Saturday, August 10, 2002

Evangelization and Ecumenism

As anyone who has read my blog since I started it back at Eastertime probably knows, ecumenism (visible unity among Christians) is one my major interests. I'd like to take a moment to explain why, or at least give some of the reasons why.

The modern ecumenical movement got its start in the late nineteenth century, when missionaries from a variety of Protestant communities found that their own differences where constituting an obstacle to missionary activity among people of other beliefs. This led to meetings of various communities, the goal of which was to reconcile the differences among them.

The Catholic Church, having (as always) approached this new development among Christians slowly (or at least more slowly than some would have liked), eventually gave its full approval and support to the drive for Christian unity at Vatican II.

That's a brief history. Now, as for myself, my own interest in ecumenism derives also from my own evangelical and missionary nature. With all Christians, I truly believe that the world needs Christianity, because it is within the Gospel that the world will be fulfilled. For instance, as I stated a while back, Christian morality is not an arbitrary imposition by an external authority, but is instead the means to true human happiness, to authentic fulfillment. So too with all aspects of divine revelation... it is the means to be what we ought and ultimately really want to be. We need to show the modern world -- so overrun with various forms of secularism and inauthentic humanism -- that it will find its "story", itself, in the message the Father has communicated to us through His Son and in the Holy Spirit.

Having said that, it is a fact that our own disagreements as Christians present a difficulty in evangelization. Instead of presenting basically one coherent and symphonic message, the World is presented with a multitude of messages, each (usually) stating that it is the true message which the Father seeks to communicate to humanity. Clearly, this makes our task of presenting the Gospel more difficult.

Therefore, it is imperative that all Christians seek unity with one another. Not a false unity, based on emotive desires and wishful thinking, but a true unity grounded in the Truth, which is a person: Jesus Christ. We need to be in communion with one another, because (among other reasons) our world today needs us. Desperately. And while we are able to present the Gospel in the current circumstances of disunity, a visible communion of all Christians rooted in truth and love would multiply our ability to present the Gospel in ways we can't imagine.

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