The recent North American Conference on Faith and Order at Oberlin brought together in “historic harmony” representatives of most major Protestant bodies. Theologians of many denominations found themselves in remarkable agreement as to essentials, especially the Person and Work of Christ.
Cause For Concern
Some observers, however, have pondered the results of the conference with apprehension. To these there is cause for concern in the spectacle of Oberlin’s “unity.” They are not alarmed by the possibility that men of divergent views may find it possible to achieve unanimity. They are, however, alarmed by the far-reaching implications of the fact that men of widely separated faiths could find it so easy to achieve unanimity.
It may be—one observer mused—that Oberlin demonstrated as a fact what we have long suspected: not that our denominations have come closer together but that some of our theologians have discovered that they can agree and at one and the same time profess loyalty to traditions that clearly disagree.
We seem to be entering a new era, one in which the old issues that once divided us no longer tend to keep us apart, not because they have been resolved, but because they have paled into relative insignificance in the face of new issues more important. The old walls of separation apparently are crumbling … from lack of attention. Not that we no longer care about the difference between Congregationalism and episcopacy, but rather that we are confronted by the urgency of issues about which we care more.
At Oberlin it was demonstrated, not that lines of demarcation have disappeared in Christendom, but that new lines of demarcation are being drawn crossing denominational ...1
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