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Unbaptized God: The Basic Flaw in Ecumenical Theology.

One of the issues confronting the ecumenical movement is whether the dialogue between the various Christian churches has made much headway over the last few decades. Jenson articulates a not uncommon view that ecumenism is at a standstill and that the many dialogues have been largely futile and frustrating efforts that fail to deal with the real differences that divide Christianity.

J.'s view is that dialogical exchanges between representatives of different churches have not contributed to Christian unity. The argument advanced in support of this thesis runs as follows: those engaged in dialogue have taken up traditional areas of theological dispute and have sought to narrow the distance between the respective ideologies. Dialogue, however, while identifying some areas of convergence, has repeatedly led to further debates and apparently unreconcilable differences and impasses. J. proceeds to show how this applies to several topics that have been the focus of many inter-church exchanges. He divides these topics into two broad areas: (1) the "Early Ecumenical Convergences," that include the themes of justification, the Real Presence, and the eucharistic sacrifice; and (2) the "Convergences about the Church," that consider church office, the episcopacy, the papacy, and the Church's mediation. Finally, he attempts to show that theological debates about apostolic succession, Christology, and the Trinity portray a basic flaw shared by all parties in dialogue: a misunderstanding of the fundamental concepts of temporality, the presence of Christ, and the nature of God.

J.'s book certainly provides several insights into the nature of the differences between the various Christian churches. One wonders, however, whether he underrates the achievement of the ecumenical movement and whether his own theological solutions would lead to the same problems he so ardently wishes to avoid.
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Author:Saliba, John A.
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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