Wherever we turn we breathe the atmosphere of ecumenicity nowadays. There is an eager market for books on the theme of reunion, judging by the steady flow of such books from publishing houses on both sides of the Atlantic. The World Faith and Order Conference to be held in Montreal this month is almost certain to be an important milestone in the history of the ecumenical movement. And next month there is to be a Reformed Ecumenical Synod in Grand Rapids. The latter may be intended as in some sense a counter-balance to the World Council of Churches, but it is nevertheless a step forward from the divisiveness of denominationalism.
A manifestation of highly organized denominationalism will be seen, also next month, when the Pan-Anglican Congress assembles in Toronto. Given denominationalism, it is understandable, in this era of rapid travel, that representatives of the same allegiance from all over the world should find it advisable to meet together in consultation from time to time. Thus we find the far-flung Anglican communion and its assemblage matched by the Lutheran World Federation, the Baptist World Alliance, and others.
But I venture to inquire, with great reticence, what possible justification there is in Scripture and in Christian principle for the construction of these global denominational empires. There are all kinds of evils attendant on them, since, in the very nature of the case, they tend to complexes of superiority or inferiority, to arrogance, rivalry, head-hunting and head-counting, and comparisons that ought never to be made among Christians. Is not denominationalism just the modern way of saying, “I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ”?
In the sixteenth century Cranmer, ...1
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