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Response to Christ's Unifying Action
  1. The starting point of these discussions was the recognition that, in Jesus Christ, God has made joint cause with sinful humanity and aims at the renewal of the world. Therefore all those who are connected with the name of Jesus Christ have the joint task of bearing witness to this Gospel.

    The Riches of Christ and the Wealth of Witnesses

  2. Since in Christ "the complete being of the Godhead dwells embodied" (Col 2:9), there is necessarily a wealth of witnesses - which is what we actually find in the New Testament - in order that something at least of "the unfathomable riches of Christ" (Eph 3:8) may be passed on. Thus the mission and task of Jesus, which are authoritative for the Church of every age and culture, including our own today, are reflected in a witness which has been characterized by choice and variety since the apostolic beginnings.

    Some of the Norms of the Church, according to the New Testament:

  3. Norms for the belief and practice of the Church are not simply to be found in isolated proof-texts or in clearly discernible primitive patterns, but in the New Testament considered as a whole and as testimony to the divine purpose and mission for Israel, for the Church and for all humanity. In this respect, New Testament theology reckons with the content of the promise contained in the history of God's covenantal dealings with his people in the Old Testament.

  4. There was complete agreement in presenting ecclesiology from a clear christological and pneumatological perspective in which the Church is the object of declared faith and cannot be completely embraced by a historical and sociological description.

    There was also agreement in presenting the Church as the "body of Christ" (cf. 1 Cor 12:12 f. 27; Eph 5:30). The Apostle Paul's description of the Church as the body of Christ presupposes knowledge of the death, resurrection and exaltation of the Lord. The Church exists therefore as the body of Christ essentially by the Holy Spirit, just as does the exalted Lord. Stress was laid, however, on the complementary character of other images, particularly that of the bride (cf. Eph 5:15-32), which warn us against any absolute identification.

  5. Theological language is largely metaphorical because the metaphor is an indispensable way by which to understand and speak about realities which otherwise cannot be understood and expressed. A caveat was entered against any suggestion that theological language is to be understood exclusively as metaphorical language. The illegitimacy of any absolute identification is shown by other passages which interpret the body of Christ as a picture for the Church united in Christ's name (Rom 12:5). It came as a surprise to us to observe that the decisions we are faced with today did not always correspond to our confessional boundaries.

    The Constantly Differing Form:

  6. Apart from the essential characteristics just presented which are de rigeur for every period and culture, the Church assumes different forms depending on the historical heritage it carries with it and the social and cultural situation in which it is set and in which it grows. Traces of a certain development are already discernible in the New Testament. It was fully agreed that the essential characteristics of the one Church assume concrete form in a variety of patterns already in the New Testament. It is correct to consult the Bible for theologies of the nature of the Church which will serve as starting points for inferring the broad outlines of a Church constitution and for examining whether the present ecclesiastical structures correspond to it. This applies, for example, to the meaning of "local church". In New Testament times a local district was a quite restricted geographical area, while in a highly technological society what is meant by local is considerably broader. But both Roman Catholic and Reformed agreed that the Church Catholic is really represented and exists in the local Church.

  7. When it comes to the correct use of the New Testament in material for contemporary doctrines of the Church and ministry, it was further recognized that difficulties are not to be easily overcome by taking only some parts of the New Testament as normative while relegating other parts to a secondary position. Christ discloses himself under the conditions of historical relativity. Theology must undertake the difficult task of seeking the normative within the relative, and of applying what is thereby found to the concrete realization of the Church in different historical situations.

  8. Theology, whether Reformed or Roman Catholic, cannot rest content with a gap between exegetical research and Church doctrine. No long-range progress in any ecumenical dialogue can be expected which does not deal with that gap. With respect, however, to such a question as that of the relation between, on the one hand, the results of historical criticism on the direct role of Jesus Christ in the origin of the Church and, on the other hand, the acceptance of such a role by believers, it was not agreed by all that the problem is only one of a gap between exegetical research and Church doctrine. Some maintained that, in this case, we have to do rather with a distinction between using the New Testament as historical source and accepting the New Testament as witness. This does not mean that for the faithful the quest for the historical Jesus is made superfluous by a preoccupation with a supposedly different Christ of faith; it means only that the New Testament witness itself comprises a plurality of witnesses and various interpretations of the one Christ event.

    In the Service of Christ for the World:

  9. In the community of Christians all the members are personally bound to Christ and therefore under obligation to serve Him. Office-bearers (see chapter on "Ministry" below) are also members of the body who at one and the same time serve the Lord and the community in order to fulfil their mission in the world.

  10. The Church does not keep aloof from the world. On the contrary, it is part of the world. As such it attests the efficacy of its Lord's word and work. At the same time it is an anticipatory announcement of what Jesus has destined for all men. In this sense the Church exists wholly for the world and even in its weakness is the salt of the earth (cf. Mt 5:13).

  11. We were all agreed that the ethical decisions which necessarily follow from the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and the believing acceptance of this Gospel extend also to the realm of politics. In both confessions there were those who inclined to place greater emphasis on the need for a certain caution and those who stressed the need to derive concrete political decisions from the New Testament message and the possibility of doing so.

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