Bock

Series on the Cape Town Commitment

I plan over the next several blogs to present a series on the Cape Town Commitment, the statement was a product of the Cape Town Lausaune meetings last October. I will generally present the statement and make some comments. Churches and other organizations need to take a look at what was a statement made with a global Christian base.

I plan over the next several blogs to present a series on the Cape Town Commitment, the statement was a product of the Cape Town Lausaune meetings last October. I will generally present the statement and make some comments. Churches and other organizations need to take a look at what was a statement made with a global Christian base.

The key concept expressed in this introduction is "breadth within boundaries," making a distinction between what are central teachings and other issues about which there is more discussion among Christians. Part 1 of the statement, which will follow in a later blog, presents these more central ideas. I hope this survey of the statement will prove helpful.

Here is Lausanne's introduction to the statement, which is self explanatory:

Foreword

The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (Cape Town, 16-25 October 2010) brought together 4,200 evangelical leaders from 198 countries, and extended to hundreds of thousands more, participating in meetings around the world, and online. Its goal? To bring a fresh challenge to the global Church to bear witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching – in every nation, in every sphere of society, and in the realm of ideas.

The Cape Town Commitment is the fruit of this endeavour. It stands in an historic line, building on both The Lausanne Covenant and The Manila Manifesto. It is in two parts. Part l sets out biblical convictions, passed down to us in the scriptures, and Part ll sounds the call to action.

How was Part l shaped? It was first discussed in Minneapolis in December 2009, at a gathering of 18 invited theologians and evangelical leaders, drawn from all continents. A smaller group, led by Dr Christopher J H Wright, chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group, was asked to prepare a final document, ready to be presented to the Congress.

How was Part ll shaped? An extensive listening process began more than three years before the Congress. The Lausanne Movement’s International Deputy Directors each arranged consultations in their regions, where Christian leaders were asked to identify major challenges facing the Church. Six key issues emerged. These (i) defined the Congress programme and (ii) formed the framework for the call to action. This listening process continued on through the Congress, as Chris Wright and the Statement Working Group worked to record all contributions faithfully. It was a herculean and monumental effort.

The Cape Town Commitment will act as a roadmap for The Lausanne Movement over the next ten years. Its prophetic call to work and to pray will, we hope, 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.

Many doctrinal statements affirm what the Church believes. We wished to go further and to link belief with praxis. Our model was that of the Apostle Paul, whose theological teaching was fleshed out in practical instruction. For example, in Colossians his profound and wonderful portrayal of the supremacy of Christ issues in down-to-earth teaching on what it means to be rooted in Christ.

We distinguish what is at the heart of the Christian gospel, ie primary truths on which we must have unity, from secondary issues, where sincere Christians disagree in their interpretation of what the Bible teaches or requires. We have worked here to model Lausanne’s principle of 'breadth within boundaries', and in Part l those boundaries are clearly defined.

All through this process we were delighted to collaborate with the World Evangelical Alliance who partnered with us in each stage. The leaders of the WEA are in full agreement with both the Confession of Faith and the Call to Action.

While we speak and write from the evangelical tradition in The Lausanne Movement, we affirm the oneness of the Body of Christ, and gladly recognize that there are many followers of the Lord Jesus Christ within other traditions. We welcomed senior representatives from several historic churches of other traditions as observers in Cape Town, and we trust The Cape Town Commitment may be helpful to churches of all traditions. We offer it in a humble spirit.

What are our hopes for The Cape Town Commitment?  We trust that it will be talked about, discussed and afforded weight as a united statement from evangelicals globally; that it will shape agendas in Christian ministry; that it will strengthen thought-leaders in the public arena; and that bold initiatives and partnerships will issue from it.

May the Word of God light our path, and may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us.

S Douglas Birdsall                                                        
Executive Chairman 

Lindsay Brown
International Director

 

0