Christianity Divided, Protestant and Roman Catholic Theological Issues

Christianity Divided, Protestant and Roman Catholic Theological Issues

Christianity Divided, Protestant and Roman Catholic Theological Issues

Christianity Divided, Protestant and Roman Catholic Theological Issues

Excerpt

The rapid growth of concern over Christian disunity which began with the end of World War II has surely been one of the most remarkable spiritual events of our times. In Europe, it was the war itself and the shared suffering of all Christians which made the evil of division and separation so apparent. In America, spared such direct suffering, the emergence of a more fully pluralistic society has brought home to many a sharp sense of the spiritual losses that inevitably trail in the wake of religious differences. It has become apparent that Christian disunity is nothing less than an offense to our common Lord, a blight on the Spirit, and a scandal to the world.

The response to this scandal has taken many forms. From the Protestant side the World Council of Churches has led the way in the quest for unity. For Roman Catholicism the search for unity has taken varied directions, the most prominent perhaps being the establishment of a number of European centers (and several in America) devoted to the study of Protestantism and the Orthodox Churches. Apart, however, from the more formal efforts, numerous individual scholars have dedicated much of their work to sympathetic studies of differing theological systems and forms of Christian life. A number of periodicals devoted exclusively to ecumenical questions has provided still another source of stimulation.

Most importantly, it was recognized from the outset in Europe that only the direct encounter of Christian with Christian could prepare the ground in which the seed of charity might grow into the tree of unity. Of immediate importance, however, was the possibility of frank exchanges of theological comments and criticisms which such encounters afforded. Once the climate of good will was firmly established, it was possible to take up once again so many of the issues which had not been openly discussed at close quarters since the years of the Reformation. Although proceeding somewhat more slowly . . .

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