Bold Ecumenical Affirmation of the Centrality of the Cross

The cross of Christ, a reality check for the ecumenical movement

“To be one, the Church must go back to its common basis. Nothing except Jesus Christ, and him crucified”, the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has said. The cross is not just a sign of religious identity, he added, but a “reality check” for both the churches and the ecumenical movement.

Tveit was preaching at a service in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva on 23 February. During the service, the WCC Executive Committee formally installed Tveit as the Council’s general secretary. A pastor and theologian from Norway, Tveit, 49, was elected as the WCC’s 7th general secretary in August 2009 and began his term on 1 January 2010.

“Seen in the perspective of the resurrection”, Tveit said, “the cross becomes the sign of God’s victory over sin and evil” and of “God’s unconditional love to all human beings”. It is also at the root of any possible Christian unity: “We are one as Christians because we receive the same gift” of God’s “being with us and for us” through the cross.

“It doesn’t sound like very diplomatic language”, acknowledged Tveit in his sermon, referring to the statement that the cross is “the symbol of what the churches have to give to the world […] nothing except Jesus Christ, and him crucified”. Nevertheless, he affirmed that such a statement offers “substance and direction to the ecumenical movement”.

“How shall we, then, best give shape to the ecumenical movement of the cross in our time?” Tveit wondered. “And how can the ecumenical movement be a movement of the cross – the tree of life?”

Read on…

You may find HERE an MP3 recording of the WCC General Secretary’ sermon.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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