One of the strengths of Harmon's book, Ecumenism Means You, Too, is his emphasis on the importance of belonging to a tradition. In a recent post I showed how I see each of the mainstream traditions as embodying, in various ways, catholicity. All traditions are compromises between a variety of theological approaches and this can be thought of as the defining attribute of any Christian tradition. Adherence to a single defined set of beliefs stifles internal conversation and ultimately isolates the believers from the Body of Christ.
Harmon writes on page 61:
We can make progress towards unity when we make progress towards catholicity within the denominations, and we make progress towards unity when the denominations share their distinctive patterns of catholicity with one another. As individual Christians we must be shaped by a particular denominational tradition in order to help our own church toward unity and in order to help the rest of the church learn from our own church.
This is a good definition of receptive ecumenism, a topic touched upon by Harmon elsewhere in his book.
I have elsewhere argued there needs to be an intergenerational conversation about unity and that conversation is itself an exercise in ecumenical reception. To arrive at conclusions between church leaders with no awareness of what younger people are thinking, would be a recipe for stagnation. The point is, we have a generation that no longer looks to church leaders for leadership. This can be seen as a danger for the churches but it can also be seen as an opportunity.
It looks like Harmon is attempting to start intergenerational conversations along these lines in the States and it will be interesting to hear how he gets on. In the meantime, how about some similar conversations in Britain?