WEA Secretary General Reflects on Impact on Evangelicalism of Historic ‘Christian Witness’ Document

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New York, NY - September 9, 2014

At the Mission Respect Congress in Germany, World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Secretary General Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe shared his reflections on how the historic document ‘Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct’ has influenced evangelicalism over the last years. He spoke about why the WEA joined the document’s working group and expressed his hope that it will serve as an example of fruitful collaboration between the three world church bodies in areas of common concern.

Dr. Tunnicliffe speaking at the Mission Respect Congress in Germany. © Markus [email protected]

The Congress that was co-hosted by the German Evangelical Alliance, was held in celebration of the third anniversary of the landmark document “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct.” Released on June 28, 2011 by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) of the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), it was the first time ever that the three world church bodies – that together represent over 90% of the more than two billion Christians today – have issued a joint document.

“Sometimes evangelicals and our Pentecostal constituency are criticized for methods of evangelism and witness. The WEA wants to listen to such criticism, accepting and changing where our practices fall short of the rule of Christ, but also correcting unmerited criticism and ensuring that we both listen and are listened to,” Dr. Tunnicliffe said in reflection on WEA’s decision to accept the invitation of the WCC to join the document’s working group.

He highlighted that since its beginnings in 1846, the WEA has been committed to religious liberty and issues of justice. Participating in the discussions and formulation of this document about the ethics of mission was an opportunity to collaborate at a very important level with Christians from other traditions seeking together to discern the ways in which Christ calls believers to participate in and witness to this world.

“Evangelicals have something to offer to the wider conversations, particularly in terms of our reverence for the authority of Scripture, our commitment to evangelism and mission, and our commitment to the centrality of the Cross and the Resurrection,” Dr. Tunnicliffe remarked. “And we have much to learn from our ecumenical partners: active involvement in the ‘Christian Witness’ process has helped build and strengthen wider conversations and relationships.”

Reflecting on the three years since the release, Dr. Tunnicliffe said that the document has provided tools for building relationships around the world and has helped facilitate WEA’s members to further develop their ecumenical participation. Many national and regional Alliances around the world have actively engaged in the follow up processes to ‘Christian Witness’, including countries like India, Brazil, Norway, Canada, and others.

“There have also been opportunities for internal conversations within the WEA about our motivations and methodologies in evangelism and witness and it is exciting to see churches and mission organizations adopt the text and use it in their discussions about the ways they serve their neighbors and witness to those around them,“ he said.

Asked about how ‘Christian Witness’ will shape evangelicalism in the future, Dr. Tunnicliffe said: “I believe the document will be used as a resource for a growing number of countries around the world and Christian leaders will apply its lessons to their respective national situations.”

“Furthermore, the Christian Witness document has shown how working together in an area of common concern can bear fruitful results. Given the state of the challenges facing the world today, particularly for Christian minorities, it is essential that we find ways of engaging together with other Christian bodies in responding to the current reality.”

See also:
Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct (available in different languages)
> WEA Joins German Church in Celebrating Third Anniversary of Ecumenical Landmark Document
> WEA, WCC and Vatican launch historic joint document on ethics of Christian Mission (June 28, 2011)


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Over two billion Christians in the world today are represented by three world church bodies. The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is one of those, serving and representing more than 600 million evangelicals. Launched in 1846 to unite evangelicals worldwide, the WEA continues to be a dynamic movement with 7 regional and 129 national Evangelical Alliances, and over 150 member organizations. WEA's mission is to speak as a trusted voice, to equip members and leaders for global impact and to connect its members and others for common action in the furtherance of God’s reign. For more info e-mail at [email protected] or go to Worldea.org.