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Monday, January 31, 2011

Evangelicals Reap What They Have Sown ..... and There's More to Come!

Long term readers will recall my posts citing evangelicals of the 19th and 20th Centuries who were concerned about the decline in evangelicalism - the introduction of arts into the church service, the ecumenical movement embraced by leading evangelicals and so on.

In more than one post I identified the concerns of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones about the direction of the Lausanne Conference. I also commented on the dangers of the latter day Lausanne ie the Cape Town conference.

Just released is the Cape Town Commitment and it can be found at lausanne

There is much to be concerned about. Critics I referred to previously would be grieved at the state of evangelicalism today and some extracts of commitments I provide hereunder:

We long to see the Church in all cultures energetically engaging the arts as a context for mission by:

1.Bringing the arts back into the life of the faith community as a valid and valuable component of our call to discipleship;

2.Supporting those with artistic gifts, especially sisters and brothers in Christ, so that they may flourish in their work;

3.Letting the arts serve as an hospitable environment in which we can acknowledge and come to know the neighbour and the stranger;

4.Respecting cultural differences and celebrating indigenous artistic expression.

When earnest and lively preaching in the Spirit of God is beyond so-called evangelical churches here is the recommended recourse. Don't expect multitudes to turn to the Lord. Don't even expect the church to survive.

Also, notice the subtle reversal of the traditional rendering of "brothers and sisters" when referring to both sexes. Why should there be any separation anyway? Why not just use the term "Christians" unless there is an agenda?

We lament over the widespread abuse and destruction of the earth’s resources, including its bio-diversity. Probably the most serious and urgent challenge faced by the physical world now is the threat of climate change. This will disproportionately affect those in poorer countries, for it is there that climate extremes will be most severe and where there is little capability to adapt to them. World poverty and climate change need to be addressed together and with equal urgency.

Here is the highly dubious socialist agenda being adopted by the so-called evangelical church without question.

A divided Church has no message for a divided world. Our failure to live in reconciled unity is a major obstacle to authenticity and effectiveness in mission.

A) We lament the dividedness and divisiveness of our churches and organizations. We deeply and urgently long for Christians to cultivate a spirit of grace and to be obedient to Paul’s command to ‘make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

B) While we recognize that our deepest unity is spiritual, we long for greater recognition of the missional power of visible, practical, earthly unity. So we urge Christian sisters and brothers worldwide, for the sake of our common witness and mission, to resist the temptation to split the body of Christ, and to seek the paths of reconciliation and restored unity wherever possible.

The broad sentiment here expressed is also a precursor for what follows:

A) We stand together as church and mission leaders in all parts of the world, called to recognize and accept one another, with equality of opportunities to contribute together to world mission. Let us, in submission to Christ, lay aside suspicion, competition and pride and be willing to learn from those whom God is using, even when they are not from our continent, nor of our particular theology, nor of our organization, nor of our circle of friends.

B) Partnership is about more than money, and unwise injection of money frequently corrupts and divides the Church. Let us finally prove that the Church does not operate on the principle that those who have the most money have all the decision-making power. Let us no longer impose our own preferred names, slogans, programmes, systems and methods on other parts of the Church. Let us instead work for true mutuality of North and South, East and West, for interdependence in giving and receiving, for the respect and dignity that characterizes genuine friends and true partners in mission.

Here is a foundation statement of discouragement of evangelical churches from drawing people out of the darkness of Roman Catholicism. It would go even further to discourage the drawing of people out from the errors of so-called evangelical denominations/churches.

All of us, women and men, married and single, are responsible to employ God’s gifts for the benefit of others, as stewards of God’s grace, and for the praise and glory of Christ. All of us, therefore, are also responsible to enable all God’s people to exercise all the gifts that God has given for all the areas of service to which God calls the Church. We should not quench the Spirit by despising the ministry of any. Further, we are determined to see ministry within the body of Christ as a gifting and responsibility in which we are called to serve, and not as a status and right that we demand.

A) We uphold Lausanne’s historic position: ‘We affirm that the gifts of the Spirit are distributed to all God's people, women and men, and that their partnership in evangelization must be welcomed for the common good.’ We acknowledge the enormous and sacrificial contribution that women have made to world mission, ministering to both men and women, from biblical times to the present.

B) We recognize that there are different views sincerely held by those who seek to be faithful and obedient to Scripture. Some interpret apostolic teaching to imply that women should not teach or preach, or that they may do so but not in sole authority over men. Others interpret the spiritual equality of women, the exercise of the edifying gift of prophecy by women in the New Testament church, and their hosting of churches in their homes, as implying that the spiritual gifts of leading and teaching may be received and exercised in ministry by both women and men. We call upon those on different sides of the argument to:

1.Accept one another without condemnation in relation to matters of dispute, for while we may disagree, we have no grounds for division, destructive speaking, or ungodly hostility towards one another;

2.Study Scripture carefully together, with due regard for the context and culture of the original authors and contemporary readers;

3.Recognize that where there is genuine pain we must show compassion; where there is injustice and lack of integrity we must stand against them; and where there is resistance to the manifest work of the Holy Spirit in any sister or brother we must repent;

4.Commit ourselves to a pattern of ministry, male and female, that reflects the servanthood of Jesus Christ, not worldly striving for power and status.

C) We encourage churches to acknowledge godly women who teach and model what is good, as Paul commanded, and to open wider doors of opportunity for women in education, service, and leadership, particularly in contexts where the gospel challenges unjust cultural traditions. We long that women should not be hindered from exercising God’s gifts or following God’s call on their lives.

So-called evangelicals who emphasise the authority of Scripture and who declare themselves to be Apostolic are here urged to abandon their stance on the role of women in the church.

This places many, especially the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney, in a very awkward position should they attempt to honour the Cape Town Commitment. They have already abandoned the authority of Scripture on Creation thus betraying hypocrisy in holding out against the role of women over men in the church. In time they will wilt. They must submit to the worldly agenda on the role of women in the church as they have done with interpretation of Scripture on Creation.

Thus is the degeneration of evangelicalism in the past three centuries to gather pace unless the Lord intervenes. It is not within the capacity of men to reverse it. It will be something akin to Josiah's reading of the Book of the Law or Luther's finding a Bible and reading what had not been taught him - all at the inspiration of God's Spirit to bring about great change.

Sam Drucker

1 comment:

M D Patterson said...

Dear Sam,

I want to thank you for your comments. I have over recent years felt increasingly isolated in my concerns regarding the Lausanne Movement 1974 to the present day. It was encouraging to see I'm not alone. I read Lloyd-Jones in my formative years as a Christian (I'm now 40) and despite coming from very different backgrounds found a kindred spirit in him. I never met him but during my training for the ministry I got to know a lot of the men he regarded as "his boys". Like Spurgeon's stance in the 1870s /80s I beleive Martyn Lloyd-Jones' analyses of the Church was spot on and unfortunately widely ignored. 45 years on from Lloyd-Jones' appeal for Evangelical Unity (Oct. 1966) Evangelicals seem more confused and less discerning than ever. I can't understand why so few are bold enough to point out the dangers of Cape Town 2010. So many are looking to see the good in it while avoiding the more important issues such as doctrinal purity. I wonder when Lausanne will adopt the World Council of Churches motto of "Doctrine divides". Only purity in doctrine will lead to purity in practice.
Thank you once again. Your comments have lifted my spirit. May the LORD be with you and yours.