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When a Theological Institution Becomes Ecumenical


Ecumenism, Unity, Lutheran, Confessionalism, Pentecostalism

MF, Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, has undergone an extensive development. From representing a strong Lutheran confessionalism the new face of the faculty has changed to be a pronounced ecumenical workshop. This article presents this story, gives insights into the historical process and presents the current experiences of opening the school for non-Lutheran students and teachers. On the basis of this “case study” the article reflects on ecumenical perspectives which probably can be suitable for the 21st century.

Over the past ten years, MF, Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society – hereafter MF – has worked through a comprehensive ecumenical reorientation. From representing a relatively exclusive Lutheran confessionalism over the majority of its 100-year history, the faculty's ‘new face’ is ecumenically oriented and steeped in dialogue. The theological scope and confessional diversity that currently characterizes the institution has attracted attention in theological research communities far beyond MF. Today, the institution may be described as an ecumenical workshop where it is possible to study Catholic, Pentecostal and Methodist theology, as well as Lutheran theology which still clearly constitutes the largest component. The fact that this development has taken place at an academic place of education is important because the fruits of the insights that both teachers and students acquire will, in turn, affect the climate between churches. The students who are exposed to several faith traditions during their study gain a substantial understanding of the denominational diversity within the worldwide church. Thus they are provided with secure expertise, making them an ecumenical resource for future church service.[1]
This article presents the historical backdrop of the developments that have taken place. We ask to what degree this institution has been able to combine having a Lutheran identity with breaking ecumenical barriers. What has happened internally at the faculty, and how has this affected the study environment and colleague community? What can we learn about ecumenical strategies of the 21st century?

A historical sketch
Changes are often the result of a long historical process, so also here. MF was officially formed in 1907 as a private, independent faculty for theological education and research. Today, it has the privilege to be the largest accredited specialized university in theology in Norway, with a total of about 1,200 students.[2] In the first 60 years of its history, however, only Lutheran students had access to its faculty. In the early 1970s, the doors were opened to non-Lutheran students, who eventually could take their studies here. This was done without changing the fact that MF was – and still is – an Evangelical-Lutheran faculty, which has always been enshrined in the ground rules of the school. For a long time, teachers solely belonged to the Norwegian Church and the teaching was of a mono-denominational nature.[3]
One of the external factors of the changes that came was that the Parliament in 1969 decided that the Christian teaching in primary schools should no longer be regarded as the Lutheran church's religious education in Norway: thus ending the requirement of Lutheranism for teachers who would teach Christianity in Norwegian schools.[4] This eventually had consequences for MF’s attitude to the question of denominationalism.
The strength of the Lutheran confessional dominance at MF at this time is documented in the book Between Church and Academia, MF 100 years 1908-2008 (Mellom kirke og akademia. Det teologiske Menighetsfakultet 100 år 1908-2008).[5] One of the chapters is written by a professor of church history, Ingunn Folkestad Breistein.[6] She proves that in the lead up to Parliament's amendment, the “professor council” (consisting of the professor's staff) at MF went against the proposal to repeal the Lutheran confessional requirement for teachers in the public schools. The council believed that non-Lutheran Christian teachers “would undermine the Christian upbringing.”[7]
Nevertheless, the amendment was adopted by Parliament, in line with the cultural development at this time, which meant greater freedom and tolerance of other church and religious traditions than Lutheran. Furthermore, Folkestad Breistein believes that the development at MF was influenced by both the international debate on religious freedom and human rights, and that the Lutheran church, which was in the majority in its region, gradually became engaged in ecumenical dialogues at international, bilateral and national levels.[8]
Other factors which at this time meant that MF gradually changed its position, were that most Free churches were theologically conservative, something which – for that matter – MF was also. Thus there was no great distance in theological and cultural profile between some free churches and the low-church revival movements, which had a natural place within the Lutheran Church in Norway. Furthermore, many free churches wanted better educated pastors, but struggled due to the limited education resources they had to offer their own young generation. The Bible schools available gave no officially recognized qualifications.
However, key players at MF were highly skeptical, both of the international church ecumenism, represented by the World Council of Churches (WCC), and of the desire to open the faculty to non-Lutheran students. Many feared the influence of both Catholic and liberal theology. Among the most prominent was Professor Leiv Aalen who thought that the Lutheran confession alone was an expression of the true Christian faith. Deviations from the Lutheran faith were tantamount to deviation from the true Christian faith. Aalen considered therefore that the ecumenical endeavors among Lutherans should largely entail in pointing out that the Lutheran creeds and confessions were the genuine expression of ecumenical faith. Other figures, for example, Professor O. G. Myklebust and Professor Ivar Aasheim, said that Lutheranism should adopt a more humble attitude, realizing that Lutherans had a lot to learn from other Christian denominations, practically as well as doctrinally.[9]
In January 1969, the professor council at MF decided that the faculty should provide access for non-Lutheran students taking examinations at MF. This was a historic breakthrough after years of internal dissension among students, employees, and management. The decision, however, was strategically justified, since Parliament had removed the confession obligation for Christianity teachers in the public schools. MF foresaw that the development of education in public schools would go in the direction of non-denominational Christian studies. For the faculty, it was important that prospective Free Church school-teachers could get their education at MF in order to ensure that Lutheran school children still would receive the best possible teaching in Christianity.
Nevertheless, the Free Church students’ access to the MF would have its limitations. Aalen believed they should not lead faculty morning devotions, nor have access to the communion table, nor should they participate in the student democracy, hold office in councils, committees nor governing bodies. In addition, Aalen didn’t abstain from attributing these so-called “dissenters” negative theological characteristics: He believed these were people who were not only deceived “in their simplicity” but that they, in their belief concerning sacraments and their church-view were “regular heretics” to a “fanatic” degree in line with “Papists” under the time of the Lutheran Reformation. Accordingly, it was not a natural task for MF to give heretics theological degrees.[10]
Despite this, it was still ultimately decided that non-Lutheran students should have access to Christianity studies at MF through the “Department of Religious Education” by MF. It was realized in 1970. This was the first step on the way towards full confessional equality for all MF students.

Governmental pressure
The next stage was the question of the right to get access to and a formal theological degree (the program of professional study in theology). Among the factors that made this attainable for free church students, was the introduction of a law in Norway that intended to ensure that private schools were given access to public financial support. Among the conditions was that the relevant institutions should treat all applicants equally, regardless of gender or denominational affiliation.[11] Specifically, for MF this meant that non-Lutherans had access to official studies in theology and women should have access to the final practical-theological semester. MF had so far based its operations on private donations, but expenses were rapidly increasing, and “the stick behind the carrot” was that the announced government funding would be threatened if not MF treated their students alike when it came to church affiliation and sex. The requirement of the authorities was crystal clear: all students must have “equal rights and duties.”[12] Here too we see that external factors were in play and influenced MF’s internal debate.
Consideration by the same professor council at MF in the autumn of 1971 gave the necessary support to the decision to give non-Lutheran students full rights as students of theology, assuming that MF’s confessional status was safeguarded.
But since the decision affected MF’s inner life, how should the faculty respond to Aalen's strong warnings against the Free Church engaging in faculty sermons and worship? Aalen even suggested that worship with communion should cease, but the faculty rejected this. Instead, the professor council advised that the Free Church students should actively participate in spiritual life on MF, including being able to lead devotional times. The majority of Aalen’s colleagues did not want to carry out his strict Lutheran confessionalism by closing the communion table and thereby maintain an even more exclusive practice than the Lutheran Church itself actually had in Norway. This meant that Aalen for several years stayed away from the devotional life of the faculty.
For MF, there was no turning back. Faculty governing bodies let history be history and passed a line that after a few decades should accelerate. Folkestad Breistein asks in her article about whether the ecumenical profile came to be stronger in the future, or not. The rest of this article is an attempt to provide an answer to that question.

Ecumenical reorientation
The two decisions in 1969 and 1971 allowing non-Lutheran students were important milestones. But much was still the same in regards to textbooks, dogmatic leanings and the fact that the entire teaching staff was Lutheran. Several major changes, however, were to come. Increasingly MF felt uncomfortable with the fact that, by virtue of its exclusively Lutheran staff, it would be Lutheran teachers who shaped the other churches and in their lectures presented their theology as well. An informal survey in the early 2000s among the students showed that up to 25 percent of them came from other ecclesial communities than Lutheran. In addition, the Catholic Church has grown significantly in Norway over the past two or three decades, not least because of economic immigration from Eastern Europe. At that time also the Pentecostal movement in Norway was in an internal process, looking at opportunities to provide education in Pentecostal theology at High School Diploma level. [13]
The increasing inflow of Free Church students at MF, in the transition to a new millennium, led to the faculty council (the whole academic staff) in spring 2000 preparing a report on how MF should take the next step and further develop the progressive ecumenical reorientation that had started in the early 1970s. Would it, for example, be appropriate to introduce Lutheran theology as a form of privileged “normal theology” –  the Christian theology par excellence – and allow other theological traditions always to be mentioned by their confessional name, as either Catholic or Pentecostal theology? The faculty asked: is not Lutheran theology also a confessionally characterized theology? This lack of equality was part of the backdrop forming the situation addressed in this article.
It should not be ignored that the situation was also related to what we might call the “zeitgeist;” the late modern thinking which doesn’t sit comfortably with the notion that one particular theological position should have a dominant definition of explanation when the ecclesial reality was much more complex, not least in the universal church. Internally amongst the MF teachers, there came forth a greater theological diversity than had characterized MF in earlier times. The school also offered a much broader study, which made the teaching staff more diverse.
It is important to make clear the fact that the academic ideals that have given MF a greater positional pluralism, in general, are the same ideals that make MF able to reflect a far greater confessional breadth than ever before. This implies that MF in the years ahead may provide the theological and ecumenical environment with reflections as to how the commitment to Scripture and confession can be secured with the help of several professional based theological voices; not only one ecclesiastical (Lutheran) voice. Today it seems clear that what we today may define as “the new MF” is far preferable compared to the denominational monopolization of earlier times.

The breakthrough
            A teacher council initiative in 2000 resulted in a comprehensive report that challenged MF in several areas that had significant ecumenical implications: how can a Lutheran institution like MF understand its role as a promoter of Evangelical-Lutheran confessional theology today? What consequences may it conceivably have for a given teacher’s own church’s affiliation? Must one be Lutheran to hold an important job at a Lutheran faculty? What are the specific ecumenical challenges for MF in the years ahead?
            First, the report, written by Professor Torleiv Austad on behalf of the faculty council, stressed that non-Lutheran students had to be met with respect and objectivity. Both the teaching and the environment is enriched by the student body being ecumenical, even though the institution as such does not formally need to be cross-confessional. The horizon can indeed be broadened. In the future, it will probably be more important to ask. ‘What is a healthy theological worldview?’ than ‘What confessional affiliation does one have?’ The implication being this: the most profound divisions in the church landscape do not follow denominational lines, but can just as easily go across these.
            Second, MF endorsed what has been a generally important ecumenical ideal: a confessional affiliation does not stand in the way of ecumenical openness.[14]  It’s better to have an organized disagreement than an unorganized agreement, in which positions are muddled and dogma is foggy. It is natural to refer to already existing church agreements such as The Leuenberg Concordance, The Porvoo Declaration and The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. These assume no church merger, but are about a kind of “unity in reconciled diversity” or “differentiated consensus,” where important theological insights are won through processes of theological dialogue. MF has also, for many decades, had teachers who have been deeply involved in the ecumenical movement, which has fed MF’s expertise and insight.
Third, there has been a breakthrough for what we might call a “professional obligation:” as an academic education it was natural for MF’s teachers to establish a critical dialogue with various views on Christianity and denominations presupposed they are understood as holistic interpretations and living traditions. It should therefore be expected that MF could have teachers who, on the basis of their own confessional standpoint, are able to navigate many different perspectives and approaches.
Fourth, out of both a missional and confessional concern for the sake of the Gospel, it is important that Christians from different confessional backgrounds come closer together. The Evangelical-Lutheran position necessarily entails a commitment to ecumenical responsibility. This is determined by the understanding that fundamentally ecumenism is a matter of fidelity to Scripture. A faculty that emphasizes the authority of Scripture and which is under the principle of “Sola Scriptura” will be, by its very nature, ecumenical.[15] From an apostolic standpoint, the church is not segregated into particular denominations, but is broader and crosses over the boundaries of different church traditions. Such an attitude is not compatible with some forms of entrenched confessionalism.
Finally, it is natural to mention the changes in the international church scene, including the growth of the international Pentecostal movement. These developments mean that it was natural for MF to relate more actively to several traditions than just the Lutheran. With the change in profile MF undertook, the institution showed that it was updated on how the universal church actually is. The best way to take this insight seriously is by offering studies that reflect several church traditions.
The sum of the report was that MF was willing to formally engage non-Lutheran teachers “in a not insignificant minority.”[16]  Today – fifteen years later – this “not insignificant minority” entails teachers with Methodist, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic affiliation.

The following are reflections and experiences from those who were hired as a result of the ecumenical breakthrough that has taken place. What experiences have we reaped so far? Let me summarize:
·         The whole ecclesial landscape in Norway has responded to the changes that have taken place at MF, including the various governing bodies of the institution and MF’s many ecclesial supporters and financial contributors.
·         Students see how ecumenism is demonstrated daily on their own campus. Christian unity work is thus not only a linguistic construction but something visible and concrete. Both faculty and staff receive training in dealing with professional theological disagreements.
·         There is a daily interdenominational conversation, both amongst students and between teachers and students. Ecumenical dialogue is generally done as an academic and ecclesiastical norm and there is an increasing degree of equality between different confessional traditions.
·         Students get to go deep into another denomination by taking one of the confessionally oriented subjects, for example, Introduction to Catholic theology or Pentecostal spirituality and history. The formal denominational competence of the students is thus lifted, including their understanding of how diverse the universal church actually is shaped today.
·         In some of the subjects, teachers from different denominations are together, in the same room as students, to discuss key doctrinal issues. There is thus an academic and critical conversation between teachers often giving huge learning outcomes for students.
·         In some cases, students (and teachers) choose to move to another church. However, this is not as a result of agitating proselytism, but are mature considerations taken over time. An ecumenical oriented academic environment can offer great assistance during such processes.
·         Both students and teachers acquire training in combining a confessional closeness to their own church, whilst maintaining a professional distance to their own background. It enables them to reflect maturely over both their own and others’ theological strengths and weaknesses.
·         It also implies that one takes the theology of others more seriously. One can lead academic talks and live faithfully in a college, in recognition that no theology is complete or comprehensive. Any theological environment has always more to learn and correspondingly always something important to give. Insight into the others’ traditions enriches one’s own. It is possible to see “the others face” without resulting in featureless homogenization.
·         Being ecumenically sensitive means that the church in concrete form emerges as partners in an important alliance. A theological institution must be informed of what needs the churches have, with regard to the fields in the theological work it does on their behalf. It also applies to cooperation on important research projects, in which various ecclesial communities can often provide empirical data that are essential in church development and in studies of more systematic-theological character.
·         A stipulation which must be brought to bear on the theological reflection as a whole is that one cannot stand outside the highly diverse spiritual experiences among humans. Then we may be able to understand the manifold positions of the church, and the alternative methods of interpretation which are potently expressed in the Christian Church, throughout its international breadth. Thus MF has not remained indifferent to the trend towards the empirical, or to the development of new forms of spirituality.
·         This affects a faculty such as MF. In a deep sense, we are together. Serving in the same chapel, kneeling at the same communion table, being in the same teaching forums and sitting in the same boardroom. When being together in the same research community and mingle with the many international students from many parts of the world, undoubtedly does something to all of us. Together we represent various theological dialects, but essentially we're talking the same language.
·         An environment like this should be able to see where the positions really diverge and where they, in fact, run together. By combining openness with clarity we develop theological discernment skills, of which an academic theological college can be proud. This is about far more than ecumenical courtesy.
·         When, for example, we approach a subject such as Christian baptism, it is our experience that the deeper one digs into the Scripture, the more one picks up insights from the church’s long history, and the more one critically considers baptism’s own history in practice, the harder it is to maintain a superficial and schematic difference of definitions. Thus, mutual recognition may emerge. A classical church’s need for a thorough education on baptism is in many ways proportional to the free churches’ need for a more profound baptismal theology and a clarification on unbaptized children’s theological status.
·         A church may well have some of the medication to the other church's theological infirmities. For Pentecostalism, I suppose that the academic community may make available their reflexive resources so that the Pentecostals can be listening, learning and in dialogue, in order to promote constructive cultivation and deepening of a tradition that has not lacked fresh sails, but may need a deeper keel.
·         Academic activity promotes critical reflection and increasing self-awareness. We ask the questions we previously did not consider. We hurl ourselves again towards the problem areas from which we previously shied away, and we refine, improve and promote the best of our traditions, while we at the same time strive to integrate new insights and learning from others. These are articulated in a clear way where different confessions can live as friends and be conscious of their specific characteristics.

An ecumenism for the 21st century?
There are signs suggesting that ecumenism itself is changing. With MF as a “case study,” it may be appropriate to reflect on ecumenism which probably can be suitable for the 21st century. Believers across denominations are listening to each other and are establishing a dialogue in which they find each other’s hearts. This is an approach which has been embraced by different ecumenists but also by the Pentecostals. The latter has restricted experiences of being involved in the more formal church-ecumenical processes and historically the movement has been critical to the ecumenical movement as such, despite the outstanding ecumenical visions that have been verified by Pentecostal scholars.[17] One possible step is to define ecumenical engagement as a conversation between common travelers.[18] Ecumenical theology will be the fruits of the insights such a journey engenders. The purely theoretical model-structures fade into the background and are not in the field of focus. Ecumenism will always revolve around something more – I may venture to say something quite other – than academic theological formulations consensus, agreements, and finalized documents.[19]
For me, this is linked to my wish to ground ecumenical processes in people's real life. The insight is that all churches, without exception, need to borrow theology and spirituality from each other. It is often the “foreign” experiences that renew churches. Those experiences are not initially “ours,” but through theological reflection, they may become something in common when people of faith across denominations go some way together in terms of being involved in respectful dialogue and common services. Thus ecumenism supplies a new language and gives new terminologies to our ecumenical reality in ways that make them accessible to more than professional ecumenicists.[20]
            One conclusion, amongst others, of looking at this unified work as a common journey of faith is that the result of such a journey is not defined in advance. The working methods are process oriented and there is given wide space to wonder, to religious stories and to testimonies. Church services and prayers are integral elements that allow us not only come closer together but also closer to God. The ecumenism that does not lead in the direction of worship where we sing “the new song unto the Lord” is an academic exercise, far removed from life and of only limited interest.
This corresponds well with the Pentecostal theological witness in the world today, and is an approach by which the ecumenical movement as a whole could be enriched. Involving Pentecostalism more in dialogues may in itself be a contribution that strengthens the ecumenical movement. In other words, I am advocating an approach to ecumenism that can serve the idea of Christian unity in a more fundamental way than theological negotiations, compromises, and consensus have so far managed to achieve. It allows for greater practical insight, whereby using various forms of fellowship, we see the richness of the faith of others, whilst the practice leads toward Christ as the very heart of faith and unity, and towards a celebration of unity through thanks, prayer, and worship.[21] It stimulates a relational network identity that is dynamic, dialogic and linguistically mediated, based on a heartfelt interest in others’ experiences and insights. An extension of the ecumenical identity must take seriously the interaction between both the emotional, empirical, spiritual, intellectual and physical dimensions of life as believers in the world and as believers, together with fellow travelers from other contexts of tradition.
Consequently, for the Pentecostals, the ecumenical dialogue will itself be one of the goals of ecumenism. However, it does not replace the academic theological talks. But it ties together the academic- tinged ecumenism and popular involvement, and it corresponds with the faith’s koinonia dimension, materialized through various forms of local church communities, home groups and prayer communities. Doctrinal differences will not disappear because of this, but there is something about the context that is different. Therefore the approach will be different: a deep feeling that we are all one in a common Christ-life, created by the Spirit and realized as a community by faith and baptism.
This affects the understanding of being a church. In the development of church models, there is more at stake than ordinance questions and the subject of correct structures. In themselves, these do not ensure the Spirit's presence. In the Pauline presentation of the life in the body of Christ, unity is not expressed by mechanical and formal structures but expressed in agape (love) categories. From the historical reality of salvation which builds on the early Christian tradition and the early church confessions, emerges a community in the Spirit that goes beyond the confessional and denominational boundaries.
Ecumenism may, therefore, be regarded precisely as a journey guided by the Spirit. The road to each other’s hearts must be easily accessible, and so must ecumenism be a topic that is not reserved for the ecclesiastical bureaucracy.
Thus, all of us have a responsibility to provide constructive contributions that Jesus' prayer for unity might be realized, so that the world might believe.

[1] As the biggest theological seminary in Norway MF is an important supplier of personnel to different ministries not only for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway and connected institutions, but also for other churches, like the United Methodist Church in Norway and to some degree also Pentecostal churches.
[2] Among these there are many who take studies in other disciplines than the purely theological. As an accredited Specialized University MF, located in Oslo, Norwegian School of Theology (1908) focuses on Theology, Religion, and Social Studies. With three departments (the Department of Theology, the Department of Religious Education and Pedagogical Studies, and the Department of Religion and Society), MF educates scholars, teachers, ministers, and other professionals at the undergraduate and graduate level for leadership and service both nationally and internationally. For more information, see http://www.mf.no/en
[3] Torleiv Austad, Teologi i kirkens rom (Theology in the Room of the Church) (Oslo: Luther Forlag, 2001), 12.
[4] The Church of Norway has 3.9 million members which represent around 79 percent of the Norwegian population. On May 21, 2012, the Norwegian Parliament passed a constitutional amendment that granted the Church of Norway increased autonomy. Article 2 in the Norwegian Constitution stated until this historical amendment that “the Evangelical-Lutheran religion shall remain the official religion of the State. The inhabitants professing it are bound to bring up their children in the same.” In the new wording of the Constitution, there is no longer any reference to an “official religion of the State.” Article 2 in the Constitution now says that Norway's values are based on its “Christian and humanist heritage”. But still, the public Church Law of 1996 designates the Church of Norway as “a confessional, missional, serving, and open Folk Church” with baptism as a criterion for membership.
[5] Bernt T. and Nils Aksel Røsæg (eds.) Oftestad, Mellom kirke og akademia. Det teologiske Menighetsfakultet 100 år. 1908-2008 (Between Church and Academia: MF Norwegian School of Theology 100 Years. 1908-2008. (Trondheim: Tapir Akademisk Forlag, 2008).
[6] Ingunn Folkestad Breistein, "Fra luthersk presteskole til økumenisk utdanningssted (From Lutheran Priest School to an Ecumenical Place of  Education)," in Mellom kirke og akademia. Det teologiske Menighetsfakultet 100 år. 1908-2008, ed. Nils Aksel Røsæg (eds.) Bernt T. Oftestad (Trondheim: Tapir Akademisk Forlag, 2008).
[7] Uttalelse fra MF, januar 1963.
[8] Breistein, "Fra luthersk presteskole til økumenisk utdanningssted (From Lutheran Priest School to an Ecumenical Place of  Education)," 223.
[9] Ibid., 225.
[10] Ibid., 230.
[11] Ibid., 232.
[12] The Minister of Education, Bjartmar Gjerde, in a letter to MF, May 1971.
[13] That led to a formal agreement with MF for some years. Today the Pentecostal movement in Norway cooperates with the Baptist Union of Norway in the operating different programs through The Norwegian School of Leadership and Theology (HLT). The school was established in 2008 and is located at Stabekk, near Oslo.
[14] Austad, Teologi i kirkens rom (Theology in the Room of the Church), 111.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid., 89.
[17] A study of the developed ecumenical attitudes that characterized one of the Pentecostal pioneers, is given by Terje Hegertun in his article “Thomas Ball Barratt and ‘the Spirit of Unity’” in: Journal of the European Pentecostal Theological Association, Vol. 35, No. 1, April 2015, 34-37. 
[18] For this, see the methodology of Global Christian Forum (GCF), an initiative taken by the ecumenical movement in order to embrace the whole spectrum of Christian churches, including those who are not formally members of the World Council of Churches, for ex. Pentecostal churches and the Roman Catholic Church. The practice of sharing personal and community faith journeys is central to the GCF, or as said by themselves: “It demystifies and bridges differences between us, leas to mutual appreciation, encourages humility, and helps us to recognize the work of the same Holy Spirit in each other’s life. Source: http://www.globalchristianforum.org/guidelines.html
For and introduction to GCF, see
Huibert van Beek, ed., Revisioning Christian Unity: The Global Christian Forum, ed. Ruth Padilla deBortst et al., Studies in Global Christianity (Oxford: Regnum, 2009).
[19] Terje Hegertun, Det brodersind som pinseaanden nødvendigvis maa føde: analyse av økumeniske posisjoner i norsk pinsebevegelse med henblikk på utviklingen av en pentekostal økumenikk og fornyelse av økumeniske arbeidsformer (The Mind of Brotherhood to Which the Spirit of Pentecost with Necessity Must Give Birth: An Analysis of Ecumenical Positions in the Pentecostal Movement of Norway, Regarding Generating a Pentecostal Ecumenism and a Renewal of Ecumenical Methods) (Trondheim: Tapir akademisk, 2009), 253 ff.
[20] Mikhail Bakhtin is preoccupied with the fact that the heterogeneous’ character of language and dialogue has the potential of shaping a polyphonic meaning. The words we are using are dialogized because they are infused in a highly different contextual frame of references. They have been uses in earlier dialogues and they are part of our preconception. That’s why they have a plurality of meaning which cannot be closed for new recognitions. To a greater or lesser degree, theology is influenced by the same processes. Every tradition should basically be considered as open for revisions.  For this, see Mikhail  Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays ed. Michael Holquist, University of Texas Press Slavic Series (Texas: University of Texas Press, 1981), 269-277.
[21] For this, see the Catholic-ecumenical model called receptive ecumenism in: P. D. (ed.) Murray, Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic Learning. Exploring a Way for Contemporary Ecumenism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

About the author:
Terje Hegertun is a professor in systematic theology at MF, Norwegian School of Theology. He is connected to the Norwegian Pentecostal Movement, as a former pastor and editor for the movement’s national magazine. Hegertun teaches in Pentecostal theology, Christian spirituality, systematic theology, and ecumenism.
Published in Dialogue, A Journal of Theology, Volume 55. Number 4, Winter 2016, 364-371