OΝΕ LORD AND OΝΕ CHURCH
WISHFUL THINKING AND HARD REALITIES
Επιστημονική Επετηρίδα Θεολογικής Σχολής (Τμήμα Ποιμαντικής), Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο, Θεσσαλονίκη 1992. (Τιμητικό Αφιέρωμα στον καθηγητή Ιωάννη Ορ. Καλογήρου).
2. The Way toward Unity
When we talk about the way toward unity, we address the ultimate goal to be achieved through the reception of ecumenical dialogues and a growing awareness of a convergence of different communions. Ιn order that such reception and awareness be fostered we need first of all to make known the fruits of the ecumenical dialogues on all levels. It is grossly insufficient if seemingly professional ecumenists engage in various dialogues while the grassroots faithful are still centuries behind in their thinking, Dialogues cannot only be carried out on global or international levels but must also be conducted on national, regional, and local levels.
a. The oneness we confess
The so-called Lima document (1982) developed by the Commission on Faith and Order, is a major step toward visible unity. This document provides a basic consensus on a global scale from which new impulses toward ecumenical unity should be forthcoming and is the fruit of a 50-year process of study stretching all the way back to the first Faith and Order Conference at Lausanne in 1927. It is based on earlier drafts, such as the 1975 study document One Baptism, One Εucharist and a Mutually Recognized Ministry. The new document, with the simple title Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry, has been sent out to the churches, just like the prior one, for evaluation and comments: Ιn the introduction to the document we read: «That theologians of such widely different traditions should be able to speak so harmoniously about baptism, eucharist and ministry is unprecedented in the modern ecumenical movement»(12). The document is not a complete theological treatment of baptism, Eucharist, and ministry. It concentrates on those aspects which have a direct bearing on mutual recognition leading to unity.
The commisaion wants to know whether its document presents an authentic expression of the Christian faith. If a church would concede this, it would have to draw consequences for relations with other churches who also consider the text as an authentic expression of the Christian faith. It could hardly remain indifferent toward these churches or even justify a separate existence. Through this document churches should also be enabled to examine their own piety and discern to what extent it is separatist and to what extent it is reflective of a common witness. Ιn addition the current consideration of the Lima text should feed into another long term project of the Commission to advance a study «Toward the Common Expression of the Apostolic Faith Roday». Envisioned is a new kind of creed which could serve as a sign of unity or at least of togetherness.
The Lima text signals that we have gone beyond the phase of mere dialogue. Νow concrete steps must be taken which effect the individual churches. This challenge has surprised some churches and they wonder whether they can still participate in the WCC. Most churches are still primarily interested to what extent the ecumenical texts agree with their own doctrinal understanding instead of letting that understanding be challenged by the texts and the common tradition they reflect. Similarly, most reforms are undertaken in order to enhance our own image in today's world and seldom result from ecumenical dialogue. But many are growing increasingly impatient with what looks like mere lip service to ecumenical unity.
12. Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1982),