This week, we’ll be celebrating the Week of Christian Unity by highlighting historical figures who were practicing ecumenism before it was cool, acting with charity and forbearance toward their fellow Christians.
John Amos Comenius (1592 – 1670) was an educational reformer and an early advocate of universal education. He was also the last bishop of the Unity of the Brethren church and a publisher and reviser of several hymnals.
Near the end of his life, Comenius wrote a treatise called Unum Necessarium, in which he laid out his experience and wisdom. The title page of that work reads: The One Thing Necessary, to know what is necessary for one in life and death, and after death. Worn out by the unnecessary things of the world and coming back to the one thing necessary, as an old man, J.A. Comenius in his 77th year offers this to the world to ponder. We are more wise at all things in old age.”
“However, what is most necessary for the body of believers, the Christian Church? UNIVERSAL CONCORD, which Christ called love, and he gave this for a watchword to his own or for a sign of his church (John 13:35). And the apostles commended mutual love as the bond of perfection (Col. 3:14), and urged that unity of spirit be maintained in the bond of peace, as if all were one body and one spirit, and all were called into the same hope under one Lord, one faith, one baptism, etc., with the diversity of the gifts of Christ not standing in the way (Eph. 4:3,7). The prime law of Christian concord is threefold: in absolutely necessary things to maintain unity, in less necessary things (which they call adiaphora) liberty, in all things, toward all, love.” (Unum Necessarium, Chapter 8, paragraph 6) *
Have a suggestion of an ecumenical trendsetter? Leave us a comment or let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* translation by Vernon H. Nelson, published by the Moravian Archives
Other posts in this series: