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Itt vagyunk: Főoldal Közlemények Proposal to the Theological Committee and to the General Assembly of IEF on the Conception of the Church and an Identity of IEF


Proposal to the Theological Committee and to the General Assembly of IEF on the Conception of the Church and an Identity of IEF

It seems to be very important that we have a good opportunity to deal with the issue of our conception of the Church in a serious theological discussion. When working on this subject, firstly we all should be in accord in one substantial matter, namely that we really want the Unity of the Church and that we are ready to renounce and give up any intention of Superiority of one above the others, as well as any wish to incorporate other churches by one-sided action; we have to entirely abandon any kind of proselytism. Quite on the contrary, it is essential to announce the principle of equality and that of the same rights, treating partners as equals with the same worth. In serious and open collaboration we can prepare a declaration that it is not our intention or purpose to swallow our partners/companions.

Because of these principles it is not possible inside the IEF to support in any way – through speech or action –  the integration of our Anglican brothers and sisters into the Roman Catholic Church, and this step should be considered as an action against real ecumenism.


Following the testimony of the Holy Scripture and taking into consideration the coherence of theological system of Christianity, we are completely justified to declare that the Unity (in faith) is completely given in Jesus Christ. This is expressed in Jesus’ prayer to his heavenly Father, in a prayer for unity. Jesus Christ has only one Church and this one and only Church has member churches which have the same rights and are of the same value. They are on the same level and have the same intrinsic worth. On this well elaborated basis and only with these premises we are entitled to enter into dialogue and discussion. Only with this basic conception in mind, we can have a pure conscience towards the others, being always aware that all our actions must be grounded in love.


There is only one really important question, and that one can and must be deeply elaborated, clarified and explored: who has so far been more able to fulfil the intention of Christ, and what now the member churches can do to elevate Christ’s honour and authority in their own specific way, and also what they can find in the life of other member churches.


The member churches are invited and can really be present in their individual manner, with their own character, with clearly stated differences, expressing in this way their historical specialties. It means that the member churches can present their own confession beside the elements they have in common with the other member churches – of these common elements, some have been maintained till now and some have been newly elaborated. All member churches therefore have the right and also the possibilities to present their identity and to demonstrate their general and specific gifts. At the same time undoubtedly the most important goal on the way to unity is to work on presenting, explaining and underlining of all the elements that can be accepted by the sister churches, to point at the common elements. They are in fact a really existing base of visible unity.


In an organization working on the field of ecumenism, the participants are members of existing churches – whether of conservative ones, trying to preserve their past, or of completely new ones. From experience we can say that some of the participants are willing and able to accept the fundamental rule, working method and system of values of IEF. These are already members of IEF in full sense. It can be said about them that they are living under two regulations and have two legal systems, two constitutions: they live like someone who has dual nationality.


It is not easy to be a citizen of two states. But those, who are fully living their new ecumenical existence, have found their whole human dignity. While still being a part of their own original church, they present themselves as full members of the IEF or of a similar ecumenical organisation.

These people have special vocation, they are invited to live in a special priesthood – full-time or part-time – carrying out the work of royal priesthood in this field of Christian mission. They have such great treasure in their complex understanding that it is not necessary to impose on them the concept of ministerial priesthood.


If we follow the results of the analysis, we must conclude that a believers who come to the IEF or those who are willing to do any sincere ecumenical work, while maintaining their original status in their Member Church, should support the following statement (of course, only within the limits of their free conscience):


According to the latest position of the Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of Benedict XVI., Bishop of Rome, it is not necessary to respect the members of other denominations as real members of the One Holy Church. However, as a Christian I got a free conscience in the faith of Jesus Christ. On the fundament of unity given by Him, I anticipate the truth in hope and accept the other baptised brothers and sisters as wholly justified members of the true One Church of Jesus Christ. In all my actions I witness that I show greater honour to Christ and – after Him – to the decisions of a free conscience received from Christ than to the written and universally accepted or at least generally observed regulations and partial confessions of the Member Churches. All these commitments are made in the interest of ecumenical service, including the activities going on in the IEF. I consider these statements and this system to be very important because the main goal of this service is not confrontation but complete visible unity previewed (anticipated) and approached in the IEF, as on an island in the life of faith. We are expecting the final extension into full unity, in infinite time and space, but never the less real.


The same course must be followed in the case of our brothers, members of Orthodox churches. Similarly, we mustn’t forget that the same questions arise with conservative Evangelical-Lutheran and Calvinist as well as some members of Baptist churches.


We must not refuse the possibility of a dialectical and dynamic way of the Unity of Churches as mentioned and presented above. We must never be stopped by obstacles stemming from selfishness. There is no place for the idea of absolutism in religion. Such wrong assumptions could lead to the impossibility and death of ecumenical service and make even the existence of the IEF as well as sincere ecumenism in any form impossible.


Having provided the complex and appropriate in-depth theological analysis, we can now have the courage to look for a more simple, but no less expressive way to achieve the same results through everyday life and experience by taking into account people’s practice. It will suffice to call attention to the wonderful routes of the „low church”, of the „grassroot” journeys. In other words, we can see real advance achieved by small religious communities. This form also seems to be accepted by the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.


After careful reading of the analytical edition  of the book of  IEF (Living Today the Church of Tomorrow) and taking into consideration the experiences of IEF and of some similar organizations, it seems to be fully justified to state that there is a common fundamental principle, accepted by all. It should not be forgotten, quite on the contrary, it should be written in form of a statement.


In the life of the Fellowship, directives – and often their implementation too – could all follow and be based on the extensive and flourishing fundamental principles of the ecumenical movement as elaborated and presented in this theological study. In a respectful and honest atmosphere we can declare that without this spiritual liberty and courage our dear brothers and sisters coming from Spain could not participate in the ecumenical actions and could not be with us at the international and local conferences. Similarly, we might antagonise our radical Protestant brothers and sisters if we could not protect the rightness of our decisions and models with the help of our theological and ethical purity, firm and clear attitude, and – occasionally – with the help of a sort of dialectical foreseeing.


We can also be ready to make our statement or maybe even an extended confession that the liberty of conscience of a believer established in Christ and elevated in his faith by Christ accepts and assumes the reality of the Church of the future without fear, even today, at this present moment.


Running down the way of freedom we can also declare that it is normal, acceptable and even obligatory to refuse the wrong tendency in ecumenism that consists in stressing one's one profile more clearly against the others. There is a great need to call attention to the wrong activities of persons and organisations that are looking for a life in separation from the others. It is unacceptable to search for reasons to justify living separately and outside the common field of mission, in the religious absolutism of one’s own religion.


Inside of the Fellowship the common elements must be elevated, underlined and placed in a central position. Looking for future development and extension into unity, the real art in our faith life now seems to be to find ways to integrate our specific features into the common treasure, into the general confession. With a realistic approach this longing for unification is possible – only step by step, no doubt; however, exclusivity must be forbidden at all times.


It is also important from the part of IEF to state clearly that any attempt to lure a believer from one member church to another religious organisation, to proselytize, must be unanimously refused.


Here is a summary of the construction consisting of several steps, with a hope that unity will one day be reached on the highest of steps:


1/ It is our task to protect the results achieved so far on the way to Unity of the One and Holy Church and to point at all the conceptions which are obsolete and dangerous in the life of the Christian Community, namely those that express the selfish interests of a given church.


2/ Prophetic and foreseeing character of IEF, practical realization of our common motto „living today the Church of tomorrow” means that we get courage from the Holy Spirit to live the elements of the future, which involves doing something that is completely new. It must be done, even if there are some persons or organisations who might express negative attitude towards it.


3/ The internal regulations of any society, in case of churches as well as in IEF, must be established from within, by that society itself, and not by the member churches. They are  applied only inside that society – in our case inside of our Fellowship.


Taking into consideration the theological position elaborated in the special environment that is IEF, it is the task of the ecumenical organisation to listen to the conceptions and statements announced in the world and by the sister churches. However, any member church working on unity is obliged to elaborate its own opinion and its own position; in a parallel and independent way an ecumenical organization such as IEF is obliged to establish its own character and rule of life. It is bound to direct its own life according to the task it received from the Holy Spirit, looking ahead into a greater distance in space and time but living here and now the life of Christ.


There is also a special and actual reason for the need to strongly support the action for unity. The members of our member churches live in immediate danger of even physical extermination. The security of persons, families, organisations and religious life in general as well as the fundamental activities of churches can only be safeguarded by a normal well-organised state. One of important ways how to contribute to the positive development and preserving such a form of state that would assure liberty to all its citizens and religious faiths, the member churches must present a united front and join forces to represent their interests.


The same course must be followed in order to protect the liberty of Europe as well as the independence of the City of Rome and that of Budapest.


Széchey Béla József (

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