Evangelizing Ethically

A world wide gathering of representatives of several Christian traditions in Toulouse, France, representing Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical and Pentecostal traditions met to develop a common code of conduct for those seeking converts to Christianity. The group is an initiative of both the Vatican and the World Council of Churches

An Ecumenical News International release describes the gathering in Toulouse was is an intra-Christian event on the theme, “Towards an ethical approach to conversion: Christian witness in a multi-religious world”.

Present are about 30 Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal and Evangelical theologians and church representatives. They hope to formulate something that will show what a common code of conduct on religious conversion should look like from a Christian perspective.

“Conversion is a controversial issue not only in interreligious relations but in intra-Christian relations as well,” said the Rev. Hans Ucko, the WCC’s programme executive for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. “In Latin America it is a source of tension between the Roman Catholic Church and the Pentecostal movement, while in other regions Orthodox churches often feel ‘targeted’ by some Protestant missionary groups.”

Ucko said, “Since there are many accusations of ‘sheep stealing’ among Christians, we will most likely also focus on this issue. The consultation in Toulouse will be the opportunity for doing so.”

The three-year study project, jointly being undertaken by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the WCC’s programme on inter-religious dialogue and cooperation, bears the name, “An interreligious reflection on conversion: From controversy to a shared code of conduct”. The study began in May 2006 in Lariano/Velletri, near Rome, and aims to produce a code of conduct on religious conversion commonly agreed among Christians by 2010.

Question to ponder: What is the line between proclamation and coercion? Is it ever appropriate to target other Christian traditions in our evangelism? What would you consider ethical evangelism?

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