[Be sure to read the update at the bottom of the post.]
Bruce Charlton has a post in which he decries inter-denominational Christian conflict. It seems to this author that the key quotes are these:
There is a gross unrealism in the way such matters are discussed – the theological and doctrinal and other faults of other Christians are a topic of endless fascination, it seems, as if it is a realistic hope that suddenly everybody in Christendom will agree on the one proper way of doing things!
Since we are stuck with multiple denominations, Mere Christianity is the only hope; in the sense that different kinds of real serious Christians must recognize that there are many other types of real serious Christians – and this is not going to go away – so the only questions is whether we will respect each other, try to appreciate each other, and work together; or not.
While acknowledging that Dr. Charlton has a point, I want to speak up for the other side. Too much ecumenism is demoralizing, and it weakens a people. Publicly disagreeing with, even sometimes attacking, those seen as wrong is absolutely necessary for us to keep up our spirits, for a man must believe that he is in the right if he is to have the spirit to protect himself and his people.
Indeed, it is the unique sickness of the current Western world that it now officially holds—and demands that all citizens agree—that it is bad to believe in the ways of your people. The greatest moral virtues are now held to be tolerance, nonjudgmentalism and openness to the outsider. That not-officially-acknowledged exceptions are granted to minorities, women, non-Christians and homosexuals only serves to highlight the tyranny, as these exceptions are never officially acknowledged, and they serve only as a means to tear down the status quo, not springing from any recognition that a people have the right to love and protect themselves.
Therefore we ought not to be so ecumenical that we lose our spirit and our love of our own. Sniping at heretics (even if they be only heterodox) is not only valid, but a certain amount of it is absolutely necessary. And even the one who calls for ecumenical unity and an end to sniping is, in fact, maintaining his spirits by publicly disagreeing with heretics.
But how then can we ally ourselves with other anti-liberals to fight the leftist juggernaut? How can we ally ourselves with heretics? This author does not assume that he has the authoritative answer, but some comments are in order.
First, it appears that the basic answer must be that we will ally with others only over ideas with which we agree, and we must never allow our alliance to induce us to drop our opposition to heresy. If we feel tempted to discount the errors of the heretics with whom we are allied, we must be allowed to denounce heresy without breaking the alliance. That is, we must give one another permission to disagree publicly without becoming enemies, because there are also legitimate areas of agreement and alliance.
An anti-liberal alliance will be similar to a real wartime alliance. Even allies that are regarded as especially close, such as America and England in the World Wars, will have national interests that diverge to a certain extent. Without discounting these differing interests, and without demanding that the two sides pretend that no differences existed, America and England cooperated when possible to defeat Germany and Japan. Something analogous is possible in the battle against the left.
UPDATE. Controversy has erupted on account of my use of the word “ecumenical.” I certainly did not imply that Dr. Charlton was endorsing ecumenism in the corrupt, modernist sense of the word, as a reading of his post shows.
Ecumenism can be valid, though, if done properly. My point was to warn against excessive ecumenism.