I. MISSION AND EVANGELIZATION2
Pentecostals and Catholics believe that God has charged all
Christians to announce the Gospel to all people, in obedience
to the Great Commission given by Christ (cf. Mt 28:18-20).
Proclaiming God's reconciliation of the world through Christ
is central to the Church's faith, life and witness (cf.
2 Cor 5:18-19).
The mission and the task of evangelization - proclaiming "the
name, teaching, life, promise, the kingdom and the mystery of
Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God" (Evangelization in
the Modern World3
, 22) lies at the heart of the Catholic faith.
Mission has been part of the life of the Church throughout the
ages. Catholic women and men, especially those in religious
orders, have gone to the ends of the earth proclaiming the Good
News of Jesus Christ. The Second Vatican Council's Decree
on the Church's Missionary Activity , 2 taught that
"the Church on earth is by its very nature missionary since,
according to the plan of the Father, it has its origin in the
mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit." Following in the
path of the Council, both Paul VI and John Paul II in their
teaching insist on the need to pursue a "New Evangelization."
Pentecostals place special emphasis on the proclamation of Jesus
as Savior and Lord resulting in a personal, conscious acceptance
and conversion of an individual; a "new birth" as
in John 3:3. Pentecostals are also concerned to evangelize the
world in these "last days" before Christ returns (cf.
Acts 2:14-17; Joel 2:28-32), making disciples as Jesus instructed
in the Great Commission.
Both Pentecostals and Catholics agree that "evangelization
will... always contain as the center and at the same
time the summit of its dynamism a clear proclamation that, in
Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from
the dead, salvation is offered to all humankind, as a gift of
God's grace and mercy" (Evangelization in the Modern
World, 27; cf. Eph 2:8; Rom 1:16). From this divine initiative
arises the Church as an eschatological community a koinonia.
To the extent that Christians participate in this koinonia,
they share deep bonds of unity in the Spirit even now despite
divisions which continue. The eschatological nature of this
koinonia, which fosters unity in diversity, serves as
a prophetic sign toward divided humankind (cf. John 17:21).
While Catholics and Pentecostals agree on the essential core
of the Gospel, namely that "in Christ God was reconciling
the world to Himself" (2 Cor 5:19), on occasion they differ
in practice and language concerning the emphasis they give to
certain aspects of evangelization.
Catholics tend to use the term to indicate proclamation of
the Gospel toward the conversion of persons to Christ. They
also acknowledge that evangelization is a complex process
made up of various elements including "the renewal of
humanity, witness, explicit proclamation, inner adherence,
entry into the community, acceptance of signs, apostolic initiative"
(Evangelization in the Modern World, 24). Pentecostals
have used the terms evangelization and evangelism interchangeably
to focus on the proclamation of the Gospel toward converting
individuals to Christ, followed by their discipling to be
effective witnesses for Christ among unbelievers and in society
In short, Pentecostals make a sharper distinction than Catholics
between the proclamation of the Gospel to those they consider
"unsaved" and the discipling of believers or promotion
of Christian values in society Today there is growing convergence
between Catholics and Pentecostals in that both see the task
as leading individuals to conversion, but also as the transformation
of the cultures and the reconciliation of the nations.
Catholics and Pentecostals are motivated to evangelize by love
for Christ, obedience to the Great Commission, and the desire
that unbelievers may receive the blessings of eternal life now
and in the future. While Catholics and Pentecostals teach the
Second Coming of Christ as the Blessed Hope of the Church, Pentecostals
stress the urgency of proclamation because many believe in the
imminence of that event. Furthermore, Pentecostals view the
"baptism in the Spirit" as essential for every believer
to receive empowerment for Christian witness (Acts 1:8). While
Catholics and Pentecostals express a genuine desire to see the
Lord add to the Church those who are being saved (cf.
Acts 2:47), they also express concern over attitudes expressed
by Christian evangelizers which are inconsistent with the central
message of the Gospel, the Great Commission (Mt 28:19-20), the
Great Commandment (Mt 22:37-39), and the nature of the Church.
For example, they are troubled when people are dealt with as
though they were impersonal objects instead of being respected
as individuals who have been created with dignity, in the image
of God. They are also troubled when evangelization proceeds
exclusively by strategies that aim at limiting the composition
of congregations to one race, class, ethnic group, or other
social groupings resulting in an intended and lasting segregation,
which does harm to the nature of Christ's Church (cf. Rev
7:9; 14:1-7). Continued growth, both qualitative and quantitative
will demand more self-criticism and openness to the questions
and insights of others in the Body of Christ.
All Catholics are called to witness to the Good News. In practice,
over the part few centuries, Catholic evangelization in non-Christian
countries has often depended almost exclusively on clergy and
religious orders. Most of them received a theological and spiritual
formation which prepared them for this mission. In recent years,
the Catholic Church has also encouraged lay participation in
evangelization with the recognition that a proper preparation
is necessary for this task (cf. Decree on the Apostolate
of Lay People, 28-32).
While in recent years Pentecostals have begun to place more
attention on the formal training of lay people and clergy for
ministry, Pentecostals have always emphasized that all believers
should evangelize, whether formally trained or not, especially
by sharing their personal testimony.
sides understand evangelization as encompassing missionary proclamation
to non-Christian, as well as outreach to those who once claimed
to have accepted the Gospel, but who apparently live a life
totally indifferent to the faith they have professed. We need
to recognize the delicacy of making judgements as to whether
other persons are in fact living indifferently or not.
and Pentecostals both agree that the Holy Spirit prepares individuals
and peoples for the reception of the Gospel, despite the fallen
condition of humankind. While they believe that "ever since
the creation of the world, the visible existence of God and
his everlasting power have been clearly seen by the mind's understanding
of created things" (Rom 1:20; cf. Psalm 19:1-4),
their perspectives diverge over the existence and/or meaning
of salvific elements found in non-Christian religions. Catholics
and Pentecostals agree that those who are saved have been saved
without exception through the death of Jesus Christ. Catholics
do not deny that the Spirit may be at work in other religions
"preparing the way for the Gospel" (cf. Evangelization
in the Modern World, 53). Catholics also say, "Those
who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of
Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere
heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will
as they know it through the dictates of their conscience
those too may achieve eternal salvation" (Dogmatic Constitution
on the Church, 16).
Pentecostals on the other hand, like many of the early Christians,
tend to point out the demonic elements in other religions. While
Pentecostals acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit in the
world, convincing people of sin, righteousness, and judgement
(cf. John 16:8-11), they generally do not acknowledge
the presence of salvific elements in non-Christian religions.
Some Pentecostals would see a convergente towards the Catholic
position above in that the Holy Spirit is at work in non-Christian
religions, preparing individual hearts for an eventual exposure
to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pentecostals and Catholics, however,
together believe that there is only one Name whereby we can
be saved (cf. Acts 4:12). Both believe in the necessity
of responding to the divine invitation to seek him and to find
him (cf. Acts 17:27).
delivered on this topic by Karl Müller, svd, of St. Augustin,
Germany (A Catholic Perspective of Evangelization: Evangelii
nuntiandi), and by Dr. Gary B. McGee, of the Assemblies
of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, MO, USA (Apostolic
Power for End-Times Evangelism: A Historical Review of Pentecostal
A list of official
documents of the Roman Catholic Church used in this report
is found in Appendix