Leadership Conference 2015 – Day Two Morning Session 2 (RAH) – Father Raniero Cantalamessa

Traditional hymns with the Royal Albert Hall organ for accompaniement, sets the scene for Father Raniero.

The joy of the gospel is with all of those who meet with Jesus Christ. We must re-embark on using this joy for the evangelisation of the world. At first, ‘repent and believe the gospel’ is not always received, at first, as good news. Repent means to ‘turn your mind around’ not to do penance. 

Be converted by believing – they are not different things but complementary. God has sent His son that we may receive adoption as sons. Salvation in many religions is through ascetic means, christianity does not tell them what they need to do to be saved but what God has done for them. Prior to the category of duty is the category of gift – grace. The gospel is a source of joy as it tells us of a God of grace, who gave his Son. The joy of the gospel is not an easy joy – it is especially for the poor and the needy. If it is good news, why is the christian faith perceived as one of pain and problem?  The perception is a negative one when it should be joy. We see the will of God as something that is displeasing or painful – God being the enemy of any joy or celebration. This is different to the image of God in the gospel and must be dealt with if we are to evangelise.

The Eastern Church is more positive whilst the western church is more negative. The theology and need of grace by Augustine and the western church has often been the church that has restricted grace. 

The secular western world has rejected christianity but we are beginning to see a momentous change, particularly the charismatic/pentecostal renewal across the world. It provides a different perception of the christian life, one of joy and celebration rather than pessimism. Joy in the Holy Spirit changes things as people are convicted of sin and move grace. Nobody has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit – as we yield to Him, the church lives and our actions show God. 

We have an opportunity to live in this new moment of grace. The greatest danger is from within, we need to demonstrate love (cf 1 Corinthians) with authentic love in Christ and living in the fruit of the Spirit. Holiness is vital. 

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus……..

Unity amongst Christians is vital, especially as there is the 500yr anniversary of the Reformation (in 2017) – the church and the world have changed since then and we need to once again, centre everything on the person of Jesus. We preach Christ crucified or we preach Christ as Lord must be our refrain. 

We are called to proclaim the good news of the gospel. 

A renewal of dialogue is required. Raniero shares honestly about the conflict of preserving theological position compared to the unity we share in Christ as his children. If we are one in Christ we need to talk again and recognise not just the visible church but the invisible church. Christian constituencies are being brought together again by the Spirit of God. Our unity is based in the person of Jesus Christ – not on dogma or practice. Steps to unity will be found when believers, despite their differences, meet together around the person of Jesus.