Living Christianity
Contemporary Trends

 
The Lausanne Covenant
An Evangelical Expression of Faith
 

3. The Uniqueness and Universality of Christ

We affirm that there is only one Saviour and only one gospel, although there is a wide diversity of evangelistic approaches. We recognise that everyone has some knowledge of God through his general revelation in nature. But we deny that this can save, for people suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. We also reject as derogatory to Christ and the gospel every kind of syncretism and dialogue which implies that Christ speaks equally through all religions and ideologies. Jesus Christ, being himself the only God-man, who gave himself as the only ransom for sinners, is the only mediator between God and people. There is no other name by which we must be saved. All men and women are perishing because of sin, but God loves everyone, not wishing that any should perish but that all should repent. Yet those who reject Christ repudiate the joy of salvation and condemn themselves to eternal separation from God. To proclaim Jesus as “the Saviour of the world” is not to affirm that all people are either automatically or ultimately saved, still less to affirm that all religions offer salvation in Christ. Rather it is to proclaim God’s love for a world of sinners and to invite everyone to respond to him as Saviour and Lord in the wholehearted personal commitment of repentance and faith. Jesus Christ has been exalted above every other name; we long for the day when every knee shall bow to him and every tongue shall confess him Lord. (Lausanne.org...)
  • Does God accept some forms of religion, but not others ... and if so, how can we know which forms of religion are “acceptable”?
    • Would a compassionate God condemn the followers of all other religions to hell — including those who were born in non-Christian societies and those whose lives more closely approximate the teachings of Jesus than the majority of Christians? Is this consistent with the ethical dimension of Jesus’ teachings?
      
    Although many Christians make a distinction between the sacred and the secular, some have involved themselves deeply with social issues as an expression of their Christian faith. For instance, the Baptist preacher, Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), became a great civil rights leader. This trend is now called liberation theology, a faith that stresses the need for concrete political action to help the poor. Beginning in the 1960s with Vatican II and the conference of Latin American bishops in Columbia in 1968, Roman Catholic priests and nuns in Latin America began to make conscious, voluntary efforts to understand and side with the poor in their struggles for social justice. ...
     
    32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. (Acts 4: 32-35)
     
    For their sympathetic siding with those who are oppressed, Catholic clergy have been murdered by political authorities in some countries. They have also been strongly criticized by conservatives within the Vatican. The movement has nevertheless spread to all areas where there is social injustice. Bakole Wa Ilunga, Archbishop of Kananga, the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), reminds Christians that Jesus warned the rich and powerful that it would be very difficult for them to enter the kingdom of Heaven. By contrast, writes Ilunga:
     
    Jesus liberates the poor from the feeling that they are somehow less than fully human; he makes them aware of their dignity and gives them motives for struggling against their lot and for taking control of their own lives. (Living Religions, 362-3)
    • Did Jesus distinguish between the “secular” and “sacred” aspects of his mission? Should we?
    • Is embodying Jesus’ ethical teachings essential for salvation? If not, is there any point at which one’s conduct may preclude one from salvation?
      
    Religion & the Environment
    Throughout his tenure as Patriarch, Bartholomew I has made environmental protection his crusade. ... During a tour of the United States ... he made a historic speech at a symposium on religion, science, and the environment in Santa Barbara, California. “To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin,” the Patriarch told the audience of eight hundred. “For humans to cause species to become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for humans to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests, or destroying its wetlands; for humans to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life with poisonous substances — these are sins. ... The [Eastern] Orthodox believe that bread and wine acquire personal characteristics by being made the body and the blood of Christ, and so creation is sanctified and affirmed as being ‘very good.’ The central concern of Orthodoxy is to enact through the Eucharist this new mode of being in which death ceases to exist. Precisely because creation is ‘very good’ it is worth preserving. ...” Each of us has an obligation to God, who “placed the newly created human ‘in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and to guard it’” (Genesis 2:15). He imposed on humanity a stewardship role in relationship to the earth. (An Anthology of Living Religions, 253-4)
     
     
    God blessed [man and woman] and said to them, “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth.”
           God said, “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food. And to all the animals on land, to all the birds of the sky, and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there is the breath of life, [I give] all the green plants for food.” And it was so. And God saw all that He had made, and found it very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (
    An Anthology of Living Religions, 190 [Genesis 1:28-31])
    • Do Christians have a religious obligation to act as stewards of the earth and if so, what does that obligation entail?