"Can Two Walk Together Except They Be Agreed?"

Paul Schaefer
Thursday, August 2nd 2007
Sep/Oct 1998

Geoffrey Wainwright, a leading scholar on the Ecumenical Movement, states:

[The Ecumenical Movement is the] name given in modern times to the concerted drive toward the attainment or restoration of unity among Christians and their communities throughout the world…. Derived from the Greek oikoumene, meaning the inhabited earth, ecumenism refers to the efforts of Christians and their communities to live in such unity that they may with one heart and one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:5-6), and by their witness bring the world to believe in the divine mission of the Son (John 17:21). (1)

For many evangelicals, however, the word "ecumenical," if even used in our vocabulary, usually raises red flags. The term has connotations of liberal, anti-dogmatic, service-oriented Christianity without doctrinal substance. In one cartoon, a large gothic church is pictured with two men dressed in clerical attire serving as greeters. The Devil, in a business suit and carrying a briefcase, enters the church. As he does, one cleric says to the other, "Hey do you think we might be taking the ecumenical movement just a bit too far?"

The problem is exacerbated by the plain fact that evangelicals don't generally use the word. Although "ecumenical" has a lineage back to the Greek New Testament, it occupies little place in evangelical parlance, especially among laypeople. Historian George Marsden notes, with some humor in his Reforming Fundamentalism, that when in 1949 Fuller Seminary hired Bela Vassady, a leading Hungarian Reformed theologian, naming him Professor of Biblical Theology and Ecumenics, few of Fuller's constituents knew what the word "ecumenics" meant. Instead, many thought that Vassady had been serving on a "Hungarian 'economical' committee" before coming to America. (2)

Christians who take seriously the prayer of our Lord in John 17 that we are "to be one" and also the Apostolic admonition of Paul in Ephesians 4 to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit" surely should be seeking ways to proclaim visibly our oneness in Christ to a world in desperate need of good news-whether we use the word "ecumenical" or not. But how?

We have witnessed in this century an intensification of ecumenical discussion. Protestant communions have engaged in dialogue among themselves and also with the Orthodox and Roman communions. Such discussion has not been limited to the so-called "mainline" churches either, for evangelicals-both within and without the mainline-have also been involved in seeking a greater visible unity, both through official church agencies involved in cooperation as well as through para-ecclesiastical agencies. I would like to trace briefly some of these efforts from the first half of the twentieth century (primarily among the so-called "mainline") and also give some analysis and critique. One question we must always try to answer as we seek greater visible unity and as we long to "grow up into Christ" is how do we do so all the while "speaking the truth in love" (Eph 4:15)?

From Edinburgh 1910 to Amsterdam 1948

Contemporary ecumenism was born in 1910 at the International Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. The impetus for such a gathering stretched back into the dreams of many of the great nineteenth century missionaries, including William Carey, one of the pioneers of modern mission efforts. (3) The meeting brought together more than 1,200 delegates from many denominational and independent mission agencies. Under the leadership of John R. Mott, an American Methodist who had been influenced by D. L. Moody and who had founded the Student Volunteer Movement and the World's Student Christian Federation, (4) and Joseph H. Oldham, the Conference sought not only to define areas where substantial agreement allowed cooperative efforts among mission agencies but also to energize the participants toward greater visible unity on a worldwide scale. As Mott declared at the end of the Conference:

In a few hours we shall be scattering ourselves among the nations and the races of mankind, and God sends us forth to large things. He is a great God…. Our best days are ahead of us and not in these ten days that we have spent together, still less in the days that lie behind them. Why? Because we go forth tonight with larger knowledge, and this in itself is a talent which makes possible better things. We go out with a larger acquaintanceship, with deeper realization of this fellowship which we have just seen, and that is a rich talent which makes possible wonderful achievements. Our best days are ahead of us because of a larger body of experience now happily placed at the disposal of all Christendom. (5)

As we've stated, Edinburgh 1910 had been a dream of many missionaries and was driven by the revival impulse which had swept much of America and Europe throughout the nineteenth century. Those revivals had come largely in two waves, one early in the century and called "the Second Great Awakening" in America, and one later in the century and often associated with the revivals led by Moody and Ira Sankey. (6) Looking at reports of the Conference and some of the addresses themselves gives the impression that the Conference itself was "broadly evangelical."

In saying this, however, two important issues should be considered. First, much of the nineteenth century revivalism, while evangelical in one sense, is not without criticism from a biblical and confessional perspective. Indeed, several articles in past modernReformation issues have tried to show this. (7) Second, by the time of Edinburgh 1910, Protestant churches throughout Europe and America faced a clear crisis of direction because of the influence of the various "liberal" or "modernistic" theologies associated with figures and movements like Schleiermacher, Ritschl, von Harnack, the Tubingen School, and the Social Gospel Movement. (8) Such theologies accommodated far more to prevailing culture than most perceptive evangelicals would allow. While it can be argued that such theological liberalism had not infected many or even most of the Conference's delegates, some of the enthusiastic rhetoric of Edinburgh 1910 might well have been tempered by acknowledging this ecclesiastical crisis. Two decades later, this crisis saw the fragmenting of a number of American denominations from which many delegates were drawn. Also, of course, the decade of Edinburgh 1910 itself witnessed the social, political, and even religious upheaval spurred on by the First World War.

Mott's vision of "better days ahead," however, was rewarded in the 1920s with the forming of three bodies: the International Missionary Council (first meeting, 1921, Lake Mahonk, New York), the "Life and Work" movement (first meeting, 1925, Stockholm), and the "Faith and Order" movement (first meeting, 1927, Lausanne). "Faith and Order" had another meeting in Edinburgh in 1937 and "Life and Work" had a second meeting in Oxford in 1937 also before these two organizations merged at the forming of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1948 (Amsterdam). There was movement toward forming this agency prior to 1948, but actual formation had to wait until the Second World War ended. From its inception, the WCC was never to be a "super-church" but rather a gathering for mutual discussion, larger recognition of Christians outside one's own communion, and greater use of resources for common concern. (9) The International Missionary Council continued as a separate entity, with meetings in Oxford (1923), Jerusalem (1928), Madras (1938), Whitby (1947), Willingen (1952), and Ghana (1958), before joining the World Council of Churches in 1961. (10)

The desire that churches themselves (and not just missions board representatives) engage in discussions regarding greater visible unity, was stimulated by the report "An Appeal to All Christian People" from the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops in 1920, and the 1920 encyclical of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople of the Orthodox Communion entitled "Unto the Churches of Christ Everywhere." Many assume that this encyclical had been drafted by an important Orthodox ecumenist Germanos of Thyateira. (11) Indeed, the Orthodox Communion has been influential in World Council deliberations with virtually every Orthodox Church today being a member church of the World Council. (12)

The "Appeal" issued by the Lambeth Conference contained the so-called Lambeth Quadrilateral, a four-point outline suggesting the way to greater visible unity. Actually, the Quadrilateral might be termed a Trilateral since the fourth point-a recognition that the "historic episcopate" served as "the best instrument" for preserving unity and continuity with the Christian tradition-the Bishops well knew would be difficult for Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Independents to accept. As to the other three, the "Appeal" stated:

We believe that the visible unity of the Church will be found to involve the wholehearted acceptance of:
– The Holy Scriptures, as the record of God's revelation of Himself to man, and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith; and the Creed commonly called Nicene, as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith, and either it or the Apostles' Creed as the baptismal confession of belief:
– The divinely instituted sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Communion, as expressing for all the corporate life of the whole fellowship in and with Christ:
– A ministry acknowledged by every part of the Church as possessing not only the inward call of the Spirit, but also the commission of Christ and the authority of the whole body. (13)

While much of this statement contains elements that any confessional Protestant would find extremely positive and fruitful for engaging in dialogue across denominational boundaries, one also notes that there is no direct recognition of the necessity of thesolae of the Reformation in this urge to greater visible unity. Interesting, also, is the statement that the Nicene Creed forms a "sufficient" declaration of the Christian faith. A reader of this magazine, aware that the Church of England produced the irenic yet clearly Reformational Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, might ask why central elements of this important symbol of Anglican identity were not included (particularly the Reformation solae mentioned above). We need to remember that by 1920, the Anglican Communion had three major sub-groupings within it, the Evangelical, the Broad Church Party, and the Anglo-Catholic, each with its own divergences. Nevertheless, anyone from an historic Protestant communion, concerned to uphold the Reformation solae as crucial for any dialogue about visible unity and cooperation in joint mission (not because of tradition-after all we believe in sola scriptura-but because we believe them to be at the very heart of the Gospel), would have to ask whether the "agreements" from Lambeth carry enough clout for the unity these Bishops so earnestly and forthrightly desired.

While space does not permit fully examining "Faith and Order" and "Life and Work" prior to their merging to become the World Council of Churches in 1948, at least one crucial point must be noted. All too often evangelicals, unacquainted with the history of the ecumenical movement among the older mainline denominations, assume by way of caricature that this movement was unconcerned with doctrine. Such an assumption, however, is a mistake. It is true that members involved in the "Life and Work" organization often followed the motto "doctrine divides and service unites"; nevertheless, those involved in "Faith and Order" consistently wrestled with doctrinal issues, recognizing that dealing with doctrinal issues had to be an important part of any ecumenical agenda. Moreover, we evangelicals are surely not immune to this problem either. How often do we hear "Is this practical?" when we are in the midst of discussing theology, supposedly something very high on the evangelical agenda?

Charles Brent, an American Episcopalian missionary to the Philippines, who served as a delegate to Edinburgh 1910 and who would be instrumental in forming "Faith and Order," was concerned to ensure that the emerging ecumenical movement placed doctrinal concerns high on the agenda. "Convinced that 'whenever God gives a vision, He also points to a new responsibility,' Brent believed the dream of a united church [as had been talked about at Edinburgh 1910] brought the duty of confronting the doctrinal differences Edinburgh had skirted." (14) To highlight the very real tensions when placing theological concerns on the agenda, Marlin VanElderen relates this anecdote: "The breadth of the theological gulf between Christian confessions is disclosed by the report [of the first meeting of "Faith and Order"] of a brief exchange… : after an Orthodox delegate insisted that 'we must declare loyalty to the Nicene Creed,' a Congregationalist stood up to say, 'Well, I think we should clear all that old lumber out of the way!'" (15)

Of course, when "Faith and Order" met for its initial meeting in 1927, the delegates faced a problem already mentioned: the older Protestant churches had a doctrinal diversity not only in substance but also in theological method, vision, and essential doctrines. Such diversity existed not only between the communions but within the communions as well. One can assume that delegates at the first meeting comprised at least three if not four perspectives: a broadly evangelical one, as evidenced by the tone of Edinburgh 1910; a kind of ecumenical catholicism which placed a premium on the Great Creeds of the first five centuries as evidenced by the participation of theologians from the Orthodox Communion as well as some Anglicans instrumental in the Lambeth Conference of 1920; and the aforementioned "liberal" or "modernistic" bent since this had been for some time becoming the dominant theology in much of Europe if not America. The fourth perspective, the new "dialectical" or "neo-orthodox" school emerging from Switzerland and associated with the names Karl Barth and Emil Brunner, (16) may at this point not have been too strong but it would become a dominant voice in "Faith and Order" discussions in the years ahead both before and after the formation of the World Council of Churches.

Probably the most famous effort of "Faith and Order" has been the 1982 document Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry. (17) While this document comes from a period beyond the scope of this essay, its original impetus came at the Lausanne meeting of "Faith and Order" in 1927. In other words, the future "Faith and Order" Committee of the World Council of Churches took well over fifty years to hammer out this document before distributing it to the member churches as a basis for dialogue.

Amsterdam 1948 and a Short Look Beyond

Returning to Amsterdam 1948, the delegates of "Faith and Order" and "Life and Work" recognized that they needed one another and that they sought greater "official" involvement from their respective denominations. So, in 1938 at Utrecht (Netherlands), a committee with representatives from both organizations met and approved an inaugural united assembly for 1941. This assembly had to wait until the end of world hostilities to come to fruition. The delegates elected Willem A. Visser 't Hooft the first general secretary of the WCC. He held this post until 1966. Coming after one of the most destructive wars ever, the title of the opening assembly, "Man's Disorder and God's Design," certainly seemed appropriate. The final statement of the first assembly is an eloquent and moving appeal:

It is not in man's power to banish sin and death from the earth, to create the unity of the Holy Catholic Church, to conquer the hosts of Satan. But it is within the power of God. He has given us at Easter the certainty that His purpose will be accomplished. But, by our acts of obedience and faith, we can on earth set up signs which point to the coming victory. Till the day of that victory our lives are hid with Christ in God, and no earthly disillusion or distress or power of hell can separate us from Him. As those who wait in confidence and joy for their deliverance, let us give ourselves to those tasks which lie to our hands, and so set up signs that men may see. (18)

Along with this came the stirring pledge, "We intend to stay together." Originally representing 147 denominations worldwide, the Council today has more than 300 member denominations.

The Council encapsulated its doctrinal basis in 1948 with these words: "The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which accept our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour." P.A. Crow adds,

At the New Delhi Assembly in 1961, largely at the urging of the Orthodox [the Russian Orthodox joined in 1961 itself and other Orthodox Churches had joined even earlier], [the doctrinal basis] was expanded to its present Trinitarian form: "The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures and therefore seek to fulfill their common calling to the glory of one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." (19)

Crow also notes that a certain Christocentricity can be seen when reviewing the themes of the first and subsequent assemblies. For example: Evanston (1954), "Jesus Christ the Hope of the World"; New Delhi (1961), "Jesus Christ the Light of the World"; Nairobi (1975), "Jesus Christ Frees and Unites"; and, Vancouver (1983), "Jesus Christ the Life of the World." (20)

Yet even here, the reader confronts a very real problem: what is meant by Jesus Christ? His deity is stressed, but what does this mean? For theology among the older Protestant bodies has moved even farther than the lines of demarcation of the 1920s-1930s when one usually thought in terms of evangelical, liberal, and neo-orthodox theologies. Since the founding Assembly in 1948, theology on the world stage has seen the rise of neo-liberalism (Tillich et al.), radical theology (the so-called "death of God" movement), the Theology of Hope, the various liberation theologies, process theology, and postliberalism (which has a certain "postmodern" bent), (21) to name just some. (22) Can the doctrinal basis be used as a wax-nose, shaped by whichever "Christ" from whichever of these theologies one espouses, or is there some kind of criterion?

This is indeed one of the continuing struggles that the World Council faces. Even VanElderen admits, "No 'official WCC theology' elaborates on what this brief common acknowledgement means. The WCC respects the freedom of its member churches to interpret this and other affirmations in the Basis according to their own teachings." (23) Since the World Council consistently insists that it is not a "super-church" (with some kind of ecclesiastical discipline) this seems proper in one sense. Yet, since the Council is far more than a "study center" but actually encourages joint mission, social action, and the like through its auspices and agencies, and since it claims to be a "fellowship" (koinonia), one certainly can ask with the words from Amos 3, "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" When John talks of fellowship in I John, certainly he has in mind something strong and vital because it is a fellowship revealed in the infallible and inerrant Holy Scriptures. While this fellowship, this "sharing of our common life" together in Jesus Christ, is something we do certainly experience together through faith, we experience together this fellowship because it is rooted in the truth found in the historical Jesus Christ, the God-man, the Word made flesh, the center of redemptive history and thus truly the Hope, Light, and Life of the World.

There has also been a kind of "wag the dog" problem that the World Council has faced throughout its fifty year existence. This is the possibility that "Life and Work" concerns combined with a mentality that "doctrine divides and service unites" will force the World Council to neglect hard doctrinal thinking ("Faith and Order" concerns) in favor of an extreme emphasis on social action; a kind of social action, moreover, whose aims at times seem at odds with the kind of Kingdom action mandated by Scripture. We must be careful here, for the World Council has often been influential in combating racism and alleviating human suffering. Such concerns should also be a part of an evangelical social agenda, even as we try to answer such problems through biblical reflection.

The tendency among World Council members to put the accent on "orthopraxy" over "orthodoxy," nevertheless, has been exacerbated in the past several decades by the flood of various "theologies of liberation." These theologies have often had an either oblique or even outright revolutionary Marxist bent when interpreting biblical themes like justice, reconciliation, peace, and equality. Indeed, in 1970, even before the liberationist theologies were at their strongest, John Kromminga, then President of Calvin Theological Seminary, expressed concerns about the danger of "the obsolescence of doctrine." (24) While his book, All One Body We, is now almost thirty years old, it still serves as an excellent confessional critique of mainline ecumenism due to its very cautious and irenic tone. Rather than condemning the World Council outright, it seeks to assess what is positive as well as to argue what is negative from a biblical-confessional perspective.

As we, like Kromminga, critique the WCC, we must not forget that evangelicals have also been involved in ecumenical activities. Indeed, going back to even the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, one can find in the works of such Reformed stalwarts as John Owen and Jonathan Edwards, for example, discussions about the true basis for Christian unity and Christian cooperation amidst Christian differences. In this century, organizations like the National Association of Evangelicals (founded 1947), the World Evangelical Fellowship (founded 1951), and the International Congress on World Evangelization (first meeting in Lausanne in 1974) have helped evangelicals begin to think more globally and more ecumenically. (25) These organizations have much more explicit doctrinal bases than the World Council and are generally much more evangelistic (in the classic sense of the word) in their zeal. (26) Nevertheless, with the doctrinal "megashift" happening within Evangelicalism today, one wonders if some of the same tensions apparent in the World Council may affect the seemingly always-fluid movement known as Evangelicalism. (27)

A Concluding Thought Related to ECT

Since the 1960s, Rome has also been involved in many ecumenical activities. In 1965, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople lifted the mutual excommunication that had been in effect since the split between West and East in 1054. This, of course, opened new possibilities in Roman-Orthodox relations. Even before that, in 1961, John XXIII allowed Roman observers to sit in on the World Council Assembly at New Delhi (the Roman Archbishop of Chicago had forbidden Roman Catholics to attend the Evanston Assembly in 1954). A year later, he called the Second Vatican Council, which in its "Decree on Ecumenism" (1964) retained, on the one hand, the teaching that only through fellowship with the Roman Church could one find the means for the fullness of salvation, but, on the other, now called Christians not in communion with Rome "separated brethren" rather than "anathema." (28) Different Roman theologians have incorporated this idea differently, thus showing the level of diversity even within the Roman communion. What this has meant for our purposes is that since Vatican II there has been an increased desire from "official" Roman agencies to dialogue with those outside the Roman fold. Throughout this past generation, there have been Roman discussions with representative Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican bodies. Thus, ECT is nothing new even if it is more grassroots and has involved explicit evangelicals from both the old mainline and smaller more doctrinally conscious evangelical bodies.

Evangelical ignorance of ecumenical concerns outside of our usual spheres of fellowship and dialogue serves us poorly. For example, how many evangelicals, concerned over ECT I and II, whether favorably or disfavorably inclined, know about the discussions, for instance, between Rome and the Lutheran World Federation, between Rome and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and between Rome and the Anglican Communion, or of Rome's participation (albeit as a nonmember) in various activities of the World Council of Churches? (29) Indeed, while the original drafters of the ECT documents surely knew of these "official" efforts by Rome and various Protestant bodies to dialogue over matters of faith and order (including statements about justification), the ECT documents make little reference to them. (There is one quotation from the Baptist-Roman Catholic International Conversation of 1988 in ECT I in the section called "we witness together.") More direct reference would have been helpful since these more "official" dialogues help readers to see where Rome stands today vis-a-vis mainline Protestantism. More direct knowledge of Rome's discussions with the Orthodox Communion should be noted in this regard as well.

While grassroots discussion (what the ECT discussions claim to be) can be helpful in noting where certain individuals stand in terms of personal faith commitments, the more "official" pronouncements give a clearer grasp on where a particular communion presently stands and also some indication of where it is going. ECT I and II invite us to join hands across our confessional boundaries, to consider one another "brothers and sisters in Christ," and even to search for ways to engage in common witness and mission. These seem at first glance to be noble sentiments. After all, are not those involved in the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals doing something similar? From one not directly involved in the Alliance discussions but nevertheless sympathetic, it does indeed appear to be the case. There does, however, seem to be a difference. The agreements in a document like The Cambridge Declaration (Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, 1996) have a long standing in evangelical reflection. Yet, as we read the ECT documents, we find little mention of the official Roman Catholic stance let alone official Protestant stances of the varied communions represented by the individuals involved on issues such as the nature of true biblical faith, fellowship, and mission. Can the two sides really say "we affirm, contend, etc., together" unless they are agreed?

Americans like streamlined efficiency, and American evangelicals are all too often very American. (After all, ours is the culture that coined the phrase "your way, right away.") We are also quite individualistic, not willing to be patient with the pace of ecclesiastical reflection and debate. Yet the task of an "ecumenism of conviction and not accommodation" (to borrow the excellent phrase from Timothy George) takes time. (30) While the signers of ECT I and II always add the caveat that they speak not "for" but rather "from" and "to" their respective communions, (31) would not stating forthrightly that these are therefore merely "study documents" to be considered by the respective communions-and not actual "agreements"-enhance their value even if such a statement forced the signers to offer a more modest announcement?

1 [ Back ] Geoffrey Wainwright, "Ecumenical Movement" and "Ecumenism" in Daniel G. Reid, et al., eds., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 375-7. Also see Geoffrey Wainwright, The Ecumenical Movement (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983).
2 [ Back ] George Marsden, Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids:Eerdmans, 1987), 102-10.
3 [ Back ] See Norman Goodall, The Ecumenical Movement: What It Is and What It Means (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), 4-8. On Carey, see Kevin A. Miller, ed., "William Carey," Christian History, XI:4, and Timothy George, Faithful Witness: The Life and Mission of William Carey (New Hope, 1991).
4 [ Back ] On Mott, see R. V. Pierard, "Mott, John Raleigh," in Walter Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 739, "Mott, John Raleigh," in F. L. Cross, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Second Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), 945, and P. E. Pierson, "Mott, John Raleigh," in Daniel G. Reed, et al., eds., op.cit., 779-80. Each of these articles gives bibliographic information for further study of this ecumenical pioneer.
5 [ Back ] J. R. Mott, "Concluding Address," in Michael Kinnamon and Brian Cope, eds., The Ecumenical Movement (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 10-11. For more on Edinburgh 1910, see Goodall, op. cit., and "Edinburgh Conference (1910)" in Cross, op. cit., 444. The Cross citation notes that the Report published by this World Missionary Conference contained nine volumes of material.
6 [ Back ] Although it is an older work and some of the conclusions have been revised by more contemporary scholars, one nevertheless finds much information on the missionary and revivalistic impulses of the nineteenth century in Kenneth Scott Latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age, Volumes I-III (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969, originally published in 1958).
7 [ Back ] E.g., July/August 1998.
8 [ Back ] For a brief overview of nineteenth century theology, see Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson, Twentieth Century Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992).
9 [ Back ] See in this regard the 1997 policy statement of the World Council of Churches, Towards a Common Understanding and Vision of the World Council of Churches (Geneva, 1997). One can read this at
10 [ Back ] Many excellent theological and church history dictionaries contain brief yet very fine entries on "ecumenical movement," "ecumenism," and "World Council of Churches." Especially see the entries in Cross, op. cit., Elwell, op. cit., and Reid, op. cit. Goodall's work already noted also has much useful information even though it is a bit dated coming even before the joining of the IMC into the WCC. Another piece, coming from the World Council itself, might prove helpful to the reader: Marlin VanElderen, Introducing the World Council of Churches (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1990).
11 [ Back ] See Kinnamon and Cope, 11-15.
12 [ Back ] The book by Bishop Kallistos Ware published by Penguin, The Orthodox Church, serves as a fine guide for any reader unacquainted with yet interested in the Eastern Churches. One should remember that the Orthodox Church,while having a structure similar to Rome's, considers its regional churches to be "autocephalos." In other words, while the various Patriarchates are in communion with one another, there is no one central jurisdictional head to the Orthodox Church. Thus, each Patriarchate decides on its own its relationship to the World Council.
13 [ Back ] "An Appeal to All Christian People," in Kinnamon and Cope, op. cit., 81-83.
14 [ Back ] VanElderen, 19-20.
15 [ Back ] Ibid., 20.
16 [ Back ] On "Neo-Orthodoxy" see Grenz and Olson, op. cit.. In recommending Grenz and Olson here it should also be noted that they are more favorable toward Barth and Brunner than many other evangelicals might be. (There are also some evangelicals who might think they are too critical.) Nevertheless, they do provide a useful summary of some of the main concerns of this early and mid-twentieth century theological movement.
17 [ Back ] The interested reader with Internet access can read this document at
18 [ Back ] "The Amsterdam Message" in Kinnamon and Cope, 22.
19 [ Back ] P. A. Crow, "World Council of Churches," in Reid, op. cit., 1274.
20 [ Back ] 0Ibid.
21 [ Back ] On postliberalism and postmodernism, see the evangelical critique in Richard Lints, The Fabric of Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 191-257.
22 [ Back ] Once again, see Grenz and Olson, op. cit., for a survey and critique of these movements.
23 [ Back ] VanElderen, 6.
24 [ Back ] See John Kromminga, All One Body We (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970).
25 [ Back ] For a discussion of the International Congress of World Evangelization as well as its most representative documents, see John R. W. Stott, ed., Making Christ Known: Historic Documents from the Lausanne Movement, 1974-1989. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997).
26 [ Back ] For a brief but clear elucidation on evangelicals and ecumenism, see T. P. Weber, "Ecumenism" in Walter Elwell, op. cit., 342.
27 [ Back ] For a discussion of the "megashift" see the modernReformation issue of that title (January/February 1993), and Millard Erickson, The Evangelical Left (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997).
28 [ Back ] For the "Decree on Ecumenism," see Walter M. Abbott, ed., The Documents of Vatican II (New York: The American Press, 1966), 336-70.
29 [ Back ] For a short discussion of these dialogues, see the relevant articles in Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991).
30 [ Back ] Timothy George, "'The Gift of Salvation': A remarkable statement on what we mean by the gospel. An Evangelical Assessment by Timothy George," Christianity Today. December 8, 1997, 34.
31 [ Back ] The reader will find this caveat in the introductory remarks of most ECT statements.
Thursday, August 2nd 2007

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

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