Reputedly, Billy Graham once referred to the CRCNA as the “sleeping giant” of North American evangelicalism. I have understood this to mean that, while we are not know as revivalistic and are relatively small in numbers, we have had a significant influence well beyond our concentrated pockets. I have found books by Geerhardus Vos at a Desiring God (“New Calvinist”) event in Minneapolis and have found copies of Louis Berkhof’s Sytematic Theology on the shelves of a seminary library in Aizawl, India. Needless to say our relationships with other denominations and Global Christianity are very important.
This brings me to a concern tucked away in the 2018 Synodical Agenda for the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee. There is much important work that this standing committee does! We maintain bilateral relations with many denominations as well as ecumenical groups such as the National Association of Evangelicals, World Communion of Reformed Churches, the World Reformed Fellowship and others. One organization, however, gives me pause for concern: Sojourners.
For those unfamiliar, Sojourners is a left-leaning advocacy group founded by Jim Wallis, a former leader of the Students for a Democratic Society organization in the 1960s who went on to seminary and became a pastor, while largely holding onto the political views of his youth. I do not begrudge brothers and sisters who are sympathetic to the politics of the Sojourners organization as public policy views are adiaphora (Christian liberty allows us to disagree on these matters).
However, I do question why our denomination maintains an “official” tie to this organization? Scanning Sojourners homepage (sojo.org), while many individuals and people representing para-church organizations serve on their board, the CRCNA seems to be the only denomination with official representation in this group. With few to no other denominations directly partnering with Sojourners, it leads me to ask if they truly meet the definition of an “ecumenical” organization?
It is my contention that our denomination has no more business forming an official partnership with a group like this than we would with the free-market oriented Acton Institute or a social conservative group along the lines of Focus on the Family or Right to Life. Again, CRC members can and ought to engage public policy. Ecumenicism, however, is about Christian unity. Our unity must be defined by mutual Gospel commitment, however, not a political alliance.