Ecumenism

Ecumenism

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Ecumenism or oecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation. It is used predominantly by and with reference to Christian denominations and Christian Church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

es separated by doctrine
Doctrine
Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system...

, history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, and practice. Within this particular context, the term ecumenism refers to the idea of a Christian unity in the literal meaning: that there should be a single Christian Church.

The word contrasts with interfaith
Interfaith
The term interfaith dialogue refers to cooperative, constructive and positive interaction between people of different religious traditions and/or spiritual or humanistic beliefs, at both the individual and institutional levels...

 dialogue or interfaith pluralism aimed at unity or cooperation among diverse religions and referring to a worldwide 'religious unity' by the advocacy of a greater sense of shared spirituality
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

.

The word is derived from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

  (oikoumene
Oikoumene
Ecumene is a term originally used in the Greco-Roman world to refer to the inhabited universe . The term derives from the Greek , short for "inhabited world"...

), which means "the whole inhabited world", and was historically used with specific reference to the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. The ecumenical vision comprises both the search for the visible unity of the Church (Ephesians 4.3) and the 'whole inhabited earth' (Matthew 24.14) as the concern of all Christians.

In Christianity the qualification ecumenical is originally (and still) used in terms such as "Ecumenical council
Ecumenical council
An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice....

" and "Ecumenical patriarch" in the meaning of pertaining to the totality of the larger Church (such as the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church) rather than being restricted to one of its constituent churches or diocese
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

s. Used in this original sense, the term carries no connotation of re-uniting the historically separated Christian denominations.

Christian ecumenism and interfaith pluralism


Ecumenism is the movement within Christianity that aims at "the recovery in thought, in action, and in organization, of the true unity between the Church's mission to the world (its apostolate) and the Church's obligation to be one." Thus, ecumenism is the promotion of unity or cooperation between distinct religious groups or denominations of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. Ecumenism is distinguished from and should not be misused to mean interfaith pluralism
Religious pluralism
Religious pluralism is a loosely defined expression concerning acceptance of various religions, and is used in a number of related ways:* As the name of the worldview according to which one's religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus that at least some truths and true values...

. The interfaith
Interfaith
The term interfaith dialogue refers to cooperative, constructive and positive interaction between people of different religious traditions and/or spiritual or humanistic beliefs, at both the individual and institutional levels...

 movement strives for greater mutual respect, toleration, and co-operation among the world religions. Interfaith dialogue between representatives of diverse faiths, does not necessarily intend reconciling their adherents into full, organic unity
Organic unity
Organic Unity is the idea that a thing is made up of interdependent parts. For example, a body is made up of its constituent organs, or a society is made up of its constituent social roles....

 with one another but simply to promote better relations.
For some Catholics it may, but not always, have the goal of reconciling all who profess Christian faith to bring them into a single, visible organization, i.e. through union with the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

.

For some Protestants spiritual unity, and often unity on the church's teachings on central issues, suffices. According to Lutheran theologian Edmund Schlink
Edmund Schlink
Edmund Schlink was a leading German Lutheran theologian in the modern ecumenical movement, especially in the World Council of Churches. Because his career began at the time of Hitler's rise to power in Germany, Schlink’s life, theology, and witness to Christ were shaped by what he called, "Grace...

, most important in Christian ecumenism is that people focus primarily on Christ, not on separate church organizations. In Schlink's book Ökumenische Dogmatik (1983), he says Christians who see the risen Christ at work in the lives of various Christians or in diverse churches, realize that the unity of Christ's church has never been lost, but has instead been distorted and obscured by different historical experiences and by spiritual myopia. Both are overcome in renewed faith in Christ. Included in that is responding to his admonition (John 17; also Philippians 2) to be one in him and love one another as a witness to the world. The result of mutual recognition would be a discernible worldwide fellowship, organized in a historically new way.

Standing against the modern ecumenist movement is the traditional Orthodox Church which staunchly maintains there is but one Church, and Orthodoxy is the Church. Thus, theories like "sister church" or "two lungs" are generally rejected, because in its view the Church is theologically indivisible. Leading the anti ecumenical movement in the 1980s was Fr. John Boylan of the OCA
Orthodox Church in America
The Orthodox Church in America is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church in North America. Its primate is Metropolitan Jonah , who was elected on November 12, 2008, and was formally installed on December 28, 2008...

.

An example of ecumenism is the invention of and growing usage of the Christian Flag
Christian Flag
The Christian Flag is a flag designed in the early 20th century to represent all of Christianity and Christendom, and has been most popular among Christian churches in North America, Africa and Latin America. The flag has a white field, with a red Latin cross inside a blue canton. The shade of red...

, which was designed to represent all of Christendom
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

. The flag has a white field
Flag terminology
Flag terminology is a jargon used in vexillology, the study of flags, to describe precisely the parts, patterns, and other attributes of flags and their display.-Description of standard flag parts and terms:...

, with a red Latin cross inside a blue canton
Flag terminology
Flag terminology is a jargon used in vexillology, the study of flags, to describe precisely the parts, patterns, and other attributes of flags and their display.-Description of standard flag parts and terms:...

.

The Ecumenical Movement


The general understanding of the Ecumenical movement is that it came from the Catholic church attempt to reconcile with Christians who had separated over theological issues, but that isn’t all that took place in the movement. After World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 the Catholic Church was not the only church who began to make changes amongst their denomination. The world war had brought much devastation to many people. The church became a source of hope to those in need. In 1948 the first meeting of the World Council of Churches took place. Despite the fact that the meeting had been postponed due to world war 2, the council took place in Amsterdam with the theme of “Man’s Disorder and God’s Design.” The focus of the church and the council following the gathering was on the damage created by the 2nd World War. The council and the movement went forward to continue the efforts of unity the church globally around the idea of helping all those in need whether it be a physical, emotional, or spiritual need. The movement led to an understanding amongst the churches that despite difference they could join together to be an element of great change in the world. To be an agent of hope and peace amongst the chaos and destruction that humans seem to create. More importantly the council and the movement lead to not only ecumenism but to the forming of councils amongst the denominations that connected churches across continental lines.

Three approaches to Christian unity


For a significant part of the Christian world, one of the highest aims is the reconciliation of the various denominations by overcoming the historical divisions within Christianity. Still, approaches to ecumenism varies, i.e. while generally Protestants see it as agreements on teachings about central issues of faith, an organizational unity with mutual accountability between the parts, for Catholics and Orthodox the Christendom unity is approached within their more concrete understanding of the Body of Christ
Body of Christ
In Christian theology, the term Body of Christ has two separate connotations: it may refer to Jesus's statement about the Eucharist at the Last Supper that "This is my body" in , or the explicit usage of the term by the Apostle Paul in to refer to the Christian Church.Although in general usage the...

 metaphor, this ecclesiological matter being closely linked to key theological issues (i.e. the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

), demanding full dogmatic agreement before full communion
Full communion
In Christian ecclesiology, full communion is a relationship between church organizations or groups that mutually recognize their sharing the essential doctrines....

. Thus, there are different answers even to the question What is the Church?
Ecclesiology
Today, ecclesiology usually refers to the theological study of the Christian church. However when the word was coined in the late 1830s, it was defined as the science of the building and decoration of churches and it is still, though rarely, used in this sense.In its theological sense, ecclesiology...

, which finally is the goal of the ecumenist movement itself. However, the desire of unity is expressed by many denominations of Christendom
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

, generally that all who profess faith in Christ in sincerity, would be more fully cooperative and supportive of one another.

For the Catholic and Orthodox churches, the process of approaching one another is formally split in two successive stages: the "dialogue of love" and the "dialogue of truth." To the former belong the mutual revocation in 1965 of the anathema
Anathema
Anathema originally meant something lifted up as an offering to the gods; it later evolved to mean:...

s of 1054 (see below Contemporary developments), returning the relics of Sabbas the Sanctified
Sabbas the Sanctified
Saint Sabbas the Sanctified , a Cappadocian-Greek monk, priest and saint, lived mainly in Palaestina Prima. He was the founder of several monasteries, most notably the one known as Mar Saba...

 (a common saint) to Mar Saba
Mar Saba
The Great Lavra of St. Sabbas the Sanctified, known in Arabic as Mar Saba , is a Greek Orthodox monastery overlooking the Kidron Valley in the West Bank east of Bethlehem. The traditional date for the founding of the monastery by Saint Sabas of Cappadocia is the year 483 and today houses around 20...

 in the same year, and the first visit of a Pope to an Orthodox country in a millennium (Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 John Paul II accepting the invitation of the Patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

 of the Romanian Orthodox Church
Romanian Orthodox Church
The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch...

, Teoctist, in 1999), among others. The later one, involving effective theological talks on matters of dogma, has yet to happen.

Christian ecumenism can be described in terms of the three largest divisions of Christianity: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant. While this underemphasizes the complexity of these divisions, it is a useful model.

Roman Catholicism



The Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 has always considered it a duty of the highest rank to seek full unity with estranged communions of fellow-Christians, and at the same time to reject what it saw as promiscuous and false union that would mean being unfaithful to or glossing over the teaching of Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

Before the Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

, the main stress was laid on this second aspect, as exemplified in canon 1258 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law:
  1. It is illicit for the faithful to assist at or participate in any way in non-Catholic religious functions.
  2. For a serious reason requiring, in case of doubt, the Bishop's approval, passive or merely material presence at non-Catholic funerals, weddings and similar occasions because of holding a civil office or as a courtesy can be tolerated, provided there is no danger of perversion or scandal.


The 1983 Code of Canon Law has no corresponding canon. It absolutely forbids Catholic priests to concelebrate the Eucharist with members of communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church (canon 908), but allows, in certain circumstances and under certain conditions, other sharing in the sacraments. And the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, 102 states: "Christians may be encouraged to share in spiritual activities and resources, i.e., to share that spiritual heritage they have in common in a manner and to a degree appropriate to their present divided state."

Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII
-Papal election:Following the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, Roncalli was elected Pope, to his great surprise. He had even arrived in the Vatican with a return train ticket to Venice. Many had considered Giovanni Battista Montini, Archbishop of Milan, a possible candidate, but, although archbishop...

, who convoked the Council that brought this change of emphasis about, said that the Council's aim was to seek renewal of the Church itself, which would serve, for those separated from the See of Rome, as a "gentle invitation to seek and find that unity for which Jesus Christ prayed so ardently to his heavenly Father."

Some elements of the Roman Catholic perspective on ecumenism are illustrated in the following quotations from the Council's decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio
Unitatis Redintegratio
Unitatis Redintegratio is the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism. It was passed by a vote of 2,137 to 11 of the bishops assembled and was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964...

of 21 November 1964, and Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

's encyclical, Ut Unum Sint
Ut Unum Sint
Ut Unum Sint is the incipit of an encyclical by Pope John Paul II of May 25, 1995. Encyclicals are referred to by their "incipit" or first few words...

of 25 May 1995.
While some Eastern Orthodox Churches commonly baptize converts from the Catholic Church, thereby refusing to recognize the baptism that the converts have previously received, the Catholic Church has always accepted the validity of all the sacraments administered by the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

The Catholic Church likewise has never applied the terms "heterodox
Heterodoxy
Heterodoxy is generally defined as "any opinions or doctrines at variance with an official or orthodox position". As an adjective, heterodox is commonly used to describe a subject as "characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standards"...

" or "heretic
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

" to the Eastern Orthodox Church or its members. Even the term "schism", as defined in canon 751 of its Code of Canon Law ("the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him"), does not, strictly speaking, apply to the situation of the concrete individual members of the Eastern Orthodox Church today as viewed by the Catholic Church.

Eastern Orthodoxy


The Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches are two distinct bodies of local churches. The churches within each body share full communion
Full communion
In Christian ecclesiology, full communion is a relationship between church organizations or groups that mutually recognize their sharing the essential doctrines....

, although there is not official communion between the two bodies. Both consider themselves to be the original church, from which the West
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 was divided in the 5th and 11th centuries, respectively (after the 3rd and 7th Ecumenical council
Ecumenical council
An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice....

s).

Many theologians of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxes engage in theological dialogue with each other and with some of the Western churches, though short of full communion. The Eastern Orthodox have participated in the interfaith
Interfaith
The term interfaith dialogue refers to cooperative, constructive and positive interaction between people of different religious traditions and/or spiritual or humanistic beliefs, at both the individual and institutional levels...

 movement, with students active in the World Student Christian Federation
World Student Christian Federation
The World Student Christian Federation is a federation of autonomous national Student Christian Movements forming the youth and student arm of the global ecumenical movement...

 since the late 19th century and some Orthodox patriarchs enlisting their communions as charter members of the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

.

Nevertheless, the Orthodox have not been willing to participate in any redefinition of the Christian faith toward a reduced, minimal, anti-dogmatic and anti-traditional Christianity. Christianity for the Eastern Orthodox is the Church; and the Church is Orthodoxy—nothing less and nothing else. Therefore, while Orthodox ecumenism is "open to dialogue with the devil himself", the Orthodox have defined their position in the ecumenical movement as being "witnesses to the truth", the goal being to reconcile the heterodox (i.e., non-Orthodox) back into Orthodoxy.

One way to observe the attitude of the Orthodox Church towards non-Orthodox is to see how they receive new members from other faiths. Non-Christians, such as former Buddhists or atheists, who wish to become Orthodox Christians are accepted through the sacraments of baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 and chrismation
Chrismation
Chrismation is the name given in Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, as well as in the Assyrian Church of the East, Anglican, and in Lutheran initiation rites, to the Sacrament or Sacred Mystery more commonly known in the West as confirmation, although Italian...

. Protestants and Roman Catholics are sometimes received through chrismation only, provided they had received a trinitarian
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 baptism.

Also Protestants and Roman Catholics are often referred to as "heterodox", which simply means "other believing", rather than as heretics
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

, implying that they did not willfully reject the Church. However, such policies are decided by each individual church, and more traditional groups will receive all converts only by baptism and chrismation.

Anglicanism and Protestantism


The members of the Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

 have generally embraced the Ecumenical Movement, actively participating in such organizations as the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

 and the NCCC
Nccc
NCCC may refer to:*Nordic Chinese Christian ChurchIn cricket:* Northamptonshire County Cricket Club* Nottinghamshire County Cricket ClubOther:* National Civilian Community Corps* Neosho County Community College...

. Most provinces holding membership in the Anglican Communion have special departments devoted to ecumenical relations; however, the influence of Liberal Christianity
Liberal Christianity
Liberal Christianity, sometimes called liberal theology, is an umbrella term covering diverse, philosophically and biblically informed religious movements and ideas within Christianity from the late 18th century and onward...

 has in recent years caused tension within the communion, causing some to question the direction ecumenism has taken them.

Each member church of the Anglican Communion makes its own decisions with regard to intercommunion. Many of them are currently out of communion with other provinces of the Anglican Communion. The 1958 Lambeth Conference recommended "that where between two Churches not of the same denominational or confessional family, there is unrestricted communio in sacris
Full communion
In Christian ecclesiology, full communion is a relationship between church organizations or groups that mutually recognize their sharing the essential doctrines....

, including mutual recognition and acceptance of ministries, the appropriate term to use is 'full communion
Full communion
In Christian ecclesiology, full communion is a relationship between church organizations or groups that mutually recognize their sharing the essential doctrines....

,' and that where varying degrees of relation other than 'full communion' are established by agreement between two such churches the appropriate term is 'intercommunion.'

Full communion has been established between Provinces of the Anglican Communion and these Churches:
  • Old Catholic Church
    Old Catholic Church
    The term Old Catholic Church is commonly used to describe a number of Ultrajectine Christian churches that originated with groups that split from the Roman Catholic Church over certain doctrines, most importantly that of Papal Infallibility...

    es of Europe
  • Philippine Independent Church
    Philippine Independent Church
    The Philippine Independent Church, The Philippine Independent Church, The Philippine Independent Church, (officially the or the IFI, also known as the Philippine Independent Catholic Church or in Ilocano: Siwawayawaya nga Simbaan ti Filipinas (in in Kinaray-a/Hiligaynon: Simbahan Hilway nga...

  • Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a mainline Protestant denomination headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. The ELCA officially came into existence on January 1, 1988, by the merging of three churches. As of December 31, 2009, it had 4,543,037 baptized members, with 2,527,941 of them...

  • the Moravian Church in America, Northern and Southern Provinces


The Episcopal Church USA is currently engaged in dialogue with the following religious bodies:
  • Churches Uniting in Christ
    Churches Uniting in Christ
    Churches Uniting in Christ brings together ten mainline American denominations , and was inaugurated on January 20, 2002....

     (CUIC)
  • Eastern Orthodox Church
    Eastern Orthodox Church
    The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

  • Roman Catholic Church
    Roman Catholic Church
    The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

  • Presbyterian Church USA
  • United Methodist Church
    United Methodist Church
    The United Methodist Church is a Methodist Christian denomination which is both mainline Protestant and evangelical. Founded in 1968 by the union of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, the UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley...

  • Reformed Episcopal Church
    Reformed Episcopal Church
    The Reformed Episcopal Church is an Anglican church in the United States and Canada and a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America...

     and the Anglican Province of America
    Anglican Province of America
    The Anglican Province of America is one of a number of "Continuing" Anglican churches in the United States. This church considers the Episcopal Church in the USA to be heretical, thus it maintains a church separate from that body in order to follow what it considers to be a truly Christian and...



Worldwide, an estimated forty million Anglicans belong to churches that do not participate in the Anglican Communion, a particular organization limited to one province per country. In these Anglican churches, there is strong opposition to the ecumenical movement and to membership in such bodies as the World and National Councils of Churches. Most of these churches are associated with the Continuing Anglican movement
Continuing Anglican Movement
The term Continuing Anglican movement refers to a number of churches in various countries that have been formed outside of the Anglican Communion. These churches generally believe that "traditional" forms of Anglican faith and worship have been unacceptably revised or abandoned within some...

 or the movement for Anglican realignment
Anglican realignment
The term Anglican realignment refers to a movement among some Anglicans to align themselves under new or alternative oversight within or outside the Anglican Communion. This movement is primarily active in parts of the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada...

. While ecumenicalism in general is opposed, certain Anglican church bodies that are not members of the Anglican Communion--the Free Church of England
Free Church of England
The Free Church of England is an Anglican church which separated from the established Church of England in the course of the 19th century. The church was founded by evangelical clergy and congregations in response to the rise of Anglo-Catholicism. The first congregations were formed in 1844...

 and the Church of England in South Africa
Church of England in South Africa
The Church of England in South Africa was constituted in 1938 as a federation of churches. It is an Anglican church but it is not a member of the Anglican Communion. However, it relates closely to the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church of Australia, to which it is similar in that it sees itself...

, for example--have fostered close and cooperative relations with other evangelical (if non-Anglican) churches, on an individual basis.
Nicolaus Ludwig, Count von Zinzendorf, (1700–1760) the renewer of the Unitas Fratrum
Unitas Fratrum
This article is about the coordinating body of the Moravian Church worldwide. For the Christian denomination based in Texas see Unity of the Brethren....

/ Moravian Church in the 18th Century, was the first person to use the word "ecumenical" in this sense. His pioneering efforts to unite all Christians, regardless of denominational labels, into a "Church of God in the Spirit"---notably among German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 immigrants in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

—were misunderstood by his contemporaries and 200 years before the world was ready for them.

The contemporary ecumenical movement for Protestants is often said to have started with the 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference
Edinburgh Missionary Conference
The 1910 World Missionary Conference, or the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, was held June 14 to 23, 1910. Some have seen it as both the culmination of nineteenth-century Protestant Christian missions and the formal beginning of the modern Protestant Christian ecumenical movement.- Edinburgh 1910...

. However this conference would not have been possible without the pioneering ecumenical work of the Christian youth movements: the Young Men's Christian Association (founded 1844), the Young Women's Christian Association
Young Women's Christian Association
Young Women's Christian Association or YWCA or YWCA Building or Old YWCA Building or variations may refer to:*World YWCA, the organization formerly known as Young Women's Christian Associationor it may refer to:...

 (founded 1855), the World Student Christian Federation
World Student Christian Federation
The World Student Christian Federation is a federation of autonomous national Student Christian Movements forming the youth and student arm of the global ecumenical movement...

 (founded 1895), and the Federal Council of Churches (founded 1908), predecessor to today's National Council of Churches USA.
Led by Methodist layman John R. Mott (former YMCA staff and in 1910 the General Secretary of WSCF), the World Mission conference marked the largest Protestant gathering to that time, with the express purposes of working across denominational lines for the sake of world missions
Mission (Christian)
Christian missionary activities often involve sending individuals and groups , to foreign countries and to places in their own homeland. This has frequently involved not only evangelization , but also humanitarian work, especially among the poor and disadvantaged...

. After the First World War further developments were the "Faith and Order" movement led by Charles Henry Brent
Charles Henry Brent
Charles Henry Brent was an American Episcopal bishop who served in the Philippines and western New York.Born in Canada and educated at Trinity College, Toronto, Brent was originally stationed at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in the South End of Boston, where he served as an associate priest...

, and the "Life and Work" movement led by Nathan Soderblom
Nathan Söderblom
Lars Olof Jonathan Söderblom was a Swedish clergyman, Archbishop of Uppsala in the Church of Sweden, and recipient of the 1930 Nobel Peace Prize...

. In the 1930s, the tradition of an annual World Communion Sunday
World Communion Sunday
World Communion Sunday is a celebration observed by several Christian denominations, taking place on the first Sunday of every October, that promotes Christian unity and ecumenical cooperation. The tradition originated in the Shadyside Presbyterian Church in 1933, was adopted throughout the US...

 to celebrate ecumenical ties was established in the Presbyterian Church
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The Presbyterian Church , or PC, is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination in the United States. Part of the Reformed tradition, it is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S...

 and was subsequently adopted by several other denominations.

Eventually, formal organizations were formed, including the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

 in 1948, the National Council of Churches
National Council of Churches
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA is an ecumenical partnership of 37 Christian faith groups in the United States. Its member denominations, churches, conventions, and archdioceses include Mainline Protestant, Orthodox, African American, Evangelical, and historic peace...

 in the USA in 1950, and Churches Uniting in Christ
Churches Uniting in Christ
Churches Uniting in Christ brings together ten mainline American denominations , and was inaugurated on January 20, 2002....

 in 2002. These groups are moderate to liberal, theologically speaking, as Protestants are generally more liberal and less traditional than Anglicans, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics.

Protestants are now involved in a variety of ecumenical groups, working in some cases toward organic denominational unity and in other cases for cooperative purposes alone. Because of the wide spectrum of Protestant denominations and perspectives, full cooperation has been difficult at times. Edmund Schlink
Edmund Schlink
Edmund Schlink was a leading German Lutheran theologian in the modern ecumenical movement, especially in the World Council of Churches. Because his career began at the time of Hitler's rise to power in Germany, Schlink’s life, theology, and witness to Christ were shaped by what he called, "Grace...

's Ökumenische Dogmatik 1983, 1997 proposes a way through these problems to mutual recognition and renewed church unity.

In 1999, the representatives of Lutheran World Federation
Lutheran World Federation
The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of national and regional Lutheran churches headquartered in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland. The federation was founded in the Swedish city of Lund in the aftermath of the Second World War in 1947 to coordinate the activities of the...

 and Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 signed The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification
Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification
The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification is a document created by and agreed to by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999, as a result of extensive ecumenical dialogue...

, resolving the conflict over the nature of Justification
Justification (theology)
Rising out of the Protestant Reformation, Justification is the chief article of faith describing God's act of declaring or making a sinner righteous through Christ's atoning sacrifice....

 which was at the root of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, although some conservative Lutherans did not agree to this resolution. On July 18, 2006 Delegates to the World Methodist Conference
World Methodist Council
The World Methodist Council, founded in 1881, is an association of churches in the Methodist tradition which comprises most of the world's Wesleyan denominations.- Extension and organization:...

 voted unanimously to adopt the Joint Declaration. http://www.umc.org/site/c.gjJTJbMUIuE/b.1863123/k.FF49/World_Methodists_approve_further_ecumenical_dialogue.htm http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0604186.htm

Contemporary developments



Catholic-Orthodox dialogue


The mutual anathema
Anathema
Anathema originally meant something lifted up as an offering to the gods; it later evolved to mean:...

s (excommunications) of 1054, marking the Great Schism
East-West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

 between Western (Catholic) and Eastern (Orthodox) branches of Christianity, a process spanning several centuries, were revoked in 1965 by the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. It is to be noted that the Canon Law of the Catholic Church states: "An apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae [automatic] excommunication, without prejudice to the provision of Can. 194 ß1, n. 2; a cleric, moreover, may be punished with the penalties mentioned in Can. 1336 ß1, nn. 1, 2 and 3." This penalty would include the Eastern Orthodox and other non-Catholic sects. Also, similar provisions exist in the Canon Law followed by the Eastern Orthodox.

The year 2006 saw a resumption of the series of meetings for theological dialogue between representatives of the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, suspended because of failure to reach agreement on the question of the Eastern Catholic Churches, a question exacerbated by disputes over churches and other property that the Communist authorities once assigned to the Orthodox Church but whose restoration these Churches have obtained from the present authorities.

Catholic and Orthodox bishops in North America are engaged in an ongoing dialogue. They are meeting together periodically as the "North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation". It has been meeting semi-annually since it was founded in 1965 under the auspices of the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
U.S. Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
The Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs is the principal ecumenical and interfaith organization of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops....

 of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is the episcopal conference of the Catholic Church in the United States. Founded in 1966 as the joint National Conference of Catholic Bishops and United States Catholic Conference, it is composed of all active and retired members of the Catholic...

 and the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops officially joined the Consultation as a sponsor in 1997. The Consultation works in tandem with the Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops which has been meeting annually since 1981. Since 1999 the Consultation has been discussing the Filioque clause
Filioque clause
Filioque , Latin for "and the Son", is a phrase found in the form of Nicene Creed in use in the Latin Church. It is not present in the Greek text of the Nicene Creed as originally formulated at the First Council of Constantinople, which says only that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father":The...

, with the hope of eventually reaching an agreed joint statement.

Similar dialogues at both international and national level continue between, for instance, Roman Catholics and Anglicans.

Issues within Protestantism


Contemporary developments in mainline Protestant churches have dealt a serious blow to ecumenism. The decision by the U.S. Episcopal Church
Episcopal Church (United States)
The Episcopal Church is a mainline Anglican Christian church found mainly in the United States , but also in Honduras, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands and parts of Europe...

 to ordain Gene Robinson
Gene Robinson
Vicki Gene Robinson is the ninth bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Robinson was elected bishop in 2003 and entered office in March 2004...

, an openly gay, non-celibate priest who advocates same-sex blessings, as bishop led the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 to suspend its cooperation with the Episcopal Church. Likewise, when the Church of Sweden
Church of Sweden
The Church of Sweden is the largest Christian church in Sweden. The church professes the Lutheran faith and is a member of the Porvoo Communion. With 6,589,769 baptized members, it is the largest Lutheran church in the world, although combined, there are more Lutherans in the member churches of...

 decided to bless same-sex marriages, the Russian Patriarchate severed all relations with the Church, noting that "Approving the shameful practice of same-sex marriages is a serious blow to the entire system of European spiritual and moral values influenced by Christianity."

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev
Hilarion Alfeyev
Hilarion Alfeyev is a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church. At present he is the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow...

 commented that the inter-Christian community is "bursting at the seams." He sees the great dividing line - or "abyss" - not so much between old churches and church families as between "traditionalists" and "liberals", the latter now dominating Protestantism, and predicted that other Northern Protestant Churches will follow suit and this means that the “ecumenical ship” will sink, for with the liberalism that is materializing in European Protestant churches, there is no longer anything to talk about.

Organizations such as the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

, the National Council of Churches USA, Churches Uniting in Christ
Churches Uniting in Christ
Churches Uniting in Christ brings together ten mainline American denominations , and was inaugurated on January 20, 2002....

, Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship
Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship
The Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians...

 and Christian Churches Together
Christian Churches Together
Christian Churches Together in the USA is a Christian ecumenical group formed in 2006 to "broaden and expand fellowship, unity and witness among the diverse expressions of Christian faith today"....

 continue to encourage ecumenical cooperation among Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, and, at times, Roman Catholics. There are universities such as the University of Bonn
University of Bonn
The University of Bonn is a public research university located in Bonn, Germany. Founded in its present form in 1818, as the linear successor of earlier academic institutions, the University of Bonn is today one of the leading universities in Germany. The University of Bonn offers a large number...

 in Germany that offer degree courses in "Ecumenical Studies" in which theologians of various denominations teach their respective traditions and, at the same time, seek for common ground between these traditions.

Influenced by the ecumenical movement, the "scandal of separation" and local developments, a number of United and uniting churches
United and uniting churches
United and uniting churches are churches formed from the merger or other form of union of two or more different Protestant denominations.Perhaps the oldest example of a united church is found in Germany, where the Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of Lutheran, United and Reformed...

 have formed; there are also a range of mutual recognition strategies being practiced where formal union is not feasible. An increasing trend has been the sharing of church buildings by two or more denominations, either holding separate services or a single service with elements of all traditions.

Mount Athos and Old Calendarists



Despite many disagreements over ecumenism and how to approach interfaith dialog, there exists a sizable group of Orthodox Christians who are vehemently opposed to any kind of interfaith dialog, whether with other Christian denominations or religions outside Christianity. They view ecumenism and interfaith dialog as being potentially pernicious to Orthodox Church Tradition; a "weakening" of Orthodoxy itself.

In the Eastern Orthodox world, the monastic community of Mount Athos
Mount Athos
Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. A World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the...

, arguably the most important center of Orthodox spirituality, has voiced its concerns regarding the ecumenist movement and opposition to the participation of the Orthodox Church.

They regard modern ecumenism as compromising essential doctrinal stands in order to accommodate other Christians, and object to the emphasis on dialogue leading to intercommunion rather than conversion on the part of participants in ecumenical initiatives. Greek Old Calendarists
Greek Old Calendarists
Greek Old Calendarists are groups that separated from the Orthodox Church of Greece or from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, precipitated by disagreement over the abandonment of the traditional Julian Calendar.- History :Up until the early 20th century, the Eastern Orthodox Church used the...

 also claim that the teachings of the Seven Ecumenical Councils forbid changing the church calendar through abandonment of the Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

. The Inter-Orthodox Theological Conference entitled "Ecumenism: Origins, Expectations, Disenchantment", organized in September 2004 by the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki has drawn negative conclusions on ecumenism.

Popular culture


The word ecumenical arises in the Father Ted
Father Ted
Father Ted is a comedy series set in Ireland that was produced by Hat Trick Productions for British broadcaster Channel 4. Written jointly by Irish writers Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan and starring a predominantly Irish cast, it originally aired over three series from 21 April 1995 until 1 May...

episode Tentacles of Doom
Tentacles of Doom
"Tentacles Of Doom" is the 3rd episode of the second series of Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted and the 9th episode overall.-Synopsis:The episode begins with Dougal reading a book of 'Gary Lineker's Book of Ghost Stories', supposedly too scary to complete - followed by a discussion with Ted on ghost...

, in which Father Ted sets out to train Father Jack to say two all-encompassing phrases in response to questions from three visiting bishops, namely "Yes" and "that would be an ecumenical matter".

In the game Europa Universalis III, the player can select the idea of "Ecumenism" as a National Idea, which increases tolerance between the of heretical religions within their country.

Ecumenical organizations


  • Action of Churches Together in Scotland
    Action of Churches Together in Scotland
    Action of Churches Together in Scotland is a national ecumenical organisation of churches in Scotland, founded in 1990. It is the successor to the former Scottish Council of Churches...

  • American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC)
  • Bose Monastic Community
    Bose Monastic Community
    The ecumenical Monastic Community of Bose was established by Catholic layman Enzo Bianchi in 1965 at Bose, a frazione in the commune of Magnano ....

  • Byzantine Discalced Carmelites
    Byzantine Discalced Carmelites
    The Byzantine Discalced Carmelites are a community of cloistered nuns of the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Church living committed to a life of prayer, according to the eremitic tradition and lifestyle of the Discalced Carmelites....

  • Campus Crusade for Christ
    Campus Crusade for Christ
    Campus Crusade for Christ is an interdenominational Christian organization that promotes evangelism and discipleship in more than 190 countries...

  • Canadian Council of Churches
    Canadian Council of Churches
    The was founded on September 27, 1944 at Yorkminister Baptist Church in Toronto Ontario Canada. The Canadian Council of Churches provides an agency for consultation, planning and common action. It was founded to co-ordinate the growing number of Canadian co-operative ventures in social services,...

  • Christian Churches Together
    Christian Churches Together
    Christian Churches Together in the USA is a Christian ecumenical group formed in 2006 to "broaden and expand fellowship, unity and witness among the diverse expressions of Christian faith today"....

     in the USA
  • Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
    Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
    Churches Together in Britain and Ireland is an ecumenical organisation. The members include most of the major churches in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. It was formerly known as the Council of Churches of Britain and Ireland...

  • Churches Together in England
    Churches Together in England
    Churches Together in England is an ecumenical organisation and the national instrument for the Christian church in England. It helps the different Churches to work together instead of separately so that they can be more effective and credible...

  • Churches Uniting in Christ
    Churches Uniting in Christ
    Churches Uniting in Christ brings together ten mainline American denominations , and was inaugurated on January 20, 2002....


  • Conference of European Churches
    Conference of European Churches
    The Conference of European Churches was founded in 1959 to promote reconciliation, dialogue and friendship between the churches of Europe at a time of growing Cold War political tensions and divisions. It is an ecumenical fellowship of Christian churches in Europe; its membership consists of most...

  • Ecumenical Free Catholic Communion
  • Ecumenical Institute for Study and Dialogue
    Ecumenical Institute for Study and Dialogue
    The Ecumenical Institute for Study and Dialogue , formerly called Study Center for Religion and Society, is an institute located in Colombo, Sri Lanka that is devoted to the study and interpretation of religious and social movements of people in Sri Lanka, in order to assist the Church in...

  • Edinburgh Churches Together
    Edinburgh Churches Together
    Edinburgh Churches Together brings together Church of Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church, the Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Salvation Army, Religious Society of Friends and the United Reformed Church....

  • Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius
    Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius
    The Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius is a religious organization founded in 1928 to facilitate contact between Eastern and Western Christians, specifically Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Christians. It is named for Saint Alban, the protomartyr of England, and Saint Sergius of Radonezh, an...

  • Franciscan Hermitage of Campello, Italy
  • Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC/Unification Church/Unification Movement)
  • International Circle of Faith
    International Circle of Faith
    International Circle of Faith is a Christian grouping, which is active in different countries including Nigeria. It is partly pentecostal. Its presiding bishop and founder is Bernie L. Wade. Its headquarters are in Louisville, Kentucky, United States...

  • Iona Community
    Iona Community
    The Iona Community, founded in 1938 by the Rev George MacLeod, is an ecumenical Christian community of men and women from different walks of life and different traditions in the Christian church....


  • National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
  • New Monasticism
    New Monasticism
    New Monasticism, or Neomonasticism, can refer either to a modern movement within Evangelical Protestant Christianity modelled on a monastic way of life in a contemporary context or a movement within Roman Catholicism to expand the way of life of traditional monastic communities to lay...

     related Communities
  • Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship
    Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship
    The Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians...

  • Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
    Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
    The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity origins are associated with the Second Vatican Council which met intermittently from 1962–1965.Pope John XXIII wanted the Catholic Church to engage in the contemporary ecumenical movement...

  • Prairie Centre for Ecumenism
  • Taizé Community
    Taizé Community
    The Taizé Community is an ecumenical monastic order in Taizé, Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, France. It is composed of about 100 brothers who come from Protestant, Eastern Orthodox and Catholic traditions. The brothers come from about 30 countries across the world. The monastic order has a strong...

  • Word Made Flesh
    Word Made Flesh
    Word Made Flesh was started in 1991 as a non-profit 501 organization that exists to serve and advocate alongside the poorest of the poor in urban centers of the majority world...

  • World Alliance of Reformed Churches
    World Alliance of Reformed Churches
    The World Alliance of Reformed Churches is a fellowship of more than 200 churches with roots in the 16th-century Reformation, and particularly in the theology of John Calvin...

  • World Council of Churches
    World Council of Churches
    The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

  • World Student Christian Federation
    World Student Christian Federation
    The World Student Christian Federation is a federation of autonomous national Student Christian Movements forming the youth and student arm of the global ecumenical movement...



See also

  • Anonymous Christian
    Anonymous Christian
    Anonymous Christian is the controversial notion introduced by the Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner that declares that people who have never heard the Christian Gospel or even rejected it might be saved through Christ...

  • Ecumenical council
    Ecumenical council
    An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice....

  • Inclusivism
    Inclusivism
    Inclusivism, one of several approaches to understanding the relationship between religions, asserts that while one set of beliefs is absolutely true, other sets of beliefs are at least partially true. It stands in contrast to exclusivism, which asserts that only one way is true and all others are...

  • Invisible church
    Invisible church
    The invisible church or church invisible is a theological concept of an "invisible" body of the elect who are known only to God, in contrast to the "visible church"—that is, the institutional body on earth which preaches the gospel and administers the sacraments...

  • One true church
  • One true faith
    One true faith
    The concept of a one true faith, one true religion, or one true church, stem from the concept of the One True God asserted by believers in a monotheistic view of God...

  • Postmodern Christianity
    Postmodern Christianity
    Postmodern Christianity is an outlook of Christianity that is closely associated with the body of writings known as postmodern philosophy. Although it is a relatively recent development in the Christian religion, some Christian postmodernists assert that their style of thought has an affinity with...

  • Religious pluralism
    Religious pluralism
    Religious pluralism is a loosely defined expression concerning acceptance of various religions, and is used in a number of related ways:* As the name of the worldview according to which one's religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus that at least some truths and true values...

  • Socratic questioning
    Socratic questioning
    Socratic questioning is disciplined questioning that can be used to pursue thought in many directions and for many purposes, including: to explore complex ideas, to get to the truth of things, to open up issues and problems, to uncover assumptions, to analyze concepts, to distinguish what we know...

  • Syncretism
    Syncretism
    Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...