Friday, April 14, 2006

Getting ecumenical

I must be getting old or something. Recently I've been getting more and more ecumenical in my outlook. I can remember the days when I used to avoid ecumenical church gatherings (i.e. meetings between members of different church denominations, often to discuss common ground or share communion together - and I suppose that is more or less common ground for us all), largely because I thought that the part of the church that I adhered to was more correct than many of the other parts who would be joining in in the meeting. I guess I thought that meetings in a church who do things wrong were largely a waste of time.

However, recently my thoughts have been more along these lines:

  1. The whole point of the church (global - including protestant, catholic and orthodox) is to be the bride of Christ - a body of people in relationship with God.
  2. God is continually preparing the bride for her wedding - He is actively involved in getting the church to the state He wants it to be in.
  3. Therefore, the majority of the church cannot be 'wrong'. Sure there might be bits that stray too far from the truth and need removed - the bride might need to loose a few pounds here and there - but on the whole the majority must be more or less on the right lines.
  4. Therefore, it is the common ground between the denominations (e.g. the Lordship of Christ, celebrating communion, etc.) that is important and not those little things that separate us (e.g. infant or believers baptism, veneration of the virgin Mary, etc.)
I now believe that we should be seeking to abolish the boundaries between all the different denominations of the church - between presbyterian and baptist, between protestant and catholic, etc. and ecumenical services may be part of the way ahead.

The joint Good Friday service in my community today is in the Catholic chapel. Perhaps I should go...


Karuna said...

Hiya, I think so too. I am glad someone thought of that. Its high time we all got together. In a family there will be different personalities of people, however different they may be they will always be a family.

God Bless and Happy Easter.

Chris Hamer-Hodges said...

Hi Ricky,
I was really encouraged by this post. You should share what you do believe in more often! It comes across really well.

The ultimate purpose of Christ for his Church is a truly exciting and inspiring truth to grasp. He has destroyed every wall of hostility and is indeed actively preparing his bride to be found spotless and ready on the day of his coming. God only has one Church, however it may look from the outside.

However, I don't believe that reaching maturity in the faith can ever be achieved by us all accepting the lowest common denominator. I do believe with all my heart that Christ's prayers in John 17 to have a united church will come to pass... but I have my own doubt to confess... I don't see how it can come through ecumenical means.

Ricky Carvel said...


Thanks for commenting. And its largely as a result of your blog and that sermon you put online a few weeks back that I've been thinking about what it means that the church is (or will be) the bride of Christ.

However, I'm not sure that the global church's shared belief in the Lordship of Christ is, in any way, a 'lowest common denominator'. He is what unites us and that trancends all the tiny little things (in comparison) that separate us.

A few years ago I read the book "The Meaning of Jesus" by Tom Wright and Marcus Borg - two theologians from almost opposite ends of the liberal-evangelical spectrum. They both contributed chapters on each of several fundamental issues about Christ. And the thing that struck me throughout the book was the amazing amount of agreement between the two ends of the spectrum. What unites us is so much greater than what separates us.

And I believe the real reason that 'ecumenical means' don't appear to be working is that, generally speaking, the evangelicals stay away, so such meetings are not truly ecumenical.

(But having said all that, I never did make it to the joint Good Friday service in the Catholic chapel... maybe next time.)