Ecumenical was a dirty word in my theological vocabulary for many of my Christian years. It still conjures up a little concern as I know I'm not going to agree with any tradition of the Christian faith, across the board. And while my core beliefs won't essentially change, many of the peripheral ones have, over time. And we may have to pray, question and speak truth in grace at times to various segments of Christ's church (Revelation 2, 3).
But I now see ecumenism basically as a strength, if viewed and acted on according to what we're called to do as Christians. Of course we're called to keep the unity of the Spirit together. And to hold steadfastly to the truth of Scripture and as revealed in Jesus. I believe in God's work in Christian orthodoxy, in giving us the great creeds of the faith. And Jesus prayed that all Christians might be one as he and the Father are One.
The truth of Scripture and the grace and truth in Jesus must be our goal. And a priority in that is that all of God's people in Jesus will love each other in spite of our differences, and will fulfill what God calls us to be, to one another. Of course this must start on a local level. And for me, anymore, it pretty much ends up there. But at the same time, I want to hope and pray for the best for all professing Christians worldwide.
I'm not a Calvinist, but I much appreciate Calvin College and Seminary here in Grand Rapids where I live. It holds to a Calvinist theology (and that's not all bad, in my book), but it does so with a generous ecumenical spirit, open to the best from the Church through the centuries to this day. We see more and more of this spirit and practice among Christian institutions today. Many churches no longer see themselves as the church, and all others inferiors. But instead we're recognizing the richness of Christ's Body in its many varieties worldwide, and right in our own cities and towns.
I know we have our differences, but let's underscore the fact that we are Christians. Not this, nor that. But Christians. Those who belong both to Christ and to each other in Christ (and in his Body) by the Spirit.
What has held you back from embracing a healthy ecumenicalism? What might you add here?