If you’ve been tracking with this series on the Lausanne Movement, you know that in the first three parts of the series, we took a look at three particularly groundbreaking presentations from the First Lausanne Congress in 1974 from René Padilla, Samuel Escobar, and Carl F.H. Henry, respectively. When I introduced the series in April, I quoted missiologist Al Tizon who argues these three presentations “laid the theological foundation for evangelicals to engage wholeheartedly in ministries of community development, justice for the poor, advocacy for the oppressed and the transformation of society, alongside ministries of evangelism, personal discipleship and church expansion.”
It comes from the Cape Town Commitment, the statement that came out of the Third Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, South Africa in October 2010. It was a collaborative effort, taking into consideration the perspectives and passions of the 4,200 participants at the Congress, and was drafted by Chris Wright, who heads up the Lausanne Theology Working Group and directs Langham Partnership International.
The first part of the Cape Town Commitment, intended to lay the biblical foundation, is presented as a series of loves: We love because God first loved us; We love the living God; We love God the Father; We love God the Son; We love God the Holy Spirit; We love God’s Word; We love God’s world; We love the gospel of God; We love the people of God; and We love the mission of God. The second part of the Commitment is a call to action on the basis of those loves.
It’s a beautiful, remarkable document.
The section titled “We love God’s world” affirms a proper love of the world’s nations and cultures, with a particular emphasis on the poor and suffering, but also emphasizes the importance of creation care. Here’s an excerpt:
The earth is created, sustained and redeemed by Christ. We cannot claim to love God while abusing what belongs to Christ by right of creation, redemption and inheritance. We care for the earth and responsibly use its abundant resources, not according to the rationale of the secular world, but for the Lord’s sake. If Jesus is Lord of all the earth, we cannot separate our relationship to Christ from how we act in relation to the earth. For to proclaim the gospel that says ‘Jesus is Lord’ is to proclaim the gospel that includes the earth, since Christ’s Lordship is over all creation. Creation care is thus a gospel issue within the Lordship of Christ.
I’ve written before about how a concern for the poor and vulnerable must be connected to a concern for creation care, and in my story about a gold mine in Guatemala I reflected a bit on my theological understanding of stewardship in light of injustice and exploitation. Creation care cannot be reduced to an optional fad or the concern of a single political party.
I’d urge you to watch this talk Chris Wright recently gave at the Global Day of Prayer for Creation Care in Washington, DC. for a compelling theological basis for the importance of creation care, as well as its limits understood in light of scripture (delivered with a wonderful Irish accent).
[Photo credit: Muir Woods via MLeWallpapers.com]