Cover image for Douglas Horton and the ecumenical impulse in American religion
Douglas Horton and the ecumenical impulse in American religion
Trost, Theodore Louis, 1954-
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard Divinity School, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiv, 277 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.
Personal Subject:
Format :


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BX9886.Z8 H678 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In this first complete biography of Douglas Horton, we are introduced to an extremely important but surprisingly unheralded 20th-century religious leader. Throughout his life, Horton worked tirelessly for church and world unity under the banner of ecumenism, and his efforts bore fruit in a variety of venues. Horton introduced Americans to the work of Swiss theologian Karl Barth through his translation of The Word of God and the Word of Man (1928). He was the chief architect of the denominational merger that formed the United Church of Christ (1957). He also presided over the transformation of the Harvard Divinity School from a near moribund institution to a distinguished centre of religious learning (1955-1959). Toward the end of his life, Horton coordinated the Protestant presence at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Trost (Univ. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa) defines "ecumenical impulse" as "the drive toward unity and catholicity that became a self-conscious, worldwide movement during the twentieth century." He presents this as the driving force in the career of Douglas Horton, whom he considers correctly as a "key but overlooked leader among American ecumenists." Trost recounts Horton's contributions to the ecumenical birth of the United Church of Christ, the evolving growth of the Harvard Divinity School (HDS) as a major ecumenical center, and the successes of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Second Vatican Council. Horton was the effective dean of HDS from 1955-59 and "dean" of the Protestant observers in Rome from 1961 to 1965. He also served as chair of the Commission on Faith and Order of the WCC for six years. Horton saw the ecumenical movement as a "harbinger of hope in a divided world" and visualized church unity as a light to the nations. Though his hope for organic union is now passe, his spiritual commitment lives on in "covenant communion" and elsewhere. Well-written and based on excellent research, this is a must-read for all interested in the ecumenical movement and Horton's numerous contributions. It includes an excellent chronology, notes, bibliography, and index. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-level undergraduates and above. G. H. Shriver emeritus, Georgia Southern University