It is difficult to assess the health of the current ecumenical movement. On the one hand, recent years have witnessed astonishing theological convergences--for example, the agreement on justification between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation. On the other hand, there has been an undeniable loss of energy and passion in the movement as a whole, perhaps in part because such theological work has not yet made a significant enough difference in the way Christians live with one another.

This is the concern of what is known as the Princeton Proposal for Christian Unity, now published in book form. The proposal is the product of three years of discussion by 16 scholars, invited and sponsored by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. This "unofficial" ecumenical group included such well-known ecumenists as Geoffrey Wainwright (Methodist), George Lindbeck (Lutheran) and Robert Wright (Anglican).

An introductory comment identifies two problems that have left the movement "stalled in place": 1) Many churches that have historically been involved in ecumenism are now preoccupied with internal divisions and are thus less able and willing "to receive" the results of ecumenical dialogue. 2) The World and National councils of churches, once primary instruments of the movement, are now captive to a social/political agenda that subordinates the focus on visible church unity and is, itself, often divisive.