Is a resurgence of Christian faith in parts of Europe leading to increased political activity? That question was posed at a Washington, D.C., discussion with Filippo Lombardi, general secretary of the European Young Christian Democrats. With a membership of more than one million, the organization represents 23 Christian youth party movements in 19 countries, including several in Eastern Europe.

Personal Christian faith appears to be stimulating involvement in the Christian Democrat party in parts of Europe. Lombardi exemplifies this trend, saying, “Political parties should represent more than mere policy. They should include advocacy of values and morals.” He believes political systems are never neutral. “If Christians are living and experiencing truth, then this truth must be proposed to society, for universal values are true for all of us.”

Christian Democrat parties in Europe have their roots in Roman Catholicism, although Protestants have influenced the direction of the parties in parts of Europe, especially in Scandinavia. The parties’ basic platform includes support for traditionally liberal democratic principles; a defense of Christian liberty in educational institutions and volunteer organizations; and the advancement of a Christian social doctrine that can provide an alternative to both unrestrained capitalism and Marxist philosophy.

“If Christians do not contribute values to society,” Lombardi warned, “they will be manipulated and used by other political forces.” European Christians need to realize that biblical morals and principles can and should be advocated in the public square, he said. “Christians should first have a defined theology, then from that translate principles into philosophy, to political theory, and then into political action.”

Lombardi’s Washington, D.C., discussion was sponsored by the Association for Public Justice (APJ), a nonprofit group that promotes the development of a biblical understanding of public policy. By understanding the Christian Democrat movement in Europe, APJ Executive Director James Skillen said, Christians in the United States might be better equipped to analyze religious elements within American political parties.



Anglican-Catholic Agreement

Theologians attending the second Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission said they have agreed on a statement regarding salvation and justification.

The theologians reached the agreement after two years of discussions. The document that contains the full text of their agreement will not be published until it has been submitted to Pope John Paul II and Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie.

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In the sixteenth century, Martin Luther and other Reformers emphasized justification by faith alone. Luther accused the Roman Catholic church of teaching that salvation was obtained by performing good works. The Catholic church’s Council of Trent denied the charge, but Protestants and Catholics remained divided over the meaning of justification.

A summary statement of the recent Anglican-Catholic agreement on salvation and justification has been released. It indicates that the international commission’s theologians concentrated on a “proper understanding” of four areas:

• “The faith through which we are justified.”

• A correct understanding of the term “justification.”

• The relationship between good works and salvation.

• The church’s role in the “process of salvation.”

“It is [the commission’s] view that this agreed statement is coherent with the official formularies to which each communion is committed,” according to the summary statement. “Moreover, the commission submits that any outstanding differences of interpretation or ecclesiological emphasis are not such as can justify continuing separation between Anglicans and Roman Catholics.”


Threat of Starvation

A combination of armed conflict and drought has displaced hundreds of thousands of people in southern Sudan and raised the threat of massive starvation in that northeast African country.

The delivery of food and other relief supplies to southern Sudan was halted after rebels shot down a Sudan Air civilian airliner more than two months ago. The rebels have warned they will shoot down any plane that enters the airspace they control, because they fear the government will use relief flights to bring in reinforcements or supplies.

Sudan is divided between the Arab and Muslim north, and the black African south, which is Christian and animist. The rebel army, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, wants a new, secular constitution for the Sudan. The government of Prime Minister Sadeq el-Mahdi has failed to revoke the harsh Islamic law imposed by ousted dictator Gaafar al-Nimeiry.

Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese have fled into cities and towns seeking food and shelter. But relief officials say food supplies are so short that the people have begun returning to the countryside to search for edible roots and berries. Thousands are already starving, officials say, and the death toll could reach 2 million if an accord is not reached to allow food and other relief supplies into the region.

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North Meets South

Last month, for the first time since Korea was divided in 1945, Christians from North Korea held face-to-face meetings with believers from South Korea.

The meetings, sponsored by the international affairs arm of the World Council of Churches, were held in Switzerland. Twenty-two people participated, including three North Koreans, six South Koreans, and representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, Japan, Australia, Canada, France, Cuba, and India.

The Korean delegations exchanged papers expressing biblical and theological perspectives on the issues of peace and the reunification of Korea. They also exchanged gifts, including Bibles, hymnbooks, and theological works.

Dwain Epps, a National Council of Churches official who attended the meetings, said only about 25 ordained pastors remain in North Korea. He said some 10,000 North Korean Christians are affiliated with an umbrella organization called the Korean Christians Federation. He added that “a substantial number” of Christians, Protestants as well as Catholics, have not identified themselves with the federation, which is the only formal organization of Christians in the country.

In contrast, South Korea’s 10 million Christians constitute one-quarter of the country’s population. The nation’s capital, Seoul, is home to the largest church in the world, with more than 500,000 members.


World Evangelization

The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization is planning a second International Congress on World Evangelization, to be held in 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Planners are expecting some 4,000 participants from 167 countries, as well as 2,000 observers and guests.

Evangelist Billy Graham will serve as honorary chairman of the event. He said the congress will provide an international forum for discussing issues and theology affecting world evangelization. The congress will involve church leaders and decision makers from around the world.

Graham has asked the meeting’s international advisory council to consider several challenges, including reaching the unreached people of the world; utilizing high technology to spread the gospel; preserving a commitment to the authority of “an infallible Scripture;” building a strong prayer base; and utilizing missionaries from Third World countries to re-evangelize nominal Christians in the West.

The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization was formed following the first International Congress on World Evangelization in 1974.

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