No…I am not an ecumenist. If by ecumenism you mean that we forget the reasons for which we all came into being and be one big huddle of Christianity…no thanks. So here are the several reasons why I am all for unity in the church but not for ecumenism.
I believe that The Salvation Army, and other churches have their own unique role to play in the Kingdom of God. The emphases of various groups help us to hear a balanced Christianity. I can listen to the pacifist quaker and learn lessons as a militant salvationist. I firmly believe that the world would be worse off without the Army, the Nazarenes, Vineyard (great music), etc etc
I think the great truth of it all is that different groups that have been raised up have been done so perhaps to emphasise to the church some neglected area….for example….
- the pentecostal/charismatic movement have reminded the church of the important of the charismatic gifts and have emphasised intimacy in worship,
- the methodists brought about an emphasis on evangelisation and small group discipleship
- the Army brought militancy, a challenge to ritualised sacramentalism, a focus on the poor, etc
- the baptists brought a very valid message against baptism of infants
- the quakers taught us about silence, solitude, pacifism
- the nazarenes and the other holiness churches remided us that we can be holy!
- etc etc etc
I have fundamental questions about the ‘Catholic’ element of the church…i.e high anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy.
However, my more fundamental difficulty is with Romanism. I think that growing up in the West of Scotland you find yourself having to understand your culture and I have grown to despise the silly sectarianism, but have grown 100% in the fundamental differences between Catholocism and protestant theology. BIG QUESTIONS like: Mariology (the veneration and worship of Mary) the Sacrament of Confession (we don’t a human mediator to hear and forgive our sin!) Papacy (where do I start?) mystic symbolism in communion, praying to saints (sorry they are dead and they are not God), ‘professional’ Priesthood (priesthood is for all believers). And thats only the tip of the iceberg.
You can call me a bigot if you like, but I cannot ignore the very fundamental flaws in Catholic doctrine and practice. For the other protestant denominations, yes, there are differences, but none so fundamental and flawed as the doctrines of the Church of Rome. The seem almost incompatible biblical doctrine. I have trouble even being in unity with Rome, let alone ecumenical.
So why do I say all this…first of all I love the diversity of the church and I want it to be diverse. The one size fits all culture is long gone. The miracle is that the body of Christ is the enduring one size fits all because the garment is flexible enough to house many arms legs noses and eyebrows of the same body.
The question comes though…what happens when a part of the body has gangrene?
So, bring on unity…but lets keep an eye on ecumenism