New Books of Note in Ecumenism in 2015
Joseph, M.P. Theologies of the Non-Person: The Formative Years of EATWOT. Palgrave MacMillan’s Christianities of the World Series. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2015.
An appreciative analysis of the history and theology, successes and external critiques of EATWOT (the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians), from its emergence in India in 1974 to the 1983 meeting held in Geneva, using the lens of liberation theology and theology from the margins.
Washington, Christopher Thomas. The Participation of Non-Catholic Christian Observers, Guests and Fraternal Delegates at the Second Vatican Council and the Synods of Bishops: A Theological Analysis. Tesi Gregoriana Serie Teologia 213. Rome: Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 2015.
In this published dissertation from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, American Roman Catholic priest Christopher Washington offers an historical and theological analysis of the role of Orthodox and Protestant observers, guests, and delegates at the Second Vatican Council. He uses Moorman’s three-part definition of the indirect influence observers had over the Council: their presence at the sessions, bishops’ consultations with them at sessions, and bishops’ speaking of their concerns at sessions. For direct influence he studies the observers’ comments on draft documents, particularly Dei Verbum, Lumen Gentium, Unitatis Redintegratio, and Dignitatis Humanae. He also analyzes subsequent non-Catholic observers’ roles in the sixteen general assemblies and special assemblies of the Synod of Bishops between 1991 and 2014, and develops an argument that these aggregate contributions of non-Catholic Christians have “already assisted the Magisterium in carrying out its authoritative interpretation of the deposit of the faith” (p. 15).
Kinnamon, Michael, ed. The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices. 2nd edition. New York: World Council of Churches Publications, 2015.
Updated from the 1997 edition with several dozen new texts, this anthology offers nearly 140 documents: official dialogue reports, ecumenical statements, prophetic voices, and global perspectives on all four streams of the ecumenical movement: life & work, faith & order, mission & evangelism, and spiritual ecumenism.
Harmon, Steven R. Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2015.
Baptist ecumenical theologian Harmon calls Baptists to a pilgrimage towards visible Christian unity, positing “an ecumenical future that would include a mutual sharing of the gifts of catholicity and Baptist-ness, facilitated by a recognition by Baptists and Catholics alike that being Baptist is a distinctive way of being Catholic, in communion with the bishop of Rome…and…the recognition by Rome… that the church that is made by and makes the Eucharist includes the churches that exercise congregational oversight as they gather in the name of Christ as well as those that are overseen by the historic episcopate” (pp. 16-17).
Sjollema, Baldwin. Never Bow to Racism: A Personal Account of the Ecumenical Struggle. Geneva: World Council of Churches Publications, 2015.
An autobiographical account of one who devoted his life to leading the churches’ efforts to dismantle apartheid, from work with Dutch refugees in the 1950s to Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in the 1990s, told in the context of the controversial anti-apartheid efforts of the World Council’s Programme to Combat Racism.
Bosse-Huber, Petra, et al, eds. Reformation: Legacy and Future. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 2015.
Papers from 38 contributors, originating from a 2012 joint preparatory congress for the 2017 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation sponsored by the Evangelical Church in Germany and the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, address Biblical studies; the theological legacy of the Reformation; themes and impact of the Reformation in the areas of church history, social history, dogmatics, and ecumenism; the churches and the Reformation; and evaluating the Jubilee Conference. Most of the papers address the ongoing historical significance of the Reformation. Attention is also given to global Christianity (e.g. “Protestantism and Postconfessionalism in Korea, “The Reformation Jubilee and Christianity in China”), to perspectives from the free churches and churches of the radical Reformation, and to ecumenical achievements (Cardinal Koch on “Commemorating the Reformation from an Ecumenical Perspective”).
Pedlar, James E. Division, Diversity and Unity. American University Studies Series VII, Theology and Religion, vol. 351. New York: Peter Lang, 2015.
This published doctoral dissertation from the Toronto School of Theology utilizes biblical and theological understandings of charism to develop an ecumenical ecclesiology of Spirit-given diversity though specialized movements in the church, using the Salvation Army and the Paulist Order as exemplars.
Ryan, Thomas. Christian Unity: How You Can Make a Difference. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2015.
Fr. Ryan makes current ecumenical theology both accessible and relevant. Challenging each church member to be tangibly involved in the work for Christian unity, he offers specific, attainable ideas for living out Jesus’ “twin imperatives” of mission and unity. I especially commend it for parish study groups who want to develop or deepen their engagement with other parts of the Christian family.
Aageson, Julie K., et al. One Hope: Re-Membering the Body of Christ. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2015.
Six Lutheran and Catholic authors designed this small book as an eight-session study resource for local joint Lutheran Catholic commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017. The chapters are designed around spiritual practices (praying/breathing, eating/drinking, singing/worshiping, forgiving/reconciling, serving/seeking justice, dying/grieving), and each session briefly covers why this matters, shared witness, shared practices, and shared hope. The book ends with discussion questions for each chapter.