Two weeks ago I did a three-and-a-half hour video session in Souderton, Pennsylvania. I sat down with Vision Video, one of the premier Christian video production companies in the world. I had a profoundly enjoyable experience and hope that the time I invested in a forthcoming project will bear much fruit.
Vision Video is making and producing a three-hour series for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I believe this series will be available in 2016. It is to be determined how many videos there will be in the series, what kind of resources will be added and how it will be marketed. The entire project anticipates the anniversary year of 2017. It has a number of well-known people in the series. It should make a significant contribution to churches and Christian viewers in general. Vision Video has produced some noteworthy films and won a number of awards for their work over the years.
This particular series was nearing completion when the production and film team decided that the series was missing several things that were needed. First, it needed a Protestant voice that was a little more sanguine about the Reformation. Second, it needed a conclusion that celebrated the great contribution of the Reformation while it also showed a new way forward that included greater displays of Christian unity. Finally, it became apparent that several important Catholic voices were missing in the series. Enter the discussion I had with Bill Curtis at Vision Video.
I have known Bill for some years, having been a good friend of his late father, Rev. Ken Curtis. Ken and I shared many common points of vision and mission and he loved church history as I do. He also founded Christian History Magazine. The magazine was begun by the Christian History Institute (CHI) and later was marketed by Christianity Today (CT). After CT no longer published this highly acclaimed magazine CHI took it back and began to publish it again a few years ago. The quality is as good as ever. There really is nothing else in the marketplace of Christian publications like Christian History Magazine. I highly commend it to you.
In my long interview with Vision Video I addressed questions such as:
How do you define ecumenism?
What was the impulse of the ecumenical movement in the twentieth century and how is it changing now?
What are the marks of good ecumenism?
How do you discern between tolerating reasonable difference in opinion and maintain orthodoxy in essential matters?
What is your view of the World Council of Churches?
What ecumenical actions have evangelicals taken in recent years?
What does the ecumenical movement look like today on a local, national and global level?
Did the 1999 Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on Justification settle the question of justification by faith? Why or why not?
What are the major reasons for divisions in Protestantism?
Was Rome right when it said schism will breed more schism?
What are the legitimate reasons for churches to divide?
Is the diversity of denominations are good thing?
Is there an alternative between the two extremes of doctrinal disputes that create divisions?
What did Jesus mean when he prayed for us to be “one” in John 17?
How do you view the Reformation in the light of John 17?
How should this prayer impact us today?
Is it possible for churches to come to consensus about some of the difficult doctrines that divide us, especially among Catholics and Protestants?
Is institutional unity possible and is it desirable?
Should the Reformation be celebrated or lamented?
What is the lasting legacy of the Protestant Reformation?
What do you think this all may look like in 500 more years?
Describe the actions of recent popes with regard to unity?
Talk about the “Francis effect” in the present global context of Christian unity?
Are we living in a post-Christian world and how should we deal with this if we are?
There were not the only items we discussed but this is a good representative list. Some received short answers while others longer ones. In the end only a few minutes will be in the three-hours on the finished product.
My personal hope is that more of this interview can be salvaged and used in due time. If that can happen we will publish come of this on the web. Meanwhile pray for ACT3 as we seek more opportunities to film and present Christian unity in a positive and realistic way that fosters a positive response to Jesus’ words in John 17:21-23.
I noted three reasons that Vision Video had for completing this project with a stronger overall story. The third one is to get some other Catholic voices on tape. I am working to help this happen. Pray for the right people to help us complete what could be a wonderful series if it is done well.
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Thank you for this post. It was a great honor to meet you and interview you about the Reformation and missional ecumenism. I know your interview will make an absolutely huge contribution to our documentary!