Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Life, Joy, and Love: Together towards Life in Dialogue with Evangelii Gaudium and the Cape Town Commitment

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Life, Joy, and Love: Together towards Life in Dialogue with Evangelii Gaudium and the Cape Town Commitment

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article offers reflections on key themes and missiological significances of the WCCs Together towards Life in dialogue with the other evangelical and Roman Catholic documents, specifically, Pope Frauds' apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and the Lausanne Movement's Cape Town Commitment. Organising his reflections around the significant words in each document--life, joy, and love--as well as other meaningful and powerful words that arise in analysis, the author finds that these three new mission statements cover much of the same ground and are quite complementary, with concern for the poor, the oppressed, the marginalised, and the forgotten and disregarded playing a central role in all of them. The article concludes that it is important to study these three documents together, as each has the potential to be a friendly yet challenging ecumenical dialogue partner to the others.

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These last five years have seen the publication, in the wake of the great centennial celebration of the 1910 World Mission Conference at Edinburgh, Scotland, of three new and highly significant statements on mission by three of the world's major Christian communities. In 2010, as part of its celebration of the centennial of Edinburgh, the Lausanne Movement published its systematic and wide-reaching The Cape Town Commitment (CTC). (1) In 2013 the World Council of Churches (WCC) published its forward-looking and visionary statement Together towards Life (TTL) at its 10th General Assembly in Busan, Korea, after years of preparation by the

Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME). (2) Several of us here have had a hand in this important document's preparation. Several weeks after Together towards Life was published, the newly elected Roman Catholic pope, Francis, issued his delightfully quotable apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (EG) as his summary of the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization. (3) These documents build upon several important documents issued from these bodies in the past 40 years: the Lausanne Movement's Lausanne Covenant (LC, 1974) and The Manila Manifesto (MM, 1989), the WCC's Mission and Evangelism: An Ecumenical Affirmation (EA, 1982), Pope Paul Vi's Evangelii Nuntiandi (EN, 1975), and John Paul II's Redemptoris Missio (RM, 1990). They do not replace them by any means, but all of them respond to the accelerating changes of "the realities of our own generation," as CTC puts it, or as TTL notes in its subtide, to the world's "changing landscapes."

In a communication in January, CWME Director Jooseop Keum asked me if I would offer some reflections at this first meeting of our newly reconstituted commission, introducing the "key themes and missiological significances" of TTL in dialogue with the other evangelical and Roman Catholic documents, and this is what I will attempt to do here. How I would like to go about doing this is to highlight some of the important words in each document, and in doing so bring them into dialogue with one another. My reflections will be organized, therefore, around life, joy, and love.

Together towards Life: "I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10)

Life is, of course, the key word for our commission's document. The TTL's very first lines emphasize this strongly:

We believe in the Triune God who is the creator, redeemer, and sustainer of all life. God created ... and constantly works in the world to affirm and safeguard life. We believe in Jesus Christ, the Life of the world ... Affirming life in all its fullness is Jesus Christ's ultimate concern and mission (John 10:10). We believe in God, the Holy Spirit, the Life-giver ... A denial of life is a rejection of the God of life. God invites us into the life-giving mission of the Triune God and empowers us to bear witness to the vision of abundant life for all in the new heaven and new earth. …

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