return to religion-onlineEcumenism
Christians must seek unity for intrinsic, not strategic, reasons.
The traditional ecumenical goal of ‘organic Unity’ has fallen on bad days -- largely because it is thought to call for a needless suppression of diversity, achieved through a generation or more of ecclesiastical self-preoccupation. Considering the infinite complexities of the problem, a covenant to accomplish conciliar unity rather than the actual realization of the goal might be the most likely accomplishment.
Ellingsen notes that numerous ecumenical breakthroughs resulted from the Second Vatican Council, but mutual respect does not always bridge the gap between the mainline churches with their primary commitment to contextual theology, and fundamentalists as well as evangelicals with their prevailing commitment to biblical authority. Both sides, however, have been coming to a growing appreciation of each other's concerns, with mainline denominations placing more emphasis on biblical hermeneutics and theological conservatives sounding the call to contextualize theology.
This essay provides a perspective for a new ecumenical movement as a movement of ONE in the OIKOS TOU THEOU. It requires discernment on the signs of times, and a renewed biblical reflection, taking the Biblical vision as the sources of our messianic imagination.
The appearance of the Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry agreement of the World Council of Churches’ Faith and Order Commission, the theological consensus statement of the Consultation on Church Union (COCU), and the proliferation of local ecumenical efforts in countless places offer new possibilities for effective unity during this decade.
Dr. von Sinner explores the significance of the Ecumenical Movment from the perspective of the Commission of the Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. He discuses the dialogue with the trinitarian theology of two eminent theologians from two very different contexts. Leonardo Boff and Raimon Panikkar.
Consolidation and centralization would serve to reduce costs and increase productivity in urban church life as well as in the business world, but denominations have long resisted this trend: they continue to maintain numbers of small, weak churches -- "loss operations" that drain the financial surplus from larger, healthier congregations.
Responding to God in the midst of this world includes public praise and thanksgiving that Christ is served in every place where people are clothed, housed, fed, and enabled to lead more dignified human lives. God is intensively at work in antireligious China, Cuba and Mozambique.
The ecumenical movement calls us not so much to find a common denominator as it does to join hands and to pledge ourselves to walk side by side, to enrich one another by all that can be brought out of our separate pasts, and to ask forgiveness for the blindness that for so long has kept us divided.
Dr. Long suggests that Protestants need the Papacy. 1. Because we must have something to protest against. 2. For the sake of the unity of the church. 3. For the sake of truth grounded in love.
When the peoples of the world cry out to god, are there Christian grounds for supposing they are addressing the true God?
This article appeared in The Christian Century, December 14, 2004, pp. 28-32. Copyright by the Christian Century Foundation; used by permission. Current articles and subscriptions information can be found at www.christiancentury.org. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
Today social and ethical issues, such as racism, poverty, hunger, ecology, education, sexuality, seem to many people to be more important than "unity". Contextual theologies, justice causes, the voices of women and of the global South enrich, but also challenge, traditional theological thinking and styles.
Ecumenism is now in the hands of the evangelical and Pentecostal movement on the one hand and the Roman Catholic and Orthodox on the other, the polar opposites of the mainline folks, yet there is a measure of agreement on where and how the apostolic tradition is to be located and retrieved in the affirmations regarding the Trinity, or that Jesus Christ is true god and true man.