• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Global Gospel, Global Era

As you know from a previous post, I have the privilege of attending Cape Town 2010, a significant event which is part of the Lausanne Movement.  Over 4,000 Christian leaders from over 200 countries will gather to address issues of paramount importance to global evangelization and missions in the 21st century.

If you have not already had the opportunity to watch the short video on the history of the Lausanne movement.

In an effort to make you aware of and engage the World Team community in reflecting on some of the issues which will be addressed at the Cape Town 2010 conference, I have attached one of the Advance Papers which I feel is critical for us to consider.

The authors, Os Guinness and David Wells, write the following in introducing the topic of the impact of globalization on our work today:

The first task is to discern, and so to make an accurate description of the realities of the world in which we find ourselves. The second task is to assess, and so to evaluate the pros and cons, the benefits and costs, of the world as a whole as well as of individual items and aspects of that world all assessed within the framework of the biblical worldview. The third task is to engage, and so to enter the world as disciples of Jesus called to be salt and light, gratefully using the best of the world as gifts of God and vigilantly avoiding the worst of the world. Or as the early church expressed it, we are to “plunder the Egyptian gold,” as the Lord told Israel to do, but we are never to set up “a golden calf,” as Israel was later judged for doing. Easy to say, these basic Christian tasks are harder than ever to do because of globalization. History is always more complex than we can understand, and it proceeds not by the simple influence of certain factors but by their complicated interplay and through the ironies of their unintended consequences. Globalization only compounds our difficulty in understanding, for by its very nature, globalization means that we who are finite now have to deal with the whole world; in other words, a world that is always far beyond our full comprehension. And we are dealing with the world when the world is communicating and changing at an unprecedented speed; in other words, when the world may have changed even before we have finished describing it.”

I would encourage you to share your thoughts and interact with this paper on the TATJ blog.

3 Responses

  1. I have such finished reading Guinness and Wells’ paper on the “Global Gospel”. I am very pleased that the Lausanne Committee has turned to two balanced informed biblical thinkers like Os Guinness and David Wells who have a good understanding of history and current global trends to write this paper in order to set the tone and direction of the discussions at Cape Town 2010.

    Before reading this paper I had a deep concern for the influence Cape Town 2010 might have on the global evangelical churches and mission agencies due to the rapidly growing trend among many influential evangelical church leaders emphasizing justice and mercy ministries according to God’s cultural mandate to almost the exclusion of His evangelistic mandate. As finite humans still in the flesh we can more easily identify with the needs of those suffering from injustice, exploitation, poverty, war, and disasters than those who are unreached, alienated from God, without a genuine hope of real salvation. This trend is, I believe, even more appealing to this current postmodern generation. Therefore I rejoiced when I read the last part of the paragraph next to the last paragraph on page 6.

    “In such a world, there has been a welcome return to the earlier Evangelical passion for social justice, as exemplified by such great Evangelicals as William Wilberforce, who is widely recognized as the greatest social reformer in history. But just as it was once a denial of the Gospel to stress the so-called “simple Gospel” at the expense of the “social Gospel” –; a denial so well corrected at Lausanne I–; so now it is equally a denial of the Gospel to stress the latter at the expense of the former, and to be now it is equally a denial of the Gospel to stress the latter at the expense of the former, and to be vocal about justice while hesitant about the scandal of the Cross and the saving power of Christ. Creating and contributing rather than critiquing and complaining: In a world in which the discontents of globalization are becoming more and more evident, and fear has become the most dominant emotion across the world, it is easier to be a critic and a complainer rather than a contributor and a creator. Yet not only does the world cry out for hope and practical solutions, so also does the imperative of the cultural mandate throughout the Scriptures.”

    The church should give the evangelistic mandate priority over the cultural mandate without the neglect of the cultural mandate. God gave the cultural mandate to Adam in the Garden before the fall, therefore for all mankind, and developed through out the Scriptures. The evangelistic mandate was given only to the church. Both mandates are from the same God –our God.

    Keep the two in proper balance in our ministries requires close communion with God in prayer so that God’s priority is our priority in the circumstances we face at any given time. Otherwise being human still in the flesh the cultural mandate will eat up the evangelistic mandate and we will lose the rightful balance. This is not a new problem. Peter Beyerhaus, a German missiologist, wrote a book on this subject in 1971 entitled Missions: Which Way? Humanization or Redemption. More recently David Hesselgrave wrote a chapter on this in his book Paradigms in Conflict, chapter “Holism and Prioritism.” I pray that Guinness & Wells biblical position will prevail at Cape Town.

  2. There is a lot to chew on in this article, David. I think Cape Town will leave you with a full mind. You and the other participants will not go hungry.

    What stood out to me in this article is the interplay between the three tasks and the grand transformations the author’s invite us to consider. The three tasks are: to discern, to assess, and to engage (full quote re-printed below). These are all well and good. The grand transformations that impacted me specifically are: our sense of time and space, and our notion of identity. Again, they have put their finger right on the correct pressure points.

    Here is what I believe many of us are wrestling with, myself included. Given improper uses of time, a lack of properly defined space complete with strongly held boundaries, and a struggle for identity in the world in which we live, how do we properly discern, assess, and engage? That’s the challenge.

    “The first task is to discern, and so to make an accurate description of the realities of the world in which we find ourselves. The second task is to assess, and so to evaluate the pros and cons, the benefits and costs, of the world as a whole as well as of individual items and aspects of that world, all assessed within the framework of the biblical worldview. The third task is to engage, and so to enter the world as disciples of Jesus called to be salt and light, gratefully using the best of the world as gifts of God and vigilantly avoiding the worst of the world. Or as the early church expressed it, we are to ‘plunder the Egyptian gold,’ as the Lord told Israel to do, but we are never to set up “a golden calf,” as Israel was later judged for doing.”

    • This paper, as well as many others, provokes much thought and reflection. The tasks of discernment, assessment and engagement are a struggle in part because we are not conversant with what it means to have a growing level of self awareness. I say, “in part”, because it is only one of the frustrations leading to this struggle. Without self-awareness, it becomes difficult to then look around and discern, assess and engage the world we live and work in.

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