The problem with discussing “Ecumenism.”

I am not part of the Orthodox church.  However, I feast upon their literature and in many ways find myself leaning more and more that direction.  Watching some of the recent discussions on Ecumenism and Orthodoxy, I notice a lot of ambiguous terms.

Most “hard-core” Orthodox guys violently oppose ecumenical talks with Protestants–and then have a standard definition of Protestant.  I realize that conservative, bible-believing Protestants represent 1% of 1% of Protestantdom.   Your average Protestant is like the horrid she-bishop ruler of The Episcopal Church.   This woman, like many mainline Methodists and Episcopals and PCUSA folk, probably denies most (all?) of historic Christianity.  Therefore, finding common ground with them or dialoguing with them is wrong-headed, to say the least.

But what about your conservative Protestant?  Two things:  1) most of the same damning critiques against above Ecumenism simply do not apply here.   2) they do have problems, to be sure.  And those problems are noted in standard Orthodox polemics.

How do we move forward from here?  For starters, let’s consider America.  Your average conservative Protestant has likely never heard of “The Orthodox Church.”  Be gentle and patient with those who aren’t Orthodox if for no other reason than they have never heard of it.  Secondly, few people are able to switch worldviews in a day, so if they aren’t Orthodox by tomorrow, don’t merely assume they are “defiantly maintaining their rebellion against Christ’s body.”  No, they are simply human and with love and patience they might very well become Orthodox one day.


One Response to “The problem with discussing “Ecumenism.””

  1. The Ecclesiastical Hipster Says:

    In my own experience, I’ve only had two people recognize what I mean when I speak of Orthodoxy, a Roman-rite guy who attended Orthodox churches for a while, and my father-in-law, who responded hesitatingly with, “Like…Greek Orthodoxy?”

    The problem with discussing ecumenism is that even that term has a very, very fluid definition among the Orthodox. There are a few cranky (schismatic) Old Calendarists who consider even having friendly, non-confrontational conversations with so-called world Orthodoxy as ecumenism.

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