1. What is the meaning of the term, ECUMENICAL?
The term is derived from the Greek and means, from the inhabited world, or worldwide.
2. What is the ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT?
Also called ecumenism, it is a movement toward union among persons and churches calling themselves Christian.
3. What are some of the principal facts concerning disunity among Christians?
There are approximately (2007) 2,199,817,400 Christians in the world. Of this number, 1,121,516,000 are Catholics, 233,146,000 are Orthodox, and 381,811,000 are Protestants. (http://www.wholesomewords.org)
Only Catholics belong to a single Church having unity of faith, worship, discipline and government. The Orthodox, while sharing many points of belief and even practice with Catholics. Belong to autonomous churches. Protestants belong to a great number of denominations (some 33,000 according to http://www.philvaz.com) with essential differences in matters of belief, discipline and government.
The ecumenical problem involves the establishment of religious unity among all of these churches and persons.
4. When did the ecumenical movement start among Protestants?
The meeting of the World Missionary Conference at Edinburgh in 1910 is regarded as its starting point although the ecumenical idea and purpose had been stated before that time.
5. What were some of the reasons which induced Protestants to initiate ecumenical efforts?
Practical problems faced by missionaries of the various churches. Related to the consideration of these common problems was the basic concern of churchmen and church members over disunity in matters of belief and practice among churches and persons who, while professing themselves to be Christians, held widely divergent beliefs.
6. What have Protestants sought in their ecumenical endeavors?
Protestant unity of spirit has sought organizational expression in a fellowship of good works and intercommunion rather than in unity of faith, worship and structure.
“The aim of the WCC is to pursue the goal of the visible unity of the Church. This involves a process of renewal and change in which member churches pray, worship, discuss and work together.” (www.oikoumene.org)
7. What are some of the results of their efforts?
Summarily, they have achieved cooperation among the various denominations but no essential unity; progress has been made in working and getting along together, but not in believing together.
The World Council of Churches was established at Amsterdam in 1948…
Some bodies have made progress in mutual relations on the basis of such common denominators as belief in Sacred Scripture, the rituals of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the operations of the ministry, and the fellowship of good works.
There have been some church mergers and an increase in practices of intercommunion and participation in cooperative missionary enterprises.
8. What is the World Council of Churches?
It is a federation of 349 Christian denominations (www.oikoumene.org) with more than 300 million members.
“The World Council of Churches is a Christian organization dedicated to the search for Christian unity. It is a voluntary fellowship (association) of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour.”
“The WCC has 349 member churches. Together, these churches represent some 560 million Christians (though it is important to note that different churches have different ways of calculating membership). Today's member churches come from more than 110 countries on all continents and include Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, United and other churches. A majority of member churches now come from the South.” (www.oikoumene.org)
9. What are some of the difficulties experienced by Protestants in their ecumenical endeavors?
They are hampered by several deficiencies: lack of a clear and common agreement on the nature of religious unity and means for its attainment; lack of an objective criterion or standard as the basis of unity, and of an authority competent to judge and speak for all Protestants; dedication for the search for religious unity on the basis of the principle which has destroyed it – namely, private interpretation, by individuals and individual church bodies, of the Scriptures as the rule of faith.
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