Ecumenical Dialogue and Interdenominational Unity
Ecumenical efforts should not aim to produce uniform doctrinal agreement but instead should promote mutual understanding of differing beliefs and in the process produce a formulation of the precise areas of departure between those denominations. Tension and disagreement within the church does not weaken the church’s unity, but is essential to it.
The church is strongest when fundamentalists and progressives display the duality of many gospel truths. Luther put this duality into terms of law and gospel. One is for humbling, one is for healing, but both are part of biblical wisdom. Both the LCMS and ELCA denominations contain valuable truth in their communion practices. LCMS churches emphasize the sanctity of the tradition and the importance of remembering the true purpose of Jesus’ death. ELCA churches emphasize the universality of God’s love for humankind, and that His sacrifice is freely given and not withheld from anyone. If one denomination was to stop operating communion the way they do, it would present the risk of forgetting the truths that are exemplified in that unique denominational perspective.
Ecumenical dialogue is the process by which Christian thought stays alive in the world, and prevents doctrine from becoming dead dogma. Each denomination of Christianity should be viewed as containing a unique cluster of theological and cultural perspectives. In the same way our skills and gifts come together to form the body of Christ, so do our unique perspectives and emphases of values. Unity is not about agreeing, it is about being willing to listen.
Witte, Andrew, "Ecumenical Dialogue and Interdenominational Unity" (2021). Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 943.