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so much in common
p 5 Introductory Statement by B. B. Beach and Lukas Vischer
Part 1 - Where conversation begins
p 7

1. -- Questions and Answers About the World Council of Churches (An informative pamphlet published irregularly for wide circulation)

p 33 2. -- Constitution of the World Council of Churches (Text of the Constitution; first section of the Rules in force at present, and also the anticipated revisions)
p 47 3. -- The Church, the Churches and the World Council of Churches (Statement on the Ecclesiological Significance of the World Council of Churches received by the Central Committee at Toronto in 1950)
p 57 4. -- The Seventh-day Adventist Church
(Essay presenting the Seventh-day Adventist Church to an ecumenical audience. Published first in 1967 as part of the series "An Ecumenical Exercise" portraying several churches which were not members of the World Council of Churches.)
p 69 5. -- Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists (Statement reprinted from the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook of 1972)
p 73

6. -- Relationship to other societies (Guiding principles for Adventist mission work in relating to other religious and missionary organizations. First adopted in 1926)

Part II - How conversation moves
p 75 7. -- Seventh-day Adventist Questions Regarding the World Council of Churches
(A catalogue of pertinent questions with answers provided by B. B. Beach)
p 80 8. -- Common Witness and Proselytism (A study document published in 1971 under the auspices of the Joint Working Group between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches)
p 92 9. -- An Adventist Reaction on the foregoing study document. (Personal comments by B. B. Beach)
p 98 10. -- The World Council of Churches/Seventh-day Adventist Conversations Meetings 1965-1969
p 105 11. -- The World Council of (Churches/Seventh-day Adventist Conversations
Meetings 1970-1971
p 113 How to use these materials in local and regional conversations
p 114 Some bibliographical references





Publisher of the
"Watchman, What of the Night?" (WWN)
- 1970s
- 1980s
- 1990s
- 2000s

All the Specials and Commentaries are in the last file of the year. There are 4 files for each year: jm=Jan-Mar; aj=Apr-Jun; js-=Jul-Sep; od=Oct-Dec

WWN is a thought paper that was published monthly continuously from Jan, 1968 to the end of Dec. 2006 . by the Adventist Laymen's Foundation of Mississippi, Inc.(ALF), with William H. Grotheer as the Editor of Research & Publication.

The Nov. 1977 issue discusses "What is the "Watchman, What of the Night?"

SHORT STUDIES - William H. Grotheer -
"Another Comforter", study on the Holy Spirit
1976 a Letter and a Reply: - SDA General Conference warning against WWN.
Further Background Information on Zaire -General Conference pays Government to keep church there.
From a WWN letter to a reader: RE: Lakes of Fire - 2 lakes of fire.
Trademark of the name Seventh-day Adventist [Perez Court Case] - US District Court Case - GC of SDA vs.R. Perez, and others [Franchize of name "SDA" not to be used outside of denominational bounds.]


Interpretative History of the Doctrine of the Incarnation as Taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, An
- William H. Grotheer

Bible Study Guides
- William H. Grotheer

End Time Line Re-Surveyed Parts 1 & 2 - Adventist Layman's Foundation

Excerpts - Legal Documents
- EEOC vs PPPA - Adventist Laymen's Foundation

Holy Flesh Movement 1899-1901, The - William H. Grotheer

Hour and the End is Striking at You, The - William H. Grotheer

In the Form of a Slave
- William H. Grotheer

Jerusalem In Bible Prophecy
- William H. Grotheer

Key Doctrinal Comparisons - Statements of Belief 1872-1980
- William H. Grotheer

Pope Paul VI Given Gold Medallion by Adventist Church Leader
- William H. Grotheer

Sacred Trust BETRAYED!, The - William H. Grotheer

Seal of God
 - William H. Grotheer

Seventh-day Adventist Evangelical Conferences of 1955-1956
 - William H. Grotheer

SIGN of the END of TIME, The - William H. Grotheer

- William H. Grotheer

Times of the Gentiles Fulfilled, The - A Study in Depth of Luke 21:24
- William H. Grotheer

Elder William H. Grotheer



Additional Various Studies --
"Saving Faith" - Dr. E. J. Waggoner
"What is Man" The Gospel in Creation - "The Gospel in Creation"
"A Convicting Jewish Witness", study on the Godhead - David L. Cooper D.D.

Bible As History - Werner Keller

Place of the Bible In Education, The - Alonzo T. Jones

Facts of Faith - Christian Edwardson

Individuality in Religion - Alonzo T. Jones

Letters to the Churches - M. L. Andreasen

"Is the Bible Inspired or Expired?" - J. J. Williamson

Sabbath, The - M. L. Andreasen

Sanctuary Service, The
- M. L. Andreasen

So Much In Common - WCC/SDA

Daniel and the Revelation - Uriah Smith

Spiritual Gifts. The Great Controversy, between Christ and His Angels, and Satan and his Angels - Ellen G. White

Canons of the Bible, The - Raymond A. Cutts

Under Which Banner? - Jon A. Vannoy


Due to his failing health, Elder Grotheer requested that ALF of Canada continue publishing thoughts through its website www.AdventistAlet.com which developed into frequent Blog Thought articles plus all of the Foundation's historical published works written and audio.

As of 2010, with the official closing of the ALF of USA , The Adventist Laymen's Foundation of Canada with its website www.Adventist Alert.com is the only officially operating ALF branch established by Elder Grotheer worldwide.

We are thankful for the historical legacy that is now available through

The Adventist Laymen's Foundation of Canada,


The MISSION of this site -- is to make available the articles from the thought paper "Watchman, What of the Night?" It is not our purpose to copy WWN in whole.

Any portion of the thought paper may be reproduced without further permission by adding the credit line - "Reprinted from WWN, Adventist Laymen's Foundation of Canada."



so much in common  

Documents of interest in
the conversations between
the World Council of Churches and
the Seventh-day Adventist Church

World Council of Churches Geneva 1973
© 1973 the book as a whole, by World Council of Churches, Geneva, Switzerland

Cover design by John Fulton


p 1-4 -- Contents (On left sidebar)

p 5 -- INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT -- Regular conversations between representatives of the WCC and Seventh-day Adventists have been taking place on an annual basis in Geneva and Collonges since 1965. The participants in these meetings feel that the mutual comprehension engendered and the personal fellowship enjoyed have been beneficial.

As a result of these international contacts, and also independently, contacts on national or local levels have been increasing in recent years. It is now felt that it would serve a useful purpose to make available to a wider constituency the results of the WCC/SDA Conversations.

With the above purpose in mind, various documents and publications have have been brought together in a "dossier". It is expected that the information here contained will be welcomed by national councils of churches, SDA union conferences and church officials or persons presently involved in or contemplating future conversations or contacts on a national or local level.

The documents contained in this "dossier" are of various kinds. Some present SDA or WCC self-understanding and give basic information on the organization, basis and purpose of both bodies. Other documents represent summaries and analyses of the discussions or present statements that have emerged from the Conversations during the past eight years.

The difference in the character of the documents dealing with the WCC and those presenting the SDA Church reflects the fundamental dissimilarity in the nature of the two partners in dialogue. As one document clearly points out: "There is a fundamental difference in the nature of the organizations which precludes comparisons. While the SDA Church is a world church with established fundamental beliefs and one polity, the WCC is a council or fellowship of churches representing a great variety of theological beliefs, traditions and church polities." This explains why the documents deal with SDA beliefs and teachings, but cannot represent the WCC in a comparable way.

It is obvious that many more documents, articles or books having a bearing on SDA relations to the ecumenical movement could have been included in this "dossier". Rather than to increase the content of the "dossier", bibliographical reference to additional items interested parties may want to consult have been included in order to point to further useful sources of information.

Those involved in the organization of the contacts on the international level do not expect these to now simply fade away in the wake of enlarged local or national liaisons. On the contrary, it is hoped that local or national conversations may provide added meaning and justification for possible future contacts on the world level and help establish a sound basis for conscientious cooperation in those areas where this would appear to be feasible and useful.

p 6 -- It is, therefore, sincerely desired and hoped that there will be a regular feed-back to the undersigned regarding the developments in this field. It is expected that possibly another meeting of the WCC/SDA Conversations will take place at some future date, when attention will be given to experiences on the national and local levels.

From: Dr. B. B. Beach
Department of Public Affairs
119 St. Peter's Street
St. Albans, Herts.

Dr. Lukas Vischer
Faith and Order Secretariat
150, route de Ferney
1211 Geneva 20

p 7 -- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES -- 1. What is the World Council of Churches? -- The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of more than 250 churches in all continents. Its membership includes the major churches in the Eastern and Western traditions with the exception of the Roman Catholic Church. With this church, however, it maintains fraternal relationships, as it does with a number of other smaller Christian communities not of its membership. The World Council is dedicated to the restoration of unity in the Christian Church through the renewal of all its members.

The Council came into existence in 1948 after centuries of unsuccessful attempts to find an effective tool for Christian unity. Most major theologians and reformers tried to recover the unity of Christ's Church, lost in the spiritual battles among the confessions, in the beginning without success. In the 19th century things started to change. Lay movements and missionary societies broke through denominational barriers. In the 20th, Christian missionary leaders, groups searching for a common Christian response to social problems of the times, and theologians seeking doctrinal unity, came together to establish the World Council of Churches. For ten years it had been "in process of formation" because of World War II. These ten years were a testing ground for the Council. It grew stronger in its resistance to the Nazi movement in the European churches and through service given to prisoners of war and refugees.

p 8 -- Since 1948 the Council has grown considerably both in scope and in membership. At the Third Assembly in India in 1961 the International Missionary Council integrated with the WCC. All 16 Eastern Orthodox churches have become members.

These 25 years of discovery certainly give reason for gratitude for the progress of the movement which the Council seeks to serve.

2. What is the significance of the Council's Basis? -- The Council's Basis states: "The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit".

All churches which accept this statement are eligible for membership.

The Basis is not a full confession of faith but the foundation of the Council and as such it determines the road along which the churches in the Council travel together towards unity.

Since the WCC is not itself a church, all its work is directed towards a common confession of Christ in the One Church. The Basis defines the

p 9 -- nature of the Council and clarifies the limitations of its membership.

The Council passes no judgement upon the sincerity with which the member churches accept the Basis, but the member churches remind each other that membership is meaningless if commitment to the Basis disappears.

The basic elements of the WCC's Basis are the confession of the Lordship of Christ, fellowship of the member churches, belief in the humanity and divinity of Christ, acceptance of biblical authority, common witness and service, and the worship of the Trinity.

3. What does Council membership mean for the churches? -- The Council exists to serve the churches. This service brings them into contact with one another, helps them to interpret their tradition and their renewal to one another, makes it possible to question, criticize, correct each other; facilitates aid from one church to another, both spiritual and material; gives national and regional churches a means of witness and action on the international level; provides the churches with a common voice, wherever possible, in matters which concern them; provides them with opportunities to act in concert as they desire; works towards joint action for mission; helps the churches to respond to national and international

p 10 -- emergencies; strives towards deeper understanding of each other's faith and order, provides
a place for a common search for relevant expressions of their faith and worship; and so helps the churches to re-establish unity among themselves. The WCC is an instrument towards unity; it is also a sign of the unity the churches seek.

The WCC neither has nor desires power to control its members. A statement of its Central Committee, the Council's interim policy-making body, declares: "Membership in the Council does not in any sense mean that the churches belong to a body which can make decisions for them. Each church retains the constitutional right to ratify or reject utterances or actions of the Council".

When the WCC's Assembly or any one of the Council's various committees issues a public statement it speaks only for itself. The decisions of its committees relate to the Council's programme as such. Reports and resolutions as a general rule are referred to churches for study and appropriate action. The Council takes direct action only within the mandate received from its member churches.

The relationship was defined in these words by a former Archbishop of Canterbury, the late William Temple, one of the Council's founders; "Any authority the Council will have will consist in the weight which it carries with the churches by its own wisdom".

p 11 -- 4. Is there a "World Council theology"? -- The World Council unhesitatingly repudiates any trend towards theological indifferentism, doctrinal relativism, or religious syncretism. It is impossible to speak of a "theology of the World Council of Churches" as such. Its constituency represents a great variety of confessional theologies, as well as the theological trends which cut across denominational lines. All its activities - study, conferences, consultations, programmes, projects and publications - are directed towards encouraging a creative encounter between these different expressions of faith.

When such ecumenical conversations result in a consensus, it is expressed in the form of resolutions or statements addressed to the churches or to the world at large, but such statements are always the outcome of a process of confrontation of widely diverse convictions. Theological agreements become part of the teaching of the churches, rather than an ecumenical theology.

5. Is the Council truly ecumenical? -- The member churches of the World Council reflect the great diversity and richness of Christian tradition and culture. Churches in nearly all parts of the world and of almost all of the great Christian families form its membership: rich churches and poor, old and young, free and state, churches with large and complex organisations,

p 12 -- and churches with little formal structure. Included are United churches, the Anglicans; there are Baptist, Brethren, Congregationalist, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Moravian, Old Catholic, Orthodox, Reformed and Presbyterian churches, as well as Disciples, Quakers, the Salvation Army and some Pentecostal communities.

A number of churches are not members of the WCC. Most of these regard full doctrinal agreement as a pre-requisite of such fellowship as the Council incorporates. Some reject cooperation with adherents of modern biblical scholarship or regard the theological pluriformity of the ecumenical movement as a threat to their own confessional unity. Sometimes they object to the full international character of the WCC because they cannot conceive of cooperation with Christians who have different cultural and political loyalties. Others feel that the WCC errs in paying too much attention to the need for visible unity and hold that true unity is invisible because it is purely spiritual. The Council tries to remain in contact with all these groups, while insisting that authentic ecumenicity concerns itself with the whole Gospel brought to the whole world by the whole Church.

There are also geographical areas where it has few members, as for instance, Latin America, the continent in which Protestantism, mainly in its Pentecostal form, is undergoing the most

p 13 -- rapid expansion.

Whatever the gaps, the Council's claim to the use of the word "ecumenical" is not based upon the universality or variety of its membership, but upon its foundation in Jesus Christ, who is worshipped as Lord of the whole world.

The range of its membership ensures that the Council will never be dominated by any one church or group of churches or by any national group. Both its committee members and staff represent a wide variety of social, national and confessional backgrounds, and this range is deliberately cultivated to ensure the widest possible representation of different regions, traditions, and spiritual and intellectual points of view.

6. What are the Council's concerns for mission and evangelism? -- The integration in 1961 of the International Missionary Council and the World Council gave formal recognition to a long-established reality, for since their origin links between the two bodies had been strong. The WCC's Third Assembly called the act of integration "a fitting symbol of the fact that missionary responsibility cannot be separated from any other aspect of the Church's life and teaching... Every Christian congregation is part (of it) with a responsibility to bear witness to Christ in its own neighbourhood and to share in the bearing of that

p 14 -- witness to the ends of the earth".

Since that integration, the work of the International Missionary Council has been carried on by the World Council of Churches through all its units, but especially through its Commission on World Mission and Evangelism.

The secretariat of this commission does not itself sponsor missionary activity or seek to direct the activity of missions, but it provides facilities for the study of missionary problems, for the selection of priorities in mission, for consultation and common planning, and for the strengthening of national Christian councils and regional conferences in Asia, Africa and the Pacific.

It assists in cooperative endeavours for evangelism and for the study of the dialogues with people of other living faiths and ideologies; it also sponsors a Committee on the Church and the Jewish People. Through its Theological Education Fund, the Agency for Christian Literature Development and the Christian Medical Commission - jointly sponsored with the Commission on Inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World Service - it also seeks to raise the standards in these fields.

The Commission is engaged in helping churches and missionary agencies to examine, area by area, their total missionary task and to plan their total witness together in each region. This plan of "Joint Action for Mission" applies to all the

p 15 -- six continents, for there is no place on earth which is not a mission field.

At the end of 1972 the Commission held a world conference in Bangkok, Thailand on the theme "Salvation Today". A sharing of biblical insights and contemporary experience led to the joyful reaffirmation of the Salvation which God is offering to the world in different cultures and situations. This salvation was seen to demand participation in the struggle for justice and the renewal of the churches on a basis of equal partnership.

7. How does the Council contribute to church unity? -- All that the WCC does is directed towards the unity of the Church. The Bible teaches that since Christ is not divided, there can be only one Church. One can also say with the Stockholm Conference of 1925: The world is too strong for a divided Church.

It is not the purpose of the World Council "to negotiate unions between the churches", one Central Committee statement declares. "Such unions can be effected only by the churches themselves acting on their own initiative, and each member church of the Council remains wholly free in its decision concerning the nature of its relations with other churches". If requested, the World Council staff can assist in union negotiations.

p 16 -- The World Council does not recognize any concept or doctrine of church unity as normative, the same statement emphasizes, but each member church "recognizes in other churches elements of the true Church. They consider that this mutual recognition obliges them to enter into a serious conversation with each other in the hope that these elements of truth will lead to the recognition of the full truth and to unity based on the full truth".

However, the Council does seek to help its members in the quest for unity. An important guideline for that search was laid down in one of the major documents of the World Council's Third Assembly. It says in part:

"We believe that the unity which is both God's will and His gift to His Church is being made visible as all in each place who are baptized into Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord and Saviour are brought by the Holy Spirit into one fully committed fellowship, holding the one apostolic faith, preaching the one Gospel, breaking the one bread, joining in common prayer, and having a corporate life reaching out in witness and service to all and who at the same time are united with the whole Christian fellowship in all places and all ages in such wise that ministry and members are accepted by all, and that all can act and speak together as occasion requires for the tasks to which God calls His people."

p 17 -- This unity, it continues, "will involve nothing lass than a death and rebirth of many forms of church life as we have known them. We believe that nothing less costly can finally suffice".

In 1968 the Fourth Assembly added: "So to the emphasis on 'all in each place' we would now add a fresh understanding of the unity of all Christians in all places. This calls the churches in till places to realize that they belong together and are called to act together. In a time when human interdependence is so evident, it is the more imperative to make visible the bonds which unite Christians in universal fellowship".

Through its Commission on Faith and Order the Council seeks to help the churches press on with these concerns by providing the framework within which they can meet for discussions in which misunderstandings can be removed, existing differences can be faced frankly and new unity envisaged. "The members of the WCC, committed to each other, should work for the time when a genuinely universal council may once more speak for all Christians, and lead the way into the future".
The Commission underlines the need to see the relation between the unity of the Church and the unity of mankind. A study along these lines is on the way.

At present, the Secretariat for Faith and Order is beginning to explore a new field of study. Many people feel that the time has come to try to express the content of our faith together

p 18 -- rather than concentrate almost exclusively on the obstacles to Christian unity. Such an expression of faith would of course be pluriform and would need a constant process of revision and correction, but we are compelled to testify together to the hope that is within us.

Another important series of studies is carries on under the general title: Humanum Studies, through which studies of man are given a new impulse.

Special emphasis is given also to Biblical Studies in relation to the ecumenical movement. This is done through contacts with member churches, Bible societies and other ecumenical agencies. It includes writing of books on Bible Study, general guidance to other world Council units on the way in which Biblical studies function in their work, and research on the widely diverse ways in which the Christian community reads its basic documents

8. How does the World Council help others? -- Through the World Council's Commission on inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World Service, the WCC's member churches express their fellowship and Christian compassion in mutual aid and in service to those in need.

Although originally conceived of as an emergency operation to help prisoners of war, refugees and

p 19 -- other victims of World War II, this service to the distressed, wherever they may be, is now recognized as a permanent obligation of the churches.

The programme is almost as wide as mankind's physical, intellectual, and spiritual needs. Without reference to the creed, race, or political views of the recipients, the churches, through this Commission, have aided victims of scores of natural and man-made disasters, helped resettle more than 300,000 refugees, provided more than 3,000 scholarships for theological and other students, established 20 homes for aged refugees, and given medical care to the sick.

Their efforts have strengthened minority churches through the provision of loans, set up self-help programmes, subsidized the foundation of Christian newspapers in crucial areas, and helped to reestablish communities after earthquakes and similar disasters.

One of the aims of this Commission is to help churches find their way into the world-wide efforts for development. It urges member churches in the developing countries to gear their social work to the task of nation-building in their lands and encourages projects which serve those outside the Christian community. Close relations with other agencies for development, especially in the UN family, are fostered.

Annually funds in the range of $10,000,000 - $15,000,000 are handled by the Commission.

p 20 -- 9. Is the Council concerned with social and political problems? -- Of course! All member churches of the World Council live in the midst of political and economic systems, many of which are in conflict with one another. In this situation the Council's first responsibility is to maintain Christian fellowship across geographical and ideological boundaries as a witness to the common and primary loyalty of all its churches to Jesus Christ. At the same time it provides opportunities for Christians of differing political opinions to meet together to discuss their views so that they may help ensure that political institutions serve man and a more responsible international and national society is built.

The World Council has constantly reaffirmed that the Christian faith must speak relevantly and with power to each and all of the political, social and economic problems of contemporary man. To this end, it conducts international and interdisciplinary studies and keeps in constant touch with Christian politicians, experts in social ethics and institutions for the renewal of society. Its Commission of the Churches on International Affairs has a particular responsibility to express the convictions of its member churches with,regard to international issues to the United Nations, at diplomatic conferences, and similar meetings. At various times it has advanced statements and proposals on such issues as human rights, the cessation of nuclear weapons testing, disarmament,

p 21 -- religious liberty, refugees, economic assistance and national self-determination. It has also made itself available for active reconciliation in political conflicts.

The World Council's Working Group on Church and Society is concerned with the study of problems which confront churches in societies undergoing rapid social change. In countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America it has stimulated meetings to deal with concerns including: the attitude of the churches in the face of rising nationalism; the threat of totalitarian ideologies, or renascent ancient religions; more recently increasing emphasis has been put on the repercussions for human freedom and dignity of the vast scientific and technical changes of recent years. At the Uppsala Assembly a study began on nonviolent ways to change social structures.

One of the most explosive issues of our time is the discrepancy between rich and poor nations. The Christian Church lives on both sides of this gap separating the human family, but is identified with the rich. Charity from the rich to the poor must be accompanied by a struggle for just economic structures enabling the poor to become partners in development. As the Fourth Assembly of the Council in Uppsala said: "Churches are called, in their preaching and teaching, including theological education, to set forth the biblical view of the God-given oneness of mankind and to point out its concrete implications for the worldwide solidarity of man

p 22 -- and the stewardship of the resources of the earth. A selfish concentration on welfare within one nation or region is a denial of that calling".

To assist the churches in this task the Commission on the Churches' Participation in Development (CCPD) was established in 1970, and works through a network of national and regional development committees. Its intent is to experiment with partnership patterns in which the people of developing countries will have the power to establish their own priorities and take their decisions. A Special Fund is being built up to aid the national and regional committees to undertake new programmes. The CCPD places strong emphasis on education for development in programmes to be carried out in relation to SODEPAX (secretariat for society, development and peace, a joint effort between the WCC and the Pontifical Commission, Justice and Peace of the Roman Catholic Church.

Yet another important concern of the Council is formulated in the Programme to Combat Racism (PCR), which assists the churches to translate their long term agreement on racial justice into effective programmes through which the victims of racism themselves may have a fuller share in power and so realise their own identity within society. This programme concentrates on white racism, although not exclusively, because of the destructive combination of white racial prejudice and economic/political power.

p 23 -- One part of the programme is a Special Fund from which contributions are made to or organizations of the victims of racism themselves and those supporting them. The Fund does not exercize control over its grants; the only condition is that money thus given can only be used for humanitarian programmes.

A number of PCR publications document the existence of racism everywhere, the situation of the victims of racism and the role the churches can play in the struggle against racial injustice.

10. What is the role of the World Council in education? -- The role of the WCC is an educational instrument of its member churches. In questions of the understanding of faith, the need for new structures, the effectiveness of mission, the search for social and political service, the churches face a heavy task of education. Although all its units deal with this concern, the Fourth Assembly authorized the establishment of an Office of Education, which deals both with the churches' contribution to general education and with the building up of its own educational ministries.

11. What role does the laity play in the Council? -- In the ecumenical movement Christians of all

p 24 -- traditions have learned again that each Christian, whether ordained or not, is responsible for the Church's ministry and mission.

The World Council's commitment to this conviction is focused in the work of its Programme Unit on Education and Communication, which studies such issues as: the best use of the talents and resources of each church member; the role of the laity in relation to the work of the clergy in the fields of evangelism and social and political action; and the meaning of vocation and work in the total ministry of the Church. Close contacts are maintained with lay academies in the member churches. A special emphasis is being given to the role of women in church and society. In many conferences and publications the roles and rights of women are debated and pressed on the member churches.

The importance of the laity also is evident in the World Council's organization. Although the Council is an ecclesiastical body as an organ of its member churches, it is not an organization of or for "ecclesiastics". In its policy-making bodies and especially in its departmental committees, lay men and women play a prominent role.

12. What is the role of youth? -- One of the great forces which brought the World Council into being was the influence of ecumenical

p 25 -- youth and student organizations. Bodies such as the Student Christian Movement , the YMCAs and YWCAs provided the training grounds for ecumenical commitment which formed many of today's leaders of the movement.

Since its inception, the WCC has placed great emphasis upon the development of the particular gifts of youth. Through programmes of its former Youth Department, such as the ecumenical work camps and World Youth Projects, and in meetings bringing together youth of different churches and nationalities, it provides younger churchmen with opportunities to express their concerns and convictions about all areas of church life and to grow in a fuller understanding of their responsibilities in the ecumenical movement. Youth participants are invited to all major World Council meetings.

Youth's strongest contribution to the ecumenical movement has been their sensitivity to, and their impatience with, the churches' failure to move faster towards unity and renewal. Their protests at the Fourth Assembly were recognized the section reports: "We affirm that young people are right to challenge authority which is not constantly earned. Young people have a right as well as the old to participate in decisions in schools and universities as well as in political, business and family life, and to have their say in any structures affecting them. We propose that churches in general and particularly all ecumenical assemblies set an example

p 26 -- by giving voting rights to a fair proportion of young participants. We think that Christians of all age brackets should join with people of all convictions in providing opportunities for the generations to grow together".

Although young people play a role in the whole of the WCC's work, the Programme Unit on Education and Communication is especially concerned to draw new generations into the ecumenical movement.

13. Does the World Council have relations with other ecumenical bodies? -- Wherever possible the World Council works in cooperation with or through national councils of churches and national Christian councils. These bodies also send non-voting representatives to its Assemblies and Central Committee meetings.

The World Council also has fraternal relationships with various world confessional organizations, several of which share its headquarters building in Geneva, Switzerland. It also cooperates closely with international ecumenical bodies such as the United Bible Societies, the World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations, the World Young Women's Christian Association, the World Student Christian Federation. It merged with the World Council of Christian Education in 1971.

p 27 -- Various national mission organizations also are affiliated to its Commission of World Mission and Evangelism.

The World Council also works closely with regional conferences of churches, especially the East Asia Christian Conference, the All Africa Conference of Churches, the Conference of European Churches and the Caribbean Conference of Churches.

14. What is the relationship between the Council and the Roman Catholic Church? -- The relationships between the Roman Catholic Churches and the World Council of Churches have changed fundamentally over the last decade. Until the pontificate of John XXIII the Roman Catholic Church was in doubt about the modern ecumenical movement. There were strong ecumenical efforts made in Roman Catholic circles, for instance through Abbe Couturier's Week of Prayer
for Christian Unity. A number of Roman Catholic theologians were personally very much interested in the ecumenical movement. But the official position of the Vatican remained negative until Vatican II. Roman Catholics were forbidden to attend the first two World Council Assemblies in 1948 and 1954.

Vatican II and especially the creation of a Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity
in the Vatican have changed this picture radically.

p 28 -- Today the Roman Catholic Church has fully entered the ecumenical movement and established a number of relations with the headquarters of the WCC and its member churches. The Decree on Ecumenism praised the ecumenical sincerity and energy of the "separated brethren". In 1965 the late Cardinal Bea came to the WCC to announce the Roman Catholic acceptance of a proposal for a Joint Working Group between the WCC and the Roman Catholic Church. In this group, which meets twice a year, relations between the Council and the Roman Catholic Church are reviewed. It works on the basis of the common conviction that the ecumenical movement is one. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is now organized by a group of Roman Catholic and WCC representatives. The Pontifical Commission Justice and Peace and the WCC have jointly appointed a Committee on Society, Development and Peace (SODEPAX) which employs a common secretariat. Nine Roman Catholic theologians are members of the Faith and Order Commission of the WCC. In almost all WCC departmental and programme unit committees Roman Catholics are now active observers or consultants.

Outside the WCC a number of national councils have Roman Catholic dioceses as full members. Common social action and biblical research are increasing. This new climate of cooperation was underlined and symbolized by the visit of Pope Paul VI to the headquarters of the WCC in June 1969. The discussions of fuller relationships between the WCC and Roman Catholic Church are

p 29 -- still in their early stages.

All this should not obscure the real difficulties which continue to exist between the WCC and the
Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church is one church with a strong hierarchical organization; the WCC is a fellowship of churches which has authority only as far as the member churches give it to the Council. In the areas of mixed marriages, recognition of the ministry, joint action for mission and the relation between Church and State, much of the old tension continues. On the other hand, local ecumenicity is in some places easier than official relations on the world level. The WCC in no sense discourages relationships between its member churches and the Roman Catholic Church, and has no authority to enter into negotiations with the Vatican on behalf of its members. In this realm, as in all others, its job is to promote ecumenical dialogue; to provide the framework within which members can consult and cooperate in their relations with the Roman Catholic Church; and to keep them supplied with up-to-date information about inter-confessional developments.

FURTHER INFORMATION -- Organization -- The aims of the World Council are carried out through its Assembly, its Central and Executive

p 30 -- Committees, and through its permanent staff organization. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. It also has offices in New York.

The Assembly has met every six or seven years to establish the broad outlines of basic policy. It is composed of representatives of all member churches, and from its membership elects the six-member presidium and the 120-member Central Committee.

The Central Committee is the interim policy-making body which meets annually. It elects from its membership a chairman, two vice-chairmen and 16 members of the Executive Committee, which meets twice a year to implement policy.

The World Council's staff is directed by a general secretariat and is organized into three Programme Units, composed of several sub-units, and a central department for Finance and Administration; the Library and the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey come directly under the General Secretariat.

The Programme Units are: I - Faith and Witness with sub-units Faith and Order, World Mission and Evangelism, Church and Society, Dialogue with People of Living Faiths and Ideologies; II -- Justice and Service with sub-units Churches' Participation in Development, International Affairs, Programme to Combat Racism, Inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World Service; and III - Education and Communication.

p 31 -- Budget -- World Council is supported by contributions from its member churches which vary in amount according to each church's resources.

The largest part of the budget, as may be expected, comes from the wealthier churches in North America, Western Europe and the British Commonwealth. As "younger churches" in Asia, Africa and Latin America have become more involved in the work of the World Council, the total of their contributions has risen. The general lines of financial policy are laid down by the Assembly and the annual budget is established by the Central Committee.

For 1973, the General Budget was established at SFr. 6,000,000. From this are paid the salaries of the general staff in Geneva (over 200 persons) and New York, and the expenses of general programme activities, travel, meetings, publications, etc.

Two Commissions of the World Council have separate budgets. The operating budget of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism for 1973 amounts to SFr. 1,115,000 and is supported by the contributions of its 42 affiliated councils. The Service Programme Budget of the Commission on Inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World Service for 1973 amounts to SFr. 7,680,000 and is financed by contributions of the inter-church aid agencies of the WCC's member churches. The

p 32 -- Inter-Church Aid Commission channels some SFr. 76,800,000 annually on behalf of inter-church aid agencies of member churches to help both churches and persons in distress.

The World Council also receives grants from time to time from churches and foundations for specific projects, such as studies, publications or consultations.

p 33 --Constitution and Rules of the World Council of Churches -- A. The Constitution -- I. Basis -- The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It is constituted for the functions set out below.

II. Membership -- Those churches shall be eligible for membership in the World Council of Churches which express their agreement with the Basis upon which the Council is founded and satisfy such criteria as the Assembly or the Central Committee may prescribe. Election to membership shall be by a two-thirds vote of the member

p 34 -- churches represented at the Assembly, each member church having one vote. Any application for membership between meetings of the Assembly may be considered by the Central Committee; if the application is supported by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Committee present and voting, this action shall be communicated to the churches that are members of the World Council of Churches, and unless objection is received from more than one-third of the member churches within six months the applicant shall be declared elected.

Ill. Functions -- The functions of the World Council shall be:

i) to carry on the work of the world movements for Faith and Order and Life and Work and of the International Missionary Council;
ii) to facilitate common action by the churches;
iii) to promote cooperation in study;
iv) to promote the growth of ecumenical and missionary consciousness in the members of all churches;
v) to support the churches in their world-wide missionary and evangelistic task;
vi) to establish and maintain relations with national and regional councils, world confessional bodies and other ecumenical organizations;
vii) to call world conferences on specific subjects as occasion may require, such conferences being empowered to publish their own findings.

IV. Authority -- The World Council shall offer counsel and provide opportunity of united action in matters of common interest.

It may take action on behalf of constituent churches in such matters as one or more of them may commit to it.

It shall have authority to call regional and world conferences on specific subjects as occasion may require.

The World Council shall not legislate for the churches; nor shall it act for them in any manner except as indicated above or as may hereafter be specified by the constituent churches.

V. Organization -- The World Council shall discharge its functions through the following bodies:

i) an Assembly which shall be the principal authority in the Council, and shall ordinarily meet every five years. The Assembly shall be composed of official representatives of the churches or groups of churches adhering to it

p 35 -- and directly appointed by them. Their term of office shall begin in the year before the Assembly meets, and they shall serve until their successors are appointed. It shall consist of members whose number shall be determined by each Assembly for the subsequent Assembly, subject to the right of the Assembly to empower the Central Committee, if it thinks fit, to increase or to diminish the said number by not more than twenty per cent. The number shall he finally determined not less than two years before the meeting of the Assembly to which it refers and shall be apportioned as is provided hereafter. Seats in the Assembly shall be allocated to the member churches by the Central Committee, due regard being given to such factors as numerical size, adequate confessional representation and adequate geographical distribution. Suggestions for readjustment in the allocation of seats may be made to the Central Committee by member churches, or by groups of member churches, confessional, regional or national, and these readjustments shall become effective if approved by the Central Committee after consultation with the churches concerned.

The Assembly shall have power to appoint officers of the World Council and of the Assembly at its discretion.

The members of the Assembly shall be both clerical and lay persons - men and women. In order to secure that approximately one-third of the Assembly shall consist of lay persons, the Central Committee, in allocating to the member churches their places in the Assembly, shall strongly urge each church, if possible, to observe this provision.

ii) a Central Committee which shall be a Committee of the Assembly and which shall consist of the President or Presidents of the World Council, together with not more than one hundred and twenty members chosen by the Assembly from among persons whom the churches have appointed as members of the Assembly. They shall serve until the next Assembly, unless the Assembly otherwise determines. Membership in the Central Committee shall be distributed among the member churches by the Assembly, due regard being given to such factors as numerical size, adequate confessional representation, adequate geographical distribution and the adequate representation of the major interests of the World Council.

Any vacancy occurring in the membership of the Central Comittee between meetings of the Assembly shall be filled by the Central Committee upon the nomination of the church or churches concerned.
The Central Committee shall have the following powers:

a) it shall, between meetings of the Assembly, carry out the Assembly's instructions and exercise its functions, except that of amending the Constitution, or modifying the allocation of its own members;
b) it shall be the finance committee of the Assembly, formulating its budget and securing its financial support;
c) it shall name and elect its own officers from among its members and appoint its own secretarial staff;

p 36 -- d) the Central Committee shall meet normally once every calendar year, and shall have power to appoint its own Executive Committee.

Quorum. No business, except what is required for carrying forward the current activities of the Council, shall be transacted in either the Assembly or the Central Committee unless one-half of the total membership is present.

VI. Appointment of Commissions -- 1. The World Council shall discharge part of its functions by the appointment of Commissions. These shall be established under the authority of the Assembly in accordance with the Rules of the World Council and the constitutions of the respective Commissions. The Commissions shall, between meetings of the Assembly, report annually to the Central Committee which shall exercise general supervision over them. The Commissions may add to their membership clerical and lay persons approved for the purpose by the Central Committee. The Commissions shall discharge their functions in accordance with constitutions approved be the Central Committee.
In particular, the Assembly shall make provision by means of appropriate Commissions for carrying on the activities of Faith and Order, Life and Work and the International Missionary Council.

2. There shall be a Faith and Order Commission of which the following shall be the function

i) to proclaim the essential oneness of the Church of Christ and to keep prominently before the World Council and the churches the obligation to manifest that unity and its urgency for world mission and evangelism;
ii) to study questions of faith, order and worship with the relevant social, cultural, political, racial and other factors in their bearing on the unity of the churches;
iii) to study the theological implications of the existence of the ecumenical movement;
iv) to study matters in the present relationships of the churches to one another which cause difficulties and need theological clarification;
v) to provide information concerning actual steps taken by the churches towards reunion.

The Commission shall discharge these functions in accordance with a constitution approved by the Central Committee.

In invitations to World Conferences on Faith and Order, it shall be specified that such conferences are to be composed of official delegates of churches which accept Jesus Christ as God and Saviour.

3. There shall be a Commission on World Mission and Evangelism.

Its aim shall be to further the proclamation to the whole world of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to the end that all men may believe in him and be saved.

p 37 -- The functions of the Commission shall be:

i) to keep before the churches their calling and privilege to engage in constant prayer for the missionary and evangelistic work of the Church;
ii) to remind the churches of the range and character of the unfinished evangelistic task and to deepen their sense of missionary obligation;
iii) to stimulate thought and study on the biblical and theological basis and meaning of the Church's missionary task and on questions directly related to the spread of the Gospel in the world;
iv) to foster among churches and among councils and other Christian bodies more effective cooperation and united action for world evangelization;
v) to deepen evangelistic and missionary concern in the whole life and work of the World Council of Churches;
vi) to assist in securing and safeguarding freedom of conscience and religion as formulated in declarations of the World Council of Churches on religious liberty;
vii) to cooperate with other units of the World Council of Churches;
viii) to take such further action in fulfilment of the declared aim of the Commission as is not otherwise provided for within the World Council of Churches.

VII. Other Ecumenical Christian Organizations -- 1. Such world confessional associations and such ecumenical organizations as may be designated by the Central Committee may be invited to send representatives to the sessions of the Assembly and of the Central Committee in a consultative capacity, in such numbers as the Central Committee shall determine.

2. Such national councils of churches, other Christian councils and missionary councils as may be designated by the Central Committee may be invited to send nonvoting representatives to the Assembly and to the Central Committee, in such numbers as the Central Committee shall determine.

VIII. Amendments -- The Constitution may be amended by a two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly, provided that the proposed amendment shall have been reviewed by the Central Committee, and notice of it sent to the constituent churches not less than six months before the meeting of the Assembly. The Central Committee itself, as well as the individual churches, shall have the right to propose such amendment.

IX. Rules and Regulations -- The Assembly or the Central Committee may make and amend Rules and Regulations concerning the conduct of the Council's business, of its Committees and Departments, and generally all matters within the discharge of its task.

p 38 -- B. The Rules -- The World Council of Churches shall be governed by the following Rules which are to be interpreted in the light of its Constitution:

1. Membership of the Council -- Members of the Council are those churches which have agreed together to constitute the World Council of Churches and those churches which are admitted to membership in accordance with the following rules:

1. Churches which desire to become members of the World Council of Churches shall apply to the General Secretary in writing. Under the word churches are included such denominations as are composed of local autonomous churches.

2. The General Secretary shall submit such applications to the Central Committee (see Article II of the Constitution) together with such information as will be sufficient to enable the Assembly or the Central Committee to make a decision on the application.

3. The following criteria, among others, shall be applied, in addition to the primary requirement of the Constitution that churches eligible for consideration for membership shall be those <which express their agreement with the Basis upon which the Council is formed.>

a) Autonomy. A church which is to be admitted must give evidence of autonomy. An autonomous church is one which, while recognizing the essential interdependence of the churches, particularly those of the same confession, is responsible to no other church for the conduct of its own life, including the training, ordination and maintenance of its ministry, the enlisting, development and activity of the lay forces, the propagation of the Christian message, the determination of relationship with other churches and the use of funds at its disposal from whatever source.
b) Stability. A church should not be admitted unless it has given sufficient evidence of stability in life and organization to become recognized as a church by its sister churches, and should have an established programme of Christian nurture and evangelism.
c) Size. The question of size must also be taken into consideration.
d) Relationship with other churches. Regard must also be given to the relationship of the church to other churches.

4. Before churches which are recognized as full members of one of the confessional or denominational world alliances with which the Council cooperates are admitted, the advice of these world alliances shall be sought.

5. Where a church is a member of a council associated with the World Council of Churches or affiliated to the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, there shall be consultation with the council concerned.

p 39 -- 6. A church which desires to resign its membership in the Council can do so at any time. A church which has once resigned but desires again to join the Council, must again apply for membership.

p 40 -- REVISED CONSTITUTION AND RULES -- A. The Constitution -

I. Basis -- The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the .Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

II. Membership -- Those churches shall be eligible for membership in the World Council of Churches which express their agreement with the Basis upon which the Council is founded and satisfy such criteria as the Assembly or the Central Committee may prescribe. Election to membership shall be by a two-thirds vote of the member churches represented at the Assembly, each member church having one vote. Any application for membership between meetings of the Assembly may be considered by the Central Committee; if the application is supported by a two-thirds vote of the members of the Committee present and voting, this action shall be communicated to the churches that are members of the World Council of Churches, and unless objection is received from more than one-third of the member churches within six months the applicant shall be declared elected.

III. Functions and Purposes -- The World Council of Churches is constituted for the following fund and purposes:
i)     to call the churches to the goal of visible unity in one faith and in one eucharistic fellowship expressed in worship and in common life

p 41 -- in Christ, and to advance towards that unity in order that the world may believe.
ii)     To facilitate the common witness of the churches in each place and and in all places.
iii)    To express the common concern of the churches in the service of human need, the breaking down of barriers between men, and the promotion of brotherhood, justice and peace.
iv)     To foster the renewal of the churches in unity, worship, mission and service.
v )     To establish and maintain relations with national councils and regional conferences of churches, world confessional bodies and other ecumenical organizations.
vi)     To carry on the work of the world movements for Faith and Order and Life and Work and of the International Missionary Council and the World Council on Christian Education.

IV. Authority -- The World Council shall offer counsel and provide opportunity for united action in matters of common interest.

It may take action on behalf of constituent churches only in such matters as one or more of them may commit to it and only on behalf of such churches.

The World Council shall not legislate for the churches; nor shall it act for them in any manner except as indicated above or as may hereafter be specified by the constituent churches.

V. Organization -- The World Council shall discharge its functions through: an Assembly, a Central Committee, an Executive Committee, and other subordinate bodies as may be established.

1.  The Assembly --
a.)    The Assembly shall be the supreme legislative body governing the World Council and shall ordinarily meet at seven year intervals.

b)    The Assembly shall be composed of official representatives of the member churches, known as delegates, elected by the member churches.

c)    The Assembly shall have the following functions:
i)      To elect the President or Presidents of the World Council.

p 42 --
    To elect its Chairman and Vice-Chairman or Vice-Chairmen from among the members of the Central Committee.
iii)   To elect the Executive Committee from among the members of the Central Committee.
iv)    To elect Committees and Boards and to approve the election or appointment of Working Groups and Commissions.
v)     Within the policies adopted by the Assembly, to approve programmes and determine priorities among them and to review and supervise their execution.
vi)    To adopt the budget of the World Council and secure its financial support.
vii)    To elect the General Secretary and to elect or appoint or to make provision for the election or appointment of all members of the staff of the World Council.
viii)   To plan for the meetings of the Assembly, making provision for the conduct of its business, for worship and study, and for common Christian commitment. The Central Committee shall determine the number of delegates to the Assembly and allocate them among the member churches giving due regard to the size of the churches and confessions represented in the council; the number of churches of each confession which are members of the Council; reasonable geographical and cultural balance; the desired distribution among church officials, parish ministers, laymen, women and young people; and participation by persons whose special knowledge and experience will be needed.
ix)   To delegate specific functions to the Executive Committee or to other bodies or persons.

3. Rules -- The Assembly or the Central Committee may adopt and amend Rules not inconsistent with this Constitution for the conduct of the business of the World Council.

4. By-Laws -- The Assembly or the Central Committee may adopt and amend By-Laws not inconsistent with this Constitution for the functioning of its Committees, Boards, Working Groups and Commissions.

5. Quorum -- A quorum for the conduct of any business by the Assembly or the Central Committee shall be one-half of its membership.

p 43 -- Misprinted duplication of page 42 recopied here.

p 44 -- VI.    Other Ecumenical Christian Organizations --

1.    Such world confessional bodies and such world ecumenical organizations as may be designated by the Central Committee may be invited to send non-voting representatives to the Assembly and to the Central Committee, in such numbers as the Central Committee shall determine.

2.    Such national councils and regional conferences of churches, other Christian councils and missionary councils as may be designated by the Central Committee may be invited to send nonvoting representatives to the Assembly and to the Central Committee, in such numbers as the Central Committee shall determine.

VII. Amendments -- The Constitution may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the delegates to the Assembly present and voting, provided that the proposed amendment shall have been reviewed by the Central Committee, and notice of it sent to the member churches not less than six months before the meeting of the Assembly. The Central Committee, itself, as well as the member churches, shall have the right to propose amendment.

B. The Rules --

I.    Membership of the Council -- Members of the Council are those churches which having constituted the Council or having been admitted to membership, continue in membership. The term "church" as used in this article includes an association, convention, or federation of autonomous churches. A group of churches within a country or region may determine to participate in the World Council of Churches as one church. The General Secretary shall maintain the official list of member churches noting any special arrangement accepted by the Assembly or Central Committee.

The following rules shall pertain to membership

1. Application --A church which wishes to become a member of the World Council of Churches shall apply in writing to the General Secretary.

p 45 -- 2. Processing -- The General Secretary shall submit all such applications to the Central Committee (see Art. II of the Constitution) together with such information as he considers necessary to enable the Assembly or the Central Committee to make a decision on the application.

3. Criteria -- In addition to expressing agreement with the Basis upon which the council is founded (Art. I of the Constitution), an applicant must satisfy the following criteria to be eligible for membership:

a)    A church must be able to take the decision to apply for membership without obtaining the permission of any other body or person.
b)    A church must produce evidence of sustained independent life and organization.
c)   A church must recognize the essential interdependence of the churches, particularly those of the same confession, and must practise constructive ecumenical relations with other churches within its country or region.
d)    A church must ordinarily have at least 25,000 members.

4. Associate Membership -- A church otherwise eligible, which would be denied membership solely under Rule I.3.d) may be elected to associate membership in the same manner as member churches are elected. An Associate member church may participate in all activities of the Council; its representatives to the Assembly shall have the right to speak but not to vote. Associate member churches shall be listed separately on the official list maintained by the General Secretary.

5. Consultation -- Before admitting a church to membership or associate membership, the appropriate world confessional body or bodies and national council or regional conference of churches shall be consulted.

6. Resignation -- A church which desires to resign its membership in the Council can do so at any time. A church which has resigned but desires to rejoin the Council, must again apply for membership.

II. Praesidium --
1.    The Assembly shall elect one or more Presidents but the number of Presidents shall not exceed six.

p 46 -- 2.    The term of office of a President shall end at the adjournment of the next Assembly following his or her election.
3.   A President who has been elected by the Assembly shall be ineligible for immediate re-election when his term of office ends.

4. The President or Presidents shall be ex officio members of the Central Committee and of the Executive Committee.

5. Should a vacancy occur in the Praesidium between assemblies, the Central Committee may elect a President to fill the unexpired term.

p 47 -- 1. -- THE CHURCH, THE CHURCHES AND THE WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES -- The Ecclesiological Significance of the World Council of Churches -- Received by the Central Committee at Toronto in 1950 and commended for study and comment in the Churches --

(1)  -- The first Assembly at Amsterdam adopted a resolution on "the authority of the Council" which read:          "The World Council of Churches is composed of Churches which acknowledge Jesus Christ as God and Saviour. They find their unity in Him. They do not have to create their unity; it is the gift of God. But they know that it is their duty to make common cause in the search for the expression of that unity in work and in life. The Council desires to serve the Churches which are its constituent members as an instrument whereby they may bear witness together to their common allegiance to Jesus Christ, and cooperate in matters requiring united action. But the Council is far from desiring to usurp any of the functions which already belong to its constituent Churches, or to control them, or to legislate for them, and indeed is prevented by its constitution from doing so. Moreover, while earnestly

p 48 -- seeking fellowship in thought and action for all its members, the Council disavows any thought of becoming a single unified church structure independent of the Churches which have joined in constituting the Council, or a structure dominated by a centralised administrative authority.

"The purpose of the Council is to express its unity in another way. Unity arises out of the love of God in Jesus Christ, which, binding the constituent Churches to Him, binds them to one another. It is the earnest desire of the Council that the Churches may be bound closer to Christ and therefore closer to one another. In the bond of His love, they will desire continually to pray for one another and to strengthen one another, in worship and in witness, bearing one another's burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ." 1

This statement authoritatively answered some of the questions which had arisen about the nature of the Council. But it is clear that other questions are now arising and some attempt to answer them must be made, especially in the face of a number of false or inadequate conceptions of the Council which are being presented.

The World Council of Churches represents a new and unprecedented approach to the problem of inter-Church relationships. Its purpose and nature can be easily misunderstood. So it is salutary that we should state more clearly and definitely what the World Council is and what it is not.

This more precise definition involves certain difficulties. It is not for nothing that the Churches themselves have refrained from giving detailed and precise definitions of the nature of the Church. If this is true of them, it is not to be expected that the World Council can easily achieve a definition which has to take account of all the various ecclesiologies of its member Churches. The World Council deals in a provisional way with divisions between existing Churches, which ought not to be, because they contradict the very nature of the Church. A situation such as this cannot be met in terms of well-established precedents. The main problem is how one can formulate the ecclesiological

1 -- Amsterdam, Report of Committee II (Policy). Cf. Official Report, ed. by W. A. Visser't Hooft, p. 127.

p 49 -- implications of a body in which so many different conceptions of the Church are represented, without using the categories or language of one particular conception of the Church.

In order to clarify the notion of the World Council of Churches it will be best to begin by a series of negations so as to do away at the outset with certain misunderstandings which may easily arise or have already arisen, because of the newness and unprecedented character of the underlying conception.

(3) -- 1)
The World Council o f Churches is not and must never become a Super-Church -- It is not a Super-Church. It is not the World Church. It is not the Una Sancta of which the Creeds speak. This misunderstanding arises again and again although it has been denied as clearly as possible in official pronouncements of the Council. It is based on complete ignorance of the real situation within the Council. For if the Council should in any way violate its own constitutional principle, that it cannot legislate or act for its member Churches, it would cease to maintain the support of its membership.

In speaking of "member Churches," we repeat a phrase from the Constitution of the World Council of Churches; but membership in the Council does not in any sense mean that the Churches belong to a body which can take decisions for them. Each Church retains the constitutional right to ratify or to reject utterances or actions of the Council. The "authority" of the Council consists only "in the weight it carries with the Churches by its own wisdom" (William Temple).

(4) -- 2 ) The purpose o f the World Council o f Churches is not to negotiate unions between Churches, which can only be done by the Churches themselves acting on their own initiative, but to bring the Churches into living contact with each other and to promote the study and
discussion o f the issues of Church unity.

By its very existence and its activities the Council bears witness to the necessity of a clear manifestation of the oneness of the Church of Christ. But it remains the right and duty of each Church to draw from its ecumenical experience

p 50 -- such consequences as it feels bound to do on the basis of its own convictions. No Church, therefore, need fear that the Council will press it into decisions concerning union with other Churches.

(5) -- 3) The World Council cannot and should not be based on any one particular conception of the Church. It does not prejudge the ecclesiological problem.

It is often suggested that the dominating or underlying conception of the Council is that of such and such a Church or such and such a school of theology. It may well be that at a certain particular conference or in a particular utterance one can find traces of the strong influence of a certain tradition or theology.

The Council as such cannot possibly become the instrument of one confession or school without losing its very raison d'etre. There are room and space in the World Council for the ecclesiology of every Church which is ready to participate in the ecumenical conversation and which takes its stand on the Basis of the Council, which is "a fellowship of Churches which accept our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour."

The World Council exists in order that different Churches may face their differences, and therefore no Church is obliged to change its ecclesiology as a consequence of membership in the World Council.

(6) -- 4 ) Membership in the World Council o f Churches does not imply that a Church treats its own conception o f the Church as merely relative.

There are critics, and not infrequently friends, of the ecumenical movement who criticize or praise it for its alleged inherent latitudinarianism. According to them the ecumenical movement stands for the fundamental equality of all Christian doctrines and conceptions of the Church and is, therefore, not concerned with the question of truth. This misunderstanding is due to the fact that ecumenism has in the minds of these persons become identified with certain particular theories about unity, which have indeed played a role in ecumenical history, but which do not represent the common view of the movement as a whole, and have never been officially endorsed by the World Council.

p 51 -- (7) -- 5 ) Membership in the World Council does not imply the acceptance of a specific doctrine concerning the nature of Church unity.

The Council stands for Church unity. But in its midst there are those who conceive unity wholly or largely as a full consensus in the realm of doctrine, others who conceive of it primarily as sacramental communion based on common church order, others who consider both indispensable, others who would only require unity in certain fundamentals of faith and order, again others who conceive the one Church exclusively as a universal spiritual fellowship, or hold that visible unity is inessential or even undesirable. But none of these conceptions can be called the ecumenical theory. The whole point of the ecumenical conversation is precisely that all these conceptions enter into dynamic relations with each other.

In particular, membership in the World Council does not imply acceptance or rejection of the doctrine that the unity of the Church consists in the unity of the invisible Church. Thus the statement in the Encyclical Mystici Corporis concerning what it considers the error of a spiritualized conception of unity does not apply to the World Council. The World Council does not "imagine a Church which one cannot see or touch, which would be only spiritual, in which numerous Christian bodies, though divided in matters of faith, would nevertheless be united through an invisible link." It does, however, include Churches which believe that the Church is essentially invisible as well as those which hold that visible unity is essential.

(8) --
We must now try to define the positive assumptions which underlie the World Council of Churches and the ecclesiological implications of membership in it.

1) The member Churches o f the Council believe that conversation, cooperation, and common witness of the Churches must be based on the common recognition that Christ is the Divine Head o f the Body.

The Basis of the World Council is the acknowledgment of the central fact that "other foundation can no man lay

p 52 -- than that is laid, even Jesus Christ." It is the expression of the conviction that the Lord of the Church is God-among-us Who continues to gather His children and to build His Church Himself.

Therefore, no relationship between the Churches can have any substance or promise unless it starts with the common submission of the Churches to the Headship of Jesus Christ in His Church. From different points of view Churches ask, "How can men with opposite convictions belong to one and the same federation of the faithful?" A clear answer to that question was given by the Orthodox delegates in Edinburgh 1937 when they said: "In spite of all our differences, our common Master and Lord is one - Jesus Christ who will lead us to a more and more close collaboration for the edifying of the Body of Christ." 2 The fact of Christ's Headship over His people compels all those who acknowledge Him to enter into real and close relationships with each other - even though they differ in many important points.

(9) -- 2) The member Churches of the World Council believe on the basis of the New Testament that the Church of Christ is one.

The ecumenical movement owes its existence to the fact that this article of the faith has again come home to men and women in many Churches with an inescapable force. As they face the discrepancy between the truth that there is and can be only one Church of Christ, and the fact that there exist so many Churches which claim to be Churches of Christ but are not in living unity with each other, they feel a holy dissatisfaction with the present situation. The Churches realize that it is a matter of simple Christian duty for each Church to do its utmost for the manifestation of the Church in its oneness, and to work and pray that Christ's purpose for His Church should be fulfilled.

(10) -- 3) The member Churches recognize that the membership of the Church of Christ is more inclusive than the membership of their own Church body. They seek, therefore, to enter into living contact with those outside their own ranks who confess the Lordship of Christ.

2 -- From the statement presented to the Conference by Archbishop Germanos on behalf of the Orthodox delegates. The statement is not part of the conference report. It is printed in the minutes. Cf. Official Report. ed. by L. Hodgson, p. 157.

p 53 -- All the Christian Churches, including the Church of Rome, hold that there is no complete identity between the membership of the Church Universal and the membership of their own Church. They recognize that there are Church members extra muros, that these belong aliquo modo to the Church, or even that there is an ecclesia extra ecclesiam. This recognition finds expression in the fact that with very few exceptions the Christian Churches accept the baptism administered by other Churches as valid.

But the question arises what consequences are to be drawn from this teaching. Most often in Church history the Churches have only drawn the negative consequence that they, should have no dealings with those outside their membership. The underlying assumption of the ecumenical movement is that each Church has a positive task to fulfil in this realm. That task is to seek fellowship with all those who, while not members of the same visible body, belong together as members of the mystical body. And the ecumenical movement is the place where this search and discovery take place.

(ll) -- 4) The member Churches of the World Council consider the relationship of other Churches to the Holy Catholic Church which the Creeds profess as a subject for mutual consideration. Nevertheless, membership does not imply that each Church must regard the other member Churches as Churches in the true and full sense of the word.

There is a place in the World Council both for those Churches which recognize other Churches as Churches in the full and true sense, and for those who do not. But these divided Churches, even if they cannot yet accept each other as true and pure Churches, believe that they should not remain in isolation from each other, and consequently they have associated themselves in the World Council of Churches.

They know that differences of faith and order exist, but they recognize one another as serving the One Lord, and they wish to explore their differences in mutual respect, trusting that they may thus be led by the Holy Spirit to manifest their unity in Christ.

p 54 -- (12) -- 5 ) The member Churches of the World Council recognize in other Churches elements of the true Church. They consider that this mutual recognition obliges them to enter into a serious conversation with each other in the hope that these elements of truth will lead to the recognition of the full truth and to unity based on the full truth.

It is generally taught in the different Churches that other Churches have certain elements of the true Church, in some traditions called vestigia ecclesiae. Such elements are the preaching of the Word, the teaching of the Holy Scriptures, and the administration of the sacraments. These elements are more than pale shadows of the life of the true Church. They are a fact of real promise and provide an opportunity to strive by frank and brotherly intercourse for the realization of a fuller unity. Moreover, Christians of all ecclesiological views throughout the world, by the preaching of the Gospel, brought men and women to salvation by Christ, to newness of life in Him, and into Christian fellowship with one another.

The ecumenical movement is based upon the conviction that these "traces" are to be followed. The Churches should not despise them as mere elements of truth but rejoice in them as hopeful signs pointing toward real unity. For what are these elements? Not dead remnants of the past but powerful means by which God works. Questions may and must be raised about the validity and purity of teaching and sacramental life, but there can be no question that such dynamic elements of Church life justify the hope that the Churches which maintain them will be led into fuller truth. It is through the ecumenical conversation that this recognition of truth is facilitated.

(13) -- 6) The member Churches of the Council are willing to consult together in seeking to learn of the Lord Jesus Christ what witness He would have them to bear to the world in His Name.

Since the very raison d'etre of the Church is to witness to Christ, Churches cannot meet together without seeking from their common Lord a common witness before the world. This will not always be possible. But when it proves possible thus to speak or act together, the Churches can

p 55 -- gratefully accept it as God's gracious gift that in spite of their disunity He has enabled them to render one and the same witness and that they may thus manifest something of the unity, the purpose of which is precisely "that the world may believe," and that they may "testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world."

(14) -- 7) A further practical implication o f common membership in the World Council is that the member Churches should recognize their solidarity with each other, render assistance to each other in case of need, and refrain from such actions as are incompatible with brotherly relationships.

Within the Council the Churches seek to deal with each other with a brotherly concern. This does not exclude extremely frank speaking to each other, in which within the Council the Churches ask each other searching questions and face their differences. But this is to be done for the building up the Body of Christ. This excludes a purely negative attitude of one Church to another. The positive affirmation of each Church's faith is to be welcomed, but actions incompatible with brotherly relationships towards other member Churches defeat the very purpose for which the Council has been created. On the contrary, these Churches should help each other in removing all obstacles to the free exercise of the Church's normal functions. And whenever a Church is in need or under persecution, it should be able to count on the help of the other Churches through the Council.

(15) -- 8 ) The member Churches enter into spiritual relationships through which they seek to learn from each other and to give help to each other in order that the Body of Christ may be built up and that the life of the Churches may be renewed.

It is the common teaching of the Churches that the Church as the temple of God is at the same time a building which has been built and a building which is being built. The Church has, therefore, aspects which belong to its very structure and essence and cannot be changed. But it has other aspects, which are subject to change. Thus the life of the Church, as it expresses itself in its witness to its own members and to the world, needs constant renewal.

p 56 -- The Churches can and should help each other in this realm by a mutual exchange of thought and of experience. This is the significance of the study-work of the World Council and of many other of its activities. There is no intention to impose any particular pattern of thought or life upon the Churches. But whatever insight has been received by one or more Churches is to be made available to all the Churches for the sake of the "building up of the Body of Christ."

(16) -- None of these positive assumptions, implied in the existence of the World Council, is in conflict with the teachings of the member Churches. We believe therefore that no Church need fear that by entering into the World Council it is in danger of denying its heritage.

(17) -- As the conversation between the Churches develops and as the Churches enter into closer contact with each other, they will no doubt have to face new decisions and problems. For the Council exists to break the deadlock between the Churches. But in no case can or will any Church be pressed to take a decision against its own conviction or desire. The Churches remain wholly free in the action which, on the basis of their convictions and in the light of their ecumenical contacts, they will or will not take.

(18) -- A very real unity has been discovered in ecumenical meetings which is, to all who collaborate in the World Council, the most precious element of its life. It exists and we receive it again and again as an unmerited gift from the Lord. We praise God for this foretaste of the unity of His People and continue hopefully with the work to which He has called us together. For the Council exists to serve the Churches as they prepare to meet their Lord Who knows only one flock.

p 57 -- THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH -- This essay is intended to serve as an introduction to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church for any interested parties in the membership of the WCC. It is necessarily sketchy and deals only with certain aspects of the witness of Seventh-Day Adventists, but a fuller picture can be gained from consulting the books listed in the bibliography. Here the plan will be, first to discuss some general characteristics of the denomination, then describe it in terms of its place in the theological spectrum, and finally indicate some of its distinctive doctrines. The purpose is to present a sketch which can serve our member churches, yet one which will at the same time be considered a fair representation by Seventh Day Adventists themselves.

General Characteristics -- Developing in the middle of the nineteenth century out of the Millerite advent awakening in the United States, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church today is the hardiest and most active of the groups which trace their beginnings to this period. It is a fully autonomous church. Its supreme governing body is the General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists with headquarters in Washington, D. C. It has been an organized body since 1863, and maintains an extensive system of parochial schools, institutions of higher learning, clinics and hospitals. As of 1964 it published 293 periodicals in 228 languages.

In the year of its organization the Adventist movement had 3,500 baptized members, all in the United States. Its viability is attested by the fact that by 1963 it had 380,855 members (25%) in North America and 1,197,649 (75%) in other parts of the world. Its churches have grown from 125 in 1865 to 14,651 today. Always missionary-minded, the church has extensive missions all over the world and is growing fastest in Latin America, Africa and Korea.

Seventh-Day Adventists have a deep conviction that it is their duty to proclaim their distinctive witness, and the church therefore consistently rejects any kind of comity arrangements. Nevertheless, since 1926 it has had an official policy which will interest WCC members because of its close resemblance to the provisions concerning proselytism put

p 58 -- forward at the New Delhi Assembly in 1961 in the document entitled "Christian Witness, Proselytism and Religious Liberty." Here is one paragraph from their statement as an illustration of their position:           We recognize that the essence of true religion is that religion is based
upon conscience and conviction. It is therefore to be constantly our purpose that no selfish interest or temporal advantage shall draw any person to our communion, and that no tie shall hold any member save the belief and conviction that in this way he finds true connection with Christ. When change of conviction leads any member of our society to feel no longer in accord with us in faith and practice, we recognize not only his right but his duty to change his religious affiliation to accord with his belief. 1
          These principles are not left vague, and their implications for policy are spelled out in the remainder of the statement.

Not only is the movement committed to an official policy favouring religious liberty, it has been active in seeking its maintenance - particularly since Adventists have themselves suffered under discriminatory Sunday laws:             Church and state should operate in entirely separate spheres; we do not believe that in an attempt to control men's religion or religious activities the church should dominate the state, or that the state should govern the church 2.

Of particular interest to WCC members is the question of how the Adventists would react to the WCC basis. As revised at New Delhi this reads as follows:           The WCC is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of one God, Father,
Son and Holy Spirit.  3
          While only the General Conference itself could state its reaction to this basis, in the light of the first three articles of Adventist "Fundamental Beliefs"  4   it would appear that there is no obstacle to a positive evaluation.  5

1   QD, p. 626. Note: abbreviations are explained in the bibliography.
2   QD, p. 24.
3   NDR, p. 426. Article I of the WCC Constitution.
4   QD, p. 11.
5   It may be of interest to draw attention to the fact that advocacy of the seventh-day Sabbath is itself characteristic of one WCC Church. The Seventh-Day Baptist General Convention has been a member since Amsterdam. Obviously, varied eschatological beliefs also characterise the WCC, obtaining not only between but within member churches. Such differences provide occasions for dialogue rather than being an obstacle to fellowship in the ecumenical movement.

p 59 -- Adventism in the theological spectrum -- The Adventist position is more in sympathy with Arminius than with the Calvinistic Synod of Dort (1518-19). They reject double predestination and affirm the free will of man. While salvation is by grace and grace alone man can accept or reject it. Accepting it men are enabled "to endure unto the end and be presented `faultless before the presence
of his glory with exceeding joy' (Jude 24)." 1

Related to this concept is the doctrine that men are not "automatically, involuntarily, impersonally, or universally saved en masse." While Christ died "provisionally and potentially for all men, and nothing more can be added," his death is ultimately efficacious only for those who "individually accept and avail themselves of its benefits."  2   Furthermore, while Christ's death is once for all and sufficient for man's atonement, "the application of the atoning provision of the cross... becomes effective only through Christ's priestly ministry."  3  While his atoning death was made provisionally for all men, his ministry in the heavenly sanctuary is for those who accept his salvation.   4   In the words of Vincent Taylor, the atonement on the cross is "accomplished for us," while the high-priestly ministry enables the atonement to be wrought in us.  5

A few other characteristics are here listed without comment or exposition. Adventists practice the baptism of believers, not of infants, and by single not trine immersion. They claim that tithing is God's plan for the support of his church and is still to be enjoined, though tithing is not made a test of fellowship.  6   Footwashing is an ordinance of Christ and is to be practiced at the time of the Lord's Supper. The Seventh-Day Adventist Church practices open communion.

Distinctives of Seventh-Day Adventism --
Ellen G. White's Writings. -- Mrs. White (nee Harmon) began her public life at the age of seventeen after she had experienced her first of many visions. The year was 1844, and many Adventists had been disappointed

1  QD, p. 417.
2  QD, p. 351.
3  QD, p. 352.
4  QD, p. 354 (See Hebrews 4. 14-16; 9. 11).
5  The Cross of Christ, p. 89, cited QD, p. 354.
6  It should be noted, however, that the tithe is used to support the ministry, and other
programmes are paid for by various offerings and fund-raising campaigns (including the
annual "ingathering," which is an appeal for funds from the general public - primarily
for Adventist welfare, educational and missionary work at home and abroad). As a result
most Adventists contribute considerably more than a tithe.

p 60 -- when William Miller's prophecies of the end of the world had not been fulfilled. Through Mrs. White, Adventists believe, the Spirit of prophecy spoke. Through prayer, study, and a growing amount of public speaking and writing, Mrs. White helped guide the developing Sabbatarian church through early crises. She never claimed nor accepted the role of infallibility, but she did seek to illuminate and apply biblical truth and give guidance to her fellow believers. Throughout her life (she died in 1915) she was never ordained and never held office in the church. She was nevertheless a real leader and her writings came to be held in universal respect among Adventists.  1

Some might raise the question whether Adventists really adhere to the phrase "according to the Scriptures" in the development of their doctrine. Can they truly affirm the authority of Scripture when they make extensive use of the writings of Ellen G. White in the exposition of their doctrine ? The Adventists answer "Yes," since they affirm that their doctrinal positions "are based upon the Bible, not upon Mrs. White's writings."  2    Her writings are not canonical and therefore not of universal application; Holy Scripture stands "alone and unique as the standard by which all other writings must be judged."  3    Mrs. White, in The Great Controversy and elsewhere, affirms that "the Scriptures explicitly state that the Word of God is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested."   4    Certainly Adventist doctrines are proved not on the basis of these writings but are based upon Scriptural exegesis.  5    The writings are held in great esteem as the product of one who was inspired with the "Spirit of prophecy," but the doctrinal position of the Church is that this very Spirit must be distinguished from false spirits by the criterion of the Word of God.   6    For purposes of comparison it would seem that her writings have somewhat less doctrinal weight in Adventism than the Lutheran Confessions have in confessionally conservative Lutheran Churches but somewhat more than the corpus of Luther's writings. They do not have the authority among Adventists that Mary Baker Eddy's writings seem to have among Christian Scientists. Adventists claim rather that they "test the writings of Ellen G. White

Le Roy Edwin Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers (Washington D.C., Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1954), Vol. IV, pp. 976 ff.
2   QD, p. 183.
3   QD, p. 89.
4   TGC, p. vii.
5   See especially T. H. JEMISON, Christian Beliefs.
6   Fundamental Beliefs, I and 19; CB, p. 53.

p 61 -- by the Bible, but in no sense test the Bible by her writings."  1    This is true enough, but in matters pertaining to biblical interpretation her writings do provide Adventists with an important hermeneutical device (much as do the Reformation confessions for other Churches). In both cases the claim would be made that such use can be made of these writings because they are themselves in accordance with Holy Scripture.   2

Faith and works. -- Adventists, because of their insistence upon the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath and certain distinctive dietary practices, have been said not to preach the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. However, in the statement of Fundamental Beliefs, No. 8, stands the following:            That one is justified, not by obedience to the law, but by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. By accepting Christ, man is reconciled to God, justified by His blood for the sins of the past, and saved from the power of sin by His indwelling life. Thus the gospel becomes "The power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth" (Rom. 1. 16). This experience is wrought by the divine agency of the Holy Spirit... inducting the believer into the new covenant relationship, where the law of God is written on his heart, and through the enabling power of the indwelling Christ his life is brought into conformity to the divine precepts.  3     Mrs. White insists that any "salvation by works" is ruled out : "God rejoices to bestow His grace upon us, not because we are worthy, but because we are so utterly unworthy."   4    Further on Mrs. White observes:           Some will be found whose minds have been so long debased that they will never in this life become what under more favourable circumstances they might have been... Christ is able to uplift the most sinful and place them where they will be acknowledged as children of God, joint heirs with Christ to the immortal inheritance.   5

"Works" in Adventist theology would seem best to be characterised not as efforts unto salvation but as the vocation of the Christian. Great emphasis is laid upon the "new law written on his heart." Briefly stated, "While works are not a means to salvation, good works are the inevitable result of salvation."   6    In Mrs. White's words, "With Christ working in

1   QD, p. 90.
2   E.g. "Preface" to the Book of Concord, "that no other doctrine be treated and taught in our lands, territories, schools and churches than that alone which is based on the Holy Scriptures of God and is embodied in the Augsburg Confession and its Apology, correctly understood."
3   QD, p. 13.
4   MH, p. 161.
5   Ibid., p. 169.
6   QD, p. 141.

p 62 -- you, you will manifest the same spirit and do the same works - works of righteousness, obedience.... We have no ground for self-exaltation. Our only ground of hope is in the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and in that wrought by His Spirit working in and through us."   1    The Law is therefore guidance concerning how we are to "grow in the grace of our Lord" (II Peter 3. 18)   2

Seventh-Day Sabbath. -- For two reasons Adventists insist upon the observance of the seventh-day as the Sabbath:   a)    because, since creation was through Christ the Word, the Sabbath was directly instituted by Him prior to the fall;   3      b)   because the Ten Commandments "constitute in principle God's eternal law" (moral law), and the fourth commandment is of a piece with the other nine.   4

A compendious summary of the Adventist position on this matter is given in these words:         
We as Adventists believe that Jesus Christ Himself - who was the Creator of all things (John I . 3, 10 ; I Cor. 8. 6) and the original maker of the Sabbath, and who is the "same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Heb. 13. 8) - made no change in the Sabbath. And He authorized no change to be made by His followers. We therefore believe that until the Sabbath law is repealed by divine authority, and its change made known by definite Scripture mandate, we should solemnly "remember" and "keep" the unrepealed original seventh-day Sabbath of the Decalogue, which is explicitly on record.

In addition to the exegesis of the Old Testament on this point the Adventists rest their position on the claim that Jesus never repudiated the Sabbath. Mark 2. 27 f. is taken to be  a)   the repudiation of "traditions of men" which had grown up around the Sabbath, and   b)   an indication that the Sabbath was instituted by Christ in creation.

Because the Sabbath is enshrined in the Decalogue, and is a part of the moral law, it is durable for all generations as are the other nine commandments. Passages such as Romans 14. 5, Galatians 4. 10 and Colossians 2. 16 are interpreted as referring to Jewish or pagan holy days, not to the Sabbath. Since Jewish holy days other than the Sabbath are part of the ceremonial code rather than the moral code they cease to be binding after Christ's death and resurrection.   6

1  STC, p. 65.
2  QD, p. 140.
3  QD, pp. 149-175.
QD, p. 150, pp. 129 ff.
QD, p. 175.
6  See Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary.

p 63 -- In the early history of the Church observance of the Sabbath was common. By a gradual and rather diffuse process Sunday came to replace the Sabbath as the Christian day of worship. Seventh-day observance was common longer in the East than in the West, but even in the West there were many places which observed both the seventh and the first days well into the fifth century. Hastening the change to Sunday were the decree of Constantine in 321 proclaiming Sunday as the official day of rest, and Canon 29 of the Council of Laodicea late in the fourth century which commanded Christians to rest on "the Lord's Day" and prohibiting rest on the Sabbath.   1    Later the claim that the Church had "changed the decalogue" was used to buttress the then current Roman affirmation that the Church was "above" Scripture.   2    Because the Roman Church (and the Roman civil government under Justinian) thus sought "to change the times and the law" (Daniel 7. 25) Adventists identify Rome (in the "papal" phase) with the "little horn" of Daniel 7. 8.   3   For this reason they believe "that the term 'Babylon', referred to in Revelation 17, has been rightly applied to the Papacy."   4    Similarly, Sunday observance is then connected with the "mark of the beast" in Revelation 13. 16 f. Those who persist in such observance will, in the final conflict, receive this "mark," for Seventh-Day Adventists believe that these prophecies will come into sharp focus shortly before the second advent of Christ.

Since Sabbath observance is commanded by God as part of his eternal moral law, its observance is seen by Adventists as part of the eschatological testing. It will become a worldwide test when, as they believe, the decree goes forth for men to worship on Sunday under penalty of death.   5    At that time the "remnant church" will be gathered from those in all confessions who observe God's commandment rather than man's; other will receive the "mark of the beast" and be destined for annihilation.   6   Adventists have never, though, equated themselves with the entire church of God. This rather consists of those in every denomination who remain faithful to the light which God has given

1   See Seventh-Day Adventist Encyclopedia (Volume 10 of The Seventh-Day Adventist
Commentary and Commentary Reference Series
), pp. 1113 ff.
2   See the Augsburg Confession, Art. 28. 32 f.; for the Lutheran answer to this claim,
and for its position concerning Sunday, see 28. 57-68.
3   QD, pp. 179 ff.
 QD, p. 201.
5   QD, p. 185.
6   QD, pp. 197 ff., pp. 535 ff.

p 64 -- them. It is their conviction that in the final conflict between Christ and Satan all true Christians will see the need for "obedience to all the precepts of the decalogue."   1

The heart of the Seventh-Day Adventist theology of the Sabbath is, however, not found in its eschatological significance - important as this is for them. Rather it is found in the testimony Sabbath-observance gives to the freedom of God and the freedom of man. God's setting aside of this day and no other testifies to his sovereign freedom; in this sense man's observance of the seventhness of the day is really "a recognition on man's part that God is Creator, and that he himself is creature. This distinction constitutes the foundation of the worship of God."   2    On the other hand it is equally true that the Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath. It is a provision by God for periodic release from the unvarying round of daily toil and an opportunity for man to cultivate his nature as a moral being. In this sense, then, it is testimony to God's gracious provision for man to develop his freedom to the fullest and thereby a sign of the divine love. Therefore its basic requirements are not the biblical restrictions, but that opening up of communication with God and the developing of man's spiritual and moral nature which these very restrictions sought to make possible. Understood in this fashion the Sabbath is seen as a tie between creation and the covenant, God's plan of salvation; observed in this manner it becomes a testimony to faith.

Dietary practices. -- In common with some other Christian groups Adventists strongly condemn the use of narcotics or stimulants such as alcohol and tobacco. In addition they caution against tea, coffee, and highly spiced foods because of their unhealthy effects.   3    Most distinctive, perhaps, is the counsel to eat mainly grains, fruit and vegetables and to abstain from all flesh.   4    While Mrs. White appeals to the Bible for guidance, the major part of her argumentation is not exegetical, but theological in a broader sense. Her arguments regarding diet are advanced with physiological reasons and not advanced as "law" - e.g. "We should consider the situation of people and the power of lifelong habit, and should be careful not to urge even right ideas unduly."   5   The dietary

1   PK, p. 678; see also Mrs. White's exegesis of Isaiah 58. 13 f. and its relation to the rebuilding of the wall under Nehemiah, Ibid.
2    SDABC, Vol. 10, p. 1105.
3    CB, p. 271 n ; MH, pp. 325 ff.
4    MH, pp. 295-317.
5    MH, p. 317.

p 65 -- recommendations are advanced as part of "a well-balanced health programme" commended because "our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit" and should be taken care of properly.   1  Therefore the emphasis in eating is to be placed upon nutrition, appropriateness for a person's way of life, and simplicity.

Distinctives of Seventh-Day Adventism: Second Advent --
In terse terms the Adventist attitude toward the second coming can be termed pre-millennial and historicist. The first term means that at the second coming of Christ the just will be raised to rule with him in heaven, and that a thousand years later the resurrection of the unjust will occur, and then their final annihilition. The second term means that the advent will take place in history with the literal, personal, audible and visible return of Christ. Finally after reigning with Christ in heaven for the millennium the saints will return to a purified and regenerated earth to abide forever.   2    However, their reign in heaven and subsequent abode on earth are both considered to be in the eternal state.

Important as these details of teaching are for understanding the Seventh-Day Adventist doctrine, in order for a non-Adventist to understand the missionary impetus of their Church he must realize the importance given in their preaching and missionary witness to the imminence of the second coming. The belief that men are living in the climactic period of this world's history gives urgency to the proclamation of their message and accounts in part for the expansion and growth of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church all over the world.

Cleansing of the heavenly Sanctuary. -- William Miller, a Baptist, had predicted, upon the basis of his study of the prophecies of Daniel, that the end of the world would come in 1844. Upon the disappointment of this prophecy the Millerite movement broke up. However, some were convinced that Miller had been essentially right in discerning a particular significance in the date 1844, but wrong in his interpretation of what this significance was. Seventh-Day Adventism is an heir of this group, and is similar to the Millerites also in its premillennialism. For them 1844 marks the beginning of what they term the "cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary."   3

1   QD, p. 624.
2   Fundamental Beliefs 11, 12, 20-22; QD, p. 24, No. 9.
3  See articles on "Sanctuary" and "Investigative Judgment," in SDABC, Vol. 10.

p 66 -- According to their reading of Daniel 8 and 9 the 2,300 days mentioned there signify the same number of years; these began in 457 B. C. with an initial period of 70 weeks of years (490 years) which lasted until 3 1/2 years after the death of Christ (who was crucified in the middle of the last "week" of years). Therefore the date upon which the "cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary" would begin, on this basis of calculation, is 1844 (i.e. 2,300 years after 457 B. C., 1810 years after the last of the 70 weeks of years).

The work of judgment has three phases: the investigative, the pronouncing of the sentence, and the execution of the sentence. Miller was wrong in prophesying 1844 as the date of execution. It was rather the beginning of the investigative phase, when the book of Life is examined and names accepted and rejected. When this is finished the sentence will be pronounced and Christ will descend to execute the sentence: the living just will be translated, the sleeping just will be resurrected, and the millennium will begin. At the end of this time the unjust will be raised and the sentence of annihilation pronounced and executed.   1   Most important, perhaps, is the deep-seated belief that Christ's "personal, visible, audible, bodily, glorious and premillennial" second advent is imminent, "at a time that is near but not disclosed."   2

Related doctrines. -- For Adventists man is inherently mortal, subject to death. There is no immortal "part" such as the soul or spirit. Man is an integral unity not separable into "parts." He dies. He has a possibility of eternal life at the resurrection only because of Christ.   3    "They (the saints) will live again, but they come to life and live with Jesus after they are raised from the dead. While asleep in the tomb the child of God knows nothing."   4    However, because this immortality is conditional, only the just will receive it. Granted that the unjust will be raised at the second resurrection they will be raised only to receive the sentence of annihilation. For Adventists their punishment will be everlasting or eternal, not in the sense of "eternal duration of conscious suffering" but rather eternal death "from which there will not, and cannot, be any resurrection."   5   

1   QD, p. 422, pp. 443 ff.
2   QD, p. 463.
3   QD, pp. 518 f.
4   QD, p. 523.
5   QD, p. 539.

p 67 -- Summary -- Seventh-Day Adventism arose in the midst of the nineteenth-century adventist movement. It is one of the longest-lasting and most stable and active groups which trace their heritage to that time. It is strongly evangelistic and missionary in emphasis, with a world-wide outreach. It is especially active in the ministry of healing, having numerous hospitals and dispensaries in various parts of the world; education, having the largest worldwide Protestant parochial school system; welfare work, and publishing. In overall doctrinal position it is an heir of the reformation, more akin to Amminianism than Calvinism, and having an understanding of the relation of faith and works more reminiscent of Wesley than Luther.

In the Adventist view, the "spirit of prophecy" spoke through Ellen G. White, and all of their distinctive doctrines are ultimately derived from Holy Scripture, rightly interpreted. While insisting upon their right and duty to proclaim these distinctive doctrines Adventists do not exclude other Christians from the faith, but trust that in the last days all the faithful will see the rightness of their doctrines. They officially reject any attempts at proselytism, as this is defined in the WCC document on "Christian Witness, Proselytism and Religious Liberty," believing that conversion can come only by sincere and uncoerced faith.

Their position in regard to the ecumencial movement as it is manifest in the WCC is not clear. There is a tendency to speak of some denominations as "daughters of Babylon" and to separate from them because of "modernist apostasy entrenched in the controlling leadership."   1    The major question to be raised with them on this point is whether in the light of the openness of the WCC Constitution and its neutrality on doctrinal and ecclesiological questions, a proper place of witness and engagement is not precisely within this movement rather than apart from it. Can the WCC, in their own view, be seen as one more place where witness to the full truth of the Gospel is needed and can be made?

1   QD, p. 201

CB -- T. H. Jemison, Christian Beliefs: Fundamental Biblical Teachings for Seventh-Day Adventist College Classes (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1959)

MH -- ELLEN G. WHITE, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1905, 1942).

NDR --- The New Delhi Report: The Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches, 1961 (London : SCM Press, 1962).

PK -- ELLEN G. WHITE, The Story of Prophets and Kings (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1917, 1943). Volume 2, Conflict of the Ages Series.

QD -- Seventh-Day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine. Prepared by a representative group of Seventh-Day Adventist leaders, Bible teachers and Editors (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1957).

STC -- ELLEN G. WHITE, Steps to Christ (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1921).

TGC -- ELLEN G. WHITE, The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan (Mountain
View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1888, 1911). Volume 5, Conflict of the Ages Series.

SDABC -- The Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary and Commentary Reference Series
(Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1953-1966), 10 vols.

The above volumes are those actually cited in the present paper. Below are listed other books of importance.

Other volumes in the Conflict of Ages Series, by ELLEN G. WHITE:
Patriarchs and Prophets (1890, 1958), Volume 1.
The Desire of Ages (1898, 1940), Volume 3.
The Acts of the Apostles (1911), Volume 4.(Mountain View, California : Pacific Press Publishing Association).
Le Roy EDWIN FROOM, The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers (Washington, DC Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1965 and 1966).
Le Roy EDWIN FROOM, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1946-1954), 4 vols.
FRANCIS D. NICHOL, Ellen G. White and Her Critics (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1951).

p 69 -- FUNDAMENTAL BELIEFS OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS -- Seventh-day Adventists hold certain fundamental beliefs, the principal features of which, together with a portion of the scriptural references upon which they are based, may be summarized as follows:

1. That the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments Were given by inspiration of God, contain an all-sufficient revelation of' His will to men, and are the only unerring rule of faith and practice. 2 Tim. 3:15-17.

2. That the Godhead, or Trinity, consists of the Eternal Father, a personal, spiritual Being, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, infinite in wisdom and love; the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, through whom all things were created and through whom the salvation of the redeemed hosts will be accomplished; the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, the great regenerating power in the work of redemption. Isa. 44:6; 48:13; Matt. 12:32; 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; Rev. 1:8, 11.

3. That Jesus Christ is very God, being of the same nature and essence as the Eternal Father. While retaining His divine nature He took upon Himself the nature of the human family, lived on the earth as
a man, exemplified in His life as our Example the principles of righteousness, attested His relationship to God by many mighty miracles, died for our sins on the cross, was raised from the dead, and ascended to the Father, where He ever lives to make intercession for us. John 1:1, 14; Heb. 2:9-18; 8:1, 2: 4:14-16: 7:25.

4. That every person in order to obtain salvation must experience the new birth; that this comprises an entire transformation of life and character by the recreative power of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:16; Matt. 18:3; Acts 2:37-39.

5. That Baptism is an ordinance of the Christian Church and should follow repentance and forgiveness of sins. By its observance faith is shown in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. That the proper form of baptism is by immersion. Rom. 6:1-6; Acts 16:30-33.

6. That the will of God as it relates to moral conduct is comprehended in His law of ten commandments; that these are great moral, unchangeable precepts, binding upon all men, in every age. Ex. 20:1-17.

7. That the fourth commandment of this unchangeable law requires the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath. This holy institution is at the same time a memorial of creation and a sign of sanctification, a sign of the believer's rest from his own works of sin, and his entrance into the rest of soul which Jesus promises to those who come to Him. Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11; 31:12-17; Heb. 4:1-10.

8. That the law of ten commandments points out sin, the penalty of which is death. The law cannot save the transgressor from his sin, nor impart power to keep him from sinning. In infinite love and mercy, God provides a way whereby this may be done. He furnishes a substitute, even Christ the Righteous One, to die in man's stead, making "Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made

p 70 -- the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor. 5:21. That one is justified, not by obedience to the law, but by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. By accepting Christ, man is reconciled to God, justified by His blood for the sins of the past, and saved from the power of sin by His indwelling life. Thus the gospel becomes "the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth." Rom. 1:16. This experience is wrought by the divine agency of the Holy Spirit, who convinces of sin and leads to the Sin-Bearer, inducting the believer into the new covenant relationship where the law of God is written on his heart, and through the enabling power of the indwelling Christ, his life is brought into conformity to the divine precepts. The honor and merit of this wonderful transformation belong wholly to Christ. 1 John 2:1, 2; 3:4; Rom. 3:20; 5:8-10; 7:7; Eph. 2:8-10; 3:17; Gal. 2:20; Heb. 8:8-12.

9. That God "only hath immortality." 1 Tim. 6:15. Mortal man possesses a nature inherently sinful and dying. Eternal life is the gift of God through faith in Christ. Rom. 6:23. "He that hath the Son hath life." 1 John 5:12. Immortality is bestowed upon the righteous at the second coming of Christ, when the righteous dead are raised from the grave and the living righteous translated to meet the Lord. Then it is that those accounted faithful "put on immortality." 1 Cor. 15:51-55.

10. That the condition of man in death is one of unconsciousness. That all men, good and evil alike, remain in the grave from death to the resurrection. Eccl. 9:5, 6; Ps. 146:3, 4; John 5:28, 29.

11. That there shall be a resurrection both of the just and of the unjust. The resurrection of the just will take place at the second coming of Christ; the resurrection of the unjust will take place a thousand years later, at the close of the millennium. John 5:28, 29; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 20:5 -10.

12. That the finally impenitent, including Satan, the author of sin, will, by the fires of the last day, be reduced to a state of nonexistence, becoming as though they had not been, thus purging God's universe of sin and sinners. Rom. 6:23; Mal. 4:1-3; Rev. 20:9, 10; Obadiah 16.

13. That no prophetic period is given in the Bible to reach the Second Advent; but that the longest one, the 2300 days recorded by the prophet Daniel in Dan. 8:14, terminating in 1844, reaches an event called the cleansing of the sanctuary. Dan. 8:14; 9:24, 25; Num. 14:34; Eze. 4:6.

14. That the true sanctuary, of which the tabernacle on earth was a type, is the temple of God in heaven, of which Paul speaks in Hebrews 8 and onward, and of which the Lord Jesus, as our great high priest, is minister; and that the priestly work of our Lord is the anti-type of the work of the Jewish priests of the former dispensation; that this heavenly sanctuary is the one to be cleansed at the end of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14; its cleansing being, as in the type, a work of judgment, beginning with the entrance of Christ as the high priest upon the judgment phase of His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary foreshadowed in the earthly service of cleansing the sanctuary on the day of atonement. This work of judgment in the heavenly sanctuary began in 1844. Its completion will close human probation. Dan. 7:9, 10; 8:14; Heb. 8:1, 2, 5; Rev. 20:12; Num. 14:34; Eze. 4:6.

p 71 --
That God, in the time of the judgment and in accordance with His uniform dealing with the human family in warning them of coming events vitally affecting their destiny (Amos 3:6,7), sends forth a proclamation of the approach of the second advent of Christ; that this work is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14; and that their threefold message brings to view a work of reform to prepare a people to meet Him at His coming. Amos 3:6, 7; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 14:6-12.

16. That the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary, synchronizing with the period of the proclamation of the message of Revelation 14, is a time of investigative judgment, first with reference to the dead, and second with reference to the living. This investigative judgment determines who of the myriads sleeping in the dust of the earth are worthy of a part in the first resurrection, and who of its living multitudes are worthy of translation. 1 Peter 4:17, 18; Dan. 7:9, 10; Rev. 14:6, 7; Luke 20:35.

17. That the followers of Christ should be a godly people, not adopting the unholy maxims nor conforming to the unrighteous ways of the world, not loving its sinful pleasures nor countenancing its follies. That believers should recognize their bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that therefore they should clothe that body in neat, modest, dignified apparel. Further, that in eating and drinking and in their entire course of conduct they should shape their lives as becometh followers of the meek and lowly Master. Thus the followers of Christ will be led to abstain from all intoxicating drinks, tobacco, and other narcotics, and to avoid every body- and soul-defiling habit and practice. 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 9:25; 10:31; 1 Tim. 2:9, 10; 1 John 2:6.

18. That the divine principle of tithes and offerings for the support of the gospel is an acknowledgment of God's ownership in our lives, and that we are stewards who must render account to Him of all that He has committed to our possession. Lev. 27:30; Mal. 3:8-12; Matt. 23:23; 1 Cor. 9:9-14; 2 Cor. 9:6-15.

19. That God has placed in His church the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. That these gifts operate in harmony with the divine principles of the Bible, and are given for the perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry, the edifying of the body of Christ. Rev. 12:17; 19:10; 1 Cor. 1:5-7. That the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy is one of the identifying marks of the remnant church. 1 Cor. 1:5, 7; 12:1, 28; Rev. 12:17; 19:10; Amos 3:7; Hosea 12:10, 13. The remnant church recognized that this gift was manifested in the life and ministry of Ellen G. White.

20. That the second coming of Christ is the great hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel and plan of salvation. His coming will be literal, personal, and visible. Many important events will associated with His return, such as the resurrection of the dead, the destruction of the wicked, the purification of the earth, the reward of the righteous, the establishment of His everlasting kingdom. The almost complete fulfillment of various lines of prophecy, particularly those found in the books of Daniel and the Revelation, with existing conditions in the physical, social, industrial, political, and religious world, indicates that Christ's coming "is near, even at the doors." Matt. 24:33.

p 72 -- The exact time of that event has not been foretold. .Believers are exhorted to be ready, for "in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man" (Matt. 24:44) will be revealed. Luke 17:26-30; 21:25-27; John 14: 1-3; Acts 1:9-11; Rev. 1:7; Heb. 9:28; James 5:1-8; Joel 3:9-16; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; Dan. 7:27; Matt. 24:36, 44.

21. That the millennial reign of Christ covers the period between the first and the second resurrections, during which time the saints of all ages will live with their blessed Redeemer in heaven. At the end of the millennium, the Holy City with all the saints will descend to the earth. The wicked, raised in the second resurrection, will go up on the breadth of the earth with Satan at their head to compass the camp of the saints, when fire will come down from God out of heaven and devour them. In the conflagration which destroys Satan and his host, the earth itself will be regenerated and cleansed from the effects of the curse. Thus the universe of God will be purified from the foul blot of sin. Rev. 20; Zech. 14:1-4; 2 Peter 3:7-10.

22. That God will make all things new. The earth, restored to its pristine beauty, will become forever the abode of the saints of the Lord. The promise to Abraham, that through Christ he and his seed should possess the earth throughout the endless ages of eternity, will be fulfilled. "The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, will be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him." Dan. 7:27. Christ, the Lord, will reign supreme and every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea will ascribe "blessing, and honour, and glory and power," unto "Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." Gen. 13:14-17; Rom. 4:13; Heb. 11:8-16; Matt. 5:5; Isa. 35; Rev. 21:1-7; 5:13; Dan. 7:27. (Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1972)

p 73 -- RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER SOCIETIES -- (First voted by the General Conference Executive Committee in 1926)

In the desire to avoid occasion for misunderstanding or friction in the matter of relationship to the work of other societies, the following statement of principles is set forth as a guidance to our workers in mission fields in their contacts with other religious organizations:

1. We recognize every agency that lifts up Christ before men as a part of the divine plan for the evangelization of the world, and we hold in high esteem the Christian men and women in other communions who are engaged in winning souls to Christ.

2. Wherever the prosecution of the gospel work brings us into touch with other societies and their work, the spirit of Christian courtesy, frankness, and fairness should at all times guide in dealing with mission problems.

3. We recognize that the essence of true religion is that religion is based upon conscience and conviction. It is therefore to be constantly our purpose that no selfish interest or temporal advantage shall draw any person to our communion, and that no tie shall hold any member save the belief and conviction that in this way he finds true connection with Christ. When change of conviction leads any member of our society to feel no longer in accord with us in faith and practice, we recognize not only his right but his duty to change his religious affiliation to accord with his belief.

4. Before admitting to church membership anyone who is a member of another church, every care shall be exercised to ascertain that the candidate is moved to change his religious affiliation only by force of religious conviction and out of regard to his personal relationship to his God; and wherever possible, consultation shall be had with those in charge of the church or mission with which the applicant is connected.

5. Persons under censure of another mission for clearly established fault in Christian morals or character shall not be considered eligible for membership in our mission until they have given evidence of repentance and reformation.

6. An agent employed or recently employed by another church or mission shall not be employed by our church or mission without preliminary consultation with the church or mission with which the agent is or was formerly connected.

7. The local mission auditing committees are advised to give consideration, when setting salaries, to the salaries paid by other missions operating in the same field.

8. As to the matter of territorial divisions and the restriction of operations to designated areas, our attitude must be shaped by these considerations:

p 74 --
    As in generations past, in the providence of God and the historical development of His work for men, denominational bodies and religious movements have arisen to give special emphasis to different phases of gospel truth, so we find in the origin and rise of the Seventh-day Adventist people, the burden laid upon us to emphasize the gospel of Christ's second coming as an event "even at the door", calling for the proclamation of the special message of preparation of' the way of the Lord as revealed in Holy Scripture.

b.    As this advent proclamation is described in Scripture prophecy, particularly as it is set forth in Revelation 14:6-14, it is commissioned that this special message of the "everlasting gospel", which is to precede the coming of the Saviour, shall be preached "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." This commission makes it impossible for us to restrict our witness to this phase of the gospel to any limited area, and impels us to call it to the attention of all peoples everywhere. (General Conference Working Policy, 1970)


Question 1:
As a church we would undoubtedly have the opportunity of becoming members of the WCC. Why do we not join?

It is true that if the Seventh-day Adventist Church applied for membership in the World Council of Churches, the application would in all likelihood be accepted. If we agreed to take up membership in the organized ecumenical movement, this could be interpreted as meaning that we regard ourselves as one Christian communion - albeit one with a distinctive "time of the end" message - among others seeking for qualitative as well as quantitative and corporate unity.

The SDA Church stepped upon the stage of history - so Adventists firmly believe - in response to God's call as expressed through prophecy and the workings of the Holy Spirit. Adventists believe, it is hoped without pride or arrogance, that the Advent Movement represents the divinely appointed instrument for the organized proclamation of the "eternal gospel", God's last message, discerned from the prophetic vantage point of Revelation 14 and 18. In the focalized light of its prophetic understanding, the SDA Church sees itself as the eschatologically oriented "ecumenical" movement of the Apocalypse. It begins by "calling out" God's children from "fallen" ecclesial bodies that will increasingly form at the end of time organized religious opposition to the purposes of God. Together with the "calling out" there is a positive "calling in" to a united, world wide - that is ecumenical - movement characterized by "faith of Jesus" and keeping "the commandments of God" (Rev. 14:12). In the WCC the emphasis is first of all on "coming in" to a fellowship of churches and then hopefully and gradually "coming out" of corporate disunity. In the Advent Movement the accent is first on "coming out" of Babylonian disunity and confusion and then immediately "coming in" to fellowship within the globe-encircling Advent family, in unity, truth and love.

How could the SDA Church be a sincere, whole-hearted member church of the WCC, not having serious reservations? Would it be logical to join organized ecumenism in search for organic Christian unity in a direction which SDA's anticipate, in accordance with their understanding of Bible prophecy, is doomed to ostensible ascendancy and ultimate failure, despite the dedication and sincere zeal of many ecumenical leaders? Would it be wise and honorable to become members of a fellowship of churches, with the intention - imposed by the very raison d'etre of the Advent Movement - of witnessing within this fellowship and draw as many as are led to embrace Adventism into the Biblical "remnant", in contrast to the apparently inclusivistic World Council?

Question 2:
Would membership in the WCC keep us from proclaiming the Sabbath as the only Biblical day of rest?

Membership in the WCC would not mean that we no longer could proclaim the seventh-day Sabbath as the Biblical day of rest. In fact, the Seventh-day Baptists, have been members of the WCC since its founding assembly in Amsterdam (1948) and one of their representatives is currently

p 76 -- a member of the Central Committee. There would, however, be some real practical problems. For example, WCC assemblies, committees, consultations and other meetings regularly have working sessions on Friday evenings and Saturdays, and SDA participants would not be able to take part and influence decisions on Sabbath. Also our prophetic understanding of the future Sabbath vs. Sunday issue (seal of God, mark of the beast,etc.) would hardly be very palatable to our brethren within the WCC.

Question 3:
Would affiliation with the WCC force us to enter into comity agreements limiting our outreach in mission lands to work among non-Christians only?

Membership would not formally require that we limit our witness in the mission fields to non-Christians. We would be expected not to engage in corrupt witness (in ecumenical circles sometimes called "proselytism"), that is make use of cajolery, material inducements, playing on the ignorance of uneducated persons, in order to attract people to our church. Seventh-day Adventists have long condemned such evangelistic methods, so this represents really no problem. On the other hand, membership might have the psychological effect of reducing, for reasons of "good neighborliness", the vigor and zeal of SDA witness and evangelism. Furthermore, the WCC is pushing for "joint witness" as much as possible and this would be hard to harmonize with the distinctive nature of the SDA witness in preparation for the soon coming of Christ.

Question 4:
What additional disadvantages would WCC membership involve?

We have already referred to problems or disadvantages that might arise in connection with a hypothetical SDA membership. It is perhaps better to speak in terms of problems - serious problems - rather than about specific disadvantages. There are problems of principle; we have already mentioned some. There are practical or pastoral problems. The SDA Church is a world church. Membership in the WCC is really based on national churches. If we should join as one church (among over 260) our influence could easily be so diluted that it would be almost negligible. Outside of the WCC Adventism is a world religious force. What would it be inside the WCC? On the other hand, if the SDA Church joined by unions, that would hardly be fair to the other churches (there are about 75 union conferences and missions!).

There is another problem. The WCC passes all kinds of resolutions and makes many statements regarding political and other questions, It is true that these statements are not binding upon their member churches. On the other hand, it is not always so easy to disassociate one's self from certain decisions. It is not desirable to play too often the negative role of opposition. This does not make for unity and friendly working relations.

From personal experience I would like to mention two additions problems for Adventists. We like to follow health and temperance principles in our lives. Some ecumenists have similar principles; quite a few do not. We can hardly expect the diet served to meet our standards.

p 77 -- Adventists are ill at ease when alcoholic drinks are served in connection with ecumenical meetings. It is rather disconcerting to have to sit in closed rooms and breathe polluted air, because some ecumenical leaders place their smoking habits before the rights and health of their non-smoking brethren.

The last point touches upon the spiritual atmosphere of WCC meetings. It certainly is very different from SDA gatherings. We emphasize the personal religions dimension of conversion. We call upon people to come closer to God in a personal experience, in character development, in sanctification. We look for individual commitment to gospel preaching, to revival, and earnestly pray for the out-pouring of God's spirit to finish the evangelistic task on earth. At WCC meetings the emphasis is more on facing as churches the economic, organizational, social, political and moral problems of society in order to improve the world and churches. The way this is done makes an Adventist wonder at times whether he is not attending a kind of U.N. meeting, plus formal devotions.

Question 5: Would membership not involve some positive aspects, such as no longer being considered as a sect?

I am not convinced that WCC membership would automatically mean that we would no longer be considered at all as a "sect". The term "sect" has many definitions. As understood by sociologists, the SDA Church has, I believe, and should have, various characteristics of a "sect". We want to hold to high standards of membership and not be too latitudinarian and inclusivistic. On the other hand, it is true that we have suffered in the past considerable discrimination, even abuse, from majority churches. Membership would mean that the other churches would tend to consider us as a Christian church, without the pejorative connotations of "sect". Contacts would be facilitated. We would be better informed. Access to the mass media, especially TV and radio, would become easier in a number of countries. There would be less prejudice against Adventists. As a result, SDA's might become less isolated and more involved in various aspects of society and church life, which today largely escape our influence. This increased involvement would, however, not necessarily be an unmitigated blessing. The current tide of secularization is already licking at the flanges of the church.

Question 6: We recognize earnest Christians of other churches as fellow Christians. Do we expect in the time of the end that all true Christians will join organizationally the SDA Church?

We believe that God has faithful children in all denominations. We recognize as instruments of the plan of salvation all ecclesial agencies that lift up Christ. However, the New Testament does not envision anti-Christian elements as existing only outside organized Christianity. The apocalyptic writings indicate that the nearer the approach of the parousia, the greater the resistance to Christ will be even within the churches. The New Testament picture of' the Christian Church prior to the second coming of Christ is that of a "remnant" consisting of those who have "come out" of Apocalyptic Babylon. Whether all the people of God

p 78 -- will belong organizationally to the SDA Church, I do not know. God will know His own. I do know that they will "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus."

Question 7:
Since we do not join the WCC, could we not be accused of selfish neglect of the unity Christ prayed for in John 17?

This is a problem that we must face. We cannot afford to adopt an "anti-unity" stance. Adventists believe in unity. The fact that we operate a world-wide united church shows this. The writings of E. G. White emphasize the need for unity. She indicated that if Christians were united they could move the world. It is out of a sense of deep conviction, not egocentricity, that we believe the solution to the divided state of Christianity is for a11 to accept the teachings of the Bible, the timely messages of the three angels of Revelation 14 and join together with us in evangelizing the world in preparation for the soon coming of Christ. We would not impose our convictions upon those who feel unable to share them with us, but we are compelled, precisely because of our love for unity and for our fellow Christians, to abstain from joining in any syncretistic or pro-forma type of unity or any action or organization which might weaken doctrinal and spiritual unity or put in an equivocal light our witness to
the gospel and our prophetic understanding of our mission and the signs of the times.

Question 8: On the basis of non-membership, are there not various areas and ways in which we could work together without compromising our mission?

Yes, there are areas where Adventists can and should work together with other Christians. Adventists are willing to cooperate conscientiously wherever this does not involve compromising their principles or deep felt loyalties. E. G. White invites our ministers to meet with other ministers. We believe that God has been gracious in His gifts to the Advent Movement. We have much to share. We must
be willing to give and share, through theological studies and discussions with other Christians, the reasons for our faith. We must also be ready to listen. We have not fully plumbed as yet the depths of Christian truth. SDA's are invited to send observers and consultants to meetings of church councils, including the WCC. This is a useful opportunity for exchange of views, making the SDA position known and keeping ourselves informed regarding developments in the religious world. Other areas of possible cooperation appear to me to be, for example, relief and refugee work, broadcasting, WCC medical commission, missions, education, religious liberty, crime and delinquency. In many cities SDA ministers have found it beneficial to belong to the local ministerial association. I believe that we would welcome cooperation with the WCC in the fields of pollution control, alcoholism, smoking and drug dependence. Unfortunately in these important areas the WCC and national church councils have done very little so far. The WCC is now showing an interest in the problems connected with ecology and pollution

p 79 -- Question 9: What is your personal opinion of the responsible leaders of the WCC?

I would not presume to judge the character and Christian experience of the WCC executive staff. Only God knows men as they really are. I am acquainted with quite a number of WCC leaders. There are many others whom I do not know personally. One of the problems is that there is quite a turn-over in the WCC staff in Geneva. Many are appointed for three year terms and then they leave. Some serve for even shorter periods of time. There are men on the staff who must be respected for their high idealism, Christian integrity and dedication to truth and unity as they see it. Others seem to fit more into the category of international ecumenical officials. We must remember these Christian leaders in our prayers, because they do carry important religious responsibilities. We should come near to "these shepherds of the flock". - B. B. Beach.

p 80 -- COMMON WITNESS AND PROSELYTISM - A STUDY DOCUMENT -- The following document, prepared by a Joint Theological Commission, was received by the Joint Working Group between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches at its meeting in May, 1970, which recommended it for publication.
The document was elaborated by the commission on the initiative of the Joint Working Group. The commission held two full meetings (in Arnoldshain, Germany, in 1968, and in Zagorsk, USSR, in 1968). Various subsequent drafts were submitted to a wide group of consultants. The text being presented now has been formulated in the light of comments received.

The Joint Working Group, having examined it, recommends it to its parent bodies that it be offered to the Churches as a study document for their consideration. Although there may not be complete agreement on everything contained in the document it represents a wide area of consensus on common witness and proselytism.

It is, therefore, suggested that the Churches in the same area study it together. The further examination of the theme of common witness will inevitably demand a fuller development of, and agreement on, the content of the witness Christians are bound to give to Christ and his Gospel.

   Unity in witness and witness in unity. This is the will of Christ for his people. The Lord has called all his disciples to be witnesses to him and his Gospel, to the ends of the earth (cf. Acts 1. 8), and he has promised to be with them always, to the close of his age (Mt. 28. 20). But for centuries, in their efforts to fulfil this mission, Christian Communions have borne the burden of divisions, even differing about the meaning of the one Gospel. They have not been a clear sign of the one and holy people, so it has been hard for the world to believe (cf. John 13. 35 ; 17. 21).

p 81 -- 2.    Today, moved by the Holy Spirit, the various Christian Communions are seeking to restore the unity they have lost, in the hope that one day, when they are fully renewed and united in faith and charity, they may be better able to glorify God by bringing home to the whole world the hope of the coming kingdom. They are striving to overcome whatever indifference, isolation and rivalry has marked their relations to each other and thus has distorted Christian witness even to that unity with which God has already blessed them.

3.    This document is an attempt to state the implications of the obligation
- to bear common Christian witness, even while the Churches are divided;
- to avoid in their mutual relations and in their evangelising activities whatever is not in keeping with the spirit of the Gospel;
- - to provide one another, as far as possible, with mutual support for a more effective witness of the Gospel through preaching and selfless service to the neighbour.

4.    This document is offered to the Churches. Its reflections and suggestions may serve as a basis of discussion among Christians in varied circumstances, in order to arrive at a line of conduct where they live and witness.

MEANING OF THE TERMS: Christian Witness, Common Witness, Religious Freedom, Proselytism.

5.     1.    CHRISTIAN WITNESS.   1    Witness is taken here to mean the continuous act by which a Christian or a Christian Community proclaims God's acts in history and seeks to reveal Christ as the true light which shines for every man. This includes the whole life: worship, responsible service, proclamation of the Good News - all is done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in order than men may be saved and be gathered into Christ's one and only Body (Col. 1. 18; Eph. 1. 22-23), and attain life everlasting - to know the true God and Him whom he has sent, Jesus Christ (cf. John 17. 3).

1  --   Modern languages use several biblically derived terms which denote particular aspects of the announcements of the Gospel in word and deed: Witness, Apostolate, Mission, Confession, Evangelism, Kerygma, Message, etc. We have preferred here to adopt "Witness", because it expresses more comprehensively the realities we are treating.

p 82 -- 6.    2. COMMON WITNESS.    Here is meant the witness which the Churches, even while separated, bear together, especially by joint efforts, by manifesting before men whatever divine gifts of truth and life they already share in common.

7.     3. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.    Religious freedom is not used here in the wider biblical sense (e.g. Rom. 8. 21). It is pointing to the right of the person and of communities to social and civil freedom in religious matters. Each person or community has the right to be free from any coercion on the part of individuals, social groups, or human power of any kind; so that no individual or community may be forced to act against conscience or be prevented from expressing belief in teaching, worship or social action.  2

8.     4. PROSELYTISM.    Here is meant improper attitudes and behaviour in the practice of Christian witness. Proselytism embraces whatever violates the right of the human person, Christian or non-Christian, to be free from external coercion in religious matters, or whatever, in the proclamation of the Gospel, does not conform to the ways God draws free men to himself in response to his calls to serve in spirit and in truth.   3  

There is a growing recognition among the Churches that they must overcome their isolation from each other and seek ways to cooperate in witness to the world.
  4   In face, however, of difficulties and obstacles, a clear basis and source of power and hope is needed if the Churches are to embark on this common witness.

10. This basis and source is given in Christ. He is sent into the world by the Father for the salvation of mankind. There is no other Name in

2 --    Cf. Christian Witness, Proselytism and Religious Liberty in the Setting of the WCC, of the Third WCC Assembly (1961); Declaration on Religious Freedom, of the Second Vatican Council (1965); Universal Declaration on Human Rights, of the United Nations (1948), esp. N. 18. Since the right to religious freedom operates in society, these documents also mention rules which modify the use of it.

3 --   In certain linguistic, cultural and confessional contexts, the term "proselytism", used without qualification, has acquired this pejorative sense. In those other languages and contexts in which the term still retains its more original meaning of "zeal in spreading the faith", it will be necessary always to use "proselytism in the pejorative sense" or some phrase which denotes defective attitudes and conduct.

4 --   Cf. Second Vatican Council Decree, Ad Gentes, 6 and 15; and the proposals for "Joint Action for Mission" formulated by the 1961 New Delhi Assembly of the W CC and affirmed by the Report of Section II of the 1968 Uppsala Assembly.

p 83 -- which men may find salvation and life (Acts 4. 12). Christian Churches confess Christ as God and only Saviour according to the Scriptures, and most adhere to the ancient Creeds which testify to this central truth of faith.

11. Moreover, the Churches believe that they live only by the divine gifts of truth and life bestowed by Christ. Most Churches acknowledge that gifts of divine grace are a reality in other Churches which also provide access to salvation in Christ. Thus all Christian Communions, in spite of their divisions, can have a positive role to play in God's plan of salvation.

12. The Churches have the privilege and the obligation of giving witness to the truth and new life which is theirs in Christ. Indeed both privilege and obligation are entrusted to the whole community of Christians to whom God gives a vital role in his plan for the salvation of the world.

13. Therefore Christians cannot remain divided in their witness. Any situations where contact and cooperation between Churches are refused must be regarded as abnormal.

14. The gifts which the Churches have received and share in Christ have demanded and made urgent a common witness to the world. The needs of men and the challenges of a broken and unbelieving world have also compelled the Churches to cooperate with God in deploying his gifts for the reconciliation of all men and all things in Christ. This common witness takes place in many areas of social concern, such as

-- the development of the whole man and of all men;

-- the defence of human rights and the promotion of religious freedom;

-- the struggle for the eradication of economic, social and racial injustice;

-- the promotion of international understanding, the limitation of armaments and the restoration and maintenance of peace;

-- the campaign against illiteracy, hunger, alcoholism, prostitution, the traffic in drugs;

-- medical and health and other social services;

-- relief and aid to victims of natural disasters (volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc.).

p 84 --
Cooperation has also extended to include the production, publication and distribution of joint translations of the Scriptures. Moreover, an exploration is being made of the possibility of common texts to be used for an initial catechesis on the central message of the Christian faith. In this connection, cooperation in the field of education and in the use of communications media is already going on in some places.

16. The cooperation of the Churches in these varied fields is increasingly being accompanied by common prayer and common acts of worship for each other and for the world. Of particular significance is the "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity" which is now celebrated in many places around the world. This practice of common prayer and of acts of worship has greatly helped to create and develop a climate of mutual knowledge, understanding, respect and trust. The World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church have contributed to this improved climate by their studies and guides to common prayer. This fellowship in prayer, nevertheless, sharpens the pain of the Churches' division at the point of eucharistic fellowship which should be the most manifest witness to the one sacrifice of Christ for the whole world.

17. The central task of the Churches is simply to proclaim the saving deeds of God. This then should be the burden of their common witness; and what unites them is enough to enable them in large measure to speak as one. Indeed all forms of common witness are signs of the Churches' commitment to proclaim the Gospel to all men; they all find in the one Gospel their motivation, their purpose and their content.

18. Whether in witness or service, the Churches are together confronted by the fundamental issues of the nature and destinies of men and nations; and while they face these questions they encounter men of other religions, or men who are indifferent or unbelievers who hold to a variety of ideologies.

19. But at this vital point of mutual engagement, the Churches become aware not only of their shared understanding of the Gospel but also of their differences. They all believe that Jesus Christ has founded one Church, and one alone; to this Church the Gospel has been given; to this Church every man has been called to belong. Yet today many Christian Communions present themselves to men as the true heritage of Jesus Christ, and this division among the Churches greatly reduces the possibilities of common witness.

p 85 --
In the context of religious freedom and the ecumenical dialogue, respect is due to the right of Churches to act according to convictions, which they believe should be held in fidelity to Jesus Christ:
-- 1. While it is indeed aware of its pilgrim condition, a Church can be convinced that in it subsists the one Church founded by Christ, that also in it one can have access to all the means of salvation which the Lord offers, that its witness has always remained substantially faithful to the Gospel.
-- 2. A Church can regard itself as bound in conscience to proclaim its witness to its own belief, which is distinct from that of the other Churches.
-- 3.
While the major affirmations of faith, such as those which are formulated in Scripture and professed in the ancient Creeds, are common to almost all the Christian confessions, different interpretations can sometimes call for reservations on this common character.
-- 4.
The teaching of certain Churches can place limits on cooperation in social concerns, for example, different positions on family ethics (divorce, abortion, responsible parenthood).
Nevertheless, it is not enough to know the limits which the division of Christians places on common witness. The more the need of common witness is grasped, the more apparent does it become that there is a need to find complete agreement on faith - one of the essential purposes of the ecumenical movement.

21. Differences about the content of witness, because of varied ecclesiologies, are by no means the only obstacle to cooperation between the Churches. The rivalries and enmities of the past, the continued resentments due to the memory of ancient or recent wrongs, the conflicts generated by political, cultural and other factors - all these have prevented the Churches from seeking to bear a common witness to the world. Only the willingness to extend mutual forgiveness of past offences and wrongs and to receive correction from each other will enable the Churches to fulfil their obligation to show forth a common witness to each other and to the world.

22. There is, however, an understandable hesitation of a Church to cooperate in witness where this may trouble and confuse its members.

p 86 -- Among other reasons, it may be due also to lack of contact and mutual understanding between the clergy and the laity of Churches. In all such cases, a patient and determined effort should be made to create conditions which favour cooperation.

23. A further obstacle to joint action in witness derives from receiving and interpreting the Gospel in forms so exclusive as to lead to a refusal of all discussion and an unwillingness to recognize that the Spirit can operate in groups other than one's own. This attitude is generally labelled "sectarianism" and such exclusive and excluding groups are often called "sects". When faced with this situation, Churches should first of all recognise the challenge which these groups present to them and examine themselves as to their inadequacy in meeting the profound spiritual needs of their members and of those around them. They must also guard against the very spirit of sectarianism which they so rightly deplore in others. Rather should they strive to hear God's call to renewal and to greater faithfulness to his message of salvation.

24. Moreover, the Churches should pay particular attention to groups which seem open to receive those aspects of the Christian message which those Communities have hitherto neglected. The Churches must thus always stand ready for dialogue and to seize every opportunity to extend a fraternal hand and to grasp the hand held out to them.

Christian witness, to those who have not yet received or responded to the announcement of the Gospel or to those who are already Christians, should have certain qualities, in order to avoid being corrupted in its exercise and thus becoming proselytising. Furthermore, the ecumenical movement itself had made Christians more sensitive to the conditions proper to witness borne among themselves. This means that witness should be completely
-- conformed to the spirit of the Gospel, especially by respecting the other's right to religious freedom, and
-- concerned to do nothing which could compromise the progress of ecumenical dialogue and action.

p 87 --
26.    1. Required Qualities for Christian Witness --
In order that witness be conformed to the spirit of the Gospel:

a) The deep and true source of witness should be the commandment "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind... You must love your neighbour as yourself" (Mt. 22. 37 and 39, cf. Lev. 19. 18; Deut. 6. 5).
b) Witness should be inspired by the true end of the Church; the glory of God through the salvation of men. Witness does not seek the prestige of one own's community and of those who belong to, represent or lead it.
c) Witness should be nourished by the conviction that it is the Holy Spirit who, by his grace and light, brings about the response of faith to witness.
d) Witness respects the free will and dignity of those to whom it is given, whether they wish to accept or to refuse the faith.
e) Witness respects the right of every man and community to be free from any coercion which impedes them from witness to their own convictions, including religious convictions.

27. Witness should avoid behaviour such as:

a) Every type of physical coercion, moral constraint or psychological pressure which would tend to deprive man of his personal judgement, of his freedom of choice, of full autonomy in the exercise of his responsibility. A certain abuse of mass communications can have this effect.
b) Every open or disguised offer of temporal or material benefits in return for change in religious adherence.
c) Every exploitation of the need or weakness or of lack of education of those to whom witness is offered, in view of inducing their adherence to a Church.
d) Everything raising suspicion about the "good faith" of others - "bad faith" can never be presumed; it, should always be proved.

p 88 --
e) The use of a motive which has no relation to the faith itself but is presented as an appeal to change religious adherence: for example, the appeal to political motives to win over those who are eager to secure for themselves the protection or favours of civil authority, or those who are opposed to the established regime. Churches which form a large majority in a state should not use legal methods, social, economic or political pressure, in the attempt to prevent members of minority communities from the exercise of their right to religious freedom.
f) Every unjust or uncharitable reference to the beliefs or practices of other religious communities in the hope of winning adherents. This includes malevolent criticism which offends the sensibilities of members of other communities. In general, one should compare the good qualities and ideals or the weaknesses and practices of one community with those of the others, not one's ideals with the other's practice.

28.   2. Christian Witness and Relations between the Churches --
The Lord has willed that his disciples be one in order that the world believe. Thus it is not enough for Christians to conform to the above. They should also be concerned in fostering whatever can restore or strengthen between them the bonds of true brotherhood. Proposed suggestions:

a) In each Church one is conscious that conversion of heart and the renewal of his own community are essential contributions to the ecumenical movement.
b) Missionary action should be carried out in an ecumenical spirit which takes into consideration the priority of the announcement of the Gospel to non-Christians. The missionary effort of one Church in an area or milieu where another Church is already at work depends on an honest answer to the question: what is the quality of the Christian message proclaimed by the Church already at work, and in what spirit is it being proclaimed and lived? Here frank discussion between the Churches concerned would be highly desirable, in order to have a clear understanding of each other's missionary and ecumenical convictions, and with the hope that it would help to determine the possibilities of cooperation, of common witness, of fraternal

p 89 -- assistance, or of complete withdrawal.   5   In the same manner and spirit the relations between minority and majority Churches should be considered.
c) Particularly all competitive spirit should be avoided by which a Christian community might seek a position of power and privilege, and concern itself less with proclaiming the Gospel to those who have not yet received it than with profiting by chances to recruit new members among the other Christian communities.
d) To avoid causes of tension between Churches because of the free exercise of the right of every man to choose his ecclesial allegiance and, if necessary, to change it in obedience to conscience, it is vital:

(i) that this free choice should be exercised in full knowledge of what is involved and, if possible, after counsel with the pastors of the two Churches concerned. Particular care is necessary in the case of children and young people; in such cases, the greatest weight and respect should be given to the views and rights of the parents and tutors;
(ii) that the Church which admits a new member should be conscious of the ecumenical repercussions, and not draw vain glory from it;
(iii) that the Church which has lost a member should not become bitter or hostile, nor ostracise the person concerned; that it examines its conscience as to how it has done its duty of bringing the Gospel to that person. Has it made an effort to understand how his Christian convictions ought to affect his life, or rather was it content that he should remain a nominal and official member of that community?
(iv) that any change of allegiance motivated mainly by the desire to secure some material advantage should be refused.

e) Some points of tension between the Churches are difficult to overcome because what is done by one Church in view of its theological and ecclesiological convictions, is considered by the other as implicit proselytism. In this case, it is necessary that the two sides try to

5 --    In speaking of Joint Action for Mission, the World Council of Churches distinguishes presently three degrees of missionary collaboration: surveying the possibilities of missionary action; joint planning; and joint action. The meaning of common witness is wider than that of joint action for mission.

p 90 -- clarify what is really in question and to arrive at mutual understanding of different practices, and if possible, to agree to a common policy. This can be realized only if the carrying out of these theological and ecclesiological convictions clearly exclude every type of witness which would be tainted by proselytism, as described above. Some examples of such tensions:
(i) The fact that a Church which reserves baptism to adults ("believer's baptism") persuades the faithful of another Church who have already been baptized as infants, to receive baptism again, is often regarded as proselytising. A discussion on the nature of baptism and its relation to faith and to the Church could lead to new attitudes.
(ii) The discipline of certain Churches concerning the marriage of their members with Christians of other communities is often considered as proselytic. In fact, these rules depend on theological positions. Conversations on the nature of marriage and the Church membership of the family could bring about progress and resolve in a joint way the pastoral question raised by such marriages.
(iii) The Orthodox consider that the existence of the Eastern Catholic Churches is the fruit of proselytism. Catholics level the same criticism against the way in which certain of these Churches have been reunited to the Orthodox Church. Whatever has been the past, the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are determined to reject not only proselytism but also the intention even to draw the faithful of one Church to another. An example of this pledge is the common declaration of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I, on October 28, 1967. The resolution of these questions, evidently important for the ecumenical movement, should be sought in frank discussion between the Churches concerned.

29. CONCLUSION -- These reflections and suggestions on common witness and proselytism will, it is hoped, offer the Churches an opportunity of moving more quickly along the way which leads to the restoration of complete communion among them.

p 91 -- As they travel that path to unity the Churches realize that Christian witness can never be perfect. They can never cease to strive for a deeper realization and clearer expression of the Good News of the unfathomable riches of Christ (cf. Eph. 3. 8), and for a more faithful living in accord with His one message. By fidelity to this striving the Churches will grow together in witness to Christ, "the Faithful and True Witness" (Rev. 3. 14) in expectation of that day when all things will be perfectly reestablished in him (cf. Eph. 1.10; Col. 1.20).

p 92 -- AN ADVENTIST REACTION -- B. B. BEACH *-- The Report on Common Witness and Proselytism presented to the Joint Working Group between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches is certainly a fine document and probably one of the best ever produced on the issue of Christian witness and proselytism. The fact that Roman Catholics were very much involved in writing the statement helps, I believe, to explain this. The document contains many excellent statements and is evidence of a very laudable desire for understanding.

The overall tenor of the statement represents a gratifying degree of progress towards mutual respect, freedom of action and understanding among the churches. Seventh-Day Adventists must agree with much - even most - of what is said. Paragraphs 1, 5, 20, 26, 27, and 28 reflect quite closely the Adventist position. Adventists must concur heartily in rejecting as un-Christian the various types of corrupt witness listed in paragraph 27. Conversely, they agree with the qualities required for Christian witness given in paragraph 26. The christological emphasis in the paper merits every commendation. Any remaining questions and hesitations do not impede an overall positive evaluation of the document.

The paper assumes commitment to ecumenical ideals and objectives on the part of those to whom it is addressed. The question arises whether the authors of the document envision authentic Christian witness apart from participation in the ecumenical movement as such. I certainly hope that a more or less exclusive stance is not being assumed, i.e. that the document is not implying that only ecumenical participants can bear sure witness to the Gospel. For, while Seventh-Day Adventists share in the spirit of brotherhood that binds all Christians together in Christ, and choose to have fellowship with followers of Christ in other churches, they have never considered themselves to be part of the organized ecumenical movement, as generally defined or understood.

From an Adventist viewpoint the document is partial, not in the sense of biased, but in the etymological meaning of incomplete, in its approach

* Dr. B. B. BEACH, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, is the Secretary of the Department of Public Affairs, Northern European Division, United Kingdom.

p 93 -- to true Christian unity and common witness. The constant implication is that common witness and unity require union, in some form, of church organizations. Common witness is seen exclusively as witness together of churches. According to Adventist understanding, Christian unity is based on oneness in Christ; joint efforts of churches do not necessarily produce Christian unity, nor proclaim the Good News. Church bodies can be caught up in the official ecumenical movement and work together in various areas of social concern and yet differ deeply in motive and spirit. On the other hand, individual Christians and Christian communities, not mutually involved in ecumenical structures, can be one in Christ in their witness through faith and conscientious cooperation.

The paper sets up universal unity as a desirable goal to be reached, but we must not forget that unity is more a fruitage than a goal, the result of the mutual acceptance of the truth as revealed in Christ. The document correctly implies in its closing paragraph that it is fidelity to Christ and His one message that produces unity. The establishment some day in the future of complete unity and communion of the churches is taken for granted throughout the document and specifically indicated in both the introduction and conclusion. However, the New Testament speaks about final apostasy, about a "falling away", and it seems to me that the New Testament does not envision anti-Christian elements as existing only outside of organized Christianity, but also "in the temple of God". (2 Thess. 2. 4 NEB.) The apocalyptic writings in general (and specifically 2 Thess. 2) declare that the nearer the approach of the parousia, the greater the resistance to Christ will be, even in the religious world. The New Testament eschatological picture of the Christian Church prior to the parousia is not one of a Church of vast dimensions gathering all churches and mankind together, but of a comparatively small "remnant", a depictment of complete unity and communion of Christians who "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 12. 17).

It is clear-cut convictions of dedicated Christians on doctrines, methods and goals that make for dynamic common witness based on commitment. In discussing relations between churches, the document in paragraph 25 states that witness is to be "completely concerned to do nothing which could compromise the progress of ecumenical dialogue and action". This is a rather sweeping and indefinite norm which is hard to accept, as presently formulated, by those who would exalt the authority

p 94 -- of the Word above the mechanics of ecumenical dialogue and action. Is there not a real danger of Christians or churches being so absorbed by "doing nothing" which could in any way damage ecumenical relations, that indeed they will do precisely "nothing" in the dialectic area of Christian evangelism? The Christian Church, it seems to me, is strongest when Christians work in the Spirit of the Gospel toward common goals, unconfined, uncramped and in full harmony with the beliefs and purposes espoused. When churches end up without a strong - even controversial - message to challenge commitment, sacrifice and apostolate, they lose their thrust. Soon churches may find it easier - perhaps even more ecumenical - to postulate a universal and cosmic redemption in Christ, which removes both the burden and impact of a particular message to earth's peoples.

Paragraph 2 speaks about overcoming "rivalry" between Christian communities. Certainly there has been unchristian rivalry; there often has been a deplorable element of unseemly antagonism in church relations. However, all rivalry is not to be condemned. The dictionary tells us that a rival is "one who is in pursuit of the same object as another, or strives to equal or outdo another". He is not only a competitor (with a possible pejorative meaning), but an emulator. In this sense, we need worthy "rivalry". Christians and churches should try to emulate the best in each other and "outdo another" in Christian witness while always dwelling and drinking at the same "river of life" (the word rival is taken from the Latin stem "rivalis", "one using the same stream as another". Church history shows that lack of rivalry can produce evangelistic stagnation.

Article 7 defines the term religious freedom. I wish the Working Group had not simply adopted the negative formulation of Vatican II (right not to be coerced). It is quite understandable that past Catholic teaching made it necessary for the Vatican Council to reach for the adroit solution of a negative approach. However, in the context of the World Council of Churches it would have been preferable to define religious liberty positively, that is, as the right to express belief (and not just the right not to be prevented from expressing such belief).

I very much appreciate footnote 2 to paragraph 4 regarding "proselytism". The problem is that the dichotomy in the meaning of proselytism is difficult of application. Personally I feel that the term is ambiguous and should generally only be used with a qualifier. For some people witnessing to a nominal member of another church, with a possible view

p 95 -- of encouraging that person to join your church, is ipso facto improper practice of Christian witness. Paragraph 28 e) (i), in fact points out that persuading adults, who have been baptized as infants, to experience believer's baptism is often regarded as proselytizing, but I believe this is not the case if, following the document's own definition, the principles of' paragraphs 26 and 27 are followed. Is it not rather the "remain-a-member-of-our-church-at-all-cost" attitude, whether this membership corresponds to a person's convictions and innerfelt needs or not, that is proselytic in the depreciatory meaning of the term?

The "positive role" that Christian communions can "play in God's plan of salvation" is underlined in paragraph 11 and we are then told that refusal of contact and cooperation between churches is "abnormal" (par. 13). Seventh-Day Adventists recognize every agency that lifts up Christ as part of the divine plan for the evangelization and salvation of the world. Nevertheless, church history gives considerable evidence of churches hamstringing, corrupting and even persecuting the saving Gospel message. Thus, when the purity of the Apostolic Word, deliverance from divine judgment and salvation of souls are at stake, it would seem indispensable to decide, before engaging in continuous official, wholehearted cooperation (in contrast to occasional limited contacts) with another Christian group, whether the negative role played by that church does not possibly outweigh any positive role it may exert. Refusal to cooperate fully with another church may be "abnormal" (in the sense that sin and the present situation of the universe are abnormal and will remain so until the parousia and the restoration of normalcy), but necessary, because its witness is largely counterproductive evangelistically, due to its unfaithfulness to the gifts received.

This brings us to paragraph 14. Does the document not tend here to slip into universalism? When does "reconciliation of all men and all things in Christ" take place? The paragraph does not speak of struggle against "injustice", but of struggle for the eradication of injustice. Is it implied that men will succeed to eradicate such evils prior to Divine intervention at the end of the present age?

While Adventists desire collaboration with other Christian groups in most of the specific areas of social concern mentioned (not the least being the campaign against alcoholism, where World Council of Churches involvement would be greatly welcomed), they have serious reservations regarding the promotion by church organizations of limitation of armaments and maintenance of peace. Such programmes in the public sphere

p 96 -- have, inevitably, strong political overtones leading to division of opinion that tends to polarize people's minds. The Gospel kerygma requires Christians to function as exemplary citizens and thus individual Christians must do a great deal to promote peace and international understanding, first within the church, and then without the church in the public sphere. However, Christ's own refusal to adjudicate socio-economic matters (Luke 12.13) and His declaration that His kingdom (or proper sphere of activity) is not "of this world" (John 18. 36) would seem to bar the church in its formal capacity as a church from activity in respect to socio-political matters. Such entanglement would compromise her influence by identifying the church with some political programme or ideology and thus neutralize her capacity for leading men of any segment of society or ideological school to Christ.

Paragraph 23 deals with so-called "sects" and "sectarianism". When employed by sociologists the term "sect" has a legitimate use. I doubt, however, that this is often the case when churchmen avail themselves of the expression. It is a confusing term, with various definitions and pejorative connotations, being easily tailored to whatever proportions the user wishes to attribute to it. "Sect" is usually applied to smaller churches by majority churches, especially where the dominating church feels it has a kind of "geographical right" to the area. The document employs exclusiveness and exclusionism as criteria for sectarianism. By this definition, could not for example the Roman Catholic Church, until a few short decades ago, have been considered a "sect"? And yet it was practically never so called, even by its most determined opponents. There is an Italian saying that sheds some light on this somewhat anomalous situation: "due pesi, due misure"! Very freely interpreted "God is on the side of those with the biggest battalions!" It is, therefore, refreshing to read in the document that churches must "guard against the very spirit of sectarianism which they so rightly deplore in others" and "strive to hear God's call to renewal and to greater faithfulness to his message of salvation".

I find the required qualities for Christian witness and behaviour which should be avoided, very well stated in the second part of the document. Certainly, "exploitation of the need or weakness or lack of education of those to whom witness is offered, in view of inducing their adherence to a church" (par. 27 c), should be eschewed. This principle, of course, works in various ways. Exploitation does not only take place when, playing on the ignorance or weakness of certain individuals, they are

p 97 -- encouraged to switch religious allegiance; exploitation is even more frequent where the great majority of a population finds itself in almost complete religious illiteracy and is induced to adhere to the "church of their fathers" through nominal membership.

The allusion to mass communications (par. 27 a) is commendable for its timeliness. The desirability of an open market for Christian expression - majority as well as minority - might well be emphasized. There is a current trend in certain countries for Councils of Churches to dominate non-Catholic witness through radio and television. The document emphasizes the need to give "priority to the announcement of the Gospel to non-Christians (par. 28 b), rather than recruiting members from other Christian communities. A problem arises in deciding exactly who are "non-Christians" and who are those "who have not yet received" the Gospel. People can have a formal, nominal church membership (and there are literally millions in this category) without having really "received" the Gospel. Christianity is rapidly becoming, where it is not already the case, a de facto minority religion. "Competitive spirit" (par. 18 c) can be a danger, but no spirit of witness at all is a much more serious problem in this age of increasing secularization.

Despite the problems mentioned and the caveats listed, Adventists cannot but appreciate the endeavour, reflected in this document, to find ways in which Christians can cooperate and bear more effective witness to the lordship of Christ. It is obvious that a lofty idealism inspires the document and its writers.

I would like to assure our brethren in other churches that Adventists wish them well and that they desire to cooperate in worthy projects, without compromising what Adventists understand to be their own particular witness and mission to the world "in expectation", as the document states, "of that day when all things will be perfectly re-establishd in him".

p 98 -- THE WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES/SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CONVERSATIONS AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE -- In view of the fact that informal conversations between the World Council of Churches and the Seventh-day Adventist Church have been taking place on a regular basis for over four years, it is not inappropriate to consider the significance of these contacts and take stock of what has been accomplished so far.

A. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND -- Strange as it may seem, these yearly Consultations are an indirect by-product of Vatican II. In fact, while in Rome in connection with the Vatican Council a WCC staff member and an Adventist representative came to the conclusion that an informal meeting of a small group of Seventh-day Adventists with an equal number of representatives from the World Council of Churches would fulfil a useful purpose - Adventists being insufficiently informed regarding the World Council of Churches, and the WCC staff and church leaders being equally in need of additional and more comprehensive knowledge regarding the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The first meeting was held in 1965, the particpants being selected by the two organizers. Thus, the Conversations got under way on a completely informal basis and were held under the sole responsibility of the participants. Subsequent meetings have become somewhat more formal, in the sense that the employing bodies of the SDA participants have authorized and financed their presence and the executive committees of the three Adventist Divisions involved have given their blessing by facilitating the selection of the SDA representatives; the World Council of Churches has defrayed the expenses of its group. The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has been kept informed regarding the meetings, though it has taken no direct, active part in the Consultations, except through its three European Divisional branch offices. The November 24-26, 1969, Consultation was the fifth in the series.

B. PURPOSE OF CONVERSATIONS -- The original purpose in meeting together was quite simple, straightforward and unpretentious: to acquaint each side with the structure, functioning and thinking of the other side. This frank exchange of views was to be accompanied by a sincere endeavour to remove misconceptions and improve understanding. Because of the incontestable usefulness of the first meeting, it was felt by all participants that the Conversations should be continued on a regular basis. As a result, subsequent Consultations have been more in the nature of dialogue, by moving from the level of information to the niveau of serious theological discussion.

It was made unmistakably clear from the very start, that there is no plan or expectation on the part of the Adventists of joining the WCC ; nor is the WCC pushing for SDA membership, though, taking a long-range view, it may feel that this would be desirable. On the other hand, the Adventist partners in the Conversations do not expect their partners in the dialogue to become a part of the Advent Movement, though they may feel this would be a propos. It is of course appreciated by all engaged in the Conversations that there is a fundamental difference in the nature of the organizations which precludes comparisons. While the SDA Church is a world church with established fundamental beliefs and one polity, the World Council of Churches is a council or fellowship of churches representing a great variety of theological beliefs, traditions and church polities, each church preserving its own doctrines, ecclesiology and that measure of complete independence which it feels called upon to exert. The World Council is not empowered to legislate for its member chruches.

p 99 -- In addition to generating increased mutual understanding, the exploration of possible areas of Christian cooperation and concrete, practical Christian service has become another valuable intent of the Conversations.

C. STYLE OF MEETINGS -- The Conversations have been conducted in a rather free, informal and friendly atmosphere, under the joint chairmanship of the WCC and SDA conveners. Approximately 15-20 participants have taken part each time. WCC participants have included members of the WCC staff (especially from the Faith and Order Secretariat) and representatives of various Christian traditions. The SDA group has included SDA church leaders and educators. There has been a greater turnover of participants on the WCC side. The Consultations are held on the basis of equal footing, each yearly meeting taking place part of the time at the WCC headquarters in Geneva and the rest of the time at the nearby Seminaire Adventiste at Collonges, just across the border in France. The core of each Consultation centers around the presentation and discussion of papers dealing with the subject matter chosen for the meeting. In addition, time has been given over to general discussion and exchange of views regarding questions and developments of mutual interest or concerning matters needing clarification.

D. SUBJECT MATTER OF CONVERSATIONS -- The 1965 Conversations started with a broad tour d'horizon and concentrated on discussion of the organizations, beliefs and aims of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and consideration of the organization, basis and aims of the World Council. The questions of proselytism and religious liberty were briefly touched upon. Subsequent Consultations dealt with the following areas: law and grace, Sabbath versus Sunday, proselytism and religious liberty, prophecy. The November, 1969, Conversations pin-pointed the 1968 general discussions of prophecy by coming to grips with specific exegesis of Revelation 13, 14; Matthew 24, and 2 Thessalonians 2, passages which Seventh-day Adventists believe have a real relevance to Christianity today.

Without endeavouring to present here a full summary of the subject matter of the Conversations, a few general observations can be made. In the discussion on law and grace there was considerable agreement. If there was a difference, it was mostly one of emphasis, the WCC representatives possibly laying greater stress on the superiority of grace and the SDA participants giving more emphasis to the compatibility of law and grace.

In the discussions dealing with Sabbath and Sunday, the incongruity of views, as could be expected, was quite substantial. For the Seventh-day Adventists the seventh-day Sabbath is a weekly memorial of God's creative act as recorded in the Old Testament, and of Christ's redemptive act in the New Testament. The fourth commandment, therefore, has continuing, heterocentric significance for modern man. The WCC participants connected the Sabbath commandment more with Mosaic social legislation than with creation and felt that the present-day Christian Sunday is tied to the resurrection and eucharistic service, and has only a remote connection with the Sabbath requirement of the Decalogue. In regard to the related question of calendar reform, the discussions revealed that Seventh-day Adventists have no objection to a fixed Easter date in the present Gregorian calendar, but strongly oppose calendar reform of the "blank" day type, which would disrupt the orderly succession of the weekly cycle by interposing from time to time extra days. This would cause the first (Sunday) or seventh (Sabbath) day of the week to fall on other days. Some WCC participants expressed similar opposition to this type of new calendar suggested in some circles.

The agreement in the discussions about religious liberty was very substantial indeed. Increased cooperation in this area is considered by both sides to be desirable. Concerning proselytism, there was a large measure of mutual understanding. Agreement was complete regarding methods, the SDA Church having since 1926 an official policy which in its provisions closely resembles the 1961 WCC document entitled "Christian Witness, Proselytism and Religious Liberty". Both sides fully agreed that conversion can only come by uncoerced faith and sharing of Christian conviction is not only a right, but a duty. Conversations did reveal some divergence of views regarding relationships

p 100 -- and ecumenical implications of Christian witness. Seventh-day Adventists have a deep conviction that it is their duty to proclaim their distinctive witness to all men, and the church therefore consistently stands aloof from territorial comity arrangements. There was some discussion regarding the proper use of the term "proselytism". Both sides admitted that the expression is somewhat ambiguous, because the word has received in ecumenical circles a definitely pejorative connotation, implying corrupted witness, which does not harmonize with the common dictionary definition of proselytism.

The Faith and Order Secretariat has prepared an excellent analysis of the discussions regarding "Apocalyptic Prophecy" (see below p. 167 ff.). Suffice it to say here that while exegesis of particular passages does not by any means always lead to disagreement, there are some marked differences in the respective understanding of the prophetic and apocalyptic texts. The Conversations indicated that the SDA approach tends to be more "systematic" (looking for inner coherence and parallels between various apocalyptic texts) and the WCC approach more "situational" (looking for the original purpose and situation for which the texts were written). The WCC side greatly underlined the "paranetic" nature of prophecy, while the SDA representatives dwelt at greater length upon the "predictive" dimension of the apocalyptic writings.

E. RESULTS OBTAINED -- Measured within the frame-work of the avowed purposes of the Conversations, it can be said that their results have been definitely positive and useful. There have been no measurably negative outgrowths. In order to clearly see the substantial number of accomplishments, it would appear helpful to succinctly list some of the major results that have emanated from the Conversations:

1. Personal acquaintance and fellowship -- The discussions have been very beneficial on the plane of personal relationships, with consequent better understanding and appreciation of the Christianity and humanity of the participants. Friendships have been formed and fellowship experienced.

2. Information and Understanding -- Without doubt the Conversations have enabled the participants to gain accurate information and a better understanding of the background, approach, thinking, developing trends, aims and expectations of the other side. Mutual knowledge has increased and erroneous views, based on prejudice, have decreased.

3. Channels of communication -- While prior to 1965 the channels of communication between the SDA Church and the WCC were not non-existent, they were very weak and spasmodic. Today, largely as a result of the Consultations, a number of actively used channels of communication are entertained, especially with the General and Faith and Order Secretariats. Information once ignored or difficult to come by, is now regularly communicated. In addition the SDA/WCC Conversations were at least partly instrumental in opening new channels for contacts between the SDA Church and other confessional bodies or churches.

4. WCC Statement concerning SDA Church -- A very useful product of the Conversations is the statement regarding the SDA Church which was published in the January, 1967, issue of the Ecumenical Review. While the statement was prepared by the Faith and Order Secretariat, the SDA participants in the 1966 Conversations had the opportunity to discuss the draft statement and make some useful observations. After incorporating some relatively minor suggestions, the document was published substantially as originally written. The statement has had a wide distribution, not only through the Ecumenical Review, but as a Faith and Order paper. Seventh-day Adventists consider this article as one of the fairest and finest statements published by non-Adventists about Adventists.

5. Participation in Meeting of World Confessional Families -- Since 1968 the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has been actively represented at the annual meeting of "Secretaries of World Confessional Families". This participation is largely the result of the WCC/ SDA Conversations and contacts that were made at the time of the Uppsala Assembly.

p 101 -- It is hoped that expanded cooperation will ensue between the World Confessional Families in the vital realm of religious liberty.

6. Observer and Advisor Status -- Since the Conversations got under way, it has become the accepted procedure for the SDA Church to be represented at various WCC meetings, including the Assembly, by observers. These observers have not just been present pro forma, but have taken an active interest in the meetings they attended. An additional step was taken when the General Conference, as a world confessional body or church, was represented by an advisor in Canterbury at the 1969 meeting of the WCC Central Committee.

7. SDA on Faith and Order Commission -- An evident result of the Conversations was the appointment of a Seventh-day Adventist as a member of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. While it is clear that churches are not members of this Commission and theologians selected for membership are chosen in their personal capacity, and therefore the SDA Church is not a member of the Faith and Order Commission, it does mean that the Commission will have the benefit of hearing a bona fide SDA voice, and the Seventh-day Adventists would have the opportunity of learning from the discussions of the Faith and Order Commission.

8. SDA/WCC Conversations in the United States -- As a kind of corollary to the Geneva Consultations, Conversations began in 1969 in the United States between Seventh-day Adventists and a WCC appointed group. While each Conversation will follow its own style and choose its own subject matter, those responsible for the Conversations on both sides of the Atlantic are keeping in touch with each other.

9. Contacts on National Levels -- It is interesting to note that the contacts on the WCC level have, to some extent, filtered down to certain national levels. As examples one can mention the SDA contacts with the British Council of Churches, the Finnish Council of Churches and the office of the German Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen in Deutschland. There are many other contacts, but here we are only thinking of those that are at least to some extent directly attributable to the Geneva Consultations.

F. GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE -- As reinforcement of the already mentioned nine results, which in themselves certainly highlight the significance of the Conversations, there are a few more points of a more interpretative nature which throw additional light on the significance of these Consultations:

1.    It is quite clear that the SDA attitude toward the ecumenical movement, and more specifically the World Council of Churches, is unavoidably strongly influenced by the church's understanding of prophecy, eschatology, current trends and past church history, and its self-understanding of the role of the Advent Movement as epitomized by the SDA Church. It thus appears that a central problem of inter-church theological discussions in which Seventh-day Adventists are involved would be biblical interpretation in general and prophetic interpretation in particular.

2.   The participants in the Conversations discovered that each side approaches the Bible with respect and the basic expectation to be guided by Scripture into truth. There are, however, some noticeable differences in approach. While SDA theologians believe in the inspired integrity of the Bible and insist on the historicity of the record, the participants on the WCC side tend to favour a larger use of historical and form-critical methods. Underlying these dissentient approaches are differing views regarding the nature of revelation and inspiration. It should not be overlooked, however, that similar differences in approach can be found within the constituency of the World Council of Churches.

3.    In view of the prominence Seventh-day Adventists have traditionally given to religious liberty, it is significant to note the very substantial agreement that prevailed in this area of the discussions. While the SDA contribution to religious liberty has been largely of a pragmatic nature, without ignoring the necessary biblical basis, the World Council of Churches has through its Religious Liberty Secretariat concentrated on providing a sound theological foundation for religious liberty, and through the CCIA has underlined the general importance of human rights.

p 102 --

4.    The Conversations have made Seventh-day Adventists rather more aware of ecumenism as an expanding and driving influence, with strengths, weaknesses and problems. On the other hand, the World Council of Churches and some of its member churches appear more conscious of Adventism as a growing world-wide religious force. Both sides have gained a deeper understanding of each other's raison d'etre.

5.   There has been a growth of mutual respect. The SDA participants cannot but respect the scholarship and "studiousness" of the World Council of Churches and its representatives. Faith and Order studies have shed considerable light on various contemporary theological issues. There is also evidence that the WCC members have gained a measure of respect for the calibre of Adventist scholarship. The Conversations have demonstrated that the participants on both sides are capable of respect the differing views, especially when held by partners in dialogue whose Christian commitment cannot be questioned.

6.   The Conversations have been significant as an educational instrumentality. Minds have been opened and enlarged. Adventists have become more clearly aware that there is more than one point of view to most questions, and that there are earnest Christian men who hold differing beliefs that should be taken into account. While beliefs merit to be safeguarded, serious thought must be given to expressing them in terms that will be readily understood and, in some degree, accepted by those with divergent convictions.

The same educational process has enabled the WCC participants to realize that Seventh-day Adventists are genuinely committed Christians, who hold clearly-defined, defensible beliefs in all major areas of Christian doctrine.

The Conversations have made it abundantly clear that first-hand information is better than second-hand misinformation, that sharpening one's theological views on the grindstone of dialogue is not only at times painful but profitable, and that ignorance of the other side is not bliss.


Dr, B. B. BEACH, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, is the Secretary of the Department of Public Affairs, Northern European Division, United Kingdom.


1.    The Significance of the Bible for Ecumenical Discussion. -- Studying the Bible is of decisive importance for any meaningful ecumenical discussion. Wherever Christians meet, they must turn to the common source of their faith. Without the Bible conversations between separated Christians would lack a common frame of reference. Discussions between representatives of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the World Council of Churches have made this point clear once again. It must also be recognized, however, that the appeal to the Bible does not necessarily overcome divergencies. When Christians turn to the Bible, they discover that their interpretation proceeds on the basis of different presuppositions and that they use different criteria or keys of interpretation. Therefore, in studying the Bible they find themselves both united and confronted with the deepest roots of their differences.

2.    Different Approaches to the Bible. -- The participants in the meeting discovered that they were approaching the Bible with respect and that they expected to be guided by it into truth. There were, however, noticeable differences in their approaches. While Seventh-day Adventist theologians tended to take for granted the inspired integrity of the Bible and to insist on the historicity of the record, the participants on the WCC side tended to admit a larger use of historical-critical methods. Discussion of particular exegetical problems raised again and again the issue of the inspiration of the Bible, and it became obvious that this problem needs to be further clarified in the future.

3.    Exegesis of the Text. -- In spite of different approaches, however, there was in many instances almost complete agreement on the original meaning of the text, and it became apparent that exegesis of particular passages does not necessarily lead to disagreements. This is due to the fact that both sides agree that the historical situation of both the writer and the addressee needs to be carefully taken into account in order to discover the meaning of the text. But even in the stage of exegesis in the narrower sense of the word, differences may arise. To give an example: Though Seventh-day Adventists would admit that the authors of the synoptic gospels have to a

p 103 -- certain extent selected, arranged and interpreted the material available, they maintain the historical reliability of the framework given by each evangelist. They prefer to consider the specific information, given by each evangelist, as of a complementary rather than interpretative nature. The main problem of mutual understanding does not arise, however, at the level of exegesis but rather at the level of the interpretation and application of the texts. Similar differences can be found within the World Council of Churches as well. There is not one single hermeneutical criterion within the fellowship of the World Council of Churches. Therefore, the discussion with Seventh-day Adventists does not constitute anything foreign to the World Council of Churches.

4.    Interpretation of Prophetic and Apocalyptic Texts. -- In the course of the conversations it became clear that special attention needed to be given to the interpretation of the prophetic and apocalyptic texts of both the Old Testament and the New Testament (Daniel, Matthew 24 et par., II Thessalonians and Revelation). Seventh-day Adventists attach great importance to these texts. This does not mean that they regard these texts as the key of interpretation or that they wish to isolate these texts from the rest of Scripture. They turn to Scripture as a whole and it is only within the context of the whole that they wish to give to the prophetic and apocalyptic texts their due attention. They feel that these texts are not sufficiently studied by many other Christians and Churches. The discussion revealed that there are indeed different approaches to these texts and that they are differently interpreted. It was recognized, however, that they are also respected by other Churches. If the Seventh-day Adventist interpretation is not shared, it does not mean that the texts are not taken seriously.

5.    Differences in Understanding of Prophetic and Apocalyptic Texts --
a)    Seventh-day Adventists find an inner coherence among the various prophetic texts. They show striking parallels and the connections between these texts have to be recognized. The participants on the World Council side tended to stress more the particular situations in which apocalyptic material has goon used. Their interpretation is more situational and gives stronger weight to the paranetic dimension.

b)    The WCC participants tend to interpret the apocalyptic images as an attempt to characterize in general the forces and powers which operate in history leading to the final disclosures of the Kingdom of God. Seventh-day Adventist interpretation, though agreeing with this approach, attaches much more importance to the predictive element in biblical prophecies. They find it reasonable to believe that the texts provide a discernable sequence of events which precede the second coming of Christ. They feel that many Christians tend to be too vague in their interpretation of prophecy as it relates to history.

c)   Both sides agree that the immediate purpose of a text needs to be discovered. Why did the author write to the addresses in this particular way? What are the historical phenomena and events he is referring to? Seventh-day Adventist interpretation tends to find that, apart from the situation, the texts often convey knowledge about historical events to come. Therefore, they ask the question what particular events the revealing spirit was referring to. Participants on the WCC side tend to consider the original message as a meaningful model for later generations. Decisions today have to be taken in the spirit of this model. The true meaning of the text for today will best be established by the use of hermeneutical methods.

d)    Seventh-day Adventists tend to identify certain biblical statements with particular historical events; e.g. they hold the view that several passages, in particular Revelation 13, point to the papacy. While participants on the WCC side did not agree with such identification and fail to see how the transition from the text to such an interpretation can be made, SDA expositors feel that the evidence supporting their interpretation is substantial. Both sides agree, however, that Christians need to interpret history and that this must be done in the spirit of Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It was generally felt that Seventh-day Adventists are today more circumspect in identifying events than they used to be in previous generations.

6. God and History. -- The discussion revealed a number of points which need further clarification.

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a)    The discussion of prophetic and apocalyptic texts made clear that the revelation in Christ and in particular the inspiration of Scriptures is not understood in the same way on both sides. What is the relation between God as revealed in the person of Christ and Scriptures? What is the significance of the fact that Christ did not himself write and that the New Testament is the result of an oral transmission? What is the relation between the Word of God and the words of Scripture?

b)    It was also felt that the meaning of resurrection, the work of the Spirit in the last days and the cosmic aspects of the Christ event needed to be further explored.

c)    Several pointed out that the use of the word "coming" needed to be examined. What is the relation between Christ's coming whenever the word is preached and the sacrament administered, and his final coming? Is the term "second coming" appropriate in view of the fact that he is constantly coming to us? Would it not be more appropriate to speak of the final manifestation of being the Lord?

d)    The discussion raised the question as to, the interpretation of the signs of the time. What is the relation between the sign (the death and the resurrection of Christ as well as Pentecost) and the signs? All Churches have to interpret the signs. Can this interpretation be derived directly from the Bible or must it be discerned under the guidance of the Spirit in each situation? Who interprets the signs? The individual, the Church as a whole? Which are the signs? Some felt that Seventh-day Adventist identification of certain events could make irrelevant other events which may be of decisive importance both for the human race and the future of the Church. Attention should not be detracted from events which seem to determine our immediate future (e.g. secularization, the growing together of mankind, racial problems, etc.; in comparison to these papacy seems to be a factor of minor importance which less obscures the meaning of the Gospel). On the other hand, the Seventh-day Adventist participants felt that the WCC emphasis on current events, which seem to determine mankind's present and near future, tends to neglect the vertical dimension.

7. The Significance of a Particular Interpretation of Prophetic and Apocalyptic Texts for the Unity of the Church. -- The question was raised to what extent a particular interpretation can be regarded as a condition for fellowship and unity. WCC participants generally felt that various interpretations of prophetic and apocalyptic texts could be admitted within one and the same fellowship. It was precisely the task of the fellowship to confirm or to correct any interpretation of the signs of the times. Seventh-day Adventists find it difficult to see how somebody can belong to their fellowship without sharing certain identifications. They hold the view, however, that the importance of the prophetic interpretation of history should not be overemphasized. The unity of the people of God is primarily based on the work and presence of Christ, and it is only on this foundation that the prophetic interpretation acquires its relative importance.

Questions to be mutually addressed:

Seventh-day Adventists could ask other Christians the following questions:
1. Does their reluctance with regard to any time-table of events not very often mean that they do not speak of the final coming of Christ at all?

2. Do non-Adventist Christians not often remain too vague in their witness, not having the courage to interpret the signs of the times?

3. Do they not tend to make too sharp a distinction between prophetic and apocalyptic texts, and to stress too exclusively the ethical and paranetical elements in the prophetic and apocalyptic texts?

WCC participants could ask the following questions:
1. Do not Seventh-day Adventists tend to isolate the prophetic and apocalyptic texts from the rest of the biblical witness?

2. Do they not expect too clearly defined guidance in the Bible concerning major events in history?

3. Do they not too quickly establish a link between certain texts and certain events? Do they not perpetuate exegesis once adopted in spite of further historical developments?


* Dr. LUKAS VISCHER is Director of the Secretariat of the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches, Geneva.

p 105 -- THE WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES/SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CONVERSATIONS -- MEETINGS IN 1970 AND 1971 -- The Commission on Faith and Order has long understood its mandate to include the task of establishing and maintaining contacts with Churches not in membership with the World Council of Churches. Thus, the Commission counts among its members a number of theologians from non-member Churches and has initiated a series of publications in which the history, the life and teachings of Churches outside the World Council are presented to a wider audience (see Ecumenical Exercise I, II and III, published as Faith and Order Papers No. 49, 58 and 61, reprinted from The Ecumenical Review Vol. XIX: 1, Vol. XXIII: 3, Vol. XXIV: 2).

Among the Churches presented was the Seventh-Day Adventist Church with which informal contacts were opened in 1965. Since then the Commission on behalf of the World Council has taken responsibility through its Secretariat for regular yearly conversations between a group of theologians from member Churches of the World Council and representatives of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. (See the descriptive analysis of the development and the wider significance of these conversations up to 1969 by B. B. Beach in The Ecumenical Review Vol. XXII: 2.) The continuity of these conversations both regarding the themes and the participants has made it possible to discover more clearly the broad area of commonly shared Christian belief and commitment and to delineate the points of critical difference.

The group felt that in addition to summarising and analysing its discussions year by year an attempt might be made to draw up a statement which maps out the existing doctrinal agreement between Seventh-Day Adventists and Churches in the World Council, evaluating at the same time the relative weight of continuing differences. All the texts presented here have individual authors. But they have been revised after discussion in the group and have in principle been accepted by the participants. They are published here with the hope of thus stimulating and helping similar discussions on the local and national level.


In 1957 the General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists sponsored a careful and representative exposition of their church's doctrine which was published under the title Seventh-Day Adventists answer Questions on Doctrine. That study simplifies the task of this paper which is to show where they agree doctrinally with the churches and communions belonging to the World Council of Churches.

On the other hand, we have to face the difficulty that the World Council of Churches is not itself a church but a fellowship of churches holding different positions and traditions, which are, moreover, subject to different theological interpretations even within the individual churches themselves. It would hardly be meaningful to restrict our attention here to those doctrines which are common to all the churches in the ecumenical movement. Often, then, we shall be able to speak only of agreement with some (many or few) churches and theological trends. In many instances, agreement is only with the substance of a doctrinal position or with a doctrinal tendency, while in other respects there are still undeniable differences in the respective doctrinal formulations.

In addition it must not be overlooked that in many ways the whole of a church's doctrine is an inseparable unity so that dividing it into constituent parts is somewhat questionable. We need, therefore, to turn our attention first of all to this integral aspect of church doctrine, before turning (in Section II) to the doctrinal statements in detail. Profound disagreements can be concealed behind

p 106 -- agreed formulae and vice versa. The trinitartan formulation of the creed, for example, can be understood in terms of a philosophy of being or by reference to certain scriptural passages. The common formulation then serves only to conceal the fundamental difference in the conception of God and in the relationship of the believer to God. Conversely, the consensus of Seventh-Day Adventists with conservative positions in other churches,often stressed in Questions on Doctrine, may be overlooking the profound agreement with the basic eschatological approach of modern theologies, and therefore with their "concealed Adventism".

Yet even the notion of "church doctrine" is not necessarily unequivocal. Some churches intentionally keep authoritative doctrinal statements to a minimum, whereas others possess a great collection of confessional statements. For example, the Eastern Churches, despite a rich heritage of apocalyptic and eschatological movements, refuse to fix this in dogmatic statements. Much the same thing is also true of the Lutheran Church, although it owed its origin to strong apocalyptic impulses. But if this church and others treat as an undercurrent the prophecy which among the Adventists is presented as a constituent element of church teaching, it becomes almost impossible to compare one church doctrine with another church doctrine in a purely statistical fashion. Such a procedure would mean that precisely the best and most important things one church has to say to another would be left unsaid! As a rule, official statements of faith give only fragmentary expression to church doctrines by not expressing them in their full complexity. Such statements of faith represent (symbolize) the whole of a particular type of church doctrine and as "symbols" (which is one of the names given to such statements) they differ from the explicit total presentation sought in theology. As an expression of the total resources of a church they are always different in kind from theology, which is inevitably a time-conditioned enterprise of individual theologians or theological schools. They also differ in kind from exegesis since here again the basic decisions of faith represented in the confessions of faith determine the status and authority of the particular exegetical findings. These distinctions become blurred when people are convinced that the biblical witness only represents a doctrine which is inherent in it. The biblical kerygma then becomes in principle identical with revealed doctrina. Every exegetical finding is at once a confirmation or an expansion of a church doctrine which is constantly developing and which theology systematizes. But this system in turn influences retrospectively the standpoint from which individual passages of Scripture are approached and ultimate exegetical decisions reached. This method, often described as biblicism, is widely represented, particularly in the churches of the Reformation, so that the preference for it in the teaching of Seventh-Day Adventists cannot be considered a basic difference from other churches, but rather as an impressive contribution to a general discussion about doctrine and confession which has begun both within the individual churches and in inter-church dialogue.

Prior to and underlying every particular church doctrine, however objectively it may be based on biblical exegesis and theological argument, are experiences of faith which have left an indelible mark on that doctrine and are the source which consciously or unconsciously determines the questions, inquiries and teachings of the church in question. The living resonance of the Protestant, "Scripture principle" rests on the fact that Luther had earlier experienced in the depths of despair the converting power of the Gospel (his so-called "Tower experience"). And it is very much to the point that Adventist doctrine is rooted in and derives strength from an event which Adventists later referred to as "the great disappointment" (October 22, 1844). A group of believers, buoyed up with expectancy of the nearness of the Parousia, learned through experience of disappointed hope that they had failed to grasp the true nature of the Scripture promise and realized that in this profound despair they were like the disciples of Jesus who, with the promise of the Kingdom of God before them, fell into despair and crisis because of the death of Jesus on the cross, or again, like the early church which counted on the early return of their Lord and were disappointed when He delayed. This experience lies behind the birth of Seventh-Day Adventism, just as Luther's "Tower experience" lay behind his posting of the Theses and the birth of the Protestant churches. Those who are caught up in such fundamental experiences, for the most part fail at first to realize that out of

p 107 -- the crisis through which they have to pass something new is seeking to arise and take shape.
The full truth of a church's doctrine is therefore not yet grasped so long as, in its details or as a whole, we see it in isolation from such events and as mere doctrine. In inter-church discussion there may be different views about the individual doctrines and about the doctrine of a church as a whole, but if we go back to the actual experiences on which churches were founded and which are represented in their official statements of faith, then faith testifies directly to faith. Discussions so far in Geneva between Seventh-Day Adventists and the Churches of the World Council of Churches provide a proof of the benefits to be derived from testifying to faith.

These insights must be kept in mind, when we compare the essential doctrinal statements with each other. To begin with, it would appear that the Seventh-Day Adventist Church is not in disagreement with the theological basis of the World Council of Churches, as voted at New Delhi in 1961: "The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of Churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

The member churches of the World Council of Churches and Seventh-Day Adventists are in agreement on the fundamental articles of the Christian faith as set forth in the three ancient church symbols (Apostolicum, Nicaeno-Constantinopolitum, Athanasium). This agreement finds expression in unqualified acceptance of the doctrines of the Trinity and the Two-Natures.

Seventh-Day Adventism arose largely in a Protestant setting and thus, historically speaking, it is quite natural that Adventists show considerable affinity with the churches issuing from the Reformation. This does not mean that Adventism shows no doctrinal affinity with other religious traditions, for example Eastern Orthodoxy. However, due to lack of historico-theological contact (separation was enhanced by official religious intolerance vis-a-vis Adventists in countries where Orthodoxy was the state religion) such agreement has not been so apparent. Seventh-Day Adventists fully agree with the Protestant Scripture principle (sola scriptura) and the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith (sola fide, sola gratia per Christum). They also share the Protestant linking of justification and sanctification. Good works are not the means of justification but its fruit.

In accordance with the Protestant view, acceptance of these doctrines takes place, not on the authority of the Church, but on the basis of Holy Scripture as the rule of faith. This also applies to the respect in which the writings of eminent doctors of the Church are held. Such writings are only authoritative to the extent that they are in agreement with the Scriptures. There is nevertheless progress in the understanding of Scripture. In this sense, certain doctors of the Church and certain events in the history of the Church acquire an increasing significance. Many aspects of the biblical revelation can only be clearly understood and given precise formulation as church doctrine at certain historical junctures. The doctrinal traditions which come within this category do not, however, constitute any addition to the canon, but are the historical development of the truth contained in Scripture. There are within the World Council of Churches' ranks various views regarding revelation and the inspiration of the Bible. Many Christians in the World Council of Churches member churches hold views very similar to those presented by Adventists, many do not.

Seventh-Day Adventists express considerable agreement with conservative evangelical Christians and with the historic confessions of Protestantism. Specific mention should be made here of the following doctrines : the inspiration of Holy Scripture, the Virgin Birth, the atoning death, the bodily Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, the literal view of the Return of Christ, of the resurrection or "taking up" of the saints, and of the general judgment, the work of the Holy Spirit, the church as the body of Christ. There is also, however, in some sense an affinity with modern theologians too. Modern Protestant theologians do not in fact intend to deny the statements of biblical interpretation and of the historic creeds of the ancient Church and of the Reformation, but rather to re-interpret them (recognising that every credal statement is historically conditioned). This applies

p 108 -- particularly to the common belief in the inspiration of Holy Scripture. Since God speaks through the words of men, diverse views arise regarding the role played by man and his history in the biblical writings and in the final redaction of these writings into a single whole.

Seventh-Day Adventists for the most part see the connection between the Old and New Testaments (especially in reference to the Old Testament sacrificial system) in typological terms (type and antitype). Many non-Seventh-Day Adventist theologians are equally fully committed to a typological exegesis of the Old Testament in opposition to an allegorical interpretation.

In agreement with the main doctrinal tradition of Christianity, Seventh-Day Adventists understand the Son of Man as the Incarnate Son of God. Over against this view is that of modern exegesis which sees the Son of Man primarily as the pre-existent prototype of mankind and of the people of God, to whom as such the judgment of the world has been committed. But Adventist theology to a large extent embraces this circle of ideas by its interpretation of the term "Archangel Michael" as a christological title (cf. Dan. 10: 5, 6, 13 with Rev. 1: 13-15).

Seventh-Day Adventists understand the resurrection of Jesus as resurrection in a glorified corporeality. The Earthly Jesus and the Risen Jesus are one and the same. The member churches of the World Council of Churches hold officially the same view.

Seventh-Day Adventists reject the doctrine of double predestination traditionally held in some churches. Adventists stress the conditional character of divine promises and warnings. Man is gifted with a free will to choose or to reject. Yet a rapprochement is taking place, because in many churches which hold the doctrine of predestination, the view is gaining ground that this doctrine is not to be interpreted in the sense of a naked determinism or of an absolute decree. It has, therefore, been reinterpreted in various ways, allowing more room for genuine human decision, and has even been rejected by some as contrary to the Gospel and as positing a conflict of wills in the Godhead. Modern exegesis of the teaching of the prophets has, in particular, brought out the conditional character of the divine promises and warnings. Man's freedom is important for God too; but that freedom does not make it impossible for God to achieve His purpose of redemption, even if it means that He does so in ever new ways which take human decision seriously into account. God remains the author of the conditions of ultimate salvation and its surety. It may, therefore, be said that there is here a convergence of standpoints.

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church regards the Decalogue to be a permanent and unchanging Divine standard of life. Segments in Protestantism are engaged in a discussion of the absolute claim of the Ten Commandments on the Christian. Along with the Law has not the Decalogue been abrogated by Christ? Statements tending in this direction are found not merely in the works of modern theologians but even in Luther. On the other hand, it has been Protestant doctrine, at least since Melanchthon (with Luther's assent), that in the Ten Commandments God reaffirmed and expressly emphasised the lex naturae established in and with creation. In connection with this doctrine, a distinction has been made in Protestantism since Melanchthon between the Decalogue which is permanently valid and the ceremonial law which has been abrogated. Discussion is far from being closed on this issue, and it should not be prematurely broken off, since both positions are concerned to affirm the Gospel on the basis of the testimony of Scripture.

In the Adventist view baptism is to be administered by immersion; it needs faith on the part of the candidate. In harmony with other followers of the Baptist tradition, Seventh-Day Adventists thus reject infant baptism, believing that there is no Biblical warrant for this custom. Although many churches defend infant baptism as scriptural, it is impossible to ignore the lively debate which has opened up in these churches on this subject. It will, moreover, be readily acknowledged that the total immersion of the baptismal candidate is strongly attested both in the Bible and in early Christian practice. Few would deny that the Christian's baptism, in accordance with Adventist teaching, into the once-for-all death, the once-for-all burial, the once-for-all resurrection of Christ (Rom. 6) is more clearly represented by a once-for-all immersion, than by a threefold dipping, sprinkling or pouring with a Trinitarian reference. Difference in baptismal

p 109 -- practice, however, does not exclude a consensus so far as the theological affirmation made by Adventist practice is concerned.

The same may be said of the Adventist association of the feet-washing (ordinance of humility) and the Lord's Supper. This is biblically defensible, even if there is still a difference of view as to whether we are dealing here with a command and institution of Christ which has to be strictly observed. At least there is agreement about the substantial point that Jesus' sacrifice and service for us finds its true continuance in brotherly love and humility (John 13:15).

Seventh-Day Adventists believe together with many Christian Churches in the conditional immortality of man and reject the idea that the soul has an innate, indefeasibly immortal existence separate from the body. As a sinful creature, man is subject to death and will rest in the tomb until the resurrection day. Eternal life is available only in Christ. The unjust will be destroyed forever.

There is a broad tradition of doctrinal agreement in the interpretation of biblical prophecy, and of apocalyptic writings in particular. Historical criticism has, however, often produced divergent findings and these deserve attention. But preoccupation with the interpretation of prophecy in terms of its original historical setting can easily lead us to forget the total context of prophecy on which traditional interpretation rested.

Despite differences in detailed interpretation, we share the conviction that God speaks to us even about our own times and about the future, sometimes in an indirect symbolic way through prophecy. The full truth of prophecy will only be clearly unveiled to us, of course, as history unfolds itself. But prophecy in any case sharpens our awareness of the imminent parousia of Christ, however well or badly the fulfilment of prophecy may have been understood in fact since the early days of Christianity. Christian faith is vivified by belief that the day of the Lord is at hand. It is thus a forerunner and a sign pointing to the future of Christ. Whenever such a prophetically inspired faith appears in Christendom, it is always a prophetic sign for the whole Church. A vigorous advent hope is an essential mark of Christian faith.

Regarding the abstention from alcohol and tobacco and the adherence to a specific health
programme the Adventist Church does not adopt an exclusive attitude to other churches and does not turn this into a condition of salvation. Here again, however, there is an underlying common ground, namely, that the Christian in his service of God has responsibility for his health.

Seventh-Day Adventists believe that religious liberty and the interests of both church and state are best preserved and served when each operates in its domain (see Matt. 22:21) under the policy of what is generally called separation of church and state.

However, even in churches which still have a more or less close connection with the State, the call for the separation of Church and State is growing. For many Christians today, what Marx called "the removal of the Church from the State into society", includes the mighty relevance of their faith to contemporary society. Service of the world - "God so loved the world" (John 3: 16) - by no means implies an empty secularisation, but rather applying the gospel of salvation to the needs of mankind.


Introduction -- For several years informal conversations were held between the World Council of Churches and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. The discussions in November 1969 dealt with the understanding of "Apocalyptic Prophecy" (cf. the analysis of these discussions in The Ecumenical Review 1970/2, pp. 163 ff). As one of the general results it was commonly recognised that the study of biblical texts provides the conversations between separated Christians with a common frame of reference. At the same time, it became evident that the simple appeal to the Bible does not necessarily overcome differences. Thus, it was decided that the discussions in 1970 should concentrate on the process of interpretation of the Bible itself in the hope that light could be thrown on the underlying differences of approach to the Bible. Earlier discussions had shown that some of the differences were rooted in the respective conceptions of revelation and inspiration. An attempt was made to relate systematic statements on the doctrinal

p 110 -- position of either side to concrete examples of biblical interpretation.

In a certain continuity with these discussions (see especially below I, 6) it was suggested for the conversations in 1971 to concentrate on the social responsibility of the Church. It was hoped that this would offer an opportunity to discuss not only the foundations of Christian social ethics but to engage in a debate about concrete issues arising in particular from the World Council's involvement in social and political struggles.

The following summaries have been discussed and accepted by the participants of the respective meetings. Since both texts, however, have been prepared by participants from the side of the World Council, their status as common documents is necessarily limited.


1. Exegesis of biblical texts. -- The results of the discussion on "Apocalyptic Prophecy" were again validated (loc. cit., p. 167, paras. 2, 3). There was almost complete agreement on the original meaning of certain passages and on the methods to be used for their interpretation. Both sides employed the means of historical and of form-criticism to arrive at a clear understanding of the original message of the text. Differences arising in this area mainly concerned the evaluation of certain exegetical findings. It was only in the area of a contemporary interpretation and a meditative rethinking of the original message that marked divergences became apparent. Since this interpretation made use of the results of exegetical analysis even exegesis could become controversial retrospectively.

2. Systematic approach. Discussion of the respective systematic presuppositions necessarily has to work with abstract concepts open to multiple interpretation. A specific difficulty arose for the participants from the side of the World Council of Churches since there is no unified body of doctrine accepted by all member Churches. Differences regarding the systematic approach to the problem must not be interpreted as evidence of a basic disagreement between Seventh-Day Adventists and the World Council of Churches. The position put forth by the Seventh-Day Adventist participants can be found either in full or at least in part in many churches belonging to the World Council of Churches and was shared by a number of participants from the side of the World Council of Churches.

3. Agreements. -- All start form the basic assumption that there is the promise of Christ's presence in the Spirit. The reality of the working of the Spirit was never questioned. No agreement could be reached, however, as to how this active presence of the Spirit could be grasped and expressed.

- All agree on the conviction that the Bible is inspired and that study of the Bible leads - at least potentially - to encounter with the Spirit. No agreement could be reached, however, as to the extent to which the Spirit has bound himself to the literal understanding of the biblical text.

- There is agreement that changing human affairs show signs of God's activity and may properly be understood in terms of it. No agreement could be reached, however, about the question whether the Bible as inspired word of God provides us with clear knowledge about God's way of acting or whether it is essentially an act of faith informed by biblical witness by which we recover his way out of the ambiguities of history.

4. Disagreements. -- Disagreements arose mainly concerning the proper way of relating the different factors of    a) the process of revelation, i.e. God's own action through the Spirit,   b) the biblical writing, and    c) the interpreting community and its witness.

- The position of Seventh-Day Adventist participants could be summarised in this way:

a)    The Bible is recognised as an inspired book. This appreciation of the Bible is based on the affirmation that it represents the normative record of God's revelation.

b)    The biblical writings are clear and sufficient in themselves. Their different parts are in harmony with each other. The inspired character of the Bible implies that no basic contradiction can obtain between any of its authors or writings.

c)    The present Christian community in its witness always has to refer back to the normative witness included in the biblical

p 111 -- texts. Witness today essentially is re-affirmation of the biblical witness.

- The position of most of the participants from the side of the World Council of Churches appeared to converge along the following lines:

a)    The Bible is understood as the principal source by which men acquire access to the divine revelation. It is inspired in the sense that it potentially leads to encounter with God in the Spirit. But neither in the past nor in the present has God bound himself exclusively to the Bible as the only mediator of his revelation. Thus, in spite of its inspired character the Bible by itself alone is not understood as normative.

b)    The Bible is not, by virtue of its inspiration, dissociated as a holy book from human history. It was written by human writers who participated in the historic circumstances of their particular time. Their writing represents in the first instance their witness to their particular community, and any contemporary interpretation will have to take this into account.

c)   Thus, strong emphasis is laid on the role of the community in the process of interpretation and witnessing. Since the biblical witness is not understood as being itself normative, present witness has to grow out of participation in the process of witnessing since biblical times.

5. Criticisms mutually addressed. -- On the side of Seventh-Day Adventist participants it was repeatedly stressed in the discussions that the approach to the biblical witness and its interpretation which is characteristic for many Churches in the World Council leaves far too much room for arbitrariness. Where the Bible is not understood to be normative in its direct meaning it is left to the free choice of the individual interpreter which aspects of the biblical witness he wants to select as relevant for his own community.

- On the side of the World Council of Churches participants the criticism was expressed that the Seventh-Day Adventist understanding of inspiration makes the Bible into a sacred book and forces the texts into a preconceived scheme of thought. The texts cannot any longer speak for themselves.

6. Further problems. -- Underlying much of the discussion was the general problem of the relationship between inspiration and authority and in particular the authority of the Bible as inspired witness. When inspiration is understood as an event occurring in situations of immediate existential involvement, the authority of the biblical text is established in the very moment of inspiration. If, however, the Bible is considered to be authoritative and inspired by itself, independent of its being experienced as such, how can the misuse of this authority in an oppressive sense be avoided?

This difference of orientation reveals a fundamental problem. We recognise today, even in "Bible-oriented" communities, a decrease of Bible-study and of interest in the Bible. In many places we even see a strong resistance against Bible-study emerging, although a remarkable resurgence of interest in the Bible can be observed at the same time. These developments in their contradictory character call for an explanation. With regard to the decline of Bible-study the question might be asked whether it is due precisely to the "authoritarian" concept of authority and inspiration traditionally connected with the Bible that an open encounter with the biblical witness has become impossible for many people. On the other hand it could equally be asked whether historical and form criticism have not gone too far and destroyed the very basis of biblical authority. Perhaps it is symptomatic that very often groups and communities which stress the literal authority of the Bible go along with politically conservative movements. Contrarywise we observe a certain correlation between liberal political attitudes and a critical view regarding the authority and inspiration of the Bible. However this may be, the discussion has shown that in addition to strictly theological presuppositions a number of "non-theological" factors may be operative in determining our respective approach to the interpretation of the biblical texts.

II. THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CHURCH.   The discussion of "The Social Responsibility of the Church" has shown that Adventists, on the one hand, and the Churches which have chosen to enter the fellowship of the World Council of Churches, on the other, share a common yearning to respond more

p 112 -- fully to the saving love which has been made manifest to the world in Jesus Christ. While agreeing that this faith carries profound implications for the Church's witness in society, we differ markedly in the ways we formulate these. Such differences stem partly from the varied experiences we carry with us, as individuals or denominations, and partly from disagreements about the relative weight to be given to specific doctrines within our common faith-tradition. We should, however, emphasise that these differences do not represent a clear distinction between Adventism and World Council member Churches, for the kind of debate we have had at this meeting has often been heard - and will continue to be heard - within many member Churches and within the governing bodies of the World Council of Churches itself.

2.    We affirm that the Church has been constituted by God's saving action in Jesus Christ whose selfless love for the world is to be reflected by those who bear his name. In isolating itself from the world, or in serving mankind simply to strengthen itself as an institution, the Church would be untrue to that outreaching divine love whose Incarnation we recognise and proclaim. The Church like its Lord is called out of the world in order to exist for the world. Differences exist between us, however, in interpreting how these elements of "withdrawal from" and "existence for" are to be held together.

3.   The Church lives as a sign and servant of the Kingdom which has come and which is to come. Its sure hope constitutes an eschatological dynamic for social service and action, and also sets an eschatological limit to what we may expect from such service and action. We appear to differ, however, in the relative weight given to the "dynamising" and "limiting" aspects of eschatology.

4.    Responsibility for the neighbour cannot be separated from love for God, any more than verbal proclamation can be divorced from our attempts to embody the reconciliation and healing of which we speak. The Church's social responsibility is therefore not a peripheral matter but a concern which emerges from the heart of the Gospel itself. Each group in this discussion, however, has expressed misgivings about what it sees as the other's imbalance in relating proclamation and social responsibility.

5.    The witness of the Church is addressed to the salvation of the whole man, body, mind, and spirit. Each person, whether he likes it or not, lives in a society which supports and/or oppresses him and upbuilds and/or distorts his humanity. Its concern for man drives the Church to take very seriously the social, political and economic structures of society. Believing in the creation of every man in the image of God the Church must stand for the dignity and freedom of the individual against every tyranny. Equally, it must defend the welfare of the human community against the individual or sub-group which would misuse its freedom.

6.   We have consensus on the need for forms of Christian social action which respond to the political and economic realities of the day without being solely determined by them; on the need for the Church to avoid both the Scylla of a Constantinian captivity to a particular social order as well as the Charybdis of a total disregard for the social order; and on the need to find more effective ways of linking ethical insights which are to be derived from Christian faith with the passing issues of social, political and economic decision-making. Yet there remain disagreements about the forms of political action which are appropriate for the individual Christian, and even more substantial differences about the ways in which Churches and councils of Churches should act to support and encourage responsible Christian social engagement.

7.    We are in agreement that Christian diaconia is at the same time caritative, structural and "conscientising". These three forms of service in society are complementary, interdependent and inseparable. However, we could not resolve difficulties arising from the question whether there obtains an order of priority among these forms of diaconia and by which methods "structural" diaconia in particular should be carried out. Should the Christian community work for the change of the structures of society, even if this involves revolutionary methods including the possible use of violence? Does the biblical witness oblige us to give a priority to spiritual means of inducing change and thus to the "conscientising" aspect of diaconia? Adventist participants expressed the fear lest the Church in its "structural" diaconia should become exclusively identified with any one side of the political struggles in society.

p 113 -- HOW TO USE THESE MATERIALS IN LOCAL AND REGIONAL CONVERSATIONS -- Those engaging in conversations on local and regional levels will have to develop their own method and choose their themes according to the circumstances. Some words might be in order concerning the possible use to be made during such conversations of the materials assembled in this "dossier":

Some groups may want to start with a critical study and appraisal of the two sets of reports on the series of international meetings. Within this framework they could concentrate on one of the three analyses of discussion on individual topics. From there the work could progress to a joint study of the document on "Common Witness and Proselytism". Finally, one could turn to a mutual clarification of the self-understanding of the partners in the conversation.

Other groups might wish to start with the question: Who are we? Such mutual introduction and information could be based on the documents included in the first part of the "dossier". Further information will doubtlessly arise out of the respective situation. In a second phase conversation could be directed toward one specific issue or theme of common concern, using either the study document on "Common Witness and Proselytism" or one of the themes from the international discussions. On the basis of such common study, the results of the international meetings held so far could be evaluated.

Many further ways of proceeding and using the materials presented here could be conceived. In any case, conversations should stay as close as possible to the particular situation in which they take place. Thus, the reports coming from the international meetings might soon have to be left aside.

p 114 -- For your future reading

Concerning the World Council of Churches

Uppsala Speaks (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1968, Sfr 4.80) contains the Message and Section Reports of the Council's Fourth Assembly and is thus the most comprehensive and the most official text for the current positions and strivings of the Council. The Fifth Assembly will be meeting in 1975.

The authoritative history of the ecumenical movement from 1517-1968, sponsored by the WCC, is published in two very large volumes: A History of the Ecumenical Movement 1517-1948, eds. Rouse and Neill and The Ecumenical Advance 1948-1968, ed. H. Fey (both London: SPCK and Philadelphia: Westminster Press). Readers looking for a shorter historical account can best consult the two volumes by Norman Goodall: The Ecumenical Movement - what it is and what it does and Ecumenical
(1961-1971) (both London and New York: Oxford University Press). The achievements of the Faith and Order Commission which, within the WCC, is particularly concerned to keep open inter-confessional conversations, can be studied in A Documentary History of Faith and Order (St Louis: Bethany Press), and its current discussions in Faith and Order Louvain 1971 (Geneva: WCC). Written especially for British readers and with the critical judgement of a single writer is The Churches Search for Unity by Barry Till (London: Pelican/Penguin Books 1972).

Until the Fifth Assembly pulls the many strands of the Council's work together again, the debates on major issues and the insights of the various projects can best be followed in the WCC journals: The Ecumenical Review (see e.g. October 1972 on the Council's self-understanding or July 1972 on relationships with Roman Catholics), the International Review of Mission (see e.g. January 1972 on Salvation Today or April 1972 on Africa), Study Encounter (see e.g. SE/22 Biblical Interpretation in the WCC or SE/35 Can the Pentecostal Movement Renew the Churches?),and RISK (see e.g. 1971 no. 3 on African Independent Churches or 1972 no. 3 on a WCC Central Committee meeting). The Ecumenical Press Service, especially its This Month series, brings up to date news and reports from all over the Christian world.

Many of these materials are available also in French and German; please write and ask about this, as for the current catalogue, subscriptions and any other point concerning the Council's work to: WCC Publications Office,

150 route de Ferney
1211 Geneva 20
or Room 439
475 Riverside Drive
New York, N.Y. 10027

p 115 --
For your future reading

Concerning the Seventh-day Adventist Church

Beach, B. B., Ecumenism - Boon or Bane?, Washington D.C.: Review and Herald, 1973

Beach, W. R., Dimensions in Salvation, Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1963

Emmerson, W. L., God's Good News, Watford, Great Britain: Stanborough Press, 1950

Froom, L. E., The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vols. I-IV, Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1954

Froom, L. E., Movement of Destiny, Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1971

Herndon, Booton, The Seventh Day, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company Inc., 1960

Heppenstall, Edward, Our High Priest, Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1972

Jemison, T. H., A Prophet Among You, Mountain View, California: Pacific Press, 1955

Jemison, T. H., Christian Beliefs, Mountain View, California: Pacific Press, 1959

Nichol, F. D., The Midnight Cry, Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1944

Nichol, F. D., Reasons for Our Faith, Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1947

Noorbergen, R., Prophet of Destiny, New Canaan, Conn.: Keats Publishing, Inc., 1972

Pease, N. F., And Worship Him, Nashville, Tenn.: Southern Publishing Association, 1967

Ritland, R. M., The Search for Meaning in Nature, Mountain View, California: Pacific Press, 1970

Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine, Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1957

Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vols. I-VII, Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1957

p 116 -- Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1966

Spalding, Arthur W., The Origin and History of Seventh-day Adventists, Vols. I-III, Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1961

Tobler, G., Unser Ruhetag, Zurich: Advent-Verlag, 1970

Vandevere, E. K., The Wisdom Seekers, Nashville, Tenn.: Southern Publishing Association, 1972

Vaucher, A., L'Histoire du Salut, Dammarie-les-Lys, France: Les Signes des Temps, 1951

Vick, Edward, Let Me Assure You, Mountain View, California: Pacific Press, 1968

White, E. G., The Desire of Ages, Mountain View, California: Pacific Press, 1898

White, E. G., The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, Mountain View,California: Pacific Press, 1911

White, E. G., Steps to Christ, Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1956 (copyright)