What is Ecumenical?

Vol. 5.1 | Spring 2019

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one,Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

John 17:20-21

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

Psalm 133

We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible…

The First Ecumenical Council at Nicea, 325

It is safe to say that, besides the emergence of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements, no development has so reshaped the essence of Christianity as has the ecumenical movement. Support for this statement can be found in the fact that since Vatican Council II in the 1960s, even the Roman Catholic Church has opened its doors to ecumenism, even though – like Pentecostals – it is not a member of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Pneumatology: The Holy Spirit in Ecumenical, International, and Contextual Perspective, p. 99

While denominational affiliations are still significant, because they provide the historical context for theological reflection, theology has become ecumenical. This is true within the Protestant fold, but also beyond it.

Hans Schwarz, Theology in a Global Context, p. 576

Our differences dissipate when we recognize that Christ is the link in our kinship with other Christians. Christ’s death on the cross procured our reconciliation with our Father in heaven. We are no longer estranged from our Creator. When Christ ascended he promised us the Holy Spirit, who would enable us to incarnate Christ’s reconciliation to the world. When we claim Christ’s identity as our own, therefore, we also accept the calling to be bearers of reconciliation. For the brothers, this begins with the loving acceptance of our neighbor, because both we and our neighbor are accepted by Christ.

Jason Brian Santos, A Community Called Taizé, p. 128

In this volume, we explore the second theological identifier of Resonance: ecumencial. When we say we are “evangelical, ecumenical, and orthodox,” we have in mind a generous community of dialogue and learning that remains grounded in the historical foundations of the Christian church. These identifiers are the boundary markers, the banks of a wide stream that moves and flows through a variety of contexts and theologies. But what do these boundary markers mean? Specifically for this volume, what is ecumenical? What are the historical, theological, and contextual implications for affirming ecumenical engagement? What are ecumenical theological essentials? What does it mean to participate in ecumenism? What is the recent history of the ecumenical movement? Where might it be heading? We invite you to explore these questions and more in this upcoming volume of Resonance.  

A Few Examples of Potential Lines of Inquiry (Arranged within the chiastic pattern of the issue)

This is not a restrictive list. It is simply a way to spark your thoughts.

Liturgy (exploring the theme in practices of Christian worship)

  • What is the significance of ecumenical practices of worship?
  • How has the church historically gathered in unity across different liturgical/denominational traditions?

Scripture (exploring the theme through scriptural exegesis)

  • What is the meaning and implication for Jesus’ unity prayer in John 17?
  • How does Paul emphasize the theme of unity in his letters?
  • Explore the theme of unity in Psalm 133
  • Exegete key ecumenical themes from the OT and/or NT

Witness (exploring the theme through the experience of Christian discipleship)

  • Describe an ecumenical experience. What did you learn? How did you grow? What challenged you? What was comforting? Disconcerting?
  • Trace the ecumenical journey of a recent figure or community, such as Brother Roger and the Taizé Community, or the Iona Community

Tradition (exploring the theme through historic and/or systematic theology)

  • Describe key elements of “ecumenical” theology
  • Research the growth and trajectory of the ecumenical movement in the 20th century (i.e. the World Council of Churches, WCC).
  • What is the significance of the ecumenical councils in the early church for the development of Christian faith and theology?

Crux (central article by a special guest)

  • By invitation only.

Proposal Deadline: October 26, 2018
Article Submission Deadline: December 1, 2018

Would You Like to Participate in this Volume?