Nonbiblical term applied to various dedegrees of coorganization, joint worship, and/or cooperation bet. religious groups of varying creeds and/or spiritual convictions.
Meyers Grosses Konversations-Lexikon, XIX, 921, speaks of unionists as adherents of the union est. 1817 bet. Luths. and Ref. (see Prussian Union); this sense of the term gained widespread acceptance also in Am. It also speaks of unionists in gen. as those who try to unite Christian denominations (Religionsparteien) in 1 ch.
E. Eckhardt, Homiletisches Reallexikon nebst Index Rerum, speaks of unionism as mingling of truth and error; ch. fellowship bet. true believers (Rechtgläubigen) and errorists (Falschgläubigen) or union of both into an external ch. organization. It includes all ecclesiastical cooperation in which error is tolerated and the Luth. Confession is not given proper consideration (zu kurz kommt).
The Concordia Cyclopedia (St. Louis, 1927), p. 774: Religious unionism consists in joint worship and work of those not united in doctrine. Its essence is an agreement to disagree. In effect, it denies the doctrine of the clearness of Scripture.
J. H. C. Fritz, Religious Unionism (St. Louis, 1930); W. A. Poovey, Questions That Trouble Christians (Columbus, Ohio, 1946); C. Bergendoff, Lutheran Unity, What Lutherans Are Thinking (Columbus, Ohio, 1947), pp. 368390; N. Söderblom, Christian Fellowship or the United Life and Work of Christendom (New York, 1923); J. S. Stowell, The Utopia of Unity (New York, 1930); M. Bach, Report to Protestants (New York, 1948); CTM, XV (1944), pp. 538539, footnote 19; The Abiding Word, I, ed. T. Laetsch (St. Louis, 1953), 286287, 301.
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