In every country of the world, men and women, old and young,
are found worshiping in churches, cathedrals, chapels and house
groups, confessing in a great variety of cultures and in many tongues
"Jesus Christ is Lord". They have discovered the Redeemer
of the world to be their own Savior, and their commitment to Christ
gives meaning and purpose to their lives.
In Asia and Africa, the number of Christians has doubled
in recent years as seeds sown in earlier times come to fruition.
Indigenous evangelizers have taken responsibility in the creation
and animation of new church communities. New ecclesial communities
are also being born in places thought by some to have moved into
a post-Christian' era. In countries of Eastern Europe, believing
people have lived their faith with tenacity in the face of atheism
and oppression and now bear dynamic witness to the way faith continues
to outlive all forces that would destroy it. New signs of life are
appearing in Western countries where Christians are confessing their
faith as a thoughtful alternative to prevailing materialistic values
and the full flowering of secularism which had seemed an inevitable
trend in the modern world.
Catholics and Methodists participate in this astonishing
persistence and explosive growth of Christian presence and witness
in the world. Whether in a Catholic parish in Zaire or in an urban
Methodist congregation in Korea, whether at the preaching of the
Word or in the celebration at the Table, the common acclamation
rings out: "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come
again". Praise issues in evangelistic testimony and caring
service as believing Methodists and Catholics disperse to bear witness
to the Lord among their neighbors.
The heart of the faith is common to Catholics and
Methodists; but while they sometimes share in prayer and witness
together, often they proceed on their own more or less parallel
lines. The current situation calls into question the separation
that we have inherited and spurs us on to work for our eventual
full communion in Christ. The work done by this Commission up to
now has been directed towards this end. Our previous document, The
Apostolic Tradition, studied the source of our faith and the means
by which it has been communicated to us.
God's Word, revealing God to us, and God's Spirit,
enabling us to know God, have led us now to study more closely the
ways in which God gives himself to us and the response that we make.
God's revelation comes for our reception as the Word of Life, to
be confessed, propagated and celebrated. The more we can do these
things together, the more we shall be in harmony with the Gospel
of reconciliation, and the more credible will be our witness, to
the glory of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore we seek
full communion in faith, mission, and sacramental life. This Report
is offered as a contribution towards the achievement of the doctrinal
agreement necessary to that end.
JAMES W. MALONE