Lausanne, postmodernism and the emerging church
According to this blog post the Third Lausanne Congress, held at Cape Town in October 2010, issued a “call to action” against “postmodernism” and “the emerging church”.
Now I wasn’t at the Cape Town Congress, though I did take part in some of the online conversations leading up to the congress. Unfortunately the web site for these conversations seems to be broken, otherwise I would have asked these questions there. I would like to hear from some people who were actually at the Congress, to hear from them whether it was their understanding that the Congress issued a “call to action” against “postmodernism” (and whether they believe that postmodernism is called “the emergin g church movement”). I find it hard to believe that the Congress actually said or intended what the linked blog post claimed it did.
Evangelical Christianity has been under severe and sustained attack from those who wish to compromise and synthesize Christianity with Postmodernism (called the Emerging Church movement) instead of fighting back against it. Some of our largest Evangelical institutions including for example Zondervan Publishers, many denominations and seminaries have been compromising. These compromisers threaten to destroy the very definition of Biblical evangelical Christianity.
Some other claims made by the blog post are:
- the [Lausanne] statement is explicit. Unlike many other public statements, it does not beat about the bush. Postmodernism is identified as false, illogical, misleading, a negative influence a threat to Evangelical Christianity and religious freedom
- combating Postmodernism in the church in the Western World will greatly assist the forward progress of world evangelism (the principal goal of the Lausanne Congress) and the persecuted church
- they put the call to action to defend the truth against Postmodernism first in the practical part of the document their ‘call to action’, recognising the central importance of the fight against Postmodernism to the defence and advance of Christianity in the Western World
I belive that the linked blog post, where these statements appear, is itself “false, illogical, misleading, a negative influence a threat to Evangelical Christianity and religious freedom”. And to say that Postmodernism is called “the emerging church” is ridiculous. Postmodernism is a rather broad movement in art, architecture, literature, philosophy and several other fields, generally in reaction to, or moving beyond modernism, so to say that Postmodernism is called “the emerging church” is just silly.
The emerging church movement, as I understand it, is also a pretty broad thing, covering quite a wide range of Christian theology and practice, with a broad general aim of proclaiming the gospel in postmodern society (which I would have thought would be consonant with the aims of the Lausanne movement). I really can’t see the Lausanne movement consciously tying itself to Modernism, and saying that Modernism is good while Postmodernism is bad, and restricting Evangelical Christians to the proclamation of the Gospel only in Modern societies.
It also seems to me that most of those who identified with the emerging church movement a few years ago have moved on, and now call themselves missional or something else.
I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m an Orthodox Christian, and as far as I know there were no Orthodox Christians at the 2010 congress. As a missiologist I’m interested in what movements like Lausanne and the emerging church are saying and doing about mission and evangelism. From my own observations, there is considerable overlap between the Lausanne movement and the emerging church movement, though there are also areas where they don’t overlap. The blog post I’ve quoted, however, presents them as being at loggerheads with each other, which I think gives a false and misleading picture.