A prominent group of Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant scholars and church leaders gathered in South Carolina recently to re-examine the theological differences that have separated them for centuries.

In perhaps the most significant moment of rapprochement since the April 1994 "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" (ECT) statement, speakers met in May to pursue further the so-called New Ecumenism, which has been expanded to include participation by Eastern Orthodox Christians.

The meeting, sponsored by Rose Hill, a new Orthodox study center, and the journal Touchstone, drew about 200 participants. Plenary speakers included Roman Catholic scholars Richard John Neuhaus and Peter Kreeft; Orthodox leaders Kallistos Ware and Patrick Henry Reardon; and evangelical professors Harold O. J. Brown and J. I. Packer.

Participants said they wanted to test whether an "ecumenical orthodoxy" based upon the classic Christian faith can become the foundation for a unified Christian witness today. Neuhaus contrasted past efforts at ecumenism with the "New Ecumenism," which is in part built around the recognition of mutually agreed upon theological standards in addition to coordinated action on key ethical issues, such as opposition to abortion.

He said the ability of participants to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters in Christ should not be taken lightly. "It represents a great change, a great achievement; more accurately, a great gift."

HEART OF THE MATTER: Though traditional Christians have rallied against a rapidly secularizing world, those in attendance wanted to move beyond cooperation on social issues and go straight to the heart of their doctrinal divisions. Neuhaus contended that "our unity in the truth is more evident ...

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