Thursday, 20 August 2009

Up The Tiber With A Boat And No Paddle

Ecumenism is 'in' at the moment; I mean ecumenism of the kind that seeks to bring Protestants and Catholics together with the aim of finding unity together, either through the means of joint evangelistic efforts or through dialogues thrashing out our differences til we all come to a common denominator. The Lutheran and Catholic joint declaration on justification is an example of such dialogue. At first glance it looks hope-giving, yet after further reflection you'll notice that words like 'grace' and 'faith' are largely undefined leaving one with the impression that the 'unity' fostered by the document is built on slippery terms.

Yet, is justification the only thing that Protestants should be concerned about in ecumenical dialogue? Mark Noll has even written a book arguing that the the reformation is now redundant! Wow! I didn't realise that Rome had repented of the blasphemy committed every Sunday at the mass, and of Marian devotion, and of the Papacy, and of the enforced celibacy of ministers and of the rampant pederasty among the clergy and of....oh wait, they haven't repented - DOH!

So in the light of these serious doctrinal and ecclesiastical concerns, the un-PC question one must ask is: is cooperation in the evangelistic sphere wise? For instance, would the apostles have held joint evangelistic rallies(!) with the 'angel worshippers' of Colossae and then entrust new converts to those who, through such practises, had been 'cut of from Christ' (Col 2:19)?


Donald Ferguson said...

There is really no need to get worked up about theological dialogue with RC’s as the major stumbling blocks will always be liturgical and ecclesiological. As Protestants we can sometimes forget that Roman Catholics [and even more so Orthodox believers] can view theology as grounded in or flowing from liturgy. As far as the Roman and Orthodox Churches are concerned ecclesiastical and liturgical compromise is less likely then theological compromise.

Young Mr. Brown said...

Ecumenism and Unity seem to be in fashion a lot of the time. It's not just between Protestants and Catholics; it's also between the evangelical and liberal wings of denominations like the Church of Scotland.

And the similarities go further. Just as a an impression of agreement between Lutherans and Roman Catholics is maintained by ensuring that "words like 'grace' and 'faith' are largely undefined", so an impression of unity in the Church of Scotland is maintained by allowing every theological word in the book to remain undefined.

JohnGreenview said...

Appreciate blog and both comments above.

Evangelical or Gospel Faith (as I would prefer to call it), the Faith (as a body of truth)apostolically once and for all given to God's people, is in the melting pot with a ferocity not seen for some time - at least among professing evangelicals.

Dividing lines between Catholic and Protestant, conservative and liberal, Reformed and Arminian are blurred and obsfucated. Truth and unity no longer seem to be held in tension rather unity regularly occludes truth.

A futher mix in the cauldron is rampant individualism. People may believe as they wish and local churches will take no disciplinary action. Few are willing to call 'Heresy!'.

Of course this discount of truth in the church is simply an echo of a world that no longer believes truth exists, indeed it believes promoting truth claims is dangerous. It is quite in order to hold personal truth views, even praiseworthy, but anathema to impose them on others.

It is not hard to see why unity apart from truth and the demise of church discipline for heresy pervades in a church influenced more by the world than the Word.

JohnGreenview said...

PS even 'obfuscated'.