As many of you will know, my passions include Mission, theology and Latin America. So I thought I’d bring these three things together an use some insights from Latin America on mission and theology. This except is from CLADE III (CLADE stands for Latin American Congress on Evangelization) which took place in 1992, 500 years after Latin America encounter Europeans for the first time. It is one of the most coherent and complete declarations on mission I have encountered.
The Whole Gospel
The gospel and God’s Word: the Whole of the counsel of God and the manifestation of his Kingdom have been announced us by means of the gospel. The Scriptures recount God’s revelation in history through concrete acts. They come together in Jesus Christ, the full and definitive expression of the God’s revelation. Therefore, God’s Word is the foundation and starting point for the life, theology and mission of the Church.
The gospel of the creation: God is the Creator of everything and what he created is good. He created humanity, man and woman, in his image, as beings called to live in a harmonic relation with, its neighbor and with nature. God placed them as stewards, responsible for the whole creation, for benefit of the whole of humanity. But the human beings fell into sin and the whole creation suffered the effects of this fall, remaining a captive of sin and death. Nevertheless, God in his sovereignty has taken the initiative to establish a covenant to reconcile humanity with himself and the whole of creation in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In Christ, God is restoring human dignity, transforming cultures and leading his creation towards the final redemption.
The gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation: Jesus Christ is the Word incarnate, gift of God and the only way to Him. By means of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, forgiveness is offered to humanity, and reconciliation and redemption for all creation. Repentance and faith are essential, to receive the salvation, as expression of total dependency of God. Those who receive forgiveness become children of God; and this new filial relationship enables them to obey him. New life requires that humanity maintains and develops this relation with its Creator. It produces a new relationship with its peers and with the whole creation mediated by the commitment to the Lord and based on the practice of love, truth and justice. God in Christ creates a forgiven and reconciled community called to be an agent of forgiveness and reconciliation in a context of hatred and discrimination.
The gospel and the community of the Spirit: The person of the Holy Spirit acts in power in the world. He does so primarily by means of the Church granting it life, power and gifts for its development, maturity and mission. The Church, the community of the reconciled with God, is sent into the world by Jesus Christ. A radical transformation occurs in the Church that demonstrates the divine purpose of eliminating all injustice, oppression and signs of death. As the community of the Spirit, the Church must proclaim freedom to all those oppressed by the devil and to stimulate a pastoral practice of restoration that brings comfort to those who suffer discrimination, marginalization and dehumanization.
The gospel and the God’s Kingdom: With the coming of Jesus Christ, God’s Kingdom became present among us, filled of grace and truth. The Kingdom is in constant conflict with the powers of darkness; the struggle takes place in the heavenly realms and is expressed in creation at the personal, collective and structural levels. Nevertheless, the community of the Kingdom lives in the confidence of the victory that has been already won and that the God’s Kingdom will be revealed fully at the end of time. With the power and authority delegated by God, it assumes its mission in this conflict, to be an agent in the redemption of creation. Jesus Christ the King was incarnated and calls to his community to do the same thing in the world. To follow him as his disciples means to assume his life and mission.
The gospel of justice and power: The gospel reveals a holy, just and powerful God in his character and in his actions. For this reason, the Church is called to live according to the justice of the Kingdom, in the power of the Spirit. In a world characterized by the abuse of the power and the mastery of the injustice, the testimony of the Church confronts the power that dominates in the present. That is why the proclamation of the Kingdom announces Jesus Christ and denounces the forces of evil.