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 > A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Global Christian Forum
Oct
25

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Global Christian Forum

Ecu­menism, Pen­te­costal­ism, and Evan­gel­i­cal­ism are all roughly the same age, but the lat­ter two have often had lit­tle to do with the for­mer. There are a num­ber of rea­sons for this. One is the long­stand­ing dis­trust between Protes­tants and Catholics, the one group not infre­quently doubt­ing whether the other even qual­i­fies as Chris­t­ian; added to this is the estrange­ment between “main­line” Protes­tants on the one side and Evan­gel­i­cal and Pen­te­costal Protes­tants on the other—ecumenical orga­ni­za­tions have tended to be dom­i­nated by main­line Protestants.

One con­cern Evan­gel­i­cals and Pen­te­costals have often had is the loss of the mis­sion­ary spirit among ecumenically-minded Christians—a ter­ri­ble irony, con­sid­er­ing that ecu­menism was born at the Edin­burgh Mis­sion­ary Con­fer­ence in 1910. The Inter­na­tional Mis­sion­ary Coun­cil that was formed as a result of the Edin­burgh con­fer­ence even­tu­ally joined the World Coun­cil of Churches in 1961; many Evan­gel­i­cals left in protest. 1974 saw the for­ma­tion of the Lau­sanne Com­mit­tee for World Evan­ge­liza­tion, fol­low­ing a Con­gress in the same place and year, at the ini­tia­tive of the Amer­i­can evan­ge­list Billy Gra­ham. There 2500 Evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers from 150 coun­tries recom­mit­ted them­selves to world evan­ge­liza­tion in sign­ing the Lau­sanne Covenant. Clearly enough, they weren’t impressed by the WCC’s abil­ity to keep up the mis­sion­ary task of the church.

This non­in­volve­ment of up to half a bil­lion of the world’s Chris­tians in the offi­cial chan­nels of the ecu­meni­cal move­ment was a mat­ter of par­tic­u­lar con­cern to Kon­rad Raiser, who was the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the WCC from 1993 to 2004. In the mid-1990s Raiser began to explore the idea of a “new initiative”—definitely not a new insti­tu­tion, nor a “front” to draw new churches into the WCC, but a place for con­ver­sa­tion and build­ing friend­ships with spe­cial atten­tion to Evan­gel­i­cal, Pen­te­costal, and Inde­pen­dent churches, and also parachurch-type orga­ni­za­tions that have been ecu­meni­cally sig­nif­i­cant, like the YMCA, national coun­cils of churches, and so on.

Nearly annual con­sul­ta­tions took place from the late 1990s into the early years of the new mil­len­nium, even­tu­ally devel­op­ing Raiser’s idea into the Global Chris­t­ian Forum. The Forum has its own dis­tinct meth­ods and strate­gies that are dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent from the WCC. For instance, Pen­te­costals, Evan­gel­i­cals, and Inde­pen­dents are delib­er­ately “over­rep­re­sented” to com­prise at least half of the Forum’s par­tic­i­pants, com­pen­sat­ing for their “under­rep­re­sen­ta­tion” else­where, as well as to demon­strate the will­ing­ness of “ecu­meni­cal vet­er­ans” to be in the minority.

The Forum also focuses largely on per­sonal nar­ra­tives, a style of dis­course more nat­ural to the Pen­te­costal and Evan­gel­i­cal world, often uncom­fort­able for main­line or tra­di­tional Chris­tians. Yet this has been remark­ably effec­tive in reveal­ing the shared Chris­t­ian faith across bound­aries pre­vi­ously thought to be imper­me­able. It is too early to tell, of course, but the signs are promis­ing that Evan­gel­i­cals and Pen­te­costals are becom­ing ready to com­mit them­selves to the repa­ra­tion of the bro­ken church.

Be Socia­ble, Share!

2 Responses to A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Global Christian Forum

    Jed Wilson says:

    Inter­est­ing and some­what related post here http://www.faithandleadership.duke.edu/blog/10–27-2010/jason-byassee-cells-the-body-christ

    1 more day for you as I write this!!

    Grace & Peace,
    Love,
    Jed

    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

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

    Brought to you by...

    ...you!