Reconsidering The Lausanne Covenant

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yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
One Article of the Lausanne Covenant , supposedly inserted at the urging of Rev. John R. W. Stott, troubles me.


5. CHRISTIAN SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY​

We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all men. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and Man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.

(Acts 17:26,31; Genesis 18:25; Isaiah 1:17; Psalm 45:7; Genesis 1:26,27; James 3:9; Leviticus 19:18; Luke 6:27,35; James 2:14-26; John 3:3,5; Matthew 5:20; 6:33; 2 Corinthians 3:18; James 2:20)

How does the view of reconciliation articulated here. differ from that of the Confession of 1967?
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
One Article of the Lausanne Covenant , supposedly inserted at the urging of Rev. John R. W. Stott, troubles me.


5. CHRISTIAN SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY​

We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all men. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and Man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.

(Acts 17:26,31; Genesis 18:25; Isaiah 1:17; Psalm 45:7; Genesis 1:26,27; James 3:9; Leviticus 19:18; Luke 6:27,35; James 2:14-26; John 3:3,5; Matthew 5:20; 6:33; 2 Corinthians 3:18; James 2:20)

How does the view of reconciliation articulated here. differ from that of the Confession of 1967?
I'm not sure, probably very little.
Surely this will be exploited and abused by the BLM types.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
John Stott is a solid man. What troubles you about his statement?
My concern is his understanding of reconciliation. It sounds very much like the heresy we have in the Confession of 1967.
"We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression."
Yes, we are to be just in our dealings with all men, and seek justice in the land. Are we to seek to be reconciled to the unbeliever?
Is our concern the liberation of all men from from every kind of oppression? We are to be concerned that we are just, firstly with in our dealings with our brethren, and secondly with all others with whom we come in contact. But is it our responsibility to support all liberation movements that are arguably just?
As we evangelize, must we really to be concerned, as this covenant teaches, with all oppression?
 

JTB.SDG

Puritan Board Junior
How many heresies can we give someone a pass for and still call them "solid"?
It's not good, for sure. But if it's John Stott you're talking about, we must certainly disagree on this important point and yet hold him as a brother who was wrong on one point but who helped the church immensely in thousands of other ones.

Also, good to remember we can be completely and totally "theologically solid" and yet not truly possess saving faith in Christ.

Also good to fear for ourselves lest we fall into error whether in doctrine or our life.
 
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SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
It's not good, for sure. But if it's John Stott you're talking about, we must certainly disagree on this important point and yet hold him as a brother who was wrong on one point but who helped the church immensely in thousands of other ones.

Also, good to remember we can be completely and totally "theologically solid" and yet not truly possess saving faith in Christ.

Also good to fear for ourselves lest we fall into error whether in doctrine or our life.

I don't really feel that my concern was addressed, to be honest. But that's ok. I won't die on this hill. Not today anyway.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Remember that the Lausanne Covenant concerns world missions, and world missions concerns more than the USA.

When reconciliation is spoken of in a missionary context, it doesn't mean race relations in the USA (which always means black-white relations, Asians are almost always ignored because they are, for the most part, productive and law-abiding), but it often means real tribal enmity and violence like Hutus versus Tutsis or one tribe against another. There is real discrimination and oppression in the world beyond the USA that makes America seem enviable in its relative racial harmony.

There is nothing wrong with this statement. Don't see all past historical statement through the present struggles against CRT.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Remember that the Lausanne Covenant concerns world missions, and world missions concerns more than the USA.

When reconciliation is spoken of in a missionary context, it doesn't mean race relations in the USA (which always means black-white relations, Asians are almost always ignored because they are, for the most part, productive and law-abiding), but it often means real tribal enmity and violence like Hutus versus Tutsis or one tribe against another. There is real discrimination and oppression in the world beyond the USA that makes America seem enviable in its relative racial harmony.

There is nothing wrong with this statement. Don't see all past historical statement through the present struggles against CRT.
Yes, but since many missionaries come from this part of the world where CRT is just assumed, many of the toxic 'solutions' will likely be exported. That would create even more animosity among groups, and probably, even whites. It would recreate Zimbabwe and South Africa. That said, depending on the circumstance, I don't think it's our job to end all alleged 'oppressions.' No Apostle did that outside of harmony among brothers.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Yes, but since many missionaries come from this part of the world where CRT is just assumed, many of the toxic 'solutions' will likely be exported. That would create even more animosity among groups, and probably, even whites. It would recreate Zimbabwe and South Africa. That said, depending on the circumstance, I don't think it's our job to end all alleged 'oppressions.' No Apostle did that outside of harmony among brothers.
I don't think that is happening. We export many errors, but CRT is not really being pushed overseas. Racial harmony and justice is.....but that is biblical.

About our job as missionaries:

My actions on the mission field, and the actions of many missionaries who have come before me, have been undertaken because we love the people we serve. We want to help them in ALL areas of their life. This is mainly focusing on the gospel, but also includes justice.

In the early 1800s E.C. Bridgman exposed and spoke out against the opium addiction that English businessmen were bringing the Chinese. “One of the greatest evils afflicting Chinese society,” he said.

In 1903 Amy Carmichael wrote the book Things As They Are to expose the child prostitution in India and get laws changed.

In the early 1900s Missionaries in Belgian Congo smuggled photographs out of the country in order to fight the illegal slavery of the villagers that the colonizers were trying to enforce.

These are only a few examples of many, many Christians who have tried to improve the lives of the oppressed and downtrodden people groups they have loved. You can think of others, I’m sure.

It is clear in the Bible that Christians are to stand up for Biblical justice, especially when it afflicts the poor and the voiceless. Proverbs 31:9 says, “Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
I know I'm being lazy, but what specific language in the 1967 are you referring to? (The specifics of the 1967 aren't something that most Gen Xers and Millennials are going to be familiar with since the PCUSA was basically written off by the time we came along and were born into Reformed churches or got interested in them.)
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
My concern is his understanding of reconciliation. It sounds very much like the heresy we have in the Confession of 1967.
"We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression."
Yes, we are to be just in our dealings with all men, and seek justice in the land. Are we to seek to be reconciled to the unbeliever?
Is our concern the liberation of all men from from every kind of oppression? We are to be concerned that we are just, firstly with in our dealings with our brethren, and secondly with all others with whom we come in contact. But is it our responsibility to support all liberation movements that are arguably just?
As we evangelize, must we really to be concerned, as this covenant teaches, with all oppression?

Are some Stott "fans" woke? Absolutely. And it's for the same reason that staunch Lloyd-Jones fans are going to be derided as "white supremacists" today since Lloyd-Jones largely opposed political activism. Along with Stott remaining in the compromised CoE, the role of the church in society was the other big disagreement they had. (I think his embrace of annhilation may have come later.)

As for reconciliation with the unbeliever, wouldn't “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" have applicability? But maybe something more is meant by that term.

I think we'd need to define oppression. Some who like this statement are probably going to see oppression in places where others wouldn't. De facto vs de jure, equal opportunity vs equal outcome, etc.

As for me, I don't think what Perg has described is wrong although I know that he has received some objections to his advocacy for the tribe(s) there who are being exploited with their water supply poisoned, if I remember correctly. On the mission field, as I understand it, you're often going to run into issues that cannot be ignored. But as much as is within our power, I think that ministers at least should be known as gospel men primarily rather than political activists.
 
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Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Remember that the Lausanne Covenant concerns world missions, and world missions concerns more than the USA.

When reconciliation is spoken of in a missionary context, it doesn't mean race relations in the USA (which always means black-white relations, Asians are almost always ignored because they are, for the most part, productive and law-abiding), but it often means real tribal enmity and violence like Hutus versus Tutsis or one tribe against another. There is real discrimination and oppression in the world beyond the USA that makes America seem enviable in its relative racial harmony.

There is nothing wrong with this statement. Don't see all past historical statement through the present struggles against CRT.
Exactly. A missions-inspired statement from 1974 should be viewed in that context, not as a commentary on American politics fifty years later.

Successful missionaries (including Reformed ones) have long understood there's a biblical-justice and social-renewal component to their calling, especially when they first take the gospel to places where it is unknown. Such places tend to be burdened under oppression and hurt. It will not do for the gospel-preaching missionary to see starving children due to tribal warfare, or sick families who drink poisoned water, or illiterate people who are denied an education, and say, "Well, that's not my concern. I'm a preacher." No, if he is a loving missionary he will have loving actions that match his words and adorn his gospel proclamation.

This is why Reformed churches have often established hospitals and schools alongside churches on their mission fields. This is why gospel preachers eagerly say yes when water engineers and nurses offer to accompany them. This is why my dad, when he served as a Reformed missionary, along with preaching the gospel also collected food and clothing from his supporting churches and distributed them to any who had need, and why he confronted the witch doctors who charged exorbitant prices for fake cures. It was not because he was a liberal activist, or a liberation-theology guy, or a Critical-Race-Theory forerunner who was fifty years ahead of his time. It was simply because compassion adorns the gospel.

It's a shame that these days, in our circles, any mention of justice or social concerns or helping the poor immediately subjects a fellow to suspicion. Are we so afraid of CRT that we must discard our love for compassion and justice? Is American politics that much more important than basic, humanitarian mercy?

That article in the Lausanne Covenant acknowledges the important work of the legions of missionary doctors, educators, water engineers, builders, etc. who support evangelism with their acts of mercy. At the time, maybe it was a tad too accommodating to liberation theology. But to my way of thinking, any missions-inspired statement would feel incomplete without an article that at least addressed the topic of social responsibility.
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
This thread is one reason I'm grateful for this board - feeling particularly blessed and edified this evening as I read the thoughts shared above.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Exactly. A missions-inspired statement from 1974 should be viewed in that context, not as a commentary on American politics fifty years later.
The context I am seeing is not comparing a 1974 document with the American political scene fifty years later. Rev. Esau McCaulley makes that connection, and appeals to the Laussane Covenant on that basis. I am pushing back against Rev. Esau McCaulley's assessment, but I see a 1974 document that seems to stand in the tradition of a heretical confessional statement, the United Presbyterian Church Confession of 1967. Professors Addison Leitch and John H. Gerstner went to great lengths to show that the way the Confession of 1967 spoke of reconcilliation was not the way the Bible taught concerning reconcilliation.
That article in the Lausanne Covenant acknowledges the important work of the legions of missionary doctors, educators, water engineers, builders, etc. who support evangelism with their acts of mercy. At the time, maybe it was a tad too accommodating to liberation theology. But to my way of thinking, any missions-inspired statement would feel incomplete without an article that at least addressed the topic of social responsibility.
Liberation theology was already on the horizon when the Laussane Covenant was adopted. In that sense it is a post Confession of 67 document.
The framers of the Laussane Covenant should have taken care to distinguish their position from the Liberation Theology heresy
I am 69 and the adoption of the Confession of 1967 occurred when I was in highschool. Most people do not remember the context in which either the Confession of 1967 or the Laussane Covenant were adopted.
Here are links to both documents.
Laussane Covenant https://lausanne.org/content/covenant/lausanne-covenant#cov
Confession of 1967 https://www.godweb.org/confession1967.htm
 
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