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In the final of three posts about ideas emerging from my comments on the passages in one light: one world, I pick up on the question of love between Christians in different churches.
How far is it possible? This may seem a pessimistic question but let me explain.
I thought for a long time, the main problem we have is ecclesiology. It is our ecclesiology which prevents structural unity. But now I'm not so sure structural unity is necessarily our primary goal.
I wonder whether theology is the greater division? One problem is, the success of British ecumenism means we are less aware of where the real divisions lie.
Whilst relationships are perfectly cordial between the traditional denominations, they are less so within them. There are two major English ecumenical institutions and the largest (at least in terms of staff which equates to wealth) is the Evangelical Alliance. They are largely reasonable Christians, that is not fundamentalists, who have profound difficulties with liberal theology (whatever that is).
Whilst the relationships are cordial, there is no real sense of convergence between these two branches of the faith. The churches are effectively sliced in two along ecumenical lines.
Whilst I believe I could personally find some common ground with some members of the Evangelical Alliance, it becomes harder at the extremes. Some fundamentalist views are hardly Christians at all, especially where they advocate violence.
I don't think I'm atypical in this matter and there are many who would be the mirror image of me. One insight that struck me forcibly, as I worked through one light: one world, was the demand we do not allow our theological divisions to separate us. This is particularly well argued by Paul in Romans 14, where he argues the weak should not condemn the strong and the strong should not despise the weak. The problem is of course, these days weak and strong don't meet at all.
I have to ask whether our successes have in fact distracted us from the main task. As our institutions focus on rapport, we lose sight of where the divisions are. Institutional unity seems to move the divisions elsewhere.