Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Online ISSN: 0022-0558
Publications
Article
The Abraham story is often taken as an allegory of the believer's total commitment to God. Other interpretations range from seeing the story as teaching God's command not to do violence to another, to reading the story as a warning against the then-prevalent pagan practice of child sacrifice. Jews, however, have for centuries been familiar with a variant of the story in which Abraham does kill Isaac. The present paper argues that this version represents a psychohistorical reconstruction in the context of Jewish suffering, told in order to teach the lesson that God's children often die at the hands of God's children. Psychological aspects of the Abraham story are discussed. Man, like Abraham, is given to destructive feelings toward his loved ones, yet knows little about how to express such impulses as feelings rather than as overt acts. Similarly, man too readily rationalizes his assignment of responsibility, blame, and sacrifice to another, whether in individual, family, or international life. Man is often too available for the role of victim, too much like Isaac. It is noted that victimhood is not always man's duty; at times man may be called to active opposition to those who would destroy him. Nor can man, like Sarah, hide himself from life in the role of an indifferent bystander. (French, German, Spanish, & Italian summaries) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
No abstract available.
 
Article
In the decade following the attacks of September 11,1001, a significant segment of U.S. religious and social conservatives more broadly classified not just al-Qaeda but the entire religion of Islam as a security threat, thereby countering the prevailing professional consensus and White House policy that maintained a distinction between terrorism and Islam. Later in thepost-9/11 decade, this popular security discourse degenerated into an even more anti-rational "Green Scare" over the threatfrom Muslim-Americans-notfrom violent attacks, butfrom a more surreptitious nonviolent plan of lslamization-that is, to topple the U.S. Constitution with sharia, or Islamic law. This essay introduces both the nature and agents of this anti-Islam and anti-Islamization discourse. Moreover, it deepens the prevailing characterization of this anti-Islam discourse as "Islamophobia" by showcasing its political utility-how well-known social-conservative culture warriors-both individual elite and institutions-opportunistically seized the topic of Islam as yet another platform upon which to advance their ongoing struggle against their domestic political rivals, the Democrats and the Left more broadly.
 
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This essay addresses the erole of an ecumenical organization, the World Alliance for International Friendship through the Churches, in the complicated process of religious and political rapprochement between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia in the 1920's and 1930's. It argues that the Bulgarian and Yugoslav National Committees of the World Alliance formed a diplomatic channel for tackling the problems between the two countries namely, the question of Macedonia but that their success was curtailed in the unsuccessful rapprochement process between the two countries.
 
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This essay reviews succinctly and selectively the oeuvre of Prof. Bro. Dr. Jeffrey Gros, F.S.C. In particular, his contributions that are examined relate to (I) ecumenical education in the Catholic tradition, the Pentecostal tradition, and for a wider ecumenical readership; (2) official dialogues, reports, and the cultivation of ecumenical relationships between/among communions; and (3) contemporary and future trajectories in ecumenism and ecclesiology. The commemorative essay begins with an introduction to his vocational calling and service, and it concludes with essential lessons he might have shared to orient aspiring ecumenists.
 
Article
The North American Academy of Ecumenists, which is affiliated with this journal, held its 2015 conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario, September 25–27, at the Mt. Carmel Spiritual Centre. With reduced attendance from previous years (thanks in part to Pope Francis’s appearance in the U.S. at the same time), this was a very different meeting from the usual format. The event was structured around work by all the participants to craft an NAAE response to the World Council of Churches convergence document, “The Church: Toward a Common Vision,” as all member denominations, councils of churches, faculties, and other groups have been asked to do by the end of 2016—just as was done for the Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry document of 1982. An “Open Space” process was used to engage all who were present in putting together the raw material for an NAAE response, which will be refined by a small committee, sent out to participants for their comments, and finally sent to the W.C.C. It is expected that the response will be complete in time to be published in J.E.S. next summer, along with reflections by the banquet speaker, the Rev. Canon Dr. Alyson Barnett-Cowan, president of the Canadian Council of Churches since May, 2015, following service as the interim secretary general of the Anglican Communion and its former director for Unity, Faith, and Order. Three young scholars were present as recipients of this year’s student prizes. The NAAE elected as its incoming president the Rev. Dr. Thomas F. Best, retired after many years of work with the Commission on Faith and Order of the W.C.C., and Dr. William McDonald, chair of Religion and Philosophy at Tennessee Wesleyan College, as vice president. Plans for the September 23–25, 2016, conference are underway to be held at the Candler School of Theology in Decatur, GA, on the theme, “Commemorating the Reformation: Churches Looking Together toward 2017.” Tentative plans are being made for a New England location for September 22–24, 2017, on the theme, “Worship in Ecumenical Contexts: A Once and Future Vision.” See https://naae.net/site/ for membership information.
 
Article
This essay suggests that speech act theory can provide tools to understand better how interreligious dialogue works and how words and actions are intimately connected. Following a brief introduction of speech act theory as developed by John Austin and others, with the key terminology of locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary acts, it applies this in an analysis of three examples taken from key texts of the Common Word dialogue process. This process consists of an exchange of letters and a series of conferences between senior Muslim and Christian leaders that started in 2007 with the Muslim open letter, A Common Word between Us and You. First, the essay looks at the illocutionary force of the publication in The New York Times of a response from Christian leaders produced at Yale University and suggests that it was highly significant in giving importance to A Common Word. The second example is a comparison of the opening greetings of three documents that brings to light very different illocutionary acts that incidentally also characterize the three texts. The third example is concerned with A Common Word's treatment of shirk. Speech act analysis of central texts shows how different readers may construe the same utterance as very different illocutionary acts. The essay suggests that what is at work in A Common Word is a manipulation of conventions determining speech acts, eventually suggesting that the focus on acts may be a springboard for further analysis of the potential for action by the actors involved in dialogue.
 
Article
Often, different religious communities will employ similar terms with different understandings and practices of meaning. These differences can lead to confusion in ecumenical engagement. The term "baptized by the Spirit" leads to such confusion when used in Baptist or Pentecostal communities. This work offers a comparison of such a term between the two communities, utilizing writings of Geertz, Lindbeck, and McClendon. In such a comparison the reader will find that the understanding of the term varies to such a degree that when claiming a Christian identity it is essential in the Baptist community, while in the Pentecostal community the practice of the term is important but not essential.
 
Article
This essay argues that the 2014 agreed statement from the Anglican Roman Catholic Theological Consultation in the United States (ARC-USA), "Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment," advances the search for the faith shared in common among Christians by placing moral teachings in the larger context of informing conscience. Ecclesial differences in determining right teaching reflect different ways of ordering teaching authority in the governance of the church, episcopi. Whether these need be church dividing or may be strategic differences given a shared faith may be explored in terms of four questions: (1) What is the purpose of moral teaching? (2) What are the ways of moral teaching and the ordering of ministry? (3) What is the relationship of the church as local and universal? (4) What is the nature of tradition and of the development of moral teaching?.
 
Article
The Second Vatican Council ended fifty-one years ago. In this short period great strides have been made in the area of interfaith dialogue. However, one thing is certain; the new ventures faced today in the Church's attempt to foster lasting ties with other religions ought to be engaged through a renewed vision of what it means to be dialogical. This vision, in its content and purpose, ought to go beyond those in the conciliar document, Nostra aetate. The Church cannot ignore the challenges that the global community faces from violent religious fundamentalism both within and outside of its fold.
 
Article
After the Holocaust, Christian scholars, challenged by Jules Isaac, became aware of the anti-Jewish bias of Christian preaching. They met at Seelisberg, Switzerland, in 1947, to offer a more faithful reading of the New Testament. More than a decade later, the Second Vatican Council produced the Declaration Nostra aetate, which redefined the Church's relation to the Jews, recognized their religion as source of grace, and expressed its respect for all the world religions.
 
Article
This essay weaves together the personal experiences of the author's life in Catholic-Jewish dialogue with a brief survey of relations on all levels between Jews and Christians. Acknowledging the efforts of Protestants as well as Catholics, it notes that the Jewish-Christian dialogue has been a major ecumenical effort in our time. Noting some of the problems and conflicts that have arisen in Catholic-Jewish relations, especially on the level of relations between the Holy See and the Jewish People, the author notes efforts made by both communities to resolve the difficulties and to establish teaching about each other that can be passed on to future generations, so that never again can the evil of Antisemitism hold sway among Christians.
 
Article
Both Christianity and Islam have become African religions with significant followings, living together in various communities of West Africa. The obvious Christian and Muslim encounter that ensues also calls for critical study. This essay examines the multifaceted approaches (traditional, modern, and postmodern) that feature prominently in discussions of Christian-Muslim relations in the sub-region, offering a critique of them with regard to the planting, spread, and encounters of the two great religious traditions in West Africa. None of the approaches discussed here is confined to or limited to a particular period in history or to particular people. Thus, in West Africa, the approaches have been used at different times by different people and often concurrently. The essay recommends a holistic, Communal approach to rather complex encounters between Christians and Muslims on the West African scene for peaceful coexistence.
 
Article
In July 2010, delegates from twenty-seven African countries met under Abuja Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan's auspices for the first conference "held within Africa to focus solely on the relationship of the African Christian with Islam." John Azumah and Lamin Sanneh edited the 2013 volume, The African Christian and Islam, which cultivates, harvests, and distributes fruits emerging from this conference. This essay explores their insights and implications for Africa and beyond on vital issues such as inclusiveness, polemics, proselytizing, and Holy Scripture.
 
Article
Catholic-Orthodox relations since the Great Schism have been characterized by discord and mutual distrust, yet contemporary relations are markedly warmer. This recent closeness can be partially explained by the presence of a perceived mutual enemy: secularism in Europe. This essay investigates how church leaders of the two traditions understand secularism in the modern world, as well as the rhetoric and writings of church leaders regarding the causes of secularism in Europe, the means they deem necessary to combat such secularism, and the potential benefits they see from allying with one another. Further, it evaluates obstacles such an alliance will face, both to its potential realization and to the effectiveness of such an alliance. Finally, this essay considers the impact of a Catholic-Orthodox alliance on ecumenical relations. As the Orthodox and Catholics move closer on this important issue, their ecumenical relations with other Christian groups-especially liberal Protestant groups-will suffer.
 
Article
In both the Mennonite-Anabaptist and Eastern Orthodox traditions, the eucha-rist is an agency of the ecclesial community's transfiguration. While the precise manner in which this characterizes the Mennonite eucharistic community is more ambiguous, the Eastern Orthodox Church is clear that the gestation of Christ in the womb of the pure, all-holy Theotokos, who was nevertheless not consumed, inspires the transfiguration of the faithful to insure that they ingest the body and blood of Christ as worthily as Mary bore Christ in her womb. However, this model is comparable to early Anabaptist expressions, especially in the writings of Pilgram Marpeck (d. 1556), from which Mennonites can draw to explain to their Orthodox counterparts the manner in which this transfiguration capacitates the worthy communicantfor peacemaking and nonviolence.
 
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