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An  extended  review  of,  
An   urgent   plea   for   evangelicals   to   recognise   the   danger   of   the   Ecumenical   Movement   and  
remember  the  stand  that  the  British  Evangelical  Council  and  Dr.  Martyn  Lloyd-Jones  took  against  
By   R.E.   Palgrave.   Unity   in   Truth   Literature,   booklet,   41   pages,   £1.   Obtainable   from   Unity   in   Truth  
Literature,  PO  Box  4357,  Cardiff  CF14  8HY.      
J.P.  Thackway  
Sometimes,   a   new   publication   appears   that   breaks   the   mould   of   the   ordinary   and   predictable.   Such  
literature  is  rare  in  our  day.  Christians  tend  to  write  on  safe  and  acceptable  subjects.  Authors  who  do  
this  will  be  read  with  approval  and  credibility.  However,  let  someone  touch  the  areas  of  say,  worship,  or  
separation  from  errorists,  and  our  evangelical  politically  correct  climate  breaks  into  a  storm.  Those  who  
write   forthrightly   on   these   matters   find   themselves   accused   of   an   uncharitable   spirit   and   being  
The  booklet  mentioned  above  fits  into  this  category.  Not  because  Ruth  Palgrave  is  an  uncharitable  or  
divisive  person  –  she  is  quite  the  reverse  of  these  -­‐  but  because  she  dares  to  raise  a  matter  that  many  
would   rather   see   quietly   laid   aside.   The   booklet’s   message   is   that   the   present   generation   of  
evangelical/reformed  Christians  have  largely  forgotten  something  historic  and  epoch-­‐making.  I  refer  to  
the   convictions   concerning   separation   from   ecumenism   that   shaped   our   forefather’s   actions   until  
recently.   To   read   or   listen   to   many   these   days,   one   would   think   that   such   convictions   relate   to   an  
outdated   and   outmoded   concern.   Certainly,   Professor   Donald   Macleod   thinks   so,   in   the   piece   we  
covered  last  time.1  And  many  others,  while  not  so  blatant,  yet  believe  there  are  things  that  are  more  
important  now.    
The  booklet  and  its  author  have  already  come  in  for  the  expected  criticism,  both  privately  and  publicly,  
and  probably  more  will  come.  However,  we  hope  that  others  will  be  more  discerning  and  prepared  to  
take  seriously  what  is  said.  In  this  extended  appreciation,  I  would  like  to  highlight  some  of  the  issues  
raised  and  commend  the  booklet’s  message  to  our  readers,  and  to  all  who  will  consider  these  things.  
This  magazine  has  already  covered  a  number  of  aspects  dealt  with  here  by  Miss  Palgrave2  because  it  is  
in  line  with  the  Bible  League’s  own  witness.  However,  it  is  a  great  encouragement  to  see  such  a  succinct  
and  well-­‐researched  treatment3  that  calls  us  to  think  and  act  biblically  in  the  light  of  the  onward  march  
of  the  ecumenical  apostasy.    
The  booklet  begins  with  an  Introduction  giving  a  brief  history  of  the  British  Evangelical  Council  (BEC).4  
It  reminds  us  of  that  body’s  stand  against  ecumenism  -­‐  and  for  true  spiritual  unity  based  on  faithfulness  
to  biblical  truth,  and  the  corollary  of  separation  from  the  Ecumenical  Movement  (EM).  This  stand  was  
necessary,  not  only  because  God’s  word  requires  it  (Romans  16:17;  2  John  verses  9-­‐11),  but  in  order  to  
1  See  Bible  League  Quarterly,  July-­‐September  2012,  pages  248-­‐252.  
2  See,  Is  Evangelicalism  Divided?  and  The  Sad  Saga  of  Praise,  April-­‐June  2001;  Today’s  FIEC  and  E.J.  Poole-­‐Connor,  July-­‐
September  2001;  and  Affinity,  April-­‐June  2005.      
3  The  meticulousness  of  the  author  can  be  seen  in  the  145  endnotes  that  document  her  assertions.    
4  They  have  Forgotten,  Page  5.  

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maintain  a  clear  testimony  to  what  the  gospel  is  and  what  a  true  church  is.  While  embracing  all  who  
love   Christ   and   the   gospel,   it   had   to   exclude   from   its   membership   those   who,   while   professedly  
evangelical,  nonetheless  chose  to  remain  affiliated  to  doctrinally  mixed  churches  and  denominations.  
This  separation  was  officially  at  church  level,  not  necessarily  at  a  personal  level.  Foremost  among  the  
BEC’s  representatives  back  then  were  Dr.  Martyn  Lloyd-­‐Jones  and  its  General  Secretary  until  1982,  Rev.  
Roland  Lamb.5                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Dr.  Lloyd-­‐Jones  
The  first  chapter  documents  the  witness  of  Dr.  Lloyd-­‐Jones,  a  discerning  and  far-­‐seeing  leader  whom  
God  raised  up  for  the  times.  His  anointed  preaching  during  the  1960s  onwards  clarified  these  issues.  
Through  his  leadership  in  the  1960s  and  1970s,  the  BEC  became,  for  evangelicals,  the  counterpart  to  
the  World  Council  of  Churches  (WCC),  and  the  church  fellowship  of  those  days  the  counterpart  to  the  
EM.  Believers  knew  where  they  stood  concerning  the  gospel,  what  a  Christian  is,  and  what  a  Christian  
church  is.  These  were  the  issues  at  stake,  and  were  faithfully  contended  for  against  the  Church  of  Rome,  
liberalism,  and  false  ecclesiastical  unity.    
New  Evangelicalism  
The  six  pages  of  Chapter  26  give  an  incisive  little  history  of  the  rise  of  New  Evangelicalism  during  the  
1940s  in  the  USA.  That  movement  repudiated  separation  from  liberals  and  from  the  social  gospel.  It  led  
to   theological   seminaries   and   churches   being   involved   with   enemies   of   truth   up   to   their   necks.   E.J.  
Poole-­‐Connor,  founder  of  the  FIEC,  declared,  “The  ‘New  Evangelicalism’  that  had  arisen  was  a  departure  
from   the   old.   It   stood   for   ‘infiltration’   and   not   ‘separation.’”   Tragically,   infiltration   developed   into  
participation  and  ultimately  imitation.  It  came  to  the  UK  via  the  Billy  Graham  evangelistic  rallies  and  his  
accepting  the  sponsorship  of  liberals  and  apostates.  Thus,  the  issue  of  separation  became  clouded  by  
the   pressing   concerns   of   evangelism.   The   rise   of   New   Evangelicalism   was   followed   in   1948   by   the  
founding  of  the  WCC  –  a  date  surely  not  unrelated  to  what  preceded  it.    
Three  chapters  
The  following  three  chapters  –  The  Ecumenical  Movement  and  the  WCC,  The  attitude  of  Dr.  Lloyd-­‐Jones  
and   the   BEC   towards   it,   and   The   Scriptural   necessity   for   believers   and   the   BEC   to   separate   from   the  
WCC   and   apostate   denominations   and   organisations7  –   complete   what   is   really   the   first   half   of   the  
booklet.   These   pages   leave   us   in   no   doubt   about   the   apostasy   of   the   EM,   and   the   impossibility   of  
professed  evangelicals  being  involved  with  it.  Dr.  Lloyd-­‐Jones’  trenchant  phrase  “guilt  by  association”  
was  criticised  even  back  in  1967  by  some,  but  far  from  retracting  it  he  was  to  assert  by  1974  that  what  
he  saw  as  implicit  then  was  now  explicit.8  More  testimonies  from  Christian  leaders  follow,  together  with  
supporting   scriptures,   to   show   that   the   duty   of   separation   from   errorists   is   as   clear   as   the   duty   to  
separate  from  sin.    
The   facts   here   are   undeniable,   except   for   those   who   wish   to   re-­‐write   this   history.   That   later   writers  
have  engaged  in  historical  revisionism  is  documented  in  one  of  the  articles  mentioned  earlier,  the  July-­‐
September  2001  issue  of  the  Bible  League  Quarterly  and  also  Sword  &  Trowel  2000  No  2.    
Second  half  
The   second   half   of   the   booklet   covers   Chapters   6-­‐9.9  Here,   the   author   shows   that   BEC’s   successor   –  
Affinity   –   does   not   stand   in   the   same   clear-­‐cut   separatist   tradition.   Looking   back,   this   outcome   is  
5  It  was  Roland  Lamb  who,  before  he  died  in  2011,  was  particularly  concerned  to  see  the  contents  of  this  booklet  in  
print.  The  title  of  the  booklet,  “They  have  forgotten  ...”  was  his  estimation  of  the  changed  climate  among  evangelicals  
concerning  biblical  separation.      
6  They  have  Forgotten,  pages  8-­‐13.  
7  Ibid,  pages  14-­‐20.  
8  Ibid,  18,19.    
9  Ibid,  pages  21-­‐33.  

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traceable    in  part  to  the  loss  of  Dr.  Lloyd-­‐Jones  in  1981.  As  soon  as  1984,  respected  leaders  like  T.  Omri  
Jenkins   were   warning   about   a   weakening   and   drifting   among   evangelicals.   The   firm   stance   against  
ecumenism,   once   so   evident,   was   giving   way   to   an   alarming   passion   for   evangelical   unity   that   was  
prepared  to  widen  the  parameters  of  fellowship.    
The  short-­‐lived  Essentially  Evangelical10  morphed  into  Affinity  in  2004.  The  new  body  opened  its  doors  
to  member  churches  belonging  to  the  WCC,  namely  the  United  Reformed  Church  and  the  Baptist  Union,  
also  to  those  wedded  to  the  Church  of  England.11  This  would  have  been  unthinkable  in  the  old  BEC  days,  
unless  the  ministers  concerned  were  intending  to  bring  their  people  out  of  such  affiliations.  Moreover,  it  
meant   that   member   churches   of   BEC   found   themselves   by   default   belonging   to   Affinity  -­‐   as   “Gospel  
Churches   in   Partnership”   with   these   ecumenical   denominations.   An   embarrassing   and   dismaying  fait  
Affinity  claims  to  “continue  the  work  of  the  British  Evangelical  Council.”12  This  sounds  reassuring,  but  
surely   if   this   were   the   case   one   would   expect   it   to   carry   the   BEC’s   Official   Statement:   Attitude   to  
Ecumenicity  on  its  web  site,  but  it  does  not.13  This  is  surely  to  play  down  its  BEC  roots.  Affinity’s  own  
statement  on  ecumenicity  includes  the  following,    
The  biblical  Gospel  defines  the  boundaries  of  true  Christian  fellowship.  Affinity  churches,  with  real  sadness,  
cannot  enter  into  Gospel  partnership  with  churches  which  deny  the  fundamental  Bible  doctrines  set  out  in  
the  Affinity  doctrinal  basis.14  
In  theory,  the  doctrinal  basis15  could  be  as  restrictive  as  is  claimed  in  the  above  paragraph.  However,  in  
practice,  this  is  clearly  not  happening  and  will  not  happen.  One  need  only  cite  again  the  admission  of  a  
United  Reformed  Church  (a  member  of  the  WCC  and  of  Churches  Together  in  Britain  and  Ireland)  as  an  
Independent  Corporate  Partner.16  Affinity’s  non-­‐mention  of  the  evils  of  the  EM  and  WCC  has  made  this  
wider  connection  possible,  giving  the  impression  that  the  old  battle  lines  are  no  longer  important.          
Also,  perhaps,  for  this  reason    individuals  are  assessing  the  current  situation  too  sanguinely,  forgetting  
(as  the  booklet  says)  the  real  issues  lie  behind  it.  One  writer  on  his  blog  does  this,17  and  gently  chides  
Miss   Palgrave   for   her   unfairness   to  Affinity.  The   writer   then   makes   the   astonishing   claim   concerning  
Affinity’s  above-­‐mentioned  position  on  ecumenicity,    
These  statements  clearly  lay  out  Affinity’s  position  as  non-­‐ecumenical.  Member  churches  that  are  actively  
involved  with  the  ‘Churches  Together’  movement  would  clearly  be  in  breach  of  them.  
10  See  Bible  League  Quarterly,  April-­‐June  2005,  pages  61f  for  fuller  information  on  the  part  it  played  regarding  Affinity.    
11  They  have  Forgotten,  page  22.    
12  The  words  of  its  Director,  Peter    
13  They  have  Forgotten,  page  23.    

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Yet,  as  we  have  seen,  Affinity  has  a  URC  church  as  a  partner  –  a  denomination  that  is  part  of  Churches  
Together!  Also,  see  the  article  elsewhere  in  this  magazine,  where  an  FIEC  church  (which  belongs  to  
Affinity)  supports  a  missionary  who  “...  in  his  own  words  for  years  ‘started  Catholic  fellowships’  in  
Poland,   a   longstanding   faculty   member   of   a   seminary   that   proudly   styles   itself   a   ‘promoter   of  
ecumenism  and  interreligious  dialogue.’”  Clearly,  what  is  claimed  and  what  is  done  are  two  different  
It   is   sometimes   said   that   BEC   became   Affinity  because   the   former   had   stagnated   or   had   become  
irrelevant.  That  a  noble  Christian  body  can  become  so  over  time  is  not  disputed.  However,  if  it  is  to  
have   new   life   and   be   re-­‐branded,   as   claimed,   into   a   “re-­‐invigorated,   re-­‐focussed   and   re-­‐presented  
BEC,”18  then  we  look  for  continuity  regarding  its  founding  principles  and  practices.  However,  when  
we   compare   the   rather   muted   and   careful   wording   of  Affinity  with   the   robust,   clearly   spelled   out  
terms   of   the   BEC’s   Official   Statement,  we   are   in   a   different   world.   We   suspect   more   was   behind  
Affinity  than  the  desire  for  a  new  image.  It  was  also  to  create  a  new  BEC  more  accommodating  and  
inclusive   than   its   predecessor   would   allow.   In   other   words,   as   the   booklet   claims,   “They   have  
The  booklet’s  Conclusion  on  page  34  rightly  acknowledges  the  true  unity  that  exists  among  churches  
throughout   the   UK   and   the   world   that   are   separatist   yet   together   in   the   love   of   the   truth.   Such  
churches  continue  the  work  of  the  BEC  and  have  not  forgotten  the  clear  and  rugged  witness  of  their  
forefathers  in  the  faith.  Let  us  never  forget  this  either,  and  seek  to  be  their  worthy  successors.  Only  
then   shall   we   be   faithfully   serve   our   generation   by   the   will   of   God   (Acts   13:26).   We   thank   Ruth  
Palgrave  for  such  an  excellent  publication  and  warmly  commend  it  to  all  our  readers.