This gets us to borders of your central question - but reminds us of something which may bear on an answer to it.
Tangential? I think not. I think you have moved us beyond the border(s) here in a most helpful and pleasing way as it relates to conversion/salvation. Hopefully, I can remain at least on the ragged edge/border of sanity as I work my way into this, as I have more than a few times in the past.
How can we not speak of unity and salvation together? Because, and hopefully, we can all agree that it is not unity which brings Salvation; but it is Salvation that brings unity.
And, this thread seems to revert to a very personal, and sometimes passionate, expression by the contributors at times. But, really how can it not for the ones who are engaged in what is being discussed. I think by means of this thread, I have actually realized for the first time that I have converted to a 'True' Christian ecumenism (as you have used this) which seemed to coincide with my move to Eastern Orthodoxy. So how appropriate this thread title is for me personally. I did not convert to Christianity when I went through catechism class and then took communion for the first time or received chrismation on Pascha two years ago. I was already a convert to Christ. I had already found experience/encounter and the koinonia of the Holy Spirit--the Holy Spirit of Christ. In my mind, based on the 'brochures' for Orthodoxy, what I converted to was an historic orthodox Christian approach/way, and in this sense the most 'True' manifestation of the Eucharistic Community. My conversion was to what I perceived to be the Orthodox Way which is what I perceive to be what you are describing as a 'True' ecumenicalism.
So for me, with the hope that this post is more clear than mud, You have moved beyond the borders of "The Big Question" and are pretty close to center here with your linking of conversion and unity, or if you will, salvation and a 'True' ecumenism. And, as we consider this very center as well as the "beginning".as you have referenced it above in your past three posts, the words of another of my favorite writing theologians comes to mind:
Ecumenism does not come into existence because of a human vision of unity . . . Ecumenism comes into being wherever--and this is everywhere--we find ourselves under the cross of Christ and recognize each other as brothers and sisters who are hungry in the same poverty (Rom 3:23). Under the cross we all stand empty-handed. We have nothing to offer except the burden of our guilt and the emptiness of our hearts. We do not stand under the cross as Protestants, as Catholics, or as adherents to Orthodoxy. Here, rather, is where the godless are justified, enemies are reconciled, prisoners are set free, the poor are enriched, and the sad are filled with hope. We discover ourselves, therefore, under the cross both as children of the same freedom of Christ and as friends in the same fellowship of the Spirit. --Moltmann (the other good doctor!)
See? So what is this? I would like to suggest that this is a mood, this is an attitude but one much more than a way of knowing characterized by such things as doctrinal beliefs as understood by a mere intellect, or such a thing as what is commonly understood as one's world view.
I would like to suggest that what we are seeing in such as Moltmann, or whoever you want to add into this IS a manifestation of what I have come to know as a noetic consciousness. In other words, IT refers to an "inner knowing, a kind of intuitive consciousness ? direct and immediate access to knowledge beyond what is available to our normal senses and the power of reason." On its base level, we are talking about an inner kingdom here which is not limited to the Christian. But, as it relates to the Christian, and the mood or the attitude on display by those such as Moltmann, possibly we see new meaning in our consideration of such as what you have concluded above:
And I do come back to the personal here. Yes, I am intellectually convinced by the claims of the BOC - but in the encounter with Christ at the Eucharist, I am convinced in a way that transcends my intellectual and other limitations; that is the transcendence I think I look for elsewhere.
And, I would ask at this point, as this way of knowing, this epistemology, is manifested by a Christian in terms of his/her state of being, his/her ontology . . . what in the world could we possibly be talking about here other than the 'nous' which is taught at length as being critical to our perception, to our understanding, to anything remotely resembling a relational ontology as we consider the Christ and the Holy Trinity?/!!
How could any hope to have a snowball's chance in hell at avoiding the plague in the polis, which is to say living as a walking civil war as those who "secretly doubt their own judgement" and cannot not live a life of disharmony as their method characterized by RealPolitik and love of power completely overwhelms any hope of operating by the power of Love. Yes, Eros and Agape!
These are the two "choices" as I see them John. There is a "True" ecumenism which I see as the Orthodox Way, the one I 'converted' to, and opposed to this are divisions and enmities which find at their heart at best fear and power politics. One of these is more open and the other more closed.
As we consider the outstretched arms of the suffering God on the cross, as we consider the mood(s) represented above, the "choice" seems blindingly clear to me. But, I guess in the End, it comes down to our individual ways of knowing. And, we all have different events and circumstances that have molded and shaped how we know, and in turn our theory of being . . . but if we agree that it is not unity that brings salvation, but salvation that brings unity, and it is a noetic consciousness that is necessary to 'discover' ourselves and 'recognize' each other as "brothers and sisters who are hungry and in the same poverty" . . . then somewhat as I have asked before, where does this leave us?
There must be dialogue/interpersonal communication, but there can be no dialogue/interpersonal communication lest there is a manifestation of the Word of God in the conversation. And, the Word of God reveals Himself when and where he "chooses." I think this might be IT John. Either there is a mutual embrace, a mutual recognition, a mutual apprehension all the way round, or there is not. And, in this sense where does this leave us . . . but with a theology of hope for ourselves, and each other. Think about this please. On this where is the room for second guessing and doubt? On this, where is there room for judgementalism? What do any have that was not given?
And, for that matter as it relates to "The Big Question" . . . I think there may be a kind of sweet irony at play there too. Because to even ask this question is to bring about a dialogue which in many ways does away with all artificial ecclesiologies and division which at the least makes the way straight for a pointing to Salvation and unity together.
"In the End, the Beginning"