World Church: Adventists, Evangelicals Commence Dialogue in Prague

World Church: Adventists, Evangelicals Commence Dialogue in Prague

August 16, 2006 Prague, Czech Republic .... [Christian B. Schäffler/APD/ANN Staff]

At the first meeting between Seventh-day 
                Adventists and the World Evangelical Alliance the two sides tried to gain a 
                clearer understanding of the theological positions of each body. [Photos 
                courtesy of Adventist Press Service 
                APD] -

At the first meetings between representatives of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church and the World Evangelical Alliance, they shared a common concern for united Christian witness in an age of increasing secularism and religious pluralism. Although informal contacts have occurred between Adventists and Evangelicals during the past 50 years, the August 8 to 11 dialogue held on the campus of the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague, Czech Republic was the first official meeting of the two groups.

"The meetings were spiritually significant and intellectually enriching," said Dr. Angel Manuel Rodríguez, director of the Adventist church's Biblical Research Institute and a member of the delegation. "Although we come from different religious traditions, there was much that we shared in common and was useful to both parties."

The meetings were designed to gain a clearer understanding of the theological positions of each body; clarify matters of misunderstanding; discuss frankly areas of agreement and disagreement on a Biblical basis; and explore possible areas of cooperation. The group also enjoyed a visit to several sites in Prague related to Protestant reformer Jan Hus.

The dialogue proceeded via several papers and presentations that described the respective profiles of Adventists and the Alliance. Representatives discussed the platform of beliefs held in common by Evangelicals: the Holy Scriptures, the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, justification by faith, the new birth, the unity of the Spirit, and the Resurrection. They also considered Adventist presentations on the interpretation of Scripture; Gospel, Law, the Sabbath; and relations with other churches.

Representatives participated together in daily worship and fellowship. The dialogue revealed a large measure of common ground as agreement was found between the beliefs of the Evangelical Alliance Statement of Faith and the Adventist church's statement of Fundamental Beliefs; further, the two groups shared a spirit of devotion and piety, a strong belief in the inspiration and authority of Scripture./p>

The meeting concluded with planning for a second round of discussions to be held August 6 to 10, 2007, on the campus of the Adventist-owned Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA. Topics to be covered include the role and authority of Ellen White; Adventists' approach to Biblical apocalyptic, including the teaching of the pre-Advent judgment and the Remnant; and trends among Evangelicals worldwide.

Representing the Evangelical Alliance were: Dr. Rolf Hille, chairman of the WEA Theological Commission; Dr. Juerg Buchegger; Pastor James Kautt; Dr. Herbert Klement; Dr. Ian Randall, joined by theological expert Dr. Reinhard Hempelmann. The Seventh-day Adventist representatives were: Dr. John Graz, Secretary of the Council on Interchurch/Interfaith Relations; Dr. Niels-Erik Andreasen, president of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan; Dr. Bert B. Beach, noted Adventist statesman; Dr. Kwabena Donkor of the Biblical Research Institute; Pastor Eugene Hsu, a general vice president of the world church; Adventist Review editor Dr. William Johnsson; Seventh-day Adventist Seminary professor Dr. Teresa Reeve; and Dr. Rodriguez. Drs. Hille and Graz co-chaired the discussions.

Seventh-day Adventists have previously held bilateral discussions with the Lutheran World Federation (1994-1998), the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul (1996), the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (2001), and The Salvation Army (2004-2005).

The World Evangelical Alliance represents an estimated 420 million evangelical Christians in 127 countries drawn from many denominations. The Seventh-day Adventist Church, a mainstream Protestant church, has more than 15 million members in 204 countries and territories; an estimated 30 million people attend Adventist worship services weekly.

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