I have reported in my four previous posts on the missional-ecumenical gathering called Edinburgh 2010, held in the historic city of Edinburgh, Scotland, June 2–6. I have offered personal reflections upon this event and suggested that it was extremely important for all who long to see the kingdom of God come with power in the days ahead. One obvious reason for the importance of Edinburgh 2010 is that it brought together representatives from the great branches of historic Christianity, as well as independent church leaders and Pentecostals. This is happening more and more these days and those who share my vision for missional-ecumenism will rejoice in these evidences of the Holy Spirit’s movement among God’s people.
The conveners of Edinburgh 2010 stated, before the event took place, the following intended outcomes of their meeting. Reading these inspires me a great deal.
● Churches will be provided with an opportunity to celebrate what God has done in the growth of the Church worldwide over the past century and to prayerfully commit to God the witness of the churches in the 21st century.
● The biblical call to mission will be affirmed and articulated within our contemporary contexts with particular focus on the meaning of evangelization and relevance of Christian witness today.
● A key conversation on mission will be initiated with mission leaders from the older mission movements of the North and the new mission movements from the South and East, with dialogues held among representatives of different Christian traditions.
● Guidelines will be developed and studies published to help church and mission leaders evaluate for their own situation models of mission which are proving effective elsewhere.
● Networks will be mobilized and alliances formed so as to develop greater strategic collaboration and greater synergy in fulfilling the mission mandate.
● Based on a critical assessment of the status of the world, a new vision of God's purposes for creation in Christ and a renewed spirituality and mission ethos will be developed in the life of the churches worldwide.
● Centenary celebrations of witnessing to Christ today will be held throughout the world–with the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh, again, being the venue on 6 June 2010 for the historic celebration involving over 1000 delegates.
I believe every disciple of Christ can, or should, affirm these kinds of outcomes. I know that there are exceptions on the far left, where neo-Marxism and various radical ideologies trump real mission. I also know that there are even more exceptions, at least in my circle of acquaintances, on the far right. We would much rather fight over defining the gospel in modernistic terms that represent our particular traditions and recent historic past than seek Christ as Lord in the good news of the kingdom. We are so enamored with defining the gospel as our set of propositions that we truly believe no one else is a real Christian unless they agree with us on the check-list we have constructed.
I believe we will always have these two radical extremes so long as we are short of perfect love for Christ and one another. I do not expect that we shall overcome this short of the return of Christ at the end of this age. But I do believe we have entered a new era, an era of missional-ecumenism. In this new era we will see more and more events like Edinburgh 2010, and the forthcoming Lausanne 2010 (August), which will unite us in preaching the good news to every tribe, nation and tongue before Christ returns. This is not a pipe dream. It is the vision of Revelation 5 and it is worth my life’s investment.