But in seeking fellowship among other believers in this precious truth, I have been grieved to find tendencies toward narrowness and sectarianism as bad or worse than any I found among the established churches and denominations. Sectarianism is primarily not so much a matter of denominational affiliation or organization, as it is a matter of spirit. One may have an intensely sectarian spirit and belong to no group or organization. On the other hand, one may be nominally enrolled as a member of some group, sect, denomination, or organization, and yet be possessed of a spirit of fellowship that puts many "come outers" to shame.
For example, I have found many reconciliationists who hold doctrines and teachings which are entirely separate and apart from the truth of reconciliation; but who refuse to fellowship other believers in the Salvation of All, unless these believers can accept these other interpretations. If the reconciliation movement is to be truly non-sectarian, it must be broad enough to include all who accept the truth of universal reconciliation. Many reconciliationists hold the traditional belief in an intermediate state of personal consciousness and identity after death. Others believe that "the dead are dead," and that there is no such consciousness or identity between, the death and resurrection of the body. Cannot these believers have fellowship? Is there no basis upon which they may work together in the spreading of reconciliation truth? But if either one insists that his doctrine of the state of the dead is "fundamental," "basic," and a test of fellowship or of orthodoxy, it constitutes a barrier in the way of cooperation.
Another weakness of the modern reconciliation movement is, as I see it, a lamentable lack of zeal and concern for evangelistic and missionary endeavor. Paul exclaimed, "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel." But some in the reconciliation movement have no burden, no concern, no zeal whatever, for winning the lost to Christ. I have found myself in some groups of reconciliationists where the smugness, complacency, and pharisaism distressed me greatly. There was too much of the attitude "we are the elect," and we have no concern for the winning of souls. If these souls are elected to be saved "they will be saved, and there's nothing we can do about it" therefore we will do nothing. Such an attitude on the part of any group converts it into a sort of mutual admiration and self-congratulatory society. "Lord, we thank thee that we are not as other men: We are the elect, we have 'all' the truth and light, and we are glad we are not as these others who believe in soul-winning and evangelism."
Reconciliationists should also remember that there is a just and righteous punishment of the wicked and Christ-rejector; that there is a "wrath to come," and that sinners need to be warned to flee from this wrath to the Cross of Calvary. I believe that we have sometimes lost sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and of our call to lead sinners to repentance. Too many times we find those whose attitudes appear to be, "Well God will ultimately reconcile ALL to Himself anyway, so why do we need to be exercised or distressed over the condition of lost men and of a lost world?" Reconciliationists should have an even greater zeal and enthusiasm for the winning of souls than have the believers in endless torment.
May God help us to see our weaknesses, as well as our strength. It is so much easier to see the shortcomings of others. May we turn the white light of criticism upon ourselves! And may God deliver us from our smugness, complacency, self-satisfaction, mutual admiration, and pharisaism, and may He vouchsafe to all of us a real burden for those who are in sin and who are NOW unreconciled to His love and grace.
C. S. Mundell. Last updated 11.10.2008