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South African Theological Response to Lausanne III


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This presentation summarises the proceedings of a theological consultation held in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 1-2 November. The consultation sought to contextualise the theological implications of the Lausanne III congress which took place in Cape Town 2010.

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South African Theological Response to Lausanne III

  1. 1. South African Theological Response to Lausanne III Johannesburg, 1-2 November 2011 By Kevin G. Smith
  2. 2. ORIENTATIONSouth African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  3. 3. The MeetingA group of 22 Christian leaders gathered on 1-2Nov. 2011 in Johannesburg to explore a theologicalresponse to Lausanne III for the South Africanchurch. The meeting was initiated by TEASA andorganised by SATS. The participants includedtheologians, pastors, and Christian leaders fromseveral missional organisations.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  4. 4. The PurposeThe delegates spent the two days discussing the majorthemes of Lausanne III with reference to the SouthAfrican context. The purpose was to address twoquestions: 1. How do the key issues raised by Lausanne III apply to the South African context? 2. What critical issues in the South African context were not addressed by Lausanne III?South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  5. 5. The FormatThe meeting devoted one session The Plenary Speakersto each of the major themes ofLausanne III, and an additional • Dr E. Mbennah (TWR)session to two specially chosen • Prof. N. Botha (UNISA)themes (Pentecostalism and • Prof. F. Jabini (SATS)Prosperity Teaching). Each sessionbegan with a plenary address, • Dr E. Mahlangu (UP, AoG)and concluded with a time of • Mr P. Tarantal (OM)discussion. In some sessions, aformal response followed the • Prof. L. Kretzschmar (UNISA)plenary address. • Dr E. Mathole (GBC)South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  6. 6. The Other Delegates• Rev. M. Ntlha (TEASA) • Mr R. Botha (James 127)• Dr K. Smith (SATS) • Rev. C. Molebatsi (EBC)• Pst. T. Ntlohola (Vineyard) • Rev. M. Sono (GBC)• Dr F. Shayi (ICBM) • Pst. P. Veysie (AE; Ridgeway)• Dr C. Peppler (LVC) • Pst. T. Tselapedi• Mr P. Vumisa (INSERV) • Pst. D. Slabbert (WENSA)• Dr M. Mzondi (Back to • Dr N. Schluter (JBC) Basics)South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  7. 7. OUTCOMESSouth African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  8. 8. Introduction The points that follow: • are not summaries of theThe slides that papers that were delivered;follow present • are not presented in anysome of the issues particular order;that were raised atthe consultation. • do not necessarily represent the consensus of the meeting or the views of the organisers; • are based on notes taken by Drs ZL Erdey and KG Smith.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  9. 9. Exegetical Approach• Our theological response to contextual issues must be an exegetical-hermeneutical approach. We cannot build evangelical theology purely or primarily by reflecting on praxis.• Our practical or contextual theology must engage with present praxis, but it must formulate an exegetical response.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  10. 10. Research• There was a sense that something may be very wrong with the church in South Africa, and a balancing sense that our perceptions may not be based on a true understanding.• We need to be engaged in ongoing research to ensure that we rightly understand the condition of the church in South Africa, and that we hear the perspectives of all segments of the church.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  11. 11. The Truth of Christ• We must bear witness to the true Christ in our pluralistic world. Many are preaching ‘christs’ other than the Lord Jesus Christ revealed in the word of God.• There are many distorted portraits of Christ being propagated by well-meaning but ill-informed preachers (e.g. Christ the vending machine).South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  12. 12. ApologeticsThe growing influence of pluralism in our country raisesthe need for ongoing, robust, contextual apologetics. • We need more advanced training in apologetics for pastors and theologians within the African context. • Pluralism is not only a force in society; it is also a force at work in the church. We need to think through the growing trend towards theological and ecclesiastical pluralism.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  13. 13. Theology of Power 1• African Christianity needs to develop a biblical theology of power.• Issues of power, especially economic power (who controls the purse), are important factors in issues of justice and peace (reconciliation).• The shift of Christianity towards the global South is not yet reflected in its international power bases.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  14. 14. Theology of Power 2• Those with power often do not exercise their power to help the poor and the weak. The portrait of Jesus as the Suffering Servant needs to be recovered in the South African church.• Prof. Botha called for a ‘power analysis’ (praxis and theology), leading to a theology of power and authority.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  15. 15. Prophetic • We may have lost our voice because we have lost ‘the moral high ground’,Voice i.e. lost credibility.There was extensive • We can only speak with credibilitydiscussion about when we demonstrate that we areregaining the taking the lead in the area ofchurch’s prophetic reconciliation.voice in society, so • We need to be prophetic in terms ofthat the church is understanding ‘the signs of theable to speak into times’.societal issues and • The prosperity movement may beconcerns. raising questions and meeting needs that we have not recognised.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  16. 16. Two Portraits of Reality• We need to listen to a statistical picture of what is happening in South Africa, but we must also balance that portrait with a narrative approach that listens to the stories of ordinary Christians living out their faith in extraordinary ways.• An ideologically-based interpretation of the situation (e.g. reconciliation) runs the risk of skewing the stories that do not fit its framework.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  17. 17. The Threat of SecularismThe primary ‘other faith’ in South Africa seems to besecularism. Islam, Hinduism, Judaism are small minoritygroups, but secularism is growing amongst all peoplegroups.• The South African Constitution is overtly a secular constitution.• The young, urban South African population is heavily influenced by secularism as a philosophy and value system.• Pluralism is waging war against religion, especially Christianity.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  18. 18. The Next Generation• Robert Botha advocated an alternative approach to healing a nation: focus on the next generation. He argued that we spend too much energy trying to heal adults (therapeutic approach) and too little trying to shape the minds and futures of the children.• We should focus more on those whose minds are not yet formed. If we can reach them, we can bring about positive and lasting change.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  19. 19. Radical Discipleship• We recognise the deficiency of transformative discipleship as a factor that permeates many of the problems facing the church today.• Integrity, simplicity, and humility lie close to the heart of discipleship.• Christians can only lead out of a place of wholeness, and minister effectively from the basis of a biblical worldview.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  20. 20. Strategic • The poorAudiences • ForeignersWe need a well- • Women and children at riskdevelopedtheology and • People of other faithsstrategy for living • Oral learners and non-readersand ministeringamong thefollowing groups inour society: Question: What role should foreigners play in integrating other foreigners into the church?South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  21. 21. Issues of Christian Identity• The critical issues of humility, simplicity, and integrity, together with their antitheses—pride, materialism, and hypocrisy—are closely related to people’s sense of identity.• We need to understand the forces that shape the way believers think of themselves (e.g. issues of race, gender, and past experiences).• Proper identity is vital if people are to live and lead out of a place of wholeness.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  22. 22. Pentecostalism• Pentecostalism was identified as an important sub- movement of the evangelical church in South Africa, but one that has often been misunderstood. We need to correct many popular misunderstandings about Pentecostalism.• We need a proper understanding of Pentecostalism’s potential contribution to evangelism and missions in South Africa. The Pentecostal church needs to contextualise its mission.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  23. 23. Prosperity Teaching• We need to develop and promote a biblical theology of prosperity, which provides hope but avoids manipulation.• We need to teach the younger generation the dignity of work and the value of education, inspiring them to become professionals with a biblical worldview.• In the face of rampant secularism, materialism, and consumerism, it is critical to teach the church about simplicity and contentment (Matt. 6; 1 Tim. 6).South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  24. 24. African Models of Mission• Several participants expressed frustration with the South African church’s over-dependence on western models of mission and ministry.• We need to develop distinctly African alternatives. In some cases, we have already developed African approaches to mission and ministry, but we have not published and disseminated them as viable alternatives.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  25. 25. Spiritual Forces• We need to revisit our theology of the spirit realm, and the role of spiritual forces in breaking down society, assaulting the church, and promoting violence and crime.• The biblical perspective surely lies between Western theology’s disregard for the spirit world and African traditional religion’s obsession with it.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  26. 26. Contemporary Abuses• Selling indulgences (healing oil; prayer cloths)• Distorted concepts of ‘the anointing’• Pastors as kings in their chiefdoms – Pastors with armour-bearers – Pastors with lofty titles (Apostle; King)• Poor people, smart cars (mammon-based identity)• Lack of accountability structures (e.g. offering deposited into pastor’s account)South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  27. 27. Islam• Islam is a growing force in Africa, and is seeking a gateway into South Africa, which is the key nation in Southern Africa.• We need a deeper social understanding of Islam. We need to move beyond teaching theological students the basics about Islam, and help them to understand the social forces of Islam more deeply.South African Theological Response to Lausanne III
  28. 28. THE ENDSouth African Theological Response to Lausanne III