By John M. Todd
THE HARD FACTS OF UNITY. A layman looks at the Ecumenical Movement, by John Lawrence (SCM Press, 8s. 6d.). THE fourteen chapters of this book of about 55,000 words (good value for money) are a series of discussions on the aspeots of Christian disunity and attempts to cope with it, which interest the author.
It is a valuable hook for any Catholic wanting to know something about the day-to-day facts the hard homers facts. eoncerning the ecumenical .movement. mostly amongst Anglicans and Protestants.
Full of information, historical and current, it is not however intended as a rade METI4171 but as a personal contribution from one who devotes much of his Lime to ecumenical work.
A is much concerned with the World Council of Churches.
A chapter of 12 pages (Len per cent. of the book! is given to a very well informed ;ind serenely written account of " Roman Catholic Ecumenism"; there arc also many passing references to Catholicism.
Here are some of the author's points. Prayer must have the first priority in all ecumenical work. A mere federation of Churches is not sufficient: Christ intended his Church to have an organic unity.
He speaks of what he calls a practically universal failing amongst Christian Churches. This, in his view. is a refusal to admit past mistakes. past errors, a refusal also to admit that a new interpretation of an old dogma inlly amounts in practice to a change. even though in theory the new
interpretation was inherent in the old dogma.
HEpoints to the great inspiration and help which every Christian Church reeeives from other Christiansit is impossible to speak realistically of complete self-sufficiency (the author does not mention it but one thinks of the indebtedness of Catholics to Anglican and Protestant Biblical schola rs).
He points to the way in which different and partially opposed terms become slogans and hide great areas of agreement-he instances '' memorial" and " sacrifice" in reference to the Communion Service.
He points to the assent which can be given by a very wide range (Jr Christians to definitiona of the nattne of the Choi ch, and quotes very usefully in an appendix sonic remarkable pages from a World Council Report published by S.C.M. as "One Lord. One Baptiam".
HEquotes, usefully. also. the new basis proposed for the World Council of Chureho put forward at Delhi: "The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Sr'eripttirea and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit ".
He points to the value of many hymns of various denominational origins, used in common even now (one of the tangible points of contact between the Catholic Church and other churches). He writes of the desirability of small groups meeting locally for study and for action.
The hook covers such a wide range of subjecla that a short review cannot give an exact and full description of it. It is a valuable personal contribution to work its progt.iiss.