The Reformation of the 16th century was a revolution of mythic proportions. Scholars and pastors with fresh scriptural insights took advantage of revolutionary changes in the arts, science, humanities, politics, travel, and commerce to turn the Western world upside down. It marked both a return to biblical roots and a leap into the future. In the 21st century, what major changes in the church should Christians be hoping and working for? In the final installment of the Global Conversation, four key leaders from four continents reveal their hopes.
Reformation is a work of God so broad, deep, and historic that it is beyond my scope and probably that of the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. I opt for something more modest: a "reformation of manners" (to borrow a phrase from William Wilberforce and others). The phrase originally meant widespread social renewal, but we might aim more modestly at reforming our treatment of others, with courtesy as believers in the way we relate to one another, with respect as evangelists toward those we seek to win.
Three eminent "fathers" of the Lausanne Movement—Billy Graham, John Stott, and Jack Dain—exemplified for me this spirit of truth and grace, of deep conviction about the gospel and humility toward one's self and others. The world, suggests historian Martin Marty, might be a different place if Graham had been a "mean person." A Chinese Ph.D. student, herself not a believer, told me that she is writing about how Graham approached other nations with civility, "not with a closed fist but with an open hand."
When so many regard Christians (especially evangelists and missionaries) as intolerant and arrogant, it could be a worthwhile advance if from Cape Town 2010 emerges ...1
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