(photo by: Albin Hillert/WCC)
This day was too long. I was exhausted by the end. It has been a push to get through all the days and participate fully. I really zoned out after “passing” the Call to Arusha. I get that organizers want to maximize the time together and that people have sacrificed time and money to be there. Still, something that the Institute of Youth Ministry learned about the Princeton Forums on Youth Ministry was that the conference was more productive by giving people more time off. Funny thing about Sabbath…
I think Bonhoeffer is the patron saint of the WCC. St. Dietrich.
Shortly behind is MLK Jr. St. Martin.
Like many saints, the hagiography likely obscures the reality. In this case, it isn’t clear to me that those invoking the WCC saints have read either.
Too Much America
I only felt this today. The Bible study, then prayer, plus reflections, plus a dramatization/reading of MLK’s I Have a Dream all added up to a heavy US presence today. I love America as much as the next guy but we could have used more Africans.
Powerhouse African Regions
After being here for a week it has been clear, at least based on this conference, that there are three powerhouse countries that represent their regions on a global Christian scale: Ghana in West Africa, Kenya in East Africa, and South Africa in Southern Africa. Two things to note. First, there is no Central Africa powerhouse. Second, an American colleague from Notre Dame thinks that Uganda is the powerhouse in Central Africa but was curious about why they weren’t here in bigger numbers.
Voting for Theosis
Ecumenism is not really my area. I use that as an excuse because I don’t really understand my role as a “delegate” at the CWME. There have been a group who has been listening and collecting, the word used here is “harvest” but I feel like I need to cover my liver when they say that, and who have taken all those gleanings to construct a statement. We got the statement this morning. I read it, critiqued it, wrote those critiques down and submitted it to the listening group. This afternoon, we were asked to review a second draft, talk about it in small table groups, then in a group of 1000 make comment. I wrote this reflection waiting for draft three. Somehow we have to “vote” on it.
Process wise, this is insane to me. I convene the Committee on Church Doctrine for the Presbyterian Church in Canada and, in that role, I try to build a consensus among various views within Reformed theology. There are times when that likely results in lowest common denominator theology, the kind that elides over differences rather than make a definitive decision about an issue. Each member of the committee must make a decision about what is too far down for them to go. The CCD is pretty big, about 18 voting members with more who have a voice. Finding consensus is hard, painstaking work that has really stretched my leadership abilities. I have not always done it well but I’ve tried to remain true to the Gospel and help the PCC understand God more faithfully. The idea that the organizers here are expecting to do some kind of process similar is, as I said, insane.
The most glaring example of the insanity is that in the second draft, “theosis” has made an explicit appearance. For those not in the know, this is a deeply Eastern Orthodox understanding of how God and humanity interact. That is, it is not a Protestant or Roman Catholic understanding. One group has their way elevated above the others. I would never vote to support theosis in normal circumstances. I would never be asked to. But here, apparently it is par for the course.
So, what do I do with that? Do I hold true to my Presbyterian roots and refuse assent? Or, for the sake of ecumenical relations suck it up and give assent? Further, as a “delegate” am I expected to represent my views or the views of the PCC? My role on the CCD tells me how the PCC officially believes but I have not been given any authority by the PCC to enunciate that. So, if I do not represent the authority of the church I am a “delegate” from, what is the value of the statement in the end? It is a bunch of people who have come up with something but it has no authority or continuity with the churches that constitute the WCC.
The statement “passed” with the theosis language getting attributed to “early church theologians” (what does that mean? As if they were in agreement on it?). I did not speak on the issue; I did not vote for the statement although almost everyone else did.