What We're Doing Here by S. M. Hutchens


What We're Doing Here

The Three-Way Conversation of Touchstone by S. M. Hutchens

At Touchstone we receive with fair frequency articles, and some very fine ones too, from authors who just don't seem to understand what we're about. It is obvious to such writers that "mere Christianity" applies exclusively to the communion to which they belong, so what they send us is based upon, or significantly laced with, anti-Orthodox, anti-Catholic, or anti-Protestant polemic, implied or explicit, as though any sensible reader will have no problems with it. I am not referring here to what is sent us by those good souls who don't really know what the dividing issues are, and write, often very well, from a standpoint within their church that they think all Christians who love Jesus and believe the Creed share. Rather, I am speaking about the more sophisticated ones in whose minds there is no real meeting place this side of eternity where such people can peaceably meet and speak with each other on that basis, looking forward from a perceived, presently existing unity to the final unity in which our eyes will be fully opened and our misperceptions (should we have any!) are corrected.

I would identify this latter attitude as an actual error of "realized eschatology" in which what is both present and yet to come have been mixed in favor of the former, so that a view of Christian life as a road or a way upon which one must move forward to deeper charity and greater understanding has been eclipsed by the equally authentic vision of the faith as something at which one has arrived, when these two aspects of Christian being need to be held together with the diminution of neither at the hands of the other. The irenicism for which we aim—meaning no disrespect for polemics, when rightly done—requires a truce with respect to what are believed to be the errors of other believers. The ecumenical project is a temporary thing: the need for it will pass away in the Morning, and I daresay, instantly.


S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.

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