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‘The whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world’. This is the phrase with which the Lausanne Covenant (1974) sums up the meaning of evangelization. It is a resounding triplet that has become an unofficial motto of the Lausanne movement, capturing as it does that holistic commitment that has always been at the heart of Lausanne’s understanding of mission. Fine words, but what exactly do they mean?
The Lausanne Theology Working Group, in association with the WEA Theological Commission, held a meeting in Limuru, Kenya, in February 2007, seeking to set an agenda for theological and missiological reflection in the years leading up to the planned Lausanne III Congress in Cape Town in October 2010. The theme of the Limuru consultation was “Following Jesus in Our Broken World”. The papers of that consultation were published in a special issue of ERT (31:4, October 2007).
We then decided to explore theologically each of the three phrases of the Lausanne slogan. Accordingly, the group of about 30 from all continents met once again in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in February 2008, to consider what we mean by ‘the whole gospel’. The phrase suggests that there might be something that is only a partial or incomplete gospel. But would that be gospel at all? Certainly, we are aware that there are many presentations of what is claimed to be the gospel that seem to fall short of the comprehensive good news of all that the Bible says God has done and will do for the restoration of his broken creation and the redemption of humanity.
So, in the papers that follow, participants wrestled with the meaning of the whole gospel in the whole Bible; the fullness of the achievement of the cross; the power of the Holy Spirit; the ethically transforming demand and promise of the gospel; the wholeness of the gospel as seen down through its historical reception and across the range of human cultures. These main papers were illustrated with a variety of case studies, which unfortunately cannot find space here, though it is hoped to publish all our materials on the Lausanne website in due course.
We trust that the glory of the gospel will shine more brightly as you read, and motivate us more strongly as a whole church (our theme in 2009) to demonstrate it to the whole world.
Chair, Lausanne Theology Working Group
Next Issue: Apr 2009 Vol 33 No 2 Theme: Life, Work and Witness
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Life, Work and Witness
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