All posts tagged “Lausanne Congress

comments 3

New series: The Lausanne Movement (and faith, development, justice & peace)

 A lot of the content that appears on this blog has to do with books I’m reading, events I go to, writing projects I’m working on, and other stuff I think might be worthwhile for the kind of folks who’d read a blog like this in the first place. That tagline at the top — “exploring the intersections of faith, development, justice & peace” — is as much for me as for you, reminding me to only post stuff that somehow fits within these set parameters (I make occasional exceptions in Repaso, my weekly roundup of all kinds of good stuff from around the internet).

From time to time I do a series of posts about a given topic that has something to do with those intersections. Two years ago this month, I did a six part series on the “Seek Social Justice” study produced by WORLD Magazine and the Heritage Foundation. Last April I ran a five part series on John Perkins and the Christian Community Development Association, focusing specifically on Perkins’ book, Beyond Charity: The Call to Christian Community Development. I’ve done a couple of other smaller series as well, like a three part look at Nicholas Wolterstorff’s book, Until Justice and Peace Embrace, which I posted last October.

These series have been meaningful for me, allowing me to reflect for a few weeks at a time on a particular thinker, theme or issue. And I’ve received positive feedback from them, which is always nice, and leads me to believe they’re helpful for others as well. So with all of that in mind, I introduce my next series

Those of us in the evangelical stream of Christianity who are interested in one way or another in the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace, stand on the shoulders of a lot of faithful women and men who have gone before us. Not so long ago, there were significant roadblocks for those seeking to understand how an evangelical, missional Christian faith might relate to and inform one’s understanding of what it means to serve the poor, mediate reconciliation between actual enemies with weapons, seek the welfare of the city, and to otherwise contribute to the common good in meaningful and tangible ways. We’ve come a long way from the height of the fundamentalist-modernist divide in the early twentieth century North American church, and no, it hasn’t primarily been my generation that has brought this about; we’re just starting to reap the benefits of the faithfulness of others. Rather, I’d suggest it has a lot to do with the Lausanne Movement and some of its key early leaders, people like Billy Graham, Rene Padilla, Samuel Escobar, Carl Henry and John Stott.

The First Lausanne Congress was held in Switzerland in 1974, with 2,700 participants from more than 150 countries. TIME called it “a formidable forum, possibly the widest ranging meeting of Christians ever held.” Here’s a three-minute video about that first gathering.

After the congress, a group of theologians and other Christian leaders drafted The Lausanne Covenant, with John Stott as its “chief architect” (more on Stott’s important contributions here). It’s a remarkable document, and it’s worth reading slowly and thoughtfully. For the purposes of this blog I want to highlight one section in particular, titled “Christian Social Responsibility.” Here’s how it reads (I know it’s a lengthy excerpt, but trust me, it’s worth it):

We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all people. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.

(Acts 17:26,31; Gen. 18:25; Isa. 1:17; Psa. 45:7; Gen. 1:26,27; Jas. 3:9; Lev. 19:18; Luke 6:27,35; Jas. 2:14-26; Joh. 3:3,5; Matt. 5:20; 6:33; II Cor. 3:18; Jas. 2:20)

There were three papers presented at that first Lausanne Congress that, according to pastor, professor and missiologist Dr. Al Tizon, “laid the theological foundation for evangelicals to engage wholeheartedly in ministries of community development, justice for the poor, advocacy for the oppressed and the transformation of society, alongside ministries of evangelism, personal discipleship and church expansion.”

Those three presentations were by Rene Padilla (“Evangelism and the World”), Samuel Escobar (“Evangelism and Man’s Search for Freedom, Justice, and Fulfillment”), and Carl Henry (“Christian Personal and Social Ethics in Relation to Racism, Poverty, War and Other Problems”).

Over the next three weeks, I’ll take each of those papers/presentations in turn, providing a bit of background on Padilla, Escobar and Henry, respectively, and drawing out some of the key concepts and arguments they make. I think you’ll see that what they had to say in 1974 is in many ways just as relevant to us today, if not more so. And just as they served to correct some of that generation’s blind spots having to do with the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace, they can do the same for us today. Following these three installments, if all goes well, I’ll take a look at some of the more recent contributions of the Lausanne Movement, specifically related to the 2010 Cape Town Congress.

I’m excited about this series. I hope you are too.

[Photo credit: Wheaton College Archive]

comments 2

John Stott on Christian social responsibility

After news of John Stott‘s death nearly two weeks ago, a range of tributes and obituaries came out in various quarters (like this, thisthisthis and perhaps most notably, this). As some noted, though Stott was hardly a household name in the US or the UK, he had enormous influence on evangelicals in those countries and others. Some considered him a sort of Protestant pope. I remember being at the Urbana conference during college, excited to hear him speak, when we learned that he wasn’t able to make it due to poor health. That was eight years ago.

I’d read one of his books a few years ago, but when I heard he had passed away, I decided now was as good a time as any to read another one of his books I’d picked up at a used book sale a while back: Christian Mission in the Modern World. The book, published in 1975, has chapters focused on mission, evangelism, dialogue, salvation and conversion, and in each he describes some of the prevailing views at the time as well as what he considers a biblical understanding of each.

I was personally interested in what he had to say about the long-time evangelical debate over the relation between evangelism and social action. The book was released shortly after the groundbreaking Lausanne Congress of 1974, at which Stott was the “chief architect” of The Lausanne Covenant, a document that remains influential among mission-focused evangelicals to this day. In response to the social gospel of liberal, Mainline churches and the individualized gospel of conservative, Fundamentalist churches, the Covenant had this to say — on behalf of evangelicals — about the importance of Christian social responsibility:

We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all people. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.

Those were, and are, bold words. And I think they go a long way to correct the errors of both warring tribes. In the book he goes into a bit more detail about all of this, saying that even for those Christians who affirm that both evangelism and social action are essential, there are three main ways of thinking about the relationship between the two: (1) social action as a means of evangelism, (2) social action not as a means of evangelism but as a manifestation, and (3) social action as a partner of evangelism. A version of the third one, he says, is the best:

As partners the two belong to each other and yet are independent of each other. Each stands on its own feet in its own right alongside the other. Neither is a means to the other, or even a manifestation of the other. For each is an end in itself. Both are expressions of unfeigned love… If we love our neighbor as God made him, we must inevitably be concerned for his total welfare, the good of his soul, his body and his community… Love has no need to justify itself. It merely expresses itself in service wherever it sees need.

It seems to me that while Stott may have articulated all of this for the church more than 35 years ago, and though he has now passed away, his nuanced voice is as important as ever and we have plenty yet to learn from him and to put into practice in our world.

comment 0

Repaso: Alternative justice, global evangelicalism, Guatemala’s geothermal jackpot, Mexico vs. Catholic Church, and more

1. Better Justice in Baltimore: A Community’s Approach to Crime
One of my professors from Eastern, Stan LeQuire, passed along a fascinating piece from the Solutions Journal about “community conferencing” for victims and offenders as an alternative justice system in Baltimore:

So why is community conferencing so successful? If there is a secret to its success, it has to do with our emotions. Community conferences allow—and even encourage—participants to express how they feel, something that our culture seems to discourage. It’s messy stuff, but our emotions motivate us more than our thoughts do. Just think…if someone gives a group a great intellectual solution to their problem, and they still walk out of the room hating each other, that solution will have no chance… In order for people to feel differently about a crime or conflict, they need to be able to address the incident on an emotional level before they can move forward. Community conferences provide a space and structure for people to do just that.

2. Global survey of evangelical leaders
During last fall’s Lausanne congress in Cape Town, the Pew Forum surveyed evangelical leaders from around the world and the report is now available. This is from the report’s introduction:

As the evangelical movement has grown and spread around the globe over the past century, it has become enormously diverse, ranging from Anglicans in Africa, to Baptists in Russia, to independent house churches in China, to Pentecostals in Latin America. And this diversity, in turn, gives rise to numerous questions. How much do evangelicals around the world have in common? What unites them? What divides them? Do leading evangelicals in the Global South see eye-to-eye with those in the Global North on what is essential to their faith, what is important but not essential and what is simply incompatible with evangelical Christianity?

3. Guatemala City’s geothermal jackpot
When I was maybe ten or so I climbed Pacaya, an active volcano in Guatemala, along with my dad, my brother and a group of friends. I remember eating my picnic lunch, watching lava flow down the side and having hot, tiny pellets of volcanic rock dropping around us. Now, according to GlobalPost (article and video) some folks are tapping into Pacaya for geothermal energy — a relatively clean type of alternative energy — to help power up Guatemala City:

The steam rising from the Pacaya volcano and the hills and rivers surrounding it on the outskirts of Guatemala’s captial city hints at a power source that could give the country the energy security it craves… But there are some barriers to entry for other companies hoping to join Guatemala’s geothermal race. The development of the geothermal fields is costly and risky – the plants themselves are also expensive to build and drilling doesn’t always turn up what’s expected. Despite those risks, Ormat plans to expand its operations in Guatemala.

4. Colombia’s best hope (PDF)
Adrienne Wiebe and Bonnie Klassen of Mennonite Central Committee have a good piece in The Ploughshares Monitor about the complexity of the ongoing volatile situation in Colombia and what ordinary Colombians are doing to work for peace. In the clash between government and military forces and rebel groups, they write,

The biggest losers are 45 million ordinary citizens, rural communities, and the environment. But it is with the ordinary citizens, the “losers,” that the best hopes and possibilities for peace in Colombia are emerging.

5. Mexico vs. the Catholic Church
There’s an interesting piece by Tim Padgett on Time Magazine’s Global Spin blog about a legal battle between Mexico’s Catholic Church and the country’s electoral tribunal, after the church hierarchy was sanctioned for making statements against political parties in favor of abortion and same-sex marriage. There are significant implications for both freedom of speech and freedom of religion in Mexico:

In its ruling, the [Federal Electoral Institute] tribunal insisted that it’s “protecting the secularism of the state.” But does a political proclamation by a religious group really threaten the secularism of a state? Does Mexico risk becoming Iran if it lets priests publicly criticize politicos? No. In reality, it’s the IFE judges, the PRD and other backers of Mexico’s outdated Religious Associations Law who may be undermining the country’s fledgling democracy.

6. The best 404 error message ever
Time Magazine’s Techland blog had a post about creative “404 error” messages, including one that’s actually a video. I was going to embed it here, but instead, click this link and see what you get.