RECLAIMING THE GREAT TRADITION: EVANGELICALS,
CATHOLICS, AND ORTHODOX IN DIALOGUE
InterVarsity Press, 1997
The recipe for this book was well put in the 1940s by a man who put many things well. In describing “an agreed, or common, or central, or mere Christianity”, C. S. Lewis, in the preface to his book by that name, put forward a most important ecumenical principle. Lewis wrote, “It is at her center, where her truest children dwell, that each communion is really closest to every other in spirit, if not in doctrine. And this suggests that at the center of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks with the same voice.”
The great mistake of the many liberal varieties of ecumenical dialogue has been to think that we come closest to each other along our edges. If this were true, it would follow that at those points where friction occurs the solution is to smooth over the rough places in our relationships with other believers by ignoring or forgoing what leads to conflict. Peace is the treasured goal of such dialogue. Not, however, “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Phil. 4:7), but the contrived and artificial peace that we have been warned “the world giveth” (John 14:27).
Such an approach is worlds apart from the ecumenism stressed in this book. A traditionalist ecumenism must at the very least refuse to compromise the integrity of the Christian tradition, even if this refusal means paradoxically that our unity will be more evident in our quarrelling about the truth than in our settling for something less than the truth.
Contributors include Bishop Kallistos Ware, Peter Kreeft, J. I. Packer, Richard John Neuhaus, Harold O. J. Brown, and Carl Braaten.