Wednesday, February 2, 2011



This week, the Lausanne Congress released the final version of 'The Cape Town Commitment: Call to action' The first part (previously released) is a general evangelical Statement of Faith. The second part (released this week) is a call to action based on the discussions leading up to and during the Lausanne Congress held in Cape Town in October 2010. What is significant is that the first article explicitly speaks up against Postmodernism as follows:

"Cultural and religious plurality is a fact and Christians in Asia, for example, have lived with it for centuries. Different religions each affirm that theirs is the way of truth. Most will seek to respect competing truth claims of other faiths and live alongside them. However postmodern, relativist pluralism is different. Its ideology allows for no absolute or universal truth. While tolerating truth claims, it views them as no more than cultural constructs. (This position is logically self-destroying for it affirms as a single absolute truth that there is no single absolute truth.) Such pluralism asserts ‘tolerance’ as an ultimate value, but it can take oppressive forms in countries where secularism or aggressive atheism govern the public arena.

A) We long to see greater commitment to the hard work of robust apologetics. This must be at two levels.
1. We need to identify, equip and pray for those who can engage at the highest intellectual and public level in arguing for and defending biblical truth in the public arena.
2. We urge Church leaders and pastors to equip all believers with the courage and the tools to relate the truth with prophetic relevance to everyday public conversation, and so to engage every aspect of the culture we live in."


* Firstly, because Evangelical Christianity has been under severe and sustained attack from those who wish to compromise and synthesize Christianity with Postmodernism (called the Emerging Church movement) instead of fighting back against it. Some of our largest Evangelical institutions including for example Zondervan Publishers, many denominations and seminaries have been compromising. These compromisers threaten to destroy the very definition of Biblical evangelical Christianity.

* Secondly, because the Lausanne Congress is the single largest and most influential institution in Evangelical Christianity in the world today. Unlike many other institutions which misleadingly claim the title 'international', it has representatives from all over the world (except for those under persecution whose governments prevented their citizens from participating).

* Thirdly, because the statement is explicit. Unlike many other public statements, it does not beat about the bush. Postmodernism is identified as false, illogical, misleading, a negative influence a threat to Evangelical Christianity and religious freedom.

* Fourthly, because it proposes sensible measures for churches to fight back against postmodernism by identifying, equipping and praying for leaders who can argue against it in the public arena and in educating all believers with the skills to debate against it. ('Apologetics' means defending the gospel against attack). In this context it means defending the truth against the false teaching of Postmodernism.

* Fifthly, because combating Postmodernism in the church in the Western World will greatly assist the forward progress of world evangelism (the principal goal of the Lausanne Congress) and the persecuted church. Read why here: (This article I submitted to the planning sessions of the Lausanne Congress in 2008, encouraging them to make a statement against postmodernism - which is what they have done).

* Sixthly, because they put the call to action to defend the truth against Postmodernism first in the practical part of the document their 'call to action', recognising the central importance of the fight against Postmodernism to the defence and advance of Christianity in the Western World.

* Seventh, because it affirms the definition of Evangelicalism and draws a new boundary. Mainline evangelical Protestantism in the Western World has been destroyed through compromise and accommodation of the ideology of Modernist liberalism. Evangelical Protestantism was then renamed 'Evangelicalism' by those who wanted a description of their beliefs that had real meaning. The meaning of Evangelicalism was being eroded by accommodation of Postmodern liberalism. Old statements faith were not capturing this issue. Now the boundaries have been redrawn to exclude Postmodernism.

Let us build on this victory and see that the 'Lausanne Congress Cape Town Call to Action' against Postmodernism is heeded on the ground!


* Please give this to your pastor and the elders of your church or the leader of your Christian organisation. Forward it by email or print out this email and give it to him. Encourage him to implement this recommendation and educate his congregation against Postmodernism. He can find resources to do so at:
* Thank God for this great victory!
* Pray for any Christian institutions you may be a member of that they will be protected from Postmodern influence.
* Encourage your church and any institution you are a part of to publicise the above clause from the Lausanne Call to Action. Read it out in church or at your leaders meeting.

Let us heed this call and defend the church against Postmodernism.

Post your comments here:

Yours sincerely

Philip Rosenthal


Henrietta said...

Thank you so much Philip for this heartwarming and encouraging news! I will certainly pass it on. We devote a whole chapter in our book "Die Trojaanse perd in die NG Kerk" to the dangers of postmodern tendencies in the Dutch Reformed Church.

Steve Hayes said...

I'd like to see a response to this from people who were actually at Cape Town 2010. It seems to be very misleading, and sauing that postmodernism is called "the emerging church" is just silly.

My response here: Lausanne, postmodernism and the emerging church | Khanya

Anonymous said...

i agree this is confusing. many of us who were participants at lausaunne in cape town have come from emerging church background which we see as a prophetic and biblical RESPONSE to a postmodern world, not necessarily a product of postmodernism.

Anonymous said...

i agree this is confusing. many of us who were participants at lausaunne in cape town have come from emerging church background which we see as a prophetic and biblical RESPONSE to a postmodern world, not necessarily a product of postmodernism.

I suggest reading the great South African reformed theologian David Bosch's 'Transforming Mission' to get an more accurate understanding of postmodernity and how to respond missionally as a church.

Tony said...

I have always been concerned about the assumption that 'modernism' is the norm for Evangelical theology (or am I wrong on this?). Maybe, 'has become the norm...

Although I have some issues with people like Ken Wilber as a theorist of our 'current time', I think he is correct in asserting that there is a false dichotomy between the rational and the irrational (in the formal use of the word).

In Lekgowa, I am comfortable saying that 'in the end, all truths are lies'. We need to accept that 'contingency' is the 'norm'.

The notion of science as 'understanding the mind of God', or biblical theology as reading the 'objective Word of God' is time-bound, and is posited in a framework that does not even meet the challenges of current understandings of 'mind', if such a thing even exists (which few would still defend as a viable 'object' of enquiry).

I think I once asked you the rather tendentious question: what is it about Evangelicalism that makes it more racist than more Orthodox belief frameworks?

The answer that I have been toying with is that Evangelical theology is tied into the thinking of the Enlightenment, with all its pitfalls (and delusions).

In other words, Evangelicalism is overtly about conversion to a particular standard of faith (and practice), which I respect, but it carries the 'hidden curriculum' of becoming 'modern'.

It seeks erasure of all other forms of understanding human experience, particularly the mystical, as against the 'rational'. Other societies which are comfortable with the full range of human experience have questioned the 'logic' of this, particularly as their understanding of 'being human' requires acceptance of a wider range of experience, including the contingency of human experience.

Some people think that I am defending the 'irrational', or even stereotyping other societies as 'irrational', by romanticising 'irrationality. Of course not, but I do understand that this is just a projection of a sense of truth...which has passed its sell-by date.