Monday, July 24, 2006

Hope for Dreamy Ecu-maniacs: Methodists come in on Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ)

Yes, some of us still remain “slightly dreamy” in the hope of “full, structural unity among all Christians as anything other than an end-time objective”. John Allen has this to say in this week’s “All Things Catholic” column (the rebadged “Word from Rome”):

“Sometimes professional ecumenists, whose life’s work is reconciliation among the divided branches of the Christian family, are jokingly referred to as “ecu-maniacs.” The quip is usually one part satire, and one part grudging respect.

“In fact, given the experience of recent years -- including ongoing tensions with the Orthodox over Ukraine and accusations of proselytism, and with the Anglicans and other Western churches over women’s ordination and homosexuality -- perhaps one does have to be just slightly dreamy to cling to the vision of full, structural unity among all Christians as anything other than an end-time objective.

“Yet the ecumenists continue to plug away, exhibiting a rather remarkable confidence that everything will sort itself out in God’s time.”

He goes on to report that the Seoul convention of World Methodism has voted to enter into partnership in the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification”.

The centre-piece to this statement is, as he points out, the following paragraph:

“By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping us and calling us to good works.”

Of course, not everyone is completely happy with the formulation. But its there on paper, and now has the agreement of a sizable chunk of Western Christendom. In a way, the JDDJ seems to be forming its own “Basis of Union” for an international “Uniting Church”.

Which leaves one to wonder what effect the decision of the World Methodist Conference will be locally. One assumes that the Uniting Church in Australia has some sort of connection to this group (info anyone?). Could there be some sort of future activity here in Australia in which the Catholic, Lutheran and Uniting churches all together recognise a joint position on the doctrine of Justification?

If so, this would give at least one dreamy ecu-maniac (moi) some cause for hope…

2 Comments:

At Monday, July 24, 2006 4:14:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

. . . One assumes that the Uniting Church in Australia has some sort of connection to this group . . .

One assumes correctly.

The World Methodist Conference, which adopted the resolution endorsing the Declaration, is an organ of the World Methodist Council, which in turn is “an association of the Churches in the Methodist tradition throughout the world that promotes unity and seeks to:

-Deepen fellowship

-Foster Methodist participation in the ecumenical movement

-Advance unity of theological and moral standards

-Suggest priorities in Methodist activity . . .”

And a list of other objectives. I took this from their website, www.worldmethodistcouncil.org.

The Uniting Church in Australia is indeed a member of the WMC (as is the Chinese Methodist Church of Australia).

Unsurprisingly, given the traditions of Methodist Christianity, the WMC doesn’t exercise any kind of authority or have any kind of primatial role, so presumably the endorsement from the Conference doesn’t in any sense bind member churches. But equally, it must be reasonable to think that it gives a fair indication of the Methodist mind on this matter.

The WMC maintains an “Ecumenics and Dialogue Committee”, which seems to be the Methodist end of the Roman Catholic/Methodist Dialogue, and which also has relationships with the Anglicans, the Lutherans, the Calvinists, the Orthodox and the Salvation Army. Interestingly, the chairman of that Committee is Robert Gribben, of the United Faculty of Theology in Melbourne. Assuming the Ecumenics and Dialogue Committee had some hand in the recent endorsement by the Conference, there does seem be a link back to the Uniting Church there.

 
At Monday, July 24, 2006 10:04:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Thanks for the tip, Peregrinus. I will drop Robert a line and ask him for his perspective.

 

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