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The Catholic Presbyterian (1879-1883) The Quarterly Register (1886-1936) The Presbyterian Register (1937-1948) The Presbyterian World (1949-1955) The Reformed and Presbyterian World (1956-1970) Reformed World (1971- )

Volume 54, Nos 3-4, September-December 2004

Editor Odair Pedroso Mateus

Editorial: Join us in Accra! .......................................................... Earth democracy, living democracy - Vandana Shiva ............................................. Globalizations threat to human dignity and sustainability - H. Russel Botman ..................... The mission of the church in contexts of crisis - Ofelia Ortega .......................................... Dangerous undercurrents of globalization - Natalie Maxson ......................................... From the ends of the earth - C. S. Song ................................. Mission renewal in the context of globalization - Philip Wickeri ................................... Mission section plenary report - WARC .............................. Covenanting for justice: The Accra Confession - WARC ........................... Hearing the cry for life in our joy and our pain - WARC ........................... Letter from Accra: message of the WARC 2004 general council - WARC ...................... Threats and challenges to life an African womans perspective - Fulata L. Moyo .............. Threats and challenges to life: biblical perspectives - Susan E. Davies .......................
Reformed World is published quarterly by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches 150, route de Ferney, PO Box 2100-1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland

113 115 127 133 138 146 155 164 169 175 181 185 198

Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick Mr. Helis H. Barraza Daz, Rev. Dr. Henriette Hutabarat-Lebang, Rev. Dr. Gottfried W. Locher, Mrs. Marcelle Orange-Mafi, Rev. Dr. Ofelia Ortega, Rev. Prof. Lilia Rafalimanana Geneva Secretariat Rev. Dr. Setri Nyomi - General Secretary Ms. Yueh-Wen Lu - Youth Rev. Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth - Partnership of Women and Men Ms. Jet den Hollander - John Knox-WARC Mission in Unity Project Mrs. Renate Herdrich - Finances Mr. John Asling - Communications Rev. Dr. Seong-Won Park - Cooperation and Witness Rev. Dr. Odair Pedroso Mateus - Theology
President Vice-Presidents
Copyright by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Geneva. Except where otherwise stated, the writers of articles are alone responsible for the opinions expressed. No article may be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.



Join us in Accra!

No sooner had the 24th general council of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches come to the end than the WARC offices in Geneva were approached by Reformed Christians from different countries. Some had been in Accra, Ghana, where the general council was held. Others had learned about that unique worldwide Reformed gathering through different media. They were concerned with the ways in which Christians and Christian churches should best bear witness today, in the power of the Spirit, to the good news of Gods reign made uniquely manifest, especially to the poor and marginalized, in the life, ministry, struggle, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. They were interested in the ways in which WARC member churches spoke together, amidst lively debates, about todays world, Christian mission, and church renewal and unity for the sake of Gods mission and, therefore, for the sake of repentance, conversion and life in fullness within the earth community. The following pages respond to their willingness to read and reflect on the main findings, conclusions and recommendations that the general council addressed not just to an organization called WARC but first and foremost to 215 churches in 107 countries that are called to realize over and over again that the contemporary missional challenges are too big to be faced separately and in disunity. As they go through this selection of texts in the order in which they are presented, it will be somewhat like leaving the Legon University campus after coffee break, getting on yellow buses to go downtown or to the GIMPA conference hall, joining plenaries, issue groups, and sections, and praying, singing and learning from and with Reformed sisters and brothers from the whole inhabited earth.


The 24th general council met to celebrate the evangelical promise of life in fullness, to seek church renewal as a service to that promise in different difficult contexts and to discern what WARC member churches can do better by praying, living and working in fellowship rather than isolation. It therefore does not come as a surprise that its voice has echoed, sometimes in rather strong language, the Pauline call that we do not let ourselves be conformed by this world, but be instead transformed by the renewal of our minds, so that we may discern what is the will of God (Rom 12.2). The strong language sometimes used by the general council was certainly not the most consensual part of that unique gathering. However, there is little doubt that our willingness to discern the will of God today can be better served by a sense of mutual vulnerability that pushes us as Christians and churches from north and south to seek firmly to listen together, rather than alone, to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Odair Pedroso Mateus


Earth democracy, living democracy

Vandana Shiva
The economic, ecological and social crises resulting from corporate globalization are inviting us to a new way of thinking and being on this planet. A new worldview in which it is not greed but compassion that is globalized; a new consciousness in which we are not reduced to consumers of globally traded commodities, but see ourselves as planetary beings with a planetary consciousness, mindful of what our actions and our consumption cost to other humans, other species and future generations. A physicist and social activist from India, Vandana Shiva presented this paper at the keynote event of the 2004 WARC general council.

Humanity seems to be in free fall towards disaster. The unfolding destruction is militaristic, political, cultural, ecological and economic. We witness violence and war on a global scale, justified sometimes as a clash of civilizations, sometimes as a war against terror or an axis of evil. Terrorism, fundamentalism, violence and war spread like a planetary contagion. Democracy is being eroded and undermined in every society. Biodiversity, water resources and ecosystems are under assault by a predatory global economy, with no limits to its reach, its exploitation of natures wealth, or its use of violence and coercion to appropriate resources from communities.

Representative democracy loses its base in economic democracy as decisions move out of countries into the boardrooms of global corporations and into global institutions like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Politicians, robbed of the power to ensure that peoples basic needs are provided for, move to political agendas of exclusion to garner votes and stay in office. The forces unleashed by globalization are killing democracy along with peoples economic security.

Democracy emptied of economic freedom and ecological freedom

Over the past two decades, I have witnessed conflicts over development and conflicts over natural resources mutate into communal conflicts, culminating in extremism and terrorism. My book Violence of the Green Revolution was an attempt to understand the ecology of terrorism. The

The rise of terrorism, fundamentalism and police states

A new politics of hatred and intolerance is arising from growing economic insecurity and a sense of shrinking space for survival.

lessons I have drawn from the growing but diverse expressions of fundamentalism and terrorism are the following: Undemocratic economic systems that centralize control over decision-making and resources and displace people from productive employment and livelihoods create a culture of insecurity. Every policy decision is translated into the politics of we and they. We have been unjustly treated; they have gained privileges. Globalization is creating a global culture of insecurity. The destruction of resource rights and the erosion of democratic control of natural resources, the economy, and means of production undermine cultural identity. With identity no longer coming from the positive experience of being a farmer, a craftsperson, a teacher or a nurse, culture is reduced to a negative shell where one identity is in competition with the other over scarce resources that define economic and political power. Positive identities mutate into negative identities I am not the other, and annihilation and extinction of the other is necessary for my security and survival. Centralized economic systems also erode the democratic base of politics. In a democracy, the economic agenda is the political agenda. When the economic agenda is hijacked by the World Bank, the IMF or the WTO, democracy is undermined. The only cards left in the hands of politicians eager to garner votes are those of race, religion and ethnicity. The result is fundamentalism, which fills the vacuum left

by a decaying democracy. Economic globalization fuels economic insecurity, eroding cultural diversity and identity, and assaulting the political freedoms of citizens. It provides fertile ground for the cultivation of fundamentalism and terrorism. Instead of integrating people, it tears communities apart. Rejuvenating, deepening and widening democracy has become a survival imperative for the human species. Reinventing freedom in our time requires freedom from fear, freedom from violence, freedom from denial of basic needs, and freedom from nonsustainable and unethical patterns of production, trade and consumption. Instead of addressing the root causes of terrorism and fundamentalism in the growth of economic insecurity and the collapse of economic democracy by ensuring that peoples needs are met and their livelihoods protected, states across the world are making laws to shut down democracy and freedom in the name of fighting terror. The Patriot Act in the US, the Prevention of Terrorism Act in India, or the AntiTerrorism, Crime and Security Act in the UK these new laws created after Sept 11 2001 are not just laws against terrorists. They are laws against citizens democratic defence of their fundamental freedoms, which are being trampled upon by the forces of globalization. Fear and violence have come to dominate our lives. Rule through fear and violence is becoming the dominant mechanism for

governance. In another period, it would have been described as the rise of fascism, with the totalitarianism of corporate control over markets combining with the totalitarianism of militarized states, taking away from people their fundamental rights and freedoms. A great leap backwards? Globalization was projected as the next great leap of human evolution in a linear forward march from tribes to nations to global markets. Our identities and context were to move from the national to the global, just as in the earlier phase of state-driven development they were supposed to have moved from the local to the national. Deregulated commerce and corporate rule were offered as the alternative to centralized bureaucratic control under communist regimes and state-dominated economies. Markets were offered as an alternative to states for regulating our lives, not just our economies. As the globalization project has unfolded, it has exposed its bankruptcy at the philosophical, political, ecological and economic levels. The bankruptcy of the dominant world order is leading to social, political, economic and ecological nonsustainability, with economies, societies and ecosystems disintegrating and breaking down.

reducing all aspects of our lives to commodities and shrinking our identities to that of consumers in a global marketplace. Our capacities as producers, our identity as members of communities, our role as custodians of our natural and cultural heritage are all to disappear or be destroyed. Two-thirds of humanity depend on natural resources for their livelihoods and meeting basic needs. They live in an economy with land, water and biodiversity as their primary capital, their means of production, their economic security. Ecological destruction, erosion, pollution, or privatization of these vital resources translates into poverty and underdevelopment. Globalization is deepening poverty and underdevelopment by robbing the poor of their sources of livelihood in land, water and living resources. Corporate globalization is enabling corporations to steal from the poor their last resources, their seeds and biodiversity, their food and water, their land and forests. And as predatory and non-sustainable models of economic development spread worldwide, species are pushed to extinction, rivers and glaciers are disappearing, and millions are uprooted from their homes and displaced. Water is privatized, biodiversity and genetic resources are patented and land is taken over by force for industry, mines, highways and ports. The case of India Gandhi rejuvenated the concept of swaraj (self-rule) as a core

The privatization of resources

The philosophical and ethical bankruptcy of globalization stems from

element of freedom. Movements in postindependent India struggled to enshrine deep democracy in the constitution. For instance, India passed the Provisions of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, 2 recognizing the local community in tribal areas as the highest authority in matters of culture, resources, and conflict resolution. For the first time since Indias independence, village communities (gram sabhas) were granted legal acknowledgment as community entities. Village communities retained a number of powers, including the power to approve or reject development plans and programmes. Gram sabhas were also given the authority to grant land. The Extension Act accepted the traditions of the people and their cultural identity by honouring their traditional relationship with the natural resources in their homeland. As the law stated, all state legislation on the panchayats that may be made shall be in consonance with the customary law, social and religious practices and traditional management practices of community resources. Control over community resources was recognized as not only an economic necessity but a touchstone of cultural identity: Every gram sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute resolution. After the natural rights of the community to self-governance, including command over






constitution through the Extension Act, it was expected that the unfortunate confrontation between the tribal people and the state, which ironically took a new turn after independence, would cease. The Land Acquisition Act (1894) is the most dreaded and draconian relic of British rule and has been responsible for uprooting not less than 30 million people after independence, more than half of them being tribals. As a result of the Extension Act, however, consultation with the gram sabha, the assembly of the people, is now a constitutionally mandated precondition before starting land acquisition. With honourable exceptions, the rulers in India both civil servants and political executives have not taken kindly to these provisions that make the gram sabha fundamental in governance at the village level. Most of the central and state laws remain to be suitably adapted. In the case of land acquisition, since the mandate is specific, guidelines for consultation have been issued by the union government and also framed by some state governments. This democratic process was scandalously subverted in Nagarnar, Bastar District, Chhattisgarh, where the state government proposed to allow the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) to acquire land to build a steel plant.3 The four gram sabhas concerned rejected the proposal, but their dissent was converted into assent by destroying the accounts of their proceedings and preparing false records.

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, on the basis of an enquiry under Article 338 of the constitution, came to the conclusion that senior officers, including the District Collector and the Chief Executive of the NMDC, had conspired to commit criminal offences. The National Commission found that in the absence of mandatory consultation, the land acquisition was ab initio null and void, but its recommendations were not even acknowledged. Other guidelines also have not been followed. No application for environmental clearance was made before the land was acquired. An untried technology that involves the manufacture, storage and use of carbon monoxide is being used. This raises several questions about the proposed plant. The four gram sabhas scheduled a joint assembly in March 2002 to discuss the plant and invited the state and NMDC officials to dialogue with them. The officials did not respond. On the contrary, hooligans blocked all the routes to Nagarnar and hundreds of those invited, mostly women, were beaten up. National figures, like Sarvoday leader Siddraj Dhaddha, Dada Tukaram Geetacharya (a great saint), the senior journalist Manimala and I were also invited but were refused permission to attend and forced to go back. Breaking all the conventions of civil dialogue, terror was let loose on the people, forcing them to accept cheques in compensation for the land or face brutal beatings and jail. The NMDC forcibly took

possession of land on the strength of an award that was manipulated through criminal deeds. A reign of terror prevails ever since. This is just one of many examples. In Orissa, one of the poorest Indian states, the World Bank and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) are using northern taxpayers money to privatize irrigation water, which now costs 10 times more than before and is destroying agriculture, the only livelihood of the poor.4 In Delhi, a $2.5 million World Bank loan for water privatization has largely financed the consultancy fees of an international accounting firm, Price Waterhouse. The Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) is privatizing the biological and genetic commons through patents.5 We have had to struggle over years in the courts, in society, and in the corridors of power to have the patents on Neem and Basmati revoked.6

Lives and live nots

Globalization is rewriting our relationship with the earth and her species, alienating land, water and biodiversity from local communities, transforming commons into commodities to be traded freely for profit with total indifference to the ethical, ecological and economic impacts of this commodification of life. Globalization is a break from all earlier stages of human relationship with the earth and her resources. It is based on enclosure of the remaining ecological commons

biodiversity, water and air and the destruction of local economies on which peoples livelihoods and economic security depend. The transformation of commons to commodities is ensured through shifts in governance and through new property rights built into WTO trade agreements that transform peoples resources into corporate monopolies. Decision-making is taken away from communities and countries and given to global institutions. Rights move from people to corporations through increasingly centralized and unaccountable states acting on the principle of eminent domain the absolute sovereignty of the ruler. Instead of acting on the doctrine of public trust and principles of democratic accountability and subsidiarity, governments usurp power from parliaments, regional and local governments, and local communities. The TRIPs agreement was based on central governments hijacking the rights to biodiversity and knowledge from communities and assigning them as monopoly rights to corporations. The Agreement on Agriculture was based on taking decisions away from farming communities and regional governments. The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) takes decisions and ownership over water from the local and public domain to the privatized, global domain. This undemocratic process of privatization and deregulation has concentrated power and ownership, has fuelled corruption, and has led to economic

and political bankruptcy. The old polarization of haves and have nots is mutating into a new polarization of lives and live nots as the very basis and fabric of life is commodified and privatized. State sovereignty by itself is not a sufficient counterweight to corporate globalization. The reinvention of sovereignty has to be based on the reinvention of the state so that the state is made accountable to the people. Sovereignty cannot reside only in centralized state structures, nor does it disappear when the protective functions of the state with respect to its people start to wither away. The new partnership of national sovereignty needs empowered communities that assign functions to the state for their protection. Communities defending themselves always demand such duties and obligations from state structures. On the other hand, transnational corporations and international agencies promote the separation of community interests from state interests and the fragmentation and division of communities.

Earth democracy: beyond the rule of terror and greed

We need once more to feel at home on the earth and with each other. We need a new paradigm to respond to the fragmentation caused by various forms of fundamentalism. We need a new movement that allows us to move from the dominant and pervasive culture of violence, destruction and death to a culture of non-

violence, creative peace and life. That is why in India we started the Earth Democracy movement. Earth democracy embodies principles that enable us to transcend the polarization, divisions and exclusions that pit the economy against ecology, development against the environment, people against the planet, and people against one another in a new culture of hate. Earth democracy recontextualizes humans as members of the Earth family (Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam), and as members of diverse cultures in the mosaic of cultural diversity that enriches our lives. Re-embedding humans in the ecological matrix of biological and cultural diversity reopens spaces for sustainability, justice and peace by reorganizing relationships, restructuring constellations of power and revitalizing freedom and democracy. We are being ruled by terror and greed, fear and insecurity. As we face the double closure of corporate globalization and militarized police states, our challenge is to reclaim our freedoms and the freedoms of our fellow beings. The Earth Democracy movement embodies two indivisibilities and continuums. The first is the continuum of freedom for all life on earth, and for all humans, without discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion, class and species. The second is the indivisibility of justice, peace and sustainability without sustainability and just sharing of the earths bounties there is no justice, and without justice there can be no peace.

Corporate globalization ruptures these continuities. It establishes corporate rule through a policy of divide and rule, and creates competition and conflict between different species and peoples and between different aims. It transforms diversity and multiplicity into oppositional differences, by breeding fundamentalisms through spreading insecurity and then using these fundamentalisms to shift peoples focus from sustainability and justice and peace to ethnic and religious conflict and violence. Earth democracy is democracy for all life, not just humans and definitely not just humans privileged through class, race, gender and religion. Since other species do not vote, cannot lobby, and have no purchasing power in the marketplace, earth democracy creates an obligation on us as humans to take their wellbeing into account.7 This defines our human responsibility as trustees and stewards, instead of the dominant notion of mastery, control and ownership. Earth democracy privileges diversity in nature and society in form and in function. When the intrinsic worth and value of every life form and every human is recognized, biological diversity and cultural diversity flourish. Monocultures result from exclusion and dominance of species, one variety, one race, one religion. Monocultures are an indication of coercion and loss of freedom. Freedom implies diversity. Diversity signifies freedom. Earth democracy also nourishes diversity by going beyond the logic of exclusion, of

apartheid, of us and them, of either/or, of the law of the excluded middle. It is in the included middle that diversity and creativity flourish in nature and in culture. The law of the included middle also implies multifunctionality, the logic of and, instead of either/or. It transcends the false polarization of wild vs cultivated, of nature vs culture, and even the false clash of cultures. It allows for the forest farm and the farmed forest. It recognizes that biodiversity can be preserved and also support human needs. A myth promoted by the onedimensional monoculture paradigm is that biodiversity reduces yields and productivity, and monocultures increase yields and productivity. However, since yields and productivity are theoretically constructed terms, they change according to the context. Yields usually refer to production per unit area of a single crop. Planting only one crop in the entire field as a monoculture will of course increase its yield. Planting multiple crops in a mixture will have low yields of individual crops, but will have high total output of food. Earth democracy puts responsibility and duties at the core of our relationships, with rights flowing from responsibility instead of the dominant paradigm of rights without responsibility and responsibility without rights. The separation of rights and responsibility is at the root of ecological devastation and gender, class inequality. Corporations that earn profits from the chemical industry or from genetic pollution

resulting from genetically modified (GM) crops do not have to bear the burden of their pollution. The social and ecological costs are externalized and borne by others who are excluded from diecisions and from benefits. Earth democracy is based on those who pay the price having a say. This creates the need for direct or basic democracy. This implies decisions moving downwards, from global institutions and centralized governments to local communities, and implies a shift in iour interpretation of sovereignty. The global, for us, must strengthen the local andj national, not undermine it. The two tendencies that we demand of the economic system localization and alternatives need to be central to peoples politics. Without them, forces for change cannot be mobilized. At the heart of building alternatives and localizing economic and political systems is the recovery of the commons and the reclaiming of community. The Living Democracy movement is reclaiming peoples sovereignty and community rights to natural resources. Rights to natural resources are natural rights. They are not given by states, nor can they be extinguished by states, the WTO, or by corporations, even though under globalization, attempts are being made to alienate peoples rights to vital resources of land water and biodiversity. This shift is also an ecological imperative. As members of the earth family Vasudhaiva

Kutumbhakam8 we have a share in the earths resources. Rights to natural resources for needs of sustenance are natural rights. They are not given or assigned. They are recognized or they are ignored. The eminent domain principle inevitably leads to all for some corporate monopolies over biodiversity through patents, corporate monopolies on water through privatization and corporate monopolies over food through free trade. The most basic right we have as a species is survival, the right to life. Survival requires guaranteed access to resources. Commons provide that guarantee. Privatization and enclosures destroy it. Localization is necessary for recovery of the commons. And earth democracy is the movement to relocate our minds, our production systems and consumption patterns from the poverty-creating global markets to the sustainability and sharing of the earth community. This shift from global markets to earth citizenship is a shift of focus from globalization to localization of power from corporations to citizens. Earth democracy is about life, and natural rights to the conditions of staying alive. It is everyday life and decisions and freedoms related to everyday living the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the water we drink. It is not just about elections and casting votes once in three or four or five years. It is a permanently vibrant democracy. It combines economic democracy with political democracy and ecological democracy. It creates positive

economies, positive politics, positive identities. It creates security. Earth democracy is not dead, it is alive. Under globalization, democracy even of the shallow representative kind is dying. Governments everywhere are betraying the mandates that brought them to power. They are centralizing authority and power, both by subverting democratic structures of constitutions and by promulgating ordinances that stifle civil liberties. The Sept 11 tragedy has become a convenient excuse for anti-people legislation worldwide. Politicians everywhere are turning to xenophobic and fundamentalist agendas to get votes in a period when economic agendas have been taken away from national levels and are being set by the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO and global corporations. The earth democracy movement is about living rather than dead democracy. Democracy is dead when governments no longer reflect the will of the people but are reduced to unaccountable instruments of corporate rule under the constellation of corporate globalization as the Enron and Chiquita cases make so evident. Corporate globalization is centred on corporate profits. Earth democracy is based on maintaining life on earth and freedom for all species and people. Corporate globalization operates to create rules for the global, national and local markets that privilege global corporations and threaten diverse species, the livelihoods of the poor and small, local producers and

businesses. Earth democracy operates according to the ecological laws of nature, and limits commercial activity to prevent harm to other species and to people. Corporate globalization is exercised through centralizing, destructive power. Earth democracy is exercised through decentralized coexistence. power and peaceful

other people, or treat them with cruelty and violence. 2. Intrinsic worth of all species and peoples All species, humans and cultures have intrinsic worth. They are subjects, not objects of manipulation or ownership. No humans have the right to own other species, other people or the knowledge of other cultures through patents and other intellectual property rights. 3. Diversity in nature and culture Defending biological and cultural diversity is a duty of all people. Diversity is an end in itself, a value, a source of richness both material and cultural. 4. Natural rights to sustenance All members of the earth community, including all humans, have the right to sustenance to food and water, to safe and clean habitat, to security of ecological space. These rights are natural rights, they are birthrights given by the fact of existence on earth and are best protected through community rights and commons. They are not given by states or corporations, nor can they be extinguished by state or corporate action. No state or corporation has the right to erode or undermine these natural rights or enclose the commons that sustain all through privatization or monopoly control. 5. Earth democracy and living economy Economic systems in earth democracy protect ecosystems and their integrity, they protect peoples livelihoods and provide basic needs to all. In the earth economy there are no disposable or dispensable species or people. The earth

Corporate globalization globalizes greed and consumerism. Living democracy globalizes compassion, caring and sharing. The economic, ecological and social crises resulting from corporate globalization are inviting us to a new way of thinking and being on this planet. A new worldview in which it is not greed but compassion that is globalized; a new consciousness in which we are not reduced to consumers of globally traded commodities, but see ourselves as planetary beings with a planetary consciousness, mindful of what our actions and our consumption cost other humans, other species and future generations. Earth democracy offers a new way of seeing and being earth citizens, through which we can create peace, sustainability and justice in our volatile and violent times.

Earth democracy: principles

1. Ecological democracy We are all members of the earth community. We all have the duty to protect the rights and welfare of all species and all people. No humans have the right to encroach on the ecological space of other species and

economy is a living economy. It is based on sustainable, diverse, pluralistic systems that protect nature and people, are chosen by people, for the benefit of the common good. 6. Living economies are built on local economies Conservation of the earths resources and creation of sustainable and satisfying livelihoods are most caringly, creatively, efficiently and equitably achieved at the local level. Localization of economies is a social and ecological imperative. Only goods and services that cannot be produced locally, using local resources and local knowledge, should be produced non-locally and traded long distances. Earth democracy is based on vibrant, resilient local economies that support national and global economies. The global economy does not crush and destroy local economies. 7. Living democracy Earth democracy is based on local living democracy with local communities, organized on principles of inclusion and diversity and ecological and social responsibility, having the highest authority on decisions related to the environment and natural resources and to the sustenance and livelihoods of people. Authority is delegated to more distant levels of governance on the principle of subsidiarity.

Earth democracy is living democracy. 8. Living knowledge Earth democracy is based on earth-centred and communitycentred knowledge systems. Living knowledge is knowledge that maintains and renews living processes and contributes to the health of the planet and people. It is also living knowledge in that it is embedded in nature and society. It is not abstract, reductionist and anti-life. Living knowledge is a commons: it belongs collectively to communities that create it and keep it alive. All humans have a duty to share knowledge. No person or corporation has a right to enclose, monopolize, patent, or exclusively own as intellectual property, living knowledge. 9. Balancing rights with responsibility In earth democracy, rights are derived from and balanced with responsibility. Those who bear the consequences of decisions and actions are the decision-makers. 10. Globalizing peace, care and compassion Earth democracy connects people in circles of care, cooperation and compassion instead of dividing them through competition and conflict. Earth democracy globalizes compassion, not greed, and peace, not war.


1 Vandana Shiva, Violence of the Green Revolution: Third world agriculture, ecology and politics (London/New York/Penang: Zed Books/Third World Network, 1991). 2 Henceforth, the Extension Act. A panchayat is an elected body representing one or several villages. A gram sabha is the general assembly of the village, composed of all the adult residents. The Constitution (Seventy-third Amend- ment) Act, 1992, set up a three-tier structure of panchayats at village, intermediate and district levels, with gram sabhas at the village level; the 1996 act extended these provisions to the tribal areas of states such as Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh (Schedule V areas). [Ed] 3 Formerly part of Madhya Pradesh state, Chhattisgarh became a separate state on November 1 2000. 4 See further on this subject, Vandana Shiva,

Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution and Profit (London: Pluto Press, 2002). 5 The WTOs Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, negotiated in the 1986-94 Uruguay Round, introduced intellectual property rules into the multilateral trading system for the first time. See Vandana Shiva, Patents: Myths and reality (New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2001), republished as Protect or Plunder? Understanding intellectual property rights (London: Zed Books, 2001). 6 See further, Vandana Shiva, Stolen Harvest: The hijacking of the global food supply (Cambridge MA: South End Press, 1999; London: Zed Books, 2000). 7 As His Holiness the Dalai Lama said on his 60th birthday, All beings have a right to wellbeing and happiness. We have a duty to ensure their wellbeing. 8 The whole world is one family.


Globalizations threat to human dignity and sustainability

H. Russel Botman
In his response to Vandana Shivas Earth democracy, living democracy, Russel Botman contends that the notions of oikos (household) and covenant are fundamental to theological reflection in the context of globalization. The term household reminds us that history is bound up with community, webs of relationships, belonging and life together. Covenant calls for a universalist interpretation of Gods initiatives in human dignity, while it also connects human beings to one another, humanity to creation and current generations to future generations. The author is vice-rector of the University of Stellenbosch and president of the South African Council of Churches.

Among the many approaches to and thought forms engaging the idea of economic globalization, a number of scholars use risk thought in their analysis. Globalization presents consequential risks to society, the ecology, community and the very being of humans. These scholars all use different metaphors to express the particularity of their risk-understanding. Anthony Giddens and Will Hutton,1 Malcolm Waters, 2 Zygmunt Bauman, 3 and Ulrich Beck 4 view the reorganization of risk to humanity and the ecology as central to any understanding of economic globalization. Ulrich Beck, the German sociologist, can be regarded as the foremost exponent of this risk thought, since he places risk at the centre of his analysis of contemporary social change. The risks are constituted by the side-effects of economic globalization, eg, medical, social and ecological side-effects

that come with the increase of wealth. The side-effects constitute risks and are also unevenly distributed in the world. It is not the hazards that are novel but their social constitution and distribution. Ulrich Beck claims that human beings now are forced to live risk biographies as a result of widespread fragmentation. Ones life becomes that of a nomad by virtue of ones existence in this age. One is forced to live in a certain polygamy of place in the networked reality of globalization. Among the risk-thought scholars, Zygmunt Bauman has given most direct thought to the human consequences of economic globalization. Bauman, a political sociologist and emeritus professor of sociology at the Universities of Leeds and Warsaw, has done extensive research into the human consequences of economic globalization.5 He sees a deconstruction of

politics in the realities of economic globalization. He argues that economic globalization is geared towards the tourists dreams and desires rather than those of the poorest locals. He also argues that the rich, the great and the famous people of a society no longer aspire to pastoral power, ie, they no longer see themselves as shepherds of their flocks or their people. These three arguments impact on the way in which governments are positioned to act in the context of globalization in meeting their social responsibilities. In the classical phase of modernity, he argues, legislation was the principal tool for setting the social agenda of a nation. Legislation restricted unbridled choice by allowing legislators to exercise the first and primary choice on behalf of the collective and in relation to the responsibilities established in the constitution. Only after legislation could individuals exercise their choices. In the interest of the human being and social needs, lawmakers could reduce the range of choices open to individuals, by making laws that would provide incentives for the restoration of human dignity or disincentives for actions that could hamper such a development. The legislators also had a second principal tool to set the code of choosing education. Education provided codes of conduct and also established values that would guide the exercise of choice. Education was meant to teach us the distinction between the right reasons for according preference and the wrong ones. Education would form in human beings the

ethical inclination to follow good impulses and resist the wrong reasons for choosing. However, says Bauman, political institutions everywhere are currently abandoning or trimming down their role in agenda- and code-setting. This means that these two principal functions of political institutions are now being ceded to nonpolitical structures and forces, namely those of the market.

The oikos: biblical context of life

I have argued elsewhere that the crucial theological discourse in the context of economic globalization is the oikos discourse.6 The term economy derives from the Greek oikos-nomos (the regulation of the oikos). Economics (oikonomia) is essentially the interest in the nomos (the administration) of the oikos. Is it perhaps possible that we are facing a single-minded interest in the nomos that has the capacity to threaten the very wellbeing of the oikos or even, perhaps, the sustained existence of the oikos as we understand it? The term oikos, in any of its constructs, focuses attention on the worldwide household of God. As a theological metaphor, oikos supersedes the narrow vision that sees history as the central category of interpretation. It reminds us that history is bound up with community, webs of relationships, belonging and life together. The oikos is a God-given space for living. It enables relationship, evokes neighbourliness and living for the other rather than for mere greed and self-interest. It has an

ecological structure that displays boundary and openness, independence and relationship, the familiar and the alien and rest and movement. The Hebrew Bible is underpinned by the notion of the oikos. It is given in creation and unfolds in Israel as the oikos of God. Gods house rules are given to all humanity and also, in a special way, to Israel. The aim is to sustain their relationships and their humanity within the household. Above all else, the house rules are meant to protect the humanity and the livelihood of the weakest and poorest in the oikos. For this reason Sabbath becomes an important notion in the oikos. It refers to the restored order of the household of the whole creation, which permits all creatures to live and dwell in peace. God covenants with Israel, thus becoming the guarantor of the ordinances and life of the household. This is the meaning of the promise that God dwells in Israel (Ex 25.8) or that Israel is Gods house (Hos 8.1, Jer 12.7). The New Testament equally breathes the centrality of the keyword. It opens with the claim that in Jesus Christ, God dwells among the people. Where the Spirit is present the group becomes a household. This keyword also opens up a new status for the children of God: from being slaves to being free persons, sons and daughters. They eat a common meal in the oikos. They pray together for that common meal. The first church is depicted as a household of life, sharing and cooperation.

Again, the weakest, the exploited, and the poorest are preciously protected within the household. And they all say: Abba! Father!

Covenant: divine initiative and dignity

I would like to propose that the theological construct God-covenanthumanity is a working model (not alien to Reformed faith!) for integrating the discourses of equality (covenant and creation), reconciliation (covenant and recreation) and oikos (covenant and life) in discerning the dignity of humanity and the related integrity of creation in the context of economic globalization. It is true that recent attempts to revitalize the notion of covenant in the context of human dignity, justice and the integrity of creation have been abortive. The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) programme of the World Council of Churches has been botched. Whilst reclaiming covenant as its theological centre, JPIC failed to rise to the theological and historical challenges of its time. The reason for this was not the option for covenant, but the failure of theologians and church leaders to deal with the integrative dimension of covenant. Ecumenically the failure is a result of an inability to overcome the historical and theo-nationalistic conflict in the interpretations of the notion. Covenant calls for a universalist interpretation of Gods initiatives in

human dignity, while it also connects human beings to one another, humanity to creation and current generations to future generations. A historical investigation into the rise and fall of covenant as a consistent theological notion shows that attempts often divided into a stream focusing primarily on the one-sided or unilateral disposal by God over humanity and a second stream based primarily on the dual-relational meaning of the notion. The former helps us overcome the idea of a competition between God and humanity by giving priority to Gods initiative, while the latter emphasizes the co-workership, the cooperation, between two or more covenantal partners. A critical engagement of the notion covenant as a basic notion or referential category for faith must overcome the divide between those who see the covenant as something to be cut between two equal, this-worldly partners and others who regard it as Gods initiative and gift, which can only be received in grace. Covenant is both a noun and a verb. It deals with who we are and with how we act. The Bible is specifically alert when vulnerable life is at stake. It is precisely from here that the idea of God as the God of the helpless evolved. This is how we came to know God as the father of the orphans, the friend of the foreigner, and the God of the widow. When we speak of life in relation to global economic realities, we should focus on the status of vulnerable life in the system.

It is crucial that we tighten the focus on life in theological language to its authentic postcreational foundation, namely vulnerable life. From a creational point of view, especially before the introduction of sin in human history, one can extrapolate all kinds of abstract and universal speculations about life and present them in a Universal Bill of Rights. The immediacy of the relationship between God and humanity is nowhere more profoundly expressed than in the idea of the covenant. Covenant is the referential category of human dignity that sustains anthropology theologically throughout the Bible. In Gods covenant, humanity and the earth are embraced and addressed by the promises of a loving God. In the connection covenant-creation we learn that humanity is created for relationship with God. Every human being shares that relationship equally with other members of humankind. When that relationship is intact, humanitys existential interactions, contracts, treaties and communities are authentic. Human beings now represent God in the care of covenantal living in creation and the economy. Within the notion of covenant, theological discussion can supersede traditional theological loci by rooting its economic and political critique for human dignity in a more biblical and progressive theological hermeneutic. Covenantal-acts and covenanting-beings manifest the integration of the discourses of equality (covenant and creation), reconciliation

(covenant and re-creation), oikos (covenant and life).

general council (Ottawa 1982). However, such occurrences do not exhaust the possibilities of confession. 5. Given that faith in the covenant of God with humanity and the earth represents the framework of the biblical witness and the critical base of Reformed faith, WARC cannot avoid the question: Is the integrity of the oikos and the covenant of God with the earth and humanity at stake in the current reality or praxis of economic globalization? 6. Covenant remains an important hermeneutical and referential category for re-imaging human dignity and the integrity of creation. Human beings do not only enter into covenants with one another, they are covenants and they live in covenant with the earth and each other. Covenant is not only an anthropological reflection of their acts, but also a confessional reflection of their being in the oikos. As a confessional notion, covenant requires institutions within the context of the oikos. These institutions are called covenants. They express the ways and forms in which humans contract among each other within the framework of the oikos in the interests of the latters integrity and the worth of its inhabitants (read: living organisms), as well as its sustainability. If the answer to the central question whether the sustainability of the oikos can be faithfully maintained within the context of the current economic globalization is No, then our faith in the divine gift and task in sustained

The following conclusions can now be drawn from an integrated theological model for the discussions at this 24th general council. 1. No doubt, economic globalization brings risks of great ethical importance. The risks impact the integrity of creation and the dignity of humanity. 2. The critical question whether Christians are faced with a matter of faith in the context of economic globalization turns on whether a matter presenting itself as merely ethical can be judged in the light of faith. Is it possible to treat an ethical issue as a matter of confession? We have at least two examples of such confessions: Barmen and Belhar. 3. This raises the further question whether a confession requires a doctrinal deviation or a false doctrine of a church to occur, before it can be made. Other examples of confession in the world indicate that the critical question is whether such a confession gives expression to the faith that lives in the heart of the people (Barths idea of faith that exists on the street). 4. Yes, there are confessions that occur as a result of the declaration of a status confessionis and as such originate from a charge of heresy relating to such a doctrine of a church. This was the experience of the Alliance at the 21st

covenantal relationships within the oikos is at stake. Then the Christian community is compelled to confess its faith in unity, so that the world will come to know our faith in the God of the covenant (John 17). What is at stake is the Christian faith or affirmation that God who created this world in covenantal relationships,

continues to sustain it and its living organisms. I would like to suggest that the fourth article7 in the Confession of Belhar is an adequate although not sufficient basis to develop a confession in the face of the covenantal risks endemic to economic globalization.

Will Hutton and Anthony Giddens, eds, On the Edge: Living with global capitalism (London: Jonathan Cape, 2000). 2 Malcolm Waters, Globalization (London: Routledge, 1996). 3 Zygmunt Bauman, Globalization: The human consequences (New York: Columbia University, 1998). 4 Ulrich Beck, Risk Society (London: Sage, 1992). 5 Zygmunt Bauman, Community: Seeking safety in an insecure world (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), and also his Globalization: The human consequences (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998). His political argument is exposed in Baumans book In Search of Politics (California: Stanford University Press, 1999), pp.58-108. 6 See my paper The Oikos in a Global Economic Era: A South African comment in James R. Cochrane and Bastienne Klein, eds, Sameness and Difference: Problems and potentials in South African civil society, South African Philosophical Studies, I (Washington: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 2000), pp.269-279. 7 We believe that God has revealed himself as the one who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among men; that in a world full of injustice and enmity he is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and

the wronged and that he calls his church to follow him in this; that he brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry; that he frees the prisoner and restores sight to the blind; that he supports the downtrodden, protects the stranger, helps orphans and widows and blocks the path of the ungodly; that for him pure and undefiled religion is to visit the orphans and the widows in their suffering; that he wishes to teach his people to do what is good and to seek the right; that the church must therefore stand by people in any form of suffering and need, which implies, among other things, that the church must witness against and strive against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream; that the church as the possession of God must stand where he stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged; that in following Christ the church must witness against all the powerful and privileged who selfishly seek their own interests and thus control and harm others. Therefore, we reject any ideology which would legitimate forms of injustice and any doctrine which is unwilling to resist such an ideology in the name of the gospel.


The mission of the church in contexts of crisis

Ofelia Ortega
In her response to Vandana Shivas Earth democracy, living democracy, Ofelia Ortega holds that our missionary activity takes place in a historic setting of displacement, despair and crisis, where poverty, war, unemployment, the destruction of nature, and exclusion are constant. Our mission is to go on opening niches or paths through which we can break with the absolute imperial powers that use violence and war to achieve their purposes Rev. Ortega was the President of the Seminario Teolgico de Matanzas, Cuba. She is one of the newly elected WARC vice-presidents.

The System: With one hand they steal what the other hand lends Its victims: The more they earn, the more they owe The more they receive, the less they have The more they sell, the less they get paid Eduardo Galeano

As Dr. Vandana Shiva establishes, it is clear that our missionary activity takes place in a historic setting of displacement, despair and crisis, where poverty, war, unemployment, the destruction of nature, and exclusion are constant, and common to all contexts. That reality is expressed in the document Together in Mission in very concrete descriptions from the WARC consultations in Yaound, Cameroon; Bali, Indonesia; Georgetown, Guyana; So Paulo, Brazil; Beirut, Middle East; and several documents from European consultations.

The consultations clearly affirmed that: People and life are the pivot of mission. Life in fullness should be a focus of mission in the face of neoliberal economic globalization. Mission should be an invitation to life. Healing and the restoration of the whole of life (including creation) is the concrete mission task today. Effective mission means

understanding the gospel in a holistic manner and rejecting a dichotomy between gospel and culture. Missiological thinking and practice in

the 21st century must take the interfaith dimension seriously. Recognition and integration of women in mission. Mutual learning for the renewal of mission. The lived missiology of Reformed churches in Europe is deeply marked by the present and future challenge of secularization. We need a fresh understanding and engagement in mission (new study on mission by the Alliance, 2002).

theological biblical emphases, our opposition to any idolatry or absolutism of the market. The messianic demands of the market and consumer lifestyles are in conflict with the Christian confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. We should not allow ourselves to be intimidated by economic globalization and cultural imperialism, but we should confront the centres of power with the power of the gospel. The invitation is to open spaces in front of the closed character of the globalized world. We have to perceive specific strategic questions that allow us to confront the totalitarian elements of the systems of dominance. Our mission is to go on opening niches or paths through which we can break with the absolute imperial powers that use violence and war to achieve their purposes of totalitarian and excluding interference. As Walter Brueggemann affirms: We have to be capable of organizing areas of life apart from, or in contrast with, the threat of totalitarianism. In its most extreme version, the mission of the church could be to withdraw recognition from the institutional forms of the empire and create alternative institutions of economic cooperation, education and health care, art and the media, in order to cultivate a human environment that is not subjected to the imperial domain.1

I. A vision of faith for economic justice

We are called to use all the small opportunities inside our political and social systems to live out examples of alternatives. Strategically, the key is to say No where everyone says Yes. Daniel 3 tells the story of three Jewish men who refused to bow before the golden statue that was the incarnation of absolute, political, economic and ideological power. The resistance of the apocalyptic literature feeds on the hope that the kingdom of God, with a human face, will conquer the empires with bestial faces (Daniel 2-7). So, we have to strive more and more to examine the meaning of the gospel and its values vis--vis the destructive forces of globalization and the market. The Christian demands related to Gods sovereignty are opposed to the totalitarian pretensions of the market economy. Without any fear we declare, from our

II. Mission and agape

Dr. Aruna Gnanadason calls our attention to the need to move our theological reflection to the concept of earth community and earth ethics based

on the wisdom of the oikos (habitat earth) and the oikumene (the whole inhabited earth) as the basis for ensuring that life continues. She also challenges us by calling our churches to refuse a reformist approach to change: We have little choice we are destroying the earth at an unprecedented pace. A reformist approach which would lobby for legal changes and for a change of heart will just be too late. Scientists from the US, and from other parts of the world have constantly warned against the dangers we pose not just to future generations but to ourselves and more importantly to the poor of the world. A reformist approach refuses to acknowledge this urgency, nor does it respect the fact that reform cannot legitimize wasteful lifestyles or consumerism often this is the basis. So as to not disrupt our arrogant abuse of the resources of the earth we seek reforms.2 A new vision is needed that is demanding from us Alternative Globalization Addressing People and Earth to ensure the full participation of all people and all communities especially those marginalized by poverty and disempowerment in the economic, social and political decisions which affect them. The aim of economic life should be not to impose on everyone a onesize-fits-all model, but to nurture sustainable, just, and participatory communities. The same affirmations are stated by Ivone Gebara: Mission in the 21st century is the common responsibility of persons and groups all over the world in order to help our life to grow in an honest way, to care

for the life of the planet, to put an end to weapons and destructive industries. Mission is looking to the wellbeing of actual faces, is trying to keep hope and love alive as values that sustain our daily life. Mission is to make flesh our relatedness and our interconnectedness by actions that can be seen in our lives This challenge needs different behaviours and different institutions to meet it using new references and new models of organization. In the worldwide forum we called out that we believe that another world is possible. If it is true, this belief needs to be cherished and strengthened. Each one needs to do her/ his part.3

III. Ethics of common welfare

To try to find alternatives, possibilities for transformation and change, we need to acknowledge that every practical proposal regarding alternative institutions and actions is to be checked and judged by whether it is de facto useful to real life and whether anyone was excluded from the process of devising it or would not benefit from the consequences.4 The call is to practise the ethics of the common good.5 This ethical approach is a call to resist and confront the system that questions this ethics approach; we need to intervene in this system and transform it. Our strength is found in resistance, questioning, intervention and transformation. The ethics of the common good makes us repeat together with Jesus: I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (Jn 10.10).

Concluding remarks
We have been unfolding some convictions that could guide our deep searching for alternatives: That the world church, in each and all of its parts, faces a new context for ministry and a new opportunity for mission, a context marked by a despair that is shared as much by the haves in the northern hemisphere as the have-nots in the southern hemisphere, even if this lack of hope marks and assails different communities in their different circumstances in very different ways. That this new situation of despair, with deep roots in a spiritual crisis, shows itself economically, politically, and militarily in the new globalization of wealth that allows an immense concentration of power and wealth and correlatively, immense deficiencies and privations. That the old patterns of European and, more recently, USA domination in the state, the economy and the church play an important role everywhere in defining and distinguishing the diverse and yet common contexts of despair in all the worlds regions. That the old notions of mission are deeply saturated with ideologies of domination, so that we may sense a congruity between the oldest triumphalist notions of mission and the newest modalities of globalization, both of which call for repentance and emancipation. That the church cannot practise hope as an evangelical antidote to despair in a triumphalist manner, but needs a sense of

vulnerability, informed by the truth of the cross, as one of its ecclesial marks. That pluralism (with its narratives of hope) strips the church of inherently triumphalist claims; rather, the church is entrusted with a special disposition to serve as an alliance in hope with other believers and with those of goodwill who live on the margin of the believing community. That the church, with the important benefits and lamentable distortions of Christendom, must in future practise its mission of telling inside and enacting outside with a due sense of humility. That humility is rooted in an awareness that distinguishes between its own mission as a gift of God and the mission that takes place not only in and through the churchs mission but also before, outside and alongside the churchs best obedience, and even against the church itself when it is disobedient.6 In a letter to all the member churches of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches its general secretary, Dr. Setri Nyomi, encourages us to work together as a community of Reformed and United churches. In Cuba, we held an encounter about the challenges of mission for the 21st century and in that consultation we agreed with Dr. Nyomi when we affirmed that the challenges for mission are so huge that we cannot assume them alone. And we are not only talking about economic resources. We need to clarify theologically the missionary projects of our different contexts, striving

for a continuing dialogue of love and mutual interchange that will enable us to obtain

the full and abundant life in the manner of Christ.

1 W. Brueggemann, (ed) 2001: Convocados a la Esperanza, Departamento de Comunicaciones del Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias, Quito, Ecuador, p.181. 2 Aruna Gnanadason, Sustainable Earth and Earth Community: An Ecumenical Response, paper presented in the Agape workshop, Alternative Globalization Addressing Peoples and Earth, June 21-24 2004, p.15. 3 Ivone Gebara, paper presented in a consultation organized by the Mission and Evangelism Programme of the WCC, March 2004. 4 Ulrich Duchrow and Franz J. Hinkelammert, Property for People, not for Profit: Alternatives to the Global Tyranny of Capital, World Council of Churches Publications, Geneva, 2004, p.161. 5 See the book of Franz J. Hinkelammert and Henry M. Mora, Coordinacin Social del Trabajo, Mercado y Reproduccin de la Vida Humana, DEI, San Jos, Costa Rica, 2001, pp.329-331. 6 See the book Hope for the World: Mission in a Global Context, ed Walter Brueggemann, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Leiden, 2001.


Dangerous Undercurrentes of Globalization

Natalie Maxson

I have been threatened by police and kicked out of shopping malls writes Natalie Maxson, for singing anti-consumerism songs to the tune of Christmas carols to educate shoppers about our gluttony in the West and the exploitation we rely on to have cheap consumer products in the name of free trade. In her response to Vandana Shivas Earth democracy, living democracy, Maxson argues that some political ideologies that shape globalization as we know it are rooted in a specifically Protestant Christian tradition, namely Muscular Christianity, a 19th century British movement that continues to be relevant in North America. It takes hold in our state institutions today with a new character and new fervour. Maxson, from Canada, is the newly appointed World Council of Churches Youth Secretary.

Dont let anyone look down on you because you are young but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Tim 4.12)

You cannot serve both God and money. (Mt 6.24)

Who benefits from current trends in globalization that cripple the worlds most vulnerable people, beings and ecosystems? Who gains? Once we begin to address this question and scrutinize the power dynamics in globalization today, its oppressive patterns will be uncovered. I want to encourage all of us to examine our role in reversing these oppressive political trends. We need to distinguish between a corporate globalization that leads to multinational corporate control of the global economy and a democratic

globalization that can foster the spread of human rights, social justice and cooperation, tilting the balance of power in favour of poor communities. To pick up on Vandana Shivas call for an Earth Democracy: we must think of what democratic decision-making and governance means to us as churches and as followers of Jesus. One of the most dangerous features of contemporary globalization is the way in which the major powers claim to be spreading democracy around the world. This project is not only ethnocentric but works under the banner of democracy as a justification for war (the war on

terrorism) and a means for the powerful to control resources like oil in various regions. Democracy provides a facade for rampant capitalism and a nation-state system that operates with seeming legitimacy while quashing dissent. The worlds powers (the United States in coordination with other powerful states and elites in poorer countries) form an empire with an intricate logic, a tightly knit web of allied western powers, and an agenda to maintain its economic, military and political power. I believe that the current world order cannot last. If the earths people do not change the current destructive trends of globalization then the earth will not be able to sustain us any longer. The world is unstable so long as our governments bomb their way to peace peace in a limited definition, as absence of terrorism. The nation-state system is unstable so long as people are stripped of their rights to participate, speak out, dissent and have their voices matter. We must trace oppressive political systems to their source. We must also look to the ideological thrust behind globalization in its current forms and its roots in Christian thought. Some of the political ideologies that shape globalization as we know it are rooted in a specifically Protestant Christian tradition. The movement called muscular Christianity or Christian manliness can help us understand one of the dominant themes in a competitive and often cruel globalization. Muscular Christianity can also

help us scrutinize the churches own complicity in colonization, theories that justify wars, and nation-state ideology.

Muscular Christianity
Christian manliness started in Britain as a movement heavily rooted in literature and culture in the mid-to-late 19th century and the early 20th century. During the Victorian era, Britain went through many domestic changes due to industrialization, scientific discoveries, class polarization, colonization in exotic areas of the world, and social upheaval and strife as women campaigned for greater equity and rights.1 Christian manliness was promoted by authors like Thomas Hughes and Charles Kingsley who saw these social shifts as threatening to British identity. Both authors had ties with people in positions of power (elites in society, government, royalty and business). In the eyes of many who enjoyed privilege in British society (white upper- and middle-class Christian men), British identity became increasingly unstable and selfconscious in its exposure to other cultures and ways of life, in addition to the domestic changes already mentioned. England discovers its essential self through an interdependent relationship with the Other. 2 Other literary theorists and historians point to Protestant movements away from a Catholic tradition they demonized as idolatrous, queer and nonwhite.3 Authors like Hughes and Kingsley shared with others a fear that Britain was becoming too effeminate.4 This insecurity

threatened Britains manhood and imperial domination. The project of Christian manliness had to do with building a strong identity based on rationality, religious morality and legitimacy. Colonization was justified in the name of spreading this manly creed to effeminate areas of the world that would benefit from Britains manly rule. British rule satisfied a lust for British manliness by expanding the nation-states political and economic authority and power. Muscular Christianity fortified notions about manliness by placing Jesus as a strong manly figure (prince of peace and war) and God as a sovereign king. 5 This view of Christianity attempted to free Jesus from effeminization and to contest interpretations of Jesus as vulnerable healer, enraged social outcast, passionate rule breaker, and mystical Jewish prophet. Britains social climate of white supremacy, racism and imperialism was saturated in hegemonic masculinity. Jesus needed to become a symbol that would fit into this script and serve as a rallying force for middle-class men (and their families) to further Britains imperial adventure while maintaining their privileged positions in society. Christian manliness was institutionalized through organizations like Boy Scouts and the YMCA, which combined physical prowess through sport with manly Protestant codes of honour to revamp Britains manly identity. Young boys were also socialized through a flood of colonial

adventure literature, such as the works of George Alfred Henty or the Empire Annual for Boys, published in London well into the 1900s. 6 Christian churches drew on masculinist images of Jesus as strong protector to banish the notion that you must sink your manliness if you become Christian.7 Christian manliness continues to be relevant in North America, through a hegemonic masculinity descended from British colonial origins.8 Scholars document a resurgent preoccupation with masculine ideals of physique and behaviour around the turn of the century which became institutionalized into such organizations and institutions as the modern Olympic movement which began in 1886, Theodore Roosevelts Rough Riders unit which fought in the Spanish American War in 1898, a variety of boys and mens lodges and fraternal organizations. 9 This manliness takes hold in our state institutions today with a new character and new fervour. Consider George Bush Jr. in his symbolic Air Force jacket, addressing the people of the United States from a helicopter landing pad as he blesses US troops on their mission to defend the homeland in the name of democracy, national pride, liberty, fraternity and unity under God. Bush seeks to epitomize the manly use of force to defend an ego an image of the USA as undefeatable. Hegemonic masculinity is an

essentialist definition of masculinity.10 In Joane Nagels words, At any time, in any

place, there is an identifiable normative or hegemonic masculinity that sets the standards for male demeanour, thinking and action. Hegemonic masculinity is more than an ideal, it is assumptive, widely held, and has the quality of appearing to be natural.11 Nagel claims, however, that there is no consensus among all women and men in various countries as to what an ideal man is. She argues that it is important to understand hegemonic masculinities (which will undoubtedly vary according to geographical place, class, race and historical time) 12 insofar as states are primarily designed and governed by men.13 Hegemonic masculinity is not simply maleness. Gender is a complex idea through which we organize our world. Both men and women are affected by prescribed gender codes and what it means to live in a body labelled as male or female. Both men and women suffer from the ideologies of hegemonic masculinity and we must work together to find alternatives.

live illegally on indigenous peoples land not legitimately handed over to the Canadian state. How can Canada claim to have authority over land that it has stolen? Many states are in the same position. Hegemonic masculinities and muscular Christianity provide a point of departure to analyse the ideological foundations of the contemporary nation-state. Both are coupled with ideas of honour, rationality, control and civility, rather than sheer brutishness. 14 Competitive nation-states display hyper-masculinized traits in order to assert their economic and political authority. Dominant ideas of masculinity inform what a strong man is and what a strong state is. The nation-state system has failed to accommodate heterogeneity, dissent, consensus and nonviolence. We see this in the long history of imperialism, war and suppression of human rights that persists in an era when many powerful countries claim the values of democracy and claim to be spreading such values in the name of God. Within the context of the modern nation-state model, globalization does not guarantee peace and justice through increasing interconnectedness, as some hoped, but spreads conflict. Nation-states govern a world divided by borders to a large extent arbitrarily drawn by colonizers. When the nation-state is wedded with democracy popular consent is assumed. The defining tasks of a nationstate include security, defending borders, maintaining order within those borders and

The nation-state system

A nation is a group of people with a common past or history or language or culture. The nation-state, however, is a culturally specific system born in Europe and spread or imposed by colonization, war and globalization. It has come to claim legitimacy worldwide as a valid political actor. In my context this is one of the biggest lies of colonization, as thousands of Canadians (especially on the west coast)

competition with other states (often leading to war). This is based on the notion of we the people, a homogenous and governable group of people to be mobilized for economic activity and military defence. The tasks of defining community, of setting boundaries and of articulating national character, history, and a vision for the future tend to emphasize both unity and otherness. The project of establishing national identity and cultural boundaries tends to foster nationalist ethnocentrism.15 As a family of churches we are not governed by nationalism and borders but by Christs radical message to love one another and join together as one body in Christ. This does not mean sameness or assimilation into one monolithic church, but a call to recognize that our many different and essential ministries make the whole. Collective social identity is founded on opposition towards an other (typically based on race, class or gender).16 In contrast, democracy is based on ideas of dissent, debate, expression, freedom of speech, and the opportunity for people to represent their needs and interests. Democracy is at best in tension with a nation-state system based on opposing fundamental values. Democratic values can be and are slowly dismantled in the name of national security. What we need is more than just electoral democracy but an Earth Democracy, as Vandana Shiva suggests, that will encourage community-building, control over local resources in an era of free trade and

globalization, and direct participation in issues that concern us. I also dont believe democracy can be imposed on another community from the outside or by force or from the top down. In my context of Canada (a self-identified democracy), many of us struggle to live on the remnants of a once famous social security, healthcare and education system. In our protest against the government we are met with great force by the police (and pegged as threats or terrorists) and stripped of our rights to free speech, peaceful demonstration and dissent.

I see a new earth

In June 2003 I met Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert, two Dominican nuns from the United States. I asked about their decision to enter a military base in Colorado in October 2002 where they (along with a third sister, Jackie Hudson) protested against the production and use of nuclear weapons by the US government. Dressed in white uniforms with CWIT [Citizen Witness Inspection Team] written on the back, they entered the base, hammered on the heavy cement lid of a nuclear missile silo, poured their own blood over the silo, prayed, and read scripture from Isaiah that says, They shall turn their swords into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks (Is 2.4). There they awaited arrest. They feel it is their duty to challenge the US government, which they see as immoral and out of control. They do so out of anger but also out of a profound compassion for their enemy. Long-time Christian activist Liz McAlister says, There

is not going to be any real disarmament until theres a disarming of hearts.17 When I saw Ardeth and Carol they were out on bail to say goodbye to their friends and families and the activist community in Baltimore. The following month, the three sisters were sentenced to serve 30, 33 and 41 months in a federal prison. These nuns, three women of 50 to 60 years of age, counter the ideals of hegemonic masculinity and are part of a social undercurrent often overlooked in nationalist meta-narratives of history. The sisters are role models for a radical vision of Christian faith and action based on the gospel message of nonviolence, resistance to empire, challenge to authority and the attention and love that is due to the most vulnerable, marginalized, stigmatized and oppressed peoples and to the preciousness of Gods earth. This is what Earth Democracy looks like to me from a Christian perspective. This courageous faith subverts the warmongering and the false ideals of strong and proud nations.

on your social location in the world. How will this affect your ability to listen to another participant at this conference who may be from a very different background? What blinders might you wear? How can you challenge people coming from a similar background to yourself? I must make the disclaimer that I speak only as one young person coming out of a specific context and not for all youth. I do however bring ideas and challenges from young people in my home community and from those I have met from various parts of the world. In my context of Canada, our democratic rights to free speech and protest are eroded in the name of national security. My friends have been battered and beaten by the police for sleeping in abandoned buildings or for nonviolently demonstrating against government cuts to social services. I have nervously slept in vacant city buildings alongside anti-poverty groups in hopes of bringing homelessness and poverty to the attention of the government. I have been threatened by police and kicked out of shopping malls for singing anticonsumerism songs to the tune of Christmas carols to educate shoppers about our gluttony in the West and the exploitation we rely on to have cheap consumer products in the name of free trade. This does not feel like the kind of democracy I want to live in. It is often the way of young people to look with fresh eyes at systems that are irrelevant or oppressive and to expose and reject the lies of previous generations.18 As

Through the eyes of a young person

As a young woman living in North America, I have a responsibility to examine and scrutinize the particular privilege I gain from a system that marginalizes people according to ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age and ability. I have access to a relative amount of privilege that many people do not have. I challenge all of the participants here at this conference to examine the privilege you may have based

the political ideologies of security and neoliberalism scourge the world, young people become vulnerable in their striving for positive futures. The stakes are high for young people who voice their dissent. We are also particularly vulnerable to HIV/Aids, financial cuts in education, unemployment, military recruitment, poverty and violence. As a young Christian woman my faith is a major catalyst for my involvement in radical social justice movements and provides the basis for my perspectives on economic justice. I continue to learn more about the slippery history of the churches in Canada their role in the state, in colonizing indigenous peoples, in land theft and the erosion of non-European cultures. It is out of this tension that my faith tradition claims some of its history and I must come to terms with the negative ways Christianity has been moulded by human hands. My faith and spirituality inform my commitment to nonviolent protest, civil disobedience, simple living, political resistance and preferential treatment for the poor and oppressed. My theology is based on my activism in my community. As Lisa Isherwood describes, Jesus ministry is based on intimacy.19 Jesus used his body to heal the lepers and reach out to the oppressed and outcasts. He used his body to overturn the money changers tables in the temple. He felt rage and passion for justice, pain, loss, temptation, joy and laughter. He was filled by and overcome with the spirit but not in a way that is rational, measured and warrior-like,

as Christian manliness would claim. Through his passion he preached a message of nonviolence which challenged the Roman Empire of his day and subverted ideas of hegemonic masculinity. As a young person I am desperate for role models in the church and society and for alternative ways to live out my faith. The Catholic Worker community is just one example of intentional Christian communities that serve the most poor and marginalized in a humble yet radical way through their awareness of the root causes of the poverty and injustice that exist both locally and globally. In my activism, my Christian faith is a great tool and privilege to use in political demonstrations because the church is seen as a legitimate social actor. In April, the government in my province made several deep financial cuts to programmes in our communities (including welfare, education bursaries and health care). It wasnt until a good majority of the churches in our communities mobilized and spoke out that it decided to reduce the cuts it had initially set out to make. Before the invasion and occupation of Baghdad last year millions of people all around the world mobilized to say no to George Bushs war plans. Never before has a global movement responded so quickly. Could this be the trend of a social globalization and an Earth Democracy? How can the World Alliance of Reformed Churches support, encourage and create movements that counter current political

trends in globalization? As a family of churches, how can we use our voices both locally and internationally to curb economic and political devastation to our communities and the earth? For me, a liberatory theology must be shaped by men and women and take into account the many intersections of class, gender, age, ethnicity and ability. Those of us who follow Christs message know that

God works through us, but we also know that we are not gods ourselves. We must humble ourselves to the earth and to the most marginalized voices in our communities. We must make room for and really listen to the voices of young people all over the world in our building of a globalization that will allow for all to have life in fullness.

Donald Hall, ed, Muscular Christianity: Embodying the Victorian Age (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p.8. 2 Hall, p.76. 3 Ruth Vanita, Sappho and the Virgin Mary (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), p.17. 4 Hall, p.33. 5 Hall, p.26. 6 G.A. Henty wrote a plethora of books with such titles as: Roving commission, or, Through the black insurrection at Hayti; Redskin and Cowboy: A tale of the western plains; Fifty-Two Stories of the Brave and True for Boys; Through the Sikh War: A tale of the conquest of the Punjab; True to the Old Flag: A tale of the American War of Independence; With Clive in India, or, The beginnings of an empire. 7 Norman Vance, The Sinews of the Spirit: The ideal of Christian manliness in Victorian literature and religious thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p.26. 8 Joane Nagel, Masculinity and nationalism: gender and sexuality in the making of nations, Ethnic and Racial Studies 21/2 (1998), pp.244, 245.

Ibid. Robert Connell, Masculinities (California: University of California Press, 1995), p.68. 11 Nagel, p.247. 12 Charlotte Hooper, Manly States: Masculinities, international relations, and gender relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), p.4. 13 Nagel, p.243. 14 Hall, p.36. 15 Nagel, p.248. 16 Seth Garfield, Indigenous struggle at the heart of Brazil: State policy, frontier expansion, and the Xavante Indians, 19371988 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001), p.12. 17 Arthur J. Laffin, Swords into Plowshares: A chronology of Plowshares disarmament actions 1980-2003 (New York: Rose Hill Books, 2003), p.7. 18 To realize, for instance, that I have exhausted more fossil fuels by flying to Accra, Ghana than anyone should exhaust in their entire lifetime. 19 Lisa Isherwood, Introducing Feminist Christologies (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2002), p.60.
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From the ends of the earth

Choan-seng Song
The tide of history in our times has changed its course dramatically, writes the Asian theologian C. S. Song. The centre of gravity of Christianity has shifted to the continents of the world outside the West. How can the World Alliance of Reformed Churches be Gods instrument in todays world? According to Song, WARCs president between 1997 and 2004, the answer lies in the work of the Holy Spirit in the person and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. A WARC in the power of the Spirit should engage in community rebuilding, strive for open communities, change its ecumenical agenda and work with its member churches and Christians to equip them as healing communities.

History has reversed itself. The tide of history in our time has changed its course dramatically. Two thousand years ago a handful of Jesus followers received the power of the Holy Spirit to become his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1.8). Christianity left Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and spread to the ends of the earth to become a world religion.

The gap will widen even more if we take the numbers of 554 million Christians in Europe to be inflated.2 Is this not also reflected in the membership of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches? Two-thirds of our member churches are found outside Europe and North America, and this is also true of the other organizations. international church

We do not have to look very far to see this clearly. Just look around this general council hall. Look at the persons sitting next to you and around you. There are more brown faces and black faces than white faces. And the languages we speak to each other in the dining halls, in the cafeteria and in the dormitories! There are many more other languages spoken than English, French, German and Spanish. We are already speaking in tongues! Thank God, our primordial ancestors did not succeed in building a city with a tower reaching the heavens, enabling them to communicate with one language and the same words (Gen 11.1), be it English, French, German or

A shift in the centre of gravity

Most people, it is said, living in Europe and the Americas are Christian. 1 The observation, of course, is not accurate. The West today is secularized, especially in Europe. Simple arithmetic will tell us that the centre of gravity of Christianity has shifted to the continents of the world outside the West. Out of the estimated 2 billion Christians in the world today, 1,246 million are to be found in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania, with 821 million in Europe and North America. Do you notice the gap that already exists in these two numbers?

Spanish. And thank God too, who is infinitely wiser than our ancient forebears, confusing their language and scattering them abroad over the face of all the earth (Gen 11.8). It is from over the face of all the earth that we have travelled to Accra for the 24th general council. But are you aware that the shift in its centre of gravity that has overtaken Christianity is part of a wider shift that has been taking place in the world since the end of the second world war? Are you aware that while the churches and Christians are reacting at a snails pace to the shift of gravity in Christianity, the world has gone ahead full speed with a shift of gravity driven by a globalized economy and geopolitics? There is so much for us to catch up as churches and Christians in our local communities and there is also so much for the World Alliance of Reformed Churches to catch up in the world today a world dramatically different from the world in which we began in London more than a century ago.3 How are we to understand the state of Christianity in the world today? How are we to interpret it? And what conclusions are we to draw from it? Answers to such questions have enormous implications for the future of the World Alliance and for this general council in particular. This has to be at the heart of all our reflections, conversations and deliberations on the council theme Life in Fullness in the coming two weeks.

forward, we must step back, like the athletes of the high jump and long jump. We must survey the terrain and take stock of what we have done during the past few years. During the seven years since the 23rd general council in Debrecen, Hungary, in 1997, the World Alliance has made great efforts to catch up with the world that has run ahead of it, the world that has left us churches and Christians far behind. The Alliance has called us its member churches and Christians to covenant together for justice in the economy and the earth and to strive for human rights. It has issued calls for peace and reconciliation in a world torn by ethnic hatred, religious tensions and geopolitical conflicts. It has inspired women and men in many churches and places to build together a community in which human dignity is respected and gender equality is practised. It has tried intentionally to make youth an integral part of the Alliance of today and tomorrow. It has pushed hard to shift from endless bilateral and multilateral dialogues on traditional church doctrines to the issues that beset most churches and Christians in the southern parts of the world today. It has sought to revitalize and renew the training of church leaders, both lay and clerical. The executive committee members and its officers, the general secretary and all the staff who work as a team, have to be commended for the dedication and discipline with which they have gone about their work. We owe them heartfelt thanks, knowing that they have had to work with

From Debrecen to Accra

We must regress a little. In order to move

extremely limited resources, both material and human. I have also to commend the staffs efforts to replace in the Alliances publications a Geneva-centred ecumenical language with friendlier language, more intelligible to most of us, who are not schooled in the language of the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva. And we are all witnesses and beneficiaries of the gathering process that started two years ago to involve the Alliances member churches and Christians in the preparations of the general council, eventually bringing all of us here to Accra. Of course, not all the Alliance has tried to do during the past seven years has been accomplished. Covenanting for justice in the economy and the earth on the part of most Alliance member churches and Christians still has to be made. Sexual discrimination within our churches still needs to be removed. We are selective in our condemnation of the violation of human rights by some nations and our criticism of geopolitical aggressiveness exhibited by some powers. We have not done enough to make our Reformed theological voice heard in the international arena of the church and the world. All this reminds us that there is a tremendous amount of work still lying ahead of us, that we are the World Alliance of Reformed Churches because we are called by God to continue to be Gods instrument of faith, hope and love in the world.

world in which we live. It is a topsy-turvy world, a world in turmoil, a world dominated by greed, hatred and senselessness. How can we serve God and humanity in such a world? But is it not in such a world that Jesus was born, carried out his ministry of Gods reign, and died on the cross? We think of our daily life. It is full of uncertainty, anxiety and fear, a life at the mercy of those who hold military, political and economic power. How can we serve God and humanity when our own life is beset with uncertainty, anxiety and fear? But was not Jesus lot much worse than the lot of most of us? Why was Jesus able to serve God and people in his turbulent world in spite of the fact that his own life was filled with uncertainty, anxiety and fear? What is the key to his life of dedication and his ministry of service? That key is the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptizer in the river Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended on him (Mk 1.10). It is the Spirit that led him in the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil (Lk 4.1-2). He was filled with the power of the Spirit and began to teach in synagogues (Lk 4.14-15). It is by the Spirit of God that he cast out demons (Mt 12.28). The life and ministry of Jesus was a life and ministry inspired by the Spirit, motivated by the Spirit and empowered by the Spirit. It is this Spirit that inspired, motivated and empowered Jesus that needs to be activated in the member churches and Christians of the World Alliance. I use the word activated advisedly. In the face of the

And the Holy Spirit!

To be Gods instrument in the world today? Easier said than done! Look at the

charismatic churches, we Reformed churches and Christians have become first defensive about the Spirit and then apologetic about it. There is nothing for us to be defensive and apologetic about. The Spirit is there, hidden in the depths of our spirits, biding its time to become active. It is there in the recesses of our community, waiting to be roused to action. We are reminded of how Jacob at Bethel woke up from his dream saying: How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven (Gen 28.17). How could the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in the past few years have done what it has done without the Spirit? It is the Spirit that inspired us to covenant for justice in the economy and the earth. It is the Spirit that compelled us to strive for human rights, equality and reconciliation. It is the Spirit that motivated us to rededicate ourselves to be part of Jesus ministry of Gods reign. Who says the World Alliance lacks the Spirit? Who tells us the Spirit is absent from the Alliance? Yet we must humbly admit that the Alliance, for all its efforts and activities, has still to develop ways in which it can help activate the Spirit in us its member churches and Christians. It has to find ways to enable us to say that we are none other than the house of God, we are none other than the gates of heaven. The Alliance needs to help us all realize that we do not have to resort to charismatic churches to be the house of God and the gates of heaven.

The Spirit, if it is of God and from God, is not something secret available only to those who profess to speak in tongues and to work miracles of healing. The Spirit, if it is of God and from God, is available to all of us. When we as the Alliance and as its member churches and Christians speak out for Gods justice, the Spirit is at work in us. When we put the wellbeing of those in pain and suffering ahead of our own wellbeing, the Spirit is working in us. When we inspire those in distress and fear to have faith in a power greater than them, the Spirit is there in the midst of us. How can we be united as the World Alliance to strive for the reconciliation of women, men and children in our religiously and politically polarized communities unless the Spirit is active in us? And as we, either alone or in a group, are deep in silence, trying to discern what Gods will is for us as individuals and as a Christian community, who can say the Spirit is not in the midst of us?

How does the Spirit help us?

You may be wondering how this Spirit of God that worked in Jesus works in you also. You may be asking yourself how you become aware of the Spirit in the depths of your being and at the centre of what you do in Sunday worship and in your daily life. These questions and problems are not yours only. Is it a comfort for you to know that the Apostle Paul also had the same questions and the same problems? In his letter to the Christians in Rome he writes: The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not

know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words (Rom 8.26). Strong and confident Christians think they do not need the Spirit. They already know what to do, even though what they do often contradicts Gods will. We need the Spirit because we are weak and unsure. Did not Jesus say that those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick (Mt 9.12)? Rebuilding community I hope this Spirit will become a clear focus of the work of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in the next stage of its journey after the general council here in Accra, Ghana. We should be able to say to ourselves and to others that we are doing what we do because of the Spirit, that we are saying what we say because of the Spirit. This Spirit is urging the Alliance to help its member churches and Christians organize and rebuild to be of better service to God and the human community. Community rebuilding! This must be what the Spirit is asking the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, its member churches and Christians to do at this juncture in history. In recent years we have seen how the human community has been torn apart by bloodshed and conflicts caused not only by political and economic forces but also by religious forces. It is an irony that religions that preach peace, love and salvation create fear, hatred and destruction in the world. Today religious fundamentalism is on the rise, intensifying fear and adding to the

insecurity in many societies. Has not Christianity, in the name of mission and in its zeal to save the souls of pagans, often broken up community, impaired relationships, caused social unrest, and demolished indigenous cultures? Christianity that has expanded to the ends of the earth from the West and caused conflicts and disruptions in the wake of its expansion now has to listen to the heartbreaking stories beginning to be told by the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth. Communities undermined by sociopolitical and religious-cultural forces have to be reconstructed. Community rebuilding must be what the Spirit is calling the World Alliance to do today, mobilizing us, its member churches and Christians, to take an active part in it in the coming years. What kind of Christian community is the Spirit calling us to rebuild? Let me try to give some suggestions. Open community The World Alliance is urged to engage its member churches and Christians in rebuilding Christian communities open to people around them and outside them. The community that Christian missions helped converts to build in their society tends to be a closed community, isolated from the community that surrounds them. Christians have become aliens in their own society not only physically but spiritually. At the general council in Debrecen seven years ago, we talked passionately about breaking the chains of injustice. Now we have to talk with

equal passion about breaking the barriers of ignorance, misunderstanding and tension created by the insensitivity of Christians to the spiritual universe of their own people who practise different religious faiths. Can the Alliance dedicate its resources to help undo the mistakes of the past and enable its member churches and Christians to rebuild their communities so that they are open to the outside world? Can the Alliance also help its member churches and Christians in the West to appreciate the painful experiences of churches and Christians from the ends of the earth? The ecumenical agenda The World Alliance of Reformed Churches should reformulate its ecumenical agenda. Open community needs a different ecumenical agenda. The ecumenical agenda defined by the churches in the West fifty years ago are no longer the ecumenical agenda of the churches in the rest of the world today. The ecumenical concerns to which most ecumenical leaders from the West dedicated their time and genius are not necessarily the ecumenical concerns of the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth. The ecumenical issues that preoccupied the Western missionary churches and agencies have ceased to be the ecumenical issues for the Christian communities from beyond the Western world. The ecumenical agenda, concerns and issues for the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth, have changed. And for this we, the ecumenically committed

mainline churches, have to be thankful to the charismatic movements that continue to arouse passion and exert influence in most parts of the world. Without doubt the charismatic Christian communities are onesided in their understanding and experience of the Spirit. Beyond question their grasp of the working of the Spirit tends to be selfserving and biblically and theologically flawed. But at least they are able to respond to the restlessness of the human spirit and the vulnerability of human life in todays world. Do we not have to admit that we too, churches and Christians of the Reformed family, are also confronted with restlessness deep in our spirits and with vulnerability in our lives? These are the ecumenical agenda, concerns and issues of most Christians today ecumenical in the sense that they are not merely the agenda, concerns and issues of the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth but also the agenda, concerns and issues of the churches and Christians from which Christianity spread to the ends of the earth, indeed, the agenda, concerns and issues of the people of this whole inhabited world. If this is true, should not the Alliance be persuaded to re-order its ecumenical agenda, in order to serve its member churches and Christians better? Healing community The World Alliance of Reformed Churches should work with its member churches and Christians to equip them as healing communities. The churches and theological seminaries of Reformed

backgrounds have emphasized the word of God as a prophetic word and a judgmental word. And the world needs to be confronted with Gods word as a prophetic and judgmental word. But this is not all that the word of God is about. The word of God is also the healing word, the forgiving word, the redeeming word. The Alliance would do well to ask how it may enable its member churches and Christians to be engaged in the healing ministry of the word of God while it encourages them to strive for economic, racial and gender justice. Justice alone cannot rebuild a community. For the Alliance and its member churches and Christians justice with healing, and not justice for justices sake, must be the goal. This must be what the Alliance has been learning to hear as it listens to the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth. Let us remember Jesus is a healer as well as a teacher, prophet and reformer, perhaps more a healer than a prophet and reformer. Is this not perhaps the reason why we find many healing stories in the Gospels? His ministry of the reign of God is healing ministry as well as prophetic ministry. Healing of peoples and nations this is the great challenge for the World Alliance of Reformed Churches as it continues to strive for justice within the church and in the world. The world needs a healing word and healing actions, both the world that expanded to the ends of the earth and the world from which two-thirds of our member churches have come. The healing word of the gospel is the word that heals division

within Christianity, the word that heals hatred among people of different religious and cultural traditions, the word that heals the spirits and souls of people, men and women, young and old, and the word that heals the conflicts among nations and peoples. This is a tall order. But is this not fundamentally the prophetic ministry of the prophets in ancient Israel? Above all, is this not the heart of Jesus ministry of the reign of God?

Challenges and responsibilities

Let us once again look around this general council hall. Look at the people sitting next to you and around you one more time. The world from which Christianity has spread to the rest of the world is exhausted both numerically and spiritually. What is happening to the old bastions of Christianity seems to be parallel to what is happening in the globalization of the market economy. In search of cheap labour to bring down the cost of products and enable them to become more competitive, companies and corporations have been out-sourcing or off-shoring, moving jobs from the developed nations to the developing nations, creating unemployment in the industrially developed nations such as the United States of America. Has mainline Christianity in the West too out-sourced and off-shored its resources from the West to the rest of the world, creating spiritual fatigue at home with a decline in membership and vitality? In contrast, Christianity in the rest of the world

shows unmistakable signs of vigour and growth, mostly in charismatic churches but also in some mainline churches. Just as the future of the world economy depends on the nations and peoples from the ends of the earth, the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth will play a decisive role for the future of Christianity. This poses many and various challenges and responsibilities. Let me mention just a few. The world in which the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth live is a culturally and religiously plural world. Christian missions have sought to turn this pluralistic world into a monolithic world, dominated by Christianity. Not only has this not worked, it has created confrontations and conflicts. The challenge is for us to accept this culturally and religiously plural world as Gods world, and not as a world alienated from God. The responsibility is for us to see that this world of Gods is not required to adjust itself to the faith and theology developed by the churches in the past but to reshape our faith and theology in the light of this pluralistic world of God. Is not the World Alliance, with its strong emphasis on theological excellence, well suited for this responsibility? The world in which the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth live is historically differentiated and diverse. No two nations have the same historical past or the same historical destiny. The challenge is for us to discern Gods purpose for us in each of our nations and not to impose a certain Christian past and future

on it. What is Gods purpose for Sweden, for example, in its historical past and its historical destiny may be different from Gods purpose for the historical past and destiny of Ghana. The challenge is for us to come to terms with this diverse historical reality. The responsibility is to develop our own self-understanding as churches and Christians in relation to our particular historical location and experience. Can the World Alliance assist in the practice of faith and the shaping of theology of its member churches and Christians, a practice and shaping that take into serious account their historical location and experience? The world in which the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth find themselves is a colonially abused world, an economically exploited world, a politically and socially volatile world. But in comparison with the economically affluent world, the world from the ends of the earth is by and large spiritually vibrant. This poses an enormous challenge both to the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth and to those in the rest of the world. Is not, then, the responsibility of the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth to enrich their Christian spiritual experiences with the spiritual universe of their world? Can the World Alliance help the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth to share these spiritual resources and experiences with each other and with the churches and Christians in the rest of the world?

The world in which the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth make their home is, with some exceptions, a developing world. As we know too well, most of us who live in this part of the world, overwhelmed by the economic and political forces working against us, merely to make ends meet, to put daily bread or rice on the table, is a never-ending struggle. Merely to live is a great challenge for many of us. How can we then have financial resources to spare for the World Alliance of Reformed Churches? But do you remember the story of a poor widow [who] came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny into the offering box? Seeing what she had done, Jesus said to his disciples: Truly I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on (Mk 12.41-44). Is not Jesus arithmetic wrong? No, it is not wrong. Jesus hit the nail on the head. If all of us from the ends of the earth contribute to the ministry of our churches and the World Alliance, whether

out of our abundance or out of our poverty, we will have more than enough for the advancement of Gods reign in the world. It is, then, the responsibility of the Alliance to be creative and adventurous for the next stage of its history and ministry, moving out to the churches and Christians from the ends of the earth to be in solidarity with them in abundance or in poverty. From the ends of the earth! The stakes for the future of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and its member churches and Christians are high. The load is heavy, while the way is long (ren chung tao yuan), says a Chinese expression. But we remember Zechariah, prophet of the 6th century BCE. Zechariah, burning with zeal to rebuild the temple, heard the Lord say to him: Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit (Zech 4.6). As we as the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, its member churches and Christians poise ourselves to set out on a long and arduous journey in the years to come, what is at the heart of our thoughts and prayers must also be these words: Not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of God!

1 See Encyclopedia Britannica Almanac 2004 (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2003), p.681b. 2 For the statistics referred to here see Encyclopedia Britannica Almanac 2004, pp.682-683. These statistics were prepared by David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, coauthors of the World Christian Encyclopedia, and will appear in Britannica Book of the Year 2004 (p.682). 3

The Alliance of the Reformed Churches throughout the World holding the Presbyterian System was founded in London in 1875. The International Congregational Council first met in London in 1891. The two organizations merged in Nairobi in 1970 to form the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (Presbyterian and Congregational).


Mission renewal in the context of globalization

Philip Wickeri
War on terrorism, Empire, globalization: the present world context accentuates the crisis of world Christianity and the emerging challenges to Christian mission. Christians and churches are called to repentance and the renewal of mission. Wickeri, a former missionary in Asia now teaching World Christianity at San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union (USA), argues that mission renewal should be based on the biblical images of kenosis (self-emptying) and oikos (household).

I came that they may have life in all its fullness. John 10.10

We begin with a profound expression of thanksgiving, for all that God has done to bring us here today. In our letter to the churches we affirmed our thanksgiving to God who has called us to be partners and co-workers in mission (1 Cor 3.9). We also give thanks for the witness of the churches of the Reforming tradition that, in fellowship with the wider ecumenical family, seek to proclaim the gospel of reconciliation and salvation, justice and peace, healing and wholeness, in word and deed, and particularly for the witness of women, who have played a significant, but often unacknowledged, role in the mission of our churches. Mission is the life of the church in the world. The world, indeed the whole cosmos, is the arena of Gods mission. For the churches of the Reformed family especially,

mission has always been at the centre of our understanding of what the church is. We can only understand the church in the light of its mission. In Johns gospel, the reign of God is expressed as Jesus message of life in all its fullness, a foretaste of the promise offered unconditionally to all peoples. But we live in a time in which the majority of people in our world have not even a partial sense of what life in all its fullness means. The AIDS pandemic, the war on terrorism, worsening poverty and environmental degradation have put the very survival of many peoples and cultures at stake. In this situation, what does mission as the life of the church in the world mean? If the gospel is the Good News for the peoples of the world, then we need to see mission in ways that are peoplecentred and life-centred.

The vision of the early church was a vision of life for the whole inhabited earth, a vision that was a creative reinterpretation in their time of Jesus announcement of the reign of God in his life on this earth. This vision was and is fundamentally different from the new vision of globalization and Empire. In Jesus time, as in our own, there are a variety of global visions, secular and religious, dominating and democratic, imperial and liberating. The contrast between the Christian vision for the world and the vision of Empire and globalization challenges our churches to respond anew. At many points in our history, the church has been challenged to reinterpret Gods mission in new and creative ways. In the transition from Jewish to Gentile Christianity, the church was challenged to be more inclusive. In the fourth century, the church was challenged to maintain its prophetic role as it became the religion of the Roman Empire. In the fifteenth century, our forebears in Europe were challenged to give new life to their communities by relying on the Word alone. As the missionary movement spread all over the world, churches were challenged to rethink the gospel in radically new cultural and religious situations. In the last century, churches were called to respond once again to the challenge of ecumenism, so that the world might believe. The churches have not always been faithful to these challenges, but, semper reformanda, our churches continue to respond and be changed through and in the message of Jesus Christ.

There have been many turning points and situations of crisis in the history of our churches. We are facing a new crisis and a new turning point in Christianity today, brought on by globalization and Empire.

Globalization and Empire

The Christian vision of the world stands in the sharpest possible contrast to the dominant ideology of globalization and Empire. The driving force of globalization is the application of market criteria to all areas of life, a movement towards a unified market that is directed by countries of the North and by international financial institutions, through which nation states and the world economy become increasingly integrated and linked to one another. Globalization is facilitated by new communications technologies and democratization, but it is directed by neoliberal economics, which affects politics, societies, cultures and religions everywhere. There is a totalizing aspect to globalization through which the market becomes the master category. The neoliberal ideology of globalization results in a global fragmentation and a clash of civilizations which, in the words of Samuel P. Huntington, is a clash between the West and the Rest. However, globalization is not self-validating, nor is the market really free. The hidden hand of the market requires an iron fist of political and military power (Thomas Friedman). That power is now wielded by one country and one country alone, the United States of America. My

country casts a long dark shadow in our world. It is no exaggeration to say that the United States of America is the centre of a new Empire with a vision for the world closely linked to neoliberal globalization. The US is the only government in the world operating on a global scale. I use the word Empire, not figuratively or metaphorically, but politically, economically and militarily. A wide range of analysts, from across the political spectrum in every part of the world, are urging churches and other NGOs to consider the vast implications of Empire and its important implications for our understanding of globalization at a new stage. This is a different kind of Empire than empires of the past. There is no inside and outside of Empire. Empire has penetrated the internal political, economic, cultural and social structures of the world. Empire reconstructs identities, crosses all boundaries; it overcomes nation states and reproduces cultures. The United States is the centre of Empire, its financial organizer, political arbiter and military enforcer. But you can be a good citizen of Empire in Nairobi or New Delhi just as easily as you can in New York or Los Angeles. When Empire perceives itself to be threatened, its leaders will not hesitate to use whatever means necessary to bring things under control and extend its influence. The war on terrorism, therefore, is an extension of Empire, globalization by other means. In the words of President Bush, the United States will use this moment of

opportunity (ie, the war on terrorism) to bring democracy, development, free market and free trade to every corner of the globe. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and other places have direct consequences for every country in the world, and for the mission of the church. Empire is shaping, structuring and dividing world Christianity. In the United States, my own context, a few theologians and ecumenical organizations have begun to criticize the new American theology of empire, which connects our foreign policy to a religiously inspired mission that we now promote all over the world. But we need the help of the world Christian community. Churches overseas from a very wide range of theologies and traditions (and including WARC) have been raising questions about our countrys role as world policeman and protector of religious freedom. Is this an aspect of American foreign policy, or a genuine concern for peace and the religious rights of all? The world is watching us in Accra to see what more we will have to say. Churches involved in global mission can choose to ride the coat tails of Empire or criticize the project of Empire, but they cannot remain neutral. Neither can our choice be taken lightly, for it will inevitably lead to polarization of the Christian community.

The crisis in world Christianity

Globalization, Empire and the war on terrorism have a direct connection to what many people in different contexts are calling

a crisis in world Christianity. There is a fragmentation in the Christian community, as well as in the world as a whole. There are gross inconsistencies between what we say and what we do and terrible injustices committed in the name of Christian mission. We are living in a time of fundamental change in the shape and structure of the Church as we have known it. For the past three or four decades, the historic (or mainline) Protestant and Roman Catholic churches of Europe and North America have been in decline, whether this is judged in terms of numbers of adherents, institutional vitality or social and cultural influence. In Russia and central Europe, the Orthodox Church and other historic churches have been facing serious institutional challenges in their own societies, especially since the dissolution of the Soviet Union fifteen years ago. At the same time, indigenous churches in Asia, Africa and Latin America have been growing faster than ever before. In almost every part of the world, there has been a rapid rise of Pentecostal movements, postdenominational churches and other informal networks of Christian communities. Roman Catholic and Protestant churches continue to grow in the southern hemisphere, and among ethnic minorities and new immigrants in the North. All over the world, churches are confronting challenges posed by globalization, Empire and the American-led war on terrorism. These challenges, set alongside changing patterns of institutional renewal and decline,

define the contours of our new ecumenical situation. This crisis represents a turning point. It is a crisis in our understanding of the issues raised by globalization and Empire, as well as a crisis in the church and mission. It has deep theological implications, calling us to raise fundamental questions about Christian faith and mission. The word crisis dangerous opportunity in Chinese has an urgency about it that accurately describes our situation. It suggests a tension between fear and hope, danger and opportunity, in whatever we do. It also suggests the need for Christians to make a choice about their vision for the future of the world. The crisis in world Christianity has a direct and immediate impact on ecumenical institutions. Globalization has not been kind to the nonprofit sectors or to the churches. Although many international Christian organizations in the North have made great new strides in marketing their products, they have often done so at the expense of churches and Christian organizations in the South. Everywhere, the ecumenical movement is facing a serious economic crisis, and ministries of justice, advocacy and solidarity are particularly hard hit. This is sometimes understood as a struggle for institutional survival that provokes costcutting measures and downsizing in many churches, denominations, ecumenical organizations and theological seminaries. How easily we adopt the language of the corporate world. Church leaders worry about stock market decline, interest rates and

currency fluctuations, even as they issue statements critical of globalization and commit funds for mission and development. We are caught up in the global market economy, and we are affected by the increasing privatization of social programmes, the end of the church tax in Europe and fluctuations in investments. Churches pay a steep price for their participation in globalization, but many still feel there is no other choice. Globalization and Empire have confronted churches with the realization that we are too institutionalized, and thus easily manipulated. We are in need of more flexibility and decentralization. As institutional forms of Christianity experience decline, non-institutional forms of Christianity are on the rise in many places. Post-denominational mega-churches, various Pentecostalisms and a flourishing of spiritualities are evident in most parts of the world. We may be witnessing only the tip of the iceberg in terms of institutional decline, for in many quarters we hear predictions of a radical reconfiguration of churches as we know them. We are in need of reform and revitalization. This means more than the revitalization of institutions, however. What we need is a renewal of life for all. The central challenge that globalization and Empire pose for us is the issue of justice and unequal power relations. The divide between North and South in the world economy is reflected in a similar divide in our churches. Churches in the South have argued that the

commitment to global justice in the churches of the North is disappearing. Mission has been obscured by a survival mentality, as we seek to hold onto a declining market share in existing institutions. The crisis in world Christianity, rather than leading to new and creative initiatives, often results in attempts at selfpreservation, forgetting Christs teaching that whosoever would save his life must lose it.

The call to repentance

The credibility of our message is at stake if we as a global community of churches do not respond to the religious, cultural, political and economic crisis that confronts us. We need to work for change in the structures of which we are a part. The gospel frees us to respond in new and creative ways to the crisis we face. It teaches us to be open to the movement of the Spirit. It forces us to ask once again: if we are part of one worldwide body of Christ, how do our churches relate to one another and engage in mission for peace and community-building in the world today? Are we prepared to change? Are we prepared to admit that we have not been faithful to the missionary calling in our new situation? Are we prepared to begin with confession and repentance, for what we have done and for what we have left undone? It is not without reason that in the Reformed pattern of worship, our prayers of confession often come right after the

thanksgiving that we give to God. So too in mission, having given thanks for what God has done, we are also called to repentance. We have not clearly distinguished between the vision of global mission and the visions of globalization and Empire. Mission has often been understood and practised in domineering ways, so that in many contexts, Christian mission is perceived as the religious face of Western colonial domination yesterday or of globalization and Empire today. Mission has too often been a current flowing only in one direction: North to South, from the powerful to the powerless, from the male to the female, from the White to the Black, from the West to the Rest. Mission has been reduced to something that some people do to others, rather than a mutual sharing and participation in Gods mission of love for the whole world. We have practised mission in narrowly understood ways that emphasize institutional church growth or narrow individualistic agendas. Mission has too often been practised in a one-dimensional way, emphasizing an overly spiritualized salvation to the neglect of systemic threats to the life of the poor, the marginalized and the excluded. Evangelism has often been reduced to proselytism vis--vis other Christian churches, rather than a call to the continuing conversion of all and the proclamation of Gods reign. If the gospel is

Good News for the peoples of the world, a call to life in all its fullness, then we need to see mission in ways that are more peoplecentred and life-centred. We have often been content to leave things as they are in our churches rather than respond anew to urgent challenges and participate in what God is doing in the world to make and keep life human. We have been content with the survival of our institutions, rather than losing ourselves in Gods mission to the world. We have resisted attempts at revitalization in our churches because they come from unfamiliar sources. We have not spoken up in situations of injustice, nor have we sufficiently committed our resources and energies to efforts for renewal and change. More specifically, we have not adequately committed ourselves to mission as healing in the face of the AIDS pandemic; mission as peacemaking in confronting the war on terrorism; mission as development in a world of worsening poverty; mission as reconciliation in the movement towards Christian unity and interreligious understanding; mission as restoring creation in a world of environmental degradation; and mission as evangelism where women and men need Jesus Christ.

The renewal of mission

Mission is renewed through acts of repentance. Faith in Jesus Christ presents us with a vision of life in the oikumene which is an alternative to globalization and Empire. It is a hopeful vision for the difficult

times in which we live, a vision derived from a biblical understanding of justice, peace and the integrity of creation. In such a time as this, we are called to speak out and live out Jesus message of life in all its fullness, lest deliverance is seen from another quarter and our world perishes (Est 4.14). In our life in the church, in the relationships which our churches maintain with one another, in the many programmes and mission projects in which we are involved, in our cultural and religious plurality, we see signs of Gods reign that indicate where we should be going. Ours is the mission of the people of God among all Gods peoples, a mission that enables us to see Gods priority for life in all its fullness and how it is to be lived. Jesus promise that all may have life in fullness suggests the new direction needed today, as well as the path to mission renewal. Our task here in Accra is how the renewal of mission might be worked out in our new situation. The general council of the Alliance is a unique opportunity to vigorously push forward what the executive committee has called the renewal of our churches [through] a fresh understanding and engagement in mission a focus on mission that will produce fresh missiological thinking and energy in response to the new contexts in which Reformed churches find themselves at the beginning of the 21st century. This entails the transformation of the current practices and understandings of Christian mission. We need to reclaim lost ground. We need

to envision creative alternatives to the ways in which churches relate to one another. If we are truly to be servants and co-workers in Gods mission of creation and redemption, a mission entrusted to us as gift and task, then we must see mission as that which offers healing and wholeness to a divided world. WARC is a movement of healing, peacemaking, reconciliation, development, restoring creation and evangelism. Over against the enforced unity of globalization and Empire, we reassert the importance of particularity and locality in a relational and reconciling understanding of unity within the body of Christ. What might all this mean for the Alliance as a community of churches in mission in partnership with the wider ecumenical family? Let me suggest here two images for the renewal of mission. Kenosis (self-emptying). The renewal of mission must be based on a kenosis of mission, and this follows from our thanksgiving and confession. A kenosis of mission is required in our identification with the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 8.8-9) and therefore with the poor, the marginalized and the excluded (Mt 25). In this sense mission begins with powerlessness, not power. The power of the gospel is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor 12.9). A kenosis of mission involves both empowerment and self-emptying, for churches in the South and in the North, so that together we can be part of a movement that shakes up church and society and calls both to renewal.

Mission above all means sharing. It is not that we have something to give and others have something to receive, but that there should be a fair balance (2 Cor 8.1314). Some years ago, a group of British development workers was visiting the Sudan. They were told that the Sudanese pastors were in need of bicycles to make their rounds to the churches, and so they offered the church several hundred bicycles. The church was delighted with this offer, and they asked what the church in the Sudan could do for Britain. Nothing, was the reply. Then we cannot accept these bicycles. Sharing in mission is a two-way street that involves both self-emptying and empowerment. There are different ways of speaking of kenosis in mission. Some draw on the understanding of mission as midwifery, following Galatians 4.19. Others on various and neglected New Testament commissions which emphasize the power of weakness (for example, Lk 1.38; Jn 12.14-17; Phil 2). Still others draw on sections of the Hebrew Bible such as Micah 4.5 or Amos 9.7 that provide new perspectives on relationships with other religious traditions. All of these suggest possible new understandings of mission and missiology. They are derived from practice and reject domineering and power-centred missiologies of the past, as they draw on the need for self-emptying in mission. This is one source of mission renewal. Household (Greek: oikos). We associate mission in Jesus way with a range of images

related to the household of life (1 Pet 2). Communion (koinonia), partnership, hospitality, stewardship, inclusiveness and gratitude are all related to this image. The household image emerged from women in one of the early meetings of our mission study. It draws on womens insights and mission understanding, and it speaks eloquently to the people of God sent to all Gods peoples. Our common household is a gift from God, but it is now in disorder and in need of rebuilding and repair. A household missiology embraces three fundamental aspects of our lives whose names have their root in the same word oikos or household: economy, ecology, ecumenism. A household missiology embraces the evangelical struggles against economic injustice, against ecological destruction and against the walls of yesterday and today that prevent Christian communion, human fellowship, interfaith solidarity. Our common household is embedded in particular household cultures, and can never be summed up in a generalized understanding imposed from above. Yet it can be an understanding for all in each place. At the New Delhi Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1961, the language of all in each place was adopted to speak about unity in diversity and mission and witness. All in each place recognizes both global and local dimensions of life in all its fullness. All in each place is different from one in all places which is the end result of neoliberal globalization and Empire.

In contrast, all in each place means a willingness to extend hospitality to others in our places, as well as a willingness to receive hospitality in other places. In my own experience of being a missionary for almost 25 years in East Asia, I have been welcomed into many households, and I have received much more than I have ever given. The welcome that missionaries receive is essential for whatever work we can do. It also means that we must respect the household, as we take off our shoes and enter in. We must accept what we are offered, offer what we have and pitch in to help when we are asked. Becoming part of the household is becoming part of a wider family, so that wherever we are, we are at home with our brothers and sisters. Household missiology expresses itself in stories and folk tales, art and song, food and friendship. The idea of household is always plural, for households exist alongside other

households. Mission implies neighbourliness, friendship and hospitality among households. In our image of household, we do not discriminate between the private and the public spheres, between what goes on inside and outside the house, between the centre and the margins of the world, between Christianity and other religious traditions. This will require what some have termed a redrawing of boundaries between Christianity and other religious traditions. We lift up the images of kenosis and household because they can be related to each other in theology and practice, and because they need to be developed further. Emptying and empowerment, household and hospitality, are needed for renewal in a world dominated by globalization and Empire. Let us work on giving further shape to this here in Accra, for the renewal of mission and the renewal of our churches. Thank you.


Mission section plenary report

The God of the covenant with the earth community was in Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was a prophet who resisted Empire and domination of every kind, a priest who comforted those who were powerless and broken, impoverished and marginalized, a king who became a Servant who saw the other side of Empire. () The mission of Jesus is our mission. This text emerged from a lively debate on mission renewal today held in the framework of the World Alliances 2004 Accra general council. It seeks to respond to the search for mission renewal by calling for missiologies of life which are aware of Empire, engage with other religions, engage with Pentecostalism and Neo-pentecostalism, and seek greater fellowship within the Reformed family itself.

Mission is at the heart of our understanding of God and the church. As we have gathered in Accra for the 24th general council of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, sharing in the fullness of life (Jn 10.10) with sisters and brothers from churches all over the world, we have been mutually encouraged by each others faith (Rom 1.12). Our commitment to mission has been strengthened in our fellowship together and through the stories of hope we have shared. In Accra, we have been challenged to rethink our understanding of mission; to reconsider the ways in which we participate in Gods mission in our different cultures and contexts; to reflect upon new challenges for mission; and to strengthen our relationships with one another as we engage in mission. The groaning of creation and the cries of the poor and the marginalized are calling us to conversion for and recommitment to mission. In this report, we wish to share

with all our churches what we have learned in Accra and the implications of our sharing together for the future of our common witness to the gospel.

1. Mission in the context of globalization

1.1 Economic globalization challenges Christian mission and the integrity of the church. However, globalization is no longer an adequate term to describe the threat to life in fullness. As we look at the negative consequences of globalization for the most vulnerable and for the earth community as a whole, we have begun to rediscover the evangelical significance of the biblical teaching about Empire. This is related to the Exodus, the Babylonian captivity and the Macedonian and Roman occupation of Palestine (Ex 3-12; Ps 137; Dan 2; Hos 7; Hab 5; Luke 13; Eph 3; Rev 12-13). Today, we define Empire as the convergence of economic, political, cultural, and military interests that

constitute a system of domination in which benefits are forced to flow from the weak to the powerful. Centred in the last remaining superpower yet spread all over the world, Empire crosses all boundaries, reconstructs identities, subverts cultures, overcomes nation states, and challenges religious communities. 1.2 Empire is reshaping the ways that churches relate to one another, globally and locally. In many countries in the world, churches and individual Christians are being attacked. Many of our sisters and brothers are suffering for their faith, and we are in solidarity with them. In some instances, they are suffering because of the seeming identification of globalization, Empire and Christian mission. We have seen irrefutable evidence that gross injustices have been committed in the name of Christian mission in Africa and other parts of the world. In different ways, these continue to be reproduced today. Our recommitment to mission renewal must be accompanied by repentance and forgiveness for what we have done and what we have left undone, both today and in our earlier practices. 1.3 We need to draw a clear distinction between Christian mission and the forces of domination, patriarchy, racism and institutional injustice that are associated with Empire. This will involve a new Christian vision, rooted in apostolic faith, that stands for the fullness of life in a world of worsening poverty, environmental degradation, the HIV and AIDS pandemic, corruption, terrorism, and war.

1.4 In the stories of hope and our sharing of experiences with one another, we see glimpses of this vision (1 Cor 13.12). In many of our congregations, we hear inspiring stories of mission renewal through involvement and hospitality. We have experienced how global communications technologies have enhanced our relationships with one another. Our stories of suffering and hope, and our experiences of personal, social and ecclesial transformation in the living practice of Gods mission to the world challenge the context of economic globalization and Empire.

2. Mission in the fullness of life: towards new missiologies of life

2.1 Mission is embodied in the life of the people of God among all Gods peoples, bearing witness to Jesus Christ in the life of the Holy Spirit. Gods mission is plural and can no longer be expressed in any single missiology. Missiologies of life are Spiritcentred missiologies, expressed in stories and experiences drawn from our own contexts, in dialogue with the Word of God. 2.2 Missiologies of life are a continuation of the mission of Jesus in announcing Gods reign (Lk 4.18) and proclaiming the gospel to all peoples. The God of the covenant with the earth community was in Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was a prophet, who resisted Empire and domination of every kind; a priest who comforted those who were powerless and broken, impoverished and marginalized; a King who became a Servant who saw on the other side of Empire. Christ is at work

today in establishing inclusive and open communities of renewal and hope among us. The mission of Jesus is our mission. 2.3 The mission of Jesus must include a continuing emphasis on evangelism and evangelization. Some of our churches have done far more in integrating evangelism and proclamation in their mission practices than others. We need to learn from each other in our efforts in evangelization, for we believe that the message of Jesus Christ is a message of salvation and hope, unconditionally to all peoples. offered

poverty, HIV and AIDS; reconciliation among churches; healing of our relationships with other religious traditions; and the healing of the earth community.

3. Mission in the life of the Spirit: engagement with Pentecost and Pentecostalism
3.1 Pentecost is a gift and a calling of the whole church. We need to develop further what this means for theologies of the Spirit that can inspire new ways of doing mission in various contexts. We have heard many stories of the ways that Reformed spirituality resists evil; affirms life in fullness; and calls churches to mission renewal in local and global contexts. 3.2 Secularization, a complex and multifaceted trend, challenges our churches in many parts of the world. In Europe, secularization has been a political and cultural process, induced by the Enlightenment, a movement from a religious to a non-religious world of meaning, and a withdrawal of the church from the public sphere. In other parts of the world, secularization has represented a challenge brought on by modernity and globalization. The gift and calling of Pentecost challenges us to find new ways of doing mission in the face of such challenges. 3.3 The World Alliance of Reformed Churches is engaged in a dialogue with Pentecostals, the results of which we believe can be used by member churches in relationships in their own contexts. The growth, adaptability, spiritual exuberance

2.4 Continuing the mission of Jesus is related to a range of images centring on mission in the household of life (1 Pet 2.5). Households are everywhere and the flow of mission is everywhere. Mission as communion, partnership, hospitality, stewardship, mutuality, solidarity, accountability are all related to the image of household. Household focuses on the ecumenical mission of all in each place. Patriarchy imposes limitations upon women in the household, the church and the public sphere, and it limits the participation of youth. Mission in the fullness of life includes gender justice and the participation of youth and is available to all women and men. 2.5 Missiologies of life emphasize healing and wholeness in our divided and broken world. Healing brings the waters of life (Ez 47.9) and the promise of new life in Christ (1 Cor 15.22). New life means the healing of memories of injustices; deliverance from the powers that continue to enslave our peoples; healing in the Body of Christ afflicted with

and networking of Pentecostals (and NeoPentecostals) worldwide challenge our churches to new forms of engagement in mission. Dialogue with Pentecostals has also compelled us to reconsider the sources for spiritual renewal for mission in our traditions. 3.4 There is much we can learn from the Pentecostal movement. For example, their emphasis on the Holy Spirit in mission, participatory forms of worship, and lay leadership can all contribute to our own life of worship and mission. 3.5 At the same time, we must also discern the Spirit in different contexts, for some Pentecostal mission practices are problematic for our churches. For example, we have serious differences on such issues as proselytism, gender justice and teachings about a gospel of prosperity.

dialogue are both needed, but we also need new forms of interreligious engagement to address issues of interreligious conflict. 4.3 Christians are disciples of Jesus who are the people of God among all Gods peoples. All over the world, Christians are living in the midst of people from other religious communities, and our churches must be engaged with them. In our encounter with people of other faiths, we witness to the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, as we learn from and listen to others unique religious teachings. 4.4 We need to develop processes of contextual discernment in relating to other religious communities. This involves interfaith listening and programmes of sharing and exchange. In a world of globalization and Empire, we need interfaith solidarity in mission so we can work together on issues that affect us all. In our attempts to understand interfaith solidarity, theologies of life in fullness will complement more traditional theologies of salvation.

4. Engagement with other religious communities

4.1 Religious communities are today facing divisions and contradictions between peoples and nations as globalization and Empire manipulate cultural, ethnic and political tensions for the powerful. In this situation, religious persecution and interreligious conflict pose new challenges for churches and religious groups in many parts of the world. 4.2 Reformed churches have not developed an adequate approach to religious plurality, and yet our churches increasingly find themselves in multireligious contexts demanding new responses. Mission and

5. Towards a fellowship of Reformed churches covenanting together in mission

5.1 We are called to proclaim the Good News in a time in which the historical challenges seem overwhelming to our churches. Our common calling moves us to pray and grow into fuller communion with one another, and the wider ecumenical family, in obedience to the God who calls us to be in mission.

5.2 We are called to be a fellowship of churches in mission. Whether we are churches in poor or in rich countries, we are required to ask ourselves whether our mission relations are fair and effective; whether they are unilateral or multilateral; whether they are captive to the powers of this world or sharing the power of love; whether they lead us to financial dependence or mutual interdependence, mutual vulnerability and mutual accountability. 5.3 We must confess that Reformed mission has often been an individualistic and entrepreneurial or bilateral effort lacking accountability. This has caused church division in many places. Mission means both self-emptying and empowerment in the sharing of resources (Phil 2; 2 Cor 8). We must move towards new ways of sharing, for mission is not to gain

power, but to share the power of love. Sharing is expressed by such terms as solidarity, partnership, mutual dependence, interdependence, mutual vulnerability and accountability. New disciplines of mission that embody a practice of unity respecting the unique role of churches in each place are needed. 5.4 Mission means covenanting together. Our new missiologies must be reflected in the structural relationships we maintain with one another as churches. We therefore call on our churches to prayerfully consider and carefully discuss what it might mean to see the World Alliance of Reformed Churches as a fellowship of churches covenanting together in mission, developing in dialogue with one another new missiologies of life, and exploring together new patterns of sharing for our common calling.


Covenanting for justice: the Accra Confession

Ours is a scandalous world in which the annual income of the richest 1% is equal to that of the poorest 57%, and 24,000 people die each day from poverty and malnutrition. The policy of unlimited growth among industrialized countries and the drive for profit of transnational corporations have plundered the earth and severely damaged the environment. This crisis is directly related to the development of neoliberal economic globalization, an ideology that makes the false claim that it can save the world through the creation of wealth and prosperity, claiming sovereignty over life and demanding total allegiance, which amounts to idolatry. The integrity of our faith is therefore at stake. This document, stemming from the WARC 2004 general council section on Covenant, includes the Accra Confession.

1. In response to the urgent call of the Southern African constituency which met in Kitwe in 1995 and in recognition of the increasing urgency of global economic injustice and ecological destruction, the 23rd general council (Debrecen, Hungary, 1997) invited the member churches of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches to enter into a process of recognition, education, and confession (processus confessionis). The churches reflected on the text of Isaiah 58.6 break the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free, as they heard the cries of brothers and sisters around the world and witnessed Gods gift of creation under threat. 2. Since then, nine member churches have committed themselves to a faith stance; some are in the process of

covenanting; and others have studied the issues and come to a recognition of the depth of the crisis. Further, in partnership with the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation and regional ecumenical organizations, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches has engaged in consultations in all regions of the world, from Seoul/Bangkok (1999) to Stony Point (2004). Additional consultations took place with churches from the South in Buenos Aires (2003) and with churches from South and North in London Colney (2004). 3. Gathered in Accra, Ghana, for the general council of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, we visited the slave dungeons of Elmina and Cape Coast where millions of Africans were commodified, sold and subjected to the horrors of repression and death. The cries of never again are

put to the lie by the ongoing realities of human trafficking and the oppression of the global economic system. 4. Today we come to take a decision of faith commitment.

poverty on less than one US dollar per day continues to increase. 8. The policy of unlimited growth among industrialized countries and the drive for profit of transnational corporations have plundered the earth and severely damaged the environment. In 1989, one species disappeared each day, and by 2000 it was one every hour. Climate change, the depletion of fish stocks, deforestation, soil erosion, and threats to fresh water are among the devastating consequences. Communities are disrupted, livelihoods are lost, coastal regions and Pacific islands are threatened with inundation, and storms increase. High levels of radioactivity threaten health and ecology. Life forms and cultural knowledge are being patented for financial gain. 9. This crisis is directly related to the development of neoliberal economic globalization, which is based on the following beliefs: unrestrained competition, cosumerism, and the unlimited economic growth and accumulation of wealth is the best for the whole world; the ownership of private property has no social obligation; capital speculation, liberalization and deregulation of the market, privatization of public utilities and national resources, unrestricted access for foreign investments and imports, lower taxes, and the unrestricted movement of capital will achieve wealth for all;

Reading the signs of the times

5. We have heard that creation continues to groan, in bondage, waiting for its liberation (Romans 8.22). We are challenged by the cries of the people who suffer and by the woundedness of creation itself. We see a dramatic convergence between the suffering of the people and the damage done to the rest of creation. 6. The signs of the times have become more alarming and must be interpreted. The root causes of massive threats to life are above all the product of an unjust economic system defended and protected by political and military might. Economic systems are a matter of life or death. 7. We live in a scandalous world that denies Gods call to life for all. The annual income of the richest 1% is equal to that of the poorest 57%, and 24,000 people die each day from poverty and malnutrition. The debt of poor countries continues to increase despite paying back their original borrowing many times over. Resource-driven wars claim the lives of millions, while millions more die of preventable diseases. The HIV and AIDS global pandemic afflicts life in all parts of the world, affecting the poorest where generic drugs are not available. The majority of those in poverty are women and children and the number of people living in absolute

social obligations, protection of the poor and the weak, trade unions, and relationships between people, are subordinate to the processes of economic growth and capital accumulation. 10. This is an ideology that claims to be without alternative, demanding an endless flow of sacrifices from the poor and creation. It makes the false promise that it can save the world through the creation of wealth and prosperity, claiming sovereignty over life and demanding total allegiance, which amounts to idolatry. 11. We recognize the enormity and complexity of the situation. We do not seek simple answers. As seekers of truth and justice and looking through the eyes of powerless and suffering people, we see that the current world (dis)order is rooted in an extremely complex and immoral economic system defended by empire. In using the term empire we mean the coming together of economic, cultural, political and military power that constitutes a system of domination led by powerful nations to protect and defend their own interests. 12. In classical liberal economics, the state exists to protect private property and contracts in the competitive market. Through the struggles of the labour movement, states began to regulate markets and provide for the welfare of people. Since the 1980s, through the transnationalization of capital, neoliberalism has set out to dismantle the welfare functions of the state. Under neoliberalism the purpose of the economy

is to increase profits and return for the owners of production and financial capital, while excluding the majority of the people and treating nature as a commodity. 13. As markets have become global, so have the political and legal institutions which protect them. The government of the United States of America and its allies, together with international finance and trade institutions (International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization) use political, economic, or military alliances to protect and advance the interest of capital owners. 14. We see the dramatic convergence of the economic crisis with the integration of economic globalization and geopolitics backed by neoliberal ideology. This is a global system that defends and protects the interests of the powerful. It affects and captivates us all. Further, in biblical terms such a system of wealth accumulation at the expense of the poor is seen as unfaithful to God and responsible for preventable human suffering and is called Mammon. Jesus has told us that we cannot serve both God and Mammon (Lk 16.13).

Confession of faith in the face of economic injustice and ecological destruction

15. Faith commitment may be expressed in various ways according to regional and theological traditions: as confession, as confessing together, as faith stance, as being faithful to the covenant of God. We choose confession, not meaning a classical doctrinal

confession, because the World Alliance of Reformed Churches cannot make such a confession, but to show the necessity and urgency of an active response to the challenges of our time and the call of Debrecen. We invite member churches to receive and respond to our common witness. 16. Speaking from our Reformed tradition and having read the signs of the times, the general council of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches affirms that global economic justice is essential to the integrity of our faith in God and our discipleship as Christians. We believe that the integrity of our faith is at stake if we remain silent or refuse to act in the face of the current system of neoliberal economic globalization and therefore we confess before God and one another. 17. We believe in God, Creator and Sustainer of all life, who calls us as partners in the creation and redemption of the world. We live under the promise that Jesus Christ came so that all might have life in fullness (Jn 10.10). Guided and upheld by the Holy Spirit we open ourselves to the reality of our world. 18. We believe that God is sovereign over all creation. The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof (Psalm 24.1). 19. Therefore, we reject the current world economic order imposed by global neoliberal capitalism and any other economic system, including absolute planned economies, which defy Gods covenant by excluding the poor, the vulnerable and the whole of creation from

the fullness of life. We reject any claim of economic, political, and military empire which subverts Gods sovereignty over life and acts contrary to Gods just rule. 20. We believe that God has made a covenant with all of creation (Gen 9.8-12). God has brought into being an earth community based on the vision of justice and peace. The covenant is a gift of grace that is not for sale in the market place (Is 55.1). It is an economy of grace for the household of all of creation. Jesus shows that this is an inclusive covenant in which the poor and marginalized are preferential partners, and calls us to put justice for the least of these (Mt 25.40) at the centre of the community of life. All creation is blessed and included in this covenant (Hos 2.18ff). 21. Therefore we reject the culture of rampant consumerism and the competitive greed and selfishness of the neoliberal global market system, or any other system, which claims there is no alternative. 22. We believe that any economy of the household of life, given to us by Gods covenant to sustain life, is accountable to God. We believe the economy exists to serve the dignity and wellbeing of people in community, within the bounds of the sustainability of creation. We believe that human beings are called to choose God over Mammon and that confessing our faith is an act of obedience. 23. Therefore we reject the unregulated accumulation of wealth and limitless growth that has already cost the lives of millions and destroyed much of Gods creation.

24. We believe that God is a God of justice. In a world of corruption, exploitation, and greed, God is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor, the exploited, the wronged, and the abused (Psalm 146.7-9). God calls for just relationships with all creation. 25. Therefore we reject any ideology or economic regime that puts profits before people, does not care for all creation, and privatizes those gifts of God meant for all. We reject any teaching which justifies those who support, or fail to resist, such an ideology in the name of the gospel. 26. We believe that God calls us to stand with those who are victims of injustice. We know what the Lord requires of us: to do justice, love kindness, and walk in Gods way (Micah 6.8). We are called to stand against any form of injustice in the economy and the destruction of the environment, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5.24). 27. Therefore we reject any theology that claims that God is only with the rich and that poverty is the fault of the poor. We reject any form of injustice which destroys right relations gender, race, class, disability, or caste. We reject any theology which affirms that human interests dominate nature. 28. We believe that God calls us to hear the cries of the poor and the groaning of creation and to follow the public mission of Jesus Christ who came so that all may have life and have it in fullness (Jn 10.10). Jesus

brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry; he frees the prisoner and restores sight to the blind (Lk 4.18); he supports and protects the downtrodden, the stranger, the orphans and the widows. 29. Therefore we reject any church practice or teaching which excludes the poor and care for creation, in its mission; giving comfort to those who come to steal, kill and destroy (Jn 10.10) rather than following the Good Shepherd who has come for life for all (Jn 10.11). 30. We believe that God calls men, women and children from every place together, rich and poor, to uphold the unity of the church and its mission, so that the reconciliation to which Christ calls can become visible. 31. Therefore we reject any attempt in the life of the church to separate justice and unity. 32. We believe that we are called in the Spirit to account for the hope that is within us through Jesus Christ, and believe that justice shall prevail and peace shall reign. 33. We commit ourselves to seek a global covenant for justice in the economy and the earth in the household of God. 34. We humbly confess this hope, knowing that we, too, stand under the judgement of Gods justice. We acknowledge the complicity and guilt of those who consciously or unconsciously benefit from the current neoliberal economic global system; we recognize that this includes both churches and members of our own Reformed family

and therefore we call for confession of sin. We acknowledge that we have become captivated by the culture of consumerism, and the competitive greed and selfishness of the current economic system. This has all too often permeated our very spirituality. We confess our sin in misusing creation and failing to play our role as stewards and companions of nature. We confess our sin that our disunity within the Reformed family has impaired our ability to serve Gods mission in fullness. 35. We believe, in obedience to Jesus Christ, that the church is called to confess, witness and act, even though the authorities and human law might forbid them, and punishment and suffering be the consequence (Acts 4.18ff). Jesus is Lord. 36. We join in praise to God, Creator, Redeemer, Spirit, who has brought down the mighty from their thrones, lifted up the lowly, filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands (Lk 1.52f).

urge them to continue to translate this confession into concrete actions both regionally and locally. Other churches have already begun to engage in this process, including taking actions and we urge them to engage further, through education, confession and action. To those other churches, which are still in the process of recognition, we urge them on the basis of our mutual covenanting accountability, to deepen their education and move forward towards confession. 39. The general council calls upon member churches, on the basis of this covenanting relationship, to undertake the difficult and prophetic task of interpreting this confession to their local congregations. 40. The general council urges member churches to implement this confession by following up the Public Issues Committees recommendations on economic justice and ecological issues. 41. The general council commits the World Alliance of Reformed Churches to work together with other communions, the ecumenical community, the community of other faiths, civil movements and peoples movements for a just economy and the integrity of creation and calls upon our member churches to do the same. 42. Now we proclaim with passion that we will commit ourselves, our time and our energy to changing, renewing, and restoring the economy and the earth, choosing life, so that we and our descendants might live (Deut 30.19).

Covenanting for justice

37. By confessing our faith together, we covenant in obedience to Gods will as an act of faithfulness in mutual solidarity and in accountable relationships. This binds us together to work for justice in the economy and the earth both in our common global context as well as our various regional and local settings. 38. On this common journey, some churches have already expressed their commitment in a confession of faith. We

Hearing the cry for life in our joy and our pain
We are being confronted by the cry for life. This is Gods cry for life within us and within our world and Gods cry from those who live with poverty and injustice. We are churches who want to live more gently on earth, who want to care for and care about those who suffer and those who celebrate. However, the challenge of becoming examples of the change we are seeking raises the question of our understanding and practice of spirituality. This text stems from the WARC 2004 general council section on spirituality.

All of creation groans with pain, like the pain of childbirth. But it is not just creation alone which groans; we who have the Spirit groan within ourselves, as we wait for God to make us his children and set our whole being free (Romans 8.22-23). Wont you help to sing these songs of freedom? For all I ever have: Redemption Song (Bob Marley), Redemption Song

The 24th general council has been faced with a deeply spiritual as well as theological and missiological task: we are being confronted by the cry for life, Gods cry for life within us and within our world and Gods cry from those who live with poverty and injustice. This council gathering invites us to experience our unity in Christ, for our being in Christ together propels us into becoming his new creation, a community that walks the way of Christ enabled by his Spirit. Thus, the council has been considering the issues that our theme and our sharing pose to Christian spirituality. Spirituality is our chief means to discern and hallow the presence of God breaking

out in all things, Gods presence flowing into all aspects of our life and world. The spirituality section has explored spirituality as the gift that gives us the capacity to struggle, celebrate and feel for others in the midst of everything we face. The deeper our spirituality the deeper our capacity to face and overcome that which is unjust, celebrate the life we have, and feel for our neighbours near and far. We have all said how much the experience of African spirituality has revealed to us a holistic and engaged spirituality. We have experienced a creative and deep sense of Gods Spirit at work in all of life and have felt this Spirit leading us to

life in fullness. This indwelling Spirit transforms and sanctifies us inwardly and outwardly. The Spirit speaks with a prophetic voice that often we stifle through the many concerns of our lives and even stifle through the shallowness of our worship. We found ourselves wondering: Are we really providing people with the deep resources they need to live their lives and to live their lives fully in the light of Gods promise? In the section, varying and conflicting stories were told of people who felt lifted up by the church and others who felt cast down. We heard stories of those who, during time of war in their country, found something inspiring and strengthening. We heard stories of those who were living with pain and loss and were held up and empowered by the church. We also heard stories of those confronted and excluded by mean-spirited attitudes and an unwillingness to be open to people. We are very clear how our practice of spirituality can enable healing of our personal and political hurt, soothe our memories, and enable us to move on. But we see how it can also witness to a separation of worship from life and a flattering of our egos rather than a deep engagement with the will of God for our world and lives. We look, then, in many directions for inspiration in our spiritual life and expression. We look to the stories of our contemporaries and the stories of our time, to all the creative arts and traditions of our cultures. But especially we look to the deepest well of spirituality, the Scriptures

themselves and to Christ himself whose life and love is the summation of life in fullness and the inspiration to live and struggle for it. So this is a summary of some of the implications spirituality has for our task as Reformed churches.

Key issues in our theological task

It seems that we have not sufficiently developed and honoured our understandings of the action of the Holy Spirit in the challenges of our day. We have not fully grasped and expressed what life in the Spirit looks like. It seems to us that it looks like life in fullness: life that is lived generously for others, life that sees itself connected to the whole of our created and political order. Our discussion of spirituality revealed that we have often failed to see spirituality as wider than worship. We affirmed spirituality as flowing from all of life and connecting us to the Holy Spirit, but we are not all able to practise this understanding because we have not been open to the world beyond worship. Section discussions admitted how our theology has emphasized the head over the heart, the mind over the body; this is a theology growing increasingly stale in the diverse cultures and environments we inhabit. Our discussions ranged widely as to the nature of spirituality, but always it was difficult to leave worship as the fundamental expression of our spirituality. Yet so many of us spend so little time in worship, and the worship we engage in often fails to address the issues of our day, nor does it engage us at any deep level.

We are often not expressing ourselves, our faith, or our theology at a level that moves and compels us to the struggle for life in all its fullness.

more to consider how we might change our lifestyles and our economic policies. The sovereignty of God calls us to treat the world as sacred, yet we spurn Gods sovereignty and the earths sacredness by treating so much of life as simply a commodity. Spirituality reveals to us a deepening sense of the God who cares for all living things, a care we, too, are called to exercise and sustain. But we need still to practise this ecologically responsible discipleship and see it inviting us into deeper partnership with Christ and the many who share this concern with us. Communicating the gospel Churches planted during the period of colonial mission are still using models that reflect Europe and North America of that particular time. 19th century European models of worship have been imposed on all sorts of cultures. These cultures are not always sure how to renew themselves and lift the burden of this heritage. Even where churches in the South are discovering their own cultural voice, many churches in Europe and North America are left with a voice that no longer speaks to many of their contemporaries, if indeed it still speaks to them. This hampers us in our evangelistic and celebratory tasks as churches. We have shared in a rich variety of spiritual expression: music, drama, prayer, images, word and silence. All need to take their place in our life of witness, worship, and biblical reflection. We continually need to be seeking ways to help people connect with God, their

Key issues in our missiological task

Covenanting for life We are churches who want to engage with the struggle for justice and covenant for life. We are hearing such distressing stories and statistics about the nature of poverty and economic injustice that it threatens to overwhelm us. The burden of debt, the determined way rich nations and corporations run the world economy for their advantage points us to a long struggle before justice and fullness of life can prevail. How can we sustain this struggle if we do not develop the spiritual resources that keep us connected to the cry for life from our God and our neighbour? Otherwise we will simply give in to fatigue, cynicism, and fatalism. We could be missing Christs invitation to a deep sense of communion with him and with our sisters and brothers, an invitation that is discovered in worship but practised in living and enabled by the Spirit. We are churches who want to live more gently on the earth. The degradation of the planets resources, ecosystem and habitat could be facing us with more profound changes than the earth has experienced in millions of years. We have allowed ourselves to plunder the earth unchecked, but our increasing sense of spiritual connection with our groaning creation pushes us more and

humanity, their culture, and experience. This can be done out of the deep wells of Scripture, and especially from the promise of our Reformed vision that always looks expectantly to God to be acting. We do see churches finding new ways to express the promise of God, churches engaging in the struggle for justice, and churches adapting liturgical celebrations like the Eucharist to their context. All this draws on and deepens spirituality. Loving our neighbour We are churches who want to care for and care about those who suffer and those who celebrate. This is both a pastoral and a prophetic task. We have been moved and frustrated by the many stories we have heard about people and communities facing HIV/Aids. Healing is a very important theme in spirituality. Nevertheless, churches are not always places of consolation. We see ourselves building communities of hope, yet we often cut ourselves off from our neighbours and our communities. Our neighbours from other communities, other faiths, often have ideas and experiences to challenge and refresh us. We know how powerful concern for others and dialogue with others can be in enabling transformation and evangelism. We see churches doing this and rejoice. We also know how risky and tiring it can be. Our spirituality needs to sustain us in this joyful duty. The search for meaning in life Spirituality seems to be something common

to all peoples, a deeply rooted component of human identity. We know that people do search for meaning, not least when they suffer. Many young people lead their lives away from the church but do so searching for meaning and caring deeply about the issues of our world. We are reminded of the need for churches to be more readily open to these seekers. How much we can receive from children and young people, if we genuinely share together! Yet our worship can often assume that everyone is at the same place in her or his spiritual journey. Our worship needs to sit where people sit, addressing the issues and concerns of our daily lives through the rich stories and insights of our faith. It requires us to develop worship life beyond Sunday, to invite an outlook on life that is always expectant of Gods presence there and a practice of justice, compassion, and solidarity that guides our work and our play and our shopping.

Key issues in our ecclesiological task

Spirituality and the Bible We can see a danger for spirituality to be a form of selfcentredness, to be a comforter at times when we need to be challenged. It can make us feel that our needs and issues are central to the world and to the reign of God. Thus our spirituality needs to be shaped by our biblical reflection on Gods life and the life of the world, giving us points of reference beyond ourselves. We also see the increasingly fresh ways people around us in the worldwide church

are reading the Bible. Many of us are discovering, as if for the first time, that the Bible really is a profound resource for our spirituality. Indeed, it is our central resource. Stories that so often have been read against certain groups are beginning to be re-read and transformed by many of those thought unworthy of this task. There needs, then, to be a searching for the powerful questions to bring to our text and world, as we discern and hallow Gods cry for life. Spirituality and reforming our life We are churches who seek to make room for the gifts and leadership of the whole priesthood of believers. We are still failing in this task, as many women, young people, indigenous peoples, and peoples with disabilities will testify. But we are reminded that if we are to achieve the Reformed vision of being a church that is always reforming it needs the diverse gifts, insights, and indeed spiritualities of the peoples who make up our churches. Once again we heard the conflicting stories of those who were finding that room was made for their particular and distinctive voice and of those who all too painfully were kept silenced. Achieving the full potential of this idea means the practice of community that makes room for new models of leadership, participation, worship, and service. We are also particularly concerned to see that discrimination rather than discernment marks our church life. We have heard how those with disability, especially, are not fully honoured in the church; people are resisting the necessary

changes to enable their full participation. The Holy Spirit is at work in all people, but so many peoples lives and gifts go unheeded. Eucharist is still being used as a weapon to exclude others Our celebration of Communion featured often in our discussions. We see it as one of the most special components of our worship, for as we share we are supposed to be drawn into mission and unity with Christ and each other. Yet we know, still, that there are churches refusing to ordain women, churches who use communion as a means to exclude others from the core life and story of the church. This is an aspect of our worship that can most powerfully equip us to resist, celebrate, and feel for others in the midst of everything we face. How can we remember Jesus at that table, on that night, with those disciples, and not be inspired to seek fullness of life? Far from allowing communion to divide us even within the Reformed tradition, we see it calling us once more into a passionate, generous, and joyful way of life together. Challenge and opportunity of free and lively worship Many of our churches around the world feel overshadowed by the free style of worship offered in many Pentecostal, charismatic and evangelical churches. We heard stories of our congregations losing their young people to these churches. We wonder what there is for us to learn from these churches.

Stories were shared of developing alternative styles of worship services, expressing different types: traditional/ contemporary/reflective. Sometimes these were resisted by groups within congregations, sometimes embraced reluctantly. Some felt there were dangers of disintegration if we have different services for different groups, but others felt it had worked when done sensitively. It seems that some churches cannot accept lively styles of worship, but we want to affirm that using drums is not a sin; clapping and dance are not disrespectful. But also we want to affirm the role of silence and meditation, of chanting, in fact all the modes of expression we could use. Being in Ghana and Africa excited us with so many examples of life-filled and lively worship and spirituality. We are grateful for all we have received from our Ghanaian hosts.

and enriches our traditions, while raising up different worship models. 3. WARC facilitate processes of worship renewal within and between the regions in which we also face the questions of how we immerse our worship and spiritual life in the forms of our own culture. We especially encourage an interchange of all our creative methods, a sharing of musical, visual, liturgical, and biblical resources and approaches. 4. We would recommend a practical and creative response be made to the issue of HIV/Aids: a gathering together of resources, stories and experiences to deepen our spirituality and its capacity to equip us to resist, celebrate, and feel for others in the midst of everything we face. 5. We note again that in our reflection on spirituality and worship we are sensitive and alert to issues of language and participation. We ask WARC to raise with member churches the issues shared here about divisive and exclusive practice at the Eucharist. 6. WARC remind member churches of the need to dialogue across theological divides within faith traditions and between them, if we are to enrich our spiritualities and our sense of Christs Spirit at work amongst us. We need to remember we must become examples of the change we are seeking.

1. WARC begin a serious study on Reformed perspectives on the Holy Spirit and spirituality to assist us in our journey towards life in fullness. This needs to be done within the regions but brought together into a global discussion. 2. WARC develop and document a theology of worship to speak to the diverse needs of our membership that honours


Letter from Accra: message of the WARC 2004 general council

From the delegates gathered from throughout the world in Accra, Ghana, at the 24th general council of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches to the congregations of all those churches belonging to this fellowship, greetings. We have met as 400 delegates in this council from July 30 to August 12 2004, worshipping, studying the Bible, deliberating on urgent issues facing Gods world, and participating in the rich life of local churches in Ghana. We write to share with you what, on your behalf, we have discerned and experienced. Grace and peace to you from our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Our most moving and memorable moments came from our visit to Elmina and Cape Coast, two castles on the Coast of Ghana that held those who had been captured into slavery, as they suffered in dungeons waiting for slave ships that would take them to unknown lands and destinies. Over brutal centuries, 15 million African slaves were transported to the Americas, and millions more were captured and died. On this trade in humans as commodities, wealth in Europe was built. Through their labour, sweat, suffering, intelligence and creativity, the wealth of the Americas was developed. At the Elmina Castle, the Dutch merchants, soldiers, and Governor lived on the upper level, while the slaves were held in captivity one level below. We entered a room used as a church, with words from Psalm 132 on a sign still hanging above the door (For the Lord has chosen Zion). And we imagined Reformed Christians worshipping their God while directly below them, right under their feet, those being sold into slavery languished in the chains and horror of those dungeons. For more than two centuries in that place this went on. In angry bewilderment we thought, How could their faith be so divided from life? How could they separate their spiritual experience from the torturous physical suffering directly beneath their feet? How could their faith be so blind? Some of us are descended from those slave traders and slave owners, and others of us are descendants of those who were enslaved. We shared responses of tears, silence, anger, and lamentation. Those who are Reformed Christians have always declared Gods sovereignty over all life and all the earth. So how could these forbears of Reformed faith deny so blatantly what they believed so clearly? Yet, as we listened to the voices today from our global fellowship, we discovered the mortal danger of repeating the same sin of those whose blindness we decried.


For todays world is divided between those who worship in comfortable contentment and those enslaved by the worlds economic injustice and ecological destruction who still suffer and die. We perceive that the world today lives under the shadow of an oppressive empire. By this we mean the gathered power of pervasive economic and political forces throughout the globe that reinforce the division between the rich and the poor. Millions of those in our congregations live daily in the midst of these realities. The economies of many of our countries are trapped in international debt and imposed financial demands that worsen the lives of the poorest. So many suffer! Each day, 24,000 people die because of hunger and malnutrition, and global trends show that wealth grows for the few while poverty increases for the many. Meanwhile, millions of others in our congregations live lives as inattentive to this suffering as those who worshipped God on the floor above slave dungeons. In our discussions in Accra indeed in the past seven years of reflection since we last met in general council at Debrecen, Hungary we have come to realize that this is not just another issue to be addressed. Rather, it goes to the heart of our confession of faith. How can we say that we believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord over all life, and not stand against all that denies the promise of fullness of life to the world? If Jesus Christ is not Lord over all, he is not Lord at all. That is why we find in the

Bible a constant criticism of idolatry, emphasized in our Reformed tradition. To declare faith in the one true God is to reject divided loyalties between God and Mammon, dethrone the false gods of wealth and power, and turn from false promises to the true God of life. We know that this does not come easily for any of us. Yet our hope lies in confessing that the power of the resurrected Christ can overturn the idols and the modern gods that hold the world captive to injustice and ecological destruction. Therefore, we invite you, in Reformed churches throughout the world, to take this stance of faith, standing against all that denies life and hope for millions, as a concrete expression of our allegiance to Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters, this is a grave and serious invitation. As those who have met on your behalf in Accra, we declare to you that the integrity of our Christian faith is now at stake, just as it was for those worshipping in the Elmina castle. Confessing our faith and giving our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ requires our opposition to all that denies the fullness of life to all those in our world so loved by God. Such a confession also sends us forth with new eyes of faith into the world. Mission, it can be said, is embodied in the life of the church in the world. In Accra we recognized that living according to what we say we believe changes our understanding of mission today. We recalled that the church was born in a time of empire. Gods Spirit

called forth the church, in response to Gods work in the world, as a new community bearing witness to a new global reality and opposing the false claims of earthly gods. Gods mission involves your congregation and each of ours in fresh and challenging ways today. How can we share the message and liberating love of Christs life in those places where suffering and death seem to reign? This much we discovered for certain in Accra: more than ever, faithful mission today requires our connection really it demands bonds of belonging between one another as churches. The challenges we now face in proclaiming the Good News will simply overwhelm us if we confront them as individual churches alone. In todays world the divisions between the North and the South, the rich and the poor, and the powerful and the powerless, grow sharper and seek to isolate us from one another. Thats why mission requires us as churches to belong more deeply to one another, overcoming those divisions through the work of Gods Spirit as an evidence of the hope that is offered to the world. In our inclusive fellowship here in Accra, we have experienced a taste of this hope and seek to share it with you. In this council we have focused on current threats to life, especially economic neoliberalism and the arrogance of imperial power. Our churches in central and eastern Europe remind us that for long decades they suffered under the tyranny of another empire. The wounds of this past are not yet healed. We recognize the need for all of us

East and West to work through this bleak chapter of our history, and to ask whether Reformed churches in the West heard sufficiently the cry of their sisters and brothers in the East. Being truly mutual and accountable is hard and even painful, testing the depth of our trust. It requires the vulnerability demonstrated in Jesus. But there is no other way for us to follow Gods mission, and building unity for this purpose is one of the practical things the World Alliance of Reformed Churches can make possible. But we discovered one more truth in Accra that we want to share. If confessing what we believe as Christians requires our spiritual and practical resistance to economic injustice as well as environmental destruction, then we need new depths of spirituality. This isnt mere political activism; were being called to a spiritual engagement against evil, and for that we need our lives to be deeply rooted in the power of Gods Spirit. To put it simply, we need, as never before, the transformation of our lives promised through Jesus Christ. This spiritual challenge flows from the words found in John 10.10, where Jesus declares the promise that all may have life in fullness. That biblical theme, in fact, wove itself through the work of the council during these days. Our Christian spirituality opens us to the presence and power of God in all the creation. Further, it draws us into everdeeper community with one another. Deepening our spirituality can connect us

with Gods power for the healing of personal wounds, social scars, and political divisions. We also realized more clearly than ever that such spiritual transformation and the community that it creates are only possible as the gifts of women and young people are freely exercised and liberated in our life together. We experienced a glimpse of this in our gathering, as both women and youth shared so richly in worship, Bible study, presentations to the council, and leadership roles, and we long for the spirituality that makes this possible in every one of our congregations. Because we were in Accra, Ghana, we were blessed constantly with the spiritual vitality and power of the local churches that hosted and received us. The drums and songs that saturate the soul of the African church permeated our worship. We marvelled at offerings given with such dancing and joy from hearts so full of gratitude. Here we tasted a spirituality that seemed so whole, so worshipful, so connected in community, and so embracing of Gods creation. It draws from the gifts of the culture and sings not only in these enchanting songs, but also in their daily lives, as their witness to the fullness of life in Christ. As we entered the homes of our hosts on a weekend of visits to churches throughout Ghana and then were carried away by the power of their worship, our hearts were filled with hope and gratitude. We experienced the warmth of their hospitality and the power of Gods Spirit to

bring new life and community. And we knew this is the sign of the only power that can sustain us as we confess our faith in Christ, stand against the powers of evil that threaten life, and live in mission with the hope of fullness of life for all promised by our Lord. We want you to join in the confession and covenant with one another we have made in Accra. As part of the fellowship of those churches throughout the globe that share in common the Reformed tradition of Christian faith, we long for our experience here to enrich and encourage your mission and ministry. Weve included a liturgy that could enable you to share in worship the same confession, commitments, and promises that we have made here at this council. And weve also included an appendix that gives a summary of the many other urgent issues and concerns from around the globe that received our attention. Our prayer for you is that God may reveal to you in fresh ways how our faith is deeply connected to all of life. May none of us ever live our faith insensitive to brutal suffering and indifferent to urgent cries from our world. May all of us know the power of God at work in our Lord Jesus Christ to overcome evil and offer to all the world life in the fullness intended by God. And may the grace of God, the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you now and forever more. Accra, Ghana August 12 2004

Threats and challenges to life: an African womans perspective

Fulata Lusungu Moyo
Starting from true life stories, especially her own, Rev. Fulata Moyo questions some of the Presbyterian Churchs teachings regarding male and female beings in Malawi and the rest of Africa to argue that the greatest threat to fullness of life remains patriarchy, which is effectively sustained by some major Reformed teachings. Rev. Moyo, a systematic theologian, is the secretary of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians. She is preparing a doctoral thesis at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This paper was read at the 2004 WARC womens precouncil.

The year 1988 is the year that my mother was confirmed as the head of our household when my father died on August 18. Of course my fathers headship of the family was more remote-controlled, if anything, as he had to head two other households, as a polygamous husband. 1988 has double significance for me in my sexuality journey; it was the year when I had to deal with marital unfaithfulness in my own marriage relationship. My husband had to leave for his place of work a day after the burial of my fathers remains. I had to stay with my mother for a month until she was again allowed to cook and take care of herself according to the Ngoni widowhood traditions (Moyo, 2002), which sometimes override the Christian mission to liberate and bring fullness of life. I joined my husband after the month. Two weeks after, when I went back to the university for my undergraduate studies,1 I

had to go for some medical tests because of some uncontrollable itching in my precious parts. The tests revealed that I was suffering from gonorrhoea. In my naivety, I thought I might have been infected from common toilet seats at the hostels. I was shocked when the medical personnel told me: Go ask your husband. He knows where you got it from! What shocked me was the confidence with which I was informed. Not totally believing him and hoping that my husband would prove him wrong, I went and explained to my husband what had happened, almost apologizing for bothering him with such triviality. Overwhelmed by the truth of the medical personnels charge, coupled with my husbands seemingly crocodile tears of repentance, the need to talk with someone who would understand my sense of being betrayed was evoked in me. Talking with a married Presbyterian Christian sister helped me a lot but it also

raised so many questions regarding the whole conception of the male-female relationship particularly within the marital commitments. She offered a shoulder for me to cry on as she encouragingly expressed her solidarity with me. She assured me that I was not alone in this struggle, for so many women, including her, had gone through the same ordeal. She had this to say: Thank God you discovered the problem early enough to be treated. Some of us had to go through hell before we knew what was wrong. When I confronted my husband, he bluntly told me that he was surprised that I treated the whole thing as if he had killed someone! Can you imagine such irresponsibility! On a worse note, though, my friend gave birth to a stillborn because of untreated venereal diseases. Well, so I was not alone after all even within the perimeters of the Reformed ethos of transformed lives? What is it about our husbands understanding of themselves and their relationship with us that makes them get away with such aberrant behaviour? How could my husband, my Presbyterian sisters husband and her friends husband comfortably be unfaithful, secretly get treatment (for their sexually transmitted infections STIs) and not even be obliged to tell us, their God-given wives?2 What about our own understanding of being women: how come I was very apologetic even when asking my husband about the whole incident instead of rightfully confronting him? What

about my two Presbyterian sisters: how come after that experience, even without real repentance from their husbands, they still remained married to them? Were we scared of losing the heads of our families despite their being irresponsible and murderous in this HIV/Aids infected generation? In this paper my thesis is that the greatest threat to fullness of life still remains patriarchy, which is effectively sustained by some major Reformed teachings, especially those pertaining to male/female relationship (cf. Phiri, 1997; Russell, 1985; Njoroge, 2000). The challenge to the Reformed family still remains bringing into its life and witness Gods reign expressed in agape with mutuality and communion. As such, I intend to problematize some of the Presbyterian Churchs teachings regarding male and female beings in Malawi and the rest of Africa.3 I want us to reflect on our conception of a man and a woman as we are confronted by church discipline in cases of unfaithfulness, on the socialization through sex education given to women as to how they should treat their husbands as heads and on the whole question of who a man is. I intend to deal with these issues by firstly, looking at the conflict raised by the concept of men as heads of families and the double standard practice of church discipline in cases of unfaithfulness; secondly, I will look at the unbalanced emphasis on mens dignity at the expense of womens dignity; and finally, I will envision


a heterosexual relationship based on agape with mutuality and communion as the necessary transformation that the church in Africa has to undergo so as to deal with the current threats to life in order to ensure life in fullness. As usual I have started with my own journey of faith as a sexual being. This is not because I enjoy the resurrection of painful memories, thus inflicting pain on myself, but because I refuse to conceptualize the questions I am raising today as if they were abstract concepts. By sharing my own story, I am inviting each one of us to put a face to these realities so that we get the motivation to act. It is real peoples lives, the very images of God that we are dealing with and the response we give will either empower us to dare and envision transformation yielding a more abundant life, or lead to stagnation resulting in more death and hopelessness. The keys are in our hands!

Sub-Saharan Africa. About 3.1 million of the worlds deaths in 2002 were Aids-related deaths of which 2.4 million were in SubSaharan Africa. Of the 2.5 million adult deaths, 1.2 million were among women (UNAIDS, 2002). In Malawi, an estimated 60% of the Malawian adults living with HIV/ Aids are between 15-24 years of age (NAC, 2002); and among them, the infection rate is 6 females to 1 male (NAC, 2002). Women comprise 56% of the total adult population who live with HIV/Aids in Malawi, estimated to stand at 15% of the countrys total population of 10.5 million (UNAIDS, 2002; NAC, 2002). Of daily new infections, 55% occur in women (NAC, 2002). Moreover, an estimated 32% of pregnant women are HIVpositive (UNAIDS, 2002). In Sub-Saharan Africa, heterosexual sex is the commonest mode of HIV transmission, accounting for 88-98% of all infections (UNAIDS, 2002; Granich & Mermin, 2001; NAC, 2003). Such transmission is higher from male to female at a rate of 1:6 (NAC, 2003). Meanwhile, it is evident that HIV/Aids spreads more rapidly where women have low status and little decision-making power or education (Gupta, 2001). And in kinshipbased rural communities especially (Paris: 1985), women learn from an early age to subordinate their own wellbeing to the good of the community (cf. Mbiti, 1970; Phiri, 1997; Dube, 2001). Men endowed with the duty to make sure that the right skills are inculcated so that the communitys health is safeguarded entrust women, young and

Threats and challenges to life: sex, gender, power and HIV/Aids

It is no longer a secret to each one of us that while HIV/Aids is a global challenge; Africa bears this challenge in double portions, especially Sub-Saharan Africa. In SubSaharan Africa HIV prevalence is estimated as follows according to countries: Botswana 39%, Zimbabwe 34%, Swaziland 33%, Lesotho 31%, South Africa 20%, Kenya 15%, Malawi 15%, Tanzania 7.8%, Uganda 5% (UNAIDS, 2002). Of the 42 million adults and children living with Aids, 29.4 are in


old. Here the question of what is right has to do with those skills that equip these women with those values that subject them to the service of men more than what is right according to the gospel of Christs liberation for each person: male or female. In Africa, sexuality issues are power issues. Those who determine the what, when, where and how of sex are those who have power in this case, men (Gupta, 2001). A range of local religious and cultural sexual practices frustrates the mutuality of sexual decision-making between the genders. Malawian Christians who comprise 80% of the population (NSOC, 1999) have appropriated chinamwali4 for their own ends. Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics and Presbyterians have transformed chinamwali into a Christian rite some call chilangizo (Phiri, 1997). Despite their laudable efforts to inculturate Christianity within local religious idioms, the churchs mission in the midst of the HIV/Aids epidemic is to bring hope (Douglas, 1999) by reminding everyone that women, as much as men, are made in the image of God and therefore deserve life and dignity as much as men (Cannon, 1988). As Archbishop Nzimbi (2003) has said, The church has the responsibility to provide accurate information and allow individuals to make informed choices on relationships. Yet, chilangizo, like chinamwali, teaches women to serve mens sexual needs as if women had no sexual identity or needs of their own (cf. Ross, 2002). In particular, it teaches women to practise dry sex for mens sexual enjoyment. In

addition, church leaders who encourage womens participation in chilangizo also commonly offer Christian pre-marital and marital counselling that sustains these same messages. In both contexts, the church inadvertently reinforces womens vulnerability (Banda, 2001) to HIV/Aids. Ironically, the churchs view of sex as a means to procreate (Farley, 1997) means that any contraceptive measure is deemed sinful and, therefore, unacceptable among church members. Consequently condom use (Nolan, 2001) is not acceptable even with male partners who indulge in risky behaviour, like having multiple sexual partners (Keenan et al., 2000; Nicolson, 1996). Chilangizo subordinates womens sexual lives to mens and makes women potentially vulnerable to HIV transmission (cf. Musopole, 2002). Moreover, it does not challenge the taboo status of sexual issues in Malawi, Malawians general culture of silence around sex (GAIA, 2003), or the resulting definition of a good woman as one who remains silent and passive when it comes to sexual decisions (cf. Gupta, 2000). Such limited sexual autonomy makes it difficult for women to utilize information about sex and negotiate safer sex (Amaro, 1995). This, along with a prevailing though deceptive cultural valuing of virginity, socializes women and men to believe that men are born knowledgeable about sex whereas women must be taught how to have it. Correspondingly, men feel obliged to indulge in risky sex to prove their manhood (UNAIDS, 1999).

Men as heads and the doublestandard nature of church discipline

The increasing reality of female-headed households5, the Reformed teaching of men as heads of the family and the research findings that HIV/Aids is more prevalent in societies which have gender imbalances, raise a lot of questions to the church today. How do we define men as heads of family, in families of widows, and divorced and single mothers? How can the church transform the concept of headship so as to encourage mutuality and communion of partners who compliment each other? Within the HIV/ Aids reality in Africa where machismo of sexual aggressiveness yields death, what transformed definitions of men and women do we need to come up with? The concepts we have developed over years concerning the relationships between women and men tint our view of so many issues even church discipline where it is still practised. Let us reflect on one church discipline case against my own experience as narrated above. As already shared above, I was encouraged to forgive my husband. Both Christian sisters and brothers who knew about our turmoil, encouraged me to actually let go of this part of life and start treating my husband as if nothing like that had ever happened. I had to forgive although there were so many times when I wished I had some explanations regarding all this. However, as I tried to avoid being tempted to ask more whys?. I would go back to my sisters to talk. One of those days, I was told of a case of one sisters

unfaithfulness in one of the churches. She admitted unfaithfulness with a charcoal seller.6 When the case was brought to the church, everyone sympathized with the husband and told the wife that she had undone her marriage herself. According to them, her husband, a businessman, had made sure that she had everything money could buy: a well-furnished house, cars and drivers, clothes and money, what else did she want? She was a very ungrateful person. Her husband was told that he was free to do whatever he wanted. What was amazing to me is that these counsellors (or cancellers7) did not even try to analyse the fact that she had chosen a charcoal seller and not another rich man as her lover. If it was a question of what money can buy, she should have found a rich man, not an economically challenged man, to be involved with. Does her choice of such a man not challenge the assumption that every woman gets into heterosexual relationships for economic security and social status? Her husband had given her all that money could buy but denied her what mutual love gives his companionship. He was always away on business trying to make her economic security more secure, so he thought. Her involvement with the other man assured her of what love could give beyond material benefits. To Sigmund Freuds question, What does a woman want? the answer would be clearly: A woman wants everything a man wants. Success and power and status and money. Love and marriage and children.


HAPPINESS. FULFILMENT. (emphasis mine) (Cummings, 1991:1) Women are not gold-diggers trying to reap where they did not sow, even though they need economic empowerment to fulfil their family responsibilities just as men do. The church should come to terms with the reality that women, just like men, want genuine love and look for fulfilment in heterosexual relationships, and that anything less than that is as frustrating as it would be to men.

victim of a violent husband is taught not to reveal that she has a black eye because of beating, but rather to lie and say that she hit a wall or something. The keeping of such secrets means that the violent husband can still enjoy respect in his community as a respectable man, as otherwise revelation of the truth would mean disrespect and criticism. The latter would be contrary to the general Malawian cultural attitude of Mwamuna saudzidwa (A man knows all). Mwamuna salakwa (A man is infallible). Or the biblical and cultural attitudes expressed in the song: Wamkulu ndi ndani mbanja (Who is head of a family)? Wamkulu ndi mwamuna (The man is the head of family)! (Chakanza, 2002). As the head, he deserves all the respect. Therefore anything that would add up to his losing respect should not be made known to others who might stop respecting him. Unfortunately, most of the time the heavy task of being vanguards of this tradition so as to safeguard this farfetched respect falls totally on women as custodians of communitys culture and wellbeing. The above demand being a reality in the life of the church, the community of believers in Christ, the Holy Head and model of our lives, violates the very principles of liberation that are inherent in the ministry of the church. It seems as if the male members demand respect as heads of the family sanctuary while the women implement this by giving the respect and making sure that everyone else is giving it, even in cases where it is not deserved. This has led to the

Women, respect and protect your husbands dignity as heads: what about our dignity, who will protect it?
Through chilangizo, girls are socialized in the ways of being proper Christian women. Some of the characteristics instilled in these girls are: gentleness, submissiveness as well as self-sacrifice. These are virtues which are part of the Christian teaching for every follower of Christ, yet within patriarchal structures these same supposedly graces of the Holy Spirit have been used to sustain gender imbalances as they have been demanded more of Christian women than Christian men. Moreover, instead of these being conceived as qualities of Christian character especially expressed as a fruit of the Holy Spirits work in the one who is filled, they have been demanded more of women in their service to men than to God. Consequently, married women are taught not to reveal their husbands failures and abuses. For example, a woman who is a


adoption of the conspiracy of silence for the same reasons of trying to keep the male leadership respected. By keeping silent, women have sustained a lot of abuses, which have even undermined their God-given human dignity (Phiri, 1997:64). Most of the abuses have subjected them to risk their lives and are added to a lot of injustices that they have suffered. The immense concern to protect the dignity of the heads of the families does not take into account the whole question of the womans dignity. As she is pressurized to safeguard this dignity of the other, she has neither time nor motivation to ask about her own dignity. Is she not as much of Gods image as the man is? If women start acknowledging their own human dignity as Gods image, and decided to break the silence on abuses in the life of the church, there will be a breakthrough in the efforts to bring meaningful healing and transformation, even in the fight against HIV/Aids.

through the evangelistic message that Jesus is their liberator and life-giver (Ross, 2002). In Sub-Saharan Africa where the major mode of HIV transmission is heterosexual contacts, imperatively, one of the AIDSprevention interventions that the church has to undertake must involve the role of Jesus liberation and life-giving mission in men and womens sexuality. How can womens faith liberate them from the traditional patriarchal conceptions that subject them to their male counterparts decision-making (cf. Dube, 2001)? In other words, how can new faith perspectives help women reclaim their wholeness as equal sexual partners with men, particularly in the fight against HIV/Aids (Njoroge & Dube, 2001; VSO, 2003)? The church has to transform the above picture and develop a theology of the equality of women and men as the image of God. One way of doing this will be the need to transform the conception of why women and men get married. It seems that even the church believes that men marry so as to offer works of kindness as economic security providers while women, as benefactors of these sponsors, have to offer themselves unreservedly in their services to these kind-hearted men to whom they are indebted. With such shaky and unbalanced bases for marriage, to expect stable, loving companionship in Christian marriages is prima facie. Christian marriage should be built on agape with mutuality and communion and economic security, social status and sexual pleasure are the benefits

First seek the reign of agape with mutuality and communion: this is the gospel and the prophets!
Given the risks inherent in the ways chinamwali (religio-cultural) and chilangizo (Christian initiations) educate women sexually, this paper urges the church to create a new, alternative form of sexual education by building on existing efforts to empower Malawian women and men to handle sexuality issues and HIV/Aids. The church needs to enhance womens and mens spiritual and mental wellbeing

of such a meaningful relationship. Unless this transformation takes place, the message of the church would have failed its mission of bringing abundant life in a world rocked with so many threats and challenges. Both men and women should be given the environment that helps them to enjoy Christs liberation and encourages them to attain fulfilment as they reach their highest potential in their service of their God. Research has shown that in HIV/Aids prevention-intervention that targets sexuality, the empowerment of women is essential to the prevention of HIV/Aids. Central to this empowerment is the power of women to control their own sexual lives as much as men. Both cultural and Christian sex education face the challenge to work towards a sex education that emphasizes mutual love and communion as the basis of any heterosexual relationship and sexual pleasure to be enjoyed by both women and men as a benefit of any meaningful heterosexual relationship. This mutuality would help women to realize that they are not sexual objects at the mercy of mens sexual prowess but that they are companions and partners in this sex act, which is a holy gift from God. If anything, the time has come for women and men in the church to purposefully release the sexual power of the woman. This power together with the whole woman will help enhance mutual love, and thus contribute to the bringing of mutual sexual fulfilment, which it is hoped will bring out mutual faithfulness and healing in heterosexual relationships,8

hopefully culminating in HIV/Aids prevention.

Our African version of agape would have been the ubuntu philosophy (Mbigi & Maree, 1995:1-2), had it been liberated from its patriarchal overtones of the brotherhood I am as a man because you my brothers are well and in control, and since we are what matters, therefore I safely am. How can this be a communitarian spirit for both men and women, if the very command to love unconditionally seems to be a burden for some (especially women) resulting in a lot of self-sacrifice, (cf. Hall, 1996:4) especially precipitated by the central ministry of hospitality, that sustains this spirit and which continues to be the burden of women? The church with its mission geared towards the assurance of a more abundant life for both women and men and based on the fact that both women and men are created in the image of God is the most qualified institution to bring transformation to such a creation-friendly philosophy. But as it is right now, so much has to be transformed within the church itself before it (the church) can be an effective agent of transformation. What can be done in theological and sexual education? Demystify sexuality Sexuality is very central when it comes to defining our being. We ought to accept the fact that we are sexual beings and that sexual needs are natural to our being just like any other

hunger-related needs. Sexual intercourse as a gift from God to be enjoyed between two people who have committed themselves to each other is not taboo. Unlike the Gnostic dualism, the church needs to transform its understanding of sex as a necessarily sinful evil to the divine understanding that sex as Gods creation is a good creation. Christian theologians need to develop a theology of mutual love and communion climaxed in sexual pleasure within an acceptable sexual relationship9 as a foretaste of what it will be like to be in Gods (the lover of our souls) presence (eschatological hope). There is a need to re-read all the biblical passages that talk of our relationship with God in terms of a lover and beloved and be enriched by them without the pressure to abstractly spiritualize them. The Song of Songs (Solomon) would be a good starting point. Contextualize accurate terminologies of sexuality The church needs to activate sexual terminologies that will reflect their positive theological reflection. So far, Malawian local languages tend to portray only terminologies that have negative connotations as if sex is necessarily evil. If the church decides to use the already existing euphemisms (which fall short of the spirit of breaking the silence) then it should do so being prepared to give accurate explanations when confronted with questions of clarity. If the church caters for the needs of everyone, including the youth, then it would do itself well to acknowledge

the fact that sexuality issues are explicitly dealt with through the media and other avenues that are available to the youth. As such, the church has to avoid creating religious schizophrenia amongst its members (being Christian on worship days and being sexual maniacs on other days when away from the pastor and the church). Affirm gender equality The church has to acknowledge the socio-economic and religio-cultural realities that put women in situations where they have to be at the mercy of their male counterparts and implement empowerment programmes that will enhance more decision-making power for women. Moreover the church should make sure that it develops gender sensitive policies regarding the language use in its theological training institutions as well as in its ministry of Word and Sacrament. According to the Malawi Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), of the estimated 65.3% of Malawians who are poor, 52% are women who headed 25% of the households. The literacy rate, generously defined in terms of having completed the primary school education level, was estimated at a pathetic rate of 58% of which women comprise 44%, that is, 6.2% of the 11.2% of literate adults (of 25 years or above).10 These poverty analysis indicators can partly explain why Malawian women, in particular, and African women, in general, have been said to have no decision-making power. This has been emphasized in the area of their sexuality especially regarding

their heterosexual relationships (Phiri, 2004; Shawa, 2002). International research has shown that most women have no power to negotiate for safe and mutual sex because of their social contexts (Gupta, 2001). Culturally, women have been socialized and schooled on how to please their male sexual partners so as to ensure that they remain married to them. It was important that a girl learned how to dance with her husband when having sex (Brinkman, 1999:511). The overriding picture presented of a woman in Africa has been that of her being at the

mercy of her husband when it comes to sex, whether the woman herself desires it or not (Ross, 2002:54). These realities in which women find themselves make hope for the fullness of life very bleak, not only for women but also for the whole church. If women cannot enjoy life in fullness, those around them cannot either! So the challenge to ensure gender equality is to both male and female members of the church, otherwise life in its fullness is a myth in this life a dream that cannot be realized!

I had to withdraw from my undergraduate studies in the fourth year in 1985 when I became pregnant and only went back to finish my five-year education course in 1987 up until 1989. In 1986 when my husband paid lobola, I was allowed by my family to traditionally join him as my husband but as far as the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian was concerned, we were not married but living in sin until 1987 when we had our marriage blessed by the church. 2 Since our marriages were officiated or blessed by the church, it was assumed that God meant us for each other. I think most of us Christians believe that about our human relations no matter how we met. 3 Stories from all over Africa and interactions with other African sisters and brothers in the Reformed family seem to echo similar struggles all over Africa. Of particular interest would be Njoroge, Nyambura, 2000, Kiama Kia Ngo: An African Christian Feminist Ethic of Resistance and Transformation, Legon: Legon Theological Studies.

Chinamwali is a religio-cultural rite of passage practised in central and southern Malawi. It is more sexually elaborate among the Yao people, one of over 15 tribes found in Malawi (cf. Banda 2001, Phiri 1997). 5 In 1998, it was estimated that at least 25% of the households in Malawi were femaleheaded, this percentage has gone up by 2004 because of the reality of Aids-related deaths (cf. Government of Malawi, Profile of Poverty in Malawi: Poverty Analysis of the Integrated Household Survey. 6 In Malawi charcoal selling is mainly done by men who burn some trees in rural areas and get charcoal which they carry packed in bags to sell in urban areas. They usually leave very early so as to reach their customers early enough for breakfast (around 6.30-7.00 am). 7 I fail to conceive what they were doing to this family as counselling. It is more cancelling the marriage in favour of the husband who in all respects must have been having extra marital affairs that kept him away from his wife.


Mutual love and communion should be the basis of any human relationship, especially that which pertains to sexual intimacy. Not only heterosexual but even homosexual relationships need such a basis for maximum benefits (see Marshall, 1997). 9 In African communities, the acceptability of a relationship depends on whether it enhances the communitys wellbeing. With the reality of patriarchy, gender analysis must be used to evaluate the

acceptability of a relationship as only one that enhances the wellbeing of both women and men. When it comes to wellbeing, the community should be able to answer questions of whose wellbeing and whose interests it serves. If it is only one group of people at the expense of the other, then it should not be accepted as a just measurement for acceptability for it will not safeguard fullness of life for all. 10 Government of Malawi, 2002:xv.

Arthur, Bryson J, 1998, A Theology of Sexuality and Marriage, Nairobi: Uzima Press. Amaro, Hortensia, Love, Sex, and Power: Considering Womens Realities in HIV Prevention, Award Address, in June 1995, American Psychologist, Vol. 50, No. 6, pp.437447. Banda, Rachel, 2001, Liberation through Baptist Polity and Doctrine: A Reflection on the Lives of Women in the History of Women in the Baptist Convention of Southern Malawi, an MA Thesis, Zomba: University of Malawi. Beer, Ilana, Blood Discharge: On Female Im/Purity in the Priestly Code and Biblical Narrative in Brenner, Athalya (ed), 1994, The Feminist Companion to the Bible (Exodus to Deuteronomy) 6, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, pp.152-164. Cannon, Katie G, 1988, Black Womanist Ethics, Atlanta: Scholars Press. Cummings, Mary Lou, 1991, Surviving Without Romance: African Women Tell their Stories, Scottdale/Pennsylvania/Waterloo/ Ontario: Herald Press. Cutler, Winnifred, 1996, Coitus and Menstruation in Perimenopausal Women in Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 17, pp.149-157. DAngelo, Mary Rose, Gender and Power in the Gospel of Mark: The Daughter of Jairus and the Woman with the Flow of Blood in Cavadini, John C, 1999, Miracles in Jewish and Christian Antiquity: Imagining Truth, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, pp.83-109. Daymond, MJ et al. (ed), 2003, Women Writing Africa: The Southern Region, New York: Feminist Press. Degabriel, J, 1999, When Pills dont Work African Illnesses, Misfortune and Mdulo, in Religion in Malawi No. 9, pp.9-23. Dobson, James, 1983, Love Must Be Tough, Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications. Douglas, Kelly Brown, 1999, Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective, Maryknoll: Orbis Books. Dube, Musa (ed), 2001, Other Ways of Reading: African Women and the Bible, Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature. Farley, Margaret, 1995, Sexual Ethics, in

Encyclopedia of Bioethics, Vol. 5, Macmillan, pp.2363-2375. Freire, Paulo, 1970, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, London: Penguin Books. Government of Malawi, 2000, Profile of Poverty in Malawi: Poverty Analysis of the Integrated Household Surveys 1998. ___________________, 2002, Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Granich, R, & Mermin, J, 2001, HIV Health & Your Community: A Guide for Action, Berkeley: The Hesperian Foundation. Gupta, Geeta Rao, 2000, Gender, Sexuality, and HIV/AIDS: The What, the Why and the How, a Plenary Address, XIIIth International AIDS Conference, Washington: ICRW (International Center for Research on Women). Iwasaki, Akiko, 2003, Issues Relating to HIV Entry through the Vaginal vs Rectal Mucoso, Yale AIDS Colloquium Series, CIRA & Institute for Social and Policy Studies. Kanyoro, Musimbi, 2002, Introducing Feminist Cultural Hermeneutics: An African Perspective, Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press. Keenan, JF et al. (eds), 2000, Catholic Ethicists on HIV/AIDS Prevention, New York/London: Continuum. Kelly, Terri L, Towards a Common Sense Deconstruction in Narrative Therapy, Portland, on eng595.htm. Lorde, Audre, 1994, Sister Outsider, Trumansburg/New York: the Crossing Press Feminist Series. Marshall, Joretta L, 1997, Counseling Lesbian Partners, Louisville/Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. Mbiti, John S, 1970, African Religions and Philosophy, Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Mbuy-Beya, Bernadette, 1998, Woman, Who are You? A Challenge, Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa. Mercer, Joyce Ann, Liberation in Russell, Letty & Clarkson, J Shannon (eds), 1996, Dictionary of Feminist Theologies, Louisville/Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press.

Minkler, Meredith (ed), 1997, Community Organizing and Community Building for Health, New Brunswick/New Jersey/ London: Rutgers University Press. Moyo, Fulata L, Singing and Dancing Womens Liberation: My Story of Faith, in Isabel A Phiri, Govinden Devakarsham B & Nadar, Sarojini (eds), 2002, Her-Stories: Hidden Histories of Women of Faith in Africa, Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications, pp.389-408. ________(with Dixie Maluwa-Banda), The Church and AIDS in Malawi in Journal of Contextual Theology, 2001. ___________, AIDS as a Challenge to the Integrity of the Church in Malawi in Ross, KR (ed), 1998, Faith at the Frontier of Knowledge, Blantyre: CLAIM. Musopole, Augustine, 2002, Breaking the Culture of Silence: The Churches in Malawi Speak on HIV/AIDS, an opening speech at Norwegian Church Aid Churches Conference on HIV/AIDS, Lilongwe: NCA. National AIDS Control Program, 1999, Lilongwe: NACP. National AIDS Commission, 2002, Situation Update on HIV/AIDS in Malawi, Lilongwe: NAC. National Statistics Office, 1999, The National Census Report, Zomba: NSOM. Nelson, James B, 1978, Embodiment: An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology, Minneapolis/Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House. Neuger, CC, 2001, Counseling Women: A Narrative, Pastoral Approach, Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Nicolson, Ronald, 1996, God in AIDS? London: SCM Press. Njoroge, Nyambura & Dube, Musa (eds,) 2001, Talitha Cum! Theologies of African Women, Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications. Nolan, Albert, 2001, Catholics & Condoms, Challenge: Church and People, No. 66. Nzimbi, Archbishop Benjamin, of the Anglican Church of Kenya, The Church and HIV/AIDS, in Daily Nation, Wednesday March 26, 2003.

Oduyoye, Mercy A, 2001, Introducing African Womens Theology, Cleveland: The Pilgrims Press. _________, 1995, Daughters of Anowa: African Women and Patriarchy, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. Paris, Peter J, 1995, The Spirituality of African Peoples: The Search for a Common Moral Discourse, Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Paterson, Gillian, 1996, Love in a Time of AIDS: Women, Health and the Challenge of HIV, Geneva: WCC Publications. Phiri, Isabel, 1997, Women, Presbyterianism and Patriarchy, Blantyre: CLAIM. __________, Hadad, B and Masenya, M, 2004, African Women, HIV/AIDS and Faith Communities, Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications. Rankin, W, Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance Update, February 2003, California: GAIA. Russell, Letty, Authority and Challenge of Feminist Interpretation, in Russell, LM (ed), Feminist Interpretation of the Bible, Philadelphia: Westminster, 1985. Shawa, Mary, Womens Sexuality, Culture and HIV/AIDS: Issues, Challenges and Way Forward a paper presented at Norwegian Church Aid Churches Conference on HIV/ AIDS, Lilongwe: NCA. Surrey, JL, 1991, The Self-in-relationship: A Theory of Womens Development in JD Jordan, AG Kaplan, JB Miller, IP Stiver & JL Surrey (eds), Womens Growth in Connection, NY: Guilford Press, pp.162-180. Susser, Ida & Stein, Zena, Public Health Matters: Culture, Sexuality, and Womens Agency in the Prevention of HIV/AIDS in

Southern Africa, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 90, No. 7, July 2000. Taylor, D, 1996, The Healing Power of Stories: Creating Yourself Through the Stories of Your Life, New York: Doubleday. Trible, Phyllis, Feminist Hermeneutics and Biblical Studies, Christian Century, 3-10 February 1982, pp.116-118. UNAIDS-ONUSIDA, 1999, Gender and HIV/ AIDS: Taking Stock of Research and Programs, Geneva. UNAIDS-ONUSIDA 2002, Epidemiological Fact Sheets on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections, Geneva. UNAIDS-ONUSIDA 2002, Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic, Geneva. Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), 2003, Men, HIV & AIDS: Men of Quality are not afraid of Equality, Pretoria: VSO. Wallerstein, Nina, Snchez-Merki, Victoria & Dow Lily, Freirian Praxis in Health Education and Community Organizing in Minkler, Meredith (ed), 1997, Community Organizing and Community Building for Health, New Brunswick/New Jersey/London: Rutgers University Press. Wegner, Judith Romney, 1988, Chattel or Person? The Status of Women in the Mishnah, NY/Oxford: Oxford University Press. Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), 2002, Dispossessing the Widow: Gender-Based Violence in Malawi, Blantyre: CLAIM. WLSA, 2000, In Search of Justice: Women and the Administration of Justice in Malawi, Blantyre: Dzuka Publishing Company Limited.


Threats and challenges to life: biblical perspectives

Susan E. Davies
Jesus came into human story, writes Susan Davies, that your life and mine be grounded in being loved. She explores the biblical notions of life and fullness before reflecting on threats to life that exist not out there but in the sheepfold of Jesus itself. Davies is professor of pastoral studies, dean of students and external relations at Bangor Theological Seminary, USA.

In this mornings Bible study, we will look at the meaning of life and fullness, outline some of the threats to be found in the sheepfold and the pasture as women have experienced them, and lift up womens voices about the challenges facing us. Withal I offer the concept of justice healing as a way to move towards Gods life of fullness for all. By justice healing I mean the churchs active participation in Gods ongoing work of justice and wholeness for all of earths communities.

perched in the flowering locusts, the child twirling with delight in the airport waiting room, all these have zoe, physical life. In the New Testament, zoe is natural human life with all its corruptibility, and it is the very nature of God. Zoe is babies giggling and women keening and men dancing and families gathering to celebrate: natural human life. And zoe is God, the One who is alive, who is life, and true zoe is what God gives us in Christ. Zoe, then, means both our everyday human life, our concerns about finding food and paying the bills and keeping the house clean and preparing sermons and giving birth and finding ways to speak the truth, and it means eternal life, the real life that threads through our bodies and our souls. That means that our daily lives are intimately connected with eternal life. In the Gospel according to John, this real life has already begun for those who believe. It is not something that must wait for the resurrection, but is part of the life of the

Word study
First then, I draw our attention to the Greek words for life zoe and fullness perisson. Zoe At its core in Greek philosophy and literature, zoe means the physical life, the vitality, of organic beings, animals, humans and plants. The spider ensconced in my kitchen window, the ground ivy swamping the gardens daylilies, the phoebe, phoebe

church, deeply and beautifully active within our hearts and souls and in our relationships with one another. For the author of John, zoe is this present daily life, the one that got us here from the airport or the highway or the street, and connects us with one another though we had never met, making us one in love and joy. Christ is life itself, the creative power of God, and believers already have the eternal zoe, Christ, in faith. Perisson Let us turn then to perisson, that word we have translated as fullness in the English theme for this general council. In the New Revised English translation, perisson is translated abundantly, and the theological dictionaries tell us it means to be present over-abundantly.1 In the New Testament it is always used in contexts which speak of a fullness present and proclaimed in the age of salvation.2 Perisson is an essential mark of God, overflowing, washing over us, filling us with glory and wonder and delight. And in this case, it means the superabundance of the blessings of salvation which Christ will give believers.3 The ecstasies many experience in worship, the voices and tongues spoken in Pentecostal, and sometimes in Reformed worship are merely a taste of the joy that will fill us when we live fully in the presence of God. In John 10.10, Jesus says I am come that they may have life, and have it abundantly, in fullness. Jesus has come into human life, into human history, into your zoe and mine, into our natural human lives, that we might

be overflowing with joy, that our lives might be grounded in being loved.4

Threats and challenges

This, then, is the centre out of which our consideration of threats and challenges arises. This beauteous vision of Gods intended life for all of us, and for the earth itself. (Let us pause for a moment to image that beauty unfolding in each of our lives.) Holding that wonder in our hearts, let us consider the sheepfold and the pasture Jesus has been describing. Let us think about the coming in and the going out, the places of safety and of danger. And let us think of the justice healing to which we are called, Gods justice, for the marginalized and oppressed, for women and men and children, Gods healing of the world through the power of the Holy Spirit. Threats in the sheepfold Women in the US do not have safety in either the fold or the field. We need to change our theologies and our ecclesiastical structures to make room for women and our experiences of God. If we think of the fold as the church, then we need only read the reports of conference ministers and bishops in every denomination to find the records of clergy misconduct with women and children in the parishes, to say nothing of structures which exclude women from leadership beyond the kitchen and the classroom. Let me tell you a few stories from my own life as a white woman in the US church.

The first is as a high school student at my home church. I was consulting with the Youth Minister when he made some highly inappropriate sexual remarks and moves towards me, which frightened me and which I held silent for decades. Fifteen years later, when I was a single woman and the Assistant Minister in a congregation, a visiting clergyman offered to take me with him on a tour, where I could be his secretary. That same year, I needed to face down the all-male trustees, who were intending to give me no raise that year despite serious inflation. When I pointed out to them they were in fact asking me to take a cut in pay, they were surprised I had noticed. I received the raise. Five years after that, as the pastor of a congregation in Maine, I went to visit a parishioner whose separated wife had asked me to call on him. As I entered his home and began removing my coat, he said, Here, let me take your clothes. A few minutes later, he invited me up to the bedroom, from which, he said, one had the best view of Cadillac Mountain. I declined the invitation and did not return alone. Another parishioner the next year followed me about town on New Years Eve, very interested in giving me a New Years kiss. My stories are relatively harmless, on any serious scale of danger to women. But they are reminders that the church is not always a safe place for women. Threats in the pasture And threats to women in the field, in the pasture? Well,

one scarcely knows where to begin in the US. When I asked my Aunt Ruth, who is 87 and a very proper Presbyterian, what she thought the threats were for women, without skipping a beat she said, Abuse. Women in the US of every ethnic and economic status face abuse at home, harassment at work, rape and murder by strangers and loved ones, wages still 20% lower than mens for the same work, and an increasingly strong and abusive religious right. When the Rev. Gene Robinson, a gay man, was consecrated as Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, he was wearing a bulletproof vest, and his adult children were under police protection. Women in North America face environmental racism, poverty, lack of education, abuse and neglect of children, incest, continued discrimination in employment law and practices, lack of food and shelter, homelessness, and increasing imprisonment. (As you may know, the US has the worlds highest number and the highest percentage of its population in prison.) If a woman is newly immigrated from Asia, Eastern Europe, or looks like an Arab; has crossed the Mexican border illegally; is working as a nanny, in a secret sweatshop, or has been imported for the sex trade, she is likely not to know her rights in our legal system, and, under the new regime of the USA Patriot Act, is liable for secret arrest, detention, and deportation. (US citizens are also subject to secret arrest and detention without legal counsel, public notification, or public trial under the Patriot Act.) If a woman

is African American, Native American, Asian American, or Hispanic, she is additionally the object of white racism in all its ugly forms. If she is a lesbian or transgendered, she is condemned as a sinner by many churches, including some of our own, and denied legal rights and standing in many states. And if she has any mental or physical disabilities, she is often shunted aside, and frequently abused. In Asia, women and girls continue to need healing from violence, harassment and abuse at home and in work places; from poverty, poor health and malnutrition; from lack of education, training and selfdevelopment; from objectification and commodification in the media and work places; from unemployment and underemployment; and from the deeply entrenched cultural and religious teachings that reinforce their dismal conditions as the weaker, more inferior and therefore subordinate sex.5 Women in many parts of Africa, in Iraq, in Palestine and Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, in Colombia and other parts of South America, on many islands in Indonesia, women in all these places and more are faced with constant military and communal violence, bombings and torture, rape and stoning, disappearances and genocide, dowry deaths, crop destruction, and AIDS. The United States has initiated or supported much of this violence and horror, and in many cases the torturers were trained at the School of the Americas. The revolting photographs

from Abu Ghraib have disclosed part of the American Gulag authorized at the highest levels of government. It can be found as well at Guantanamo, in Afghanistan, and Diego Garca, to name only some of the places which have been publicly identified. I am both deeply shamed as a US citizen, and enraged that these obscenities are being done in my name by the current Washington administration. In Margarita Lais Tourns words, We do not always recognize the cruel strategy of the powerful, who blame their victims or try to hide them from sight and mind. These victims and their situation are created by the same systems that deny their existence and their plight, systems that also create fear fear of them, and of how they might react to the life into which they have been thrust without any alternative and then use these fears to justify the crimes they commit with impunity.6 Jesus has come into human life, into human history, into your zoe and mine, into our natural human lives, that we might be overflowing with joy, that our lives might be grounded in being loved. How strange is this image, when juxtaposed with the life so many of us live, whether in the sheepfold or the pasture. How far it is from the wondrous beauty of life in fullness, the overabundance of Gods love, Gods life itself, surrounding, filling, overflowing with joy. How urgent we need to be about the justice healing of Gods earth and her peoples. How far it is from what Musa Dube describes as life in fullness in Setswana belief: The right to live a whole life, to have healthy and affirmative

relationships in society, as well as the challenge to create and maintain healthy relationships, both within the family and wider community.7 Challenges How then do we do justice healing for the world, that we may come in and go out in safety? How do we build new systems and new relationships, so that both the fold and the field might allow us to breathe life in fullness? This morning I hold up four of the many challenges we face as women in our Reformed churches. First, especially for North American and European women, we need to change our selfunderstandings from that of consumers to being women of courage, resistance, and faith. Second, we need to work with one another in solidarity, and help each other construct justice healing systems of resistance and alliance. Third, we need to attend to the theology we speak and embody in our relationships, our church and community activities, in our writing and our speaking. Fourth, we need to nurture our leadership capacities by attending to our spiritual lives. 1. For people in the global North particularly, although increasingly for people throughout the world, a basic challenge is to change our largely unconscious picture of who we are.8 Sally McFague calls these the world-pictures or world-views formed by many factors, one of which is the religious assumptions about human beings that operate implicitly in a culture. The current dominant American worldview is that we are individuals with the right to happiness,

especially the happiness of the consumerstyle abundant life. The market ideology has become our way of life, almost our religion, telling us who we are (consumers) and what is the goal of life (making money).9 The economic globalization of the last fifteen years, combined with resurgent US imperial ambition, has meant that all of us in the world are intended to understand ourselves primarily as consumers, rather than as the people of God. We must continue the struggle against the economic systems which not only control our everyday lives, but also seek to define our very beings. In Nyambura Njoroges words, we need to discover womens theological voices of resistance, of not giving up and of transformation and of constructing a platform for action despite all the forces working against us.10 2. A second challenge faces those of us who occupy positions of privilege because of our ethnicity, education, economic status, sexual identity, marital status, physical abilities, or age. We must recognize and acknowledge our privileges, learn to work in solidarity with our sisters, and retain our accountability to ordinary people struggling to survive with dignity and hope in the face of often demonic economic, political, cultural, and military forces. Our current divisions will only be healed when we learn to live justly with one another. Womanist theologian Kelly Brown Douglas speaks of the Black Christ as the one who is committed to the Black communitys

struggle for life and wholeness, and reminds us that the womanist Black Christ demands that we remain involved in the lives of ordinary Black women in the church and in community organizations and groups.11 While many community womens groups do work in alliance with ordinary women, not all womens church groups do so, at least in the US. We are more inclined to give charity to others as the objects of our pity than we are to work with others for the justice that brings healing. 3. A third challenge faces those of us who have theological leadership responsibility: to speak and live Christ as Teresa Hinga has outlined. For Christ to become meaningful in the context of womens search for emancipation, [Christ] need[s] to be a concrete and personal figure who engenders hope in the oppressed by taking their (womens) side, to give them confidence and courage to persevere. Secondly, Christ also need[s] to be on the side of the powerless by giving them power and a voice to speak for themselves. Thirdly, the Christ whom women look for is one who is actively concerned with the lot of victims of social injustice and the dismantling of unjust social structures.12 4. A fourth but by no means final challenge for all of us can be heard in WenhIn Ngs words to Asian women. She urges them to nurture their own and others leadership abilities by engaging in three spiritual practices: practising discernment, striving towards a holistic self, and seeking out and daring to be role models.13

a) The discernment she suggests includes cultivating the sensitivity and awareness needed to distinguish between the various types of leadership styles required by differing situations, as well as knowing when the time is right for a certain action and how to choose ones battles.14 b) Striving towards a holistic self, she suggests, includes learning to pay attention to both the earthbound centredness and receptivity of the yin, and the proactive, assertive dynamism of the yang.15 c) In finding and becoming role models and mentors, including alternative biblical ones, Wenh-In notes that Asian cultures prize modesty and self-effacement, so it can be a real challenge to acknowledge our own leadership. 16 But, she says, out of responsibility to the community and for our own spiritual health, we need to learn how to do this effectively. One practical strategy is to lift up intentionally anothers leadership gifts, especially those of younger women.17

Jesus has come into human life, into human history, into your zoe and mine, into our natural human lives, that we might be overflowing with joy, that our lives might be grounded in being loved. Gods intention for us is the wondrous beauty of life in fullness, the overabundance of Gods love, Gods life itself, surrounding, filling, overflowing with joy. Each of us has been touched by the justice healing of God. And we are all called to work for Gods purposes, in the power of the Spirit, to create with

others life in fullness, to do the justice which brings healing for ourselves, our peoples, the peoples of this earth, and the earth itself,

with all its beings. Let us take up the challenges this day, and move forward in grateful thanksgiving.

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, (eds) Geoffrey W. Bromiley, trans. Ann Arbor: Cushing-Malloy, 1977, Vol. VI, 58. 2 Ibid., 59. 3 Ibid., 62. 4 Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. II, 871. 5 Hope S. Antone. Rooted in Faith and Shared Leadership. In Gods Image, Vol. 21, No. 1, March 2002, 14. 6 Margarita Lais Tourn. When Wailing and Loud Lamentation is Prophecy. Reformed World, Vol. 53, No. 1, March 2003, 15. 7 Musa W. Dube. Divining Ruth for International Relations. Other Ways of Reading. Musa W. Dube, ed, Atlanta: SBL Publications and Geneva: WCC Publications, 2001, 182. 8 Sally McFague. Life Abundant. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001, xi. 9 Ibid.

Nyambura Njoroge. Reclaiming our Heritage of Power: Discovering our Theological Voices. Her-Stories: Hidden Histories of Women of Faith in Africa. Isabel Apawo Phiri, Devakarsham Betty Govinden, Sarojini Nadar (eds), Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications, 2002, 50. 11 Kelly Brown Douglas. The Black Christ. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1999, 107, 113. 12 Teresa Hinga. Jesus Christ and the Liberation of Women in Africa. The Will to Arise. Mercy Amba Oduyoye and Musimbi RA Kanyoro (eds) Maryknoll: Orbis 2000, 191192. 13 Greer Anne Wenh-In Ng. Leadership in East Asian Women in Asia and the Diaspora. In Gods Image, Vol. 21, No.1, March 2002, 36. 14 Ibid. 15 Ibid. 16 Ibid., 37. 17 Ibid.


Reformed World - Volume 54 (2004) Index

Articles by author
Botman, H. Russel. Globalizations threat to human dignity and sustainability .......... Brinkman, Martien and Weinrich, Michael. Justification as reconciliation .................... Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network. Where in the queue are people with disability? ........................................................................................................................................ Davies, Susan E. Threats and challenges to life: biblical perspectives ...................... Lienemann-Perrin, C. Womens work in mission: between household and public sphere .................................................................................................................................................... Mateus, Odair Pedroso. The Alliance, the Christian world communions and the ecumenical movement (1948-1957) ................................................................ Mateus, Odair Pedroso. Editorial (September-December 2004) .......................... Maxson, Natalie. Dangerous undercurrents of globalization ..... Moyo, Fulata L. Threats and challenges to life an African womans perspective .... Nyomi, Setri. Introduction (March 2004) ...................................................................................... Ortega, Ofelia. The mission of the church in contexts of crisis ..................... Phiri, Isabel Apawo. Life-giving and life-affirming spirituality a perspective from Africa ........................................................................................................................................................................ 107 Ramonn, Praic. Introduction (June 2004) .......................................
65 91 113 138 185 1 133 81 76 198 127 69

Shiva, Vandana. Earth democracy, living democracy ..................................... 115 Song, C. S. From the ends of the earth ................................................ 146 WARC, Covenanting for justice: The Accra confession .................................................... 169 WARC, Faith stance on the global crisis of life south-south forum, Buenos Aires

WARC, Letter from Accra: message of the WARC 2004 general council ......................... 181 WARC, Hearing the cry for life in our joy and our pain ..................................................... 175 WARC, Mission section plenary report ............................................................ 164 WARC, The time has come, south-north forum, London Colney ........................... WARC, Together in mission a letter on mission renewal ................................................... WARC, Together in mission voices from the regions ........................................................ Wickeri, Philip. Mission renewal in the context of globalization ......................
58 5 12 155


Articles by title
Covenanting for justice: The Accra Confession, WARC.......................................................................... 169 Dangerous undercurrents of globalization, Natalie Maxson ........................................................... 138 Earth democracy, living democracy, Vandana Shiva................................................................................. 115 Editorial (September-December 2004), Odair Pedroso Mateus ...................................................... 113 Faith stance on the global crisis of life south-south forum, Buenos Aires, WARC ..... 46 From the ends of the earth, C.S. Song ............................................................................................................. 146 Globalizations threat to human dignity and sustainability, H. Russel Botman.................. 127 Hearing the cry for life in our joy and our pain, WARC......................................................................... 175 Introduction (March 2004), Setri Nyomi ................................................................................................

Introduction (June 2004), Praic Ramonn ..................................................................................... 65 Justification as reconciliation, Martien Brinkman and Michael Weinrich ........... 69 Letter from Accra: message of the WARC 2004 general council, WARC .................................. 181 Life-giving and life-affirming spirituality A perspective from Africa, Isabel Apawo Phiri .................................................................................................................................................... 107 Mission section plenary report, WARC .............................................................................................................. 164 Mission renewal in the context of globalization, Philip Wickeri .................................................. 155 The mission of the church in contexts of crisis, Ofelia Ortega .................................................... 133 The time has come, south-north forum, London Colney, WARC .................................. 58 The Alliance, the Christian world communions and the ecumenical movement (1948-1957), Odair Pedroso Mateus .............................................................................. 91 Threats and challenges to life an African womans perspective, Fulata L. Moyo........... 185 Threats and challenges to life: biblical perspectives, Susan E. Davies .................................... 198 Together in mission a letter on mission renewal, WARC ....................................................... Where in the queue are people with disability? Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network ...................................................................................................................................................... 76 Womens work in mission: between household and public sphere, Christine Lienemann-Perrin .............................................................................................................................. 81

Together in mission voices from the regions, WARC .............................................................. 12


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