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Thursday, January 30, 2003

An Urge to Merge-Josh Sargent passes on this ABC pieceon an effort to try and have an American pan-Christian organization.
Church leaders from 30 denominations agreed Wednesday on a proposal to create the broadest alliance of Christians ever formed in the United States. The steering committee of the budding effort, tentatively called Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A., will invite a wide range of national church bodies and agencies over the next several weeks to join them. The loosely knit alliance would represent five segments of U.S. Christianity, listed in the plan as "Evangelical/Pentecostal, Historic Protestant, Orthodox, Racial/Ethnic and Roman Catholic." The Catholic church and most evangelicals and Pentecostals do not belong to the National Council of Churches, which is currently the nation's largest ecumenical group. If the new alliance does emerge, it could supplant the National Council or radically alter its role in American Christianity.
Don't hold your breath. Trying to merge the left-leaning NCC churches with Catholic and evangelical churches seems to be a fool’s errand, however. The three blocs don’t agree on to much, so I’m not sure what the use of such a broad-based organization would be. They don’t agree on most moral issues, they don’t agree on most theological issues and they definitely don’t agree on political issues. Currently, you can tell a lot about a denomination’s theology by whether they belong to the NCC. If they are an NCC member, their theology would tend to be in the left half of the spectrum. Individual churches within the denominations may be more conservative, but there are few if any theologically conservative churches within the NCC. The Catholics might agree with a lot of the NCC’s politics but not their theology or their stance on sexual issues. The evangelicals and mainline Protestants don’t agree on much of anything. I don’t think this circle can be easily squared.

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