At its United States Faith and Order Conference in Oberlin, the World Council of Churches drew up a series of section reports which it referred to member churches for study. The issues debated in ecumenical circles today are issues that involve the churches at large. While ecumenical conferences need not supply the orbit around which biblical and doctrinal study revolves, it is heartening to see such concerns raised with new earnestness. The neglect of biblical and theological studies by any church or association of churches quickly results in ambiguity and misunderstanding. Evangelicals within the ecumenical movement have a special obligation to scrutinize the faith and order reports, and evangelicals outside the movement will also do well to familiarize themselves with the precise positions adopted and rejected, and to engage in earnest theological study on their own account.

Of the twelve sections into which the Oberlin conference subdivided, that on “Doctrinal Consensus and Conflict” was in some respects the most significant. The reports of all the sections will be published in January by Bethany Press under the title The Nature of the Unity We Seek. By special permission, CHRISTIANITY TODAY in this issue carries the report of the section dealing with doctrinal issues. For evangelical Christians, the center of interest is here. They are eager to discover in what sense the ecumenical movement understands its confession that Jesus Christ is God and Saviour.

The report on “Doctrinal Consensus and Conflict” singles out three special areas “in which further agreement needs to be reached before we can move toward closer oneness.” They are: the nature of the Church, its ministry and its sacrament; the nature of the authority ...

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