Beyond the family or particular Christian tradition, how much effort do we make to consider what the Mennonites or the Episcopalians, the Baptists or the Pentecostals, the Methodists or the Presbyterians have to say to the rest of us out of their DIFFERENCES, as well as out of the affirmation in common with other Christians? As I suggested earlier, our patterns of ecumenicity tend to bracket out our differences rather than to celebrate and capitalize upon them. Finding common ground has been the necessary first step in ecumenical relations and activity. But the next step is to acknowledge and enjoy what God has done elsewhere in the Body of Christ. And if at the congregational level we are willing to say, 'I can't do everything myself, for I am an ear: I must consult with a hand or an eye on this matter,' I suggest that we do the same among whole traditions. If we do not regularly and programmatically consult with each other, we are tacitly claiming that we have no need of each other and that all the truth, beauty and goodness we need has been vouchsafed to us by God already. Not only is such an attitude problematic in terms of our flourishing, as I have asserted, but in this context now we must recognize how useless a picture this presents to the rest of society. Baptists, Presbyterians and Roman Catholics failing to celebrate diversity provide no positive examples to societies trying to understand how to celebrate diversity on larger scales.
John G. Stackhouse Jr.