Friday, 9 October 2009

Relationships and attitude are where it's at for the future of ecumenical theology

The stranzblog is currently attending the Faith and Order plenary commission of the World Council of Churches in Crete. I'm interpreting into French so I get to listen to all of the papers and discussions in plenary which is fascinating - though of course as some of it is coming out of my mouth in another language not all of it really goes in and stays put!
One striking thing already is that there is a new emphasis on relationships and developing an ecumenical attitude as values in themselves, not separate from the actual content of doctrinal discussions and dialogue but integral to them. The WCC general secretary elect Olav Fykse Tveit set the tone for this when he briefly addressed the Plenary Commission yesterday, wondering aloud about proposing a third pillar of relations to the existing pillars of Faith and Order. He also challenged the members of the plenary commission to focus not only on developing responses texts, but rather on finding expressions of the church’s oneness in daily life, in order to make a credible and strong common witness in words and deeds. (Tveit will take up office on January 1st and was a member of the Plenary Commission before his election.)
This morning we had a series of fascinating papers from Finland, South Africa, Cuba and China. In the brief comments following each paper I already began to sense that we are moving towards this more relational, less textually based yet perhaps more holistic approach.
Will write some more later about Minna Hietamäkki's paper which developed this.