Michael Westmoreland-White is singing the praises of Christian traditions other than his own (Baptist). I resonate with much of what he has written about the beauty, depth, and passion he finds in all the disparate branches of the Christian family. I especially appreciate his insistence that these traditions ought not be watered down in the name of some kind of fluffy Kum-bah-yah ecumenism:
Nonetheless, let me conclude by dissenting from those who, whether or not in the name of “emerging” Christianity (a movement so vaguely defined that I am never sure whether or not I like it!), want to get beyond all particular Christian traditions. Denominations, of course, are human institutions, and fallible. But theological traditions and families have usually preserved vital aspects of the gospel that are missed or downplayed by other traditions. Generic forms of Christianity, it seems to me, do not end up recovering the fullness of the Gospel (whatever their intent), but in losing ALL those vital elements preserved in various Christian traditions. The scandal of the divided Church is not that we come in different traditions, but that we have so often been willing to deny that the others ARE Christian–at many times in history even being willing to shed blood over which was the “real Church.”
I love being in ecumenical meetings with people from other parts of the Body of Christ. But I want the Catholics I meet to be authentic Catholics, the Presbyterians genuinely Reformed, etc. We should sing in harmony, not simple unity.
Well said, and Amen.
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