January 31, 2011
The Lausanne Movement has just released the Cape Town Commitment, a declaration of faith and call to action, and Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe believes it has enormous potential for the witness of the global church today
It has now been three months since Cape Town 2010; a global congress on world evangelisation has come and gone. After years of planning, prayer and preparation the most diverse group of Christian leaders gathered for serious biblical reflection on the witness and influence of the gospel in this generation.
What will people remember about this event? Will it be the cultural diversity, the powerful worship, the high tech graphics, the small group interaction, the insightful biblical exposition or the testimony of a young North Korean teenager? Each of the participants will have their own set of life-long memories.
However, the more important question to ask is, what will be the impact of this unique and historic event? In some ways only time and eternity will reveal the answer to this question. It is my sense, (and my hope) the greatest impact, will be found in how, The Cape Town Commitment: A Confession of Faith and a Call to Action is both studied and acted upon.
The Cape Town Commitment: A Confession of Faith and a Call to Action, which has now been officially released in English (with more languages to follow) is both about theology and action. It is about what we believe and how we will act upon that belief.
It has been the privilege of the World Evangelical Alliance to engage in every aspect of the development of this seminal document. As readers will become aware, the statement is divided into two parts.
The first section developed by a group international theologians and missiologists reflecting both cultural and theological diversity focuses on our beliefs. Framed in the context of love, this section summarises what we believe: what we believe about God; what we believe about the world; and what we believe about the Church.
The second section was developed through an extensive listening and reflective process that began well before the congress started and lasted until the concluding plenary in Cape Town. This part of the statement calls the church to action. It really seeks to answer the question, in light of our beliefs about God, the Church and the world: how should we act in this generation, at this moment in history?
I believe this section of the commitment really unpacks what it means to bear witness for Christ for today. It explores the wholeness or the integral nature of the Gospel. The proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel are both emphasised. It deeply challenges Christ followers to live with deep integrity. It calls us to reflect Biblical unity as we live in Christian community. A strong emphasis on social justice as well as a practical and meaningful response to contemporary global challenges is found in the pages of the statement.
So I go back to my original question, how will Cape Town 2010 impact the world? If the Cape Town Statement is widely distributed, studied and lived out by the Church around the world, empowered by God’s Spirit we will see transformation.
The WEA, as it seeks to unite evangelicals for transformation, will be encouraging all of its members, whether national evangelical alliances, international agencies or theological institutions, to consider how this statement may influence how they engage with the world.
The mission of the World Evangelical Alliance is to foster Christian unity and provide a worldwide identity, voice and platform to Evangelical Christians. As we seek empowerment by the Holy Spirit, we extend the Kingdom of God by proclamation of the Gospel to all nations and by Christ-centred transformation within society.
The Cape Town Commitment, which underscores much of the current work of WEA, will be a great resource in helping us fulfil this mission for the glory and honour of our Triune God.
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