Our Latest Photos

Dreams Bliss Heather Mill Extra Virgin Calanque Old Desert Gull Mediterranean Forest of Masts Little Bird Wind Blown

View Our Entire Photostream

You Are Here: Theology > Mission, Ecumenism, Two Anniversaries, and Big Big Lies
Aug
24

Mission, Ecumenism, Two Anniversaries, and Big Big Lies

Since this year is the 500th anniver­sary of Luther’s jour­ney to Rome, we’re fol­low­ing his trail and walk­ing to Rome our­selves and blog­ging about Luther. But another anniver­sary this year is what made us real­ize that this needed to be an ecu­meni­cal project with a big­ger focus than Luther him­self. This year is the 100th anniver­sary of the ecu­meni­cal move­ment, which started at the Edin­burgh Mis­sion­ary Con­fer­ence in 1910.

That’s right: ecu­menism is the child of mis­sion. The neg­a­tive expe­ri­ence of export­ing old quar­rels and com­pet­ing in new lands for mem­bers drove Chris­tians to reassess their rela­tion­ships to one another. So what does it mean that the ecu­meni­cal move­ment arose dur­ing the same cen­tury with the great­est mis­sion­ary push in all of church his­tory? What is the core insight that they share even as these move­ments have in many respects gone their sep­a­rate ways?

My guess is this: both the mis­sion move­ment and the ecu­meni­cal move­ment came about because the church could no longer go on telling lies about itself.

In the domain of mis­sion, the church too com­fort­ably equated Chris­tian­ity with Euro­pean and Amer­i­can civ­i­liza­tion. It mis­took right wor­ship for its own his­toric pat­terns. It feared and attacked syn­cretism with reli­gions and ide­olo­gies around the world but failed to rec­og­nize how much it was doing the same back at home. It thought ter­ri­tory and liv­ing faith were the same thing.

In the domain of ecu­menism, the churches defended their own his­tory and iden­tity by mak­ing the worst pos­si­ble pre­sen­ta­tion of other churches’ his­tory and iden­tity. The churches attacked each other and yet needed each other to strengthen their own sense of supe­ri­or­ity. The churches had to ignore the real faith, the real wis­dom, the real saints, and the real virtues of each other, or else their own claim to be the true church would fail.

After so many cen­turies of liv­ing off these lies, the churches just couldn’t sus­tain it any­more. The truth pressed too hard up against them and they had to face real­ity. What they thought was church needed to come under seri­ous examination.

That’s what both mis­sion and ecu­menism force every church and every Chris­t­ian to do: to reex­am­ine, with a repen­tant heart, what it means to be a church and to be a Chris­t­ian. Noth­ing but the sharpest and clear­est truth will do. Noth­ing but the great­est and most gen­er­ous love will do. Only through the long pil­grim­age in love and toward truth can we become more gen­uinely the church that Christ desires to be one, just as he and the Father are one.

Be Socia­ble, Share!

Related Posts

5 Responses to Mission, Ecumenism, Two Anniversaries, and Big Big Lies

    Steve Godsall-Myers says:

    Greet­ings from Harleysville, PA. Last time we talked (with Sarah) it was in Wit­ten­berg. Glad to know your are on this jour­ney. I will be ‘trav­el­ing’ with you and hope to get my Con­fir­ma­tion class to join later this Sep­tem­ber. will you be mak­ing any Mennonite-Anabaptist con­nec­tions. We will be deep­en­ing our ecu­meni­cla rela­tion­ships in our area dis­cussing the LWF Stuttgart actions with our Men­non­ite neigh­bors here in PA. God be with you. Steve Godsall-Myers

    Mark Muenchow says:

    Satan must love it when Chris­t­ian churches treat each other like the enemy and think we are in com­pe­ti­tion with each other. We need to remem­ber who truly is our spir­i­tual foe!

    Freida Sullivan says:

    I am pray­ing for suc­cess of your mis­sion. I am going to be re-examining by own walk as a Lutheran and get­ting
    rein­tro­duces to Luther. God bless you both. Freida

    One of the 17th cen­tury Jesuits doing mis­sion­ary work in North Amer­ica, in the Lake Huron region, felt it nec­es­sary to remind his fel­low mis­sion­ar­ies as well as the read­ers back home that not every cul­tural dif­fer­ence was the work of the devil. He didn’t write it in quite those words, of course, and he didn’t write it in Eng­lish. I think it’s some­where in the Jesuit Relations.

    Dunno what he would have said about any Luther­ans who might have tried to encroach on their territory.

    Pingback: Ecumenists Cross the Tiber » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Follow Us!

Facebook Twitter RSS Feed Email

Facebook Fans...

Tweets...

    Tags

    Baroque Switzerland Edinburgh Missionary Conference penance One Mediator Saints and Mary consensus Bavaria predestination spirituality St. James misunderstanding different traditions German relics spiritual ecumenism freedom hiking Neresheim Mortalium Animos Nördlingen truth and love Otto Hermann Pesch Lutheran World Federation Germany Lutheran monks anti-Judaism Melanchthon Vaduz convergence mission Augsburg Confession Robert Louis Stevenson justification Lutheran Christ Augustine anti-Semitism Franciscan Unitatis Redintegratio Augustinian eucharist Biel Martin Luther Witness to Jesus Christ St. Augustine House Vierzehnheiligen Creeds righteousness university pilgrimage post-pilgrimage Sweden sacraments ecumenism differentiated consensus amen Austria Babylonian Captivity Coburg Zapfendorf Mediterranean marriage grace faith Reformation Confessions Erfurt Finland Large Catechism church Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Henri de Lubac Reformed translation Mary Cardinal Kasper Thomas Aquinas Apology to the Augsburg Confession Johannes Tauler Alps nature of God Bamberg Apennines charismatic Vorarlberg gift Holy Spirit Orthodox Renaissance Dominican language Anabaptist Pentecostal reception God Oettingen Emilia-Romagna Kilian McDonnell Rhine Chiavenna miracle Commentary on the Magnificat Nuremberg patience honesty spiritual disciplines 95 theses Roanoke Australia Lombardy Bach Advent St. Augustine Jews monk memmingen promise Scripture change forgiveness Wittenberg Lazio 8th commandment Calvin church-dividing cities baptism law and gospel Allgäu Siena theology of the cross Mennonite Luther conversion Bible Ambrose Liechtenstein Rick Steves Eisfeld Bregenz good works dialogue word Strasbourg mediator saints Kempten Gutenberg Bernard of Clairvaux Italy liturgy Florence Staupitz John Wesley marble rain mystics St. Peter Ten Commandments walk vernacular Friar Joint Declaration prayer Protestant Dante monasticism worship Heidelberg Disputation World Council of Churches Baptism Eucharist and Ministry mysticism Santiago de Compostela unity specialization canal ecumenical concepts Benedictine Leuenberg Agreement Via Francigena Rome Small Catechism St. Paul Volker Leppin communion Freedom of a Christian Milan love fasting Institute for Ecumenical Research Liguria sanctification Lent Geneva martyr Augsburg College Methodist Catholic Vatican 2 Ulm Tuscany

    Brought to you by...

    ...you!