What Pastors are Taught at Andrews University

THST629 - Interchurch Dialogue

Denis Fortin

This course syllabus is being updated for the Fall Semester 2000 (Last update 19 July 2000)


Interchurch Dialogue is a graduate level course in historical theology which explores the historical development, organizational structures, problems, implications and theological foundations of the modern ecumenical movement and interchurch dialogues. This course will study the modern ecumenical movement in relationship to church unity and disunity, and the concept of truth.

It will also study and analyze contemporary ecumenical trends including current ecumenical dialogues, the Evangelical and Roman Catholic positions toward ecumenism, and the trend toward post-denominationalism. Finally, this course will also analyze and review the Seventh-day Adventist position toward the modern ecumenical movement in the light of biblical eschatology.

It is the instructor's hope that this course will help the student get a better understanding of the ecumenical movement in modern Christianity and its impact on Seventh-day Adventist theology and life.


"The ultimate goal of the ecumenical movement is to re-establish full visible unity among all the baptized (77). ... Among all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, the Catholic Church is conscious that she has preserved the ministry of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, the Bishop of Rome, whom God established as her perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity (88). ... The Catholic Church, both in her praxis and in her solemn documents, hold that the communion of the particular Churches with the Church of Rome, and of their Bishops with the Bishop of Rome, is--in God's plan--an essential requisite of full and visible communion (97)." (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint.)

"We believe that the unity which is both God's will and his gift to his Church is being made visible as all in each place who are baptized into Jesus Christ and confess him as Lord and Saviour are brought by the Holy Spirit into one fully committed fellowship, holding the one apostolic faith, preaching the one Gospel, breaking the one bread, joining in common prayer, and having a corporate life reaching out in witness and service to all and who at the same time are united with the whole Christian fellowship in all places and all ages in such wise that ministry and members are accepted by all, and that all can act and speak together as occasion requires for the tasks to which God calls his people." (World Council of Churches, The New Delhi Report.)

"The wide diversity of belief in the Protestant churches is regarded by many as decisive proof that no effort to secure a forced uniformity can ever be made. But there has been for years, in churches of the Protestant faith, a strong and growing sentiment in favor of a union based upon common points of doctrine. To secure such a union, the discussion of subjects upon which all were not agreed--however important they might be from a Bible standpoint--must necessarily be waived." (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 444.)


Chapter 1 : Oikoumene : a theological foundation.

Chapter 2 : Unity and truth.

Chapter 3 : Unity and disunity in the Christian church (1st to 18th century).

Chapter 4 : The birth of the modern ecumenical movement (19th century).

Chapter 5 : The World Council of Churches.

Chapter 6 : Roman Catholicism and ecumenism.

Chapter 7 : Evangelical reactions to ecumenism.

Chapter 8 : Seventh-day Adventism and ecumenism.

Chapter 9 : Post-denominationalism : Is ecumenism dead?


1. Graduate level courses of 3 credits taken at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary require approximately 27 hours of class attendance and 54 hours of required classwork spent in reading, research, preparation of assignments, etc. A 4-credit course at the M.A. or doctoral level requires altogether 104 hours of personal work outside of class attendance. Attendance is required according to Seminary policy.

2. Required textbooks:

Norman L. Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), 538 pp.

Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis redintegratio (1964), 22 pp.

John Paul II, Encyclical Letter: Ut Unum Sint On Commitment to Ecumenism (1995), 110 pp.

World Council of Churches, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (Geneva: WCC, 1982), 30 pp.

Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, chapters 2, 3, 18 to 21, 25, 35 to 38. (164 p.)

3. Reading reports : Students are to read a minimum of 300 pages from Geisler and MacKenzie. A reading report indicating the student has read the required number of pages is due at the time of the final exam. A list of daily reading reports for the other textbooks will be provided. These reading assignments are intended to facilitate better learning and class discussion. On the days reading assignment reports are due, they are to be handed in at the beginning of class; late reports will not be accepted.

(Add link to reading report forms)

4. Article review: Students will read one article (of a minimum of 10 pages long) chosen from ecumenical journals and write a review of this article. The review should be of no more than 2 pages long (typed, double spaced) and will include a short summary of the author's arguments and the student's evaluation and reaction. Reviews are due on February 11. (Reviews turned in late will be penalized.)

Current articles can be chosen from the following journals found in the Seminary Library : The Ecumenical Review, Irénikon, The Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Ökumenische Rundschau, One in Christ, and Midstream.

5. Report on attending a non-Adventist worship service: Students will visit a Roman Catholic, Episcopal, or Greek Orthodox worship service and write a report of a minimum of 4 pages (maximum 8 pages) describing similarities and differences between worship services of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Church chosen. This report will include similarities and differences in styles of worship, liturgical and theological aspects of worship, physical environment, architecture, aesthetics, etc. The student will be careful to write the report with full sentences and paragraphs and not present lists of items. This report must be based upon an actual visit to one of these churches done during the quarter; the report cannot be based upon listening to an audio tape or viewing a video presentation of such a worship service.

6. Mid-term examination: A mid-term examination will be given on February 4. This examination will cover class notes and the World Council of Churches document Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry. The examination will consist of short answers and objective questions (true/false and multiple choice).

7. End-of-term options : At the end of the term, the student may choose one of two options:

a. Final examination: The examination, to be given on Tuesday, March 16, 12:30 p.m., will cover the course material since the mid-term and the Catholic documents used as textbooks : Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis redintegratio (1964) and John Paul II, Encyclical Letter: Ut Unum Sint On Commitment to Ecumenism (1995). It will consist of short answers and objective questions (true and false, multiple choices).

b. Lower grade: Students who wish may opt out of the end-of-term option with the understanding that they will get a lower final grade for this course. Students who choose this option will get two thirds of a letter grade less than the average over 100% of their completed class requirements. (Ex. if a student gets 15/15% for his/her reading requirement, 9/10% for the article review, 13/15% for the report on a visit, and 23/30% for the mid-term exam, this comes to a total of 60/70% and equals 85.7% or B+. The student's final grade will be B-.)

8. Internet search and browsing: Students may search and browse on the Internet for a minimum of two hours the web sites of various churches and denominations. The search should begin at the World Council of Churches site at The report on this search should be written on a 4x6 card and turned in on the last Tuesday of class. Students will get a 1% bonus for this report.


M.A. and Doctoral students will fulfil the above requirements plus the following requirements:

1. Reading requirements: The student will read 700 pages from the textbooks and will report the reading every week as mentioned above.

2. The student will read a total of five articles (of a minimum of 10 pages each) from ecumenical journals. For each article the student will write a 2-page report including a summary of the content and the student's reaction/evaluation of the article. All five reports are due on .

3. The end-of-term option of a lower grade does not apply to M.A. and doctoral students.


The breakdown for determining the final grade is as follows:

For M.Div. students:

Required reading: 15 %

Article review: 10 %

Report on a visit: 15 %

Mid-term exam: 30 %/p>

End-of-term exam: 30 %

Internet search: 1 %

For M.A. and doctoral students (or 3 credits):

Required reading: 15 %

Article reviews: 25 %

Report on a visit: 10 %

Mid-term exam: 25 %

End-of-term exam: 25 %

Internet search: 1 %

Grading System:

A: 95-100 A-: 90 - 94 B+: 85 - 89 B: 80 - 84 B-: 75 - 79

C+: 70 - 74 C: 65 - 69 C-: 60 - 64 D: 50 - 59 F: 0 - 49

No extra reading or work will be given to improve one's final grade.

Assignments turned in late will be penalized 10% of its grade.


Taking notes : Students are encouraged to take careful notes of the material presented in class. These notes may be taken by handwriting or with the help of a portable computer. It is acceptable to share one's notes with a student who missed a lecture or part of its contents. However, class notes are not to be shared with individuals not registered for this course, nor are they to be distributed, whether free of charge or for a fee.

No recording of lectures is allowed.

These are the basic elements of this course's syllabus and requirements. Further details may be added by the professor if deemed necessary during the development of the course.