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Here's my blurb that is printed inside this book's front matter:
"With Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness Jordan J. Ballor gives us a much needed consideration of modern ecumenism. In particular he grapples with this daunting question: whether ecumenical bodies indeed speak for the church in their pronouncements on the hot-button social issues of the day. Wedding compassion with clear-headed thinking, Ballor questions whether ecumenical bodies may rightfully make such assertions on behalf of God's people, and - more to the point - whether ecumenism is getting its economics right."
I just finished reading Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness by Jordan Ballor, which I received complimentary through the Acton Institute, "an ecumenical think-tank dedicated to the study of free-market economics informed by religious faith and moral absolutes." (Their website) Ballor's book is an exploration of three statements of faith put forward by three ecumenical Christian bodies, the Lutheran World Federation, World Communion of Reformed Churches and the World Council of Churches. Through examining these confessions in Ecumenical Babel Ballor asks whether the ecumenical movements serve as associations of churches affiliating together to spread the gospel and Christian action in the world, or is ecumenism an end unto itself, in what Ballor channels Eisenhower to call the "ecumenical-industrial complex" (5). Ecumenism as an association of churches is a pat of time honor Church tradition, however, the creation of ever larger bureaucracies and religious bodies with no more interest than their own existence, and using valuable resources, should not be Christian tradition. This question is very important when considering that the ecumenical movement issues proclamations regarding Christian action and witness in the world. Can the ecumenical movements truly speak for all Christians on all issues? Or is it preferable to allow Christian conscience to reign on issues that aren't central to salvation?
Furthermore, is the ecumenical movement even approaching it's understanding of economics appropriately? Ballor addresses the imposition of economic ideologies in these confessions that follow Marxist, neo-Marxist or liberation theories of economics, blaming the West, along with free-market capitalist ideas, for the social ills of the world.Read more ›
When we survey today's global economic environment, there are few observations that all of us can agree on.
Here's a start:
*Gigantic transnational corporations are out of control, exploiting their workers and rendering consumers and governments powerless to their manipulative forces.
*Venerable local cultures, along with their esteemed mom-and-pop shops, are under attack, besieged by an ever-homogenizing monster, eager to suck away their uniqueness and transplant it with Western saliva.
*Economic globalization -- the root of such evils -- is fattening the pockets of the rich, emptying the pockets of the poor, and threatening earth's most vital life support systems in the process.
On the whole, modern-day capitalism and free trade have resulted in rampant greed and moral depravity, leading society to sacrifice its most vulnerable members on an altar of economic neoliberalism.
Oh, and when I say that all of us can agree on this, I mean all of us Christians.
I wish I could say that the above rant was constructed from articles in the Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, or The New Republic. Unfortunately, it was compiled from ideas found in the recent proclamations of three major ecumenical organizations: the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC). (Yes, I did have a bit of fun with them.)
The problem, of course, is that all of us don't agree -- a point not lost on theologian Jordan Ballor, author of the new book, Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness.Read more ›
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Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich) is a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty, where he serves as executive editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research, and his scholarly interests include Reformation studies, church-state relations, theological anthropology, social ethics, theology and economics, and research methodology.