A discussion of ecumenism came up on Theologica today. I’m clearly in the minority over there because I happen to be ecumenical, or at the least, more ecumenical than most people there. In response to a comment about ecumenicism being difficult between Roman Catholics and Protestants, I mentioned the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. One of the responses to my comment was the Joint Declaration was an example of “bad ecumenism”. Another commenter, who happens to be LC-MS, said the ELCA “gave up their soul” to get the Catholics to sign the Joint Declaration. He further commented that “Lutherans worth their salt would never agree to joint communion with Evangelicals who don’t believe that Christ can be everywhere with His Body and Blood in the bread and wine.” I would strongly disagree with that assessment. I happen to have studied Ecumenical Theology under Michael Root, who helped draft the Joint Declaration. But that’s just my opinion. And why would we want to keep the body of Christ divided?
The Joint Declaration has been adopted by the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran World Federation, and the World Methodist Council.
In one of the networks of youth pastors that I belong to, I am the only Lutheran in the midst of youth pastors from the Assembly of God, the Free Methodist Church, and the Conservative Baptist. Lost of lively discussion goes on during these meetings. Things got interesting at lunch last Wednesday when we talked about Infant Baptism and Ordination of Women.
I’m not saying that we should overlook differences in doctrine or gloss over them. We should also not resort to name calling. (Charges of apostasy abound in these conversations as well as comments like “why don’t you just go cross the Tiber” and “no self respecting [insert denomination here] would have anything to do with those dirty [insert opposing and obviously demonically possessed denomination here]”.) Like I said here, doctrine should be discussed and debated, but it should be done for the building up of the body.