Ecumenism

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'''''Ecumenism''''' in common use can refer to two different ideas, either relations with non-Christian or non-Orthodox religious groups or instead it is the teaching that the [[Orthodox Church]] is not uniquely the one Church of Jesus Christ but rather one of many branches.  The former activity can be of dubious value to some, while the latter is considered a heresy by many.  To many in the Orthodox Church, participation in ecumenical relations with other religious groups is often an indication that the teaching regarding the Orthodox Church's non-uniqueness is being promulgated, either openly or surreptitiously.
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'''''Ecumenism''''' is, principally, dialogue between Christian denominations aimed at promoting the restoration of unity among all Christians through understanding, through mutual respect and toleration, and through practical cooperation in areas of common concern.  
  
Between these two ideas is the activity of relating to the non-Orthodox with either the notion of witnessing to them the ancient Christian faith or of pandering to them and making concessions in order to build relations. In the 20th century particularly, some ecumenical activities have drawn sharp criticism from various voices within the Orthodox Church, particularly participation in the [[World Council of Churches]] and the [[National Council of Churches]] in the US.  Those opposing ecumenism are often self-labelled as ''Traditionalists'' and may be either within or outside mainstream Orthodoxy, particularly within the [[Old Calendarist]] movements, who often regard the [[New Calendar]] as being a symptom of "branch theory" ecumenism.
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Orthodox Christians take widely different attitudes toward ecumenism. A few embrace the Anglican "branch theory" which implies that the various divisions in Christianity all represent branches of the same Church just as the branches of a tree are all integrally part of the same living tree. Many object to this theory on the ground that it tends to minimize Orthodoxy, reducing its stature as exclusively the one holy catholic and apostolic Church to that of a relatively small segment of the Church. Some regard ecumenism as an opportunity to present Orthodoxy as a unique witness to the ancient Christian faith and to the Church as the indivisible body of Christ. Others feel that ecumenism necessarily undermines this witness and feel that Orthodoxy will be forced to alter traditional practices and even the very content of the ancient apostolic faith. In the Twentieth Century particularly, some ecumenical activities have drawn sharp criticism from various voices within the Orthodox Church, particularly participation in the [[World Council of Churches]] and the [[National Council of Churches]] in the US.  Those opposing ecumenism are often self-labelled as ''Traditionalists'' and may be either within or outside mainstream Orthodoxy, particularly within the [[Old Calendarist]] movements, who often regard the [[New Calendar]] as being a symptom of "branch theory" ecumenism.
  
 
One of the more controversial documents drawn up in recent years pertaining to ecumenism is the [[Balamand Statement]], an unofficial joint document of recommendation on [[Uniates|Uniatism]] signed by representatives of the [[Orthodox Church]] and the [[Roman Catholic Church]] in 1993.
 
One of the more controversial documents drawn up in recent years pertaining to ecumenism is the [[Balamand Statement]], an unofficial joint document of recommendation on [[Uniates|Uniatism]] signed by representatives of the [[Orthodox Church]] and the [[Roman Catholic Church]] in 1993.

Revision as of 19:01, August 15, 2005

Ecumenism is, principally, dialogue between Christian denominations aimed at promoting the restoration of unity among all Christians through understanding, through mutual respect and toleration, and through practical cooperation in areas of common concern.

Orthodox Christians take widely different attitudes toward ecumenism. A few embrace the Anglican "branch theory" which implies that the various divisions in Christianity all represent branches of the same Church just as the branches of a tree are all integrally part of the same living tree. Many object to this theory on the ground that it tends to minimize Orthodoxy, reducing its stature as exclusively the one holy catholic and apostolic Church to that of a relatively small segment of the Church. Some regard ecumenism as an opportunity to present Orthodoxy as a unique witness to the ancient Christian faith and to the Church as the indivisible body of Christ. Others feel that ecumenism necessarily undermines this witness and feel that Orthodoxy will be forced to alter traditional practices and even the very content of the ancient apostolic faith. In the Twentieth Century particularly, some ecumenical activities have drawn sharp criticism from various voices within the Orthodox Church, particularly participation in the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches in the US. Those opposing ecumenism are often self-labelled as Traditionalists and may be either within or outside mainstream Orthodoxy, particularly within the Old Calendarist movements, who often regard the New Calendar as being a symptom of "branch theory" ecumenism.

One of the more controversial documents drawn up in recent years pertaining to ecumenism is the Balamand Statement, an unofficial joint document of recommendation on Uniatism signed by representatives of the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church in 1993.

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