The Cape Town Commitment: Belief and Action

In The Cape Town Commitment’s Foreword, Douglas Birdsall and Lindsay Brown write,

Many doctrinal statements affirm what the Church believes. We wished to go further and to link belief with praxis. Our model was that of the Apostle Paul, whose theological teaching was fleshed out in practical instruction. For example, in Colossians his profound and wonderful portrayal of the supremacy of Christ issues in down-to-earth teaching on what it means to be rooted in Christ.

To take one example of the link between belief and praxis from Colossians, consider 1:9-14 (CSB):

9 For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, 10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience, joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. 14 In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Sometimes we intuit that since we are saved by faith, good words are unnecessary. However, Dr. Todd Still, a professor at Baylor University, makes this comment on this passage:

A life that pleases the Lord will be fruitful, marked by every kind of good work. Even as the gospel is fruitful (v. 6), those who have embraced the good news should bear spiritual fruit (cf. Gal 5:22–23). Popular Protestant perceptions notwithstanding, Paul was a proponent of good works (cf. 2Co 9:8; Gal 6:10; Eph 2:10; 2Th 2:17). He did not think that humanity could merit God’s mercy; however, he advocated and exemplified working and striving for Christ’s sake (1:29; cf. Php 2:12).

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the significance that Paul writes this letter from a lifestyle of continually praying with others for the Colossians? What role does God play in the transformation of the church at Colossae?

  2. Do you believe or feel that the gospel is opposed to good works? If so, explain…

  3. What is a recent way that you, in reliance upon God, have connected belief and action together?

Q.1, verses 12-13 say a lot about what God has done & is doing. Paul’s prayer - which is in agreement with God’s will for the Colossians and him, is that this awareness will not be stolen from them but lead to their “plugging it into” their perseverance, thanksgiving, discretion and initiative.

Q.3, I now see I may have to sometimes lead others so I hope this will start happening.