An ecumenical spirit is strong with a huge portion of humanity. An ecumenical spirit is, essentially, an acceptance of ideas that do not necessarily correspond with one’s own. The idea of exclusivism in societal application is not well received. In Ezra 4 one reads of effort of some to import the ecumenical spirit into the work of the children of Israel after they were given permission by Cyrus the Great to return to their homeland after being in a foreign land for many decades.

When the children of Israel returned to their homeland, they desired to reconstitute the particulars of their community in relation to the Law of Moses. The people of the land, who were settled there by the Assyrians when the northern Israelite tribes were taken into bondage, was a people filled with confusing ideas about how to serve God. They desired of those who were returning to receive them with their different ways of thinking in religious matters. Thus, when those with Zerubbabel and the Israelites tribes returned, they offered to be of assistance as the Temple foundations were put in place.

Zerubbabel, however, knowing full well what took them into captivity in the first place said no to their desire to assist. It is likely that Zerubbabel knew the residents of the land did not have pure motives in their offer to help; rather, they had motives that were really nothing more than corrupting.

Truthfully, the people of the land felt threatened by the purity of the religious people returning.

This is actually how many people look upon the purity of New Testament Christianity today. They look upon those who are loyal to the Lord as a threat. In order to mitigate that threat, they look to be part of the community that holds such loyalty to the Lord so dear. That way they can offer their influence with their own competing ideologies, and with that influence corruption. This is the nature of the ecumenical spirit.

It is a challenge to those devoted to the purity of the Lord’s teaching to not only adhere to that teaching, but to resist all competing ideas. The ecumenical spirit, whether motivated out of genuine interest or impure motives, is a spirit (teaching) that is corrupting. Those who fall into its trap are those who do not know the Lord. RT