Baptist representative emphasized Christian unity and religious liberty at Vatican meeting

Baptist Christians are committed to Christian unity, said Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School in the United States, at a meeting at Vatican City.

George represented the Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) as a fraternal delegate at the 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church hosted by Pope Benedict XVI, from October 7-18.

George, who is dean and professor of divinity, history and doctrine at Beeson, said that "Baptists confess with all Christians a robust faith in the one triune God" and that the "missionary God" has placed before the church an imperative for Christian unity. "We are not only to proclaim the Good News to all peoples but to do it in a way that visibly reflects the unity and love between the Father and the Son," George explained.

But even while affirming unity, George, who is chair of the BWA Commission on Doctrine and Christian Unity and a member of the Advisory Committee of the BWA Division of Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection, emphasized the historical Baptist commitment to religious liberty. "Throughout our history Baptists have been ardent champions of religious freedom, not only for ourselves, but for all persons everywhere."

He described religious liberty as "a gift rooted in the character of God himself, and in the kind of relationship to which he calls all persons." Such freedom, however, has come "under assault in many ways – some blatant and others more subtle." There is the need, therefore, for all Christians to "stand and work together for the protection and flourishing of universal religious freedom, both for individuals and for institutions of faith."

George had accepted the invitation of BWA General Secretary Neville Callam to attend the Vatican meetings. The assembly had as its theme, The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. Topics discussed included a rediscovery of the heart of evangelization; discerning the changes that affect how the faith is lived and that influence Christian communities; the transmission of the Christian faith; and pastoral activity.

The gathering marked the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council which opened on October 11, 1962, and closed December 8, 1965. The council, among other things, addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world.

Click here to read the full text of Timothy George's presentation.

Baptist World Alliance®
© October 23, 2012