[This post is a work in progress as part of the CAA Catechism.]
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Summary in 400 words or less:
Often, skeptics and anti-theists will purport that Christianity is an invalid worldview due to the fact that many denominational variants exist. To the chagrin of such skeptics, all orthodox denominations adhere to the same common core beliefs. Ecumenical apologetics finds the central theses that comprise basic Christianity. Ecumenism is defined as the “attempt to seek a worldwide unity and cooperation among all churches that confess Jesus Christ as Lord” (Grenz et. al. 1999, 43).
Unity was sought early in the movement of the Church as controversies sought to divide. The Nicene Creed was provided in order to offer the core fundamentals of the faith. Often, the Nicene Creed is used as a standard to provide the basis for the foundational similarities between Christians from different walks even today. As noted by Cross and Livingstone, the Nicene Creed was “issued in 325 by the Council of Nicaea and known to scholars as N” (Cross and Livingstone 2005, 1152). Some have contended that ecumenical movements often distort or drift away from fundamental characteristics of the faith. For instance, legendary pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon pulled out of the Baptist Union in the late 1800s due to a drift towards liberalism.
Nevertheless, many have argued that ecumenism stems from a solid evangelism. John H. Y. Briggs denotes that “we need to remind ourselves that this unity is both a gift and goal and we need to enjoy the gift of the unity we already possess whilst ever striving for richer and deeper relationships” (Briggs 2005, 17). Many organizations have been able to successfully demonstrate such a unity. For instance, since 1965 the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation has met semiannually to provide unity amongst Orthodox and Catholic believers. The late Chuck Colson started a movement called the Manhattan Declaration which unites Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians under the auspices of “life, marriage, and religious liberty.”
The CAA maintains an ecumenical stance pertaining to the central truths of Christendom and thereby does not necessarily support or endorse any particular denominational stance. Thereby, the CAA makes the rational defense of the theistic Christian worldview its primary emphasis and therefore does not engage in denominational differences and disputes. The CAA stands by the statement “in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas,” (i.e. “in essentials unity, in differences liberty, but in all things charity”); believed to have first been used by Marco Antonio de Dominis in 1617.
Scripture for YouVersion:
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References for further reading:
Briggs, John H Y. “Baptists and the Ecumenical Movement.” Journal Of European Baptist Studies 6, 1 (September 1, 2005): 11-17. Accessed June 11, 2015. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.
Cross, F.L., and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Grenz, Stanley, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling. Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999.
Schaff, Philip. The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The History of Creeds. Volume 1. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1878.
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