Current tensions within and between churches are often the result of disagreements over moral issues. Churches thus face challenges to preserve unity and meet obstacles to restore unity. Seeing the urgency of the matter, the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Faith and Order Commission took up the task to assist the churches in finding a way to deepen mutual understanding leading to dialogue. Its study group on moral discernment presents two publications.
They are the fruit of a multilateral ecumenical study process that includes scholars and church leaders from different traditions: Eastern Orthodox and Oriental, Roman Catholic, Anglican and Old Catholic, as well as diverse Protestant and Pentecostal.
“Churches and Moral Discernment. Volume 1: Learning from Traditions,” provides self-descriptions on how 14 different church traditions engage in moral discernment processes. Each one reflects on the sources they use, how these sources interplay with each other and who actually participates in the process.
“Churches and Moral Discernment. Volume 2: Learning from History,” examines concrete historic examples where churches have modified or changed their understanding of a specific moral issue. They examine the occasions for and criteria of changes within traditions. Expert historians, theologians, and ethicists examine usury, slavery, freedom of religion, marriage, suicide, as well as church – state relations and Christian involvement in war and in peace-building. The contributions display similarities and differences in the ways in which churches have approached these challenges in the past.