For its All-American Council in Toronto next month, the Orthodox Church in America has issued a study paper on its relations with sister Orthodox churches and the wider ecumenical community. While the paper is advertised as nothing more than “fodder for deliberations,” it nonetheless makes a strong recommendation for cutting the ties with the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. Chiefly, the OCA notes that this pull-out makes sense in light of the “liberal advocacy role” of the ecumenists.
The OCA, the former North American mission diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, is merely acknowledging the obvious: The National Council of Churches has become so partisan, so political, that it cannot hope to influence the Christian faithful who haven’t already adopted its left-liberal ideologies. The NCC has become a sort of para-church organization for people who believe the Gospel is a blueprint for big government solutions, pacifism and eat-the-rich economics. It’s the type of thing Howard Dean would have been attracted to had he gone to seminary.
The OCA notes (see p. 13 and following) that “it is not enough to be ‘against’ the distortions we see in the present ecumenical environment. It is important to present a vision of Christian unity we are ‘for.'” Amen. The church goes a step further, noting that “ecumenical Christian relations should be sought with conservative Christian bodies.” It will also exercise caution that any ties to conservative groups should not put it into the same predicament it has now with the NCC: identification with a partisan political group.
Let’s hope this is the first of many such reassessments by Orthodox churches in the United States about their disastrous involvement with the NCC. The Orthodox have been used by the NCC as a decorative window dressing, a bit of First Millennium authenticity, which lends its efforts a patina of moral legitimacy. The Roman Catholics, the Pentecostals, and many other Protestant denominations have had the good sense to stay out of this embarrassing mess.