Monday, February 23, 2004

Reformed View of "The New Ecumenicity"

[Unrelated Note on the movement of topics: I have set my blog controls so that no more than seven posts are on the front page at any given time. When they roll off the page they are still in the archives. The speed at which the front page moves will be determined by the amount of participation. If it is relatively slow (as it seems lately), I will keep adding material until I can achieve more participation. If there are a lot of comments, then I will make sure the post getting them stays on the front until the discussion dies down]

Bravo! and kudos to P. Andrew Sandlin, whose blog, Center for Cultural Leadership I link to on my sidebar. Writing on February 20th, about The Passion and its larger cultural and ecumenical implications, he states:

Less noble, it seems to me, is the more than a little anti-Roman bigotry that has accompanied some of the criticism of the movie. As a proud Protestant, I stand against certain Roman Catholic distinctives (the papacy, synergistic soteriology, the sacerdotal mass), but I gratefully acknowledge the Roman Church’s historic contribution to basic orthodox theology and to Christian culture. Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism are the three main sectors of Christendom, and we do no good by denying to any one of them its rightful place.

. . . In fact — and this is my chief point — the Christian groundswell created by Gibson’s “Passion” is largely the result of — and will likely only enhance — today’s New Ecumenicity at which all orthodox believers can be elated. As Thomas Oden observes in his fine work The Rebirth of Orthodoxy, the New Ecumenicity is far removed from the Old Ecumenical Movement, epitomized in the World Council of Churches in the 20th century. The old movement, now in decline and disarray, shed the bold tenets of Christian orthodoxy in favor of a vague religiosity, interpreted cultural relevance as capitulation to the depravities of secular culture (abortion, homosexuality, radical feminism, goddess worship, socialism), and bandwagoned with political Leftism in supporting Marxist regimes in the Third World.

In bold contrast, the New Ecumenicity champions without apology historic catholic orthodoxy and its creeds, resists the secularized ethics of the 20th century, and refuses to be held captive by a political ideology — from the Left or Right. The New Ecumenicity, pervasive not only among the evangelicals and conservative Protestants and in the free churches but now also gaining entrance into the mainline denominations and Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, poses a direct threat to the older, tired, toothless religious liberalism, as well as to the secular ideology of the cultural elites in Hollywood and elsewhere. It is an event in which I am proud to participate and to play a small role.

Gibson’s “Passion” is a testament to this valid ecumenicity, and let us all pray that God uses it to further His Son’s righteous Kingdom in the earth. Great days are ahead. Let us rejoice.

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