Here’s how The Lausanne Movement explains the context for The Cape Town Commitment:
In October 2010, over 4,000 Christian leaders from 198 countries gathered in Cape Town, South Africa, to discuss critical issues of the time as they related to the church and evangelization. This was the Third Lausanne Congress, convening nearly 35 years after the original Lausanne Congress in 1974, called by Billy Graham. Written as a roadmap for the Lausanne Movement, The Cape Town Commitment presents a statement of shared Biblical convictions, and calls Christians all over the world to action.
As a delegate to the Congress, I can testify that the gathering was a uniquely powerful experience!
By contrast, in my home, the northern suburbs of Atlanta, “theology” is often done individualistically. It is me and my Bible and the Holy Spirit. We piece together our beliefs through a combination of worship music lyrics, our pastor’s teaching, the books we’ve read, and our personal understanding of the Scriptures.
Our understanding of God is also often developed within our cultural moment. That is, often there’s not much reference to church history. C.S. Lewis names this problem as chronological snobbery in Surprised by Joy:
In the first place he [Barfield] made short work of what I have called my ‘chronological snobbery’, the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You must find why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where, and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realisation that our own age is also ‘a period’, and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.
This is one reason why Uncommon Pursuit affirms both The Nicene Creed and The Cape Town Commitment.
Third, our statement of beliefs is too often unrelated to our lives. Nearly every church has a “What We Believe” section on their website. But so what?
Even if a church affirms orthodox Christian belief, that’s no guarantee that they also pursue orthopraxy - right practice. We also need orthocardia - a right heart.
Individualism, chronological snobbery, and a cold orthodoxy are three problems to responding to God’s uncommon pursuit. What are some ways you have experienced these problems?
What other challenges do you discern — as an individual or in our culture — to developing orthodoxy, orthopraxis, and orthocardia?
What benefits do we gain from learning from church history and the global church?