A Look Inside the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization: a book review

Christ Our Reconciler: Gospel/Church/World from the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, edited by Julia Cameron.

In 1974, Billy Graham convened the first Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland. The historic meeting brought together 2700 religious leaders from 150 different nations and out of it came the Lausanne covenant (drafted by a committee chaired by the late John Stott). That historic meeting set the trajectory for unity and partnership in mission for Evangelicals across the globe.

In 2010, the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization was held in Capetown, South Africa (the second was in Manila, 1989).  Like the earlier congresses evangelicals across the globe gathered, some 4,000 participants from a 198 countries, for the purpose of seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they advance God’s mission in the world.   From this historic meeting  the Cape Town Commitment was drafted providing a confession of faith for Evangelicals worldwide across denominational, cultural and ethnic lines and issuing a call to action. Graham and Stott, the movers behind the original Lausanne Congress, were unable to attend due to age and poor health (Stott has since passed on); however they each sent their greetings which were read as the congress was convened and their influence was felt throughout the proceedings.  For those who were privileged to attend this meeting (I know a few people who were there), they heard testimonies, expository meetings and papers delivered which addressed the priority of evangelism and holistic mission and the unity of the global church.

In Christ Our Reconciler, Julia Cameron has edited together each of the speeches and addresses which happened over the six days of Lausanne.  The six themes which formed the basis of the Cape Town Commitment’s call to action were discussed over the course of the six days of the third Lausanne and were based on an exposition of Ephesians (another way in which Stott’s abiding influence was felt at the Third Congress). Each day began with a testimony from the global church, a message from Ephesians and presentations based on the day’s themes.  These messages spoke passionately about the need for the church:

  1. To uphold Truth is a pluralistic age
  2. To carry on the ministry of Reconciliation and build peace in a world that is broken
  3. To bear witness to the love of Christ among various World Faiths
  4. To set Priorities for Evangelization in the next century
  5. To call the church back to integrity, humility and simplicity
  6. Partnership between Evangelicals across the globe in mission and evangelism.

The force of the essays collected here from more than thirty contributors are challenging and inspiring. Rather than give you a detailed analysis of all that was said, let me give you several reasons why you should read this book for yourself:

First, the Lausanne movement has set the trajectory for evangelical mission across the globe for the last 38 years. The significance of the Cape Town Commitment and the Third Congress have yet to be seen, but it is a historic meeting which will impact Christian witness across the world and the themes of Christ’s reconciliation and mutual partnership in mission will bear fruit.

Secondly, American Christians like me are sometimes tempted towards a form of nationalism or ethnocentricity which prevents us from appreciating the experience of Christians in the two-thirds world.  Half of the attendees of the Cape Town Congress were from the majority world and bring a fresh experience to mission, the need for reconciliation, and perspective on  the way the prosperity gospel affects the world’s poor.  They also have had to navigate mission in culture’s which are antagonistic to the Christian faith, or lack basic literacy. If the mission of the church is to succeed we need their wisdom and experience. Thankfully these essays reveal some of the exciting things happening in the global church.

Thirdly, these essays are not short on prophetic challenge. By reading these essays we become more aware of the ways the church worldwide faces persecution and navigates ethnic and economic tensions. See for example the testimony of Archbishop Ben Kwashi of Nigeria  who miraculously was delivered by God from thirty people intent  on killing him, or Nour Armagan (not his real name) who courageously share’s his faith in the Muslim world,  pr  Tim Keller’s essay which challenges Christian’s across the globe to center their missional efforts in urban centers, or Nigel Cameron and John Wyatt’s challenge evangelicals to consider how new bio- technologies challenge the dignity of human beings, or Calisto Odede and Chris Wright both challenge Christians to live lives of integrity, or . . . . I think it is impossible to read these or any of the other essays in this book and not feel called to grow in our commitment to Christ and his church.

Fourth, the Third Lausanne is a powerful testimony to the ways in which Christ is Reconciler.  This a gathering of Christians from different cultures across the globe from different cultural, ethnic and denominational heritages. Not all the participants (or presenters) agree with one another on every point of doctrine or theology but they are committed to the historic Christian faith, the priority of holistic world mission and to being gracious with one another (For example the Cape Town Commitment’s statement on Men and Women in partnership accommodates both complementarian and biblical egalitarianism).

I for one am energized by what I have read here, am grateful for the thoughtfulness of the Cape Town Commitment and upon reading these essays have a better sense of how I can prayerfully support God’s mission and the global church.

 

Here is a  a full look at the contents of this book:

 

The Lausanne Movement
Foreword
Greetings from Billy Graham and John Stott to the Congress

Day 1
Truth: Making the case for the truth of Christ in our pluralistic and globalized world

Testimony: ‘I know the gospel is true’
Gyeong Ju Son (North Korea)
Ephesians 1
Ajith Fernando (Sri Lanka)
Truth matters
Carver T. Yu (Hong Kong)
Why we need a high view of truth
Os Guinness (UK)
Truth in the workplace: Equipping the whole church
Willy Kotiuga (Canada)
Sharing the irresistible, true Christ
Rebecca Manley Pippert (USA)

Day 2
Reconciliation: Building the peace of Christ in our divided and broken world

Testimony: Palestinian-Jewish reconciliation
Shadia Qubti and Dan Sered
Ephesians 2
Ruth Padilla DeBorst (Argentina/Costa Rica)
Our gospel of reconciliation
Antoine Rutayisire (Rwanda)
Ethnicity in the mission of God
Dewi Hughes (UK)

Day 3
World Faiths: Bearing witness to the love of Christ among people of other faiths

Testimony: Costly witness and the God who protects
Archbishop Ben Kwashi (Nigeria)
Ephesians 3:1-21
John Piper (USA)
The gospel, the global church and the world of Islam
Nour Armagan (Middle East)
Bearing witness to Christ’s love among those of other faiths
Michael Ramsden (UK)
Discipleship and mission in the age of globalization
Os Guinness (UK) and David Wells (USA)

Day 4
Priorities: Discerning the will of God for evangelization in our century

Testimony: Sharing stories, sharing truth
Steve Evans (US/South Africa)
Ephesians 4:1-16
Vaughan Roberts (UK)
What is God’s global urban mission?
Tim Keller (USA)
Ethics, emerging technologies and the human future
Nigel Cameron (UK/USA) and John Wyatt (UK)

Day 5
Integrity: Calling the church of Christ back to humility, integrity and simplicity

Testimony: Shaking salt, shining light in national life
Paul Batchelor (UK)
Ephesians 4:17 — 6:9
Calisto Odede (Kenya)
Calling the church back to Humility, Integrity, Simplicity
Chris Wright (UK)
The prosperity gospel
Femi Adeleye (Nigeria)
Human sexuality, by God’s design
Cape Town Commitment

Day 6
Partnership: Partnering in the body of Christ towards a new global equilibrium

Testimony: Transformation in the garbage village
Rebecca Atallah (Egypt)
Ephesians 6:10-24
Ramez Atallah (Egypt)
Unreached and unengaged peoples
Strategy Working Group
Working towards a new global equilibrium
Patrick Fung (Singapore)
Scripture in mission
Scripture in Mission Resource Team
Men and women in partnership
Cape Town Commitment

Closing Address
We have a gospel to proclaim
Lindsay Brown

Appendix: The Lausanne Global Conversation
Embracing suffering in service
Ajith Fernando (Sri Lanka)
A small version of the grand narrative: A response to Ajith Fernando
Elizabeth Little

Notes
Recommended Reading

Thank you to InterVarsity Press for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for this review

The Late Great John Stott: a kid’s book review.

While Protestants do not canonize saints ,we do honor great Christian leaders  and hold them up  as examples for the next generation. In The Humble Leader Julia Cameron presents the late, great John Stott as part of Christian Focus Trail Blazers series.  This is a series of biographies profiling notable Christians for young audience (published under their CFP4Kids imprint).

Author Julia Cameron, director of publishing for the Lausanne Movement and the series editor for the Didasko Files, wrote this book in the hopes that readers would come to know more about John Stott, be moved by his love for Christ and would benefit from his writings.  The portrait she paints of the man unfolds chronologically.  She describes his birth and early family life, his schooling, his conversion and call to Christian ministry under the influence of E.J.H. Nash (AKA “Bash”) and his involvement with Bash’s camp ministry, his student days at Cambridge as a conscientious objector during World War II, his curate and appointment as rector at All Souls, Langham (the church he grew up in), his influence on the World Evangelical Movement, his writing at the Hookses, and his strong sense of personal call which caused him to turn down bishoprics, professorships and marriage in order to devote himself more wholly to the task God had given him.

John Stott remains one of my favorite biblical commentators and I have read several of his books but there are parts of his life story I didn’t know until I read this book. I also appreciated several aspects of John Stott’s ministry which have had an abiding influence on me which Cameron explores here. I love his dedication to the life of the mind, beginning in his student days, his involvement with  Tyndale House at Cambridge, his involvement with University and college ministries and his many publications.  He also dedicated his life to evangelism and promoted social activism and care for the poor. When Evangelicals (particularly American Evangelicals) were failing to thoughtful engage or offer practical care for their world, John Stott was a prophetic voice.

This is a ‘youth biography’ and therefore not a ‘critical biography.’  It is written to commend Stott’s life to the young so it does not offer much in the way of historical analysis; instead its tone is sympathetic and appreciative of what Stott accomplished. But that doesn’t mean that Cameron does not challenge her readers toward deeper engagement. The chapters are broken up by ‘fact files’ which share interesting tid-bits and noteworthy aspects of John Stott’s life and challenge readers and she closes the book with suggestions of further reading, thoughts to ponder and ideas to put into practice having reflected on the life of John Stott.  My kids are too young to appreciate this book but I enjoyed it. I have not read Timothy Dudley Smith’s two part biography or Roger Steer’s more recent biography. I imagine that they would be better for an adult audience, but if you want to introduce your young ones to John Stott, this is a good choice.

I received this book from Christian Focus Publications in exchange for this review.

How Do ‘You’ Pray?: A Book Review

How does your personality affect your prayer life? Do certain temperament types find different types of prayer easier than others? What about your past history?  What are the therapeutic benefits of prayer?  Is prayer just auto-suggestion, conditioned response or childish illusion?  Are all prayers the same? What about Eastern meditation?

Psychiatrist and Bible teacher Pablo Martinez brings his professional insight to bear on the topic of prayer.  In Praying with the Grain: How Your Personality Affects the Way You Pray, he offers biblically sound direction to developing your prayer with keen psychological insight from an evangelical perspective. The late John Stott wrote the foreword for this book (I think the foreword is a carry-over from the book’s previous incarnation entitled Prayer Life, 2001). I certainly appreciated that this book delved  beyond your typical pop-psychology pap with good biblical grounding from an evangelical perspective. Really, I think this is a rare combination in the Christian book market!

This is a short book, composed of five chapters. Chapter 1-3 compose part 1 of this book which address the psychology of prayer. Chapter one focuses on how our personal temperament affects the way we pray. Martinez argues that different temperament types have natural strengths and weaknesses in their approach to prayer. Using Carl Jung’s temperament types he explores how the various types (thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition)  and the proclivity toward introversion or extroversion has real affect on our prayer life. For example, introverts are introspective and turn inward while extroverts are activists who focus on other people and things. Thinking types tend to be rational and methodical in their approach to prayer making them effective intercessors and good at confession  but they aren’t so good at expressing adoration and worship. Feeling types are more relational in their approach to prayer and are more likely to ‘feel’ God’s presence and show concern about concrete situations of social injustice; yet they can tend toward excessive subjectivism.   Intuitive types are the natural mystics and contemplatives and prize freedom in prayer (which means sometimes they aren’t particularly grounded).  The Sensation type addresses God through the senses and tend to relate to God in a childlike way but are sometimes too reliant on external circumstances and never pray for very long. Martinez’s goal is both to help us affirm and appreciate the different ways people experience God but also shore up and develop in areas where we are naturally weak (it is healthier to be nearer the center in each of the temperament types or in terms of extroversion/introversion).

Chapter 2 addresses emotional problems and prayer and difficulties people have when they come to prayer. These include difficulties in the course of prayer such as getting started, not feeling God’s presence, not wanting to be hypocritical, difficulty in concentrating (i.e. anxiety or nervousness, bad thoughts)  and the  inability to pray in public. He also addresses the different content of prayer (adoration and praise, confession, request and intercession) and asserts that a healthy pray life needs to include each element regardless of your natural proclivities.  In chapter 3 Martinez describes the ‘therapeutic benefits of prayer,’  both existentially and in terms of  a ‘psychotherapeutic process” of  a growing  intimate relationship, a cathartic unburdening, providing guidance and discernement, and personal growth.  In both of these chapters Martinez’s psychological insight is helpful for entering more fully into prayer.

In part 2 Martinez provides an apologetic for Christian prayer.  Chapter 4 addresses secularist/modernist criticisms of prayer (i.e.  prayer as self-suggestion,  prayer as conditioned response, or childish illusion. In chapter 5 he examines the differences between Christian prayer and meditation and Eastern style meditation and Platonic mysticism.  I think he does a good job of dismantling psychologically shallow caricatures of prayer and demonstrating that there is real substance to prayer beyond a placebo effect.  He also demonstrates how Christian meditation has a different purpose, method and content than either Eastern meditation or Platonism.  What I really liked about his final chapter is the way he eschews method and technique  (which is the Eastern approach) and proclaims that the Christian understanding of prayer is an intimate relationship.

While I found part 2 interesting and think that Martinez is able to articulate important points succinctly and with insight, I think the real value of this book is helping people develop as pray-ers.  The insight that our  temperament type and personal history provides us with a natural style of relating to God. For a short book, Martinez gives significant space to exploring the difficulties we have in prayer and the strengths and weaknesses we have as a result to our unique shape, temperament and history.  There is a lot here that is of real help to those of us who want to grow at prayer and foster our relationship with God.

Martinez’s evangelical perspective makes him suspicious of some of the excesses of the contemplative and mystical tradition.  He does affirm a lot in the Christian mystical tradition but is suspicious of the ways that Platonism has robbed much of it of its Christian content and thus urges that our approach to meditation should be focused on scripture.  Certainly I can see how people get mystical and strange and become unhinged, but I wonder if there is more merit to some of the approaches to prayer that he criticizes. But this is more of a wondering, his approach to Christian meditation as centered on the word and our experience of the word is in keeping with my own practice, experience and conviction.

Thank you to Kregel Publications for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.