The Cape Town Commitment: A Confession of Faith and a Call to Action
|by Christopher J. H. Wright|
| Retail: $3.95|
Size: 4.25 x 6 .875 inches
Pub Date: 2011
Item Number: 568424
Categories: Religion and Culture
The Third Lausanne Congress
In October of 2010, over 4,000 Christian leaders from 200 countries met in Cape Town, South Africa, to discuss critical issues of our time as they relate to the Church and evangelization. This was the Third Lausanne Congress, convening nearly 35 years after the original Lausanne Congress in 1974, called by Billy Graham.
Written as a roadmap for the Lausanne Movement, The Cape Town Commit-ment presents a statement of shared Biblical convictions, and calls church-es, mission agencies, seminaries and Christians all over the World to action.
Prominent authors involved in The Lausanne Movement include John Stott, John Piper, Ajith Fernando, Vaughan Roberts, Joni Eareckson Tada, Christopher J.H. Wright and Rebecca Manley Pippert.
“It is hard to believe that so many years have gone by since Lausanne ‘74. How many changes we have seen since then! The world has changed, the church has changed, younger leaders have been raised up, but the Gospel has not changed, and the need for evangelism is more urgent than ever before.”
“The Cape Town Commitment is not the memorial of a moment. It is the conviction of a Movement and the voice of a multitude. It distils a vast quantity of input from the global Church. We profoundly hope and pray that we are hearing not just the voice of Cape Town 2010, but the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ who walked among us there.”
This delightful pocket-sized booklet is a near impossible condensation of the work of the international evangelical Lausanne movement of the last few years. It comprises two parts: a “Confession of Faith,” and a “Call to Action.” The Commitment is named after latest meeting of the Lausanne movement in October 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa. . .
Lausanne maintains a vital focus on evangelism in the context of the “whole Church taking the whole gospel to the whole world” (8). We find, for example, these words in Part 2: “Let us keep evangelism at the centre of the fully-integrated scope of all our mission, inasmuch as the gospel itself is the source, content and authority of all biblically-valid mission” (53). Lausanne’s leaders hope the Cape Town Commitment will be a “prophetic call to work and to pray” that will “draw churches, mission agencies, seminaries, Christians in the workplace, and student fellowships on campus to embrace it, and to find their part in its outworking”(4).
So what is this expression of, arguably, the living pulse of global evangelicalism? The ‘Confession of Faith’ is distinctive in moving behind the traditional ‘we believe’ format to express the content of our faith according to our love. The overall heading of the confession is: “For the Lord we love.” The first article makes clear that “such love is not weak or sentimental. The love of God is covenantally faithful, committed, self-giving, sacrificial, strong, and holy” (9). This is not a move away from propositional truth, as is clear as we see the shape of the confession’s affirmations that We love: ...because God first loved us; ...God the living God; ...God the Father; ...God the Son; ...God the Holy Spirit; ...God’s Word; ...God’s World; ...the Gospel of God; ...the People of God; and We love the Mission of God. Notes at the end of the confession make clear to readers how deeply Scriptural the language of the confession is, without intruding parenthetical references into the main body of the text. One way to look at this is to commend a way of speaking Christianly that is just necessarily saturated in Scripture as we confess our faith. We can do no other. There is also an invitation to “Reflection” here, and after the second part “Call to Action,” allowing readers to respond by answering questions. These could be used individually or in group discussion. One such question is: “Are there elements of God’s mission which, in your view, need re-energizing in your church? What are they? How can you contribute to this aspect of church life and ministry?”
Part 1 was prepared in advance of the Cape Town Congress through a Lausanne Theology Working Group. Part 2’s ‘Call to Action’ was fruit of a more complex process. Advance consultation through the Lausanne Network had identified six themes:
These themes were then discussed by congress delegates (some 4,200 evangelical leaders from 198 countries), and their findings recorded and distilled.
In this section, alongside affirmations and rejections, we find expressions of grief at evangelical failure to live out the love confessed in Part 1, whether falling prey to the prosperity gospel or rejecting people with disabilities as unworthy of the gospel of redemption.
The “Call to Action” concludes by highlighting two repeated themes voiced by Cape Town’s delegates:
Lastly, as I left the UK to return home from travels this summer, I read of the passing of one of the key figures in
the development and enriching of worldwide evangelicalism through the Lausanne movement, Rev. Dr. John Stott. A man deeply committed to evangelism and the teaching of Scripture is honored in the strength of the work God is doing amongst our brothers and sisters globally. As we think of those in our past who have shored us up in the missionary orientation of our faith we would be wise to heed the prayers and exhortations of our worldwide family.
Christopher Wright is the Principal of All Nations Christian College, in Ware, United Kingdom. He taught for five years in the Union Biblical Seminary in India. He received his Ph.D. from Cambridge University and is ordained in the Church of England. He is the author of An Eye for an Eye, God's People in God's Land, Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament, and Walking in the Ways of the Lord.
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