Evangelicals, ecumenists and Vatican launch historic joint document on mission
“Historic” was the word of the day today as the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), World Council of Churches (WCC) and Vatican launched a landmark document on the ethics of mission.
“Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World” is the first joint document of its kind in church history and seeks to identify not only the biblical call to evangelism but also the ethical mandates of Christian witness.
It offers recommendations for Christian conduct in the mission field and is a joined up response to criticisms levelled at Christians by some religious communities against what they perceive to be “unethical methods”.
Its launch in Geneva, Switzerland, today comes follows five years of discussions between the WCC, WEA and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council on Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID).
WEA Secretary General Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe said it was a “historic document” and a “historic moment” for the three bodies, who together represent more than 90 per cent of the world’s total Christian population.
Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the WCC said the document was a testimony to their search for unity.
He said the document would give “strength” to the joint witness of Christians to the Gospel.
“Christian witness demands Christian attitudes,” he said.
President of the PCID, Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, stressed the need for a common voice in the face of challenges to proclaiming the Gospel and efforts to privatise faith.
“We are making history this afternoon,” he said.
The preamble to the document starts by stating that mission belongs to the very being of the church.
"Proclaiming the word of God and witnessing to the world is essential for every Christian,” it reads.
“At the same time, it is necessary to do so according to gospel principles, with full respect and love for all human beings.”
The 12 principles its sets out for Christian witness include acting in God’s love, living with integrity, compassion and humility, and rejecting violence.