Apologetics.com, Inc. [501(c)3)] exists to remove intellectual impediments to Christian faith, thereby enhancing believers’ confidence in, and weakening skeptics’ objections to, the gospel message. We seek to provide the best answers to the most challenging objections to Christian faith in a manner that is most effective with inquirers and most glorifying to God.
We seek to provide compelling and persuasive answers to the most challenging objections to Christian faith today in a manner that is most effective with inquirers and most glorifying to God. It is our vision to engage the church, the wider public, and the academy.
Engaging the Church
The most exciting thing we are currently working on is our video lecture series that will be turned into an exclusively online certificate program in Christian Apologetics. We believe that this will provide a great opportunity for any believer with hardly any knowledge of apologetics to not only become more confident in their own faith but to prepare themselves when the time comes for them to give an answer for the hope that is within them (1 Peter 3:15). To this end, we aim is to educate and equip believers to become effective lay-apologists who winsomely and robustly defend the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ — to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
Engaging the Wider Public
The two main ways that Apologetics.com reaches the wider public is through our live radio ministry, podcast and website resources. We also reach a wider audience through our social media initiatives, blogging, and public speaking. In addition to the of thousands of listeners of our live, call-in radio show in Southern California, we have seen statistical growth to our website and especially to our social media pages. We also help organize apologetics conferences and our team is available to speak at your event on a range of apologetics topics such as the Resurrection, Problem of Evil and the intersection of faith and culture.
Engaging the Academy
Our organization is beginning to acquire a knack for scholarship! Not only are we forming close relationships with current scholars across the globe, but we are also creating homegrown scholars. Dr. Richard Park graduated with a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in Theology & Religion; his dissertation was on Catholic — Muslim relations in the Phillipines. Dr. Jacob Daniel received his Ph.D. program in Intercultural Studies at Biola University. And lastly, Dr. Harry Edwards received his D.Min. from George Fox University and has begun speaking on matters of faith and culture. We’re thrilled to have so many scholars that will make a contribution to the academy in concord with their callings as apologists.
Meet Our Team
We take the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Scriptures to be inspired and authoritative for all of faith and practice. However, we also recognize the following post-biblical creeds and confessions as valuable and faithful though not infallible, expressions of Christian orthodoxy.
The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (381)
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, Begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made:
Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;
And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;
And ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father;
And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together isworshipped and glorified, Who spoke by the Prophets;
And we believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.
We look for the Resurrection of the dead,
And the Life of the age to come. Amen.
The Definition of Chalcedon
We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.
The Apostles' Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
World Evangelical Alliance Statement of Faith
We believe in:
The Holy Scriptures as originally given by God, divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy; and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
One God, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Our Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, His virgin birth, His sinless human life, His divine miracles, His vicarious and atoning death, His bodily resurrection, His ascension, His mediatorial work, and his personal return in power and glory.
The Salvation of lost and sinful man through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ by faith apart from works, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the believer is enabled to live a holy life, to witness and work for the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Unity of the Spirit of all true believers, the Church, the Body of Christ.
The Resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life, they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
We, members of the Church of Jesus Christ, from more than 150 nations, participants in the International Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne, praise God for his great salvation and rejoice in the fellowship he has given us with himself and with each other. We are deeply stirred by what God is doing in our day, moved to penitence by our failures and challenged by the unfinished task of evangelization. We believe the gospel is God’s good news for the whole world, and we are determined by his grace to obey Christ’s commission to proclaim it to all mankind and to make disciples of every nation. We desire, therefore, to affirm our faith and our resolve, and to make public our covenant.
1. THE PURPOSE OF GOD
We affirm our belief in the one eternal God, Creator and Lord of the world, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who governs all things according to the purpose of his will. He has been calling out from the world a people for himself, and sending his people back into the world to be his servants and his witnesses, for the extension of his kingdom, the building up of Christ’s body, and the glory of his name. We confess with shame that we have often denied our calling and failed in our mission, by becoming conformed to the world or by withdrawing from it. Yet we rejoice that, even when borne by earthen vessels, the gospel is still a precious treasure. To the task of making that treasure known in the power of the Holy Spirit we desire to dedicate ourselves anew.
(Isaiah 40:28; Matthew 28:19; Ephesians 1:11; Acts 15:14; John 17:6,18; Ephesians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 4:7)
2. THE AUTHORITY AND POWER OF THE BIBLE
We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice. We also affirm the power of God’s word to accomplish his purpose of salvation. The message of the Bible is addressed to all men and women. For God’s revelation in Christ and in Scripture is unchangeable. Through it the Holy Spirit still speaks today. He illumines the minds of God’s people in every culture to perceive its truth freshly through their own eyes and thus discloses to the whole Church ever more of the many-colored wisdom of God.
(2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21; John 10:35; Isaiah 55:11; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Romans 1:16, Matthew 5:17,18; Jude 3; Ephesians 1:17,18; 3:10,18)
3. THE UNIQUENESS AND UNIVERSALITY OF CHRIST
We affirm that there is only one Saviour and only one gospel, although there is a wide diversity of evangelistic approaches. We recognize that everyone has some knowledge of God through his general revelation in nature. But we deny that this can save, for people suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. We also reject as derogatory to Christ and the gospel every kind of syncretism and dialogue which implies that Christ speaks equally through all religions and ideologies. Jesus Christ, being himself the only God-Man, who gave himself as the only ransom for sinners, is the only mediator between God and people. There is no other name by which we must be saved. All men and women are perishing because of sin, but God loves everyone, not wishing that any should perish but that all should repent. Yet those who reject Christ repudiate the joy of salvation and condemn themselves to eternal separation from God. To proclaim Jesus as ‘the Saviour of the world’ is not to affirm that all people are either automatically or ultimately saved, still less to affirm that all religions offer salvation in Christ. Rather it is to proclaim God’s love for a world of sinners and to invite everyone to respond to him as Saviour and Lord in the wholehearted personal commitment of repentance and faith. Jesus Christ has been exalted above every other name; we long for the day when every knee shall bow to him and every tongue shall confess him Lord.
(Galatians 1:6-9; Romans 1:18-32; l Timothy 2:5,6; Acts 4:12; John 3:16-19; 2 Peter 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; John 4:42; Matthew 11:28; Ephesians 1:20,21; Philippians 2:9-11)
4. THE NATURE OF EVANGELISM
To evangelize is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that, as the reigning Lord, he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gifts of the Spirit to all who repent and believe. Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand. But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God. In issuing the gospel invitation we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship. Jesus still calls all who would follow him to deny themselves, take up their cross, and identify themselves with his new community. The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his Church and responsible service in the world.
(1 Corinthians 15:3,4; Acts 2:32-39; John 20:21; 1 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 4:5; 5:11,20; Luke 14:25-33; Mark 8:34; Acts 2:40,47; Mark 10:43-45)
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)
6. THE CHURCH AND EVANGELISM
We affirm that Christ sends his redeemed people into the world as the Father sent him, and that this calls for a similar deep and costly penetration of the world. We need to break out of our ecclesiastical ghettos and permeate non-Christian society. In the Church’s mission of sacrificial service, evangelism is primary. World evangelization requires the whole Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. The Church is at the very centre of God’s cosmic purpose and is his appointed means of spreading the gospel. But a church which preaches the cross must itself be marked by the cross. It becomes a stumbling block to evangelism when it betrays the gospel or lacks a living faith in God, a genuine love for people, or scrupulous honesty in all things including promotion and finance. The church is the community of God’s people rather than an institution, and must not be identified with any particular culture, social or political system, or human ideology.
(John 17:18; 20:21; Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 1:8; 20:27; Ephesians 1:9,10; 3:9-11; Galatians 6:14,17; 2 Corinthians 6:3,4; 2 Timothy 2:19-21; Philippians 1:27)
7. COOPERATION IN EVANGELISM
We affirm that the Church’s visible unity in truth is God’s purpose. Evangelism also summons us to unity, because our oneness strengthens our witness, just as our disunity undermines our gospel of reconciliation. We recognize, however, that organizational unity may take many forms and does not necessarily advance evangelism. Yet we who share the same biblical faith should be closely united in fellowship, work and witness. We confess that our testimony has sometimes been marred by a sinful individualism and needless duplication. We pledge ourselves to seek a deeper unity in truth, worship, holiness and mission. We urge the development of regional and functional cooperation for the furtherance of the Church’s mission, for strategic planning, for mutual encouragement, and for the sharing of resources and experience.
(John 17:21,23; Ephesians 4:3,4; John 13:35; Philippians 1:27; John 17:11-23)
8. CHURCHES IN EVANGELISTIC PARTNERSHIP
We rejoice that a new missionary era has dawned. The dominant role of western missions is fast disappearing. God is raising up from the younger churches a great new resource for world evangelization, and is thus demonstrating that the responsibility to evangelize belongs to the whole body of Christ. All churches should therefore be asking God and themselves what they should be doing both to reach their own area and to send missionaries to other parts of the world. A re-evaluation of our missionary responsibility and role should be continuous. Thus a growing partnership of churches will develop and the universal character of Christ’s Church will be more clearly exhibited. We also thank God for agencies which labor in Bible translation, theological education, the mass media, Christian literature, evangelism, missions, church renewal and other specialist fields. They too should engage in constant self-examination to evaluate their effectiveness as part of the Church’s mission.
(Romans 1:8; Philippians 1:5; 4:15; Acts 13:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8)
9. THE URGENCY OF THE EVANGELISTIC TASK
More than 2,700 million people, which is more than two-thirds of all humanity, have yet to be evangelized. We are ashamed that so many have been neglected; it is a standing rebuke to us and to the whole Church. There is now, however, in many parts of the world, an unprecedented receptivity to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are convinced that this is the time for churches and para-church agencies to pray earnestly for the salvation of the unreached and to launch new efforts to achieve world evangelization. A reduction of foreign missionaries and money in an evangelized country may sometimes be necessary to facilitate the national church’s growth in self-reliance and to release resources for unevangelized areas. Missionaries should flow ever more freely from and to all six continents in a spirit of humble service. The goal should be, by all available means and at the earliest possible time, that every person will have the opportunity to hear, to understand, and to receive the good news. We cannot hope to attain this goal without sacrifice. All of us are shocked by the poverty of millions and disturbed by the injustices which cause it. Those of us who live in affluent circumstances accept our duty to develop a simple life-style in order to contribute more generously to both relief and evangelism.
(John 9:4; Matthew 9:35-38; Romans 9:1-3; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23; Mark 16:15; Isaiah 58:6,7; James 1:27; 2:1-9; Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 2:44,45; 4:34,35)
10. EVANGELISM AND CULTURE
The development of strategies for world evangelization calls for imaginative pioneering methods. Under God, the result will be the rise of churches deeply rooted in Christ and closely related to their culture. Culture must always be tested and judged by Scripture. Because men and women are God’s creatures, some of their culture is rich in beauty and goodness. Because they are fallen, all of it is tainted with sin and some of it is demonic. The gospel does not presuppose the superiority of any culture to another, but evaluates all cultures according to its own criteria of truth and righteousness, and insists on moral absolutes in every culture. Missions have, all too frequently, exported with the gospel an alien culture, and churches have sometimes been in bondage to culture rather than to Scripture. Christ’s evangelists must humbly seek to empty themselves of all but their personal authenticity in order to become the servants of others, and churches must seek to transform and enrich culture, all for the glory of God.
(Mark 7:8,9,13; Genesis 4:21,22; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23; Philippians 2:5-7; 2 Corinthians 4:5)
11. EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP
We confess that we have sometimes pursued church growth at the expense of church depth, and divorced evangelism from Christian nurture. We also acknowledge that some of our missions have been too slow to equip and encourage national leaders to assume their rightful responsibilities. Yet we are committed to indigenous principles, and long that every church will have national leaders who manifest a Christian style of leadership in terms not of domination but of service. We recognize that there is a great need to improve theological education, especially for church leaders. In every nation and culture there should be an effective training programme for pastors and laity in doctrine, discipleship, evangelism, nurture and service. Such training programmes should not rely on any stereotyped methodology but should be developed by creative local initiatives according to biblical standards.
(Colossians 1:27,28; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5,9; Mark 10:42-45; Ephesians 4:11,12)
12. SPIRITUAL CONFLICT
We believe that we are engaged in constant spiritual warfare with the principalities and powers of evil, who are seeking to overthrow the Church and frustrate its task of world evangelization. We know our need to equip ourselves with God’s armour and to fight this battle with the spiritual weapons of truth and prayer. For we detect the activity of our enemy, not only in false ideologies outside the Church, but also inside it in false gospels which twist Scripture and put people in the place of God. We need both watchfulness and discernment to safeguard the biblical gospel. We acknowledge that we ourselves are not immune to worldliness of thought and action, that is, to a surrender to secularism. For example, although careful studies of church growth, both numerical and spiritual, are right and valuable, we have sometimes neglected them. At other times, desirous to ensure a response to the gospel, we have compromised our message, manipulated our hearers through pressure techniques, and become unduly preoccupied with statistics or even dishonest in our use of them. All this is worldly. The Church must be in the world; the world must not be in the Church.
(Ephesians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 4:3,4; Ephesians 6:11,13-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 John 2:18-26; 4:1-3; Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 4:2; John 17:15)
13. FREEDOM AND PERSECUTION
It is the God-appointed duty of every government to secure conditions of peace, justice and liberty in which the Church may obey God, serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and preach the gospel without interference. We therefore pray for the leaders of nations and call upon them to guarantee freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom to practise and propagate religion in accordance with the will of God and as set out in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also express our deep concern for all who have been unjustly imprisoned, and especially for those who are suffering for their testimony to the Lord Jesus. We promise to pray and work for their freedom. At the same time we refuse to be intimidated by their fate. God helping us, we too will seek to stand against injustice and to remain faithful to the gospel, whatever the cost. We do not forget the warnings of Jesus that persecution is inevitable.
(1 Timothy 1:1-4; Acts 4:19; 5:29; Colossians 3:24; Hebrews 13:1-3; Luke 4:18; Galatians 5:11; 6:12; Matthew 5:10-12; John 15:18-21)
14. THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Father sent his Spirit to bear witness to his Son; without his witness ours is futile. Conviction of sin, faith in Christ, new birth and Christian growth are all his work. Further, the Holy Spirit is a missionary spirit; thus evangelism should arise spontaneously from a Spirit-filled church. A church that is not a missionary church is contradicting itself and quenching the Spirit. Worldwide evangelization will become a realistic possibility only when the Spirit renews the Church in truth and wisdom, faith, holiness, love and power. We therefore call upon all Christians to pray for such a visitation of the sovereign Spirit of God that all his fruit may appear in all his people and that all his gifts may enrich the body of Christ. Only then will the whole Church become a fit instrument in his hands, that the whole earth may hear his voice.
(1 Corinthians 2:4; John 15:26;27; 16:8-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3; John 3:6-8; 2 Corinthians 3:18; John 7:37-39; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; Acts 1:8; Psalm 85:4-7; 67:1-3; Galatians 5:22,23; 1 Corinthians 12:4-31; Romans 12:3-8)
15. THE RETURN OF CHRIST
We believe that Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly, in power and glory, to consummate his salvation and his judgment. This promise of his coming is a further spur to our evangelism, for we remember his words that the gospel must first be preached to all nations. We believe that the interim period between Christ’s ascension and return is to be filled with the mission of the people of God, who have no liberty to stop before the end. We also remember his warning that false Christs and false prophets will arise as precursors of the final Antichrist. We therefore reject as a proud, self-confident dream the notion that people can ever build a utopia on earth. Our Christian confidence is that God will perfect his kingdom, and we look forward with eager anticipation to that day, and to the new heaven and earth in which righteousness will dwell and God will reign forever. Meanwhile, we re-dedicate ourselves to the service of Christ and of people in joyful submission to his authority over the whole of our lives.
(Mark 14:62; Hebrews 9:28; Mark 13:10; Acts 1:8-11; Matthew 28:20; Mark 13:21-23; 1 John 2:18; 4:1-3; Luke 12:32; Revelation 21:1-5; 2 Peter 3:13; Matthew 28:18)
Therefore, in the light of this our faith and our resolve, we enter into a solemn covenant with God and with each other, to pray, to plan and to work together for the evangelization of the whole world. We call upon others to join us. May God help us by his grace, and for his glory, to be faithful to this our covenant! Amen, Alleluia!
The Manila Manifesto: Twenty Affirmations
of the Manila Manifesto
1. We affirm our continuing commitment to The Lausanne Covenant as the basis of our cooperation in the Lausanne movement.
2. We affirm that in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments God has given us an authoritative disclosure of his character and will, his redemptive acts and their meaning, and his mandate for mission.
3. We affirm that the biblical gospel is God’s enduring message to our world, and we determine to defend, proclaim, and embody it.
4. We affirm that human beings, though created in the image of God, are sinful and guilty, and lost without Christ, and that this truth is a necessary preliminary to the gospel.
5. We affirm that the Jesus of history and the Christ of glory are the same person, and that this Jesus Christ is absolutely unique, for he alone is God incarnate, our sin-bearer, the conqueror of death and the coming judge.
6. We affirm that on the cross Jesus Christ took our place, bore our sins and died our death; and that for this reason alone God freely forgives those who are brought to repentance and faith.
7. We affirm that other religions and ideologies are not alternative paths to God, and that human spirituality, if unredeemed by Christ, leads not to God but to judgment, for Christ is the only way.
8. We affirm that we must demonstrate God’s love visibly by caring for those who are deprived of justice, dignity, food, and shelter.
9. We affirm that the proclamation of God’s kingdom of justice and peace demands the denunciation of all injustice and oppression, both personal and structural; we will not shrink from this prophetic witness.
10. We affirm that the Holy Spirit’s witness to Christ is indispensable to evangelism, and that without this supernatural work neither new birth nor new life is possible.
11. We affirm that spiritual warfare demands spiritual weapons, and that we must both preach the Word in the power of the Spirit, and pray constantly that we may enter into Christ’s victory over the principalities and powers of evil.
12. We affirm that God has committed to the whole church and every member of it the task of making Christ known throughout the world; we long to see all lay and ordained persons mobilized and trained for this task.
13. We affirm that we who claim to be members of the body of Christ must transcend within our fellowship the barriers of race, gender, and class.
14. We affirm that the gifts of the Spirit are distributed to all God’s people, women and men, and that their partnership in evangelization must be welcomed for the common good.
15. We affirm that we who proclaim the gospel must exemplify it in a life of holiness and love; otherwise our testimony loses its credibility.
16. We affirm that every Christian congregation must turn itself outward to its local community in evangelistic witness and compassionate service.
17. We affirm the urgent need for churches, mission agencies, and other Christian organizations to cooperate in evangelism and social action, repudiating competition and avoiding duplication.
18. We affirm our duty to study the society in which we live, in order to understand its structures, values and needs, and so develop an appropriate strategy of mission.
19. We affirm that world evangelization is urgent and that the reaching of unreached peoples is possible. So we resolve during the last decade of the twentieth century to give ourselves to these tasks with fresh determination.
20. We affirm our solidarity with those who suffer for the gospel, and will seek to prepare ourselves for the same possibility. We will also work for religious and political freedom everywhere.
21. We affirm that God is calling the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. So we determine to proclaim it faithfully, urgently, and sacrificially until he comes.
A. THE WHOLE GOSPEL
The gospel is the good news of God’s salvation from the power of evil, the establishment of his eternal kingdom and his final victory over everything which defies his purpose. In his love God purposed to do this before the world began and effected his liberating plan over sin, death, and judgment through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is Christ who makes us free, and unites us in his redeemed fellowship. (Colossians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Ephesians 1:4; Colossians 1:19; Titus 2:14)
1. Our Human Predicament
We are committed to preaching the whole gospel, that is, the biblical gospel in its fullness. In order to do so, we have to understand why beings need it.
Men and women have an intrinsic dignity and worth, because they were created in God’s likeness to know, love, and serve him. But now through sin every part of their humanness have been distorted. Human beings have become self-centered, self-serving rebels, who do not love God or their neighbour as they should. In consequence, they are alienated both from their Creator and from the rest of his creation, which is the basic cause of the pain, disorientation, and loneliness which so many people suffer today. Sin also frequently erupts in anti-social behavior, in violent exploitation of others, and in a depletion of the earth’s resources of which God has made men and women his stewards. Humanity is guilty, without excuse, and on the broad road which leads to destruction.
Although God’s image in human beings has been corrupted, they are still capable of loving relationships, noble deeds, and beautiful art. Yet even the finest human achievement is fatally flawed and cannot possibly fit anybody to enter God’s presence. Men and women are also spiritual beings, but spiritual practice and self-help techniques can at the most alleviate felt needs; they cannot address the solemn realities of sin, guilt, and judgment.
Neither human religion, nor human righteousness, nor sociopolitical programs can save people. Self-salvation of every kind is impossible. Left to themselves, human beings are lost forever.
So we repudiate false gospels which deny human sin, divine judgment, the deity and incarnation of Jesus Christ, and the necessity of the cross and resurrection. We also reject half-gospels, which minimize sin and confuse God’s grace with human self-effort. We confess that we ourselves have sometimes trivialized the gospel. But we determine in our evangelism to remember God’s radical diagnosis and his equally radical remedy. (Acts 20:27; Genesis 1:26, 27; Romans 3:9-18; 2 Timothy 3:2-4; Genesis 3:17-24; Romans 1:29-31; Genesis 1:26, 28; 2:15; Romans 1:20; 2:1; 3:19; Matthew 7:13; Matthew 5:46; 7:11; 1 Timothy 6:16; Acts 17:22-31; Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:1-3; Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 11:2-4; 1 John 2:22, 23; 4:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4; Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11)
2. Good News for Today
We rejoice that the living God did not abandon us to our lostness and despair. In his love he came after us in Jesus Christ to rescue and remake us. So the good news focuses on the historic person of Jesus, who came proclaiming the kingdom of God and living a life of humble service, who died for us, becoming sin and a curse in our place, and whom God vindicated by raising him from the dead. To those who repent and believe in Christ, God grants a share in the new creation. He gives us new life, which includes the forgiveness of our sins and the indwelling, transforming power of his Spirit. He welcomes us into his new community, which consists of people of all races, nations, and cultures. And he promises that one day we will enter his new world, in which evil will be abolished, nature will be redeemed, and God will reign for ever.
This good news must be boldly proclaimed, wherever possible, in church and in public halls, on radio and television, and in the open air, because it is God’s power for salvation and we are under obligation to make it known. In our preaching we must faithfully declare the truth which God has revealed in the Bible and struggle to relate it to our own context.
We also affirm that apologetics, namely “the defence and confirmation of the gospel”, is integral to the biblical understanding of mission and essential for effective witness in the modern world. Paul “reasoned” with people out of the Scriptures, with a view to “persuading” them of the truth of the gospel. So must we. In fact, all Christians should be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them.
We have again been confronted with Luke’s emphasis that the gospel is good news for the poor and have asked ourselves what this means to the majority of the world’s population who are destitute, suffering, or oppressed. We have been reminded that the law, the prophets and the wisdom books, and the teaching and ministry of Jesus, all stress God’s concern for the materially poor and our consequent duty to defend and care for them. Scripture also refers to the spiritually poor who look to God alone for mercy. The gospel comes as good news to both. The spiritually poor, who, whatever their economic circumstances, humble themselves before God, receive by faith the free gift of salvation. There is no other way for anybody to enter the kingdom of God. The materially poor and powerless find in addition a new dignity as God’s children, and the love of brothers and sisters who will struggle with them for their liberation from everything which demeans or oppresses them.
We repent of any neglect of God’s truth in Scripture and determine both to proclaim and to defend it. We also repent where we have been indifferent to the plight of the poor, and where we have shown preference for the rich, and we determine to follow Jesus in preaching good news to all people by both word and deed. (Ephesians 2:4-7, Luke 15; 19:10; Acts 8:35; Mark 1:14, 15; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; Acts 2:23, 24; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Acts 2:38, 39; Ephesians 2:11-19; Revelation 21:1-5; 22:1-5; Ephesians 6:19, 20; 2 Timothy 4:2; Romans 1:14-16; Jeremiah 23:28; Philippians 1:7; Acts 18:4; 19:8, 9; 2 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Peter 3:15; Luke 4:18; 6:20; 7:22; Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Amos 2:6, 7; Zechariah 7:8-10; Proverbs 21:13; Zephaniah 3:12; Matthew 5:3; Mark 10:15; 1 John 3:1; Acts 2:44, 45; 4:32-35)
3. The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ
We are called to proclaim Christ in an increasingly pluralistic world. There is a resurgence of old faiths and a rise of new ones. In the first century too there were “many gods and many lords”. Yet the apostles boldly affirmed the uniqueness, indispensability, and centrality of Christ. We must do the same.
Because men and women are made in God’s image and see in the creation traces of its Creator, the religions which have arisen do sometimes contain elements of truth and beauty. They are not, however, alternative gospels. Because human beings are sinful, and because “the whole world is under the control of the evil one”, even religious people are in need of Christ’s redemption. We, therefore, have no warrant for saying that salvation can be found outside Christ or apart from an explicit acceptance of his work through faith.
It is sometimes held that in virtue of God’s covenant with Abraham, Jewish people do not need to acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah. We affirm that they need him as much as anyone else, that it would be a form of anti-Semitism, as well as being disloyal to Christ, to depart from the New Testament pattern of taking the gospel to ‘the Jew first. . .’. We therefore reject the thesis that Jews have their own covenant which renders faith in Jesus unnecessary.
What unites us is our common convictions about Jesus Christ. We confess him as the eternal Son of God, who became fully human while remaining fully divine, who was our substitute on the cross, bearing our sins and dying our death, exchanging his righteousness for our unrighteousness, who rose victorious in a transformed body, and who will return in glory to judge the world. He alone is the incarnate Son, the Saviour, the Lord and the Judge, and he alone, with the Father and the Spirit, is worthy of worship, faith, and obedience of all people. There is only one gospel because there is only one Christ, who because of his death and resurrection is himself the only way of salvation. We therefore reject both the relativism which regards all religions and spiritualities as equally valid approaches to God, and the syncretism which tries to mix faith in Christ with other faiths.
Moreover, since God has exalted Jesus to the highest place, in order that everybody should acknowledge him, this also is our desire. Compelled by Christ’s love, we must obey Christ’s Great Commission and love his lost sheep, but we are especially motivated by “jealousy” for his holy name, and we long to see him receive the honour and glory which are due to him.
In the past we have sometimes been guilty of adopting towards adherents of other faiths attitudes of ignorance, arrogance, disrespect, and even hostility. We repent of this. We nevertheless are determined to bear a positive and uncompromising witness to the uniqueness of our Lord, in his life, death, and resurrection, in all aspects of our evangelistic work including inter-faith dialogue. (1 Corinthians 8:5; Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:19, 20; Acts 17:28; 1 John 5:19; Acts 10:1, 2; 11:14, 18; 15:8, 9; John 14:6; Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1, 2; Romans 3:9; 10:12; Acts 13:46; Romans 1:16; 2:9, 10; Acts 13:38, 39; John 1:1, 14, 18; Romans 1:3, 4; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Matthew 25:31, 32; Acts 17:30, 31; Revelation 5:11-14; Acts 4:12; Philippians 2:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Matthew 28:19, 20; John 10:11, 16; 2 Corinthians 11:2, 3; 1 Timothy 2:5-7)
4. The Gospel and Social Responsibility
The authentic gospel must become visible in the transformed lives of men and women. As we proclaim the love of God we must be involved in loving service, as we preach the kingdom of God we must be committed to its demands of justice and peace.
Evangelism is primary because our chief concern is with the gospel, that all people may have the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Yet Jesus not only proclaimed the kingdom of God, he also demonstrated its arrival by works of mercy and power. We are called today to a similar integration of words and deeds. In a spirit of humility we are to preach and teach, minister to the sick, feed the hungry, care for prisoners, help the disadvantaged and handicapped, and deliver the oppressed. While we acknowledge the diversity of spiritual gifts, callings, and contexts, we also affirm that good news and good works are inseparable.
The proclamation of God’s kingdom necessarily demands the prophetic denunciation of all that is incompatible with it. Among the evils we deplore are destructive violence, including institutionalized violence, political corruption, all forms of exploitation of people and of the earth, the undermining of the family, abortion on demand, the drug traffic, and the abuse of human rights. In our concern for the poor, we are distressed by the burden of debt in the two-thirds world. We are also outraged by the inhuman conditions in which millions live, who bear God’s image as we do.
Our continuing commitment to social action is not a confusion of the kingdom of God with a Christianized society. It is, rather, a recognition that the biblical gospel has inescapable social implications. True mission should always be incarnational. It necessitates entering humbly into other people’s worlds, identifying with their social reality, their sorrow and suffering, and their struggles for justice against oppressive powers. This cannot be done without personal sacrifices.
We repent that the narrowness of our concerns and vision has often kept us from proclaiming the lordship of Jesus Christ over all of life, private and public, local and global. We determine to obey his command to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”. (1 Thessalonians 1:6-10; 1 John 3:17; Romans 14:17; Romans 10:14; Matthew 12:28; 1 John 3:18; Matthew 25:34-46; Acts 6:1-4; Romans 12:4-8; Matthew 5:16, Jeremiah 22:1-5; 11-17; 23:5-6; Amos 1:1-2, 8; Isaiah 59; Leviticus 25; Job 24:1-12; Ephesians 2:8-10; John 17:18; 20:21; Philippians 2:5-8; Acts 10:36; Matthew 6:33)
B. THE WHOLE CHURCH
The whole gospel has to be proclaimed by the whole church. All the people of God are called to share in the evangelistic task. Yet without the Holy Spirit of God all their endeavours will be fruitless.
5. God the Evangelist
The Scriptures declare that God himself is the chief evangelist. For the Spirit of God is the Spirit of truth, love, holiness, and power, and evangelism is impossible without him. It is he who anoints the messenger, confirms the Word, prepares the hearer, convicts the sinful, enlightens the blind, gives life to the dead, enables us to repent and believe, unites us to the body of Christ, assures us that we are God’s children, leads us into Christlike character and service, and sends us out in our turn to be Christ’s witnesses. In all this the Holy Spirit’s main preoccupation is to glorify Jesus Christ by showing him to us and forming him in us.
All evangelism involves spiritual warfare with the principalities and powers of evil, in which only spiritual weapons can prevail, especially the Word and the Spirit, with prayer. We therefore call on all Christian people to be diligent in their prayers both for the renewal of the church and for the evangelization of the world.
Every true conversion involves a power encounter, in which the superior authority of Jesus Christ is demonstrated. There is no greater miracle than this, in which the believer is set free from the bondage of Satan and sin, fear and futility, darkness and death.
Although the miracles of Jesus were special, being signs of his messiahship and anticipations of his perfect kingdom when all nature will be subject to him, we have no liberty to place limits on the power of the living Creator today. We reject both the scepticism which denies miracles and the presumption which demands them, both the timidity which shrinks from the fullness of the Spirit and the triumphalism which shrinks from the weakness in which Christ’s power is made perfect.
We repent of all self-confident attempts either to evangelize in our own strength or to dictate to the Holy Spirit. We determine in the future not to “grieve” or “quench” the Spirit, but rather to seek to spread the good news “with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction”. (2 Corinthians 5:20; John 15:26, 27; Luke 4:18; 1 Corinthians 2:4; John 16:8-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Ephesians 2:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 8:16; Galatians 5:22, 23; Acts 1:8; John 16:14; Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 6:10-12; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:17; Ephesians 6:18-20; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Acts 26:17, 18; 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10; Colossians 1:13, 14; John 2:11; 20:30, 31; John 11:25; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Jeremiah 32:17; 2 Timothy 1:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10; Jeremiah 17:5; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:5)
6. The Human Witness
God the evangelist gives his people the privilege of being his “fellow workers”. For, although we cannot witness without him, he normally chooses to witness through us. He calls only some to be evangelists, missionaries, or pastors, but he calls his whole church and every member of it to be his witnesses.
The privileged task of pastors and teachers is to lead God’s people (laos) into maturity and to equip them for ministry. Pastors are not to monopolize ministries, but rather to multiply them, by encouraging others to use their gifts and by training disciples to make disciples. The domination of the laity by the clergy has been a great evil in the history of the church. It robs both laity and clergy of their God-intended roles, causes clergy breakdowns, weakens the church and hinders the spread of the gospel. More than that, it is fundamentally unbiblical. We therefore, who have for centuries insisted on ‘the priesthood of all believers’, now also insist on the ministry of all believers.
We gratefully recognize that children and young people enrich the church’s worship and outreach by their enthusiasm and faith. We need to train them in discipleship and evangelism, so that they may reach their own generation for Christ.
God created men and women as equal bearers of his image, accepts them equally in Christ, and poured out his Spirit on all flesh, sons and daughters alike. In addition, because the Holy Spirit distributes his gifts to women as well as to men, they must be given opportunities to exercise their gifts. We celebrate their distinguished record in the history of missions and are convinced that God calls women to similar roles today. Even though we are not fully agreed what forms their leadership should take, we do agree about the partnership in world evangelization which God intends men and women to enjoy. Suitable training must therefore be made available to both.
Lay witness takes place, by women and men, not only through the local church (see section 8), but through friendships, in the home and at work. Even those who are homeless or unemployed share in the calling to be witnesses.
Our first responsibility is to witness to those who are already our friends, relatives, neighbors, and colleagues. Home evangelism is also natural, both for married and single people. Not only should a Christian home commend God’s standards of marriage, sex, and family, and provide a haven of love and peace to people who are hurting, but neighbours who would not enter a church usually feel comfortable in a home, even when the gospel is discussed.
Another context for lay witness is the workplace, for it is here most Christians spend half their waking hours, and work is a divine calling. Christians can commend Christ by word of mouth, by their consistent industry, honesty and thoughtfulness, by their concern for justice in the workplace, and especially if others can see from the quality of their daily work that it is done to the glory of God.
We repent of our share in discouraging the ministry of laity, especially of women and young people. We determine in the future to encourage all Christ’s followers to take their place, rightfully and naturally, as his witnesses. For true evangelism comes from the overflow of a heart in love with Christ. That is why it belongs to all his people without exception. (2 Corinthians 6:1; Acts 8:26-39; 14:27; Ephesians 4:11; Acts 13:1-3; Acts 1:8; 8:1, 4; Colossians 1:28; Ephesians 4:11, 12; Matthew 28:19; 2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7; Ephesians 4:7; Matthew 21:15, 16; 1 Timothy 4:12; Genesis 1:26, 27; Galatians 3:28; Acts 2: 17, 18; 1 Peter 4:10; Romans 16:1-6, 12; Philippians 4:2, 3; Mark 5:18-20; Luke 5:27-32; Acts 28:30, 31; Acts 10:24, 33; 18:7, 8; 24-26; 1 Corinthians 7:17-24; Titus 2:9, 10; Colossians 4:1; 3:17, 23, 24; Acts 4:20)
7. The Integrity of the Witnesses
Nothing commends the gospel more eloquently than a transformed life, and nothing brings it into disrepute so much as personal inconsistency. We are charged to behave in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ, and even to “adorn” it, enhancing its beauty by holy lives. For the watching world rightly seeks evidence to substantiate the claims which Christ’s disciples make for him. A strong evidence is our integrity.
Our proclamation that Christ died to bring us to God appeals to people who are spiritually thirsty, but they will not believe us if we give no evidence of knowing the living God ourselves, or if our public worship lacks reality and relevance.
Our message that Christ reconciles alienated people to each other rings true only if we are seen to love and forgive one another, to serve others in humility, and to reach out beyond our own community in compassionate, costly ministry to the needy.
Our challenge to others to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Christ will be plausible only if we ourselves have evidently died to selfish ambition, dishonesty, and covetousness, and are living a life of simplicity, contentment, and generosity.
We deplore the failures in Christian consistency which we see in both Christians and churches: material greed, professional pride and rivalry, competition in Christian service, jealousy of younger leaders, missionary paternalism, the lack of mutual accountability, the loss of Christian standards of sexuality, and racial, social, and sexual discrimination. All this is worldliness, allowing the prevailing culture to subvert the church instead of the church challenging and changing the culture. We are deeply ashamed of the times when, both as individuals and in our Christian communities, we have affirmed Christ in word and denied him in deed. Our inconsistency deprives our witness of credibility. We acknowledge our continuing struggles and failures. But we also determine by God’s grace to develop integrity in ourselves and in the church. (2 Corinthians 6:3, 4; Philippians 1:27; Titus 2:10; Colossians 4:5, 6; Proverbs 11:3; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 1:5, 6; 1 Corinthians 14:25, 26; Ephesians 2:14-18; Ephesians 4:31-5:2; Galatians 5:13; Luke 10:29-37; Mark 8:34; Matthew 6:19-21; 31-33; 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17, 18; Acts 5:1-11; Philippians 1:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; James 2:1-4; 1 John 2:15-17; Matthew 5:13; Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 2:4; Ephesians 4:1)
8. The Local Church
Every Christian congregation is a local expression of the body of Christ and has the same responsibilities. It is both “a holy priesthood” to offer God the spiritual sacrifices of worship and “a holy nation” to spread abroad his excellences in witness. The church is thus both a worshipping and a witnessing community gathered and scattered, called and sent. Worship and witness are inseparable.
We believe that the local church bears a primary responsibility for the spread of the gospel. Scripture suggests this in the progression that “our gospel came to you” and then “rang out from you”. In this way, the gospel creates the church which spreads the gospel which creates more churches in a continuous chain reaction. Moreover, what Scripture teaches, strategy confirms. Each local church must evangelize the district in which it is situated, and has the resources to do so.
We recommend every congregation to carry out regular studies not only of its own membership and program but of its local community in all its particularity, in order to develop appropriate strategies for mission. Its members might decide to organize a visitation of their whole area, to penetrate for Christ a particular place where people assemble, to arrange a series of evangelistic meetings, lectures, or concerts, to work with the poor to transform a local slum, or plant a new church in a neighbouring district or village. At the same time, they must not forget the church’s global task. A church which sends out missionaries must not neglect its own locality, and a church which evangelizes its neighbourhood must not ignore the rest of the world.
In all this each congregation and denomination should, where possible, work with others, seeking to turn any spirit of competition into one of cooperation. Churches should also work with para-church organizations, especially in evangelism, discipling, and community service, for such agencies are part of the body of Christ, and have valuable, specialist expertise from which the church can greatly benefit.
The church is intended by God to be a sign of his kingdom, that is, an indication of what human community looks like when it comes under his rule of righteousness and peace. As with individuals, so with churches, the gospel has to be embodied if it is to be communicated effectively. It is through our love for one another that the invisible God reveals himself today, especially when our fellowship is expressed in small groups, and when it transcends the barriers of race, rank, sex, and age which divide other communities.
We deeply regret that many of our congregations are inward-looking, organized for maintenance rather than mission, or preoccupied with church-based activities at the expense of witness. We determine to turn our churches inside out, so that they may engage in continuous outreach, until the Lord adds to them daily those who are being saved. (1 Corinthians 12:27; 1 Peter 2:5, 9; John 17:6, 9, 11, 18; Philippians 2:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 8; Acts 19:9, 10; Colossians 1:3-8; Acts 13:1-3; 14:26-28; Philippians 1:27; Luke 12:32; Romans 14:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10; 1 John 4:12; John 13:34, 35; 17:21, 23; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; Acts 2:47)
9. Cooperating in Evangelism
Evangelism and unity are closely related in the New Testament. Jesus prayed that his people’s oneness might reflect his own oneness with the Father, in order that the world might believe in him, and Paul exhorted the Philippians to “contend as one person for the faith of the gospel”. In contrast to this biblical vision, we are ashamed of the suspicions and rivalries, the dogmatism over non-essentials, the power struggles and empire-building which spoil our evangelistic witness. We affirm that co-operation in evangelism is indispensable, first because it is the will of God, but also because the gospel of reconciliation is discredited by our disunity, and because, if the task of world evangelization is ever to be accomplished, we must engage in it together.
“Cooperation” means finding unity in diversity. It involves people of different temperaments, gifts, calling and cultures, national churches and mission agencies, all ages and both sexes working together.
We are determined to put behind us once and for all, as a hangover from the colonial past, the simplistic distinction between First World sending and Two-Third World receiving countries. For the great new fact of our era is the internationalization of missions. Not only are a large majority of all evangelical Christians now non-Western, but the number of Two-Thirds World missionaries will soon exceed those from the West. We believe that mission teams, which are diverse in composition but united in heart and mind, constitute a dramatic witness to the grace of God.
Our reference to ‘the whole church’ is not a presumptuous claim that the universal church and the evangelical community are synonymous. For we recognize that there are many churches which are not part of the evangelical movement. Evangelical attitudes to the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches differ widely. Some evangelicals are praying, talking, studying Scripture, and working with these churches. Others are strongly opposed to any form of dialogue or cooperation with them. All evangelicals are aware that serious theological differences between us remain. Where appropriate, and so long as biblical truth is not compromised,cooperation may be possible in such areas as Bible translation, the study of contemporary theological and ethical issues, social work, and political action. We wish to make it clear, however, that common evangelism demands a common commitment to the biblical gospel.
Some of us are members of churches which belong to the World Council of Churches and believe that a positive yet critical participation in its work is our Christian duty. Others among us have no link with the World Council. All of us urge the World Council of Churches to adopt a consistent biblical understanding of evangelism.
We confess our own share of responsibility for the brokenness of the body of Christ, which is a major stumbling block to world evangelization. We determine to go on seeking that unity in truth for which Christ prayed. We are persuaded that the right way forward towards closer cooperation is frank and patient dialogue on the basis of the Bible, with all who share our concerns. To this we gladly commit ourselves. (John 17:20, 21; Philippians 1:27; Philippians 1:15, 17; 2:3, 4; Romans 14:1-15:2; Philippians 1:3-5; Ephesians 2:14-16; 4:1-6; Ephesians 4:6, 7; Acts 20:4; John 17:11, 20-23)
C. THE WHOLE WORLD
The whole gospel has been entrusted to the whole church, in order that it may be made known to the whole world. It is necessary, therefore, for us to understand the world into which we are sent. (Mark 16:15)
10. The Modern World
Evangelism takes place in a context, not in a vacuum. The balance between gospel and context must be carefully maintained. We must understand the context in order to address it, but the context must not be allowed to distort the gospel.
In this connection we have become concerned about the impact of “modernity”, which is an emerging world culture produced by industrialization with its technology and by urbanization with its economic order. These factors combine to create an environment, which significantly shapes the way in which we see our world. In addition, secularism has devastated faith by making God and the supernatural meaningless; urbanization has dehumanized life for many; and the mass media have contributed to the devaluation of truth and authority, by replacing word with image. In combination, these consequences of modernity pervert the message which many preach and undermine their motivation for mission.
In AD 1900 only 9% of the world’s population lived in cities; in AD 2000 it is thought that more than 50% will do so. This worldwide move into the cities has been called “the greatest migration in human history”; it constitutes a major challenge to Christian mission. On the one hand, city populations are extremely cosmopolitan, so that the nations come to our doorstep in the city. Can we develop global churches in which the gospel abolishes the barriers of ethnicity? On the other hand, many city dwellers are migrant poor who are also receptive to the gospel. Can the people of God be persuaded to relocate into such urban poor communities, in order to serve the people and share in the transformation of the city?
Modernization brings blessings as well as dangers. By creating links of communication and commerce around the globe, it makes unprecedented openings for the gospel, crossing old frontiers and penetrating closed societies, whether traditional or totalitarian. The Christian media have a powerful influence both in sowing the seed of the gospel and in preparing the soil. The major missionary broadcasters are committed to a gospel witness by radio in every major language by the year AD 2000.
We confess that we have not struggled as we should to understand modernization. We have used its methods and techniques uncritically and so exposed ourselves to worldliness. But we determine in the future to take these challenges and opportunities seriously, to resist the secular pressures of modernity, to relate the lordship of Christ to the whole of modern culture, and thus to engage in mission in the modern world without worldliness in modern mission. (Acts 13:14-41; 14:14-17; 17:22-31; Romans 12:1, 2)
11. The Challenge of AD 2000 and Beyond
The world population today is approaching 6 billion people. One third of them nominally confess Christ. Of the remaining four billion half have heard of him and the other half have not. In the light of these figures, we evaluate our evangelistic task by considering four categories of people.
First, there is the potential missionary work force, the committed. In this century this category of Christian believers has grown from about 40 million in 1900 to about 500 million today, and at this moment is growing over twice as fast as any other major religious group.
Secondly, there are the uncommitted. They make a Christian profession (they have been baptized, attend church occasionally, and even call themselves Christians), but the notion of a personal commitment to Christ is foreign to them. They are found in all churches throughout the world. They urgently need to be re-evangelized.
Thirdly, there are the unevangelized. These are people who have a minimal knowledge of the gospel, but have had no valid opportunity to respond to it. They are probably within reach of Christian people if only these will go to the next street, road, village, or town to find them.
Fourthly, there are the unreached. These are the two billion who may never have heard of Jesus as Savior, and are not within reach of Christians of their own people. There are, in fact, some 2,000 peoples or nationalities in which there is not yet a vital, indigenous church movement. We find it helpful to think of them as belonging to smaller ‘people groups’ which perceive themselves as having an affinity with each other (eg a common culture, language, home, or occupation). The most effective messengers to reach them will be those believers who already belong to their culture and know their language. Otherwise, cross-cultural messengers of the gospel will need to go, leaving behind their own culture and sacrificially identifying with the people they long to reach for Christ.
There are now about 12,000 such unreached people groups within the 2,000 larger peoples, so that the task is not impossible. Yet at present only 7% of all missionaries are engaged in this kind of outreach, while the remaining 93% are working in the already evangelized half of the world. If this imbalance is to be redressed, a strategic redeployment of personnel will be necessary.
A distressing factor that affects each of the above categories is that of inaccessibility. Many countries do not grant visas to self-styled missionaries, who have no other qualification or contribution to offer. Such areas are not absolutely inaccessible, however. For our prayers can pass through every curtain, door, and barrier. And Christian radio and television, audio and video cassettes, films and literature can also reach the otherwise unreachable. So can so-called “”tent-makers” who like Paul earn their own living. They travel in the course of their profession (eg business people, university lecturers, technical specialists, and language teachers), and use every opportunity to speak of Jesus Christ. They do not enter a country under false pretences, for their work genuinely takes them there; it is simply that witness is an essential component of their Christian lifestyle, wherever they may happen to be.
We are deeply ashamed that nearly two millennia have passed since the death and resurrection of Jesus, and still two-thirds of the world’s population have not yet acknowledged him. On the other hand, we are amazed at the mounting evidence of God’s power even in the most unlikely places of the globe.
Now the year 2000 has become for many a challenging milestone. Can we commit ourselves to evangelize the world during the last decade of this millennium? There is nothing magical about the date, yet should we not do our best to reach this goal? Christ commands us to take the gospel to all peoples. The task is urgent. We are determined to obey him with joy and hope. (Acts 18:1-4; 20:34; Luke 24:45-47)
12. Difficult Situations
Jesus plainly told his followers to expect opposition. “If they persecuted me”, he said, “they will persecute you also”. He even told them to rejoice over persecution, and reminded them that the condition of fruitfulness was death.
These predictions, that Christian suffering is inevitable and productive, have come true in every age, including our own. There have been many thousands of martyrs. Today the situation is much the same. We earnestly hope that glasnost and perestroika will lead to complete religious freedom in the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc nations, and that Islamic and Hindu countries will become more open to the gospel. We deplore the recent brutal suppression of China’s democratic movement, and we pray that it will not bring further suffering to the Christians. On the whole, however, it seems that ancient religions are becoming less tolerant, expatriates less welcome, and the world less friendly to the gospel.
In this situation we wish to make three statements to governments which are reconsidering their attitude to Christian believers.
First, Christians are loyal citizens, who seek the welfare of their nation. They pray for its leaders, and pay their taxes. Of course, those who have confessed Jesus as Lord cannot also call other authorities Lord, and if commanded to do so, or to do anything which God forbids, must disobey. But they are conscientious citizens. They also contribute to their country’s well-being by the stability of their marriages and their homes, their honesty in business, their hard work, and their voluntary activity in the service of the handicapped and needy. Just governments have nothing to fear from Christians.
Secondly, Christians renounce unworthy methods of evangelism. Though the nature of our faith requires us to share the gospel with others, our practice is to make an open and honest statement of it, which leaves the hearers entirely free to make up their own minds about it. We wish to be sensitive to those of other faiths, and we reject any approach that seeks to force conversion on them.
Thirdly, Christians earnestly desire freedom of religion for all people, not just freedom for Christianity. In predominantly Christian countries, Christians are at the forefront of those who demand freedom for religious minorities. In predominantly non-Christian countries, therefore, Christians are asking for themselves no more than they demand for others in similar circumstances. The freedom to ‘profess, practise, and propagate’ religion, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, could and should surely be a reciprocally granted right.
We greatly regret any unworthy witness of which followers of Jesus may have been guilty. We determine to give no unnecessary offense in anything, lest the name of Christ be dishonoured. However, the offense of the cross we cannot avoid. For the sake of Christ crucified we pray that we may be ready, by his grace, to suffer and even to die. Martyrdom is a form of witness which Christ has promised especially to honour. (John 15:20; Matthew 5:12; John 12:24; Jeremiah 29:7; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2; Romans 13:6, 7; Acts 4:19; 5:29; 2 Corinthians 4:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 6:3; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23; 2:2; Philippians 1:29; Revelation 2:13; 6:9-11; 20:4)
CONCLUSION: PROCLAIM CHRIST UNTIL HE COMES
“Proclaim Christ until he comes”. That has been the theme of Lausanne II. Of course we believe that Christ has come; he came when Augustus was Emperor of Rome. But one day, as we know from his promises, he will come again in unimaginable splendor to perfect his kingdom. We are commanded to watch and be ready. Meanwhile, the gap between his two comings is to be filled with the Christian missionary enterprise. We have been told to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel, and we have been promised that the end of the age will come only when we have done so. The two ends (of earth space and time) will coincide. Until then he has pledged to be with us.
So the Christian mission is an urgent task. We do not know how long we have. We certainly have no time to waste. And in order to get on urgently with our responsibility, other qualities will be necessary, especially unity (we must evangelize together) and sacrifice (we must count and accept the cost). Our covenant at Lausanne was ‘to pray, to plan, and to work together for the evangelization of the whole world’. Our manifesto at Manila is that the whole church is called to take the whole gospel to the whole world, proclaiming Christ until he comes, with all necessary urgency, unity, and sacrifice. (Luke 2:1-7; Mark 13:26, 27; Mark 13:32-37; Acts 1:8; Matthew 24:14; Matthew 28:20)
Other early church creeds and conciliar statements relevant to Christian orthodoxy may be profitably consulted, but we do not include them as part of our doctrinal standards. We also recognize the following modern, international, and interdenominational statements as paradigmatic expressions of evangelicalism.
Other modern confessions, statements of faith, and definitions relevant to evangelicalism may be profitably consulted, but we do not include them as part of our doctrinal standards.
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