As the world population clock ticked to four billion inhabitants (see editorial, page 36), some eighty evangelical leaders from thirty-four mission organizations and fifteen theological schools gathered last month in suburban Chicago to discuss worldwide Christian witness and biblical guidelines to undergird it. The occasion was a four-day Consultation on Theology and Mission sponsored by the School of World Missions and Evangelism at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.
Overall, the consultation projected as ideal a church-related evangelism focusing on discipleship and growth. It saw two internal perils for the Church: theology without evangelism, and evangelism without theology. It did not settle for mere criticism of the World Council of Churches (WCC); it pressed for the formulation of constructive alternatives. A new openness toward dialogue with Catholics in the post-Vatican II age was acknowledged, though caution was urged because, as one spokesman put it, “the fact that the nature of the Roman Catholic Church in our time is not wholly clear implies long-term risks in over-identification.”
Caution was also expressed in evaluation of the charismatic movement. While the conferees did not voice doubt of the New Testament validity of tongues, many questioned the permanence of the gift, and most resisted prizing glossolalia above all other gifts. Yet all confessed the need of a deep moving work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church.
There were three major evening addresses, and Trinity faculty members presented twelve papers. The papers dealt with Catholicism, the charismatic movement, contextualization (the relation of church to culture), inter-religious dialogue, and changing political situations. ...1
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