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Questions that aren’t being asked at the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization

3 September 2010

The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization  is being held in Cape Town next month, and among the preparations for it is a web site to stimulate discussions about the concerns of the congress.

One contribution, received via Facebook, was What questions aren’t being asked? | The Lausanne Global Conversation.

I can think of two more that weren’t mentioned there.

  • What is the “good news” being proclaimed by Christian evangelists who instigate witch hunts – even against children?
  • What can be done about the gospel being diluted by syncretism?

I covered the first one in a blog post here a couple of weeks ago on The new face of African Christianity | Khanya, so I won’t go into detail about it now, except to say that I think the question is still not being asked seriously in the Lausanne conversations, and I think it ought to be.

The second point has been raised by an American Southern Baptist theologian Moore to the Point by Russell D. Moore:

A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they’ve heard the gospel, right there in the nation’s capital.

The news media pronounces him the new leader of America’s Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America’s Christian conservatives have no problem with that.

and goes on to say

What concerns me is about what this says about the Christian churches in the United States.

It’s taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined “revival” and “turning America back to God” that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.

Rather than cultivating a Christian vision of justice and the common good (which would have, by necessity, been nuanced enough to put us sometimes at odds with our political allies), we’ve relied on populist God-and-country sloganeering and outrage-generating talking heads. We’ve tolerated heresy and buffoonery in our leadership as long as with it there is sufficient political “conservatism” and a sufficient commercial venue to sell our books and products.

Hat-tip to Creedal Christian: Evangelicals Going Gospel on Glenn Beck.
Until afew months ago, I, like many other Christian bloggers, had never heard of Glenn Beck, until he publicly attacked Dorothy Day, the Catholic social activist, and apparently said something to the effect that “social justice” was a perversion of the Gospel. Well, as a Mormon, he would, and that’s his right. The problem is not so much that he said it, but rather, as Russell Moore points out, that many who would identify themselves as evangelical Christians apparently agree with him. Now it is precisely those who identify themselves as evangelical Christians who often express concern about “syncretism” in African Christianity, and, in the case of the witch hunting Neopentecostal evangelists they are probably right to be concerned. But there is just as much cause for concern about this syncretism with what Moore calls “a generically theistic civil religion” and with the Mammon-worship implicit in the “prosperity gospel”, not only in Africa, but also in the West.

I see that Russell D. Moore is not among those listed as taking part in the Lausanne Conversation, but perhaps he ought to be, and the questions he raises need to be asked there. Of course the Lausanne Congress would probably come in for a lot of criticism from Glenn Beck as well, because it does seem to be quite concerned about social justice.

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