In response to my previous post on the ecumenical theology of John Howard Yoder (1927-1997), Andy Black, a Baptist Ph.D. student in theology at the University of Dayton, sent me the following quotation from Yoder's article "A Non-Baptist View of Southern Baptists," published in 1970 in the journal Review and Expositor (for which, for what it's worth, I served for a time as associate editor, though not in 1970!):
"My hope for the Southern Baptists is that there should be no diminution of the commitment to the genuinely theological distinctive positions of their tradition, but that these distinctives might become no longer simply the accreditation for an independent existence. Rather that they should be the substance of a witness to Christians of other convictions and the instruments of internal self-criticism and renewal. If the mood in which distinctives are dealt with is one of ecumenical sharing rather than the shoring up of one’s separateness, then ways will be found to express them not in naïve oversimplification but in the kind of reformulation whose relevance to the contemporary scene would be evident" (p. 225).
While Yoder had Southern Baptists in particular in mind in this piece, his hope is applicable to all sorts of Baptists--upper and lower case alike--and anticipates by decades the recent calls for a re-confessionalizing of ecumenical dialogue. (Thanks, Andy!)