Top 50 Ecumenical Blogs and being ecumenical

I’m honored that the New Epistles blog has been put on the “Top 50 Ecumenical Blogs” at Biblical Learning Blog (http://BibleCollege.org).  I guess this means that I’m ecumenical…but what does “ecumenical” mean?  Here’s how Merriam-Webster defines “ecumenical” as:

promoting or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation.

However, there are different levels of ecumenism.  On a basic level, ecumenism tries to overcome barriers to unify congregations through cooperative efforts to increase our understanding of one another’s religious/spiritual beliefs.  This is where I’m at. I am all for this type of ecumenism because God calls us to enter into a true spirit of Christian unity.

On a much grand scale, ecumenism tries to unify the ecclesiastical structures of denominations in order to form one official worldwide church with the ultimate goal of achieving a single “organic union”.  This type of ecumenism is not true ecumenism; rather, it is dictatorial and can even border on the tyrannical through a forced and artificial structure devoid of a true spirit of unity. My personal feelings toward this is that this oversteps the will of God (e.g., Tower of Babel in Genesis 11).

An inherent weakness or danger in this type of ecumenism is that our preferences for various and beautiful expressions of the Christian faith (e.g., biblical interpretation; worship styles; etc.) can easily be diminished, or even squashed, through a single organic union.  Personally, I would much rather prefer to see a multiplicity of theologies and worship styles.  This is natural to human nature because each person has different personalities, tastes, and ways of understanding religion and the world. Therefore, I think a multiplicity of Christian denominations, with a heart for true ecumenism, is the most desirable way for a “one holy catholic church”.

What is your view of ecumenism?

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libertyculture

Reflections on when faith & the scriptures intersect life & society.

5 thoughts on “Top 50 Ecumenical Blogs and being ecumenical”

  1. Hi neatnik, thanks for expressing your opinion on ecumenism. In many respects, Lutherans and Episcopalians are similar liturgically and theologically. I understand you. We need to be asking questions because theology should never be done in a bubble. There are so many questions that we need to ask. I have lots myself. Keep asking them.

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    1. Indeed, I will continue to ask questions.
      I have found that asking questions and seeking answers deepens my faith. And when I conclude a phase of questioning, I know why I believe what I believe. Also, having unanswered questions is healthy too, for their existence reminds me that I do not have all the answers. God does. And that is as matters should be.

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  2. Wherever there is no good reason to maintain separate denominational identities I favor organic union. The rest of the time, however, I prefer cooperation (often workable) and full communion (when the similarities are just shy of justifying organic union). My denomination, The Episcopal Church, is in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), for example. I cannot see how a merger would work any time soon, but there are enough similarities that we can work together on many issues. And one Episcopal congregation in Georgia (my state) has a Lutheran pastor.
    My political and theological sympathies being left-leaning neo-orthodox, I have had many negative encounters with fundamentalists who have informed me that I am going to Hell to thinking too much, harboring too many doubts, and asking too many questions. Yet how am I supposed to find answers if I do not ask questions? So I have a pronounced distaste for certain varieties of more conservative Christianity. (I am a theological product mainly of the Northern Renaissance and, to a lesser extent, the Enlightenment.) Yet I can read with great comfort the work of Evangelicals who do not discourage the asking of questions. Philip Yancey comes to mind immediately, for I like to read his books.

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  3. Rod, I know what you mean. It seems that throughout the history of modern ecumenism we have seen the leadership within today’s newly unified churches (e.g., PC-USA, ELCA, UMC, etc.) lean toward theological liberalism. It’s also sad to see some of these seminaries harboring a suspicion and distrust toward evangelicals in its ranks.

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  4. I am somewhat suspicious of ecumenical movements; the WCC and NCC (world/national council of churches) have taken the occasion to take sides politically, mostly on the left. Although I believe in a physical unity of the church, I always ask, one whose terms are we being united? A question that always needs to be asked, especially with the passage you mentioned in Genesis.

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