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Ecumenical Dislodgings

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Ecumenics and missions through much of the 20th century were closely related disciplines. In recent years mission studies has matured significantly in coming to grips with a new world Christian reality. The ecumenical movement on the other hand has not fared so well. A renewed effort to relate Christianity to its local projects across the historical landscape of the globe, which was intrinsic to the 20th century ecumenical project, is called for, along with a renewed effort to understand what fellowship and visible unity mean for world Christianity today. The ecumenical movement must become engaged in a fresh way in border crossing and territorial dislodging. Border crossing was intrinsic to the New Testament understanding of the faith. Moving to the margins, crossing social and cultural frontiers, defined the apostolic movement. The dispersal of the apostles was as fundamental to the Christian identity as their gathering in eucharistic unity. A consciousness of such dispersal is necessary for ecumenical life today. The modern missionary movement brought about such dispersal through its deterritorialization of the Christian religion. Those who continue to think that Christianity belongs to the West are still in the grips of the Christendom mentality. To this end Christianity must shed its territorial complex in order to recover its true identity. Ecumenical renewal will be found in being dislodged from its Christian homelands, and the entire Christian community is under the imperative not only to missionize, but to be missionized, to be transformed by the renewing of its collective and individual minds in this manner. To this end we need to become uncomfortable with inherited identities of language, tribe, and nation, to regard all lands and all identities, including our existing Christian ones as foreign places, in order to move in the light of the divine community that awaits us still.

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