King's Evangelical Divinity School

1 May 2012

Debate on ecumenism (Revelation TV, 24 April 2012)

Here's a live debate I participated in during a live broadcast by Revelation TV last week. The subject was ecumenism and the person I debated with was the Revd Elizabeth Welch (Chair, Society for Ecumenical Studies). The programme was Simply the Truth, chaired by Doug Harris.

Calvin L. Smith debates ecumenism, Revelation TV (24 April 2012) from Calvin Smith on Vimeo.


Brendan said...

Hi Calvin,
I thought the debate with Elizabeth went really well,and on first viewing of the recording, I found both your viewpoint and Elizabeth's perspective well balanced.
I suppose it is very easy to 'accentuate' denominational differences, where that could be Hyperdulia (the honour given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Roman Catholicism)or Glossololia (the celestial language used in worship by some Charismatic groups).I would agree with your good self and the good Elizabeth that most Christian denominations (inclusive of Catholics)would adhere to a central Christian creed - with the exception of Jehovah Witnesses, as I understand their beliefs.
Conclusively, I suppose as Christians we can have differing views but remain cohesive enough to propagate the Christian faith in a post-modern society - a society that I have discovered to be cynical of Christians generally, i.e. as you insightfully intimated that there are individuals who perhaps do not behave in a Christian manner, etc, etc.
Maybe the positive side of ecumenism is really what ecumenism should be - to present the Gospel to society, valuing Biblical truths, understanding eschatology, and..if we're really on form, displaying Christian charity.
GOD Bless you and yours.

Brian B said...

Greetings Calvin,

Paula and I just finished watching the debate with great interest and appreciation for the the level of civility and dialogue on both sides. I very much appreciated the distinction you made between organisational versus organic unity, as it seems the former is what typically is the bottom-line emphasis and why present-day ecumenism is generally impotent in accomplishing the task of John 17:21.

What I find interesting--as well as a continual frustration with typical ecumenism--is that throughout the debate whenever any question/focus was presented to Elizabeth regarding essential non-negotiables, there was never a clearly vocalised response to what some of those might be. Granted, she acknowledgement in a general, almost esoteric, agreement that there are these non-negotiables that define what it means to be Christian, but getting the typical ecumenical proponent to explicitly share what they might be seems a real struggle for them. It seems like they struggle with laying out any distinctives because that would tantamount to a postmodern view of taking authority over someone.

Very much appreciate your willingness to dialogue with folk about such challenging issues and your gracious manner throughout the process. Grace to you and the family,