Archives For Unity


A Call to the Table.

A Review of

Whole: A Call to Unity in Our Fragmented World
Sharon Watkins.

Paperback:Chalice Press, 2014.
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Review by David Lemley.

Sharon Watkins’ Whole is, on one hand, a stirring vision for the life, worship and witness of the local church at the intersection of historic Christian faith and contemporary cultural contexts. On the other, this is a charge delivered by the head of an American-born denomination in decline, developed from a sermon at the National Cathedral and an exposition of recent ecclesial vision statements. The book offers a glimpse into how a radical nineteenth century vision echoes in a twenty-first century context.


The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is often identified by its primary visual symbol, the chalice, standing for communion with God around an open table. It is (with self-aware irony) a denomination surviving since the early 1800s, founded on the principle of ending denominational distinctions for the sake of Christian unity. The American Restoration Movement forged various denominational streams along a spectrum of purity and unity, with the Disciples holding fast to the latter. Like many American mainline denominations, to whom contemporary Disciples bear liturgical and demographic resemblance, they perhaps experience decline not so much as a result of sectarianism, but appearing missionally indistinct from other progressive political and social impulses.

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“Is Christ divided?
The Witness of an Ecumenical Table, Not an Ecumenical Babel?”

A Brief Review of

Ecumenical Babel:
Confusing Economic Ideology
and Church’s Social Witness

Jordan J. Ballor.
Christian Library Press, 2010.
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Reviewed by Jess O. Hale, Jr.

To many Christians today the lack of unity among Christ’s followers scandalizes the church, but for many disciples of Jesus the depth of poverty across the globe and around the corner is equally scandalous.  It is quite natural that both realities give offense to Jesus’s followers as Paul’s lament in 1 Corinthians (“Is Christ divided?”) is later matched by his collection for the poor and his horror at people going hungry at the Lord’s Table while others feasted.  In Ecumenical Babel, a young Reformed scholar who edits the Journal of Markets and Morality for the free-market oriented Acton Institute, Jordan Ballor, looks at the ecumenical movement and shares the scandal of the division in the body of Christ, but disappointingly he seems as caught up in economic ideology as those he blasts with criticism.  While today’s ecumenical movement is undoubtedly sickly and I had guarded hopes when Ballor took Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s passionate confessional ecumenism as a point of departure, unfortunately Ballor cannot rise above a screed against his assessment of “neo-Marxism” and liberation theology with his equally ideological and baldly asserted free-market neo-liberalism (xvi, 4, 105).

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