Just as the disciples of Christ were only belatedly called Christians, so too those who supported the Reformation were called Protestants only from 1529 onwards. This was the date of the second diet of Speyer, when five princes of the holy Roman empire and 14 free cities “protested” against the decision taken three years earlier which had granted the princes (or cities) the right to decide as sovereigns what the religion of their subjects should be. In support of their stand they affirmed: “In matters which concern the honour of God and the salvation of our souls, every individual must stand alone before God and give an account.” Until then the Protestants had been called by different names – Lutherans, Evangelicals, Huguenots. The term “Protestantism” has more than a negative side to it. Rather, it is an affirmation of the freedom of faith.*
One might think that Protestantism arose out of a challenge to the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church, such as the sale of indulgences, the second-rate quality of the lower clergy or the dissolute life-style of the higher clergy. But these abuses had been denounced already for over a century. Hence, the Reformation would have been original only in succeeding, at least partially, where others had failed. But at a more profound level, the Reformation criticized the importation of the Roman tradition into the gospel, such as the doctrines of purgatory, Mariology, the veneration of saints and the power of the clergy. Even here Protestantism is not wholly original, for it owes something to humanism, which commended a return to the primary documents – in this case, the holy scriptures. Many humanists, however, did not become Protestants; the most famous example was Erasmus (1467-1536).
The development of Protestantism
The real originality of Protestantism lies in its fresh reading of the Bible, which led Martin Luther (1483-1546), an Augustinian monk and theologian, to claim that Christians are “justified”, i.e. they become righteous in the sight of God, not by their works and the merits which derive from these, but by God’s grace* alone, received in faith and not by means of works (see justification). Even if human beings or the individual conscience approves these works, God in his holiness cannot accept them as righteous, for human beings are sinners through and through, and their works are evil (see sin). Only the redeeming work of Christ is pleasing to God, and in his grace God “reckons to us” the righteousness of Christ. Our righteousness is therefore external (forensis), for we are not its source, which does not mean that it is unreal, for God does accomplish what he tells us and promises to us in his creative word. Having become good trees, by grace alone, we bear good fruits, in so far as we continue to have faith in Christ crucified and raised. In turn, this faith is not a work; it is a gift of God, awakened in us by the Holy Spirit.*
Protestantism thus developed a new understanding of faith. Faith is not primarily intellectual assent to doctrines which the church,* its councils and the pope formulate. First and foremost, faith is a personal bond of trust in Christ and recognition of the rightness of the judgments which God pronounces on sinful human beings. At least in the beginning, Protestants unanimously recognized the ancient ecumenical symbols or creeds,* and even drew up their own doctrinal confessions of faith: Augsburg confession (1530), confession of La Rochelle (1559 and 1571), Scots confession (1560), second Helvetic confession (1560), Westminster confession (1646), etc. But these confessions are not standards with absolute authority. Only holy scripture – in so far as, in Luther’s words, it is the bearer of Christ – has the force of the ultimate standard or court of appeal (norma normans); the confessions are standards only to the degree that scripture confirms them (norma normata).
Polemics naturally accused the Reformation of moral laxity because of its claim that works do not save. This censure is unfounded. While works cannot produce salvation,* they are nonetheless an essential to demonstrate that we have not received the righteousness of Christ in vain – or as the Heidelberg catechism (1563) says, to give evidence to God of our gratitude. This is the true basis of a rigorous Protestant ethic.
This ethic is all the more rigorous in that while Roman Catholic tradition progressively reduced good works to prayer, pilgrimages, charitable gifts, etc., Protestantism for both Luther and Calvin re-
established the dignity of work* in the world, hence Luther’s struggle against monastic vows, in which he saw a flight from Christian responsibilities in the world, the city and the family. Hence also Calvin’s doubtless bolder initiatives to encourage trade and industry. Calvin’s exegesis of relevant Old Testament passages clearly shows that they condemned loans at exorbitant interest rather than loans at interest rates that were intended to increase production. The clerical profession has no pre-eminent status for Christians; those who work to ensure a livelihood for their family, the prosperity of their town and help for the deprived are as worthy of respect as the minister entrusted with the proclamation of the word of God. One’s trade, according to Luther, is also one’s calling or vocation.*
This rehabilitation of secular work led certain sociologists and historians, especially Max Weber in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904-1905), to look for the origins of the capitalist quest in the Protestant ethic. But one must note, as Weber explicitly does, that it was the puritan spirit which above all provided the religious foundations and created the necessary mental attitudes for capitalist enterprise, at least in its beginnings. This thesis continues to find critics, who so far have managed only to clarify a thesis which in its essentials retains its full value.
Protestantism sought to reform the church from within but failed in this respect because of the intransigence of popes and the holy Roman emperor. The Protestant churches were compelled to constitute themselves as separate churches. But even before the schism* was completed, they evolved an ecclesiology different from Rome’s. For a start, they asserted that the pope and even councils could be mistaken, that scripture remains the supreme arbiter, that it has a clarity of its own and that its obscure parts are clarified by its more self-evident passages. This was in embryo the modern idea – accepted by Protestantism and in large measure by Roman Catholic theologians today – that there is a canon within the biblical canon.*
Furthermore, while the Roman Catholic Church maintained that there is no church except where there are priests ordained by a bishop who is within the apostolic succession and in communion with the pope as the successor of Peter, the Reformation maintained that the church exists wherever the word of God* is rightly proclaimed and where the sacraments* instituted by Christ (i.e. only the two sacraments of baptism* and the Lord’s supper, or eucharist*) are administered in agreement with the gospel. The church is a community of sinners who have been forgiven and, prompted by the Spirit, are brought together by the word of God.
Patently in its definition of the church, Protestantism gave pride of place to the event by which the people are brought together through the word, as compared with the institution as a socio-historical phenomenon. This is not to claim that Protestantism rejected all ecclesial institutions. As the schism moved towards its completion, it adopted a variety of institutional forms in its various denominations, but all of these institutions were marked by their collegial character and by the increasing role of the laity* in the government of the church (see church order).
Defining faith as a relation of personal trust in the Lord meant depriving the church of its power as an institution. No longer did the church mediate and dispense salvation, even as a secondary cause. Its one role is to proclaim and bear witness to the salvation which God effected in Christ, and to do so in the most varied ways – by preaching, administering the sacraments and declaring forgiveness (no longer itself doing the forgiving), and by mutual aid, service and the care of souls. Thus the church was made subordinate to the redeeming work of Christ, and ecclesiology depended on Christology. The church is a second reality. But it is not a secondary one, for it is and remains the Body of Christ, and all whom God has justified are brought into the church (in particular, by baptism); this body is called to grow in unity* and holiness.* Though the church has a divine foundation, it is not in itself a divine reality, and as an earthly institution it has its limitations. God alone knows who the true believers are; it is not up to the ecclesiastical institution to make this decision. This view explains why the practice of excommunication* eventually lost a great deal of its significance in the churches of the Reformation.
The ecclesiastical dispute with Rome has naturally been accompanied by a profound difference in regard to the ministry (see ministry in the church). That the ministry is an essential is not disputed in churches which resulted from the Reformation. But pastors are not priests, in that they have no special character or power which would distinguish them from laypeople. In principle, although pastors are ordained to their ministry, laypersons can carry out the same activities if the occasion arises and if they are called upon to do so by the constituted authorities. Already in 1520 Luther framed the Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, stating that all baptized Christians “can pride themselves on already being priests, bishops and pope”. But he added, “It is not appropriate for each person to fulfill the same office”, because of his concern for order and his respect for each person’s calling.
The question of the nature of the ministry remains a stumbling block in the ecumenical dialogues begun some decades ago between the Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches. Difficulties over the mutual recognition of ministries remain a serious barrier in the quest for unity. The three confessions have been able to reach agreement on recognizing baptism, which in any case may be validly administered by a layperson, according to the Roman Catholic Church. But in regard to the Lord’s supper (or eucharist), there is no such recognition. According to present Roman Catholic teaching, there are certain values in the Lord’s supper celebrated in the Protestant churches, but the Lord’s supper is defective because it is not presided over by a minister considered validly ordained in the apostolic succession. Hence intercommunion* and a fortiori intercelebration are not possible. Rome does extend, within certain limits, eucharistic hospitality to baptized Protestants, but this is a one-way hospitality.
The current stage of the problem is found in connection with the 1982 WCC Faith and Order document Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry,* prepared by Protestant, Orthodox and Roman Catholic theologians. This document clearly shows that there has been some convergence on questions of ministry, but some responses still pose a continuing deadlock: Protestantism cannot give up its concept of the priesthood of all believers, nor can it acknowledge that its ministers have an intrinsic power to effect sacraments.
To sum up so far, one can define Protestantism in the three classic formulas: sola gratia (grace alone), sola fide (faith alone), sola scriptura (scripture alone) – to which Calvin liked to add soli Deo gloria (to God alone be glory).
The expansion of Protestantism
International communications were not easy in the 16th century, yet the expansion of Protestantism was extremely rapid. Theologians and the clergy, and merchants too, were significant agents of that expansion. But it was checked by the wars of religion, persecutions (the Inquisition in Spain and Italy, the repressiveness of the monarchy in France, etc.) and the application of the principle in the (German) holy Roman empire that the sovereign in each region would decide the religion of his people, but also by the internal divisions in Protestantism between Lutherans, Calvinists and Zwinglians, especially in regard to the way Christ is present in the Lord’s supper.
Nevertheless, Protestantism in its Lutheran form conquered central and eastern Germany, the Rhineland area of Germany and south of the River Main, the Baltic lands and Scandinavia. In its Calvinist form the Reformation spread in France (around 1560 nearly a third of the kingdom was Protestant) and in Switzerland, though there, especially at Zurich, it was also in a Zwinglian mode. In the Netherlands it took a Calvinist and also a Mennonite form.
England is a special case. The break with Rome was the result of a conflict between King Henry VIII and the pope, who refused to annul Henry’s marriage with Catherine of Aragon. The schismatic Church of England (1534) was however quickly penetrated by Reformation ideas under the influence of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer of Canterbury, and of the Strasbourg reformer Martin Bucer, as the 1552 prayer book and the articles of religion show. In Jean Baubérot’s words, the Church of England is “a theologically Protestant church with an ecclesiastical structure which has remained close to Roman Catholicism”, while the Church of Scotland was and remained resolutely Calvinist. Protestantism was making headway also in the direction both of Bohemia, where the Bohemian Brethren had already prepared the ground, and of Hungary. The old church of the Waldensian valleys in northern Italy also rallied behind the Reformation.
In general terms, at the beginning of the 18th century confessional boundaries were more or less fixed, choices had been made, and the period of consolidation had begun which favoured both the emergence of denominational orthodoxies and a growing inflexibility on their part. This general comment finds two major exceptions: the (seeming) elimination of Protestantism in France by the revocation of the edict of Nantes (1685), and the progressive and continued growth of Protestantism in North America.
The Anglicans landed in Virginia in 1607 and converted certain Indians and blacks. The Anglican church they founded established itself also in the two Carolinas and, in the 18th century, in Georgia. But Protestantism’s great triumph in North America was the work not of the Anglicans but of Puritan and Congregationalist Nonconformists from the Netherlands and from England, followed by the Baptists and the Methodists. While no religion is constitutionally “established” any longer there, many in the US saw their country as a great Protestant nation. However, significant immigration has resulted in a strong Roman Catholic presence, and the country has had a Roman Catholic president (John F. Kennedy). The state maintains diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
But Protestantism became divided. The above account has highlighted the reasons for the divisions of the large Protestant churches which stem directly from the Reformation. But from the 16th century onwards, further divisions arose. The Mennonites,* who continue to this day, reject infant baptism, adopt a principle of non-violence and assume an ascetic approach to the world. Anabaptism also rejected infant baptism and re-baptized adults but exhibited a variety of forms, pacifist on the one hand, violent on the other. The latter tendency gave it an affinity with the movement of Thomas Münzer (1489-1525), who originally supported Luther but later became his opponent. While commending a spiritualized form of Christianity, Münzer supported the peasants’ revolt and died with those who took part in it. One can see in him a distant ancestor of present theologies of liberation.
Movements of renewal or awakening
Through the 17th to 19th centuries, movements of renewal or awakening arose also in the historic Protestant churches. Some evolved within the church, such as pietism. Others, either by accident or design, ended up in schisms and in the founding of new churches which identify themselves as Protestant.
The first is the Baptist movement, with origins at the beginning of the 17th century. It is in fact the heir to Anabaptism, for it rejects infant baptism and considers as members only persons baptized after they make a personal confession of their faith and give signs of their conversion. The Baptists* are a church of those who personally profess their faith, as opposed to the churches of the masses which directly emerged from the Reformation. Fundamentally the Baptist movement is congregationalist. Only the local congregations are called churches, and they enjoy a great deal of independence. They are linked by conventions. Considered as a sect in many European churches, where they are a very small minority, the Baptists represent large, powerful conventions of churches in some other countries. In the USA, the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination.
Then comes Methodism,* initially a movement of awakening which John Wesley (1703-91) led within the Church of England. But his para-church structures eventually led to separation from the national church, while in the newly independent USA Methodism became an autonomous church in 1784. In
English-speaking countries Methodism became a strong, powerful and well- organized family of churches. Methodist churches of the American branch retained the episcopal system.
Many more small churches and denominations derive indirectly from the Reformation and maintain some links with the historic Protestant churches.
Despite – or sometimes because of – its divisions, Protestantism, from the end of the 18th century to our own day, has been distinguished by intense missionary activity (see missionary societies). Some dates illustrate the vitality of these missions, which had for their main fields of activity Africa and Madagascar, India, Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and China: in 1792 the Baptist Missionary Society of London was founded; in 1795 the London Missionary Society; in 1799 the Dutch Mission at Rotterdam; in 1799 the (Anglican) Church Missionary Society; in 1810 the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (initially a joint undertaking, then Congregationalist) at Boston; in 1813 the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society at London; in 1814 the American Baptist Mission at Boston; in 1815 the Basel (Switzerland) Mission; in 1822 the Société des missions évangliques de Paris (Paris Evangelical Missions Society). Many other missionary societies, often fundamentalist in type and of American origin, came into existence during the 19th and 20th centuries.
All these missions had considerable success. For example, French Protestantism, with only 1 million members, started missions in Africa, Madagascar and the Pacific, and brought 1.2 million converts to Christian faith. But they transferred overseas both a very Westernized form of Christianity and their own confessional divisions – with disastrous results. To put an end to this competition, the world missionary conference (Edinburgh 1910) launched an appeal for unity. This conference, which is conventionally reckoned as the start of the modern ecumenical movement, explains also Protestantism’s significant role in the organization and personnel of both Life and Work* and Faith and Order* and in the creation of the WCC. To a greater degree than Eastern Orthodoxy, which had little overseas mission activity, Protestantism (including Anglicanism) was for long the vanguard of ecumenism.
In the European homelands, Protestantism has made little evangelistic progress. Since the end of the 16th century, confessional barriers between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism have, it seems, become fixed. There were, and still are, many individual conversions in both directions, but they are not statistically significant. Besides, since industrialization and urbanization made their appearance, neither Protestantism nor Roman Catholicism really has succeeded in reaching the de-Christianized masses, despite the numerous efforts which still continue. Except for the 1 million Baptists in the USSR, there has been no expansion of Protestantism in Europe.
In contrast, Protestantism has expanded remarkably in traditionally Roman Catholic Latin America and the Caribbean. In this vast continent there were only around 120,000 Protestants in 1920. In 2000 they numbered more than 35 million. In general, the evangelizing was not the work of the great historical churches but of the Pentecostals;* offshoots of both Congregationalism and Methodism, they began in North America in the early 1900s. Most often, the more intense Protestant evangelization has been in the small, conservative, often fundamentalist evangelical churches, rather than in the great historic churches, which are firmly established and highly institutionalized.
In 2000 there were about 340 million Protestants among about 2 billion Christians, in a world of 6.1 billion people. Churches do not all record their numbers in the same way. Most include children in their statistics, but churches opposed to infant baptism, such as Baptists, count only baptized adults. And churches vary on the registration of inactive members. Theologically and sociologically linked with the Protestantism of the Reformation as it is, the Anglican communion numbered 80 million members in 2000.
Thus Protestantism represents a relatively significant body of people in a world where Christianity is itself a minority. But the Protestant churches are divided, although they have a very substantial common theological basis and closely related forms of worship. How long will they remain so? This question is hard to answer. The great majority of the Protestant churches belong to the WCC, and the large confessional families such as the World Alliance of Reformed Churches,* the Lutheran World Federation,* the Anglican communion,* the Baptist World Alliance* and the World Methodist Council* increasingly undertake common activities and dialogues with a view to unity. These dialogues have made particular progress between Lutheran and Reformed Christians. In Europe most Lutheran, Reformed and United churches approved the Leuenberg* agreement (1973), which established a complete “table and pulpit fellowship”. In the USA, the Consultation on Church Union* was under way from the early 1960s. Finally, in many countries most Protestant churches are members either of a federation or of a national or regional Christian council, to which they delegate responsibility for taking certain common measures in ethics or socio-political life, and even, as in France, for some pastoral ministries and chaplaincies (prisons, hospitals, army).
In addition to the various unions of Protestant churches already effected between Reformed and Congregationalist bodies, Reformed and Methodists, etc. (of which the first was the United Church of Canada in 1925), other unions were under discussion in the early 21st century. Many past disputes have been overcome, and as a general rule a clear distinction is drawn in Protestantism between those increasingly fewer problems which still justify a separation of churches and those which reveal a legitimate diversity of theological trends. These latter, moreover, often cut across confessions and, for their part, do not justify retention of the boundaries between the churches.
The legal position of Protestantism in secular society varies greatly, from situations where there is a church-state agreement in the strict sense of the term “concordat” (with church ministers as state officials) to total separation of the churches and the state. Between these extremes are systems which are semi-concordats and forms of separation which do not exclude cooperation with the state and the allocation of various subsidies to the churches. In Germany, for instance, church and state are separate, but the state collects a church tax which is proportional to general taxation and passes it on to the churches. To be excused payment of this church tax, one must give official notice that one has left the church. In addition, regional subsidies (from the Länder) can be allocated to the work of the churches, and they support the university faculties of theology. In the USA church and state are separate, but issues such as prayers in the public schools are resolved in different ways depending on the decisions of the supreme court and of individual states. In all the Scandinavian countries except Sweden the sovereign is in theory head of the Lutheran church, but in practice the churches enjoy a very great deal of freedom. In the Church of England the monarch is legally “governor” of the church, and parliament retains a residual veto in matters of worship and doctrine. In France, to eliminate the grip of the Roman Catholic Church on the schools, a free compulsory secular primary school was established in 1881 (though confessional schools were not abolished), and in 1905, in an atmosphere of violent anti-clericalism, a law separating the churches and the state was passed. Protestants had no difficulty in accepting this law, but not until 1923 did Roman Catholics accept it. Since then, relations have become less strained, and through social and medical work, etc. the state indirectly subsidizes the churches.
Since the demise of communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe beginning in 1989-90, churches there have come to enjoy greater independence in relation to the state. Legal restrictions remain in force in several countries, applying particularly to minority religious groups. With the expansion of religious freedoms came an influx of programmes of evangelism* sponsored by churches and evangelical missions* based outside these nations. Churches long established in the region protested against this perceived proselytism,* sometimes to the point of calling for tightened state controls. Growing cooperation among the churches is encouraged by the joint committee of the Conference of European Churches* and the Council of the Conference of European Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church (see Europe: Central and Eastern).
Generally, Protestantism favours a legal arrangement under which it enjoys full autonomy from civil authorities not merely for preaching and teaching but also for its internal organization. This preference takes it back to its deepest roots. The Lutheran doctrine of the two “regiments”, or kingdoms (the spiritual and the temporal, which are parallel but essentially independent of each other), is a doctrine which Calvin fully adopted; in fact, it represents an initial form of secularity, clearly designed to be compatible with the political organization of Christendom at the time. When the political authorities and lay society were secularized, it was normal, in Protestant eyes, for secularity to take on new forms to ensure full freedom for the preaching of the gospel. This acceptance of a secularization* of state, institutions and public life in no way means that Protestantism had given up playing a part in society and withdrawn into itself for the sole task of saving individual souls. This temptation existed, but today it seems to have been removed.
The social aspects
Protestantism has recognized that a human being created by God is a whole, that the body is part of the person, that everyone has a social and community dimension, and that the salvation promised in Jesus Christ relates to the whole human being. Under the influence of movements like the social gospel,* social Christianity, religious socialism, Life and Work, and finally the WCC, Protestantism, for the most part, sees that social justice, fair sharing of wealth and resources, the preservation of peace, and ecological balance in a world entrusted by God to human beings and preserved with a view to future salvation are not secondary tasks but in fact integral to preaching the gospel. This realization has been clearer and quicker in the churches that came directly out of the Reformation than in the individualistic type of evangelical churches, although the latter are also beginning to embrace these concerns.
At all times, indeed, the Protestant churches have pressed their members to practise charity, but they have seen that this personal activity was too limited to be really effective. Hence the emergence, especially from the 19th century onwards, of large charitable diaconal and nursing institutions. Many of these are still active today and seek to equip themselves with modern technological aids. But while these bodies contribute to healing certain wounds inflicted by industrial and urban society and by wars, they have not tackled the roots of the evil. Initially the Protestant churches paid special attention to preventing these evils, e.g. by setting up, even before states thought of it, organizations such as welfare centres and holiday camps for young people and structures for social workers. Several of these services then became models which inspired the state and lay society. Later on, these same churches thought they ought to contribute to creating a public opinion which would exercise pressure on the state to change unjust laws, encourage industrial concerns to undertake better sharing of profits, give their employees a share of power in decision making and more effectively combat unemployment.
Yet many Protestant churches played a significant part in combating the proliferation of nuclear weapons, in stopping nuclear test explosions – in fact supporting denuclearization. In these struggles the Protestant churches cooperate with other churches, political parties, trade unions, etc. And when cooperating with other social forces, the churches have almost always been concerned to preserve their own identity and not to let themselves be taken over by political parties whose ideology they refuse to accept.
Many qualifications of this description might be made. Members within the Protestant churches are not all of one mind, even on limited individual issues, when it comes to deciding on matters relating to the economy, politics or disarmament. Motions, even when approved by synods with a very large majority, do not have compelling power in Protestantism. Nevertheless, Protestant churches generally sense the need to exercise a watchful politico-social and if possible prophetic ministry, without succumbing to a politicization which would be disastrous both for the unity of the ecclesial community and for the gospel message itself. Protestantism thus treads along a narrow ridge from which it is hard not to stray. What matters is that Protestantism should, in agreement with scripture (esp. Rom. 12:1-2), remain a power for renewal and for changing the world and not be conforming to it.
Protestantism will be successful in this task only in so far as its theologies are well rooted in scripture, well worked out, and capable of giving substance to its preaching. In no way need these theologies be uniform. A great part of the 20th century, from the 1920s to 1960, was inspired by great theological systems – of a Karl Barth, a Reinhold Niebuhr, a Rudolf Bultmann, a Paul Tillich, a Dietrich Bonhoeffer – and by the vast amount of work done by Old and New Testament exegetes. In this last field Protestant scholars, who were the vanguard, are now joined by their Roman Catholic colleagues, and the work of exegesis* is now being carried on ecumenically. The great Protestant theological renewal, which eclipsed the traditional conflicts between orthodox, liberal and pietist thinkers, has temporarily come to a halt, as if to draw breath. Many theologians are concentrating on more limited fields. Their work is preparing the way for the very necessary renewals of tomorrow, for the theologies which relate to the indigenization of Christianity are still in their infancy, and the so-called liberation theologies (which are not specifically Protestant) are exciting ethical calls which must be listened to.
n D.B. Barrett & T. Johnson, “Annual Statistic Table”, IBMR, 24, 1, 2000 n G. Casalis, “Protestantism”, in Encyclopaedia Universalis, Paris, Encyclopaedia Universalis, 1968 n P. Gisel, J. Baubérot et al. eds, Encyclopédie du protestantisme, Genève, Labor et Fides, 1995 n H.J. Hillerbrand ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, Oxford, Oxford UP, 1996 n R. Mehl, Traité de sociologie du protestantisme (ET The Sociology of Protestantism, London, SCM Press, 1970).
The text above is extracted from “Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement” 2nd Edition, published by World Council of Churches (courtesy of World Council of Churches)