Some Affirmations and Issues for Further Discussion
From the discussion following papers and case studies presented at the
Lausanne Theology Working Group
Limuru, February 2007
The consultation considered six major themes.
|1||John Azumah||Following Jesus as unique Lord and Saviour (vs. pluralism)|
|2||Dewi Hughes||Following Jesus as his community (ecclesiology and ethnicity)|
|3||Jonathan Bonk||Following Jesus, in context of power and violence|
|4||Isaiah Dau||Following Jesus in a world of suffering and disaster|
|5||Chris Wright||Following Jesus in globalized marketplace|
|6||Mark Chan||Following Jesus as the truth (postmodernity and challenges of relativism)|
The revised versions of these papers will be published in The Evangelical Review of Theology.
The consultation was deliberately agenda-setting, rather than exploring every issue in its full depth and breadth. The notes below will be taken into account in the framing of further LTWG consultations that are planned over the next few years.
The points below should be taken as the unpolished output of the consultation and sub-groups formed around each theme after extensive plenary discussion. They do not constitute an official declaration or statement by the Lausanne Theology Working Group, and should not be quoted officially as such.
1. FOLLOWING JESUS AS UNIQUE LORD AND SAVIOUR IN A PLURALISTIC WORLD
PAPER PRESENTER: JOHN AZUMAH
1.1 We affirm that Jesus is unique Lord and Savior. Who Jesus is cannot be separated from what he has ac-complished redemptively. Affirmation of Christ as unique Savior comes out of the Christian’s partici-pation in the new life that Christ makes possible.
1.2 The claim that Jesus is the truth must be demonstrated in the Christian praxis of attending to human pain and meeting human needs. The truth-claim of Christ as Lord cannot be reduced to a set of dog-matic statements that one defends. Jesus cannot be reduced to a dogma. The belief proposition that in the person of Jesus we see the incarnation of Truth is manifested in the praxis of good works. We in the church do not need to be apologetic in making truth-claims concerning Jesus Christ, seeing that all re-ligions distinguish themselves on the basis of their distinctive truth-claims. We maintain that we do not need to relinquish our truth-claims in order to enter into dialogue with people of other faiths.
1.3 The affirmation of the uniqueness of Christ should not be confused with the expression of religious or cultural superiority, and it does not lead to the heightening of inter-religious tensions. Admittedly Christians have been guilty of misguided forms of evangelism. Recognizing that prejudices and stereo-typical (mis)representations and caricatures of other faiths can be an impediment to the Christian’s re-lation with people of other faiths, we maintain there is a difference between truth itself and the ways that truth has been expressed.
1.4 Christian witness to the uniqueness of Christ ought to follow the example of Jesus who emptied him-self and humbled himself in order that he might accomplish God’s redemptive work. There is no room for arrogance in the way we relate to people of other faiths. Humility understood as a willingness to set aside power and security ought to characterize the Christian witness to the uniqueness of Christ.
2. Issues to Consider
2.1. The form of our affirmation of the uniqueness of Jesus ought to take into account how that claim will be received by people within their own cultures. Seeking cultural equivalents to express the truth that Jesus is the Son of God raises the question of the relation between truth and culture. The challenge of contextualization is to translate culturally encased biblical truths into a different culture.
2.2. The debate on the extent to which the truth may be glimpsed in other faiths and the problem of the un-evangelized forces us to consider the nature of revelation that is available to people who have never heard of the Gospel (e.g., ancestors of African Christians) and the possibility of salvation for these people. The attempt to find an answer to this question in the mercy of God (i.e., let God be the final judge as to who is saved) must be accompanied by the affirmation of the depth of human wickedness and depravity.
2.3. How do we relate to people of other faith, seeking peace and social friendship and still maintain theo-logical distinctiveness?
2.4. The challenge of syncretism and neo-pagan cults among Christians who come from cultures as diverse as traditional religions to new urban Christian movements.
2.5. The necessity and limits of cooperation with people of other faiths, i.e. cultural reconciliation, commu-nity development, ecumenical worship etc.
2. FOLLOWING JESUS AS HIS COMMUNITY (ETHNICITY AND ECCLESIOLOGY)
PAPER PRESENTER: DEWI HUGHES
The reality of many ethnic conflicts and the unprecedented mixing of ethnic identities as a result of internal and cross border migration demands deep theological reflection to help the church find the way of peace in our time.
1.1. Ethnic diversity is part and parcel of God’s creational intention for humankind and ought to be celebrated and respected. All attempts at oppressively eradicating ethnic distinctiveness are an affront to God’s pur-pose. The suppression and oppression of ethnic minorities (“little people”) by those in dominant cultures is not only disrespectful of God’s will but also a sin against people.
1.2. There is a difference between ethnicity or tribal identity on the one hand, and ethnocentrism and tribalism on the other. The former is a cause for celebration, the latter a sign of sinful distortion in human relations.
1.3. Recognizing that sin is no respecter of persons and goodness is not the preserve of any single ethnic group, we must guard against romanticizing the ‘little people’ and demonizing the ‘big people.’ Virtue and vice are found both among the minorities and the majorities. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that Scripture does por-tray God as one who is especially concerned about the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalized and the op-pressed.
1.4. The eschatological vision of the total reversal of human fragmentation entails the hope that people from every tribe, tongue and ethnic group will be among the redeemed.
2. Strategic Implications
2.1 In view of ministry within the tension of the ‘already’ and the ‘not yet’ nature of salvation, the church is called to manifest the final reality of the affirmation of ethnicity and the shalomic harmony between peo-ples of different ethnic and nation groups, however frail and incomplete that manifestation might be. This means that:
2.2 In multi ethnic contexts where there is marginalization of ethnic groups, the church must respond by wel-coming and affirming peoples from the margins.
2.3 Church structures should reflect the affirmation and acceptance of ethnic diversity. For example, in central-ized churches there may be a need to affirm ethnic diversity by giving more autonomy to churches in ethni-cally defined territories and ethnic bias will need to be taken into consideration when making church ap-pointments.
2.4 Church is called to a prophetic witness to the state in regard to reconciliation and care for the oppressed in contexts where the state is oppressing ethnic minorities.
2.5 In many situations of multi ethnicity there are ethnic groups that are ignored and neglected because of tradi-tional prejudice against them. .The church must reject such prejudices and make every effort to cross barri-ers in order to serve such rejected peoples in body, soul and spirit.
2.6 While strongly affirming the Unreached People Groups movement we believe that the movement’s efforts would be enhanced by affirming more clearly the God given value of ethnic groups.
2.7 When the Gospel and Scripture are transmitted and translated in the heart language of a people, it serves as a powerful affirmation of the dignity of their ethnic identity. We affirm the missionary drive to translate the Bible into the heart language of all ethnic groups.
3. Issues for consideration
3.1. Urbanization and immigration is causing ethnic mixing on an unprecedented scale. Some work has been done on what mission should look like in multi-ethnic urban contexts but more needs to be done especially with reference to majority world cities.
3.2 Aspects of evangelical mission, such as Bible translation, enhances an ethnic group’s sense of identity and can lead to a desire for more self-determination. There is a need, therefore, for a biblical under-standing of the meaning of ethnicity, nationhood, statehood and the interrelationship between them.
3.3. Migration – issues connected to ethnic identity and church for those that are removed geographically from their original ethnic context.
3. FOLLOWING JESUS IN CONTEXTS OF POWER AND VIOLENCE
PAPER PRESENTER: JONATHAN BONK
1.1. In a world of power and violence, the Christian church is called to a way of life that mirrors the values of the Kingdom and the Bible’s call to peace and reconciliation amongst people. The church has a prophetic ministry of acknowledging humanity’s compelling inclination to violence that is endemic in our fallen world. As people of God, we have an obligation to speak to the conscience of our communities, our nations, our world.
1.2. We recognize that the Christian church is not innocent of the violence that has resulted in the brokenness of our world. We need to guard against the danger of justifying violence with pi-ous language.
1.3. The Christian church must resist the idolatry of wealth and empire-building that oppresses the poor and the powerless.
1.4. The Christian church must refuse to regard people, created in the image of God, from a utili-tarian point of view (2 Cor 5:16), either politically, economically, or religiously.
1.5 Christian discipleship entails ongoing, lifelong transformation to the way of Jesus, including relinquishment of the culture of violence that dominates our world.
1.6. While Christians differ in their understanding of the Gospel teaching on violence, we are called upon to live out our faith in a fallen world, where the judicious use of force may be necessary, as follows:
(a) The state is divinely obligated to ensure the well being of its citizens and punish evildoers (Romans 13:1–5).
(b) The church, as salt and light in the world, cannot abdicate its civic responsibilities in this complex but important dimension of public life.
(c) Christians may sometimes need to forcefully resist violence as an outworking of their re-sponsibility for the powerless.
2. Areas of Tension
2.1. The tension between the Christian church as a uniquely prophetic community that stands apart from the world (Romans 12:1–21), on the one hand, and the Church’s responsibility and Spirit empowered ability to be a change agent within the system of this world, on the other.
2.2. The tension between God’s jurisdiction and exercise of power, on the one hand, and his en-trustment of that jurisdiction and power to human agents, on the other.
3. Issues to consider
3.1. The church needs to be self-critical of its complicity in violence, and pro-active in dealing with the implications of this.
3.2 What does it mean for the Church to be a countercultural community in the world of violence? How can the church prophetically critique the state when it abuses power, while still support-ing the state in its judicious use of power?
3.3. To what extent is the exercise of violence in self-defense a legitimate Christian option? Is there a difference between self-defense and the seeking of vengeance, given the Cross?
3.4 Can or should the church be willing to benefit from use of violence while abstaining from par-ticipation in violence.
3.5. If the state has been instituted by God to uphold justice, can a Christian participate fully in all that a state does? If not, what are the limitations?
3.6 For Christians in positions of power, what are the implications of biblical discipleship?
3.7. In what sense can we speak of God working out his redemptive purposes through human vio-lence, even against us?
3.8. How can the church minister to and empower victims of oppression, modeling and facilitating genuine reconciliation? Holistic reconciliation includes truth (honest memory), confession, justice, and forgiveness.
3.9. How can the church equip victims of prolonged oppression to handle their newfound free-dom? We need a genuinely biblical anthropology as a foundation for restoring humanity to its God-given potential in the aftermath of pain and violence. This includes the rebuilding of trust and community spirit.
3.10. The church needs to be aware of the multidimensional expressions of violence, including physical, economic, social, psychological, emotional, ecological, etc.
3.11. The globally interdependent body of Christ needs to develop a theology of money and eco-nomics in the context of power and global inequities.
3.12. The church needs to rediscover the biblical discipline of giving in order to break the cycle of pathology that comes from systemic financial dependence and nurture the healthy interde-pendence in the body of Christ.
3.13. We need to develop a theology of the missionary as servant in the context of affirming, en-couraging and ‘capacity-building’ of new communities of faith.
4. FOLLOWING JESUS IN THE WORLD OF SUFFERING AND DISASTER
PAPER PRESENTER: ISAIAH DAU
1.1. Suffering is part of human life and of a fallen world.
1.2. There are both human and natural causes to suffering. Human causes can arise from the abuse of power and violence or from following Christ. Different types of suffering call for different responses.
1.3 There is a mysterious nature to suffering, especially in natural catastrophes. However, human negligence and lack of foresight may aggravate natural disasters.
1.4 Human causes necessitate the practice of love and forgiveness, particularly for the perpetra-tors of pain and suffering.
1.5 The call to discipleship is a call to share in the sufferings of Christ, which entails carrying the cross. The Christian’s response to suffering takes off from a theology of the cross, where God reveals himself as one who suffers with suffering humanity. The knowledge that God is not untouched by human suffering provides solace and comfort to all who suffer.
1.6 The cross does not only speak of God’s presence and participation in human suffering, but is the means by which God dealt with the mystery of sin and suffering on the cosmic, satanic, and human levels,
1.7. Since God walks with people in their suffering, Christians are also called to be present and to journey with those who suffer, so that individuals may find solace and support in the midst of their sufferings.
1.8 Suffering can either make or break a person. Despite its debilitating and destructive effects, it can have a positive outcome, one of which is the purification and formation of character.
1.9 We recognize that suffering raises questions about God that would otherwise not be consid-ered. There is a place in the faith community for the expression of these questions.
1.10 While we do not pray for suffering to come, we need to be sensitive to what we can learn from it. Suffering provides opportunities for conversations about the Gospel.
1.11 We affirm the Christian eschatological hope that all pain and suffering will cease when God brings to final consummation his redemptive plan for humanity.
2. Issues to consider
2.1. There is a need to explore the role of poetic forms (songs, poems, rites) in alleviating suffer-ing. The laments psalms can provide as a resource for this, as well as indigenous art forms that come out of suffering.
2.2. There is a need to correct the emphasis on affluence, prosperity, and success with the biblical teaching on suffering.
2.3. How can the worldwide church be in solidarity with those who suffer? Can Christians mobi-lize to exert political pressure to relieve suffering in other countries?
2.4. There is a need to correct the view that suffering is always related to judgment for sin. The mystery of suffering and the biblical teaching that suffering is not always connected to human sin (e.g., the book of Job) means that we cannot just pronounce “God’s wrath” on those who suffer.
2.5. There is a need to identify the human causes of suffering: ecological concerns, economic vested interests, global economic policies, ethnic conflict, social injustice, neglect of the mar-ginalized, epidemics, etc. Christians should not only bind the wounded, but also deal with the human causes of the wounds.
2.6 How do we affirm the strong eschatological hope of deliverance from suffering and the teach-ing to endure suffering, without being fatalistically passive and indifferent to the causes of suffering? Moreover, the perpetrators of suffering can use these teachings as an excuse to support their actions.
2.8 Since the weak and the marginalized (e.g. the elderly, children at risk, the low- income eco-nomic migrant, those who live poverty, etc.) are susceptible to suffering, how can the church as a caring and missional community and as the body of Christ be proactive in working out its calling in relation to these groups?
2.9 There is a need to affirm the elderly and the children as valuable, active participants in the church and in society. This necessitates a theology of the aged and the child.
2.10 Poverty causes and intensifies suffering. We should explore this issue further.
5. FOLLOWING JESUS IN THE GLOBALIZED MARKETPLACE
Paper Presenter: Chris Wright
In the original paper and in our discussion, we used the word ‘marketplace’ to refer to the public arena in a very general sense, not confined to strictly ‘market’ realities in an economic sense. We are referring to the world of work and social engagement that all human beings are engaged in. Furthermore, by ‘work’ we are not referring only to paid employment in the formal economy.
We are very aware that the word ‘globalized’ in the title was not adequately addressed, and further work is needed on a theological response to globalization as a phenomenon and as an ideology.
1.1. Bringing our faith to work cannot be confined to finding opportunity for evangelism. Chris-tians are “Saints in the marketplace” God cares about the whole of work, for he created it, audits it, governs it, and will ultimately include it with his redemptive accomplishment. There is a misunderstanding that the secular six other days are not what God is interested, whereas they precisely are, and we are commanded to be fruitful and multiply and care for the earth.
1.2. We need a strong doctrine of creation: we are made in the image of God the worker, and work is God’s idea. This means that God can be glorified in human work. In place of a fallacious and damaging dichotomy between so-called spiritual work (e.g., evangelism) and secular work – which usually means the elevation of so-called Christian ministry over so-called spiri-tual ministry – we affirm a holistic view of work in which the Christian is called upon to en-gage in the everyday world of work because it is God-ordained and has intrinsic value. We need to overcome the secular-sacred divide.
1.3. We need a strong doctrine of redemption also in relation to the world of work. What is the role of the church in the ‘redemption of work’? The church needs to set an example of being a goodsteward of the resources the church itself has (e.g. buildings). Multi-purpose use, availability to the public as useful space.
1.4. We need to consider the workplace as in need of redemption, like humans? Can we ‘redeem the corporation?’ As with anything human, or involving human beings working together, cor-porations reflect the ambiguous nature of humans – made in the image of God and yet fallen and flawed. So corporoations do not only embody evil aspects, but embody many good val-ues. We affirm Christian entrepreneurs developing companies that are signposts of the King-dom in the Christian and creational values they seek to embody and implement.
1.5. We need to take the marketplace seriously in the teaching and preaching ministry of the church: to counter the idea that the only reason Christians enter the marketplace is to evangel-ize. The church needs to be pastoral and prophetic – i.e. caring for and encouraging Christian in the world of work; and addressing relevant social, economic, political and ethical aspects of the workplace in the name of Christ and the values of the kingdom of God. God is inter-ested in what goes on at “the gate” (the OT equivalent of the marketplace today) and governs all that goes on in the marketplace. Behind the millions of hands and minds that constitute the human marketplace stands the sovereignty of God.
1.6. We recognize that human labour after the fall has become distorted, oppressive and damaging to human dignity. God is deeply concerned for what goes on in the marketplace, particularly as this relates to the dehumanizing and exploitative treatment of people, e.g., migrant work-force. Work can become dehumanizing and degrading. However this undoubted effect of the fall does not invalidate the creational value of work.
1.7. There is a need to critique the idolization of the market and the debilitating effects of global economic system (e.g., the linkage between greed and idolatry in the NT); work is part of creation and gift of God, but also affected by fall, which includes obsession with work and its demonic aspect in workaholism in western societies. We need to reaffirm the purpose of the Sabbath’ and of tithing – as a way of freeing the heart from greed.
1.8. There is a need to ensure that human dignity is maintained in the context of the labor migra-tion. We need to bring a prophetic word against the deleterious effects of labor migration, e.g., social dislocation, marginalization, family fragmentation, dehumanized living conditions, etc.
1.9. We work out our commitment to follow Jesus in a globalized marketplace within the tension of engagement on the one hand and maintaining distinctiveness on the other. This tension is suggested by the NT metaphors of the church as salt and light in society.
1.10. The globalizing of the workforce provides opportunities for the extension of Christian hospi-tality to the “strangers” amongst us, e.g., migrant workers. and congregation-based ministry to these global workers who have been uprooted from their homeland and families. We need to give voice to the forgotten.
2. Issues to consider
2.1. A theology of economics is needed that goes beyond concerns for spirituality or ethical prac-tices at the workplace. We need further Christian engagement with the academic discipline of economics and to explore how the Christian worldview is worked out within the discipline. Evangelicals have done a lot of work on a biblical understanding of economics, but it needs to be re-visited after the fall of communism.
2.2. Explore possibilities at a practical level on how Christians might engage with the marketplace – as legitimate expressions of mission. Suggestion on three different levels of engagement with economics
- Consider the engine that drives the economy, i.e., the way economics is driven by the corporations; Christians might engage at that level and seek to redeem these corporations as engines of economics;
- micro-enterprise initiatives to help the poor
- how Christians might enter the marketplace through small and medium size industries in an effort to structure the economy after kingdom principles, and in so doing create jobs.
2.3. Investigate the historical genesis of the dichotomy between the sacred and the secular, e.g., the rise of “the heresy of full-time Christian ministry.”
2.4. Investigate the principalities and powers as these relate to global capitalism. Christianity has very often, at least in the west, been part of the problem rather than being prophetic, e.g., the failure to confront the oppressive nature of modern business. Corporations can manifest psy-chopathic behaviour –e.g. towards employees, without conscience. Shareholders have to function as conscience, and shame the board as necessary. There should be a prophetic role for the church in this. Nevertheless, it is recognized that a Christian CEO has to take difficult decisions in fallen world and its pressures.
2.5. Investigate the nature of globalization itself – what it is; how do Christians relate to it; the so-cial ramifications of a globalized economy and a fluid workforce; etc.
2.6. The need to bring the Christian ethical voice in the marketplace, i.e., how do we really prac-tice as Christians in the marketplace? There is a great need for more biblical teaching on how Christians should think about their work, relate a biblical worldview to it, and shape their character as disciples in relation to their work. Christians need to ‘become good’ at the basic level, because good people will do good. Avoid ‘Christian parallel societies’, but infiltrate as good people. Avoid making ‘discipleship’ a special category of something you do in church, but rather a description of how you live your life everywhere. Shaping of Christians in the marketplace – needs more than just going to church and good teaching. Needs many trans-formative elements. So many people are ‘in the game’ all the time – making decisions relent-lessly. Is there a space to practise?
2.7. Given the great demands of work in the modern world, how do we bring to bear a theology of Sabbath and rest for people whose lives are consumed by work?
2.8. The infiltration of the values and praxis of a profit-centered market into the life and ministry of the church, i.e., the issue of peddling the Gospel for money by people who present them-selves as Christian leaders (“pastors in the marketplace”). We need to avoid the idolatry of the market flooding into our pastoral and missional practice and thinking.
2.9. The extent to which our typical church system is guilty of erecting that dividing wall between the sanctuary and the marketplace, and the need for a total transformation of our understand-ing of the church in the light of God’s call to worldly engagement. What are the implications for the church if one were to adopt a holistic view of life and work in God’s world? We need a theology that values Christians (as well as non-Christians) who are out there at work in the world.
2.10. Church is a community that values every individual. There are no ‘ordinary people’. And we include all who work – at every level , not just corporations – from street sweepers through all occupations.
2.11. How do we talk about the significance of work in the light of many who are unemployed? Question of definition: distinguish between having a job and having work. Many have “work” in the sense of an “informal economy” though they are without a job, i.e., being plugged into the economic system of the work. The fact that so many are unemployed raises the question of justice.
2.14. There is a need to consider the missiological implications and possibilities of the phenomenon of labour migration within the global economic system, e.g., migrant as missionary. But there are many other negative as well as positive aspects to this phenomenon.
2.15. Globalization of a consumeristic mindset through the media and its impact on identity forma-tion, e.g., those from less developed nations being told by the global media what success is, etc.
6. FOLLOWING JESUS AS THE TRUTH: POSTMODERNITY AND CHALLENGES OF RELATIVISM
PAPER PRESENTER: MARK CHAN
1.1. We maintain our affirmation that the foundational biblical truth-claim attesting to the unique-ness of Christ stands in various degrees of opposition to the claims of the postmodern project.
1.2 Divergence marks the state of understandings and approaches among Christians concerning the church’s engagement with the postmodern worldview. While acknowledging this diver-gence, we affirm that Christian engagement with the postmodern is fundamental to furthering the ongoing mission of God. The vistas of promise and potentiality of Christian engagement are enhanced to the extent that such engagement is governed by the value-praxis of biblical conviction, contextual witness, coherent communication, confidence in God’s truth, and con-gruence between gospel word and deed, among others.
1.3 Distinctions between postmodernity (as a socio-cultural reality) and postmodernism (as an ideological agenda) merit our consideration and further scrutiny. In light of these distinctions, we affirm that there is – to some degree – a nexus between postmodernism and one of its pre-vailing expressions, namely consumerism. This nexus calls for the church to engage in seri-ous self-reflection in a wide spectrum of areas, including consumer behavior and biblical illit-eracy,
1.4 We affirm that living as prophetic salt and light still remains compelling in our postmodern world. The biblical mandate to live as salt and light in this world serves to balance the need to engage with the postmodern worldview at a scholastic, analytical level.
1.5 We affirm that the content of our Christian message works in conjunction with the context of our Christian message. Engaging the postmodern worldview cannot come at the cost of our adherence to the historic Christian message.
1.6. While we recognize that our engagement with others implicates aspects of identity such as worldview, religion and other cultural factors and forces, we acknowledge that our engage-ment is primarily girded and governed by our belief that we are part of a common humanity rather than as representatives of religions or ideologies. We maintain that an effective way to transcend the fragmentation of postmodernity is to focus on a shared humanity.
1.7. Postmodernity shows us that cognitive engagement is not enough but opens up for us a more holistic understanding of the affective, social, evaluative and physical dimensions of the hu-man person. The transformative outworking of the Kingdom of God in this world and the call to participatory engagement with the reality of Kingdom life provides an alternate and appeal-ing paradigm or framework of action for those tired of the transience of postmodern life. The holism of the Gospel of the Kingdom, we maintain, is an attractive resource in engaging peo-ple in our postmodern age.
2. Issues to Consider
2.1. Think missiologically on how we are to reach the ‘reached’ world, i.e., post-Christian (West-ern) cultures. The mere transplanting of programs from elsewhere will not work. Explore pos-sibilities of retelling the forgotten Christian story in a post-Christian culture; creativity needed
2.2. What is the nature of the church? Bearing in mind the view that the earliest followers of Christ were identified as “followers of the Way,” to what extent can the recovery of a biblical emphasis on Christian living (ekklesia as gathering) serve as a missiological corrective on our misguided stress on quantitative pointers to the state of the global church? (Azumah) – this issue-theme surfaced at several points of our discussion.
2.3. Many of the issues surrounding reaching the ‘reached’ post-Christian world were anticipated in the thoughts of Søren Kierkegaard. There is perhaps mileage in the Kierkegaardian notion of indirect communication.
2.4. In post-Christian societies, the missional question may be formulated along the lines: how do we connect/reconnect person(s) to God through prayer and/or contemplation. Contemplation in the ancient world was the apex of the Christian life. In post-Christendom, it might be the entry point into the Christian life.
2.5. Scandal of universality – first used as a critique of modernity confidence – as it relates to postmodernism points to historical reversal in the meaning of the term. Jesus as Lord, as a creed that binds universal and particular, is now viewed as scandalous in the reverse sense in the postmodern worldview, i.e., Jesus is okay for you but not for me.
2.6. Does Christian thinking on postmodernism adequately recognize and respond to nuances in current trends of thinking on postmodernism: some thinkers reframe the discussion and link postmodernism with consumerism (Dewey). Add to this the wrinkle that products are increas-ingly marketed and offered with spiritual benefits (“soap that brings hope” (Chan); futures v. benefits).
2.7. In the area of postmodern contextualization, what is the role of our historic, creedal tradition in current Christian engagement with postmodernism? Consider the cultural tides of “retro-religious” expressions, e.g., appeal of Gregorian chants among youth.
2.8. Acknowledging the influence of religious modes, labels and other identifiers in post-Christian contexts, what would happen if we shifted our paradigm to “doing church” (experiential di-mension) as the port of entry into “being church” (doctrinal dimension)? What are the prob-lems and/or points of tension? And how are such problems compounded by the paucity of leadership (and subsequent generations of leadership, i.e., the Timothy principle) in many parts of the world like Africa (Joseph’s point)?
2.9. In relation to 2.8, how can we strike a balance between the preservation of our historic identity and apostolicity of the church, on one hand, with the promotion of Christian truth apart from the negative connotations associated from that historic identity, on the other hand? Are we idolizing the contextualization of our faith at the expense of the historical nature of our faith?
2.10. Need for humanity in our highly modern society (Birger). Living as prophetic salt and light still remains compelling in our postmodern world. The biblical mandate to live as salt and light in this world serves to balance the need to engage with the postmodern worldview at a scholastic, analytical level.
2.11. The need for evangelicals to reflect theologically on the social and political implications as an intrinsic part of the church’s mission. E.g., the relationship between evangelicalism and de-mocracy, as in Romania where evangelicals are asking how they may remain faithful to Christ and yet contribute to the establishment of democracy in Romania.
2.12. What does it mean to follow Jesus as truth in a context where ‘truth’ is understood differently because of cultural filters, i.e., worldview? Part of the answer to this question is to recognize that we need to understand the worldviews of the peoples we are trying to reach, e.g., the Japanese monistic worldview, and how that compares with the worldview of Western Europe. We need to enquire into the points of contact between the Christian and other worldviews that serve as starting points for evangelistic engagement. People are willing to let go of their worldview only when something better comes along. How do we help people change their non-Christian worldview for the biblical one?
2.13. To the extent that the Christian metanarrative (biblical worldview) is dynamic and an ongoing project, our task of attending to the unfolding of the biblical worldview can neither preclude nor proscribe the larger body of Christ geographically, denominationally and historically. This involves an international and interdisciplinary hermeneutical community within Evangelical-ism coming together to construct and articulate the biblical worldview/metanarrative in rele-vant contexts. This is necessary in the face of the challenge of relativism.
Limuru Pointers. ‘Following Jesus in Our Broken World’. © Lausanne Theology Working Group. Not to be quoted, published or copied without permission.