Ever since Martin Luther Christians have been calling for new reformations, with varied levels of seriousness. (In 1982 Robert Schuller published Self-Esteem: The New Reformation.) However, Chris Wright's call on Saturday morning of the Cape Town 2010 congress had a note of unusual authenticity. His address was followed by Femi Adeleye's take-no-prisoners talk on prosperity teaching, which he labeled "another gospel." More to the point, much of Saturday was devoted to repentance and prayer, as participants were asked to reflect deeply on their lack of humility, integrity and simplicity.
Wright made a detailed comparison to the state of the church now and in the Roman Catholic church before Luther. In both cases, he said, the ordinary people were deprived of the word of God, but rather were offered a religion based on a bargain: give to the church and reap blessings. The clergy in both cases often benefit, with sumptuous lifestyles and unaccountable power.
"What is the greatest obstacle to God's mission in the world?" Wright asked. "It is not other religions, or a resistant culture. Our idolatry is the single biggest obstacle to world mission. We are a scandal, a stumbling block to the mission of God. Reformation is the desperate need of our day, and it must start with us. If we want to change the world, we must first change our world."
In a subsequent press conference Wright said the congress should not be "a jamboree of evangelical triumphalism."
Wright serves as International Director of Langham Partnership International, which supports ministries to strengthen Christian leadership and preaching in the Majority World.