Monday, September 28, 2009

In the house of "mere Christianity"

Several posts at this blog have been about what has been called "honest ecumenism," that is, ecumenism that does not ignore or minimize the real doctrinal differences that do exist, but does focus on real areas of agreement. Touchstone Magazine exemplifies the effort to do just that. S.M. Hutchens on "Ecumenical Conferring":
.... As a rule I cannot get excited about ecumenical conferences, even conservative ones, because I am convinced that too many are given on the presumption that if only people get to understand each other (to eliminate prejudice born of ignorance) better relations will ensue. Not necessarily. Closer examination of other people’s thoughts and way of thinking, even though bathed in good will and high expectation, may well lead to stronger conviction than ever that they are fools, and probably damned fools at that—in wondering how anyone professing both faith and reason can be tempted to hold to the pernicious nonsense these people do, and the fleeting thought that the world would be better without them. I have seen this happen—in myself.

Of course, I am all for eliminating prejudice born of ignorance, and conferring can, if blessed, be good for that. But most of the conferences in which I have been most intimately involved are not places where much ignorance has been dispelled because there has been very little ignorance in them of the other Christians’ beliefs....

For this reason I am not much interested in dialogues between learned Christian conservatives with the ostensible purpose of improving understanding. There is less of this to be done than one might think. Rather, what has always interested me is meeting on the basis of agreement that we already have—or have good reason to believe we have—for purposes related to our common interests as Christians, in the house of what has been called “mere Christianity.” .... [more]
Touchstone Magazine - Mere Comments: Ecumenical Conferring

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