Antagonists of the World Council of Churches and of the ecumenical movement as a whole need no longer polish up arguments pointed at the adversary’s battlements. The fourteen contributors to the symposium Unity In Mid-Career, An Ecumenical Critique (edited by Keith R. Bridston and Walter D. Wagoner, Macmillan, 1963, 211 pp., $4.95) have carried their ecumenical critique so far that self-examination on their part has turned into self-indictment. The task has been so thoroughly done that it would be hard to improve upon it. Whatever criticism may be directed at it, the Bridston-Wagoner team is to be given credit for a great show of intellectual honesty.

At the outset, Liston Pope gives a foretaste as well as a promise of what is to come, with a candid admission that member bodies of the World Council of Churches have little in common theologically except a confession of “the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour,” the same confession being subject to diverse interpretations. In actual practice, most of these inter pretations are dominated by a concern for self-preservation. Quite a paradox in an organization primarily devoted to church unity! The problem of reaching the actual membership of the churches puts in an early appearance in the same paper, and the fact that it is raised again and again throughout the volume bears witness to its importance. Thus Walter Leibrecht finds it quite pathetic to see how little of the “fine work” done in the various departments trickles down to the congregations and their individual members. Indeed, the purpose of the WCC is no longer clearly under stood by the people. The popular image of the Council is that of “an organization of its own, an entity in itself.” In the same setting, the local ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.