Indice > Dialoghi Interconfessionali > PE-RC > Perspectives on Koinonia (part II)


  INTRODUCTION - selezionare
II. The Holy Spirit And The New Testament Vision Of Koinonia
  CONCLUSION - selez.
  APPENDIX - selez.

II. The Holy Spirt and the New Testament Vison of Koinonia

A) "Koinonia" with the Triune God

  1. Both Pentecostals and Roman Catholics believe that the koinonia between Christians is rooted in the life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.6 Furthermore, they believe that this trinitarian life is the highest expression of the unity to which we together aspire: "that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 Jn 1:3).

  2. Both Roman Catholics and Pentecostals agree that the Holy Spirit is the source of koinonia or communion. The Church has been gathered in the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Cor 13:13). They differ, however, in their points of departure and in their emphases.

  3. Roman Catholics, on the one hand, stress the God-givenness of the koinonia and its trinitarian character. Their point of departure is the baptismal initiation into the trinitarian koinonia by faith, through Christ in his Spirit. Their emphasis is also on the Spirit-given means to sustain this koinonia (e.g. Word, ministry, sacraments, charisms).

  4. Pentecostals, on the other hand, stress that the Holy Spirit convicts people of sin, bringing them through repentance and personal faith into fellowship with Christ and one another (cf. 1 Cor 1:9). As believers continue to be filled with the Spirit (cf. Eph 5:18), they should be led to seek greater unity in the faith with other Christians. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity (cf. Acts 2:1ff.). Just as the Spirit fell on Gentiles and showed the Church to be a universal community, made of both Jews and Gentiles (cf. Acts 10), so also today God is bestowing his Spirit everywhere on Christians from different churches, promoting unity around our common Lord. The common experience of the Holy Spirit challenges us to strive for greater visible unity as we reflect on the shape God wants this unity to take.

  5. Our dialogue has helped both partners to discover and appreciate each other's specific emphases. On the one hand, by listening to the Roman Catholic participants, Pentecostals have been reminded of the importance of the communitarian dimension of the New Testament understanding of koinonia. Roman Catholics, on the other hand, have been reminded of the importance of the personal dimension of the same koinonia with God which comes from the Holy Spirit who convicts persons of sin and brings them to faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that these two emphases are not mutually exclusive but rather that they are complementary.
B) Oneness of the Church
  1. Roman Catholics and Pentecostals believe that there is only "one holy catholic apostolic Church" made of all believers (cf. Eph 4:4-6). They differ, however, in their understanding of that one Church and of the way one belongs to it. Roman Catholics consider the establishment of denominations which result from the lack of love and/or divergence in matters of faith as departures away from the unity of the one Church, which in fulfillment of the command of the Lord always remains visibly one and subsists in the Roman Catholic Church (Lumen gentium, §8). Pentecostals tend to view denominations as more or less legitimate manifestations of the one, universal Church. Their legitimacy depends on the degree of their faithfulness to the fundamental doctrines of the Scripture. We both agree that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity in diversity (cf. 1 Cor 12:13ff.) and not the Spirit of division.

  2. By appealing to Jesus' teaching on the wheat and tares (Mt 13:24-30) some Christians distinguish between an invisible Church (which is one) and a visible Church (which may be divided). While this distinction can be of use in distinguishing between sincere and insincere members of the Church, it can cause misunderstanding, since both Pentecostals and Roman Catholics affirm that the Church is both a visible and an invisible reality. Neither should the distinction between visible and invisible dimensions of the Church be used to justify and reinforce separation between Christians.

  3. The essential unity of the Church neither implies nor mandates uniformity. "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ" (1 Cor 12:12). The diversity is due to the Spirit. "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (1 Cor 12:4-7). The unity which the Spirit forges is resplendent with diversity. The basis of this unity is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. No one can confess this Lordship except in the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12:3). The unity which the Spirit gives must not be identified simply with likemindedness, sociological compatibility, or the felt need for togetherness.
C) "Koinonia" and Gospel Witness
  1. The present state of visible separation in Christianity is a contradiction of the unity into which we are called by Christ. Fidelity to the concept of koinonia places upon all Christians the obligation of striving to overcome our divisions, especially through dialogue. We need to discern alertly, and in an on-going way, the character and shape of the visible unity demanded by koinonia.

  2. Roman Catholics and Pentecostals lament the scandal of disunity between Christians. The lack of agreement on how koinonia should be lived out in the Church, and our resulting divisions, cloud the world's perception of God's work of reconciliation. Insofar as koinonia is obscured, the effectiveness of the witness is impaired. For the sake of giving an effective Gospel witness, the issue of Christian unity must be kept before us. For our Lord has prayed for his disciples "that they may all be one; even as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou has sent me" (John 17:21; cf. John 13:34).


  1. A segment of Pentecostals known as "Oneness" or "Jesus Name" Pentecostals are opposed to the trinitarian formulation of the faith. Their view of God tends toward modalism and the baptismal formula which they pronounce is "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38) instead of the traditional trinitarian appeal to Matthew 28:19. Most Pentecostals, however, strongly disagree with this position.

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