International Catholic-Evangelical consultation meets in Saskatoon – includes two public events

 — Aug. 24, 201524 aoüt 2015

Consultation members appointed by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity will meet in Saskatoon Aug. 31-Sept. 4, 2015

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski

An international Evangelical-Roman Catholic consultation will meet in Saskatoon Aug. 31 to Sept. 4, offering the public a rare chance to learn more about the international dialogue process, and the relationship between Catholic and Evangelical Christians around the world.

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity convened this round of international consultation in 2009. The group of 14 theologians, pastors and other leaders from Brazil, Columbia, the Philippines, Guatemala, Kenya, Spain, Italy, Germany, the United States and Canada have been discussing challenging issues that have divided Catholics and Evangelicals, including the relationship between scripture and tradition, and the role of the church in salvation.

At the international level, there have been two earlier phases of dialogue between Roman Catholics and Evangelicals. The first phase resulted in the 1984 report Evangelical-Roman Catholic Dialogue on Mission. The broad focus of the report was on the Christian mission, but it included initial treatment of a variety of theological points of tension, including the scriptures, salvation, the church, Mary and the saints, and the sacraments. A second phase of dialogue (1993- 2002) produced a report entitled Church, Evangelization and the Bonds of Koinonia.

The current round of international consultation has held meetings in São Paulo, Brazil (2009); Rome, Italy (2011); Wheaton/Chicago, USA (2012); Guatemala City, Guatemala (2013); Bad Blankenburg, Germany (2014), and finally this year’s gathering in Saskatoon.

“The consultation members have had some real breakthroughs – the challenge will be for our churches to come to those same insights,” according to Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen.

A member of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Bolen is one of 12 participants from 10 different countries who will gather at Queen’s House in Saskatoon, in a process that includes the preparation of a joint statement.

Although there is an Evangelical-Catholic Dialogue underway in Saskatoon at the local level, the international process is described as a consultation rather than a dialogue, Bolen noted. “Most ecumenical dialogues are geared toward a resolution of our differences, they are geared toward full unity, full community. Many Evangelical Christians are not sure that they want to be in full communion with the Catholic Church – but they are ready to be in consultation, they are ready to be in conversation about what we believe in common and where our convictions differ, and they are ready to identify what we can do together.”

Very real tensions exist between Catholics and Evangelicals in some parts of the world, Bolen pointed out. “One Evangelical member of the international consultation comes from a community where Evangelicals feel really persecuted by Catholics, so he feels uncomfortable saying all Catholics are Christians, but because of the consultation process, he doesn’t feel uncomfortable saying that the Catholics around the (consultation) table are Christians,” Bolen said. On the other hand, “in places like the United States and Canada, there is a growing relationship between Evangelicals and Catholics, and on many moral questions, we stand side by side.”

Public events planned in conjunction with the Saskatoon meeting will witness to the fact that the consultation does not involve two opposing groups hammering away at each other, stressed Bolen. “Rather, these are two groups of committed Christians who are trying to be faithful to their traditions, trying to be in a deep conversation, who are summoned by Jesus’s desire that his disciples be one (John 17), and committed to being faithful to Christ wherever that leads them.”

Panel discussion, 7 pm Wednesday, Sept. 2 at Cathedral of Holy Family

A public panel discussion during the Saskatoon event will highlight the relationship between Evangelical and Catholic Christians around the world, said Nicholas Jesson, ecumenical officer for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. As co-chair of a local Catholic-Evangelical dialogue, Jesson will be one of the moderators for the discussion. There will also be an opportunity for questions at this public event 7 p.m., Sept. 2 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.

The panel will include the two co-chairs of the international consultation, Msgr Juan Usma Gómez of Columbia, who works at the Vatican, and Rev. Dr. Rolf Hille, a Lutheran from Germany who is director for ecumenical affairs for the World Evangelical Alliance.

“We have invited them to talk about the history of our relations and the present state of our relations worldwide,” said Bolen. “We have also asked two presenters to speak about how we view each other in different parts of the world.”

Dr. James Nkansah-Obrempong of Kenya will talk about how Evangelicals view Catholics in the Global South, particularly in the African Context. Bishop Rodolfo Valenzuela of Guatemala will speak about how Catholics view Evangelicals in Latin America.

“We are going to have the panel discussion moderated by two people from our local Saskatoon Evangelical-Catholic Dialogue,” Bolen added, part of interaction between the international consultation and the local dialogue group in Saskatoon. “The international consultation did take the time to read and reflect on the Saskatoon dialogue’s statement of faith, so there has been some mutual back and forth between these two dialogues,” said Bolen. “The evangelical co-chair of the international consultation thought that our local statement of faith was exceptional.”

Christocentric Exegesis in the Church Fathers – A public lecture by Rev. Dr. Joel Elowsky, Sunday, August 30, 7 pm at Circle Drive Alliance Church

Another public event Aug. 30 at Circle Drive Alliance Church will feature a lecture by international consultation member Rev. Dr. Joel Elowsky, a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and a professor of Historical Theology at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He will speak about the early Church Fathers from an Evangelical perspective.

“This used to be a field that Evangelicals stayed away from,” said Bolen. “Dr. Joel Elowsky is the co-editor of a magnificent series called Ancient Christian Writers – a compendium of 29 volumes that goes through all of the writings of the early Church Fathers according to their scriptural texts. For a team of Evangelicals to do that work is just a tremendous contribution to the ecumenical movement and to Biblical studies.”

Dr. Elowsky is professor of Historical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. He is also a specialist in the Evangelical interpretation of ancient Christian writings. The Church Fathers are an interesting and challenging topic for Evangelicals who wish to adhere to the Reformation principle of “scripture alone.” How are Evangelicals to account for the development of core Christian doctrines in the first centuries after the New Testament witness? The post-apostolic church looked to scripture to answer questions about Jesus, his divinity and humanity, and his relationship to the Father and the Holy Spirit. Dr. Elowsky will help us to understand what Evangelicals can retrieve from the Church Fathers in the formation of a Christology faithful to the New Testament. Dr. Elowsky served as Operations Manager/Research Director for the 29 volume Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture from 2000-2010 which has been translated into at least 7 other languages. He is the volume editor for We Believe in the Holy Spirit in the Ancient Christian Doctrine series and has edited volumes on Theodore of Mopsuestia and Cyril of Alexandria in the Ancient Christian Texts series.

Bishop reflects on impact of the international consultation

As for the impact of this international Evangelical-Catholic consultation, Bolen says: “We are witnessing to the Christian community, and to the world around us, that Evangelicals and Catholics talk to each other: talk on deep matters of faith with respect for each other.”

Bolen also expressed hope that the document being prepared by the international consultation group will also be of importance worldwide to the relationship between Evangelicals and Catholics. In addition to identifying what is held in common and outlining differences, the document will offer practical suggestions for what can be done together in terms of prayer, mission and service.

“We believe that we have made important progress. We have identified aspects of common faith, we have identified where we differ, and in approaching those differences we have come to some new understandings about our differences, and we are closer than we were.”

Posted: Aug. 24, 2015 • Permanent link:
Categories: Evangelical-Roman Catholic DialogueIn this article: Christian unity, dialogue, Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Saskatoon, World Evangelical Alliance
Transmis : 24 aoüt 2015 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : Evangelical-Roman Catholic DialogueDans cet article : Christian unity, dialogue, Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Saskatoon, World Evangelical Alliance

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