In Chris's article he speaks mostly about traditional divisions between Catholics and Protestants. He shares some personal experiences within his family and ministry and how working through and joining together with each other, they've been able to move closer to Christ as the center. But I have a few honest questions:
1. Chris speaks rather negatively about "doctrinal lines" as if to suggest that none should exist. He describes this as an essentially evangelical effort to determine "who's in and who's out." I want to agree to a point that the demand for absolute theological conformity has often been taken to ridiculous and sinful extremes. But is Chris suggesting that no lines be drawn at all? Perhaps such talk appears safe enough when speaking of Protestant/Catholic relationships, but what about Mormans, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Oneness Pentecostals? Is Chris suggesting that we throw the flood gates open for any and all who call themselves Christians? And if not, on what basis would he exclude some and include others?
2. Chris shared that the incorporation of some Catholics into his ministry resulted in a strengthening of it. I don't want to challenge that; however, he continues to say, "The only hurdle we really experienced was at the communion table. Other than that, community carried on . . ." I find this a troubling statement to simply breeze by. The indication I get is that the incorporation of Catholics and Protestants together in a mission agency resulted in conflict around one of the central aspects of worship -- Communion. I wish Chris would have elaborated on this. I'm not sure how a group of people could be said to be experiencing truly Christian community without taking the Lord's Supper together.
3. Why does Chris label the "tendency to reject other traditions" as a Protestant one? Weren't Wycliffe, Huss, and Luther excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church rather against their will? Aren't Catholic and Orthodox leaders every bit as dogmatic and "divisive" as Protestants?
4. In speaking about the idea of moving towards theological unity, Chris asserts that reductionism is bad, but I'm not convinced that he doesn't go on to do just that. For example, he writes, "We can all agree that God doesn't want children's sexuality exploited and commodified in the commercial sex industry. Discovering theological unity in that tragic space is easy. So we stay in those obvious places and inch our way closer to one another based on what else we can agree on." But Chris doesn't do anything to explain what makes such an issue an "obvious place" theologically. What makes this "easy" and another issue difficult? Is it simply deemed easy on the basis of a kind of straw poll among self-proclaimed Christians? I understand the practical draw to such thinking, but I'm unaware of any Biblical justification for it. And then what happens when a professing Christian suggests that he/she doesn't exactly agree with this "obvious statement"? It may seem far-fetched, but we're having to deal with something very near to that right now. What does Chris's ecumenism do with such a person? If the answer is to throw them out, upon what basis? If its only a matter of majority view, then we're no better off than when we started.
So, I'm left at the end of Chris's article feeling that he simply hasn't provided a sufficient Christocentrism to build a real Christian unity. To simply say that Christ must be the center doesn't mean that He really is. For it means something to be a follower of Christ. It has doctrinal and theological ramifications as well as necessary practical and missional commitments. I don't claim to know for sure what those are but sincerely believe that the Lausanne Covenant goes a long way in capturing these. Anyway, my mind is not at all closed to the pursuit of ecumenical unity and I deeply appreciate the heart behind what Christ has shared, but I'm just not convinced that he has done enough to really show us the way forward.