New Books of Note in Ecumenism in 2013
Lorke, Mélisande, and Dietrich Werner, eds. Ecumenical Visions for the 21st Century: A Reader for Theological Education. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 2013.
This anthology was designed as a textbook for the Global Ecumenical Theological Institute (GETI), held before and during the World Council of Churches’ 10th Assembly in Busan, and also as a resource for seminaries and divinity school courses in ecumenism. It includes 65 key ecumenical texts, accomplishments of the past twenty years of dialogues, with a special focus on recent WCC accords and documentation of the ecumenical movement in Asia. Areas covered include the World Council of Churches, the Korean context and Asian Christianity, church and unity, mission and evangelism, justice and peace, theology of life and climate justice, Bible and hermeneutics, migration and inclusive communities, HIV/AIDS, health and healing, interreligious dialogue, common prayer and worship, ecumenical formation and theological education, youth, women and men in the community of the church, and diakonia. Additional texts are included on the accompanying CD and website (http://www.globethics.net/geti).
Antone, Hope, et al, eds. Asian Handbook for Theological Education and Ecumenism. Regnum Studies in Global Christianity. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2013.
Developed as a resource for the 10th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches (Busan, Korea, October 30 – November 9, 2013), this 675-page tome provides comprehensive documentation of Christian missions, ecumenism, evangelicalism, interfaith dialogue, and lay and ministerial formation in Asia. Eighty-three contributors offer essays in six major sections: historical and contextual perspectives on Asian ecumenism; biblical and theological perspectives; life, justice and peace; women and marginal communities; twenty-five nation-specific essays; and ecumenical formation in Asian theological education.
Backman, John. Why Can’t We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart. Woodstock, Vermont: Skylight Paths, 2013.
This is an accessible and practical book on dialogue with people with whom we disagree as a spiritual discipline, not a book specifically on ecumenical dialogue. However, the thoughtful discussion in this book would have rich application for ecumenical reception and for effective dialogue about the divisive issues between Christians and churches (see Root entry, below).
Clements, Keith. Ecumenical Dynamic: Living in More than One Place at Once. Geneva: World Council of Churches Publications, 2013.
The former General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches surveys the current ecumenical situation, examines five select episodes from twentieth-century European ecumenical history, and proposes three areas of current challenge: community/koinonia ecclesiology; faith and public policy; and denominational identity and the ecumenical quest. He challenges the churches to move beyond dialogue to establish an “‘order’ of persons” who would dwell in other communities in lived koinonia.
Cleveland, Christena. Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2013.
A social psychologist offers personal stories and psychological insights on Right Christian/Wrong Christian thinking, categorizing, self-esteem theory, identity wars, culture idolatry, mattering/marginality, and identity in Christ to counter divisive tendencies and to call Christians to cross boundaries, seek a deeper unity and live a clearer witness to Christ.
De Mey, Peter, Pieter De Witte, Gerard Mannion, eds. Believing in Community: Ecumenical Reflections on the Church. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium. Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters, 2013.
This 600 page tome offers over 40 papers on ecclesiology by international theologians and ecumenists from the 6th Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology conference. The papers are collected into four categories: 1) Community, Individualization, Belonging; 2) Strengthening Roman Catholic Ecclesiology; 3) Protestant and Orthodox Contribution to a Reflection on the Nature of the Church; and 4) Reflections on the Future of the Ecumenical Dialogue. Contributors include ecumenists Paul D. Murray, André Birmelé, Lorelei F. Fuchs, Susan K. Wood, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Michael A. Fahey, B.J. Lawrence Cross, Jos E. Vercruysse, and many others.
Heller, Dagmar. Baptized into Christ: A Guide to the Ecumenical Discussion of Baptism. Geneva: WCC Publications, 2013.
This book “is meant to provide an overview of the confessional traditions as they understand baptism, of the history which led to the ecumenical situation as it is today in regard to baptism, and of solutions proposed and agreements made” (Preface, viii).
Jonas, Johnson. Wounded Visions: Unity, Justice and Peace in the World Church after 1968. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013.
An insider’s perspective on the past fifty-year history of the international ecumenical movement from the 1968 World Council of Churches Assembly in Uppsula to the 2006 WCC Assembly in Porto Alegre, written by a Church of Sweden mission scholar. Truly global in scope, the book includes treatment of the ecumenical movement in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, as well as Europe and the United States, and addresses alternate perspectives (Pentecostalism, evangelicalism) and critiques of ecumenism.
Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity. From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2013. Full text available here.
This international joint Vatican-Lutheran World Federation statement on the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation addresses two challenges: “the purification and healing of memories, and the restoration of Christian unity in accordance with the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Foreword). The 93-page document describes the ecumenical and global context for commemorating the Reformation, offers new perspectives on Luther and the Reformation, provides an historical sketch of the Reformation and Catholic response, traces basic themes of Luther’s theology (justification, Eucharist, ministry, Scripture and tradition) in light of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogues, proposes baptism as “the basis for unity and common commemoration” (p. 80), offers respectively Catholic and Lutheran “confession of sins against unity,” and concludes with five ecumenical imperatives: 1) unity as starting point, not division; 2) allowing transformation by the encounter; 3) re-commitment to the goal of visible unity; 4) rediscovery of the power of the gospel; and 5) joint witness to the mercy of God in proclamation and service to the world.
Rusch, William G., ed. The Witness of Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2013.
A collection of essays on the ecumenical work of the [Orthodox] Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Particularly noteworthy are Günther Gassmann’s essay the Patriarch’s involvements with the World Council of Churches, Ronald Roberson’s essay on Orthodox-Roman Catholic dialogue, Joseph Small’s essay on Orthodox-Reformed dialogue, and Mary Tanner’s summative essay on the Patriarch as ecumenist.
Slipper, Callan. 5 Steps to Living Christian Unity: Insights and Examples. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2013.
This small (57- page) practical guide is authored by a Focolare member and Anglican priest who serves as Ecumenical Facilitator of Churches Together in England. The five steps to Christian unity are 1) see the need: why bother; 2) find the way: who should rebuild; 3) construct the building blocks; 4) listen to the silent third: our traveling companion; and 5) overcome all obstacles: the strength of weakness. Examples are drawn from Chiara Lubich, Cardinal Walter Kasper, Flora Winfield, the Amish Community, and Rowan Williams.