Indice > Dialoghi Interconfessionali > PE-RC > Perspectives on Koinonia (part I)


  INTRODUCTION - selezionare
I. Koinonia And The Word Of God
  CONCLUSION - selez.
  APPENDIX - selez.

I. Koinonia and the Word of God

  1. Though the focus of our dialogue was Church as koinonia, the question of Scripture and Tradition kept surfacing in all our discussions. We found that much of the agreement and also the disagreement stemmed from the similarities and differences in our understandings of the ultimate bases on which doctrine and practice of the Church should rest. Even though we discussed the topic of Scripture and Tradition more extensively in previous phases of the dialogue,4 we offer the following brief summary of our respective views on Scripture and Tradition because of its link to the topic of this particular dialogue.
A) Jesus Christ the Perfect Word of God
  1. After speaking in many places and in a variety of ways through the prophets, God has now "in these last days... spoken to us by a Son" (Heb 1:1-2). He sent his Son, the Eternal Word of God, who became flesh (cf. Jn 1:14).

  2. Together we believe that our Lord Jesus Christ revealed God in a perfect way through his whole ministry: through his words and deeds, his signs and wonders, but especially through his death and glorious resurrection from the dead, and finally by sending the Spirit of truth (cf. John 15:26; 16:7,12).

  3. Jesus Christ is the ultimate and permanent Word of God. The Christian dispensation, as the new and definitive covenant, will never pass away, and we now await no further revelation before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim 6:14; Titus 2:13).
B) The Written Word o f God
  1. We believe together that the books of both the Old and New Testaments have been written, in their entirety, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 20:31, 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:19,21; 3:15-16). Scripture is the Word of God written in human words in history.

  2. Without suppressing the humanity of the biblical writers, God used them to express God's perfect will to God's people. The Scripture teaches faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for our salvation (cf. 2 Tim 3:16).

  3. We disagree on the limits of the canon of Scriptures. Roman Catholics and Orthodox have the same canon. Pentecostals agree with the Reformation churches in their view of the canon as limited to the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. While Pentecostals do not deny that the books which Roman Catholics treat as deutero-canonical are valuable for the edification of God's people, they do not consider them as normative for faith and practice.

  4. Catholics argue that it is significant that the Church precedes chronologically the writings of the New Testament. These writings collectively bring together the message transmitted orally by the early apostolic Christian community, filled with the Holy Spirit, and constitute also the witness and response of the people of God to the truth of the Gospel.

  5. The Roman Catholic Church sees in the texts of the New Testament—whose authors were inspired—the normative expression of revelation which closed with the death of the last apostle. The writings of the New Testament thus express, in a normative fashion, the Apostolic Tradition. The determination of the canon of Scripture by the Church is also an act of that Tradition. The proper interpretation of Scripture has to be made in the communion of the believers, within the living Tradition which is guided by the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit who inspired the Scriptures also opens the sense of the Scripture to the People of God, so that it nourishes their faith.

  6. Both Roman Catholics and Pentecostals recognize that the chosen vessels of God who wrote the New Testament belonged to the Church, and they stress that the New Testament biblical authors had a unique place in the history of revelation. Since the Church inherited the Scripture from the Old Testament People of God, Israel, and from Jesus himself, and since the Church rose out of the proclamation of Christ's chosen apostles, it must be considered the creation of the Word of God. The Church can live in accordance with the will of God only as it submits itself to the prophetic and apostolic testimony contained in the Scriptures. By accepting the books of the New Testament into the canon of Scriptures, the Church recognized the New Testament writings as the Word of God addressed to humanity.

  7. Pentecostals believe that some traditions express correctly the saving truth to which Scripture testifies (e.g., Apostles' and Nicene Creeds), but they seek to evaluate all traditions in the light of the Word of God in Scripture, the ultimate norm of faith and practice in the Church.

  8. Both Pentecostals and Roman Catholics agree that Scripture, inspired by the Spirit, can be properly interpreted only with the help of the Holy Spirit. "So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God" because spiritual things "are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor 2:11,14).

  9. There is, however, a significant divergence as to the nature of interpretation which is necessary to understand Scripture accurately. In Roman Catholicism the interpretation of the Scripture goes on daily in the lives of the faithful at many levels, such as in the family, in the pulpit, and in the classroom. The whole body of the faithful who have an anointing that comes from the Holy One cannot err in matters of belief (cf. 1 Jn 2:20,27). This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of the faith (sensus fidei) of the whole people, when "from the bishops to the last of the faithful" they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals" (Second Vatican Council, Lumen gentium, §12).5 Roman Catholics hold that the teaching office of the Church "is not above the Word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously, and explaining it faithfully by divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit" (Dei verbum, §10).

  10. Pentecostals appreciate the work of interpretation of Scripture going on in the Catholic Church; however they look with skepticism on any claim that the whole body of faithful cannot err in matters of belief. Pentecostals also believe that God has given special gifts of teaching to the believing community (1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:12). But, because Pentecostals hold that Scripture is clear in all essential points, they believe that each Christian can interpret Scripture under the guidance of the Spirit and with the help of the discerning Christian community. Thus, Christians can make responsible judgments for themselves in matters of faith and practice through their use of Scripture.

  11. Roman Catholics encourage Pentecostals to develop greater contact with the wider Christian community's historical interpretation and biblical hermeneutics. Both Roman Catholics and Pentecostals are together growing in respect for the exegetical endeavor and its enriching findings.

  12. Since the beginning of this century Roman Catholics have been according a greater place to Scripture in preaching, liturgy, personal reading and prayer. Pentecostals in recent years have come to appreciate the importance of the faithful teachers of the Word of God through church history. The aspiration of all parties in the dialogue is that, under the guidance of the one Holy Spirit, there will be an increasingly common insight into the meaning of Scripture, which would help overcome the divisions between Christians.


  1. Final Report (1972-1976) paras., 28-30; Final Report (19771982) paras., 18-21; 49-57. These reports are published in Information Service. Secretariat For Promoting Christian Unity Vatican City, N°. 32 (1976/111) pp. 32-37 and N°. 55 (1984/11-111) pp. 72-80. The 1977-1982 reports are also published in Kilian McDonnell, ed. Presence, Power, Praise (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1980) 3:373-395 and in Arnold Bittlinger, Papst und Pfingstler, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1978. For the report of the 1977-1982 discussions, see Jerry L. Sandidge, Roman Catholic Pentecostal Dialogue (1977-1982): A Study in Developing Ecumenism, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1987.

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  2. All quotations from the Second Vatican Council are from Walter M. Abbott, ed. The Documents of Vatican Il, New York: Guild Press, America Press, Association Press, 1966.

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