative and mainline/liberal denominations is so great that the two wings of Christianity really act as separate religions. Much of the division is grounded in their different interpretations of the Bible. We see this division in many places:

bulletMany urban areas have two ministerial associations: one for pastors from Fundamentalist and other Evangelical denominations, the other for ministers and priests from mainline and liberal faith groups.
bulletThe two wings of Christianity are split on almost every social issue, from access to abortion, to equal rights for gays and lesbians and the role of women.
bulletThere are two umbrella organizations for American denominations: the conservative National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), and the more liberal National Council of Churches (NCC). The NAE's policy had been to expel any member denomination that joined the NCC.

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According to ReligionToday:

Relations between the nation's liberal and conservative church groups seem to be warming. The National Council of Churches is applauding a decision by the National Association of Evangelicals to allow dual membership in both groups. The NAE made the change in it bylaws [on] March 6. 

...The NCC "rejoices in this new opportunity to draw closer to brothers and sisters in Christ," Robert Edgar, the group's general secretary, told Religion News Service. "This bold step by the NAE is evidence of God's abiding Spirit working in and through us for the sake of the world." The policy change lets denominations that are members of groups other than the NAE also hold membership in the NAE if they agree to the group's statement of faith and mission.

...Edgar said that the more liberal NCC and more conservative NAE, which have had an antagonistic relationship for more than 50 years, have recently experienced "a softening of the sharp conflict." ...In 1996, Don Argue, former president of the NAE, was the first  representative of the evangelical organization to address a general assembly of the NCC. Kevin Mannoia, the new NAE president, took part in a dialogue with NCC, Roman Catholic, and Pentecostal representatives last fall.

..."I look forward to becoming better acquainted with the NAE and its work and priorities," Edgar said. "Reliant on God's guidance, we look forward to a future that brings us into the candid and discerning kind of conversation that ought to characterize Christian fellowship." 1,2

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary expressed concerns about the NAE's decision to allow joint membership. "It is likely to send shock waves through the evangelical movement, and the decision raises once again the essential issue of evangelical definition...The NAE motto has been 'cooperation without compromise.' If admitting NCC members to the NAE is not compromise, what is?"

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Response of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB):

The NRB is an association of conservative Christian broadcasters. They had been affiliated with the National Association of Evangelicals since 1944. Shocked by increasing dialog between the NEA and NCC, the NRB decided to formally end its relationship with the NEA on 2001-FEB-9. The vote was 81 to 0. NRB communications director, Karl Stoll, said that the NEA and NRB "were going in two different directions." He declined to define what the directions were. 3

President of the NAE, Kevin Mannoia, called the decision "a backward step." He continued: "We are unequivocally committed to the evangelical message. We have no intention of merging with the National Council of Churches or altering our statement of faith or identity as evangelicals." 3

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Related essay on this web site:

bulletA [conservative] Christian declaration on marriage.

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References

  1. ReligionToday news summary for 2000-MAR-30
  2. ReligionToday provides free newsletters to which you can subscribe at: http://www.ReligionToday.com. These summaries are part of GOSHEN.net, which also includes LiveIt.net, Devotionals.net, ChristianShareware.net, ChristianClassifieds.net, ChristianMessageBoards.net, BibleStudyTools.net, MediaManagement.net, WorldNewsToday.net, WebCastGuide.net, and ChristianCollegeGuide.net 
  3. "Religious broadcasters cut ties with Evangelical group," Baptist Press, at: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/01a/20010216b.shtml

Copyright 2000 & 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-MAR-30
Latest update: 2001-FEB-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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