between the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity
and Some Classical Pentecostals
The following is a report of conversations at the international
level which represent a second five-year series that had its
beginnings in informal talks in 1969 and 1970 between the Vatican
Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity and some members of
the classical Pentecostal churches. The co-chairmen of this
quinquennium were the Rev. David du Plessis of Oakland, California,
USA, and the Rev. Kilian McDonnell, osb, of Collegeville, Minnesota,
USA. The conversations took place according to the indications
agreed to by the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity and
the Pentecostal representatives in 1970.
This dialogue has its own specific quality. Growth in mutual
understanding of classical Pentecostal and Roman Catholic theologies
and spiritual practice rather than organic or structural unity
is the special object of these bilateral conversations.
It is a concern of the dialogue to seek out those areas where
classical Pentecostals and Roman Catholics represent divergent
theological views and spiritual experiences, and in this way
to foster mutual understanding in what distinguishes each partner,
such as faith/experience and its role in the Christian life.
Without minimizing these differences the dialogue also seeks
common theological ground where "the truth of the Gospel"
is shared (Gal 2:14).
The Roman Catholic participants were officially appointed by
the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. There were various
kinds of representation on the classical Pentecostal side. Some
were appointed by their individual churches; a few were church
officials; others were members who came with the approbation
of their churches; in still other cases they came as members
in good standing with their churches.
Besides the classical Pentecostals there were in the first five
year series 1972-1976, participants from the charismatic movement
in various Protestant churches. These were members of Anglican
or Protestant communions with whom the Roman Catholic Church
was already in formal contact through bilateral dialogues. These
Anglican and Protestant participants took part primarily because
of their involvement in the charismatic renewal rather than
as members of their own churches. The first five-year series
of conversations extended from 1972 through 1976. In those meetings
the following topics were discussed: "Baptism in the Holy
Spirit" in the New Testament and its relation to repentance,
sanctification, charism, rites of initiation; the historic background
of the classical Pentecostal movement; the role of the Holy
Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit in the mystical tradition;
the theology of the rites of initiation, the nature of sacramental
activity; infant and adult baptism; public worship, with special
attention given to eucharistic worship; discernment of spirits;
and the human dimension in the exercise of the spiritual gifts;
prayer and praise.
In 1977 a second five year series was initiated. This second
series, 1977-1982 (no session was held in 1978 because of the
death of the Pope), had a different character than the first
series. In order to more clearly focus the conversations it
was decided that this second series should be exclusively a
conversation between the classical Pentecostals and the Roman
Catholic Church. Therefore, participants in the charismatic
renewal who were members of the Anglican and Protestant churches
were not included in the dialogue in a systematic way.
At the first meeting of the second series of talks, held in
Rome, October 1977, the dialogue discussed speaking in tongues
and the relation of experience to faith. The second meeting
in Rome, October 1979, discussed the relation of Scripture and
tradition, and the ministry of healing in the church. In Venice,
October 1980, the meeting focused on church as a worshiping
community and tradition and traditions. The meeting in Vienna
in October, 1981, focused on the role of Mary. The last meeting
of the series was held at Collegeville, Minnesota in October
1982, where Ministry was the area of concentration.
A personal relationship with Jesus Christ belongs to the definition
of a Christian. Classical Pentecostals have never accepted the
position or taught that this relationship must necessarily be
expressed through speaking in tongues in the sense that one
could not be a Christian without speaking in tongues.
manifestation of tongues was never entirely absent in the history
of the Church, and is found in a notable way among Roman Catholics
and other Christians involved in charismatic renewal, as well
as among classical Pentecostals.
was agreed that every discussion about Christian glossolalia
should be founded on Scripture. That some New Testament authors
saw tongues as playing a role in the Christian life is indicated
in various books of the Bible. ("and they were all filled
with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as
the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6;
Mark 16:17; 1 Cor 12:4; 10; 18; 14:2, 5, 22; Rom 8:26).
teaching of the classical Pentecostals on the charisms seeks
to be faithful to the picture of the New Testament church as
reflected in 1 Cor 1214. Classical Pentecostals have rendered
a service by encouraging the various communions to be open and
receptive to those spiritual manifestations to which they claim
to have been faithful.
experience the dialogue understands the process or event by
which one comes to a personal awareness of God. The experience
of God's "presence" or "absence" can be
matter of conscious awareness. At the same time, and at a deeper
level, there remains the constant abiding faith-conviction that
God's loving presence is revealed in the person of his Son,
through the Holy Spirit.
Christian is one who experiences not only Easter and Pentecost,
but also the Cross. The experience of God's "absence"
can lead a Christian to a sense of being abandoned, as Jesus
himself experienced on the Cross. The death of Christ is to
be found at the heart of our Christian experience, and therefore
we too experience a death: "I have been crucified with
Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in
me" (Gal 2:20).
was no unanimity whether non-Christians may receive the life
of the Holy Spirit. According to contemporary Roman Catholic
understanding, to which Vatican II gives an authoritative expression,
"All must be converted to Jesus Christ as he is made known
by the Church's preaching" (Ad gentes, § 7).
"The Church... is necessary for salvation" (Lumen
gentium §14). But Vatican II also says that all without
exception are called by God to faith in Christ, and to salvation
(Lumen gentium, §1,16; Nostra aetate, §1,2).
This is brought about "in an unseen way... known only to
God" (Gaudium et spes, §22; Ad gentes,
§7). This theology is seen as a legitimate development
of the total New Testament teaching on God's saving love in
Christ. The classical Pentecostal participants do not accept
this development, but retain their interpretation of the Scripture
that non-Christians are excluded from the life of the Spirit:
"Truly, truly I say unto you, unless one is born anew,
he cannot see the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3).
the Holy Spirit's manifestation in persons, he engages the natural
faculties. In the exercise of the charisms, human faculties
are not set aside, but used. The action of the Sprit is not
identical with the forces inherent in nature.
spiritual experience is seen as part of the communitarian dimension
of the Gospel. Persons live in community, and the Church should
be a lived-experience of community. There is rich history of
community experience in the Church.
matter how vivid or powerful the individual's spiritual experience
may be, it needs to be discerned and judged by the community.
Love, which is the normative bond of community life, is the
biblical criterion of all spiritual experience (cf. 1 Cor 13).
Pentecostals and Roman Catholics hold that the books of the
Old Testament were accepted by the early Church as inspired.
The primitive Church existed for a period without its own Christian
Scriptures. Of the early Christian writings, a certain number
were accepted by the Church, in the light of the Holy Spirit,
Catholics believe that these Scriptures have been handed down
through the centuries in a tradition of living faith, a tradition
which has been experienced by the whole Church, guided by Church
leaders, operative in all aspects of Christian life, and on
occasion expressed in written form in creeds, councils, etc.
This tradition is not a source of revelation separate from Scripture,
but Scripture responded to and actualized in the living tradition
of the Church (cf. n° 26 & n° 52).
maintain that there are not two authorities (i.e. Scripture
plus Church tradition) but one authority, that of Scripture.
However, Scripture must be read and understood with the illumination
of the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals believe that the interpretation
of Scripture can only be discerned through the Holy Spirit.
In Pentecostal movements there is a broad consensus of what
elements are fundamental to the Christian faith. But there is
a reluctance to give this consensus a status of tradition, because
of a fear that religious tradition operates against the Gospel.
feel that further dialogue will be needed to discuss how the
Roman Catholic Church can propose, as a matter of faith, doctrines
such as the assumption of Mary which go beyond the letter of
Scripture, and which Pentecostals believe to be unacceptable
contemporary Roman Catholic scholarship the historical-critical
method is the accepted framework within which exegesis is done.
In this method emphasis is given to understanding an ancient
author in his own idiom, cultural context, and religious background.
reject the philosophical and theological principles of form
and redaction criticism as militating against the plenary inspiration
of Scripture. They insist on the necessity of the light given
by the Holy Spirit if the reader is to respond with faith and
understanding to the Word of God. It was a consensus of the
participants that this discussion a was valuable contribution
to the dialogue.
Catholics believe that the light of the Holy Spirit given in
and through the Church is the ultimate principle of interpretation
of Scripture. They reject any exegetical method that would deny
However, they believe that critical methods are compatible with
a Spirit-inspired exegesis, and consider them necessary for
a proper understanding of the text.
Pentecostal form of exegesis, while having its roots in evangelicalism,
is not specifically defined. It is admittedly in a formative
stage. Current exegesis would tend to be a pneumatic literal
the event of conflicting interpretation of Scripture texts,
Roman Catholics accept the guidance of the Spirit as manifested
in the living tradition.
While the teaching of the Church stands under the Word of
God, this same teaching serves the authoritative and authentic
communication of the Word of God to the people. (Dogmatic
Constitution on Divine Revelation, par. 10). While Catholics
believe both Scripture and Tradition cohere in each other
and, thus, transmit the Word of God, they do accord a priority
the event of conflicting interpretation of Scripture texts,
Pentecostals rely on the Holy Spirit's guidance, without the
developed dogmatic structure found in the Roman Catholic Church.
While there may be some danger or subjectivism, God is trusted
to provide the guidance of the Spirit within the local body
of believers. (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13; 2 John 2:27).
the determination of the limits and validation of religious
knowledge, it was agreed that faith and reason cannot be polarized.
However, Pentecostals place a greater emphasis upon pneumatic
inspiration and supernatural manifestations, than on reason,
for determining the limits and validity of religious knowledge.
spite of the differences mentioned above, it is seen that classical
Pentecostals and Roman Catholics agree on the basic elements
of the Christian faith, e.g. Trinity, incarnation, resurrection,
inspiration of Scripture, the preaching of the Gospel as an
integral part of the ministry of the Church, and the guidance
of the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
needing clarification in this dialogue is the relation between
Scripture and tradition. In this relationship, Roman Catholics
do grant a priority to Scripture. But according to Vatican Council
II, Decree on Divine Revelation, Dei verbum (§10) "Sacred
tradition and sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit
of the Word of God. Hence both Scripture and tradition must
be accepted and honored with equal feelings of devotion and
reverence." Also in need of further discussion is whether
the various methods of exegesis, for example the form-critical
method which Catholic exegetes use, are compatible with classical
in the Church
ministry of healing in the Church is practiced in both the Roman
Catholic Church and the Pentecostal churches as part of their
total ministry. Both Pentecostals and Roman Catholics agree
that through prayerful petition they seek the healing of the
whole person's physical, spiritual and emotional needs. Catholics
consider the "anointing of the sick" a sacrament.
Pentecostals accept anointing with oil as a part of the commission
to minister healing with the preaching of the Gospel. (In the
Roman Catholic Church the sacrament of anointing of the sick
was formerly named "extreme unction").
the life of the Roman Catholic Church there have been, and are,
those who dedicate their lives to the care of and ministry to
the sick. Pentecostals are becoming increasingly involved in
this important aspect of ministry to the sick and suffering.
are attitudinal differences with regard to healing. Roman Catholic
practice regards healing of the body as one outcome of the ministry
to the sick in the church. Pentecostals place more emphasis
on the expectation of healing in the afflicted through preaching
and praying. There is a basic difference in each approach to
healing. Roman Catholics may seek healing in sacramental rites,
in healing services, novenas and similar forms of devotion.
They also go on pilgrimage to shrines where healing may take
place. At these places many seek and experience a deepening
of faith and a spiritual healing. Pentecostals teach people
to expect healing anywhere at any time.
in their official teaching, recognize and accept that Jesus
is the Healer and that faith looks to Jesus for this grace.
Pentecostals as well as Roman Catholics exercise reserve in
making judgments about miraculous manifestations and healings.
is a difference in expectationthat of Catholics being
more passive while that of Pentecostals being more aggressive.
There is admittedly a new awareness of the reality of the healing
in the Roman Catholic Church, both within and outside the sacramental
order. On the other hand, the dialogue is aware of the existence
of some popular religious expressions that may lack sufficient
place of suffering in this life is looked upon by Roman Catholics
and some Pentecostals as a means of grace, as a purifying of
the soul, and as an instrument for opening one to God's spiritual
strength which sustains one and causes one to rejoice in affliction.
Both Roman Catholics and Pentecostals believe that suffering
may lead one to understand and be conformed (Phil 3:10) to the
redemptive suffering of Jesus. However, Pentecostals continue
to expect healing unless there is a special revelation that
God has some other purpose. Both Roman Catholics and Pentecostals
accept that the will of God is preeminent in the whole matter
there appears to be some similarity in lay participation in
the ministry of healing, the discussions revealed that there
is still a wide gap between Catholics and Pentecostals. Catholics,
singly and in community, pray for the sick and with the sick.
However, only the priest may administer the "Anointing
of the Sick" which is a sacrament. Pentecostals anoint
with oil (James 5:14-15) but do not confine the anointing to
the ordained ministry. The ministry to the sick, with the laying
on of hands by all believers (Mark 16:17-18), is commonly practiced.
contemporary Roman Catholic theology the necessity for healing
is applied to a broader spectrum of social ills. In this application
of healing to problems of social injustice Roman Catholics and
classical Pentecostals have widely divergent views. Because
of economic and cultural exploitation many people live in sub-human
economic disease. Roman Catholics and Pentecostals have different
approaches to the mandate to heal the social conditions which
hinder good health.
Pentecostals are reluctant to apply divine healing to such a
broad range of social injustices. Though they believe exploitative
conditions should be rectified they would emphasize the priority
of direct evangelism, as the best means of effecting social
are a number of areas where there is agreement between Roman
Catholics and Pentecostals: the necessity of the Cross, healing
as a sign of the Kingdom, healing of the total person, the involvement
of the laity in prayer for healing, the expectation of healing
through the Eucharist/Lord's Supper and, Christ as the Healer.
Worship and Communication
insist on a personal confession of faith in Jesus Christ as
the basis of Christian community, rather than on a sacramental
and ecclesial approach to the mediating work of Christ. They
hold that the believer experiences Christ in every aspect of
the worshiping community: singing, praying, testimony, preaching,
the ordinance of Baptism, the celebration of Holy Communion,
and also in daily living.
Catholics insist on conversion to the living God by personal
encounter with the living Christ. This conversation often takes
place gradually. For Roman Catholics, the Church, its ministry
and sacraments, are the normal instruments and manifestations
of Christ's action and presence, and of the gift of His Spirit.
The sacraments are acts of Christ which make present and active
the saving power of the Paschal Mystery.
membership in a Pentecostal church individuals are expected
to have experienced a personal confession of faith in Jesus
Christ; and then participate in the life, follow the leadership
and be willing to accept responsibility in the church. In some
Pentecostal churches, membership is concurrent with one's water
baptism by immersion. Membership in the Roman Catholic Church
requires baptism, profession of Roman Catholic faith, and active
communion with the local community, the bishops and the successor
of St. Peter.
among Pentecostals and Roman Catholics, members may lose their
fellowship in the community for serious deviation in doctrine
or practice. This penalty of severance from the church is intended
to be remedial, a reminder of one's guilt before God and the
need for repentance.
Pentecostals and Roman Catholics celebrate the Lord's Supper/Eucharist
with notable difference in doctrine and practice. Roman Catholics
regard the Eucharist as a sacramental memorial of Christ's sacrifice
on Calvary in the Biblical sense of the word anamnesis. By God's
power, in the Eucharistic celebration Jesus is present in His
death and resurrection. This sacred rite is for Roman Catholics
a privileged means of grace and the central act of worship.
It is celebrated frequently, even daily.
Among Pentecostals, the Lord's Supper does not hold an equally
predominant place in their life of worship. Most Pentecostals
celebrate the Lord's Supper as an ordinance in obedience to
the command of the Lord. Other Pentecostal churches believe
this memorial to be more than a reminder of Jesus' death and
resurrection, considering it a means of grace.
Pentecostals practice "open communion," that is, anyone
may participate in the Lord's Supper provided they acknowledge
the Lordship of Christ and have examined their own dispositions
(1 Cor 11:28). Except in certain cases of spiritual necessity
determined by the Church, the Roman Church admits to communion
only its own members provided they are free from serious sin.
This is not meant to be a refusal of fellowship with other Christians,
but rather expresses the Roman Catholic Church's understanding
of the relationship between the Church and the Eucharist.
justification for this practice by Catholics was contested by
Pentecostals. This was found to be painful on both sides and
the dialogue agrees that the subject with regard to admission
to communion requires a great deal of further discussion.
Pentecostals and Roman Catholics agree that a common faith is
the basis of communion in the body of Christ. For Roman Catholics,
full communion means the collegial unity of the heads of the
local Churches; namely, the bishops, with the Bishop of Rome
who exercises the primacy. Pentecostals would not attach the
same significance to structural bonds between churches. The
Roman Catholic church recognizes the mediation of Christ at
work in churches which are not in full communion with it, through
the Word that is preached and believed, the sacraments that
are celebrated and the ministry that is exercised. If it considers
that these gifts are not found in their fullness in, a particular
church it does not thereby make any judgment on the actual holiness
of the members of that church. The Roman Catholic church describes
the relationship of other Christians with Catholics as that
of brothers and sisters in an incomplete communion (Unitatis
views concerning the sacredness and importance of Holy Scripture
allowed us to sense immediately that we had much more to affirm
in one another than to question. Both sides of the dialogue
agreed as to the inspired nature of both the Old Testament and
the New Testament, thus giving Scripture a privileged place
in both churches.
canonicity of the New Testament is agreed upon in terms of selection
and the process of its establishment by the church. Both Pentecostals
and Roman Catholics recognize the role of the church in the
composition of the books of the New Testament and in the formation
of the canon and both acknowledge that the church preceded the
written New Testament.
Pentecostal representatives stress that the church itself was
created by the calling (election) of Christ, and formed by the
dominical sayings of Jesus, and the Messianic interpretation
of the Scriptures of Jesus Himself (Luke 24:45ff). In this sense,
according to Pentecostals, the church itself was formed by the
Word of God. The Church's role in the formation of the New Testament
is then essentially that of one who transmits, interprets and
applies the salvific message of Jesus Christ. Roman Catholics
emphasize more the role of the church as having an authority
recognizing and enunciating the truth of the Gospel in doctrinal
sides recognize that Scripture is of necessity linked to interpretation.
Both agree that scriptural content itself includes interpretation;
that it requires interpretation; and thus an authoritative interpreter.
There is significant divergence as to the degree of interpretation
within Scripture and the kind of interpretation by the church
necessary in order to understand Scripture accurately. Disagreement
centers around what or who is an authoritative interpreter.
To the Pentecostal it is the right interpretation under the
illumination of the Holy Spirit leading to consensus. To the
Roman Catholic, it is the church interpreting Scripture as understood
by the people of God and discerned by the teaching office of
the church. Both Pentecostals and Roman Catholics see interpretative
authority as an expression of the activity of the Spirit in
Catholics and Pentecostals recognize the existence of a process
of theological discernment in the on-going life of the church.
The Roman Catholics affirm the ministry of discernment by the
teaching office of the church and also recognize that a ministry
of discernment may exist outside the Roman Catholic church.
The sharpest disagreement arose concerning the irreformable
character of some of these discernments. Roman Catholics hold
that the faithful will not be led into error when the authority
of the church is fully engaged in enunciating the faith. Pentecostals
make no such claim.
recognize the strength of the Roman Catholic understanding of
corporate and collegial, interpretation of Scripture. However,
Pentecostals would like to share with Roman Catholics their
characteristic experience of direct dependence upon the Holy
Spirit for illumination and interpretation of Scripture.
major difference was encountered in the understanding of the
role of tradition. Roman Catholics in the dialogue explain tradition
in a twofold sense, each sense related to the other. Tradition,
here spelled with a capital T, stands for everything that is
being and has been handed down; the once for all revelation
made by God in Jesus Christ, the Word of God proclaimed in written
and oral form, and the whole of the Spirit-filled community
response to the truth of the Gospel. As such, Tradition contains
both an active element of handing down by the church, and a
passive one of the material handed down. Within Tradition in
this sense, the Word of God as Scripture has a kind of primacy.
In this understanding Tradition is a continuous process.
in this sense is not to be confused with traditions. These are
various ways of practice and teaching whereby Tradition is transmitted.
These traditions become binding only when they are made the
object of a special decision of Church authority.
Pentecostals would not place the same value upon Tradition (or
tradition) as Roman Catholics, unless grounded in the express
witness of Scripture. The Pentecostals while acknowledging the
accumulation of traditions in their own history would say that
these traditions, apart from Scripture, have little authority
in the Church.
Catholic doctrine concerning Mary was perceived as a point of
divergence, it was important to classical Pentecostals to discuss
this topic. Considerable time was needed to treat the various
issues: the doctrine itself, the method by which the doctrine
is justified, and the practical consequences at the popular
level. The time devoted to the issues is reflected in the space
given this topic in the report.
classical Pentecostals and Roman Catholics agree that the various
biblical texts which mention Mary witness to the importance
of Mary in the New Testament. The point of divergence was the
doctrinal development which took place on the basis of these
texts. Classical Pentecostals insist that they cannot go beyond
the clear meaning of the text which is normative for any and
all later doctrinal development. But they further hold that
the church, praying and preaching the Scriptures, can, through
the guidance of the Holy Spirit who leads into all truth, find
in the biblical texts and in complete fidelity to them a meaning
which goes beyond the classical Pentecostals' interpretation.
the differences between classical Pentecostals and Roman Catholics
in interpretation of specific Marian texts in the Scriptures
lie doctrinal differences, often implicit and unexpressed. Possibly
the most important of these are in the area of Mary's relationship
to the church and her role in the communion of saints.
classical Pentecostals and Roman Catholics were surprised that
they had entertained unreal perceptions of the others' views
on Mary. Classical Pentecostals were pleased to learn of the
concern of authorities in the Roman Catholic church to be prudent
in appraising Marian doctrinal development which claims a biblical
basis. Classical Pentecostals, while recognizing that doctrinal
development that is clearly based on scriptural evidence is
not entirely absent from Pentecostal history, admit no doctrinal
development with regard to Mary.
Motherhood of Mary
Roman Catholics and Pentecostals agree that Mary is the Mother
of Jesus Christ who is the Son of God and as such she occupies
a unique place. Both Roman Catholics and classical Pentecostals
recognize the historical origins of the title "Mother of
God" (theotokos), arising from the christological
disputes at the Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.). In order to preserve
the unity of the one person, having two natures, to which the
Virgin gave birth, the council approved the title "theotokos"
("God-bearer" or "Mother of God"). This
was not a Marian definition, concerned to give Mary a new title,
but a Christological definition concerned with the identity
of Jesus Christ. It is only at the moment of the Incarnation
that she becomes the Mother of God. She is not the Mother of
God in his eternal triune existence, but the Mother of God the
Son in his Incarnation.
Veneration of Mary
Catholics and classical Pentecostals concur in the special respect
due to Mary as the mother of Jesus. Both view her as the outstanding
example or model of faith, humility and virtue. Both Roman Catholics
and Pentecostals share a concern for the necessity of a correct
perspective on Mary. However, there are significant differences
in the understanding of the veneration to be given to Mary.
expressed concern about what they consider to be excesses in
contemporary veneration of Mary. For Pentecostals, certain Roman
Catholic practices of Marian veneration appear to be superstitious
and idolatrous. For Roman Catholics there is an apparent failure
among Pentecostals to take account of the place of Mary in God's
design as indicated in Holy Scripture.
Catholics, while admitting the occurrence of certain excesses
in the practice of veneration of Mary, were careful to point
out that proper veneration of Mary is always christological.
In addition, Roman Catholics gave evidence that practical steps
are being taken to correct excesses where they occur, in line
with the norms of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen gentium,
§8, and Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Marialis Cultus
Intercession of Mary
Pentecostals and Roman Catholics teach that Mary in no way substitutes
for, or replaces, the one Savior and Mediator Jesus Christ.
Both believe in direct, immediate contact between the believer
and God. Both pray to God the Father, through the Son, in the
Holy Spirit. Catholics believe that intercessory prayers directed
to Mary do not end in Mary but in God Himself. Pentecostals
would not invoke the intercession of Mary or other saints in
heaven because they do not consider it a valid biblical practice.
Doctrine on the Graces Given to Mary
Catholics believe that Mary always remained a virgin, that she
was conceived free from all stain of sin, and that at the end
of her life she was assumed body and soul into heaven. Pentecostals
reject these beliefs.
Catholics claim that belief about these graces given to Mary
belongs to the tradition of the church in which the Word of
God is unfolded. Pentecostals can find no warrant for these
beliefs in Scripture. As well as questioning the value of tradition
as a basis for the doctrines of faith, Pentecostals would suggest
that these traditions about perpetual virginity, immaculate
conception, and assumption, are without Scriptural basis.
the "hierarchy of truths" of faith held by the Roman
Catholics, these three doctrines are placed among the truths
that are integral to the Roman Catholic faith. Roman Catholics
do not believe that those outside the Roman Catholic church
who do not hold these truths are, on that account, excluded
Virginity of Mary
Pentecostals and Roman Catholics agree that Mary was a virgin
in the conception of Jesus and see in the texts which state
it an important affirmation of the divine Sonship of Christ.
Roman Catholics believe that Mary remained a virgin after the
birth of Jesus and did not have other offspring. Pentecostals
commonly maintain that Scripture records she had other offspring
and lived as the wife of Joseph in the full sense.
Catholics take the evidence of Scripture as being open to the
developments concerning the virginity of Mary which they find
expressed in the earliest Fathers of the church. They found
in Tradition (understood in the total experience and response
of the church as she prays and preaches the Word of God) evidence
of Mary's virginity.
Immaculate Conception of Mary
Catholics hold the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception to
be founded on the church's reflection on the Bible, both the
Old and New Testaments. This doctrine is seen to follow upon
texts which present her as the perfect fulfillment of Old Testament
types, e.g., "the virgin daughter of Sion" (Luke 1:26-38;
cf. Zeph 3:14-20; Zech 2:10; 9:9), the "woman"
(John. 2:1-11; 19:25-27; cf. Gen 3:15). These texts from
a biblical theology of Mary, which provides a basis for the
development of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. The
explicit development of the doctrine in the life of the church
led to its definition by Pope Pius IX in 1854.
acknowledge Catholic assurances that the special grace claimed
for Mary is a redeeming grace that comes from Jesus. She stands
among the redeemed and is a member of the church. However, Pentecostals
cannot find any basis for the doctrine of Mary's Immaculate
Conception in Scripture. Furthermore, Pentecostals do not see
any value for salvation in this doctrine. Roman Catholics see
in the Pentecostal attitude a failure to appreciate fully the
implications of the incarnation and the power of Christ's saving
and sanctifying grace.
clarification of issues arising from this doctrine would entail
a wider discussion by us of pneumatology, christology and ecclesiology.
Roman Catholics believe a basic distortion takes place when
this doctrine is considered in isolation.
Assumption of Mary
Catholics see the doctrine of the Assumption, which was explicitly
affirmed in the Fathers of the church as early as the sixth
century, to be in accordance with basic biblical doctrines.
The Risen Christ is the beginning of the new creation, which
is born from above in the death and resurrection of Christ.
In Mary, because of her unique relationship with Christ, this
new creation by the Spirit was achieved to the point that the
life of the Spirit triumphed fully in her. Consequently she
is already with her body in the glory of God, with her risen
Pentecostal difficulty rests in the absence of biblical evidence.
There is a generally accepted view that Mary, as one of the
faithful, awaits the day of resurrection when she, along with
all Christians, will be united bodily with her Son in glory.
Pentecostals see a parallel between Mary's "assumption"
and the Pentecostal understanding of the "bodily resurrection"
or the "rapture of the church" (1 Thess 4:13-18, cf.
esp. v. 17), but differ as to when this will take place for
in the Church
it is recognized that the word ministry in the New Testament
covers many activities, the focus of the dialogue bears upon
how ministry in the church continues the ministry of the Apostles.
ministry includes all that pertains to the preaching and proclamation
of God's Word on which the churches are founded, and all that
is required for the building up of the church in Christ.
Roman Catholics, all ministries contribute to these ends, but
particular importance is attached to the ministry of bishops,
and to that of the presbyters and deacons who collaborate with
them. Classical Pentecostals find an exercise of apostolic ministry
wherever through the preaching of God's Word churches are founded,
persons and communities are converted to Jesus Christ, and manifestations
of the Holy Spirit are in evidence. Within the variety of polity
found in Pentecostal circles, biblical terms such as elder,
deacon, bishop and pastor are used to designate a variety of
offices and ministries, and are not always given the same meaning.
is agreed by both sides of the dialogue that order and structure
are necessary to the exercise of ministry.
the development and structuring of ministry, there is no single
New Testament pattern. The spirit has many times led churches
to adapt their ministries to the needs of place and time.
Catholics see evidence of ministerial office in the New Testament
and find in such office part of God's design for the early church,
but find in the gradual emergence of the threefold ministry
of bishop, presbyter and deacon the way in which God's design
is fulfilled and structural and ministerial needs are met in
position of Classical Pentecostals are more varied. Although
there is reluctance in some Pentecostal circles to speak of
the ministries of apostle and prophet because of the historical
abuse sometimes associated with these ministries, they are recognized
as existing and important to the life of the church. Even though
there is no uniformity in the way that the New Testament depicts
ministry, it is the desire of Pentecostals to seek guidelines
for ministry and office in the New Testament.
appeal primarily to the priesthood of all believers, which connotes
access to God and a participation in ministry on the part of
all believers. Pentecostals point to a problem of over-institutionalization
of ministry. They believe that they find evidence of this in
the history and practice of the Roman Catholic church.
Catholics place emphasis on the need for the institution of
ecclesial offices as part of the divine plan for the church.
They also see such institutions and ministries as related to
and aiding the priesthood and ministry of all within the one
see ordination as a recognition of spiritual gifts already imparted.
For Pentecostals, ministry is always initiated by a divine call
and attended by evidence of reception of necessary gifts and
graces. Ordination of one who has received appropriate gifts
provides denominational authority for his continuing function
in the ministry to which he has been called.
Roman Catholics, the ministry of ecclesial office is given by
God who calls a candidate and pours out his Spirit upon him
and gives him a special share in the priesthood of Christ. This
gift must be discerned by the church, in the form laid down
by church discipline. Ordination is considered a sacrament,
which imparts grace, gifts and authority for the ministry of
the word, sacrament and pastoral office.
Roman Catholics and Pentecostals believe that the church lives
in continuity with the New Testament apostles and their proclamation,
and with the apostolic church. A primary manifestation of this
is to be found in fidelity to the apostolic teaching.
Roman Catholics, the succession of bishops in an orderly transmission
of ministry through history is both guarantee and manifestation
of this fidelity.
Pentecostals, the current dynamic of the Spirit is regarded
as a more valid endorsement of apostolic faith and ministry
than an unbroken line of episcopal succession. They look to
apostolic life and to the power of preaching which leads to
conversions to Jesus Christ as an authentication of apostolic
ministry. They question Roman Catholics as to whether in their
insistence on episcopal succession they have at times ignored
the requirements of apostolic life. Roman Catholics held the
necessity of apostolic life for an effective ministry. However
they maintain that the sovereignty of God's act in the transmission
of the Word and the ministry of sacrament is not nullified by
the personal infidelity of the minister.
partners to the dialogue strongly assert that holiness of life
is essential to an effective ministry and recognize that the
quality of apostolic life of the minister has an effect on the
quality of his ministry. Both by their respective discipline
and practice, seek to provide seriously for the holiness of
ministers. Both recognize that at times, the power and sovereignty
of God is operative in the ministry of a weak and sinful minister,
although the discipline of both Classical Pentecostals and Roman
Catholics provides for the removal from office of anyone who
is plainly unworthy.
partner to the dialogue recognizes that God is at work through
the ministry of the other and recognizes that the body of Christ
is being built up through it (Unitatis redintegratio, §§3
and 22). The issue of recognition depends on ecclesiological
questions that still need elucidation. However, serious disagreements
for Further Discussion
our conversations we touched on a number of topics which could
not be discussed adequately and would have to be taken up at
a later date. Among them were the following:
a) the personal moment of faith,
b) the communion of saints in relation to mariology and the
intercession of the saints,
c) the development of doctrine in its relation to Scripture
d) the inadequacy and limitation in doctrinal formulations marked
with the stamp of a certain
e) the binding force of the Marian Doctrines which have been
defined as they relate to salvation,
within the Roman Catholic church.
of the Final Report
international dialogue with representatives of classical Pentecostals
and Roman Catholics has been characterized by the seriousness
of the exchange as participants seek to reflect in all fidelity
the doctrine of their church and at the same time to learn from
their opposite partners in dialogue what their true faith stance
is. These responsibilities have been exercised with candor and
earnestness and have resulted in this final report. Clearly,
the report does not commit any church or tradition to any theological
position but is offered to them for their reflection and evaluation.
members of the dialogue have experienced mutual respect and
acceptance, hoping that the major points of difference will
provide an occasion for continuing dialogue to our mutual enrichment.
is the consensus of the participants that the dialogue should
continue in this same spirit. Every effort will be made to encourage
opportunities for similar bi-lateral theological conversation
at the local level.
that end, the dialogue enters into a period of assimilation
to digest the results of the first two phases of exchange and
to give broader exposure to mutual efforts undertaken to promote
the participants wish to affirm the dialogue as an ongoing instrument
of communication between the two traditions.
Service 55 (1984/II-III) 72-80]