Current Issue Article Abstracts

Spring 2020 Vol. 55.2

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Introduction: Towards a New Détente: Ecumenical Outreach and Interfaith Dialogue in an Age of Uncertainty
William P. McDonald

This is a report of the annual meeting of the North American Academy of Ecumenists, held September 27–29, 2019, at The Sign of the Theotokas Orthodox Church in Montreal. The theme involves the interface of ecumenical outreach and interfaith dialogue, within the contemporary social and intellectual context. The meeting featured four Canadian and two U.S. speakers from academia and/or grassroots practitioners who have had experience in both ecumenical and interfaith work.

Authors in This Special Section

Ecumenical Outreach and Interfaith Dialogue in Montreal
Adriana Bara

This Romanian-born author heads the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism and teaches at Concordia University, both in Montreal. She describes the sociopolitical concept of ecumenical cooperation and multicultural and interfaith concerns in Montreal and throughout Canada. She emphasizes the need for humility and love among Christians and in their meeting with persons of other faiths.

Interfaith Dialogue at the End of Christendom: The Scriptures of My Dialogue Partners
Patricia G. Kirkpatrick

This McGill University professor discusses the implications of openness to dialogue for both academic and personal development. She urges that interfaith interactions should include the encounter of one another's scriptures for authentic dialogue to occur. She also discusses a "fractal" theory of religious diversity, which needs to go beyond mere tolerance.

Christian Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue: Convergences and Divergences
Paul Ladouceur

This essay discusses how Christian ecumenism and interreligious theology and dialogue may benefit from each other. Beginning with overviews of points of concurrence among world religions and typologies of Christian attitudes toward world religions, it explores the relevance to interreligious dialogue of key notions from ecumenical experience: the identification of appropriate dialogue partners, the importance of understanding the other, "purification of memory," ecumenical and interreligious "gift exchange," personal friendship, and common prayer. Some types of unity sought in Christian ecumenism are relevant in interreligious dialogue, while others are not. Particular obstacles in interreligious dialogue are less significant in ecumenism: interreligious violence, the politicization of religious identity, the "dilution" of religious beliefs, and risks of Christian relativism. Lessons relevant to interreligious understanding and dialogue are sought in the works of Fr. Lev Gillet and Christina Mangala Frost.

Paths to Wholeness: Comparative Theology and the Ecumenical Project
S. Mark Heim

This essay explores four main points in outlining the changing relation between ecumenism and interfaith engagement. First, it describes an ironic shift: Where once world mission was the common motive for Christian ecumenical engagement, now differences among Christians over response to religious diversity are themselves of church-dividing status. Second, it argues there is a new urgency for ecumenism as the necessary resource for adequate engagement with the religions—a new way for religious diversity to motivate ecumenism. Third, the essay traces the development of comparative theology as the appropriate theological resource for this new engagement. Fourth, it describes the convergence toward a trinitarian theology as a common element that marks both the recent ecumenical movement and the newer response to religious diversity.

Milestones and Peak Experiences in My Long Ecumenical Journey
John George Huber

This is the banquet address by a ninety-year-old Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor and campus minister with long involvement in ecumenical dialogue around the world. He describes his involvement in intra-Lutheran to World Council of Churches events in which he participated over more than six decades.

Canadian Ecumenical Activity and the Rise of "Nones": Is There Any Relationship?
Michael Attridge



Social Justice and Rituals of Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Perspectives from African Religion and Roman Catholic Christianity
SimonMary Aihiokhai

This essay intentionally seeks ways that some insights and rituals of forgiveness of sin in African Religion can enrich the theology and sacramental celebrations of the sacrament of penance and reconciliation in the Roman Catholic Church. A case is made for the celebration of this sacrament to represent the cultural contexts of each local church in ways that heighten their appreciation for it.

New Ecclesial Movements in the Church: Signs of Hope for Ecumenical Spiritual Unity
Reginald Alva

In the contemporary world, there is a conspicuous lack of interest in religions among people due to secularization, loss of societal values, and distrust of organized religions. The increasing number of scandals and abuses by the hierarchy further aggravates the situation. The division among Christians because of doctrinal differences gives rise to scandals, which are counter-gospel. The new ecclesial movements, which began just before and after the Second Vatican Council in the Roman Catholic Church, work not only for the revitalization of faith but alsofor promoting genuine ecumenical dialogue with other Christian denominations. This essay examines two ecclesial movements—the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement and the Focolare Movement—that practice and promote ecumenical dialogue at the practical level, thereby contributing to spiritual unity among all Christians. The resources for this study are the documents of the Catholic Church and documents on these two movements.

A Rereading of Theology of Diaspora: Perspectives for an Ambiguity-Sensitive Ecumene following the CPCE Study Document*
Mirjam Sauer

This essay provides a presentation of the study document, Theology of Diaspora, from the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe and describes how the document refers to the diaspora situation of Protestant communities as both challenge and opportunity. It then pleads for an ecumene that discovers religious identities in diaspora situations as an important topic of theological academic reflection. Finally, it pleads for an ambiguity-sensitive approach, which values the interrelatedness, hybridity, and variety of religious identities in the twenty-first century.



Role of Religions in the Spread of COVID-19
David Emmanuel Singh

We are ordinarily disposed to look for evidence of the positive role religions play in society. Religion, as Durkheim posited, is a "force" that activates a sense of obligation in the faithful to reach beyond self. This impulse usually results in positive action and behavior. This essay, however, brings together exceptional cases that cut across religions where the ordinary functionalist positivity gives way to negative behavior.

Yoga, Meditation, and Mysticism: Contemplative Universals and Meditative Landmarks by Kenneth Rose (review)
Paul Knitter


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