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The most radical new idea has come, as usual, from The Netherlands, where the Dutch provincial of the Augustinian order has proposed opening the country's 23 Augustinian convents to men and women of any Christian faith, married or single. Life would follow an experimental communal pattern that has not yet been fully worked out. They may not have the chance. Rome—which may remember that both Luther and Erasmus were Augustinians—has threatened to disband the Dutch province if it goes ahead with the project.

In the early 1900s, many Christians talked euphorically of the "Christian Century"—a label still worn by a liberal Protestant magazine. Others predicted that the era would see the demise of religion and the triumph of science; they were also proved wrong. Few prophets today see either triumph or tragedy. Whether the ministry survives will ultimately depend on what mankind decides a minister is—or should be. Though clergymen, theologians and social scientists offer widely different interpretations of some aspects of the future church, the consensus for the foreseeable future seems to be that old and new will exist side by side. Some of their specific predictions:

∙ ROMAN CATHOLICISM: Celibacy will become optional, possibly within the decade. The church will become increasingly democratic. Catholic laymen—as Protestants and Jews customarily have done—will choose their own ministers. The lines between priest and laymen will blur. Rome has already sanctioned the married diaconate, which allows men to serve some priestly functions. In time, women may be ordained and laymen may celebrate the Eucharist.

∙ PROTESTANTISM: Ecumenical team ministries, averaging four or five members, will increasingly become the mode in Protestantism; several are already in existence. Liturgical duties and responsibilities for such tasks as education, counseling and administration will be divided according to each man's abilities.

∙ JUDAISM: Emerging from the ghetto in the past century, Judaism set up its rabbis in the prevailing Christian style as remote religious functionaries. Many Jews are now trying to reinstate the traditional role of the rabbi, which, as Orthodox Rabbi Joseph Karasick points out, is to be "a teacher, guide and judge, integral to the community." In emphasizing the classic concept of the rabbi, the three U.S. branches of Judaism may grow closer together.

Most faiths and denominations will learn to tolerate internal sectarianism, a growth of little churches, or quasi churches, within the parent bodies. Such religious groups could be like the Christian underground or "liberated" churches. Ecumenism may well be halted at the formal institutional level as various denominations grow to cherish their distinctive characteristics all over again. At the same time, there will be more interfaith communication among individuals and among local churches.

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