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14.7D: Ecumenism

  • Page ID
    8411
  • Ecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at creating greater Christian unity or cooperation.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Define ecumenism and its central features

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • Ecumenism contrasts with interfaith dialogue, which aims at unity, respect, and cooperation among diverse religions, under the auspices of a shared sense of spirituality.
    • Despite many disagreements over ecumenism and how to approach interfaith dialogue, there exists a sizable group of Orthodox Christians who are vehemently opposed to any kind of interfaith dialogue.
    • The general understanding of the ecumenical movement is that it came from the Roman Catholic Church ‘s attempts to reconcile with Christians who had become separated over theological issues.

     

    Key Terms

     

    • Orthodox Christians: The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian church in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Cyprus, all of which — except Bosnia — are majority Eastern Orthodox. It teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ and his Apostles almost 2,000 years ago.
    • interfaith dialogue: The term interfaith dialogue refers to cooperative, constructive, and positive interaction between people of different religious traditions (i.e., “faiths”) or spiritual or humanistic beliefs, at both the individual and institutional levels. It is distinct from syncretism or alternative religion; this dialogue often promotes understanding between different religions to increase acceptance of others, rather than attempting to synthesize new beliefs.
    • ecumenism: Ecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation.

    Ecumenism refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation. As a term, it usually only refers to predominantly Christian denominations and churches separated by doctrine, history, and practice. Within this particular context, ecumenism refers to the idea that Christians should literally unify under a single Christian church. Ecumenism contrasts with the practice of interfaith dialogue, which is aimed at unity, respect, and cooperation among diverse religions. Interfaith dialogue, also known as interfaith pluralism, refers to “religious unity” not in the sense of a single church, but instead by the advocacy of a greater sense of shared spirituality.

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    Ecumenism Symbol: Ecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation.

    The ecumenical movement is understood to have emerged from the Roman Catholic Church’s attempts reconcile with other Christians who had separated over theological issues. Although this is not the case with all Catholics, most ecumenical Catholics have the goal of reconciling all those with a Christian faith in a single, visible organization, through a union with the Roman Catholic Church. For some Protestants, spiritual unity, and unity in how a church teaches central issues, sufficiently represents this general movement.

    The Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches are two distinct bodies of local churches. Within each body, the churches share full communion, although there is not official communion between the two bodies. Many theologians of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxies engage in theological dialogue with each other and with some Western churches, but this stops short of full communion.

    Members of the Anglican Communion, in the United Kingdom, have generally embraced the Ecumenical Movement, and actively participate in organizations like the World Council of Churches and the NCCC. Within the Anglican Communion, each member church is allowed to make its own decision with regard to intercommunion.

    Despite many disagreements over ecumenism and how to approach interfaith dialogue, there exists a sizable group of Orthodox Christians who are vehemently opposed to any kind of interfaith dialogue, whether with other Christian denominations or with religions outside Christianity. In the Eastern Orthodox world, the monastic community of Mount Athos has voiced its concerns regarding the ecumenist movement. They do not want the Orthodox church to play a part in this more general movement.

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    Taize Prayer: Ecumenical worship service at the monastery of Taizé