Instead of seeking re-union and communion with the Catholics why don’t the leaders of the Lutheran Churches and Anglican Churches start off by seeking re-union among their fellow Lutherans and Anglicans?
This webpage reveals that there is the Lutheran World Federation with about sixty member churches, the International Lutheran Council with thirty or forty member churches, the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Council with about twenty member churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Catholics with another seven denominations, then there are the unaffiliated Lutheran denominations with about another sixty or so churches.
Here is a list of the Anglican denominations who are separated from communion with Canterbury. There are well over a hundred.
If the ecumenists are so eager for church unity maybe they should start in their own backyard.
In my experience the mainline Lutherans and Anglicans treat their schismatic groups with a lofty disdain. “If they want to come back, they know where the door is.” seems to be the attitude.
But surely that is where the drive for unity and reconciliation should begin? Are the Lutheran and Anglican ecumenists eagerly searching for ways to reach out to their own separated brethren? I would be happy to learn otherwise, but I think not.
Why not encourage Anglicans and Lutherans to first establish unity within their own church, then let Anglicans be reconciled with the Methodists (who are essentially an Anglican schism) and then let the Anglo-Methodist Church establish full communion and organic unity with the Lutherans.
Some would reply, “But we already have open communion. We don’t have to work on that.” Perhaps, but that’s not the way the members of the breakaway groups would perceive it–otherwise they’d close up shop and re-join the main body.
I think there is plenty of work to be done on that front, and it should keep a good number of top rank ecumenists employed for many years to come.
In the meantime, by all means keep the dialogue with Catholics going.
But don’t hold your breath.
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