A new style book on old style ecumenism

Reviewing Can a Renewal Movement Be Renewed: Questions for the Future of Ecumenism, by Michael Kinnamon

A New Book on Ecumenism

A New Book on Ecumenism

At one level, the many churches around the world affirm that there is only one church, one “body of Christ.” At another level, they recognize that in practical reality there are many churches, each one of which functions as though it fully represents that one church.

Ecumenism is the attempt to solve this conflict between theological assertion and historical reality. It is the continuing effort to draw these churchly entities together into a more explicit manifestation of what they really are.

Early in the twentieth century, the desire to manifest the church’s oneness became a complex process, usually referred to as the ecumenical movement, that has been the primary expression of ecumenism for more a hundred years. Especially important among its several patterns of work were the formation of inter-church councils, church unions, study commissions to establish theological consensus, and joint efforts for evangelism and missions.

The ecumenical movement reached its highest point of activity during the decades following World War Two and then entered into a period of decline. The senior editor of a major publisher stated the current situation clearly when he acknowledged his company’s probable lack of interest in a manuscript that I was doing on the Consultation on Church Union: “Nobody’s interested in old-style ecumenism any more.”

Despite this alleged lack of popular interest, Michael Kinnamon has successfully published a new book (with this same publisher) in which he interprets the current state of affairs in the ecumenical movement, analyzes new patterns that ecumenism is taking, and explains why this movement continues to be important.

He is well qualified to write this kind of book, having spent his professional life dealing with ecumenism: in his formal academic training, as a staff member of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, as a highly skilled participant in ecumenical conferences and ventures around the world, and in academic posts in four U.S. seminaries, Prior to assuming his current position at Seattle University, Kinnamon was general secretary of the National Council of Churches.

Through these many years Kinnamon has engaged in this work because, “like many others, I long for a church better than the one I see around us.” Read more…… Kinnamon-Renewal Movement

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