Welcome to the January issue of Lausanne Global Analysis.
Whether you are planning to read the full articles or just the executive summaries, we hope that you find this issue stimulating and useful. Our aim is to deliver strategic and credible analysis, information, and insight so that as an influencer you will be better equipped for the task of global mission. It’s our desire that the analysis of current and future trends and developments will help you and your team make better decisions about the stewardship of all that God has entrusted to your care.
In this issue we break with our normal practice to include a rather longer article, edited from a talk on the importance of a theology of social engagement, which is so powerful as it stands that we felt that we should not cut it. We also address challenges to religious freedom in Malaysia and the church’s task there; issues arising from a recent workshop of the Lausanne Movement’s new Global Integrity Network; and the UK campaign to end religious illiteracy.
‘In the first part of the twentieth century . . . evangelicals largely dropped social engagement, in what has been called the Great Reversal’, writes Steve Haas (Vice President and Chief Catalyst for World Vision US). We are still dealing with the unintended consequences of that one-sided gospel which is tied to a particular theology that supersedes our call to love. However, in the last 25 years we have seen evangelicals beginning to integrate personal faith and social action in ways that help people better understand who Jesus is—witness their nearly complete change of heart on AIDS. He concludes with a challenge to younger Christians: ‘It is a kairos moment for the church, and you are the ones who will lead us into it. What is your theology of social engagement, of the proclamation of the gospel as it deals with issues and places like AIDS or Palestine? Make it your life’s work to respond to these questions, because our theology is going to force you to give an answer’.
‘Recent events in Malaysia have raised controversies over religious freedom and fundamental liberties to new heights’, writes Eugene Yapp (Secretary-General of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship, Malaysia). Court cases have left Christians in the country having to practise their faith in a way that avoids offending Muslim sensitivities, as other religions and their practices are relegated to the private domain away from the reaches of Islam. However, Malaysia is a plural and multi-religious society. For any religious group to have a vibrant witness for the public life of the nation, freedom of religion should extend to all faiths. The church must strengthen herself at this crossroads for Malaysia. ‘Its experience might serve as a positive example for churches in other Muslim-majority countries to pursue a strategic engagement for justice and equity in law and policy notwithstanding the difficulties and the prospect of state sanctions’, he concludes.
‘For 40 years the Lausanne Movement has been calling the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world—to leave no one and nothing out’, writes David Bennett (Chief Collaboration and Teaching Pastor for the Lausanne Movement). The call to personal integrity is about bringing the whole of life into alignment with the person, the teaching, and the example of Jesus Christ. When people start to live lives of integrity, full of grace and truth, as exemplified by Malaysian Senator Datuk Paul Low, they serve the common good. By contrast, hypocrisy is destructive to the witness of the church. So the stakes are immensely high. ‘The Global Integrity Network has an opportunity not only to build common ground with those who do not yet believe, and to prepare the way for the proclamation and further demonstration of the gospel, but also to rally the global church and its leaders, so that the church does not through its hypocrisy and its lack of integrity undermine or undo all that is being done to bear witness to the good news of Jesus throughout the world’, he concludes.
The landmark Religion, Security and Global Uncertainties Report was launched in Westminster on 6 January 2015. ‘It sends a powerful signal to our rulers that things have changed—or as Tony Blair famously said after the 7/7 London bombings: “It is not business as usual”’, writes Jenny Taylor (author and founding CEO of Lapido Media). Britain had been run as a ‘secular’ state for more than half a century until 7/7. Multiculturalism is the disastrous policy of state-funded group identity politics that undergirded UK social policy. The hospitality and tolerance that group politics exploits is Christian. However, when such conviction is itself excluded, the survival of the modern state itself is in jeopardy. When religion was just an opinion, the intelligence services simply watched, without taking action, the development of a grievance theology among jihadis in Britain. ‘This was religious illiteracy and Lapido Media has been mostly a lone voice—until now—campaigning to end it’, she concludes.
Please send any questions and comments about this issue to [email protected]. The next issue of Lausanne Global Analysis will be released in March.