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Many posts on blogs around the world oppose ecumenism on the grounds that the writer's own tradition is the one true church.
Some writers claim it is not possible to be loyal to their tradition unless they believe it is the one true church. It is this belief I want to consider.
To be loyal to a particular tradition is a good thing. It is possible to be loyal to something that is not perfect. The problem we have is the only thing we know for certain is that we are in error. Unfortunately we do not know in which particulars we are in error.
We can claim to examine the evidence but we can be self-deluding, as we can always find evidence to back up our beliefs. Find someone who does not believe what you take to be self-evident and true, eg a believer in the flat earth or UFOs, and you will find they can interpret any data to support their views. So can I and so can anyone. We do not know we are doing it and if we did know we would not believe the things we believe now in the same way.
So, what is the alternative? I can say I am loyal to my own tradition and on that basis join in the debate with others. Our aim ceases to be to prove the truth in my own tradition and becomes encouragement and support for those who seek the truth in their own tradition. This will from time to time lead to challenging views held in another tradition from the perspective of my own. In doing this I am inviting deeper reflection rather than promoting my own tradition.
Fr Andrew in his 'Roads from Emmaus' blog, posted Ecumenism with a Gun, where he approaches this same issue in a very different way, which remains committed to ecumenical conversations:
I believe that Orthodox Christianity is the one, true way, that the Orthodox Church is the one, true Church, and that every single man, woman and child should be an Orthodox Christian. I hope that other religious people believe the same things about their religions. If they don’t, they are at least partial relativists, and if one is a relativist, I don’t see the point in being part of a religion. (Or they could simply be very mean—their faith is the one, true faith, but they don’t want to see other folks in it.)