Intercommunion is “a subject packed so full of emotional dynamites that we are afraid lest poking into it should strike a spark that would blow our whole movement to pieces.” So said a WCC official some years ago.
In this connection a notable advance was made at New Delhi, where a call was made for an all-out effort toward fresh understandings of unity, especially as expressed at the Lord’s Table. The Assembly’s Communion service, conducted after the form of the host church (Anglican) drew 1,500 communicants. Nonparticipants were the Orthodox and some branches of the Lutheran church.
Here was a notable ecumenical gesture by the Anglican communion, in marked contrast to its attitude in Amsterdam 13 years earlier. But communions are sometimes more cooperative than their constituent parts. 5,000 miles away from the camaraderie of New Delhi, the equivocal attitude of the Church of England to church union in Ceylon had become the occasion of an almost unprecedented action on the part of 32 influential Anglican theologians, most of them university teachers or college principals.
In an Open Letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, which faced squarely the whole burning question of Church and Ministry, the divines argued that our Lord is not tied to any one form of ministry, and that the raising up of non-episcopal ministries was the almost inevitable consequence of the Reformation and post-Reformation divisions of the Church, “following from the necessary duty of maintaining the truth of the Gospel as this was conscientiously understood.”
Then, in a single unambiguous sentence which non-Anglicans will welcome, the Letter continues: “We believe that our Lord conveys through these ministries the same grace of the Word and the ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more