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Indice > Dialoghi Interconfessionali > PE-RC > Evangelization, Proselytism... (part I)
 

 CONTENTS

  INTRODUCTION - selezionare
I. Mission And Evangelization
  II. THE BIBLICAL AND SYSTEMATIC FOUNDATION OF EVANGELIZATION - selez.
  III. EVANGELIZATION AND CULTURE - selez.
  IV. EVANGELIZATION AND SOCIAL JUSTICE - selez.
  V. PROSELYTISM - selez.
  VI. COMMON WITNESS - selez.
  APPENDIX 1 - selez.
  APPENDIX 2 - selez.
FULL TEXT


I. MISSION AND EVANGELIZATION2

  1. Both 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).

  2. 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 [1975], 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 [1965], 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."

  3. 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.

  4. 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).

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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).

  8. 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.

  9. Both 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.

  10. Catholics 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).

  11. Many 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).



ENDNOTES



  1. Papers were 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 Mission Theology).

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  2. A list of official documents of the Roman Catholic Church used in this report is found in Appendix 2.

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