Chapter 27 » 27.19

Friends and the Christian church

Secreted within the organism that is the historical Christian faith, there is a mystical and spiritual tradition which uses metaphor, symbol, image and art to come to terms with the questions thrown up by the lifestyle and religious commitment that it has made and to which it remains loyal.

It could be that the modern ecumenical movement is essentially such a quest for meaning through spirituality. Catholics wanting to take communion with Methodists, or Quakers willing to take communion with anybody, are left in no doubt that they are departing from the party line. One sometimes needs a strong conscience to practise unity against the wishes of one’s denominational authorities. But hard though it is to see it sometimes, the old, hierarchical, entirely male, theological style of church leadership is weakening. The real ecumenical movement is found among people who have experienced unity, and the universal faith is found there. But this universal faith lives in a way of life, rather than a set of beliefs.

John Punshon, 1987

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