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Ecumenism – Any Hope For 21st Century Pluralistic Culture?

Monday, December 17, 2018

The goal of ecumenism (objective organic unity of Christian denominations) has been highly elusive for the church. During the last half of the twentieth century many Christian denominations have made great effort to develop closer relationships and understandings. Mergers were realized among groups such as the Methodists, Presbyterians and Lutherans. Still, ecumenism remained an un-ending series of high hurdles to cross over (as was the case with plenary sessions of the Consultation on Church Union 1960). I believe ecumenism as we envision it to be will continue to be elusive in America, especially since the idea of America has been built upon pluralism and the freedom of religion. It is Christ’s wish that we come together (Jn. 17:21), though the path is difficult (not impossible).

Matters of doctrine and the practice of theology is a good start – justification by faith and the sacraments are two topics that have divided the church for decades. And since America can still be described as having a ‘quest culture,’ the church can seek common ground on issues such as liberty in worship versus ‘an American Christianity,’ matters of justice and care for the less fortunate, active involvement on social issues without going too far left or right, the role of women in the church and ordination, and combined efforts at worldwide evangelism. With continued growth as a result of immigration and globalization, changes in migration patterns, the increased practice of Christianity in regions like Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, there will be need of multicultural exchanges regarding the practice of religion in these diverse societies.  Will the western model of Christianity be continually forced upon these new or maturing cultures?

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