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That they may all be one . . . so that the world may believe . . . (John 17 : 21). Its purpose is to assist the Christian community in the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by word and deed, to the whole world to the end that all may believe in him and be saved. (Aims of CWME.) On the occasion of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the World Council of Churches the magazine Risk asked Dr W. A. Visser 't Hooft the question: "What motivated the ecumenical idea in the thirties?" His reply came without hesitation: "It's quite clear that it was born first in the missionary move ment." Unity for what? The present general secretary, Philip Potter, addressing the Synod of Bishops in Rome last year, was quite clear on this subject: The ecumenical movement finds its origin, among other things, in the require ments of evangelization that call for unity among Christians... The con viction of the World Council of Churches has been that evangelization is the ecumenical theme par excellence . . . Evangelization . . . can only be conceived and carried out in an ecumenical perspective and fellowship.2 This means that from the perspective of the Church's mission, unity is not merely an eschatological hope, a spiritual reality or an inter-ecclesiastical aim; it is an actual prerequisite of mission. We are not seeking unity per se, but rather, as in the prayer of Jesus, "that the world may believe". The initial purpose behind the creation of the World Council of Churches was "to support the churches in their task of evangelism", on the basis of the conviction held at that time that "today more than ever before evangelism is the supreme task of the churches". The Amsterdam Assembly in 1948, after reviewing the situation of the world and the Church, declared: "The evident demand of God in this situation is that the whole Church set itself to the total task of winning the whole world for Christ." And the Central Committee in 1951 reminded the churches that the word ecumenical "is properly used to describe everything that relates to the whole task of the wholq Church to bring the Gospel to the whole world". Similarly, the vision that lay behind the decision to fuse the International Missionary Council with the World Council of Churches in New Delhi, 1961, * The Rev. Mr ARIAS is Bishop of the Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia. This address was given at the fifth plenary session of the World Council of Church's Fifth Assembly, on Nov. 27,1975. Risk, Vol. 9, No. 4, 1973, p. 11. 2 PHILIP POTTER, "Evangelization in the Modern World", Monthly Letter about Evan gelism, WCC (CWME) January 1975, p. 2.



was also that of giving a structural content to the theme: "The whole Church with one Gospel for the whole world." And to ensure that mission did not remain a specialized task for a few missionary organizations but become the responsibility of the whole Church and all the churches.3 It should be clear to us, then, that the intention "to stay together", which was the basis of the World Council, is secondary to the indispensable task of the Church of Christ: the evangelization of the world. Hence Potter's dramatic conclusion of his message to the Synod of Rome: "Evangelization is the test of our ecumenical vocation." It will also be the test of this Fifth Assembly, called together to make the most daring missionary and evangelistic affirmation that can be made in the world today: "Jesus Christ Frees and Unites." Evangelism: An essential priority The Spirit seems to be calling the churches of the whole world to take up once again their essential and primary responsibility: witness the International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, the Synod of Bishops in Rome, the Jerusalem and many national and regional meetings. In June 1974, representatives of Orthodox churches in Europe, America and Asia met in Bucharest for a consultation on the subject: "Confessing Christ Today". They declared: We do not have the option of keeping the Good News to ourselves ... (Romans 10: 1). The uncommunicated Gospel (Good News) is a patent contradiction. 4 The Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia, to which I belong, is so small that it can only be an associate member of the World Council. But after a long history of service and commitment to the Bolivian people through its many programmes and ministries, the church felt that the moment had come to define its understanding of the evangelistic task in the light of the whole Gospel which it claimed to represent. Last year, after much reflection on its experience as well as that of the Universal Church, it drew up 27 theses on "Evangelism in Latin America Today". On this great occasion we would like to share this ecumenical harvest with you, as an offering in gratitude for all we have received from the Universal Church. Evangelism is essential for the Church; it is its primary task. Evangelism springs from God's election of "a special people of his own"; it is based on the continued mission of the Son of God among men; it originates in the Great Commission which Jesus left to his Church and it is sustained by the promise of the Spirit for this saving community. The fruit of evangelism is the building up of the Body of Christ on earth; the very survival of the Church depends on it. Gen. 12: 1-2; Ex. 19: 5; Matt. 10: 28; Mark 16:15; John 15 : 16; 17: 18; 20: 21; Acts 1: 8; I Peter 2: 9-10) (Thesis 7)
3 4

LESSLIE NEWBIGIN: One Body, One Gospel, One World (London: IMC, 1966). International Review of Mission, Vol. LXIV, No. 253, January 1975, p. 87.



Evangelism is a permanent task: "in season out of season". No situation absolves us from "announcing the great works of him who has called us from darkness into light". Neither secularism, nor the existence of other religions and ideologies, nor the population explosion, nor the demands of other urgent tasks which Christians must fulfil, can relieve the Church of this responsibility which no other human institution can fulfil in its place. Evangelism must be carried on in a capitalist or in a socialist society or in any other which may emerge in history. Only the coming of God's kingdom in its fulness will relieve us from the task of evangelizing. (Acts 4: 12; Gal. 1 : 18; II Cor. 11 :4; I Tim. 2 : 5-7; II Tim. 4 :1-5; I Peter 2: 9) (Thesis 10)5 My purpose in quoting these declarations of assemblies, consultations and churches within the diverse fellowship of the WCC is not to appease our own consciences or to reflect an attitude of triumphalism, but rather to confess before God that: We have not always been faithful to our recognized calling; We have not always given priority to what ought to be our priorities; We have not always been worthy of our predecessors from Edinburgh 1910 to Mexico 1963; And we have not always fulfilled the hopes which gave rise to the WCC and its merging with the IMC. The reaffirmation of these purposes does not, on the other hand, mean that we accept as the faithful fulfilment of our mission all that is done in our churches under the label of evangelism, nor that we believe that we must go on repeating "the same old story in the same old way" as if nothing had changed. Neither does it mean that we renounce everything that we have been trying to do through the ecumenical movement to respond to the needs and challenges of our world during the past twenty-five years'. An affirmation On the contrary, I believe the moment has come to acclaim the missionary and evangelistic potential of all that the WCC has been doing through us and in our name. I take the liberty of suggesting that we acclaim and affirm: Thirty years of programmes on behalf of migrants and refugees who have been pushed to the margins of history by our wars and dehumanizing societies ("the most impressive expression of the whole of the Church's ministry in our time", as Newbigin has said); The persistent protests against social injustice, violence, racism, oppression and repression of peoples in various parts of the world; The constant search for justice and reconciliation through CICARWS, CCIA, PCR, CCPD, CMC 6 and other bodies and programmes;
"Tesis Boliviana de Evangelizacin en Amrica Latina Hoy", IEMB, La Paz, June 1975. Translations in English, French and German were published in Monthly Letter about Evangelism, WCC (CWME), February 1975. 6 Commission on Inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World Service; Commission of the Churches on International Affairs; Programme to Combat Racism; Commission on the Churches' Participation in Development; Christian Medical Commission.


The attempt to find creative and courageous responses to the overwhelming problems of urbanization through UIM; The unceasing call for union and renewal of the churches; The expansion of lay, youth and biblical renewal movements in Europe; The denouncing of imperialism which is implicit, explicit or latent in the Western missionary undertaking; the participation of the young churches of the Third World; the recognition of cultural identity in the receiving and propagation of the Christian faith; and the openness to new relationships of maturity and co-participation in mission; The repudiation of proselytism as a corruption of witness; The sensitive efforts to detect the "signs of the times" and to respond to the demands of the "world agenda"; The sharing of human and financial resources through imaginative programmes of theological education (TEF) and the development of Christian literature (CLD) in the Third World; The agonizing search for the meaning of "Salvation Today" and the affirmation that the sufferings and struggles of the people for humanization and liberation are not foreign to God's purpose for his world and the total process of salvation in history; The thinking of our theologians concerning "Giving Account of the Hope that Is Within Us"; The constant efforts to relate church and society, and to deepen our understanding of the implications of new developments in science and technology for the life of mankind on earth; The concern to respond to the terrible and apocalyptic spectre of hunger which hangs over most of our planet; ALL THIS IS MISSION, AND IT CAN BE AN INTEGRAL PART OF TRUE EVANGELISM IN THE WORLD TODAY. Confession and repentance Yet we must also admit that the WCC has not always been able to convey and make available to the churches the evangelistic potential of the impressive series of studies, priorities and projects, any more than our churches, organizations and councils have succeeded in putting to practical use the wealth of ecumenical experience. We must acknowledge that sometimes we have done theology in a vacuum, without reference to the contemporary practice of the churches or to actual ecumencial programmes. At other times too we have allowed ourselves to be impelled by an activism that owes more to fashionable slogans than to adequate biblical and theological reflection. And above all we must admit with shame that evangelism has been the Cinderella of the WCC, at least to judge by the extent to which it appears in its structure, where it figures as nothing more than one office with a single occupant, in a



sub-structure which is itself merely part of a unit, and with no more than a monthly letter by which to communicate with the churches of the whole world... Everything the Church does has an evangelical dimension, it was said at Evanston and reiterated at Bangkok. Yet we have to admit that often the evangelistic dimension is not translated into evangelistic intention; that evangelistic potential is not actually realized; that the implicit does not become explicit. Let us say at once that all action that claims to be evangelistic will have to name "the Name that is above all names", attempt the crossing of the frontier between faith and non-faith and communicate the Good News in some way or other and to some degree. The New Testament proclamation unites sign and word. Some people announce the Word and forget the Sign; perhaps our sin of omission is to have multiplied signs in the world and forgotten to have spoken the Word. At all events the sincerity of these affirmations and confessions will have to be shown by "works of repentance" and by plans for the next seven years, such as, for example, the following: 1) to strengthen the line already begun of correlating strategies, methods of approach and structures inside the WCC; 2) to make more visible and functional the influence of mission and evangelism within the movement as a whole; 3) to give evangelistic and missionary meaning and content to the new programme of theological education; 4) to stimulate the emergence of a new contextual missiology, particularly in the Third World, but with the participation of the Universal Church; finally 5) to risk a rationalization based on priorities, of the human, economic and academic resources of the One Church, going much further than the timid beginnings of ESP (ecumenical sharing of personnel moratoria as redeployment).

A holistic approach


What I have said so far derives its meaning from what has been called the "holistic or integral approach" to evangelism. The Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia has put it in these words: True evangelism is holistic; the whole Gospel for the whole man and the whole of mankind. Evangelism addresses man in the totality of his being: individual and social, physical and spiritual, historical and eternal. We reject, therefore, all dichotomies, ancient and modern, which reduce the Gospel to one dimension or fragment man who was created in the image and likeness of God. We do not accept the idea that evangelism means only "saving souls" and seeking exclusively "a change in the eternal status of the individual"; these concepts are biblically insufficient. We reject also the reduction of the Gospel to a programme for service or social development or to a mere instrument of socio-political programmes. (Matt. 9 : 35-38; Luke 4 : 18-19; Acts 16 : 31; I Tim. 4 : 6-10; II Tim. 1:10) (Thesis 2)



Consequently there seems to be good reason for Patriarch Pimen of Moscow to have called attention to the fact that the Bangkok Letter to the Churches says nothing of the ultimate goal of salvation, namely, eternal life in God. This reminder is similar to that of evangelical brethren who ask us to make clear declarations on "the total man" including, of course, eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It may be useful here to recall the comments of Emilio Castro, Director of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, concerning the Bangkok Conference's emphasis on historical salvation: "We surely cannot understand our participation in the history of mankind, in the search for social justice, as a manifestation of that salvation which God has promised us, without relating it to the eternal life which is promised to us and that neither life nor death can take away from u s . . . Social justice, personal salvation, cultural affirmation, church growth, are all seen as integral parts of God's saving acts." 7 But evangelism is not only integral in content; it is also integral in form, in the inseparable union of "word and action". True evangelism is incarnate: proclamation in words and deeds in a concrete situation. The Gospel is eternal but not atemporal or ahistorical. It addresses itself to the whole man in his context. This does not mean that concrete historical situations are a part of the content of the Gospel. Evangelism must be inserted in this world and in the total experience of man, who must respond out of the depth of his historical existence... Evangelism cannot, therefore, be reduced to a formula which can be applied indiscriminately to any situation or to the mere verbalism of evangelical propaganda. (Luke 7 : 22; John 1 : 14; Phil. 2 : 5-11; II Cor. 3 : 2-3; James 1 : 22) (Thesis 5) To say that evangelism must be incarnate does not mean that it must be silent. There are times and places when we must hold our tongues and let our witness speak through our presence and action, but such an extreme situation must not be considered normal or normative. There comes a moment when we must name the Name and proclaim the Word. Because it concerns a whole message, evangelism includes announcement, prophetic denouncement, personal and community witness, the call to repentance, to conversion and to incorporation in the Christian Church, and participation in the struggle for a more just and human life, inspired in the purpose of God (Theses 3, 4, 12, 18-20). The Orthodox Consultation in Bucharest referred to earlier stated that while "the final aim of evangelistic witness is conversion and baptism", there are also "intermediary aims", such as love and dialogue between Christians and non-Christians, "the penetration of the structures of society" and a "prophetic challenge to society's values". (2b and c)
7 EMILIO CASTRO: "Director's Report", Figueira da Foz, WCC (CWME), February 1975, Document No. 3, p. 5.



Contextual evangelism Evangelism must also be contextual. In Bolivia we decided recently to put our theses to the test of experience. We formed a national interdisciplinary team complemented by people from three local churches in areas near the towns of Oruro and Coehabamba. We launched an experiment in "evangelistic immersion" which lasted for some weeks. First we tried to incarnate the Gospel which we were to announce within our own group. We devoted entire mornings to study, meditation, sharing, evaluation and planning. Messages were prepared in groups, on the basis of each day's experience. If we were to proclaim reconciliation, we had to make it a reality within the dynamics of our group, and then try to extend it to the local church and community. Second, we tried to get to know man and his context really well. Through study, analysis of surveys, visits to the area, contacts with neighbours and the local authorities, we tried to get to know the people to whom we intended to proclaim the Gospel and to understand their community and family problems. Third, we aimed at an integrated presentation of the Gospel through word and action. We invited people to come to evening meetings to share the problems of the community, to hear the Gospel and discuss the message, to reflect together on its meaning and to spend some time in friendship and community. The message was presented through hymns reflecting present-day situations and sung to national music, through social drama, preaching, teaching, and dialogue. It was also presented through practical action with the people and community. Our prayers were related to the problems of light, water, sickness, violence on the streets, and so on, which the people themselves suggested. We discovered several things. 1) It is not necessary to leave aside social action in order to evangelize, nor to use it as a bait to attract the people. People are ready to receive a whole Gospel which is related to the total context of their lives. 2) One of the most gratifying experiences was to see how the Christian message arose spontaneously in response to the specific situations which came up as we went along. The people themselves and daily events provided the theme and the illustrations. The Gospel sounded natural, authentic and relevant in a familiar context. 3) We saw changes in people's attitudes, despite the brevity of our experiment: there was a clear movement from discouragement and isolation to hope and joint action. We saw how the liberating power of the risen Christ can work through people and groups. We also discovered that we had much to learn and much to receive. The most memorable and educational experience was our visit to the tin mines, where Bolivian miners work in incredibly inhuman conditions an eight-hour day spent below the ground, several kilometers inside the mountain,



amid dust, explosive gases and the water coming from their drills. Their daily ration consists of a loaf of bread. Sometimes they do not even have that only a bottle of watery tea and a few coca leaves to chew. Miners have a life expectancy of only 32 years, with some eight or ten years of active work before tuberculosis and silicosis eat away their lungs. We stayed for only five hours in the tunnels, talking to the miners, listening to their informed and critical comments on the problems of the country, of Portugal, of the United States or China. Later in the day we attended the union meeting, where we met some of the men we had seen in the mine. After that long day, beginning at five in the morning, they now came to discuss democratically a request for support from the country's university students. It was a real school of politics! And when later we were able to talk with the leaders, we were amazed at the clarity of their aims, their feelings of solidarity, and their willingness to work for Bolivia's future, although they knew very well that change would only come slowly and perhaps they would not be there to see the fruits of their work. Hope indeedflourishesin the "tunnels of death". We who had been proclaiming the new man open, critical and committed found these traits among these people, who spent their day digging like moles below the mountains of Bolivia and who did not consider themselves members of the Church. All that was missing was the naming of the Name. And we had to recognize that perhaps these people had more of Christ in them than we who spoke in his name. The same thing happened to us as happened to Peter, who learned new dimensions of the Gospel in his experience with Cornelius the Gentile (Acts 10). Thus we discovered the true meaning of evangelistic dialogue. The Church must be aware that Christ precedes us in evangelism. God has not left himself without a witness. The light of the Word illuminates every man that comes into this world. The Spirit of God "is no respecter of persons". The grace of God is not confined to the Church. Just as there is a solidarity in sin, there is also a solidarity in Christ which originates in the Incarnation, the Cross and the Resurrection. To evangelize is to help men to discover the Christ hidden in them and revealed in the Gospel. All men and all human values are destined to be recapitulated in Christ. (John 1 : 1-18; Acts 10; 17 : 16-34; Rom. 5 : 12-21) (Thesis 17) Priorities and Anticipations In context, too, we understand that there are "priorities and anticipations", as Bangkok said, in the access to the process of salvation. In the United States, many Christians have read the book Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, about a philosopher seagull. In Bolivia a book was published last year about a condor called Mallko.8 Both books reflect the nature of our respective societies and the philosophy which prevails in them. The seagull begins by
RICHARD BACH: Jonathan Livingstone SUAREZ: Mallko (La Paz, 1974).

Seagull (Aron, New York, 1973);




despising the "breakfast flock" which flies in crowds around the fishing boats. "What is important is not eating but flying", says the seagull. The young condor, in his cave high up in the Andes, is orphaned early in life when his parents are caught by the peasants and taken to a zoo. For the young bird, wracked by hunger, the priority is to eat and later, if he can, to fly. What does this tell us about the priorities and methods of evangelism? Can we present the Gospel in the same way to the overfed and bored who seek escape from the rut through drugs or suicide, as we present it to the hungry, desperate for survival? Can it be presented in the same way to the members of an English country club, the young people of New York's "Village" and the dying in the streets of Calcutta? To whom must we say "Man does not live by bread alone", and with whom must we pray and struggle for saying "Give us this day our daily bread"? Can we continue to treat men as "Souls with ears"? Or as stomachs without souls? Can we announce the Gospel in the same way to the oppressor and to the oppressed, to the torturer and to the tortured? In other words, how can the evangelism be authentic unless it is faithful both to the Scriptures and to real people in real contexts? Some say that we must return to the sixteenth century and concern ourselves solely with "justification by faith" as Luther formulated it. We ought to remember that that fundamental Protestant doctrine did not contain the whole of Christian truth, but was a key to open a door and gain access to the Gospel in an age when an absolutist system came between God and man. More than a definitive system of theology, justification by faith, for Luther, meant a firm place to take his stand. But it seems to us that to be faithful to that same gospel of justification, to God's great Yes to man, we must take our stand side by side with the man who is struggling, suffering and hoping, usually "without God and without hope in the world". The humanization of man, properly understood, not as negation of transcendence, but as affirmation of God's loving plan for every man, is not a heresy, but perhaps the very heart of our Christian testimony, anchored in the turning point of the ages the Incarnation. Our Yes to the man of today is simply a pale reflection of the Yes of the "God for us". Humanization is simply a translation of what Barth called "the humanity of God". Or of Bonhoeffer's moving expression in his Letters from Prison, when he describes for us the "worldliness" of the Christian as throwing oneself into the arms of God and sharing in his suffering and keeping watch with Christ in Gethsemane. Costly and vulnerable evangelism To stand side by side with man is costly and vulnerable. We have said that true evangelism is free. To paraphrase Bonhoeffer's essay on grace, we should add that it is free, but not cheap. True evangelism is costly. Authentic evangelism will not be achieved without paying a high price... What price did Jesus pay for evangelizing? What price did the Apostles pay? Do we believe that we shall pay a lower price today thanks to a convenient,



efficient and cheap circulation of the Gospel? Evangelical evangelism will require that we pay in sacrifice, painful change and radical options. In particular, an option in favour of the oppressed, rejecting the temptation of false neutrality or open alliance with oppressive powers. There is no evangelism without a cross. (Matt. 10; Mark 8 : 31-38; John 15-16 : 4) (Thesis 15) It is not a matter of money and modern, costly equipment but rather of placing the life of the witness behind his witness. The great majority of the 2,700 millions who do not know Christ live under global (or closed) ideological or religious systems. In the "developed" countries people live in an ever-present atmosphere of secularism. In many countries of the Third World people live under repressive regimes which do not respect human rights and take as subversive any contextual or prophetic proclamation of the Gospel and sometimes even the most aseptic biblical affirmations! What will evangelism cost in these places? Ask those involved in UIM ministries standing side by side with the poor in our big cities around the world. And precisely because it is personal, local and contextual, evangelism is irremediably vulnerable. Both the witness and the witnessing community are also a part of the world, and therefore subject to God's judgement and mercy. The Church is confronted by the same Word with which it intends to confront the world. And like the world, it also needs the divine teaching which works through history. It must therefore be alert to the "signs of the times" and open to dialogue with the world through its evangelistic work. The witness must renounce any claim to a holiness which he does not possess, and he must fully accept his vulnerability. (Jonah) (Thesis 16) This is what D. T. Niles meant when he defined evangelism as "a beggar telling another beggar where both could find something to eat". This is vulnerable evangelism. The Gospel is like manna it cannot be kept. If we do not share it, we lose it. If we do not use it, it goes stale. It has been given to us, like bread, for our daily use. We need to make this a reality in our congregations around the world so that they may be freed from their present paralysis. Their apparent humility and reticence to communicate the Gospel may be merely unfaithfulness. "The crisis we are going through today is not so much a crisis of faith as a crisis of faithfulness." (Potter) We all know that the most difficult place in which to evangelize is our own home. Because at home they know us as we really are, inside and out. We must begin by accepting our vulnerability, for in any case it is obvious to everyone else! Many churches have lost the impetus to evangelize. They seem to be dominated by a guilt complex. They are aware, or partly aware, of their weaknesses, of the image they project with their buildings, their social composition, their programmes. They do not feel worthy to communicate the Gospel, and they go on searching by all possible means for a "renewal" which never comes.



There is only one biblical response to the guilt complex: "Remember then from what you have failed, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent." (Rev. 2 : 5) We should already know that renewal does not come before mission but in mission. It will not come through study and reflection alone, but through practical action which includes reflection in action and prayer. We must not give in to the temptation of perfectionism: we must take risks, we must commit ourselves to the Gospel. A strikingly successful missionary in the New Testament was the woman of Samaria, who certainly had little training and less prestige. But she brought a whole people to hear Jesus, simply through a question, after she herself had been disturbed by a brief conversation with the Lord. Evangelism is local In the past few years, I have reached two conclusions concerning evangelism. 1) There is only one medium for the communication of the Gospel: the Christian and the Christian community. All other so-called "media" can only be instruments which are superfluous or of doubtful usefulness. 2) True evangelism is free: it goes from person to person, from community to community. The word communicate means to share, to exchange, to relate, to live together, to participate, to converse, to have something in common. From the same root come communion, commune, community. And it is interesting to discover that it has the same meanings as koinonia in the New Testament, which refers both to communion with Christ to the point of sharing in his passion and death and communion with each other, both in spiritual and in material gifts. In other words, koinonia, communication, is the whole life of the Christian community, both internal and external. How can the Gospel be communicated, then, except through the congregation which lives out the Gospel? Jesus did not only leave a message to be published, but a community with a message to be shared. Hence New Testament evangelism is a true communication of a community which calls to communion (RSV = fellowship): That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (I John 1 : 3) The congregation is the strategic base for the evangelism of the world, the transmitting centre of the communication of the Gospel, through worship, through preaching, through teaching, community life or life of service to the world which surrounds it. The Orthodox tradition gives us an example, throughout its history, not only of the power of irradiation of the Christian community, but also of the power of attraction of the liturgical community. Philip Potter has said: "Evangelization is not a strategy which can be worked out by a Synod of Bishops, or by the World Council of Churches, or by a



world fellowship of evangelicals. It takes place in a given place and with particular persons or groups. Therefore, the base of evangelization is the local church, the whole people of God in the community as they worship, live and work in a dialogue of solidarity." And Emilio Castro adds: "We need to recover this world dimension of the local engagement as a way of incorporating the faithfulness and experiences of the local congregation into the total missionary outreach... It is the necessary foundation, the real test of our missionary vocation." 9 This being so, one is tempted to reverse the famous phrase of John Wesley, "the world is my parish", and say that "my parish is the world". And so it is, in more than one sense, especially in what we call today the "global village". And if we go deeper into this phrase we will reach a true philosophy of mission and world evangelism. We will find the criterion to measure any church or parachurch organization or programme: Does it help or hinder the local witness of the Christian congregation? What a tremendous challenge to our congregations! It is a challenge to conversion, renewal, authenticity, quantitative and qualitative growth. It brings us back to the Bangkok theme: "the churches renewed in mission". There we were reminded that the local congregation is God's "audio-visual medium" for mission, but that it can also constitute a "saboteur" of God's mission. Donald McGavran holds a similar position: "Many churches find it difficult if not impossible to communicate the faith to those with whom they are in daily contact. Or to put it the other way around, many populations of nonChristians steadfastly refuse to receive the Gospel from Christians in their localities." To overcome this situation, some churches opt to "remove the bars and locks by emphasizing solidarity with non-Christian neighbours, quiet Christian presence, and cooperative working at common humane goals". Where there is no alternative this is quite correct, according to the Director of the Pasadena Institute of Church Growth, but at the same time it reveals the need to send missionaries from other neighbourhoods and cultures.10 If we read the New Testament carefully, we will see that this exchange of persons and groups was part of Paul's missionary strategy, a natural expression of the koinonia between the churches. There are some animals which reproduce by autogenesis or self-fertilization. Perhaps we need some process of "cross fertilization" between congregations which have become sterile. Are we ready to devote personnel and resources to mutual ministry between congregations, just as we do to large service or research projects? This is another challenge to our churches, boards, councils and the CWME itself.

9 EMILIO CASTRO: "Evangelism in the World", paper read to foreign missions and representatives, London, 1975, p. 3. 10 DONALD MCGAVRAN: "Barred Populations and Missionaries", International Review of Mission, Vol. LXIV, No. 253, January 1975, pp. 56-61.



And what about universality? All this may sound very personal and local, too modest for the global objective, "that the world may believe". It seems so little, in face of the 2,700 millions who know nothing of Christ. And so it is. There is no doubt that the Gospel belongs to the whole world it is not an article to be consumed exclusively by any particular religious community. "And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold", says Jesus, "I must bring them also." (John 10: 16) And the evangelist, commenting on Caiaphas' ambiguous declaration, gives the key to Christ's universal mission: "He prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad." (John 11 : 52-3) And Jesus declared to his disciples when some Greeks came to speak to him: "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (John 12 : 32) The Last Commission is equally categorical, in all its forms, in relation to the universal intention of the Gospel: "to all nations", "unto all the world", "to every creature", "to the ends of the earth" (Matt. 28 : 20; Mark 16 : 15; John 20: 21; Acts 1: 8). On the other hand, "God has his time which is not our time." (E. Castro) And God has chosen his own means of bringing in the universal perspective through the particular. His purpose to "bless all nations" takes a humble form in the call to an old man and his family to leave Ur of the Chaldeans. And then the call to a nation of slaves. Later, to a "remnant" within that nation. And "in the fullness of time" he concentrated his action in a vulnerable child born in a stable, in the humblest village of a people submitted to the greatest empire of history. The mystery of the Incarnation is the mystery of the local: "And the word becamefleshand dwelt among us." (John 1 : 14) Mission is centrifugal, and begins in a given place: "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." But it took fifteen centuries after our Lord came, great ships and fearless sailors, before they discovered the part of the world known as America and the people who lived there. Today masses of human beings are inaccessible to the missionary work of the rest of the world, or the local church, and God only knows how long they will depend exclusively on the small seeds of Christianity which have remained in China, for instance, and what other ways God will use. We must not fall into either guilty resignation or frantic activism. We must trust in God, and act with hope. We only know that we have been given a command. And that the Gospel must be shared. That "the love of Christ obliges us", that "it is required of us absolutely", and that "we cannot cease to tell what we have seen and heard". Even though "we have this treasure in earthen vessels".



Many of us today hear the heart-rending cry of those whose human rights are violated. Is it not a basic right of every human being to know God's purpose for his life which was revealed in Jesus Christ? It is not written in any charter of Human Rights, but it is in the Scriptures and in the heart of God, "who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth". (I Tim. 2 : 4) ... every woman or man, every child who is born becomes our creditor and we are his debtor. The Gospel is not a possession; it is a stewardship. Nobody can deprive us of this privilege or relieve us from this responsibility. Hence the urgency of evangelism. (Thesis 9) And in this task we are sustained not only by the horror of a world without Christ, or by our feeling of gratitude and obligation, but above all by the assurance of the all-powerful intercession of him who still prays, "That they may all be one, that the world may believe".

In the first of the formal responses in plenary to Bishop Arias's address "That the World May Believe", Madame Rahantavololon Andriamanjato: 1) noted the omission of any mention in it of the need for the liberation of women, for whose oppressed state the church bears much responsibility; 2) emphasized the important role of the moratorium in removing "the imperialism implicit, explicit or latent in the Western missionary undertaking" mentioned in the address; and 3) pleaded for a recognition of the fact that the kind of unity in Christ which will call the world to belief in him is made visible in the solidarity of Christians against oppression, wherever it is found, and with the oppressed. Excerpts from the third part of Mme Andriamanjato's rponse are printed below.



. . . In my country, where three-quarters of the population are not Christians, but where for more than a century power was in the hands of Christians, or of people who called themselves Christians, my own experience often brings me into contact with men and women very like those Bolivian tin-miners.
* Mme ANDRIAMANJATO is an engineer with the Ministry of Public Works of the Government of Madagascar, the leader of the Tananarive section of a political party, and a University lecturer.



It is at such moments that I realize more and more that without waiting for a theology of political commitment to be formulated, I have a duty not merely to enter into dialogue, but also to act and work with those who thirst for justice and freedom. It is then too that I know by my own experience that there is no incompatibility between the Christian faith on the one hand and the fact of opting in the context of my country for the class struggle and the socialist economic and political system for my country on the other. As you say, Bishop Arias, bearing witness to Christ the Liberator in the world in which we live is not cheap; it is costly. In cases like mine, the cost is to have brother and sister Christians who are opposed to such commitments, not only in my country but elsewhere as well. . . . I should also wish to say with Mr McAfee Brown, that Jesus Christ the Liberator is also Jesus Christ who is, provisionally, the Divider. But, sooner or later, I am deeply convinced, he will know how to enlighten and unite us, not to perpetuate the power of the oppressors, but so that we may struggle together against all the structures of injustice, against colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism and imperialism. Unite us to work together: to build a world of justice and peace, and to do so with all men and women of good will. He will unite us to be his effectual instruments in this world, bearing witness to him who became man among men, credible witness to him who was sent "to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed". . . . It is the unity of our faith in Jesus the incarnate Son of God which is the foundation of everything, and I should like to emphasize that the credibility of Christianity does not lie in an organic union of the churches or in the uniformity of traditions and ways of celebrating divine worship. We all know that diversity of gifts is a privilege of humanity. Anyone who accepts the fact that such differences of gifts and talents exist can also accept the existence of differences in theological approach. The existence of a number of confessions and denominations and ecclesiastical traditions may perhaps detract from our witness, but as I see it, it is not the main obstacle to the world's believing. The credibility of Christianity is called in question chiefly for other reasons. At the present time a radical mutation of society is erupting under our very eyes, for hundreds upon hundreds of millions of women and men are beginning to grasp the truth that exploitation and oppression are not an inevitable fate that just has to be borne without hope and without end. We can only welcome and rejoice at the repercussions that this change of outlook is having in awakening and sustaining growing self-awareness in the peoples' struggle for liberation. You also emphasized very pertinently, Bishop Arias, that in "the agonizing search for the meaning of salvation today", the WCC affirms that "the sufferings and struggles of the peoples for humanization and liberation are not


foreign to God's purpose for his world and the total process of salvation in history". You also made it clear that this affirmation and all the actions of the WCC that have resulted from it are "mission and . . . an integral part of true evangelization in the world of today". Unfortunately we cannot help noticing that some member churches and some that are not members, as well as very many Christians, continue to keep in water-tight compartments the proclamation of the Good News of Christ the liberator of the poor and the oppressed on the one hand, and the traditional evangelization centred on individual spiritual life, on the other...



. . . A Holistic Approach In all our churches, we have failed in the past in not preaching an integral Gospel. In missionary and evangelical activities, the "works of charity" were always prominent. Yet too often in the past, activities like hospitals, orphanages, cooperative works for social development and the like, may have been looked upon as works of pre-evangelism, or works whereby the missionary might himself or herself, practise his/her own Christianity and therefore achieve his/her sole purpose of life. Or sometimes these activities were seen as sheer means to attract the non-evangelized so that we could then preach to them. In today's context these works are seen to have a value in themselves and therefore could be considered as forms of evangelism insofar as they help to transform the world and society. They are also eloquent witness and expression of the Gospel. On the other hand, however valid our involvement may be, they call for an explicitation at one stage or another through verbal or oral proclamation of the Lord Jesus. In this way, evangelism will be carried on by both word and deed both making a total language of communication. This is what Bishop Arias rightly calls "a holistic or integral approach to evangelization".

* Archbishop CARTER, S.J., is Archbishop in Jamaica and President of the Caribbean Conference of Churches. This is a substantial portion of his formal Assembly plenary response to Bishop Alias's address.


Contextual Evangelism and the Local Church as the Best Means and Transmining Centre of Evangelism All of us agree that the church and all its activities should first of all identify itself in the reality of the people whom we want to serve. It is within the context of the life of the people, their development, their concerns, that both the church and her ministry of evangelism will become relevant. This supposes that the church really and truly belongs to the people it serves, joins with them in their struggle, by her solidarity and involvement. It is in such a context that Evangelism will be a "word from within" interpreting the life situation. This also implies that the church thereby becomes local, incarnated in a people, in a particular culture, time and place. Thus the local Christian community and the church as a whole becomes the chief agent and best means of evangelization of the good news, the Koinonia, experienced in the community, giving an impulse and urge for communicating with others. This experience of fulfilment in unity should be witnessed not only at the local level, but also at the world level, since most problems have a world dimension challenging the church to deal with issues at the world level. Hence the goal of the ecumenical movement and the purpose of the World Council of Churches is indeed to work for unity at the world level. I would agree thoroughly with Bishop Arias that "there is only one medium for the communication of the Gospel: the Christian and the Christian community". It is the witness of the individual Christian and of the Christian community which unites men in Christ. But that Christian community is not the local community alone. If all have to be one, then the universal Christian community must itself be one. All men will not be one in Christ until all Christian churches themselves are one in Christ, with far more profound unity than exists today. As individual human beings and individual Christians each has his or her own particular charism. "Not all are apostles, not all evangelists, not all teachers." So too, each of the churches has its own particular charism, its own special contribution to make to that universal work of making all one in Christ. Today, there is greater opportunity than ever before for each church to contribute its own particular charism in bringing about the oneness of all men in Christ. Precisely because we realize this today more vividly, we are more serious and more open today to real ecumenism on the doctrinal level. Really astounding results have been accomplished in recent years in my own church in theological dialogue, especially with the Methodist and Anglican churches on the world level. But more so, on the regional level, in the Caribbean, with the formation of the Caribbean Conference of Churches, inaugurated in 1973, of which the Roman Catholic Church is a founding member. At the same time, this dialogue is taking place, not only with Anglicans and Methodists, but also with many other churches in the Caribbean leading to cooperation in joint Christian action, theological education, study and other programmes of renewal



I warmly welcome Bishop Arias's eloquent plea for evangelism as an "essential", "primary", "normal", "permanent" and " costly" task of the churches. I also welcome his double reference to the 2,700 million unevangelized people of the world, who were the preoccupation of the International Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne last year. In 1910 the number of unevangelized people was about 1,000 million, but John Mott called this fact a "longstanding reproach" to the church. I wonder what he would say if he were here today? I am thankful that Bishop Arias has stressed the need for the Christian community to be an authentic sign of the Gospel and for all Christian people to feel the constraint of Christ's love and of Christ's commission which has never been repealed. I very much hope that the 27 theses of the document "Evangelism in Latin America today" will be made available to us all, that Section I will pay close attention to the Bishop's thesis, and that this whole Assembly will later endorse it. Would it be unfair to say that the Bishop's address is not typical of recent ecumenical utterances? The modern ecumenical movement was born of missionary passion, and an assurance was given at New Delhi that the work of the International Missionary Council would henceforth become central to the concerns of the whole WCC. Yet it seems to many of us that evangelism has now become largely eclipsed by the quest for social and political liberation. I asked myself why this is so. Rather than give you my answers in negative terms, I would prefer to speak positively of what (it seems to me) all of us including the World Council need to recover.

A recognition of the lostness of man Bishop Arias headed his paper with a quotation from the original aims of the IMC, namely the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ "to the end that all may believe in him and be saved". This statement presupposes that

* Dr STOTT is Rector of All Souls, London. He was a plenary speaker at the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization and the chief architect of the Lausanne Covenant. This paper was one of the formal responses made in the Assembly plenary to Bishop Arias's address. The complete text is printed here.



until men hear and believe the Gospel they are lost. This Assembly is listening with great sensitivity to the cry of the oppressed, and rightly so; but are we also listening to the cry of the lost? The only references to the judgment of God in pre-Assembly literature concern his judgment of oppressors and of the structures of injustice. God's judgment certainly rests on these. Yet the same Bible which teaches this, teaches also that all men (the oppressed as well as the oppressors) are sinners under the judgment of God and are on the broad road which leads to destruction (Matt. 7 : 13). This is what Bishop Arias rightly calls "the horror of a world without Christ". It is simply not true that all men and women are "anonymous Christians", and need only to have their true identity disclosed to them. Nor are they already "in Christ" and simply need to be told so. No, according to the New Testament they are "dead in their trespasses and sins", "separated from Christ" and "perishing". Our Christian responsibility in the face of this terrible human condition is not to deny it but to weep over it and to take action, like the apostle Paul, "by all means to save some". Universalism, fashionable as it is today, is incompatible with the teaching of Christ and his apostles, and is a deadly enemy of evangelism. The true universalism of the Bible is the call to universal evangelism in obedience to Christ's universal commission. It is the conviction not that all men will be saved in the end, but that all men must hear the Gospel [of salvation] before the end, as Jesus said (Matt. 24: 14), in order that they may have a chance to believe and to be saved (Rom. 10 : 13-15). Confidence in the Gospel of God A major deterrent to evangelism today is the church's loss of confidence in the truth, the relevance and the power of the Gospel. But there can be no evangelism without the evangel, for evangelism is precisely the spread of the evangel. And there is such a thing as "the Gospel". Despite all the rich diversity both of its formulation in the Bible and of its necessary contextualization in modern culture, there is still only one Gospel. It remains an unchanging revelation from God. It centres on the historic Jesus who died for our sins and has been exalted as Lord. It is relevant to all men everywhere. It is God's power for salvation to all those who repent and believe (Rom. 1 : 16), and it issues in the new community which is the foretaste and first-fruits of the New Creation. Conviction about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ To claim that Jesus Christ is unique is not to say that there is no truth in other religions and ideologies. Of course there is. For we believe in God's general revelation and common grace. The Logos of God is still "the true



light" coming into the world and enlightening every man (John 1:9). All men know something of God's glory from creation and something of God's law from their own nature, as Paul argues in Romans 1 and 2. But how does his argument continue? Not that their knowledge of God saves them, but the very opposite! It condemns them because they suppress it. Indeed, "they are without excuse, for although they knew God they did not honour him as God..." It is against this dark background of the universal rebellion, guilt and judgment of mankind that the good news of Jesus Christ shines with such dazzling beauty. There is salvation in no other, for there is no other mediator between God and man but only Jesus Christ who died as a ransom for sinners (Acts 4 : 12; I Tim. 2 : 5, 6). Firmly to reject all syncretism in this way and to assert the uniqueness and finality of Jesus Christ is not "doctrinal superiority" or imperialism, as it has been called. Conviction about revealed truth is not arrogance. Its proper name is "stewardship", the humble and obedient stewardship of a church which knows it has been "put in trust with the Gospel".

A sense of urgency about evangelism How can we recover this? To begin with, I think we need if possible to agree on the vocabulary we use. With great respect to Bishop Arias I cannot accept his apparent confusion of the words "evangelism" and "mission" when he lists WCC activities and concludes "all this is mission, and it is an integral part of true evangelism in the world today". It seems to me that the "holistic approach" for which he rightly pleads concerns mission, not evangelism. Can we not agree that mission is the comprehensive word which embraces everything Christ sends his people into the world to do, including both evangelism and socio-political action? The Lausanne Covenant draws a clear distinction between evangelism and social action, as Dr M. M. Thomas rightly pointed out in his Moderator's Report on Tuesday. It draws another equally clear distinction which he did not mention, namely between salvation and political liberation, so that I fear he was over-optimistic when he spoke of "the consensus of Bangkok, Lausanne and Rome" regarding the "comprehensive nature" of salvation. I would like now to suggest one way in which to recall to the urgency of evangelism those to whom the quest for justice, love, liberation, humanization and quality of life are paramount. It is to urge that their concerns are absolutely right and also urgent, but too narrow and even too superficial. If justice means the securing of people's rights, is not one of their most fundamental rights the right to hear the Gospel?



If love seeks to serve men's highest welfare, can we leave them alone in their spiritual lostness and still claim to love them? Or take the struggle for liberation, humanization and quality of life. Is any liberation greater than freedom from guilt, selfishness and fear by Jesus Christ? Is anything more humanizing than the Gospel? As Bishop Stephen Neill has written: "The primary factor in humanization is the knowledge of God revealed in Jesus Christ. No man is fully human until he has come to know God and himself in the searchlight of Jesus Christ" (The Churchman, Vol. 89, No. 3, p. 230). And what life has supreme quality if it is not that "eternal life" which Jesus said consisted of the personal knowledge of God and of himself (John 17 : 3)? In asking these questions I am very far from urging the World Council to drop its social and political concerns. Nor am I wanting to administer a fresh dose of opium to the oppressed, in order to tranquillize them into an acquiescence in the status quo. My plea is that the World Council will be concerned with the total demands of justice and love, and with the fullness of freedom, humanization and life with which God himself is concerned. When this happens, the urgency of evangelism will have been recovered. A personal experience of Jesus Christ The Notes for Section I ask "how do we relate doctrine and experience?". It is a good question. For he who is the object of the church's faith and adoration is both the historic Christ and the contemporary Christ, and never the one without the other. I sometimes wonder if the greatest of all hindrances to evangelism today is not the poverty of our own spiritual experience. True evangelism is the spontaneous overflow of a heart full of Christ. How then can we proclaim Christ if we do not know him? How can we say to others "come and see him" if we have never found him ourselves? As William Temple put it: "It is quite futile saying to people 'go to the cross'. We must be able to say 'come to the cross'. And there are only two voices which can issue that invitation with effect. One is the voice of the sinless Redeemer, with which we cannot speak. The other is the voice of the forgiven sinner, who knows himself forgiven. That is our part". We are conscious, I think, of the wide gap of confidence and credibility which exists today between ecumenical leaders and evangelicals, between Geneva and Lausanne. What can be done about this gap? Ecumenical leaders genuinely question whether evangelicals have a heartfelt commitment of social action. We evangelicals say we have, but I personally recognize we have got to supply more evidence than we have. On the other hand, evangelicals question whether the WCC has a heartfelt commitment to world-wide evangelism. They say they have, but I beg this Assembly to supply more evidence that this is so.



The following four responses to Bishop Arias's plenary address, "That The World May Believe", were not prepared in advance but were written by Assembly participants after hearing the address.


Response to Bishop Mortimer Arias

Synod Executive, San Francisco Synod of the Pacific, United Presbyterian Church, USA Mortimer Arias makes a persuasive over-all case. We are called by God into the ecumenical movement for a reason more basic than our togetherness. The primary purpose of our ecumenical unity is to give authenticity to the evangelization of the world. Arias also offers an interesting reversal in the section of his address entitled "An Affirmation". The traditional way to categorize faith in action makes mission the major category, and then divides and distinguishes between mission or witness as verbal proclamation and mission or witness as the struggle for justice and social service. Arias, after highlighting a long list of World Council contributions ranging from programmes for migrants and refugees to the denouncement of imperialism in the Western missionary movement, calls the whole list "mission" and suggests that such mission "can be an integral part of true evangelism". This is an obvious attempt to affirm that the mandate to share personal faith in Christ is not in conflict with that love for neighbour which leads to socio-political involvement. This is an excellent address. And because, rather than in spite of, that excellence, the address succeeds in the way that almost every worthwhile presentation succeeds: In the attempt to provide answers it clarifies questions. I'll confine myself to two such questions. 1) The first question is this: Is the quest for social justice somehow instrumental to the conversion of the individual? Arias intends an emphatic "no" by making evangelism the primary category and mission the sub-category, by expressing a concern for the individual that is total and indivisible, and by claiming for evangelism the fight against oppression and injustice. But



the question remains: Note the title "That the world may believe", and note such recurrent emphases in the address as this one in the prologue, " . . . the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by word and deed, to the whole world to the end that all may believe in him and be saved'9. (Aims of CWME) The poignant encounter between Arias and the Bolivian tin miners doomed to early death because of their vocation raises the instrumental question. Arias says regarding these men that "all that was missing was the naming of the Name. And we had to recognize the fact that perhaps these people had more of Christ in them than those who spoke his name." Here are people who experience suffering without being able to identify the source of their comfort; here are those who experience a unique wholeness without knowing their deliverer by name. Is the achievement of justice that enhances and prolongs the life of these miners incomplete unless it also enables them to name the name of Jesus Christ? Or is that biblical cup of cold water in the Master's name which translates, in this context, as the fight against exploitation and for economic liberation an end in itself? And if the mandate for a just society asserts an independent claim on our Christian humanity, what does this do to the primary mandate, "that all may believe"?* Perhaps we in our pluralistic national and world societies need confidence that it is up to the Holy Spirit to move those we join in service and action to raise the question, "What must I do to be saved?" "What is your source of motivation?" and "From whom comes our deliverance?" This may sound like leave-it-to-God philosophy, but I believe it is more sound than baptizing everything we do in mission as evangelism, and thereby arousing the suspicion that our endeavours to meet human need are not what they seem on the surface. During the sixties a white minister friend of mine was crushed to death by a bulldozer in an act of civil obedience. He was protesting the erection of a new segregated school in a Cleveland ghetto. His death was an accident as the nervous driver backed over him and smashed him in the mud. In the midst of the chaos that followed a young black girl said to me "He died for us. Why did he do that?" Her question opened the door to a conversation in depth about faith. Frankly, most of the time nobody asks questions of motivation, much less faith, on the picket line. Any attempt on my part to push my relationship to Christ or my Christian world view would have been deeply resented. 2) How can you engage in dialogue with people across religious and ideological lines when your real intention, spoken or unspoken, is to bring the other person into a redemptive relationship with the Christ you know and love. The explicit goal, that all may believe, suggests just such a conversionist intention. This is a genuine issue as the World Council of Churches encourages Christian men and women to build human community in a pluralistic society through.



open dialogue with people of many and diverse persuasions. Evangelism may well be defined as D. T. Niles defines it, one beggar telling another where both may find bread. Inter-faith dialogue procedes from a slightly altered premise: Each partner has bread he or she is willing to share. This is more than a semantic problem. In his section "An Affirmation", Arias asserts that "everything that the Church does has an evangelistic dimension". I have a real problem making such an expansive definition compatible with honest inter-faith dialogue. As in the area of social justice, Arias's answer really becomes a question. Although no single word is adequate, I personally prefer the biblical term "witness" to either "evangelism" or "mission" as the all-embracing mandate of Christ to the Church, a witness which is strengthened and given authenticity by visible signs of church unity. Witness stresses the faithfulness and credibility of the one making witness rather than the response of the recipient of the witness. With that kind of understanding, the Christian can participate in the struggle for human justice without his or her neighbour assuming that the real purpose is to make a convert. The witness to the world is there, but it leaves the human response to the Holy Spirit. Then evangelism can be appropriately understood as an open testimony to the Good News of the resurrect!, living Lord, a testimony openly shared with those who are hungry and searching for the bread of life, and therefore open to the claim of Christ on their lives.


Response to Bishop Mortimer Arias



Assistant, Faculty of the Theological Academy, Warsaw Autocephalic Orthodox Church in Poland

As a layman, I can hardly judge how useful Bishop Arias's approach to evangelism might prove to be in strictly pastoral work. I am, however, involved in youth work in my church as a theologian. This experience is sufficiently similar to the pastor's work to enable me to consider Bishop Arias's statement from other than a purely theoretical point of view.


His address is one of those events in the ecumenical movement which is especially heartening for Orthodox partners. For an Orthodox believer, the comprehensive approach to the proclamation of the Gospel is of particular importance. It is a way of avoiding the one-sided horizontalist orientation which often characterizes texts emanating from the WOG Bishop Arias tries to look at the problem of proclamation in its integrity, taking into account the multiplicity of its aspects. As an Orthodox theologian, I would like to underline the importance of certain elements of Bishop Arias's approach. I value his respect for the freedom of the person addressed in the exercise of mission and his interest in linking Christianity closely to the language and culture of a given group of people. But above all, I appreciate his recognition of the unity of sign (deed) and word, and the unity of theology and life. These elements are not alien nor new to Orthodoxy. They were present in certain missionary endeavours of the Orthodox churches, for instance in the work of Saint German in Alaska and of Bishop Nicholas in Japan (both lived in the second part of the nineteenth century). From the Orthodox point of view, the proclamation of the Christian message must always respect human freedom. This conviction is well expressed in the phrase often repeated in patristic literature and in the works of modern theologians: "God cannot save us without us". Nobody can be forced to accept baptism. Pressure, including intellectual pressure, is not an acceptable means of bringing about conversion. Therefore, Orthodoxy pays less attention to "persuading" or "enlightening". The example of the life of the missionary (or pastor) is the most meaningful way of introducing Christianity into a situation. The acceptance of Christianity should be a result of spiritual growth. It is not an intellectual decision prompted by arguments, but rather an instance of perceiving a new dimension of reality. All our powers are involved in this discovery: intellect, emotions, will, etc. To respect freedom, to resist the temptation of using even the most subtle pressure does not mean to become indifferent to the duty of proclaiming the Good News. When Bishop Michail of the Russian Orthodox Church intervened in the plenary discussion of Section III repudiating the traces of syncretism in the document, his purpose was not to reject dialogue with people of other faiths as many might have thought but to stress the need for mission and to underline the unavoidability of this duty. All "religious imperialism" (Paul Evdokimov) is alien to Orthodoxy. For this very reason the Orthodox churches can always defend the purity of their faith and doctrine. It may also be worthwhile to remember that the contextual approach is familiar to the Orthodox. We have a long tradition of using local languages and means of expression proper to various cultures. This tradition is at least as old as the campaign of the holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius against the



"trilingual heresy"1 which they perceived as an oppression of the Slavic peoples in the regions where the brothers conducted their apostolic work. In more recent times, St German lived for many years in Alaska among the indigenous people, but he was not engaged in any missionary work in the conventional sense of the word. He consecrated most of his time to prayer and meditation. Only later, when the people around him began to enquire, he answered their questions and told them about Jesus and his salvation. Similarly, Bishop Nicholas worked first on the translation of the Scriptures and liturgical texts into Japanese. The Orthodox churches have given the title "theologos" to only three people: the Apostle John, Saint Gregory and Saint Simon "the New Theologian" (twelfth century). Why? Perhaps it was because they not only undertook the usual theological work of intellectual expression of the Christian message in the language and categories of their time, but also lived their theology as an act of contemplation and at the same time as a ministry to the people. The convergence of so many elements of Bishop Arias's thinking with traditional Orthodox theology is very important for me as an Orthodox believer. I hope that this will be a factor which will open the way for a more adequate understanding of Orthodox theology in ecumenical circles in the West; in this light its specificity and what is finally its greatness will be better appreciated. Orthodox listeners to Bishop Arias's address found not only his theological insights important; the examples he gave of concrete pastoral action were also very useful to them. In fact, perhaps it was the practical side of his address which was most valuable. There is a certain pastoral inertia in today's Orthodoxy. The principles formulated by Bishop Arias and the examples he gives provide a strong impulse for us too, and can be very helpful indeed, precisely because they emerge from theological premises belonging in fact to the essence of the doctrine of the Orthodox Church. The most impressive feature of Bishop Arias's speech was his forcefully expressed conviction that the proclamation of the Good News is not limited to the transmission of the content of the Gospel and of Christian doctrine, but that a loving, quiet, and respectful participation in the life of our neighbours, a readiness to help and to be involved in their everyday concerns, belongs to the very essence of proclamation.

1 The name given to the view that the liturgy could be celebrated only in the three classical biblical languages Hebrew, Greek and Latin.


Response to Bishop Mortimer Arias


Syrian Orthodox Church, India

Bishop Arias is to be congratulated for highlighting the evangelical priority of evangelism of this world in his plenary address. I hope that the following response will not be taken as a minimizing of the urgency of evangelizing the world, since I am in agreement with Bishop Arias that this world needs Jesus Christ more than anything else.

Three priorities before the church Worship, mission and unity are three equal priorities before the church and these three are inseparable. In such a view I am just applying Bishop Arias's "holistic or integral approach" to evangelism to the church itself. The vertical (worship), the horizontal (mission) and the internal (unity) dimensions of the life of the Church are of equal importance, and it is wrong to give exclusive priority to any one of these. We find in the Acts of the Apostles that the daily life of the early church included the breaking of bread (eucharistia), service (diakonia) and the preaching of the Word in unity (koinonia). The Protestant stress on the latter two was a necessary corrective to the one-sided Roman Catholic emphasis on the eucharist in the medieval period. In a reunited church there must be emphasis on all three.

Mission and evangelism Mission and evangelism are not to be separated as Bishop Arias separates them in his paper. To him "all this [WCC's various achievements] is mission and it can be an integral part of true evangelism in the world today". The bishop considers evangelism to be more inclusive than mission. There are those who identify evangelism with mission. The fact is that evangelism is only one dimension of mission. The commission of our Lord was to go and preach and teach and heal. Preaching to the soul, teaching the mind and healing the body are three parts of one mission. Evangelism is the spreading of the good news by proclamation, whereas mission is the outflow of the love of God in and through our life, word and deed. We must have evangelism as a part of the missionary task committed to us by the Lord and continued in and through the church by the Holy Spirit. Further, proclamation



is not by preaching alone, but also by the Holy Eucharist as St Paul makes it clear, "For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes." (I Cor. 11 : 26) That the world may believe . . Arias asks the question, "Unity for what?" and answers that question by declaring that the unity of the church is for the evangelization of the world. Certainly the unity of the church would be a great help in the mission of the church. But unity is not just a means but an end in itself. Our Lord's high priestly prayer was for the sanctification, unity and mission of the church. The verse quoted by Bishop Arias reads in full: "But it is not for these alone that I pray, but for those also who through their words put their faith in me, may they all be one; as thou art in me and I in Thee, so also may they be in us, that the world may believe that thou didst send me." (John 17 :20-21). Here the ultimate prayer is "that they may be one as we are one". The unity and holiness of the blessed Trinity is the model for the life of the church. The distinction does not nullify the unity nor the unity the distinction in the One Triune God. Similarly the Church of Christ should consist of Christians who are co-equal in spite of the distinctions among them. The unity we seek is a trinitarian unity. It is expressed in the profound unity of a classless church. It is such a church that the world is looking for and that will attract the world to Christ. Yet even this unity is given by the sanctifying and uniting power of the Holy Spirit whose fruit is love (agape). "That the world may believe" is the natural outcome and not the intentioned effect of unity. The lighted candle dispels the darkness as the consequence of being a light. Similarly the world believes in Jesus Christ when the Christian becomes a true Christian, and the Church the authentic body of Christ. More conversions took place in the early Church due to the radiating witness of the martyrs than to the preaching of the great preachers of those days. "That they may all be one", therefore, is a prayer complete in itself. "That the world may believe" is the outcome of the manifestation of holiness, equality and unity of the church modelled on the Holy Trinitarian structure. The weakness of many of my evangelistic friends, if I may be permitted to say so, is the "canon within the canon" of the Bible, namely, the preaching dimension which conditions all other aspects of the whole witness of the whole Bible. Bishop Arias's attempt to have a "holistic" view of evangelism is certainly to be appreciated. But I wish he would speak more about the holistic task of the church in her life, mission and unity rather than about holistic evangelism. Contextual or incarnational evangelism The most moving part of Bishop Arias's paper is the section where he speaks of contextual evangelism. The present writer, who has not identified himself



with the poor miners and labourers of India, has no right to make a critical evaluation of the laudable experiment of Bishop Arias and his evangelistic team among the Bolivian miners. I admit that the following ideal is proposed more as an incentive to kenotic (self-emptying) action than as a description of a practice already widespread among contextual evangelists of various churches. I am glad that Arias's experiment was a real school of politics. I hope he will permit me to point out that we, the affluent missionaries, have an obligation to develop a political theology without surrendering the non-political and eschatological theology. Is it enough to make an evangelistic campaign among the millions of miners whose standard of living is far below ours, either without identifying ourselves more permanently with the suffering, thus following in the footsteps of our master, or without becoming more active politically for the sake of their economic, cultural and spiritual liberation? Are we not guilty of a triumphalistic and paternalistic evangelistic methodology until we begin to practise an incarnational mission? We are all part of an exploitative, capitalistic economic system and it is high time that the churches in all countries became self-critical and admitted their guilt before the carpenter of Nazareth, on the one hand, and before the people in the "tunnels of death", on the other. Unfortunately the churches in many of our countries are on the side of the rich and the oppressors and not with the poor and the oppressed, and so our evangelism will not succeed until the structures of the church itself are changed to that of the days of Pentecost when there was not a needy person among them and no one regarded anything as his own, but shared it with the needy. I am in complete agreement with Bishop Arias when he dwells on this point under the title "Costly and Vulnerable Evangelism". But I am afraid he does not go far enough in highlighting the guilt of our churches in the vast economic and political arenas.

The 2,700 million who do not know Christ My evangelistic brothers are in the habit of numbering the lost and those who have never heard the Gospel. I feel that this is a very wrong approach biblically, theologically, psychologically and factually. Biblically, we are not permitted to judge before the time. Theologically, in the words of Arias himself, "the grace of God is not confined to the church". Psychologically, it creates a superiority complex in the mind of "the saved", and those who are approached with the Gospel see arrogance in our approach. Factually, no one knows exactly the number of those who have never heard the Gospel, nor the number of those who have heard and yet did not hear it. And did not our Lord himself say: "Not every one who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of God, but only those who do the will of my heavenly father"? (Matt 7 :21). Bishop Arias noted that there were many among the Bolivian miners of whom it might be rightly said, "All that was missing was the naming


of the name. And we had to recognize that perhaps these people had more of Christ in them than we who spoke in his name." Applying this criterion (Matt. 25 : 31-46, Rom. 2 : 25-29,1 Pet. 3 : 18-20) we must find a new motivation for mission and evangelism other than this "lostness" of the so-called "lost". As I pointed out earlier, mission must become the spontaneous expression of the joy of Christian discipleship. I had the privilege of being a participant in the Bucharest Orthodox consultation in June 1974, from the report of which Bishop Arias quotes: "The uncommunicated Gospel is a patent contradiction." We obey his last commission of our Saviour if we are his faithful disciples. We preach the Gospel to those who have never heard the Gospel because we cannot contain the sense of release from sin and the joy of salvation. Hence evangelism is the sharing of a joy freely given to us by Christ. The horror of a world without Christ In the concluding paragraph of his paper, the bishop rightly mourns the "horror of a world without Christ". There is no doubt that Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is the only saviour of the world. "To evangelize", says the Bishop, "is to help men discover the Christ hidden in them and to reveal the Gospel. All men and all human values are destined to be recapitulated in Christ." These words necessitate a correction in his previous sentence: "Just as there is a solidarity in sin, there is also a solidarity in Christ which originates in the incarnation, the cross and the resurrection." We, the Orthodox, plead with our fellow Christians in the evangelical wing to hold in balance the eternal Logos and the incarnate Christ and to move from a Christ-monism to a trinitarian theology. Humanity's solidarity with Christ does not originate in the incarnation, but in creation through the Logos. "The whole universe has been created through him and for him" (Col. 1 : 16). Hence there is no geographically marked world with or without Christ the Logos. Wherever there is goodness, love, truth, and beauty, Jesus Christ is at work as the Logos. He is God, and so is the only source of goodness wherever it is to be found. The uniqueness and the absoluteness of the incarnation is the only dependable criterion by which to measure God and man. The measure of salvation outside the church can be known only in the light of Jesus of Nazareth "in whom dwelt the fullness of Godhead bodily" (Col. 2 : 9). There is no other incarnation or perfect revelation of God. The partial salvation that the Logos effects in the world is to be perfected as full salvation in faith Christ and obedience to his word. The word and the sacraments are for the perfection of our salvation. Thus the question is not between a world with Christ and another without Christ, but between a world with imperfect knowledge of Christ as the source of light and the church with the perfect revelation of God in Jesus Christ guided clearly by the Holy Spirit as the source of abundant life.


This friendly criticism of Bishop Arias's point of view is just a call for a theologically based mission of the whole church in the whole world. Both of us agree that the call to confess Christ and proclaim his name to the ends of the earth is an urgent call. He interprets it as a "holistic" view of evangelism, whereas I see evangelism as a part of the mission of the church which in turn is a part of the trinitarian structure of the church as a community of the Holy Spirit in worship, mission and unity. There is no greater need before us than to be the true followers of the crucified and the risen Christ. "A city set on a hill cannot be hid."

Comments on the address by Bishop Mortimer Arias

Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Basle, Switzerland

Bishop Arias's address assumed almost key importance at the Fifth Assembly of the World Council of Churches, not primarily because of its quality, but because of the subject it treated. It was to be expected from the outset that the theme of evangelism would figure largely at Nairobi. For one thing, strong criticism and reservations have been voiced in recent years about the WCC's general direction on this particular point. Groups which differ widely in other respects, such as the Orthodox dignitaries and representatives of evangelical movements, were unanimous in asking whether enough attention was being given to the central concern of mission and evangelism among the Council's many activities. The Fifth Assembly could not ignore these interpellations. The talk in Nairobi itself about "an evangelical knife held at the throat of the ecumenical movement", (Target, 29/11/75), an "evangelical ultimatum" so to speak, was certainly exaggerated, but the existing questions were "in the ecumenical air" and the pressure from them was palpable. However, it was not only because of questioning and criticism from outside that the question of the relative position of evangelism in the context of ecumenical work became of such burning interest before the Assembly. It was also raised by the ecumenical agencies themselves. For example, in his address to the Synod of Bishops in Rome, Philip Potter called evangelism "the test of our ecumenical vocation", and in Nairobi itself the subject was immediately drawn



into the centre of attention by M. M. Thomas in his moderator's report. He tried to point out ecumenical bridges to other movements, especially the Synod of Bishops in Rome and the Lausanne Congress. He was clearly anxious to develop something in the nature of a common cantus firmus in the matter of evangelism in spite of differences of emphasis. John Stott promptly called his attempt "over-optimistic" and this judgement was probably not entirely wrong. It seems to me, however, that the intention of M. M. Thomas's report is clearly to be welcomed: especially in this matter, the World Council must not pursue its own individual line. Evangelism is its traditional and permanent task. Given this situation, Bishop Arias found the ecumencial ground thoroughly prepared and receptive for his presentation. The rest he did himself, giving an ecumenically fruitful and stimulating address. I want to criticize and comment positively on three particular points. 1. I found Bishop Arias's approach admirable. He tried to establish a dialectic relationship between the many different levels of the World Council's activities and the task of evangelism in the strict sense. He did not hesitate to present a catalogue of the "services" rendered by different departments of the WCC mentioning almost all of them and concluding with the statement, "All this is mission, and it can be an integral part of true evangelism in the world today". John Stott latched on to this point in his criticism, taxing Arias with apparently confusing the words "mission" (to be understood in a comprehensive sense) and real "evangelism". I do not agree with Stott in this criticism of Arias. It is based on too narrow a conception of evangelism. In fact considerations of terminology aside I would rather welcome the direction taken by Arias in this part of his address and his attempts to recognize and emphasize the witness inherent in the many different types of work done in the ecumenical movement. Arias did this in a dialectic way and was by no means dogmatic or one-sided. He did not simply christen everything undertaken in the ecumenical movement as evangelistic in itself; instead he pointed to our duty to give concrete and conscious expression to the evangelistic dimension potentially present in all ecumenical witness, service and fellowship. As far as this task is concerned, we in the ecumenical movement still owe much to our member churches and the world around us. One cannot but agree with Bishop Arias when he says, We must also admit that the WCC has not always been able to convey and make available to the churches the evangelistic potential of the impressive series of studies, priorities and projects, any more than our churches, organizations and councils have succeeded in putting to practical use the wealth of ecumenical experience... We have to admit that often the evangelistic dimension is not translated into evangelistic intention; that evangelistic potential is not actually realized ; that the implicit does not become explicit. Let us say at once that all action that claims to be evangelistic will have to name "the Name that is above all names".



But let me immediately add (certainly following the line taken by Bishop Arias) that this essential "naming of the Name" loses its force and its credibility for many people unless it is accompanied by efforts to express it in appropriate practical action as the World Council of Churches has done in a wide variety of fields of service. A dialectic relationship involves both sides. 2. Arias tried to deal adequately with this issue in his principal positive idea of "total and integrated evangelism". This key phrase made an impact in Nairobi, indeed it almost became a slogan. But Arias's concern in his address came through clearly. Evangelism involves the "naming of the Name". This is the primary and essential mission of Christians and it cannot be replaced by any other activities. Yet the "naming of the Name" must never be understood as words only, as pious talk, an exercise in religious duty. Biblically, word and sign belong inseparably together. This is why evangelism is to be conceived of as total and integral. It obliges us to revise our practice in all areas of life, including the social and political spheres. Arias illustrated this in an impressive way using the concrete example of his church's concern for the fate of its non-Christian neighbours in Bolivian tin mines. The key phrase "integral evangelism" is not, of course, a magic phrase. It does not guarantee unequivocal clarity nor rapid agreement. It can be interpreted in different ways, it can be given different emphases. This is what happened in the responses to Arias's address. In her response Madame Andriamanjato placed great emphasis on cultural and social liberation and objected that the Bishop had paid insufficient attention to this side of evangelistic wholeness especially to the issue of the liberation of women. John Stott, on the other hand, tended in the other direction in his response and warned with reference to the preparatory material for Nairobi rather than the address itself that, although the cry of the oppressed is taken very seriously there, the cry of the lost, of human beings without Christ, is scarcely heard at all. To me the programme for total and integrated evangelism is worthwhile and helpful in spite of possible ambiguities. It points back to the all-encompassing foundation on which Christian witness, for all its divergences, is based and in doing so it lays the basis for dialogue between the different trends without allowing any one of them to be consolidated into a fixed dogmatic position. On this basis, especially in the work of Section I, the alternatives of social activism or individual religiosity were almost unanimously recognized as false alternatives leading to a dead end and both to be avoided in the ecumenical movement. This is of considerable importance for future ecumenical work after Nairobi. 3. Bishop Arias's basic idea of a holistic approach to evangelism would probably have been still more fruitful and effective if he had developed it on a more solid theological basis. It is in this respect that I want to question and criticize his paper. It is striking that in his address Arias did not provide a christo-


logical basis for his programme. Section I tried to correct this omission and laid particular stress on christology, especially in the introduction to its final report and also in the final part in which Arias himself had an important hand. In his address, however, the christological basis of "total and integral evangelism" was largely absent. Arias argued in anthropological terms on the basis of the wholeness of the human person. He spoke of "man in the totality of his being, individual and social, physical and spiritual, historical and eternal". According to him, because of these anthropological considerations, evangelism cannot simply be reduced to "saving souls" nor to "a programme for service or social development". All this is true. The insistence on the wholeness of the human person corresponds to the biblical image of man. But it is too general, the contours are not well enough defined, and this lack was immediately reflected in the discussions in Nairobi. It was all too easy for people to read their own interests into such a broad concept, whatever their standpoint. This hampered the discussions as Bishop Arias himself found in Section I. It seems to me that the concept of total and integrated evangelism would be less ambiguous and more binding if its christological basis were as fully explained as the anthropological basis. This is, after all, the real theme and essential content of total evangelism: not only la condition humaine, the anthropological conception of what it means to be human, but la condition divine, God's whole action in Jesus Christ. And this is the Name which has to be named evangelistically: the name of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us in the fullness of humanity. This name is the reason why we must strive for wholeness of witness. What is involved is "the word become flesh" (John 1: 14): how could we understand evangelism as words only? It concerns "the Name above all names" (Phil. 2:9): how could we exclude certain areas of experience from the scope of the evangelical programme? Furthermore, the actual story of Jesus provides us with binding practical guidelines for integrated and total evangelism; it clarifies the content of the concept. These fundamental christological themes insistence on the word become flesh and confession of Christ as Lord are important ones in past and present ecumenical thinking, in both its Orthodox and its Protestant wings. A rich heritage of theological reflection and practical witness exists in the ecumenical movement and in individual churches. If we are to develop this promising programme for total evangelism on a convincing basis and in a convincing way in ecumenical work after Nairobi we must deliberately include this heritage in our theological reflection.

(Translated from the German by the WCC Language Service)

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