Can a Renewal Movement Be Renewed?: Questions for the Future of Ecumenism

By Oxbrow, Mark | International Bulletin of Mission Research, January 2015 | Go to article overview

Can a Renewal Movement Be Renewed?: Questions for the Future of Ecumenism


Oxbrow, Mark, International Bulletin of Mission Research


Can a Renewal Movement Be Renewed?: Questions for the Future of Ecumenism.

By Michael Kinnamon. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014. Pp. vii, 163. Paperback $24.

This masterly and impassioned analysis of the current state of the conciliar ecumenical movement is the product of many decades of leadership within the movement in North America and globally. Kinnamon writes out of personal experience while drawing on an amazingly rich tapestry of ecumenical relations, at points inviting ecumenical colleagues to contribute directly to the text of his book. He is far from optimistic for the ecumenical future but nevertheless maintains a clear vision of the centrality of ecumenism to biblical ecclesiology, combining this conviction with a lucid strategy for renewal.

As Kinnamon confesses, the book is full of lists (4), which provide helpful summary analysis of each issue addressed, as well as pointers to further research. Originally delivered as speeches, the chapters range widely from peace issues to Christian-Jewish relations and from justice to ecclesiology. After an introductory chapter the book falls into two main sections, the first reviewing the commitment of the ecumenical movement to such issues as peace, justice, and the environment, while the second deals with major challenges such as relationships with Catholic and Orthodox churches and the "add on" approach to ecumenism within some denominations. The concluding chapters present an agenda for ecumenical renewal.

Themes that Kinnamon returns to often are the tension between "cheap unity" (59) and "passionate disagreement--without breaking fellowship" (61), the value of diversity (84), the need to actualize within the churches the substantive agreements already reached (44), the role of the laity and local congregations (154), the failure of evangelicals and postdenominational churches to engage ecumenically (129), the need for ecumenical formation (134), and the severe financial constraints facing ecumenical structures (126). …

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