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My Top 3 Complaints About Cape Town 2010

المؤلف: Cody C. Lorance
التاريخ: 16.11.2010
Category: الاستقامة والتواضع

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Okay ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to take the gloves off.

Really, I’ve been too nice and cuddly regarding Cape Town 2010, the historic 3rd Lausanne Congress. Even before the congress had begun, during the event itself, and certainly since it closed, I’ve been hearing a number of criticisms and complaints from delegates and observers.  Why, just yesterday, I sat for a while with a friend and heard him relay complaints that he had heard from others.  Well, so as not to be outdone, I’ve decided to join the fray.  No more warm and fuzzy.  Here it is, my top 3 biggest complaint about Cape Town 2010:

3. Advocating our causes by diminishing others

I have noticed (not only at Cape Town, but it stood out to me there), that there is a dangerous tendency that we missionary-types have.  That is, we have a tendency to speak about our particular callings and passions as if they were the only legitimate ones out there.  That is, someone who is passionate about the urban poor tends to diminish those working in rural Tibet.  The ministry focused on Muslims speaks as if those trying to reach Hindus are some how less spiritual.  The person with a ministry dedicated to combating human trafficking can’t understand those who are passionate about church planting.  And so on.  I will refrain from giving specific examples, but they were numerous.  May the Lord rescue us from thinking that every part of the body of Christ needs to be just like us - "if the whole body were a cross-cultural church planter working contextually among Hindus in diaspora, where would the body be?" (1 Cor. 12:19)

2. Lack of integrity regarding the Lausanne Covenant

Well, I hate to say this folks, but unfortunately, I saw evidence of a serious lack of integrity regarding the Lausanne Covenant at Cape Town 2010.  Now, I find this to be particularly serious because many of us who are in the trenches (some far more so than myself), came to this gathering hoping for two things (among others).  First, we were hoping for the great diversity of the global body of Christ to be represented.  But second, we were hoping that those who did come would share the core convictions of the faith as expressed by the Lausanne Covenant we were all required to affirm.  This unity around essentials and diversity in a wide range of other issues was to help create an atmosphere of unity in diversity, one fertile for collaboration.  Unfortunately, while I assume that every delegate indicated in the application process that they did indeed agree with the Lausanne Covenant, the reality was that some did not.

At the end of the day, I don’t know the number.  However, I can see them falling into two major categories.  The first are those who signed the Lausanne Covenant and seem to essentially believe the statements therein, but nevertheless do not necessarily believe that an individual who likewise does so is actually a Christian.  That is, there is a failure to distinguish properly between essentials and non-essentials of the faith.  Members of one delegation in particular expressed this in their words and behaviors towards me.  One individual actually accused me of leading a cult.  When asked if they could acknowledge that since we have both signed the Lausanne Covenant, that we actually shared the same core and essential theological convictions and upon that basis may treat one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, some were unwilling.  I find this extremely sad.

كلمات مفتاحية: unity, the church, bitterness, Lausanne Covenant

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PhContributeBy
رد ضع علم 1 يعجبني لا يعجبني rkabutz (1)
جنوب أفريقيا

Dear Cody,

thanks for your openness.

My experience at CT2010 was that in the midst of great challenges, people from many facets of the church came together and had time to meet and listen to God.

I appreciate that you "complaints" were really complaints about the people complaining. In fact so much of the conference was really so good - good in the way that we looked toward the future together.

My vision is really that we focus on that which is important, and see where we can stand and move forward together.

Greetings, Rudolf


11.12.2010
PhContributeBy
رد ضع علم 0 يعجبني لا يعجبني Cody_Lorance (13)   
الولايات المتحدة
@ rkabutz:

Thank you, Rudolf. I’m with you.


13.12.2010
PhContributeBy
رد ضع علم 0 يعجبني لا يعجبني Matt_H (0)  
أستراليا

Cody,

I can’t see your reply on the Lausanne Conversation page but got it in an email, and you saw my comment, so I presume you can see this reply to yours. Thanks so much for replying, you raise the exact questions I don’t think we are asking, and the effective work of the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world is held back as a result: its only when we do our ministries in ways that allow the Lord Jesus to mature the whole body into maturity in Him who is the Head (Ephesians 4:15-16) will we be released as a whole body to the most effect to what the Lord calls us to. My reflection meanders a little, but I am trying to speak to two issues you raise: how unity in the person and Lordship of the Jesus Christ and submitting our theological identities to him works correctly, and, what does this sort of unity mean in practise ...

I am not suggesting that we lessen our commitment to orthodox understanding of the biblical Lord Jesus – I nearly put the “biblical” as a description of the Lord Jesus in my comment to ensure this, but thought it was clear enough. I was wrong. We don’t have unity from lessening our commitment to the biblical Jesus, but by strengthening it. His prayer in John 17 is clear; it is in Him (the biblical Jesus) in which our unity rests, not another Jesus. I agree the Lausanne Covenant, Manila Manifesto encapsulate this and appreciated your reflection on the lack of integrity of those who went along who wouldn’t ‘sign off’ on all that the Lausanne Covenant expresses (I hope you can see I wasn’t one of those (lol!)).

My point is that this Christ-centred expression of unity must be more than theological. We must also let it be strategic and practical. I feel we normally, underline it theologically, and then we move on from Him in the expression of the nature and practise of our unity and partnerships. This works directly against much of Scripture – Psalm 127:1, Matt 16:17-18, 1 Corinthians 3:3-6, and most especially Proverbs 3:5-6: We must acknowledge the Lord and not lean on our own understanding to see Him direct us or make our paths straight. I see the first step in this is to regularly and deliberately acknowledge Him as leader, centre and Lord in all we do, not just in statements of belief. This is the foundation of our partnership behaviours.

Although heavily influenced by our theology, it is not our theology alone. We must explicitly and deliberately acknowledge the Lord as the centre of our partnerships and relationships – as we do that He will show the way forward, both strategically and relationally. I believe it is the only way we can rightly submit our identities to the Lord (not each other) first, and find a true way forward in Christ-centred leadership and partnership. For example, the way for us to bring more humility, respect (etc) to each other is not just to keep telling each other to do it – even from the Scriptures alone - but to find that which submits both of us, brings true “equilibrium” (to use the Lausanne word in a different context) to our relationship, which is the person of the (biblical) Lord Jesus: if I am telling you to be more humble, then I you have to submit to me, but if together we say “the Lord Jesus is calling us to be relate humbly to one another” then that is a different pathway to humility, and I think a more biblical, God-centred, Spirit-filled framework.

It is only as we submit our identities to the Lord Jesus that true humility, love, patience and gentleness required for true Christ-centred unity be practised (Ephesians 4:1-6). When we are rooted in our theological “identities” and ministry “identities” we can start unifying on the basis of our theologies and ministry gifting, passions and priorities, rather than the Lord. Our strengths become the very things the evil one uses to take our focus and eyes off the Lord and glory in ourselves. Once again I am not saying we should leave behind orthodox theological positions (like the Lausanne Covenant) but that we should build on that to bring our unity and partnership based to be expressed even more explicitly in the person and Lordship of Christ. The example of how we missed this at Lausanne to me, as I outlined in my article, was that the gospel we kept coming back to was, predominantly, a cross-centred gospel, and by definition, that left out ‘good’, biblical priorities of the gospel, eg., resurrection and the present power of God through the risen Jesus, what some old time (orthodox!) missionaries have described to me as ‘the present ministry of Jesus’. I felt Michael Cassidy’s introduction to the final service on the presence of the Holy Spirit and His power was a bit of a corrective to this (perhaps intentional??), and so too these words from John Piper’s presentation on Ephesians 3 (my paraphrase from my notes with my emphasis),

“God appoints suffering prayer as the way to bring his wisdom to the evil powers. Christ is more precious than freedom, than comfort. His pain, not his prosperity, is where Christ’s value and treasure is seen the most. Our suffering becomes the glory of the nations as we willing to suffer to bring them to Him. No one chooses to go to prison, no one chooses to go away from prosperity. No one chooses this, unless divine supernatural power has broken into their lives. And God has ordained it comes into our lives through prayer.”

I find, unfortunately, another example of this lifting theological identity above the Lord Jesus in the first draft of the Cape Town Commitment. I am sure it is an unintended oversight, but how did it get there? On page 18 of the booklet published to Congress participants, under the heading “We love the gospel of God”, the following sentence lies toward the top of the first paragraph in column 2 (my emphases),

In the same great saving act, God won the decisive victory over Satan, death and all evil powers, liberated us from their power and fear, and ensured their eventual destruction.”

Which “same great saving act” does the sentence refer? The sentence before refers explicitly to “the cross” as follows, “The gospel declares that on the cross of Christ God took upon himself, in the person of his Son and in our place, the judgment our sin deserves. In this same great saving act ...” Two sentences after the sentence I am concerned about, we read, “Through the cross also God accomplished his purpose of the ultimate reconciliation of all creation, and in the bodily resurrection of Jesus has given us the first fruits of the new creation.”

These sentences seem to point to me that “the same great saving act” of the sentence I am concerned about, is referring to the cross. If that is the case, then I have to argue that the cross did NOT do what the sentence refers to ALONE. The decisive victory over Satan, death and all evil powers, liberated us from their power and fear, and ensured their eventual destruction, was not complete until the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus. A cross without a resurrection leaves Jesus still dead, sin still being paid for, and Satan, death and all evil powers still undefeated. Yes, Colossians 2:15 does say Paul won a decisive victory over them “by the cross”, however, both systematically, and from the references outline at the bottom of the page such as Romans 1:1-4, and 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 (quoted earlier in the paragraph), the victory should not be placed in the cross alone (nor did Paul mean intended to mean that in Col 2:15). Perhaps the sentences should read,

“The gospel declares that on the cross of Christ God took upon himself, in the person of his Son and in our place, the judgment our sin deserves. That this righteous judgment has now been fulfilled was declared by the Lord Jesus’ bodily resurrection where God’s decisive victory over Satan, death and all evil powers, was made complete thus liberating us from their power and fear, and ensured their eventual destruction.”

I have written these paragraphs to the group overseeing the document, and made this suggestion. I got a kind accepting reply!

I see this cry in the Lausanne Covenant when it says in Paragraph 7 on Cooperation in Evangelism,

“We confess that our testimony has sometimes been marred by sinful individualism and needless duplication. We pledge ourselves to seek a deeper unity in truth, worship, holiness and mission.”

Unfortunately there was nothing about how the church might seek this deeper unity. The Manila Manifesto included this statement in Affirmation 8 on The Local Church,

“In all this each congregation and denomination should, where possible, work with others, seeking to turn any spirit of competition into one of cooperation.”

It also included this in affirmation 9 on Cooperating in Evangelism,

“Evangelism and unity are closely related in the New Testament. Jesus prayed that his people’s oneness might reflect his own oneness with the Father, in order that the world might believe in him, and Paul exhorted the Philippians to "contend as one person for the faith of the gospel". In contrast to this biblical vision, we are ashamed of the suspicions and rivalries, the dogmatism over non-essentials, the power-struggles and empire-building which spoil our evangelistic witness. We affirm that co-operation in evangelism is indispensable, first because it is the will of God, but also because the gospel of reconciliation is discredited by our disunity, and because, if the task of world evangelization is ever to be accomplished, we must engage in it together. "Cooperation" means finding unity in diversity. It involves people of different temperaments, gifts, calling and cultures, national churches and mission agencies, all ages and both sexes working together.”

The Manila Manifesto went further in describing cooperation in evangelism, however, did not take it deeper to fill the gap the Lausanne Covenant left. Really, it was more words describing the same thing. Indeed I would disagree with the statement, “Cooperation means finding unity in diversity”. No, biblical cooperation means finding unity in common submission to our common Lord Jesus – only then do we find our diversity complementing and enhancing our unity and not working against it. Was God calling us to fill this gap at Lausanne III? Perhaps, certainly some of the ‘complaints’ we have heard have pointed in that direction. But there is little of how the Lord would help us do that: mainly because it is our blind spot for it challenges our very strengths (identities??)

When our efforts for cooperation and unity are clearly expressed without the Lord Jesus at the centre, then it is a human based endeavour for godly unity. This will always fall short of true godly unity and will not reach the hopes and desire behind those efforts in evangelism because it is human effort and God will not get the glory. He will withhold an element of His blessing. It seems to me that God is calling us to bring Him into the centre of this expression, with our mutual submission to Him, which is the only biblical basis for true sacrificial, other person (identity?) oriented love and partnership. The only best way to promote the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world is when the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only Lord the whole church follows, the only Lord the whole gospel is about, and the only Lord the whole world needs is explicitly expressed as the centre of that partnership and cooperation.

How could this be expressed? I’ve blogged the following two paragraphs as a suggestion for the Cape Town Commitment, and sent them to the group drafting the document. My only concern is, is this what God said to us, or is it something for Lausanne IV??

We celebrate the wonder and grandeur of the biblical Lord Jesus Christ in all his fullness as the one through whom all things and all people will be brought together as one. We admit that there are many times in which we as His people have approached the sharing of the whole gospel with the whole world in a way that has ignored His Lordship over our hearts, practises, relationships and intentions. We admit that perhaps more often than we realise we have approached world evangelisation and our relationships one with another as His people in ways that reflect the priority of our own identities (such as ethnic identities, denominational identities, theological identities, ministry passion identities, giftedness identities, and ministry and mission identities) above Him as the one who holds us as one body. We state with clarity and conviction our commitment to hold more loosely to these identities than we have in the past and commit afresh to His Lordship in all our evangelistic relationships and practises.

We embrace this commitment and relish the opportunities to build relationships one with another that are characterised by self-sacrificial love, gentleness, humility, patience and a desire and practise to enlarge the ministry of others. And we state categorically that these behaviours come first from our mutual submission to the Jesus Christ as our common Lord in fullness of His Spirit. We will reflect this renewed heart and commitment by deliberately and regularly expressing our cooperation and unity under His Lordship and emanating from His central position in word, heart, prayer and verbal encouragement to one another.

Anyway, Cody, here are some more thoughts from Down Under. I am sorry it is so long. Looking forward to your reply.


18.11.2010
PhContributeBy
رد ضع علم 0 يعجبني لا يعجبني Matt_H (0)  
أستراليا

Good reflection Cody. I am with you in much of it. have a read of my "Cape Town Reflection - one month on" to get a glimpse of my thoughts. Not just what i struggled with, but also what I learnt and appreciated.

My perspective on the lack of unity, and therefore my encouragement for a way foward, was that our unity was not expressed sufficiently in the person of the Lord Jesus and our mutual submission to Him. We are still too rooted to our identities, be it theological, passion, denominational or ministry identities.

I suspect we won’t deal with this issue of shallow unity until we hear God more on this and show the humilty, patience and love toward the Lord Jesus (vertically), that we heard so much about being needed between each other (horizontally) - we needed to hear this, but I would have loved to have had it more in the perspective or context of the greatness of our common Lord. Only He can and will humble us truly.

I wonder if God was trying to say that to us, but we didn’t get it: the Lausanne Covenant calls for a "deeper unity", but we still haven’t got to how to do it other than a call for mutual submission to each other in humility, simplicity. pateince etc. And the Lord Jesus is left out of His rightful place: the centre and pinnacle of our strategies and practises.

Still maybe that’s for Lausanne IV!!

Anyway, enjoyed reading this. Love to hear from you.


16.11.2010
PhContributeBy
رد ضع علم 0 يعجبني لا يعجبني Cody_Lorance (13)   
الولايات المتحدة
@ Matt_H:

Hi, Matt.  Thanks for reading and commenting.  Obviously, I share your concern on unity.  But can I ask you what is practically meant by unity in the person and Lordship of Jesus Christ? Since you mention being "too rooted" in our theological identities as a barrier to achieving "deeper unity", I’m not sure what you mean about expressing our unity in Jesus.  Doesn’t this require some kind of a theological expression -- an articulation of a core of beliefs, values, commitments.  That’s what I feel the Lausanne Covenant, Manila Manifesto, and the coming Cape Town Commitment intend to do.  


But we’re not respecting one another enough to let such documents carry sufficient weight in our live.  


Hmm . . . well, I’m swimming through a mountain of work right now, so not thinking too clearly.  I’ll pause here.


18.11.2010

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