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Although the formulation of my subject is derived from my personal experience, it may also reflect the experience of others who have been involved ecumenically, including my esteemed friend, John Hesselink. Here I wish to give due weight to two accents: On the one hand, we live as Christians today on one common "earth," i.e., ecumenically in a comprehensive sense. We do not live in our own church "home," in our own confessions, or on our own continent. In an age of secular globalization we would deny our calling if we were to withdraw and live for ourselves provincially. We would thereby betray not only the New Testament's missionary initiative but also its understanding of the one body of Christ.
On the other hand, we live concretely in a definite confessional and cultural environment as well as in a specific spiritual and political tradition. Although we must never idolize this reality, especially from an ecumenical perspective, this is the particular place (Standort) which has been entrusted to us. We must recognize that this heritage is not to be despised but can in fact be considered ecumenically fruitful. True ecumenists are not colorless cosmopolitans. Rather, consciously or unconsciously, they bear the marks of their origins and should not try to hide them. The true ecumenist is a pilgrim, not a vagabond!
It is in this sense that the following question should be understood: Concretely, what should be our concern as Protestants in the ecumenical world? What can we contribute to the cause of ecumenism?
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