Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct

Article excerpt

World Council of Churches

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

World Evangelical Alliance

The INTERNATIONAL BULLETIN OF MISSIONARY RESEARCH presents below the full text of "Christian Witness in a MultiReligious World: Recommendations for Conduct." Jointly issued in June 2011 by the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue (PCID) of the Roman Catholic Church, and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), the document represents a broad consensus on appropriate missionary conduct "according to gospel principles" when sharing the Christian faith.

The three bodies, with a combined membership of some two billion, represent nearly 90 percent of the world's Christians. "The document is a major achievement," said GeoffTunnicliffe, chief executive officer and secretary general of the WEA; it represents formal agreement on "the essence of Christian mission," while also demonstrating that Christian bodies "are able to work together and to speak together." In this sense, the document represents "a historic moment" in the quest for Christian unity.

Developed over a five-year period, the document begins, "Mission belongs to the very being of the church," and calls for careful study of the issues of mission and interreligious dialogue, the building of trust and cooperation among people of all religions, and the promotion of religious freedom everywhere. It is available online in English, German, and Spanish at www .oikoumene. org/en/news/news-management/eng/a/article/1 63 4/christians-reach-broad-co .html. - Editors

Preamble

Mission belongs to the very being of the church. Proclaiming the word of God and witnessing to the world is essential for every Christian. At the same time, it is necessary to do so according to gospel principles, with full respect and love for all human beings.

Aware of the tensions between people and communities of different religious convictions and the varied interpretations of Christian witness, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), the World Council of Churches (WCC) and, at the invitation of the WCC, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), met during a period of 5 years to reflect and produce this document to serve as a set of recommendations for conduct on Christian witness around the world. This document does not intend to be a theological statement on mission but to address practical issues associated with Christian witness in a multi-religious world.

The purpose of this document is to encourage churches, church councils and mission agencies to reflect on their current practices and to use the recommendations in this document to prepare, where appropriate, their own guidelines for their witness and mission among those of different religions and among those who do not profess any particular religion. It is hoped that Christians across the world will study this document in the light of their own practices in witnessing to their faith in Christ, both by word and deed.

A Basis for Christian Witness

1. For Christians it is a privilege and j oy to give an accounting for the hope that is within them and to do so with gentleness and respect (cf. 1 Peter 3:15).

2. Jesus Christ is the supreme witness (cf. John 18:37). Christian witness is always a sharing in his witness, which takes the form of proclamation of the kingdom, service to neighbour and the total gift of self even if that act of giving leads to the cross. Just as the Father sent the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit, so believers are sent in mission to witness in word and action to the love of the triune God.

3. The example and teaching of Jesus Christ and of the early church must be the guides for Christian mission. For two millennia Christians have sought to follow Christ's way by sharing the good news of God's kingdom (cf. Luke 4:16-20).

4. Christian witness in a pluralistic world includes engaging in dialogue with people of different religions and cultures (cf. …