In the first section, several commissioners reviewed official reports from existing international dialogues of Pentecostals or Evangelicals with the Roman Catholic Church, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, or the Lutheran World Federation. The editors also chose to include the dialogues of Pentecostals with various member churches of the WCC, known as the Joint Consultative Group. These contributions have met the goal of harvesting the fruit of other ecumenical conversations that include many of the churches absent from the WCC.
The second section focuses on Pentecostal and Evangelical perspectives on
the church. Some of these chapters were presented in the consultation that Faith and Order organized at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, in the United States on 26–30 June 2018, under the title “Towards a Global Vision of the Church.”
Some chapters are ecclesiological studies on Pentecostal and Evangelical perspectives on ecclesiology that have been published elsewhere. They are included here because the ecclesiology study group found them to be useful in its discussions along the way, and it believed that these chapters would aid further ecclesiological discussions.
In the third section, the ecclesiology study group has identified some key themes which deserved further exploration after reflection upon the contributions which are being published in these two volumes. While each chapter of this section is the work of a commissioner from a particular tradition, taken together, these chapters reflect the insights and collective input of the entire group. Some of these chapters harvest the fruits that the commission’s consultations have brought forward on specific key themes by identifying contributions that could advance the ecclesiological conversation.
Other chapters focused on specific topics that could help the commission gain a greater understanding of topics about which Pentecostals often speak (such as experience, gifts of the Spirit, baptism in the Spirit) or on topics where there appears to be little discussion by Pentecostals but that are frequently raised by most other churches (such as sacraments, authoritative teaching). We also chose to include a discussion of the challenging topic of proselytism, as this continues to be a sensitive issue in dialogues of Pentecostals or Evangelicals with other denominations. Finally, three chapters address the relationship between ecclesiology, pneumatology, and spirituality from different perspectives, offering insights into a topic worth further exploration in the future.
At the end of this volume, five appendixes can be found. The first four include the reports of the Joint Consultative Group between the WCC and Pentecostals, published here for the first time in an official WCC publication. The fifth appendix offers resources on bilateral ecumenical dialogues where Evangelicals or Pentecostals have been involved. These are offered in the hope of assisting future researchers and scholars who are interested in exploring what has already been discussed in such dialogues.
Overall, the work published in these two volumes reflects the ecclesiological contributions which occurred through this “broadening of the table of conversation.”
This broadening was extremely strategic for at least four reasons.
First, it boosted global inclusion by finding ways to include in the dialogue significant part of the one-quarter of World Christianity (half a billion Christians) that was not involved with Faith and Order work.
Second, it found a creative way to show faithfulness to ecumenical tradition, as the spirit of the ecumenical movement has always been about engaging with the whole of World Christianity.
Third, it ensured continuation with the previous steps, as it continued the task that the WCC had undertaken in recent decades to keep broadening the table, by creating opportunities for interaction both outside its structures (for example, through the founding of the Global Christian Forum) and inside them (for example, through Faith and Order consultations).
And fourth, it gave an opportunity to update the work of Faith and Order with some of the latest global developments in World Christianity.
With these two volumes, we now pass on a body of literature on which scholars, researchers, ecumenists, and, of course, the new Commission on Faith and Order can build from a broadened ecclesial table of conversation. The inclusion of so many newer voices and the reflections on their responses by members of the commission, should enrich all further conversations on the church. The current volume not only broadens the table; it also updates all subsequent conversations on ecclesiology, and it points to the possibility—perhaps the inevitability—of changes in the ways we describe the church in the future.