CAPE TOWN: Christian Faith in Forefront of Global Battle for Souls

US Episcopal Bishops more evil than Borgia Popes, says Evangelical sociologist

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org

When the church universal is dealing with things that threaten its future it is time to talk, say leaders of a global consultation on world evangelization.

Some 5,500 evangelicals from 197 nations, (4,200) participants meeting here, see the world at a turning point facing global issues such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, a loss of nerve by many Christians, and a resurgent Islam. At the same time, they must acknowledge that the world is more religiously explosive and torn, despite the belief by secular academics that religion will wither and die in the face of modernity and technological advances.

The greatest growth of the Christian faith in the world today is in the Global South that includes Asia and Latin America.

“We want to celebrate with our brothers and sisters in Africa who are experiencing the most spectacular growth in their histories. The Christian Faith is exploding in Africa and it is infecting the whole world with the freshness of the gospel,” said Ugandan Archbishop Henry Orombi, chair of the hosting committee in Africa, at a press conference.

The composition of this evangelical gathering revealed that 70% are from Africa, Latin America, and Asia with only 30% from the West and Global North.

“It is why we are in Cape Town,” said Doug Birdsall, Executive chair of the Lausanne Congress, adding that the congress was using the most bandwidth ever in the history of Cape Town, “more so than the World Cup.” Connections are more than double any other conference, which organizers described as “unprecedented”

“We are here because we want to see eternal truths translated into their [cultural] context,” continued Birdsall. “2010 has come with a new impetus for new leadership. The number of younger people here gives me hope. The message they receive will go for another 40 years with the way things are changing,” said Archbishop Orombi.

Lars Dahle, principal of a School of Journalism in Norway, said the Christian Faith is good news in a digitalized and global world. “We need to address media awareness. How can we be present in this new world as Christians and as media professionals? New technologies are turning every Christian ministry organization into a media outlet. The Gospel of Christ is good news in a globalized world.”

Conveners noted the difference between the first congress in 1974 in Lausanne and the third congress today is that then 70% of the participants were from the West. Now that has completely reversed.

Questioned on the difference between a gathering of Christians in Edinburgh in June, 2010, verses Lausanne 2010, Birdsall said that here the consensus is in the use of words like “evangelical proclamation” and the “work of the Holy Spirit”. He also noted that this conference has more scholars with some 1,200 present.

Dr. Os Guinness, a leading Anglican evangelical sociologist, layman and a major speaker among Washington’s public policy think tanks, said it is important to acknowledge the reality of globalization, but warns that much talk of globalization is too simplistic.

“The notion of the world as a global village is far too cozy and naïve. Globalization has rocked the educated classes in its impact on identity and prosperity,” he remarked.

“Religion has not disappeared it is furiously alive and as well as ever. The three major issues are; will Islam modernize peacefully, which Faith will fill the vacuum in China and will the West sever or recover its roots in the Judeo/Christian faith and how can we live with deep, irreducible and ultimate differences?

“In the next forty years all these issues of politics, the environment, the scarcity of resources and religious difference will converge.”

Guinness explained that no one knows the whole of knowledge or reality; when one knows one part, it has changed. This should engender humility, but not relativism.

When asked to comment on the report that the Archbishop of Canterbury said, “no one can know the whole truth”, he responded that our claim to a faith based on truth is not that we know everything. We are not all-wise. But the truth has been disclosed and revealed to us. Guinness argued that while faith is beyond reason, it is a warranted faith: “we think in believing and we believe in thinking.”

Guinness said the Christian faith is the first global religion and the most alive. “It is the fastest growing in the world with the Bible the most translatable book in human history.

“My own passion about what is going on and one of the greatest issues is how we can establish global governance without a world government. I am a passionate believer to a civil public square. Now we have a global public square with Internet.”

Guinness added that while we must not stop protesting the fight for human rights, Christians must be in the forefront about solutions for human kind as a whole in the future.

During a question and answer period, Guinness stated that one of the sadnesses of Christian leaders is that they are clear about the political scene, but not clear about the Christian faith.

“The clarity and courage of the African and Asian Christian leaders does not characterize Christian leaders in the west. The Christian Church in the West has never seen such a level of apostasy and heresy as seen in the United States.

“The Episcopal Church is the greatest disgrace in Christian history and it is being led down the path by so called Christian leadership.”

One way in which western church leaders have addressed Christian claims to truth is to characterize them as exclusive and argue for inclusivity, commented Church of England blogger Canon Chris Sugden.

Guinness replied that inclusivity is indifference to truth which is profoundly dangerous. He referred to a conversation with a Roman Catholic cardinal who noted that while the Borgia popes, one of whom fathered children with his own daughter, never denied a single issue of the creed. Leaders in The Episcopal Church deny much of the creed and remain in post.

Guinness argued that the Church has always made distinctions because truth matters. Inclusivity is indifferent to truth. There is respectful tolerance (based on freedom of conscience) and sloppy tolerance, which is muddle headed, ethical folly and a slipway to real evil. “There are some profoundly dangerous ideas around and they should be challenged.” Or, in teen speak, “whatever” leads to “anything goes”.

“Western Protestant liberals have lost their collective theological nerve. Our life is to live out the truth. His word is truth, we can live out the truth,” concluded Guinness.

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