Baptists tend to bethe "problem children" of the ecumenical movement. TheBaptist obsession to realizea true church birthed a tradition of separation. While Baptists' misgivings about ecumenism maystem from this fissiparous genealogy, it is equally true that the modern ecumenical movement itself increasingly lacks consensus about the pathway to a visible Christian unity.In Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future , Steven R. Harmon explores the relationship of theBaptist calling to be a pilgrim community andthe ecumenical movement. Harmon argues that neither vision can be fulfilled apart from a mutually receptive ecumenical engagement. As Harmon shows, Baptist communities and the churches from which they are separated need one another. Chief among the gifts Baptists have to offer the rest of the church is their pilgrim aversion to overly realized eschatologies of the church and their radical commitment to discerning the rule of Christ by means of the Scriptures. Baptists, in turn, must be willing to receive from other churches neglected aspects of the radical catholicity from which the Bible is inseparable.Embedded in the Baptist vision and its historical embodiment are surprising openings for ecumenical convergence.
Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future urges Baptists and their dialogue partners to recognize and embrace these ecumenically oriented facets of Baptist identity as indispensable provisions for their shared pilgrimage toward the fullness of the rule of Christ in their midst, which remains partial so long as Christ's body remains divided.
Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future by Steven R. Harmon was published by Baylor University Press in March 2016. The ISBN for Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future is 9781602585706.