What is Ecumenism?


Just a note on ecumenism from a former COCU commando and WCC cheerleader (20 years a UMC pastor and active in its ecumemical activities).

The modus operandi of the ecumenism is to first convince us that we can all live in the same house (oikos) but each have our separate rooms. We are told that thus we can all get along and dialogue and be open to each other which is surely what Christ wants and is the loving thing to do. Did He not pray that we should all be one? By being in separate rooms, we can all keep our peculiar habits of worship and faith, thereby maintaining our identity and show the world that God aint so bad and religion is a good thing after all. Besides, does talking hurt anything?

Sounds nice, eh?

Of course, by having us all in the house, it means that one peculiar habit of faith and worship is just as valid as the next, since we all live in the house. Swinging a censer is the same as beating a drum, or chanting troparia is just like jabbering in the Holy Ghost. Each has a peculiar difference in behavior but in reality, its "all just looking for God".

Many well-intentioned Orthodox people believe that by participating in the household, even if they think they are just renting a room, they will bring everyone around to see the Truth of Orthodoxy. In fact their presence makes the other members of the house feel that Orthodoxy is just another member of the God Squad, because (trust me) the deck is stacked and the terms of the dialogue are all ready set. Who's the lump here and who's the leaven?

Of course, no one should be fooled. The E folks will not forever be happy with the "walls that divide us". Why live in separate rooms? Let's start talking about what we have in common, instead of what we don't, and soon all the walls will come down and we will all live happily in one big room. And so now, we should no longer call it the World Council of Churches (sic), but it should be the World Council of Religions (OH, I didnt know Hindus were in the house..who let them in? Did you order the Masala? Krishna...Christ....Hmmmm).

But we should realize that the WCC isnt proposing a one world church super structure jurisdiction, so all the jurisdictionalists and parochialists can relax. No one will take away our turf or political power or financial income because the WCC knows that it would be a real fight if it threatened our power. Compromises in Faith is a much easier thing to accomplish. So, it more gently moves us to a one world religion of mutual recognition instead of a one world church, and makes concessions to polity and ecclesiology as manifestations of our human weakness. "We shall overcome some day."

And so it goes. The ecumenist movement is minimalist- lets get down to the basic truth that we can all agree on. Orthodoxy is MAXIMALIST - everything matters. And that is why the two will never mix. We might as well get used to it. In the pluralistic atmosphere loaded with catchwords like brotherhood, sisterhood, love, togetherness, dialogue, etc., we will forever be pariahs.

Enjoy the show (no butter on the popcorn 'cause its the fast).

Fr. John

PS. In the rush to embrace, lets not forget the pope's little WCC shindig at Assisi a few years back. Whatever we think of Francis, he must have been hopping in his grave as the Buddhists blew their horns. I wonder if anyone noticed that shortly thereafter, the cathedral at Assisi was almost destroyed. Just like a few years back, when the Anglicans ordained David Jenkins, an agnostic and arch-liberal, as the Bishop of Durham in York minster. A week later ot so, lightning struck the minster trancept and set it on fire. Hmmmm...is there a message here somewhere? NAH!!!!

This essay was posted by Priest John Moses to an Orthodox e-mail list called "ortho-praxis", Fri, 25 Jun 1999 (ns). It is used and slightly edited with permission. Fr John is the pastor of All Saints of North America Church , in Middlebrook, VA, located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.

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