Working together into the future: ecumenism and Churches of Christ
I missed the earlier presentations on identity and the Restoration Movement, but suspect that these would have been related to the kinds of conundrums that were inevitably raised here. The questions were not new but were arising in fresh contexts.
How does a movement such as ours, marked by its simplicity, structural lightness and commitment to unity based on New Testament principles defend its continuing existence when it can be argued that much of its raison d’être has been absorbed into the contemporary spectrum of today’s church? Is it time to invoke the Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery and cease to exist, “being absorbed into the body of Christ at large?”
Of all movements, we seem to sit astride the range of traditions most easily. In most states, there are significant partnerships with the Baptists. We also punch above our weight in more formal, but diminishing, ecumenical arrangements across a number of traditions in several states. We are generally renowned for our proactive energy and commitment to all that expresses visible unity amongst Christians in fulfilment of the vision of Christ’s prayer in John 17.
To dissolve would be to surrender an important contribution to the Australian Christian landscape. We would also lose over 200 years of formed DNA. In spite of ourselves and our altruistic vision, we have become another “tribe” amongst many, and somehow there is a feeling that the human race would be depleted if this tribe disappeared.
Perhaps we are not so much at a crossroads but in a trackless wilderness in terms of our ecumenical expression. I suspect that where we can contribute well, we will continue to do so. We continue to exhibit great diversity amongst ourselves in terms of how we give expression to the vision of the call to Christian unity. In these post-modern times our very looseness on the ground can be a blessing, though its accompanying frustrations sometimes cause it to feel like a curse.