Friday, December 18, 2009

Facing The Music: When The Church Has To Discern Itself

The Lausanne Movement is a massive global effort of evangelicals who are dead serious about world evangelization with the Gospel of Jesus Christ who have been working together to reach the world for almost fifty years. It is a massive and global effort involving hundreds of Christian ministries seeking to motivate and spark renewed efforts in obeying Christ's commands to ensure that the "Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world

They are preparing to have only their third congress in that time in Capetown, South Africa in 2010. Lausanne describes itself in the following:

Throughout its history, the Lausanne Movement has intentionally avoided building a large bureaucratic organization. Instead it strives to be a dynamic, catalytic force that propels a movement of like-minded missional Christians who pray, plan and work together on global evangelization.

Since 1974, dozens of Lausanne-related global, regional, and topical conferences have been convened all over the world. Global gatherings include the Consultation on World Evangelization (Pattaya 1980), Conference of Young Leaders (Singapore 1987), Lausanne II (Manila 1989), The Forum for World Evangelisation (Pattaya 2004) and The Younger Leaders Gathering (Malaysia 2006). Lausanne has also inspired a constellation of regional networks and topical conferences such as the Asia Lausanne Committee on Evangelism (ALCOE), Chinese Coordination Center for World Evangelisation (CCCOWE), three Nigerian congresses on world evangelization, and eight international consultations on Jewish evangelism.

The Lausanne Theology Working Group (LTWG) is right now working to prepare for the 2010 congress. Who is the LTWG? They are a steering committee of Christian leaders and theologians who work together before their meetings to hammer out the doctrinal issues that the congresses are meant to consider.

The Lausanne Theology Working Group (TWG) serves the whole Lausanne Movement by ensuring that its passion for mission strategy and activism is grounded in careful theological reflection, and by challenging evangelical theology to have biblical effectiveness for holistic mission in the spirit of the Lausanne Covenant. The TWG has a core steering committee drawn from around the world and convenes small annual international consultations and several regional ones. Currently the TWG is working with the leadership of Lausanne in preparation for Lausanne III, in Cape Town 2010, by engaging in careful theological examination of each phrase in the Lausanne motto, “The Whole Church taking the Whole Gospel to the Whole World.”

What is powerfully significant is that Lausanne's TWG found it important enough to have to grapple with the doctrines loved by so many in the Charismatic and Pentecostal worlds, the "prosperity gospel" and release a statement on it to help provide a framework for Lausanne 2010 to discuss it upon.

The importance they assign to it, however, isn't very encouraging to the passengers of the Full Gospel ship. The LTWG's statement can be found here in full. We lament at having to post this below.

We further recognize that there are some dimensions of prosperity teaching that have roots in the Bible, and we affirm such elements of truth below. We do not wish to be exclusively negative, and we recognize the appalling social realities within which this teaching flourishes and the measure of hope it holds out to desperate people. However, while acknowledging such positive features, it is our overall view that the teachings of those who most vigorously promote the 'prosperity gospel' are false and gravely distorting of the Bible, that their practice is often unethical and unChristlike, and that the impact on many churches is pastorally damaging, spiritually unhealthy, and not only offers no lasting hope, but may even deflect people from the message and means of eternal salvation. In such dimensions, it can be soberly described as a false gospel.
We call for further reflection on these matters within the Christian Church, and request the Lausanne movement to be willing to make a very clear statement rejecting the excesses of prosperity teaching as incompatible with evangelical biblical Christianity.

Read it and weep. Thanks to the American church, the Gospel of Christ is being daily perverted and twisted and then neatly packaged as the latest thing from heaven to vast populaces of Christians dwelling everywhere in both Africa and the world. A Christian missionary painfully recounts here how the prosperity gospel cancer is defiling the Body of Christ in Zambia

I highly doubt that men like Rod Parsley, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland or Paul Crouch will give the LTWG the time of day though.