Pope Francis and several prominent Evangelical and Pentecostal leaders met in Rome last Friday to discuss areas of mutual agreement and where they respectfully disagreed. The aim of the gathering, which had no official agenda, was to build unity between Christian traditions that have historic enmity.
The Rev. Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, former secretary general of the World Evangelical Alliance and chairman of the Advisory Board of Christian Media Corporation, said in an interview with The Christian Post Tuesday, that there was a John 17 spirit during the two meetings he had with Pope Francis. Tunnicliffe noted that formal meetings with the pope are often said to last only 30 minutes but one informal meeting with Francis and Evangelical and Charismatic leaders lasted over two hours. Those at the gathering sensed the presence of God, according to Tunnicliffe, and a unity of the Spirit as their discussions focused on Jesus Christ even as they talked about theological differences.
“These theological discussions have to take place in the context of relationship. Otherwise they become cold. And we are thankful for those opportunities where it is about building friends, while not dismissing the theological distinctives,” the former WEA leader explained. These relationships are what “help create the framework for the deeper discussions as well.”