I recently listened to a conversation about the Lausanne Movement (a group seeking to help evangelicals from around the world work together), in which John Piper asked Doug Birdsall, Christopher Wright, and Lindsay Brown about the global evangelical church and the upcoming Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town. Here’s a link to the video and audio. I found it very interesting and encouraging.
One part of the conversation that stood out was when Christopher Wright brought together the greatness of God and the enormity of global issues. Wright said that “the gospel is big enough to address all the bigness of the problems of the world in the cross,” and these things are explicit in the New Testament:
- Jesus bore our sins for our forgiveness
- the cross breaks down enmity and hostility makes possible reconciliation, “so peacemaking is at the heart of the cross.”
- Christ defeated all evil and death on the cross, including earthly oppression and disease
- creation is reconciled to God through the cross, so Christians address environmental issues “under the banner of the cross ”
Instead of getting “personal salvation in the cross” and then engaging with the world based on other things, “the cross has to be the center of a holistic gospel which addresses all the brokenness of the world. The gospel is big enough because the cross is big enough to address all that the world throws at us.” Piper remarked that he appreciated Wright’s explanation because rather than saying that the whole Bible is the gospel, he showed the relevance of the cross specifically to each of these areas. You can find this portion of the conversation at about the 6-minute mark.
The conversation also covered the 6 topics in the Lausanne Global Conversation:
- AUTHENTICITY and INTEGRITY: Living a Christ-like lifestyle
- PARTNERSHIPS: Serving together in love and humility [as the developing world is becoming the demographic center of the church]
- TRUTH: Bearing witness to the truth of Jesus Christ
- NEW MISSIONS PRIORITIES: Discerning God’s priorities for the future
- WORLD FAITHS: Loving our neighbours of other faiths/worldviews
- RECONCILIATION: Pursuing peace in our broken world
Christianity Today has been running articles in cooperation with Lausanne since last October, which you can find here. Christopher Wright’s article, which kicked off the series, is here. I drew the title of my post from Lausanne’s statement about the meaning of world evangelization, quoted in Wright’s article and referenced in the conversation: “Evangelization requires the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.”