"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Celebrating the Pan-Heresy

Though certain adolescent apologists sneer and hyperventilate about the "pan-heresy" of ecumenism whenever the word is mentioned, that need not distract us from the real, if difficult, achievements, of the search for Christian unity, a search that is binding on all Christians and has never involved the "relativistic" and facile "watering down" of doctrine that people fatuously claim. If it were that easy, we would have achieved full unity a long time ago. 

A new book helps us take track of what has been done, and what remains. John A. Radano, ed., Celebrating a Century of Ecumenism: Exploring the Achievements of International Dialogue (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012).

About this book we are told:
Modern ecumenism traces its roots back to the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh. Celebrating a Century of Ecumenism brings readers up to date on one hundred years of global dialogue between many different church traditions, including Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Orthodox, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Oriental Orthodox, and more. Eighteen essays by authors representing a wide spectrum of denominational interests outline the achievements of this movement toward unity.
The first part of the book focuses on multilateral dialogue that involved a variety of churches attempting to delineate common ground, with considerable progress reported. The second part describes bilateral discussions between two churches or groups of churches. Celebrating a Century of Ecumenism is one small marker along the way to the unity that many Christians desire, and the report it provides will encourage those involved in ecumenical discussions.
Among many noteworthy chapters, three are of special interest to Eastern Christians:
  • Peter Bouteneff, "The World Council of Churches: An Orthodox Perspective" 
  • Ron Roberson, "The Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church."
  • Id., "Oriental Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue."

1 comment:

  1. Dear Dr. DeVille,

    I would be cautious about calling all those who oppose ecumenism as a pan-heresy "adolescent" hyperventilators, since such people include great figures like Justin Popovic, glorified recently by the Orthodox Church of Serbia, who studied in the West, most notably at Oxford.

    Even "ecumenical" Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk of the Church of Russia's DECR has outlined "faithful and proper ecumenism" and excess that could be termed heretical-- or at least sinful.

    It is easy sometimes to speak of religion as a light thing. I noticed your SVS Islamic fellow interviewee, for instance, never mentions mission work among Muslims. Hopefully, his studies for the glory of Christ will lead him to attempt to draw people away from Islam and unite them to Christ. I worry sometimes when I read interviews like that where it seems as though ones religion is as inconsequential as the sports team one likes. If Christ is God, then Muhammad was a liar, and a liar of the worst kind, and his religion an utterly false one that does not save. Love for God and neighbor would necessitate bearing witness to that, wouldn't it?


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