Christians Challenged to Present Supreme God to Pluralist World

October 28, 2008 at 1:47 am Leave a comment

richard-howell-evangelical-fellowship-of-asia.jpgIn a world where secularism and mysticism are the new religion, the
Christian faith must always challenge rather than be challenged by
other faiths, world views and ideologies, says the head of the Asia
Evangelical Alliance.

Addressing the World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly in
Pattaya, Thailand, on Monday, the Rev. Dr. Richard Howell said that
belief in the supreme, universal and trans-cultural Triune God and an
identity rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ were evangelical
non-negotiables in an age of pluralism.

“We have but one agenda – obedience to the Triune God revealed in Jesus Christ,” said Howell.

“Our identity has to be related back to God,” he added. “Unless
we do that, we will never know who we are. Our identity comes from God
and God alone.”

During his address, Howell spoke at length on the trans-cultural nature of God.

“The Christian belief in the oneness of God implies God’s
universality, and the universality implies transcendence with respect
to any given culture,” said Howell, who also leads the Evangelical
Fellowship of India.

“Christians can never be first of all Asians, Africans, Europeans, Americans, Australians and then Christians,” he said.

The Christian identity was first and foremost connected to Christ, Howell emphasized.

Since Saturday, more than 500 evangelical Christians from over
100 nations have gathered for the World Evangelical Alliance General
Assembly in Thailand – the first Assembly in seven years.

This year’s general assembly boasts a diverse array of
organizations and denominational church bodies that include
representatives of Pentecostal World Fellowship, the Mennonite
community, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Charismatic stream,
the China Christian Council, and historic mainline Churches.

Other organizations represented at the WEA
General Assembly include Campus Crusade for Christ, Lausanne Committee
for World Evangelization, and U.S. Center for World Mission, among many
others.

During the weeklong gathering, participants will help form a
new shared vision for WEA and a 5-year roadmap to achieve the vision.
They will also be informed about some of the most pressing global
issues and the Evangelical responses to them, receive practical
training to help national alliances become more effective, and network
to build a stronger Christian body.

In his address Monday, Howell, who was appointed head of the
Evangelical Fellowship of Asia earlier this year, urged evangelicals to
follow the example of Jesus’ first disciples and leave behind the
cultural contexts they are found in.

“When disciples respond to God’s call, it necessitates a
reordering of an entire network of commitments … indeed a whole new
reordering of relationships,” he said. “Leaving is part and parcel of
Christian identity.”

And while the secular world promotes individual identity,
Howell said the Christian identity is affirmed through relationships in
the body of Christ.

“Only in Christ can people be given that new identity as sons and daughters of God the Father,” he proclaimed.

“Identity cannot be provided by relief, welfare, or development projects. Identity is provided by the Gospel,” Howell added.

In closing, the evangelical leader reminded assembly attendees
that believers choose to be salt and light of the culture they dwell
in.

“Churches in mission must seek to transform and enrich all
cultures for the glory of God thereby fulfilling their mandate to be
the salt and light of the world,” he said.

Howell concluded with a reminder to evangelicals that the
fundamental purpose of the Church is to proclaim Christ above all
others.

“The Church is called to invite people to acknowledge the
lordship of Christ personally and not privately. This requires
accepting the lordship of Christ over total life, personal as well as
social,” he exhorted.

“The lordship of Christ relates personal conversion and social
responsibility. The church is a sign and a signpost of the Kingdom of
God,” he said.

The World Evangelical Alliance, which will conclude its general
assembly Thursday, is a global network of churches in 128 nations and
more than 100 international organizations joined together to give a
worldwide identity, voice and platform to more than 420 million
evangelical Christians. The alliance is often involved in speaking on
behalf of persecuted Christians as well as social justice issues
including Darfur, poverty and other human rights issues.

Source: Christian Post

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