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  • de Molay
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    EVANGELICALS, CATHOLICS, AND ORTHODOX TOGETHER:
    THE CHRISTIAN MISSION IN THE THIRD MILLENNIUM

    The following statement is the product of consultation, beginning in
    September 1992, between Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox
    Christians. Appended to the text is a list of participants in the
    consultation and of others who have given their support to this
    declaration.

    INTRODUCTION

    We are Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox who have been led
    through prayer, study, and discussion to common convictions about
    Christian faith and mission. This statement cannot speak officially for
    our communities. It does intend to speak responsibly from our communities
    and to our communities. In this statement we address what we have
    discovered both about our unity and about our differences. We are aware
    that our experience reflects the distinctive circumstances and
    opportunities of Evangelicals and Catholics living together in North
    America. At the same time, we believe that what we have discovered and
    resolved is pertinent to the relationship between Evangelicals and
    Catholics in other parts of the world. We therefore commend this statement
    to their prayerful consideration.

    As the Second Millennium draws to a close, the Christian mission in world
    history faces a moment of daunting opportunity and responsibility. If in
    the merciful and mysterious ways of God the Second Coming is delayed, we
    enter upon a Third Millennium that could be, in the words of John Paul II,
    a springtime of world missions.” ()

    As Christ is one, so the Christian mission is one. That one mission can be
    and should be advanced in diverse ways. Legitimate diversity, however,
    should not be confused with existing divisions between Christians that
    obscure the one Christ and hinder the one mission. There is a necessary
    connection between the visible unity of Christians and the mission of the
    one Christ. We together pray for the fulfillment of the prayer of Our
    Lord: May they all be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, so
    also may they be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”
    (John 17) We together, Evangelicals and Catholics, confess our sins
    against the unity that Christ intends for all his disciples.

    The one Christ and one mission includes many other Christians, notably the
    Eastern Orthodox and those Protestants not commonly identified as
    Evangelical. All Christians are encompassed in the prayer, May they all be
    one. Our present statement attends to the specific problems and
    opportunities in the relationship between Roman Catholics and Evangelical
    Protestants.

    As we near the Third Millennium, there are approximately I.7 billion
    Christians in the world. About a billion of these are Catholics and more
    than 300 million are Evangelical Protestants. The century now drawing to
    a dose has been the greatest century of missionary expansion in Christian
    history. We pray and we believe that this expansion has prepared the way
    for yet greater missionary endeavor in the first century of the Third
    Millennium.

    The two communities in world Christianity that are most evangelistically
    assertive and most rapidly growing are Evangelicals and Catholics. In many
    parts of the world, the relationship between these communities is marked
    more by conflict than by cooperation, more by animosity than by love, more
    by suspicion than by trust, more by propaganda and ignorance than by
    respect for the truth. This is alarmingly the case in Latin America,
    increasingly the case in Eastern Europe, and too often the case in our own
    country.

    Without ignoring conflicts between and within other Christian communities,
    we address ourselves to the relationship between Evangelicals and
    Catholics, who constitute the growing edge of missionary expansion at
    present and, most likely, in the century ahead. In doing so, we hope that
    what we have discovered and resolved may be of help in other situations of
    conflict, such as that among Orthodox, Evangelicals, and Catholics in
    Eastern Europe. While we are gratefully aware of ongoing efforts to
    address tensions among these communities, the shameful reality is that, in
    many places around the world, the scandal of conflict between Christians
    obscures the scandal of the cross, thus crippling the one mission of the
    one Christ.

    As in times past, so also today and in the future, the Christian mission,
    which is directed to the entire human community, must be advanced against
    formidable opposition. In some cultures, that mission encounters resurgent
    spiritualities and religions that are explicitly hostile to the claims of
    the Christ. Islam. which in many instances denies the freedom to witness
    to the Gospel, must be of increasing concern to those who care about
    religious freedom and the Christian mission. Mutually respectful
    conversation between Muslims and Christians should be encouraged in the
    hope that more of the world will, in the oft- repeated words of John Paul
    II, “open the door to Christ.” At the same time, in our so-called
    developed societies, a widespread secularization increasingly descends
    into a moral, intellectual, and spiritual nihilism that denies not only
    the One who is the Truth but the very idea of truth itself.

    We enter the twenty-first century without illusions. With Paul and the
    Christians of the first century, we know that we are not contending
    against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the
    powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the
    spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6) As
    Evangelicals and Catholics, we dare not by needless and loveless conflict
    between ourselves give aid and comfort to the enemies of the cause of
    Christ.

    The love of Christ compels us and we are therefore resolved to avoid such
    conflict between our communities and, where such conflict exists, to do
    what we can to reduce and eliminate it. Beyond that, we are called and we
    are therefore resolved to explore patterns of working and witnessing
    together in order to advance the one mission of Christ. Our common resolve
    is not based merely on a desire for harmony. We reject any appearance of
    harmony that is purchased at the price of truth. Our common resolve is
    made imperative by obedience to the truth of God revealed in the Word of
    God, the Holy Scriptures, and by trust in the promise of the Holy Spirit’s
    guidance until Our Lord returns in glory to judge the living and the dead.

    The mission that we embrace together is the necessary consequence of the
    faith that we affirm together.

    WE AFFIRM TOGETHER

    Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the first and final affirmation that
    Christians make about all of reality.

    He is the One sent by God to be Lord and Savior of all: And there is
    salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given
    among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4) Christians are people ahead
    of time, those who proclaim now what will one day be acknowledged by all,
    that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Philippians 2)

    We affirm together that we are justified by grace through faith because of
    Christ. Living faith is active in love that is nothing less than the love
    of Christ, for we together say with Paul: “I have been crucified with
    Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the
    life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved
    me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2)

    All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters in
    Christ. Evangelicals and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ. We
    have not chosen one another, just as we have not chosen Christ. He has
    chosen us, and he has chosen us to be his together. (John 15) However
    imperfect our communion with one another, however deep our disagreements
    with one another, we recognize that there is but one church of Christ.
    There is one church because there is one Christ and the church is his
    body. However difficult the way, we recognize that we are called by God
    to a fuller realization of our unity in the body of Christ. The only unity
    to which we would give expression is unity in the truth, and the truth is
    this: There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one
    hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God
    and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.”
    (Ephesians 4)

    We affirm together that Christians are to teach and live in obedience to
    the divinely inspired Scriptures, which are the infallible Word of God. We
    further affirm together that Christ has promised to his church the gift of
    the Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth in discerning and
    declaring the teaching of Scripture. (John 16) We recognize together that
    the Holy Spirit has so guided his church in the past. In, for instance,
    the formation of the canon of the Scriptures, and in the orthodox response
    to the great Christological and Trinitarian controversies of the early
    centuries, we confidently acknowledge the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In
    faithful response to the Spirit’s leading, the church formulated the
    Apostles Creed, which we can and hereby do affirm together as an accurate
    statement of scriptural truth:

    I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

    I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the
    power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under
    Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into
    hell. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is
    seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the
    living and the dead.

    I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of
    saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the
    life everlasting. Amen.

    WE HOPE TOGETHER

    We hope together that all people will come to faith in Jesus Christ as
    Lord and Savior. This hope makes necessary the church’s missionary zeal.
    But how are they to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how
    are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they
    to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?”
    (Romans 10) The church is by nature, in all places and at all times, in
    mission. Our missionary hope is inspired by the revealed desire of God
    that all should be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy
    2)

    The church lives by and for the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make
    disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of
    the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have
    commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
    (Matthew 28)

    Unity and love among Christians is an integral part of our missionary
    witness to the Lord whom we serve. A new commandment I give to you, that
    you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one
    another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have
    love for one another. (John 13) If we do not love one another, we disobey
    his command and contradict the Gospel we declare.

    As Evangelicals and Catholics, we pray that our unity in the love of
    Christ will become ever more evident as a sign to the world of God’s
    reconciling power. Our communal and ecclesial separations are deep and
    long standing. We acknowledge that we do not know the schedule nor do we
    know the way to the greater visible unity for which we hope. We do know
    that existing patterns of distrustful polemic and conflict are not the
    way. We do know that God who has brought us into communion with himself
    through Christ intends that we also be in communion with one another. We
    do know that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John I4) and as
    we are drawn closer to him–walking in that way, obeying that truth,
    living that life–we are drawn closer to one another.

    Whatever may be the future form of the relationship between our
    communities, we can, we must, and we will begin now the work required to
    remedy what we know to be wrong in that relationship. Such work requires
    trust and understanding, and trust and understanding require an assiduous
    attention to truth. We do not deny but clearly assert that there are
    disagreements between us. Misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and
    caricatures of one another, however, are not disagreements. These
    distortions must be cleared away if we are to search through our honest
    differences in a manner consistent with what we affirm and hope together
    on the basis of God’s Word.

    WE SEARCH TOGETHER

    Together we search for a fuller and clearer understanding of God’s
    revelation in Christ and his will for his disciples. Because of the
    limitations of human reason and language, which limitations are compounded
    by sin, we cannot understand completely the transcendent reality of God
    and his ways. Only in the End Time will we see face to face and know as we
    are known. (I Corinthians 13) We now search together in confident
    reliance upon God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ, the sure testimony of

    Holy Scripture, and the promise of the Spirit to his church. In this
    search to understand the truth more fully and clearly, we need one
    another. We are both informed and limited by the histories of our
    communities and by our own experiences. Across the divides of communities
    and experiences, we need to challenge one another, always speaking the
    truth in love building up the Body. (Ephesians 4)

    We do not presume to suggest that we can resolve the deep and
    long-standing differences between Evangelicals and Catholics. Indeed
    these differences may never be resolved short of the Kingdom Come.
    Nonetheless, we are not permitted simply to resign ourselves to
    differences that divide us from one another. Not all differences are
    authentic disagreements, nor need all disagreements divide. Differences
    and disagreements must be tested in disciplined and sustained
    conversation. In this connection we warmly commend and encourage the
    formal theological dialogues of recent years between Roman Catholics and
    Evangelicals.

    We note some of the differences and disagreements that must be addressed
    more fully and candidly in order to strengthen between us a relationship
    of trust in obedience to truth. Among points of difference in doctrine,
    worship, practice, and piety that are frequently thought to divide us are
    these:

    The church as an integral part of the Gospel or the church as a
    communal consequence of the Gospel.

    The church as visible communion or invisible fellowship of true
    believers.

    The sole authority of Scripture <(sola scriptura>) or Scripture
    as authoritatively interpreted in the church.

    The soul freedom of the individual Christian or the Magisterium
    (teaching authority) of the community.

    The church as local congregation or universal communion.

    Ministry ordered in apostolic succession or the priesthood of
    all believers.

    Sacraments and ordinances as symbols of grace or means of grace.

    The Lord’s Supper as eucharistic sacrifice or memorial meal.

    Remembrance of Mary and the saints or devotion to Mary and the
    saints.

    Baptism as sacrament of regeneration or testimony to
    regeneration.

    This account of differences is by no means complete. Nor is the disparity
    between positions always so sharp as to warrant the or in the above
    formulations. Moreover, among those recognized as Evangelical Protestants
    there are significant differences between, for example, Baptists,
    Pentecostals, and Calvinists on these questions. But the differences
    mentioned above reflect disputes that are deep and long standing. In at
    least some instances, they reflect authentic disagreements that have been
    in the past and are at present barriers to full communion between
    Christians.

    On these questions, and other questions implied by them, Evangelicals hold
    that the Catholic Church has gone beyond Scripture, adding teachings and
    practices that detract from or compromise the Gospel of God’s saving grace
    in Christ. Catholics, in turn, hold that such teachings and practices are
    grounded in Scripture and belong to the fullness of God’s revelation.
    Their rejection, Catholics say, results in a truncated and reduced
    understanding of the Christian reality.

    Again, we cannot resolve these disputes here. We can and do affirm
    together that the entirety of Christian faith, life, and mission finds its
    source, center, and end in the crucified and risen Lord. We can and do
    pledge that we will continue to search together–through study,
    discussion, and prayer–for a better understanding of one another’s
    convictions and a more adequate comprehension of the truth of God in
    Christ. We can testify now that in our searching together we have
    discovered what we can affirm together and what we can hope together and,
    therefore, how we can contend together.

    WE CONTEND TOGETHER

    As we are bound together by Christ and his cause, so we are bound together
    in contending against all that opposes Christ and his cause. We are
    emboldened not by illusions of easy triumph but by faith in his certain
    triumph. Our Lord wept over Jerusalem, and he now weeps over a world that
    does not know the time of its visitation. The raging of the principalities
    and powers may increase as the End Time nears, but the outcome of the
    contest is assured.

    The cause of Christ is the cause and mission of the church, which is,
    first of all, to proclaim the Good News that God was in Christ reconciling
    the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and
    entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5) To
    proclaim this Gospel and to sustain the community of faith, worship, and
    discipleship that is gathered by this Gospel is the first and chief
    responsibility of the church. All other tasks and responsibilities of the
    church are derived from and directed toward the mission of the Gospel.

    Christians individually and the church corporately also have a
    responsibility for the right ordering of civil society. We embrace this
    task soberly; knowing the consequences of human sinfulness, we resist the
    utopian conceit that it is within our powers to build the Kingdom of God
    on earth. We embrace this task hopefully; knowing that God has called us
    to love our neighbor, we seek to secure for all a greater measure of civil
    righteousness and justice, confident that he will crown our efforts when
    he rightly orders all things in the coming of his Kingdom.

    In the exercise of these public responsibilities there has been in recent
    years a growing convergence and cooperation between Evangelicals and
    Catholics. We thank God for the discovery of one another in contending for
    a common cause. Much more important, we thank God for the discovery of one
    another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Our cooperation as citizens is
    animated by our convergence as Christians. We promise one another that we
    will work to deepen, build upon, and expand this pattern of convergence
    and cooperation.

    Together we contend for the truth that politics, law, and culture must be
    secured by moral truth. With the Founders of the American experiment, we
    declare, We hold these truths. With them, we hold that this constitutional
    order is composed not just of rules and procedures but is most essentially
    a moral experiment. With them, we hold that only a virtuous people can be
    free and just, and that virtue is secured by religion. To propose that
    securing civil virtue is the purpose of religion is blasphemous. To deny
    that securing civil virtue is a benefit of religion is blindness.

    Americans are drifting away from, are often explicitly defying, the
    constituting truths of this experiment in ordered liberty. Influential
    sectors of the culture are laid waste by relativism, anti-intellectualism,
    and nihilism that deny the very idea of truth. Against such influences in
    both the elite and popular culture, we appeal to reason and religion in
    contending for the foundational truths of our constitutional order.

    More specifically, we contend together for religious freedom. We do so for
    the sake of religion, but also because religious freedom is the first
    freedom, the source and shield of all human freedoms. In their
    relationship to God, persons have a dignity and responsibility that
    transcends, and thereby limits, the authority of the state and of every
    other merely human institution.

    Religious freedom is itself grounded in and is a product of religious
    faith, as is evident in the history of Baptists and others in this
    country. Today we rejoice together that the Roman Catholic Church–as
    affirmed by the Second Vatican Council and boldly exemplified in the
    ministry of John Paul II–is strongly committed to religious freedom and,
    consequently, to the defense of all human rights. Where Evangelicals and
    Catholics are in severe and sometimes violent conflict, such as parts of
    Latin America, we urge Christians to embrace and act upon the imperative
    of religious freedom. Religious freedom will not be respected by the state
    if it is not respected by Christians or, even worse, if Christians attempt
    to recruit the state in repressing religious freedom.

    In this country, too, freedom of religion cannot be taken for granted but
    requires constant attention. We strongly affirm the separation of church
    and state and just as strongly protest the distortion of that principle to
    mean the separation of religion from public life. We are deeply concerned
    by the courts narrowing of the protections provided by the free exercise”
    provision of the First Amendment and by an obsession with no
    establishment” that stifles the necessary role of religion in American
    life. As a consequence of such distortions, it is increasingly the case
    that wherever government goes religion must retreat, and government
    increasingly goes almost everywhere. Religion, which was privileged and
    foundational in our legal order, has in recent years been penalized and
    made marginal. We contend together for a renewal of the constituting
    vision of the place of religion in the American experiment.

    Religion and religiously grounded moral conviction is not an alien or
    threatening force in our public life. For the great majority of Americans,
    morality is derived, however variously and confusedly, from religion. The
    argument, increasingly voiced in sectors of our political culture, that
    religion should be excluded from the public square must be recognized as
    an assault upon the most elementary principles of democratic governance.
    That argument needs to be exposed and countered by leaders, religious and
    other, who care about the integrity of our constitutional order.

    The pattern of convergence and cooperation between Evangelicals and
    Catholics is, in large part, a result of common effort to protect human
    life, especially the lives of the most vulnerable among us. With the
    Founders, we hold that all human beings are endowed by their Creator with
    the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The statement
    that the unborn child is a human life that–barring natural misfortune or
    lethal intervention–will become what everyone recognizes as a human baby
    is not a religious assertion. It is a statement of simple biological fact.
    That the unborn child has a right to protection, including the protection
    of law, is a moral statement supported by moral reason and biblical truth.

    We, therefore, will persist in contending–we will not be discouraged but
    will multiply every effort–in order to secure the legal protection of the
    unborn. Our goals are: to secure due process of law for the unborn, to
    enact the most protective laws and public policies that are politically
    possible, and to reduce dramatically the incidence of abortion. We warmly
    commend those who have established thousands of crisis pregnancy and
    postnatal care centers across the country, and urge that such efforts be
    multiplied. As the unborn must be protected, so also must women be
    protected from their current rampant exploitation by the abortion industry
    and by fathers who refuse to accept responsibility for mothers and
    children. Abortion on demand, which is the current rule in America, must
    be recognized as a massive attack on the dignity, rights, and needs of
    women.

    Abortion is the leading edge of an encroaching culture of death. The
    helpless old, the radically handicapped, and others who cannot effectively
    assert their rights are increasingly treated as though they have no
    rights. These are the powerless who are exposed to the will and whim of
    those who have power over them. We will do all in our power to resist
    proposals for euthanasia, eugenics, and population control that exploit
    the vulnerable, corrupt the integrity of medicine, deprave our culture,
    and betray the moral truths of our constitutional order.

    In public education, we contend together for schools that transmit to
    coming generations our cultural heritage, which is inseparable from the
    formative influence of religion, especially Judaism and Christianity.
    Education for responsible citizenship and social behavior is inescapably
    moral education. Every effort must be made to cultivate the morality of
    honesty, law observance, work, caring, chastity, mutual respect between
    the sexes, and readiness for marriage, parenthood, and family. We reject
    the claim that, in any or all of these areas, tolerance” requires the
    promotion of moral equivalence between the normative and the deviant. In a
    democratic society that recognizes that parents have the primary
    responsibility for the formation of their children, schools are to assist
    and support, not oppose and undermine, parents in the exercise of their
    responsibility.

    We contend together for a comprehensive policy of parental choice in
    education. This is a moral question of simple justice. Parents are the
    primary educators of their children; the state and other institutions
    should be supportive of their exercise of that responsibility. We affirm
    policies that enable parents to effectively exercise their right and
    responsibility to choose the schooling that they consider best for their
    children.

    We contend together against the widespread pornography in our society,
    along with the celebration of violence, sexual depravity, and
    antireligious bigotry in the entertainment media. In resisting such
    cultural and moral debasement, we recognize the legitimacy of boycotts and
    other consumer actions, and urge the enforcement of existing laws against
    obscenity. We reject the self-serving claim of the peddlers of depravity
    that this constitutes illegitimate censorship. We reject the assertion of
    the unimaginative that artistic creativity is to be measured by the
    capacity to shock or outrage. A people incapable of defending decency
    invites the rule of viciousness, both public and personal.

    We contend for a renewed spirit of acceptance, understanding, and
    cooperation across lines of religion, race. ethnicity, sex, and class. We
    are all created in the image of God and are accountable to him. That truth
    is the basis of individual responsibility and equality before the law. The
    abandonment of that truth has resulted in a society at war with itself,
    pitting citizens against one another in bitter conflicts of group
    grievances and claims to entitlement. Justice and social amity require a
    redirection of public attitudes and policies so that rights are joined to
    duties and people are rewarded according to their character and
    competence.

    We contend for a free society, including a vibrant market economy. A free
    society requires a careful balancing between economics, politics, and
    culture. Christianity is not an ideology and therefore does not prescribe
    precisely how that balance is to be achieved in every circumstance. We
    affirm the importance of a free economy not only because it is more
    efficient but because it accords with a Christian understanding of human
    freedom. Economic freedom, while subject to grave abuse, makes possible
    the patterns of creativity, cooperation, and accountability that
    contribute to the common good.

    We contend together for a renewed appreciation of Western culture. In its
    history and missionary reach, Christianity engages all cultures while
    being captive to none. We are keenly aware of, and grateful for, the role
    of Christianity in shaping and sustaining the Western culture of which we
    are part. As with all of history, that culture is marred by human
    sinfulness. Alone among world cultures, however, the West has cultivated
    an attitude of self-criticism and of eagerness to learn from other
    cultures. What is called multiculturalism can mean respectful attention to
    human differences. More commonly today, however, multiculturalism means
    affirming all cultures but our own. Welcoming the contributions of other
    cultures and being ever alert to the limitations of our own, we receive
    Western culture as our legacy and embrace it as our task in order to
    transmit it as a gift to future generations.

    We contend for public policies that demonstrate renewed respect for the
    irreplaceable role of mediating structures in society– notably the
    family, churches, and myriad voluntary associations. The state is not the
    society, and many of the most important functions of society are best
    addressed in independence from the state. The role of churches in
    responding to a wide variety of human needs, especially among the poor and
    marginal, needs to be protected and strengthened Moreover, society is not
    the aggregate of isolated individuals bearing rights but is composed of
    communities that inculcate responsibility, sustain shared memory, provide
    mutual aid, and nurture the habits that contribute to both personal
    well-being and the common good. Most basic among such communities is the
    community of the family. Laws and social policies should be designed with
    particular care for the stability and flourishing of families. While the
    crisis of the family in America is by no means limited to the poor or to
    the underclass, heightened attention must be paid those who have become,
    as a result of well-intended but misguided statist policies, virtual wards
    of the government.

    Finally, we contend for a realistic and responsible understanding of
    America’s part in world affairs. Realism and responsibility require that
    we avoid both the illusions of unlimited power and righteousness, on the
    one hand, and the timidity and selfishness of isolationism, on the other.
    U.S. foreign policy should reflect a concern for the defense of democracy
    and, wherever prudent and possible, the protection and advancement of
    human rights, including religious freedom.

    The above is a partial list of public responsibilities on which we believe
    there is a pattern of convergence and cooperation between Evangelicals and
    Catholics. We reject the notion that this constitutes a partisan religious
    agenda” in American politics. Rather, this is a set of directions
    oriented to the common good and discussable on the basis of public reason.
    While our sense of civic responsibility is informed and motivated by
    Christian faith, our intention is to elevate the level of political and
    moral discourse in a manner that excludes no one and invites the
    participation of all people of good will. To that end, Evangelicals and
    Catholics have made an inestimable contribution in the past and, it is our
    hope, will contribute even more effectively in the future.

    We are profoundly aware that the American experiment has been, all in all,
    a blessing to the world and a blessing to us as Evangelical and Catholic
    Christians. We are determined to assume our full share of responsibility
    for this one nation under God,” believing it to be a nation under the
    judgment, mercy, and providential care of the Lord of the nations to whom
    alone we render unqualified allegiance.

    WE WITNESS TOGETHER

    The question of Christian witness unavoidably returns us to points of
    serious tension between Evangelicals and Catholics. Bearing witness to
    the saving power of Jesus Christ and his will for our lives is an integral
    part of Christian discipleship. The achievement of good will and
    cooperation between Evangelicals and Catholics must not be at the price of
    the urgency and clarity of Christian witness to the Gospel. At the same
    time, and as noted earlier, Our Lord has made clear that the evidence of
    love among his disciples is an integral part of that Christian witness.

    Today, in this country and elsewhere, Evangelicals and Catholics attempt
    to win converts” from one another’s folds. In some ways, this is perfectly
    understandable and perhaps inevitable. In many instances, however, such
    efforts at recruitment undermine the Christian mission by which we are
    bound by God’s Word and to which we have recommitted ourselves in this
    statement. It should be dearly understood between Catholics and
    Evangelicals that Christian witness is of necessity aimed at conversion.
    Authentic conversion is–in its beginning, in its end, and all along the
    way– conversion to God in Christ by the power of the Spirit. In this
    connection, we embrace as our own the explanation of the Baptist-Roman
    Catholic International Conversation (1988):

    Conversion is turning away from all that is opposed to God, contrary to
    Christ’s teaching, and turning to God, to Christ, the Son, through the
    work of the Holy Spirit. It entails a turning from the self-centeredness
    of sin to faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. Conversion is a passing
    from one way of life to another new one, marked with the newness of
    Christ. It is a continuing process so that the whole life of a Christian
    should be a passage from death to life, from error to truth, from sin to
    grace. Our life in Christ demands continual growth in God’s grace.
    Conversion is personal but not private. Individuals respond in faith to
    God’s call but faith comes from hearing the proclamation of the word of
    God and is to be expressed in the life together in Christ that is the
    Church.

    By preaching, teaching, and life example, Christians witness to Christians
    and non-Christians alike. We seek and pray for the conversion of others,
    even as we recognize our own continuing need to be fully converted. As we
    strive to make Christian faith and life–our own and that of others–ever
    more intentional rather than nominal, ever more committed rather than
    apathetic, we also recognize the different forms that authentic
    discipleship can take. As is evident in the two thousand year history of
    the church, and in our contemporary experience, there are different ways
    of being Christian, and some of these ways are distinctively marked by
    communal patterns of worship, piety, and catechesis. That we are all to be
    one does not mean that we are all to be identical in our way of following
    the one Christ. Such distinctive patterns of discipleship, it should be
    noted, are amply evident within the communion of the Catholic Church as
    well as within the many worlds of Evangelical Protestantism.

    It is understandable that Christians who bear witness to the Gospel try to
    persuade others that their communities and traditions are more fully in
    accord with the Gospel. There is a necessary distinction between
    evangelizing and what is today commonly called proselytizing or sheep
    stealing. We condemn the practice of recruiting people from another
    community for purposes of denominational or institutional aggrandizement.
    At the same time, our commitment to full religious freedom compels us to
    defend the legal freedom to proselytize even as we call upon Christians to
    refrain from such activity.

    Three observations are in order in connection with proselytizing. First,
    as much as we might believe one community is more fully in accord with the
    Gospel than another, we as Evangelicals and Catholics affirm that
    opportunity and means for growth in Christian discipleship are available
    in our several communities. Second, the decision of the committed
    Christian with respect to his communal allegiance and participation must
    be assiduously respected. Third, in view of the large number of
    non-Christians in the world and the enormous challenge of our common
    evangelistic task, it is neither theologically legitimate nor a prudent
    use of resources for one Christian community to proselytize among active
    adherents of another Christian community.

    Christian witness must always be made in a spirit of love and humility. It
    must not deny but must readily accord to everyone the full freedom to
    discern and decide what is God’s will for his life. Witness that is in
    service to the truth is in service to such freedom. Any form of
    coercion–physical, psychological, legal, economic–corrupts Christian
    witness and is to be unqualifiedly rejected. Similarly, bearing false
    witness against other persons and communities, or casting unjust and
    uncharitable suspicions upon them, is incompatible with the Gospel. Also
    to be rejected is the practice of comparing the strengths and ideals of
    one community with the weaknesses and failures of another. In describing
    the teaching and practices of other Christians, we must strive to do so in
    a way that they would recognize as fair and accurate.

    In considering the many corruptions of Christian witness, we, Evangelicals
    and Catholics, confess that we have sinned against one another and against
    God. We most earnestly ask the forgiveness of God and one another, and
    pray for the grace to amend our own lives and that of our communities.

    Repentance and amendment of life do not dissolve remaining differences
    between us. In the context of evangelization and reevangelization,” we
    encounter a major difference in our understanding of the relationship
    between baptism and the new birth in

    Christ. For Catholics, all who are validly baptized are born again and are
    truly, however imperfectly, in communion with Christ. That baptismal
    grace is to be continuingly reawakened and revivified through conversion.
    For most Evangelicals, but not all, the experience of conversion is to be
    followed by baptism as a sign of new birth. For Catholics, all the
    baptized are already members of the church, however dormant their faith
    and life; for many Evangelicals, the new birth requires baptismal
    initiation into the community of the born again. These differing beliefs
    about the relationship between baptism, new birth, and membership in the
    church should be honestly presented to the Christian who has undergone
    conversion. But again, his decision regarding communal allegiance and
    participation must be assiduously respected.

    There are, then, differences between us that cannot be resolved here. But
    on this we are resolved: All authentic witness must be aimed at conversion
    to God in Christ by the power of the Spirit. Those converted–whether
    understood as having received the new birth for the first time or as
    having experienced the reawakening of the new birth originally bestowed in
    the sacrament of baptism- -must be given full freedom and respect as they
    discern and decide the community in which they will live their new life in
    Christ. In such discernment and decision, they are ultimately responsible
    to God, and we dare not interfere with the exercise of that
    responsibility. Also in our differences and disagreements, we Evangelicals
    and Catholics commend one another to God who by the power at work within
    us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think”
    (Ephesians 3)

    In this discussion of witnessing together we have touched on difficult and
    long-standing problems. The difficulties must not be permitted to
    overshadow the truths on which we are, by the grace of God, in firm
    agreement. As we grow in mutual understanding and trust, it is our hope
    that our efforts to evangelize will not jeopardize but will reinforce our
    devotion to the common tasks to which we have pledged ourselves in this
    statement.

    CONCLUSION

    Nearly two thousand years after it began, and nearly five hundred years
    after the divisions of the Reformation era, the Christian mission to the
    world is vibrantly alive and assertive. We do not know, we cannot know,
    what the Lord of history has in store for the Third Millennium. It may be
    the springtime of world missions and great Christian expansion. It may be
    the way of the cross marked by persecution and apparent marginalization.
    In different places and times, it will likely be both. Or it may be that
    Our Lord will return tomorrow.

    We do know that his promise is sure, that we are enlisted for the
    duration, and that we are in this together. We do know that we must affirm
    and hope and search and contend and witness together, for we belong not to
    ourselves but to him who has purchased us by the blood of the cross. We do
    know that this is a time of opportunity–and, if of opportunity, then of
    responsibility–for Evangelicals and Catholics to be Christians together
    in a way that helps prepare the world for the coming of him to whom
    belongs the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

    PARTICIPANTS: Mr. Charles Colson Prison Fellowship Fr. Juan Diaz-Vilar,
    S.J. Catholic Hispanic Ministries Fr. Avery Dulles, S.J. Fordham
    University Bishop Francis George, OMI Diocese of Yakima (Washington) Dr.
    Kent Hill Eastern Nazarene College Dr. Richard Land Christian Life
    Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention Dr. Larry Lewis Home Mission
    Board of the Southern Baptist Convention Dr. Jesse Miranda Assemblies of
    God Msgr. William Murphy Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Boston Fr.
    Richard John Neuhaus Institute on Religion and Public Life Mr. Brian
    O’Connell World Evangelical Fellowship Mr. Herbert Schlossberg Fieldstead
    Foundation Archbishop Francis Stafford Archdiocese of Denver Mr. George
    Weigel Ethics and Public Policy Center Dr. John White Geneva College and
    the National Association of Evangelicals

    ENDORSED BY: Dr. William Abraham Perkins School of Theology Dr. Elizabeth
    Achtemeier Union Theological Seminary (Virginia) Mr. William Bentley Ball
    Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Dr. Bill Bright Campus Crusade for Christ
    Professor Robert Destro Catholic University of America Fr. Augustine
    DiNoia, O.P. Dominican House of Studies Fr. Joseph P. Fitzpatrick, S.J.
    Fordham University Mr. Keith Fournier American Center for Law and Justice
    Bishop William Frey Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry Professor Mary
    Ann Glendon Harvard Law School Dr. Os Guinness Trinity Forum Dr. Nathan
    Hatch University of Notre Dame Dr. James Hitchcock St. Louis University
    Professor Peter Kreeft Boston College Fr. Matthew Lamb Boston College Mr.
    Ralph Martin Renewal Ministries Dr. Richard Mouw Fuller Theological
    Seminary Dr. Mark Noll Wheaton College Mr. Michael Novak American
    Enterprise Institute John Cardinal O’Connor Archdiocese of New York Dr.
    Thomas Oden Drew University Dr. James J. I. Packer Regent College
    (British Columbia) The Rev. Pat Robertson Regent University Dr. John
    Rogers Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry Bishop Carlos A. Sevilla,
    S.J. Archdiocese of San Francisco

    Taken from the May, 1994 issue of FIRST THINGS, 156 Fifth Avenue, New
    York, Ny 10010
    http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9405/articles/mission.html

    Grail Knight
    Participant
    Post count: 29
    • 8
    #2146 |

    Unity is what is missing in the ‘Christian World.’ Right now, ‘Radical Islam’ seems to be ‘United,’ and is doing much ‘Evil’ and creating a great deal of ‘Darkness.’ Christianity, on the other hand, seems to be divided, disunified and is fighting……one denomination against the other. While we Christians are busy ‘Bad-Mouthing’ one another…..the Radical Islamists just sit back and laugh at us.

    If Christendom (no matter what denomination we belong to) does not ‘Band Together’ under the ‘Banner of Jesus Christ,’…..then we will all go down in flames….seperately.

    We are all Brothers & Sisters in our Lord & King Jesus Christ………not much else really matters.

    The Quest for The Holy Grail was never meant to be achieved. It was meant to be 'Lived' - now, today & forever. For God & Neighbor, I live & Serve.

    de Molay
    Keymaster
    Post count: 130
    • 48
    #2155 |

    If Christendom (no matter what denomination we belong to) does not ‘Band Together’ under the ‘Banner of Jesus Christ,’…..then we will all go down in flames….seperately.

    We are all Brothers & Sisters in our Lord & King Jesus Christ………not much else really matters.

    I could not say it better than that Brother

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