Magazine article The Christian Century

Progress Reported on Proselytizing Code

Magazine article The Christian Century

Progress Reported on Proselytizing Code

Article excerpt

Efforts to establish a code of conduct to govern Christian churches' missionary and evangelism efforts--especially those aimed at other Christians--took a major step forward recently when the World Evangelical Alliance indicated that it would support such a pact.

"We see this as a major step forward on the way to getting the code agreed on among organizations representing a huge body of Christians," said Juan Michel, a spokesperson for the World Council of Churches, which is heading up the project along with the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The code, expected to be finalized in 2010, would be directed at both inter-Christian evangelism and Christian mission to those outside the faith.

The decision of the WEA, whose membership numbers 233 evangelical denominations in more than 120 countries, was announced at an August 8-12 consultation in Toulouse, France. The meeting was attended by a broad spectrum of Christians, including Pentecostals and evangelicals as well as representatives of WCC churches and Roman Catholic delegates.

Conversion to Christianity from Islam can be a punishable offense in some nations with a Muslim majority, but serious tensions also exist within Christianity. Catholic leaders have voiced sharp criticism of evangelicals and Pentecostals for seeking to convert Catholics, and Orthodox leaders in Russia have accused Catholics of encroaching on their traditional hegemony in church matters.

Thomas Schirrmacher, a German theologian who heads the WEA's International Institute for Religious Freedom, said the code would seek to "establish the borderline between acceptable forms of mission protected by religious freedom and undue forms of trying to convert people. …

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