success stories

Posted March 13, 2004

Book: The Ecumenical Future
Editors: Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson

An excerpt from the jacket:

“The Ecumenical Future states clearly that the crisis currently facing the ecumenical movement is too deep to be overcome simply by the creation of new institutions or the reorganization of existing ones. It is indeed a crisis of identity. This crisis becomes evident particularly in the confusion that characterizes the setting of the aims of the ecumenical movement. If the original aim of full visible unity in faith, sacraments, and church ministries is abandoned in favor of a peaceful coexistence or cooperation for peace and justice in the world, such a change of paradigms can only lead to an all-dissolving relativism . . . The authors rightly underline that ecumenical progress is possible only by reclaiming the original project of ecumenism and focusing on the fundamental ecumenical question of the nature and mission of the church . . .What we need to do is to actualize fully the unity bestowed on us by overcoming the scandal of schisms and reviving the missionary nature of the church which is so essential nowadays. We can overcome this crisis only by going back to the original theological and spiritual impulse of the ecumenical movement. Such a lively impulse is given by The Ecumenical Future — an impulse that I gladly welcome and strongly support.” Walter Cardinal Kasper

An excerpt from the book:

It is time to add my paraphrase to the that introduced this exercise:

“Greetings from the Jewish brothers and sisters in leadership, to the Antiochian and Syrian and Cilician Gentile brothers and sisters. We hear that some from among us trouble and unsettle you with their words. We did not ask them to do this. So we have agreed to send teachers of our choosing back with Barnabas and Paul, whom we love just as you do. Judas and Silas have put themselves on the line for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They will affirm the same things in person. The Holy Spirit fell upon you, burdening you with nothing more besides these necessary things; avoiding idolatry, and blood, and what is strangled, and immorality. We agree with God’s decision. Styaing away from these things, you will get along fine.”

Deciding more would have misread the Spirit, and might have cost Jerusalem its fellowship with Antioch, let alone with the Pauline communities. Deciding less would have left the crisis to heal itself, which of course it would not have done, and might still have cost the communities their unity. The Mother Church managed to steer clear of either course, for it both saw clearly and trusted others to see clearly what it could not see for them. The results were uneven, but successful. The new teaching strengthened rather than alienated Jerusalem and its sister churches.

Then is now. We are those churches. We bear no greater burden besides these necessary things: to see God and the world through the eyes of Jesus, to discern the unpredictable consistency of the Spirit, to write what we see, and to know when to stop.

Table of Contents:

A survey of ecumenical reflection about unity
William G. Rusch

The global structures of ecumenism
Geoffrey Wainwright

The ecclesial context of ecumenical reception: a case study
David S. Yeago

The debilitation of churches
R.R. Reno

Rebuilding the structure of love: the quest for visible unity among churches
Brian E. Daley, S.J.

Essential unity and lived communion: the interrelation of the unity we have and the unity we seek
Michael Root

Issues and perspectives in Roman Catholic ecclesiology today
Susan K. Wood

The possible contribution of papal authority to church unity: an Anglican/Episcopalian perspective
J. Robert Wright

The one true Church: thoughts concerning an ecumenical conundrum
John H. Erickson

The crisis of orthodox ecclesiology
Vigen Guroian

Ecumenism and the rocky road to renewal
William J. Abraham

Agents of unity: problems an prospects for a broadened ecumenical participation
P. Mark Achtemeier

Speaking for the Spirit in the time of division
Telford Work

“It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us”: Mission and ecumenism in the power of the Holy Spirit
Lois Malcolm