Jeffrey Gros, one of the liveliest and most penetrating ecumenical thinkers I ever encountered, died earlier this month. A conversation with Jeff was always illuminating as well as a bit disorienting, for he had the many voices of global Christianity freshly cataloged in his brain.
The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline
It's not clear if this is meant to replace The Brady Center's "God Not Guns Sabbath," which has been observed on the last weekend of September for a number of years. But the organizers seem eager to keep the event broadly ecumenical and interfaith.
"I hope the shootings in Oak Creek will lead to interfaith education around the state," says Scott Anderson, director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches. "There is a hunger for this kind of engagement."
In a recent interview with the Century, historian David Hollinger talks about his preference for the phrase “ecumenical Protestants” to describe non-evangelical mid-20th-century American Protestants, instead of the more frequently used terms “liberal” and “mainline.”
“Ecumenical” refers to a specific, vital and largely defining impulse within the groups I am describing. It also provides a more specific and appropriate contrast to evangelical. The term evangelical comes into currency in the mid-century to refer to a combination of fundamentalists and Holiness, Pentecostals and others; ecumenical refers to the consolidation of the ecumenical point of view in the big conferences of 1942 and 1945.
I appreciated this shift in vocabulary because I have long disliked both the terms “liberal” and “mainline” to refer to whatever-kind-of-Protestant it is that I am.
The National Council of Churches, the Vietnam War, and the Trials of the Protestant Left
Recently a group of conservative evangelical theologians put together a self-consciously “evangelical” summary of the Christian faith—a confessional document that aims to provide a point of unity for evangelicals. The statement was published under the heading “The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration” in Christianity Today (June 14).