Theological News Apr 2001 Vol 30 No 2


Editor: Dr. David Parker

Excerpts from this issue

WEF Theological Commission Conference on Ecclesiology

Dr. James Stamoolis, Executive Director of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Fellowship, has organized a conference of theologians that will meet in Kuala Lumpur prior to the WEF General Assembly in early May, 2001. The last gathering of theologians was the Theological Commission conference held at the London Bible College in 1996. One of the study units from that conference produced a book entitled Hope does not Disappoint: Studies in Eschatology from Different Contexts . Edited by Jochem Eber (Switzerland), the book is in the final stages of being printed at the present time.

It is planned that the papers at the Kuala Lumpur gathering, supplemented by other contributions after the conference, will be published by the commission. Confirmed speakers include the chair of the Theological Commission, Dr. Rolf Hille (Tubingen) who will present a paper on the German church situation with special attention to problem of nominal Christianity and the opportunities for evangelistic outreach in the post-Modern and post-Christian Era. The editor of The Evangelical Review of Theology , Dr. David Parker will be presenting a paper on the Australian Church scene. Other papers will include more denominational related topics such as Dr. Amos Yong present on a Pentecostal view of the Church and Dr. Don Tinder giving a paper on the Plymouth Brethren view of Ecclesiology. The final book will have all the denominational breadth of WEF represented. Relationship with other churches will be represented by a paper by Dr. George Vandervelde on the Roman Catholic doctrine of the church. Dr. Vandervelde is the secretary of the official WEF dialogue with the Vatican Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The most recent dialogue meetings focused on the concept of koinonia and the questions of religious persecution and freedom of religion.

Other themes pertinent to the practice of the church will be explored. Dr. Catherine Kroeger is presenting a paper on "The Worth and Work of Women in the Body of Christ." Dr. Kroeger is also co-authoring another paper by Dr. Nancy Nason-Clark on the "The Church's Obligation to Address Abuse in Christian Homes." Dr. Nason-Clark is a Canadian sociologist who has done extensive research into the prevalence of abuse in the evangelical community.

The Theological Commission will also discuss at the Kuala Lumpur several proposals to expand the work of the commission in promoting Biblical theology in the various constituent members of the WEF.

At the General Assembly itself, the Theological Commission will present four workshops on the main themes of the General Assembly, which are Ecclesiology, Wholistic Ministry, Globalization, and Leadership. The members of the Theological Commission are appreciative of the opportunity to relate to the constituent members of WEF as the commission seeks to serve the churches.

WEF-Roman Catholic Church Conversations 2001

Evangelical and Catholic representatives met 18 - 24 February 2001 for an international theological consultation. The meeting, jointly sponsored by the World Evangelical Fellowship's Theological Commission and the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, took place at the Cardinal Stritch Retreat House in Mundelein, Illinois, USA. It followed on from three previous similar consultations: in Venice, Italy in 1993, at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute near Jerusalem in 1997, and at Williams Bay, Wisconsin, USA, in 1999.

At Tantur, the Consultation had begun a discussion of Evangelical and Catholic views about the church and its mission. In 1999 it focused more precisely on the fellowship in Christ Catholics and Evangelicals can have because of their common faith in him. Considerable attention was also paid to the issues and difficulties which arise over witness to and proclamation of the gospel. They concluded that "the riches of this gift are such that all who share in it cannot regard each other as strangers much less treat each other as enemies" in spite of unresolved issues of proselytism and religious freedom.

The results of those discussions led the group to consider for the first time the possibility of producing a joint statement which could help Evangelicals and Catholics to understand better each other's convictions about these questions, clarify misunderstandings, and point to areas of difference and possible convergence.

The meeting at Mundelein was chaired by Dr. George Vandervelde on behalf of the World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF) and Monsignor Timothy Galligan from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU). Much of the time involved an intensive discussion of issues highlighted in two draft texts produced in advance of the meeting: 'Koinonia - Convergences between Catholics and Evangelicals' by Avery Dulles and Henri Blocher, and 'The Necessary Linkage between Proselytism and Religious Liberty Arguments' by Thomas Oden with additional comments by John Haughey. Professor Dulles was unable to attend the meeting because he was in Rome for his investiture as a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.

Lilia Solano from Colombia, who is President of the Latin America Theological Fraternity and was participating for the first time in the WEF team, commented: "I appreciated the way the members tried to understand and be sensitive to each other's points of view. There was a great spirit of friendship and appreciation of one another". From the Catholic team, Sister Maria Ko from Hong Kong, who is Professor of Scripture at the 'Auxilium' Pontifical Faculty in Rome and has participated in this Consultation since 1997 expressed her satisfaction with the progress made over the last four years: "I had not imagined when I began that we would be able to arrive at the understanding of each other that I have found over these meetings."

During the week, a dinner was offered by the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, at which the participants in the Consultation were joined by members of the local Evangelical - Catholic Common Root Project.

The members of this Consultation were encouraged by a message from the WEF International Leadership Team, meeting nearby, which expressed its strong support for the continuation of these Catholic - Evangelical Conversations.

The next Consultation is scheduled for February 2002, during which it is expected that a final version of a joint document will be prepared for publication.

Participants: The WEF members are Dr. George Vandervelde, (Co-Secretary), Dr. Henri Blocher, Dr. Thomas Oden, Professor Lilia Solano, Dr. James Stamoolis (WEF Theological Commission), Dr. Daniel Williams.

From the Roman Catholic Church : Mgr. Timothy Galligan (Co-Secretary), Brother Jeffrey Gros FSC, Fr John Haughey SJ, Sister Maria Ko, Mgr. John Radano, Fr Thomas Rausch SJ, Fr Juan Usma Gómez.

Conferences in 2001

List your conference here! Send details to editor

  • WEF Theological Commission - Ecclesiology in Service of the Church - Kuala Lumpur May 2-4 prior to the WEF General Assembly. 
  • South Pacific Assoc. of Bible Colleges (SPABC) 19th Biennial Conference, June 30-5 July at Queensland Baptist College of Ministries, Brisbane Q Australia with Dr Ralph Enlow, Columbia Int. University.
  • ISTEL (Instituto Superior de Teologia Evangelica no Lubango), Angola - 20th Anniversary Conference in September 2001 on "The profile of a theologian for the 21st Century" for people from the Portuguese speaking countries of Africa with General Secretary of AEA, Dr. Tokunboh Adeyemo as the main speaker. Information -Paul Kleiner 
  • 12th study conference sponsored by Afet (Arbeitskreis für evangelikale Theologie) to be held at Bad Blankenberg, Germany, September 9-12, 2001. Theme: Evangelisation in a post-Christian Society. Speakers include Dr Rolf Hille and Dr Eckhard Schnabel, Dr F.Walldorf, Dr W. Theis and Dr O. Fuller. 
  • Global Congress on Church Ministry and Missions - 1-5 October 2001, sponsored by Evangelical Fellowship of Asia, with the theme, "The Church in the 21st Century: Holiness in the innermost and witness to the uttermost."
  • Korea Evangelical Theological Society will sponsor an International conference on October 25-27, 2001 to discuss "Evangelical Theology for 21st Century". Contact 
  • Bringing Hope to the Refugee Highway - November 15-19, 2001 - a global consultation on ministries to refugees to be held in Turkey, sponsored by The World Evangelical Fellowship Missions Commission Contact 
  • Nov. 1-3, 2001 General Convention of the European Evangelical Accrediting Association, to be held at Wiedenest, Germany, with the theme, Strategic Planning.Contact .
  • 'Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers' (review)

Reports of Conferences and Documents welcome .