Karl Marx’s Spirit in Lausanne: Theology of Integral Mission
René Padilla: Lausanne upheld Theology of Integral Mission as the mission of the church
Karl Marx was in Lausanne in 1867, for an international Marxist congress.
One century later, another international congress drew attention in Lausanne. It was not a Marxist congress. It was an evangelical congress on evangelization. Yet, it gave a fantastic spotlight for Latin American proponents of TIM (Theology of Integral Mission), which, according to its Brazilian proponents, is the Protestant version of the Marxist Liberation Theology. One of them is Ariovaldo Ramos, who has praised Hugo Chavez. Ramos is the director of the Brazilian branch of World Vision.
It was the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization,1974, where one of its theologians, René Padilla, was one of the most prominent TIM advocates in Latin America.
So Karl Marx was present also, spiritually, at the Lausanne congress, through his ideology, which was receiving evangelical clothes.
Beautiful clothes disguise an ugly and deceptive ideology.
So there is an effort by TIM proponents to hijack the purpose of major evangelical conferences by exploiting any statement resembling TIM’s socialist feelings. In his paper “Integral Mission and its Historical Development,” Padilla made his case for TIM by listing a number of previous evangelical conferences as allegedly supporting it.
I will use Padilla’s paper as reference to address TIM in Lausanne.
Regarding the Congress on the World Mission of the Church (Wheaton 1966), Padilla said:
The Wheaton Declaration confessed the “failure to apply scriptural principles to such problems as racism, war, population explosion, poverty, family disintegration, social revolution, and communism.”
“Population explosion” was a common subject and obsession among Western elites in the 1960s and 1970s and it should have been addressed by responsible and capable Christian leaders not according to elites’ wishes, which led to abortion legalization in the U.S., the largest Protestant nation in the world, and later radical societal homosexualization. “Population explosion” is a myth and rhetorical strategy that disguise population control efforts that include family planning and are responsible today for the deluge of “homosexual rights” to the detriment of rights and well-being of children and their families. If this myth had been debunked by Christian leaders in that time, it could have averted abortion legalization in the United States, which happened in 1973, with a massive toll today of over 50 million innocent unborn victims.
Concerning social revolution and communism, whatever interpretation Padilla might try to give, it is obvious that TIM, in its Latin American practice, was never a foe for him and his liberal theological colleagues.
Padilla wonders on Wheaton 1966:
How such a document could come out of a mission conference held in the United States at a time when evangelicalism in that country was simply not interested in social change or social activism.
Yet, a socialist gospel was not a strange reality in America. Apparently, Padilla is ignorant of the Social Gospel movement, which was born in America in the 1870s. Socialism in the American society and among its churches was so serious a threat that “The Fundamentals,” a theological paper organized by R.A. Torrey and published in 1915, had a whole chapter against Marxism and socialism.
Socialism, disguised as an interest in social change or social activism, is an old problem in the American churches.
The old Social Gospel movement dispels the myth that the U.S. evangelicalism had not been involved in “social change or social activism.” And there are significant signs that the most important theological liberalism in Latin America was influenced by it.
Theology of Integral Mission, or even Liberation Theology, may be the Social Gospel’s most important offshoot.
A Presbyterian missionary from the Social Gospel movement came to Brazil in 1952 and spent one decade teaching theology in the most prominent Presbyterian theological institution in Brazil. His name was Rev. Richard Shaull, and he was involved in several Marxist and communist causes in Brazil. The birth of the Theology of Integral Mission (TIM) ideas in Brazil is traced and credited to him.
In the 1950s he already said what Liberation Theology and TIM proponents would be saying in the 1980s and 1990s and decades to come. Shaull’s disciple Rubem Alves, initially a theologian in the Presbyterian Church of Brazil and later an agnostic, advocated Liberation Theology ideas before its official launch.
Even though TIM is labeled as the Protestant version of Liberation Theology, TIM was born before Liberation Theology. For more information, download my free e-book here: http://bit.ly/15AJmMC
Padilla tried give TIM a nobler birth by using major evangelical conferences, including the World Congress on Evangelism (Berlin 1966), as alleged precursors.
In his opening address at the Berlin Conference, Billy Graham reaffirmed his conviction that “if the church went back to its main task of proclaiming the Gospel and people converted to Christ, it would have a far greater impact on the social, moral, and psychological needs of men than it could achieve through any other thing it could possibly do.”
Nevertheless, Padilla used this conference as a major TIM precursor. He said,
With all these antecedents, no one should have been surprised that the International Congress on World Evangelization (Lausanne 1974) would turn out to be a definitive step in affirming integral mission as the mission of the church. In view of the deep mark that it left in the life and mission of the evangelical movement around the world, the Lausanne Congress may be regarded as the most important worldwide evangelical gathering of the twentieth century.
For Padilla, Lausanne established Theology of Integral Mission as the mission of the church. So, with TIM at Lausanne, socialism became the mission of the church.
Because of the leftist influence of Padilla and other Latin American theologians, the Lausanne Covenant said, “we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty.” The Lausanne Covenant basically equated evangelism with leftist political action, a profane union never done by the Gospel or Jesus.
The central personality in the 1st Lausanne Congress was Billy Graham. Without him, there would have been no Lausanne, but even he did not expect repercussion on an ideological level. When Graham perceived that the Protestant Left was trying to co-opt everything, he stopped funding Lausanne, and it displeased Brazilian Marxist Anglican Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti, an old columnist of the Brazilian leftist Presbyterian magazine Ultimato, who openly accused that Lausanne was under a “hegemony from a conservative, white, anti-WCC (World Council of Churches) and anti-socialist group,” etc. (Poor Graham: white, Anglo-Saxon, conservative, etc!)
Cavalcanti wanted Graham to continue in the Lausanne movement to raise funds to advance a TIM revolution. This revolution has been happening, but without Graham’s money and participation. Valdir Steuernagel, a TIM leader, has said that today Lausanne is much more TIM than ever. It is not, therefore, a movement with the Gospel’s face, but with the face of an ideology masking itself as the Gospel.
Padilla remarked on the results he helped to produce in this TIM covenant by saying, “The Lausanne Covenant not only expressed penitence for the neglect of social action, but it also acknowledged that socio-political involvement was, together with evangelism, an essential aspect of the Christian mission. In so doing it gave a death blow on attempts to reduce mission to the multiplication of Christians and churches through evangelism.”
Yet, “social action” and “socio-political involvement” as “an essential aspect of the Christian mission” have never been, in view of Padilla and other TIM adherents, conservative activism. They have always been socialist activism.
Padilla stresses the same point when he says:
If both evangelism and social action are so intimately related that their partnership is ‘in reality, a marriage,’ it is obvious that the primacy of evangelism does not mean that evangelism should always and everywhere be considered more important than its partner. If that were the case, something would be wrong with the marriage!… Concept of mission as a marriage in which the two partners – word and action – are ‘equal but separable.’
So for Padilla, social action — in truth, socialist action — is as important as the Gospel is. This is a profane union that Jesus and his apostles never preached or knew it.
Padilla tries to make TIM opponents look like upper-class evangelicals in North America opposing poor Latin American ministers who have embraced a theology to help the poor. He said:
In spite of its opponents, most of them identified with the North American missionary establishment, integral mission continued to find support among evangelicals, especially in the Two-Thirds World.
Yet, he did not inform his readers that TIM preachers in Latin America are equally upper-middle class Lutherans, Presbyterians and Baptists, often graduated in European and U.S. universities, who clash with usually poor charismatic, Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal preachers who help the poor in their own poor communities, but without TIM. They help the poor by preaching the Gospel without socialism. They encourage their audiences to seek prosperity, healing, health and salvation from God. They pray for the sick and expel demons. This is a Gospel massively unknown by TIM adherents.
So there are clashes between them. When the Lausanne Movement met in Brazil in 2014 to discuss Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal “problems,” the leader of the meeting was Rev. Steuernagel, a non-charismatic minister.
Because Padilla has no Bible support for uniting the Gospel with leftist political action, he has to use major evangelical conferences and their ambivalent or vague language or even Lausanne, whose language had his active participation.
Besides, intentionally or not, Padilla overlooked conservative opposition in Lausanne to his efforts to make Lausanne more leftist. The leader of this opposition was C. Peter Wagner, who was a missionary in Latin America and knew very well the TIM advocates. He accused TIM of being left-wing.
Also, Padilla never mentioned that in Lausanne evangelical leaders from Latin America are not representative of the explosive Pentecostalism in that region. For example, Rev. Valdir Steurnagel, a Lausanne Movement leader today, is a minister in the Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession in the Brazil (ECLCB). A former president of this Lutheran denomination, Walter Altmann, is a World Council of Churches moderator and an active Liberation Theology proponent. Many others in this denomination are prominent advocates of Liberation Theology and TIM. The largest ECLCB theological institution in Brazil has a theology professor, Rev. André Sidnei Musskopf, who is not only openly homosexual, but an active homosexual militant and author.
Hardcore Marxist Liberation Theology in ECLCB makes TIM look like, in it “softcore” socialism, “conservative” or even “right-wing”! Yet, as the example of Rev. Musskopf shows, both theologies facilitate the acceptance and expansion of gay theology.
Steuernagel’s upper class status and his higher theological experiences in no way reflect the experience of the predominant Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal churches in Brazil, whose congregations often are composed by members poorer than the Lutheran congregations, which usually are middle class and higher. ECLCB, which has embraced Liberation Theology and TIM, is no representative of the Evangelical Church profile in Brazil.
Padilla also recognizes Steuernagel’s influence in Lausanne by saying:
But the lack of adequate attention to the question of justice during the Congress was clearly articulated by Valdir Steuernagel from Brazil in a ten minute speech that he was allowed to give to the plenary at the very end of the Congress.
Similarly, other Brazilian theologians do not speak for the Brazilian Church when they talk about her to First World audiences and international evangelical conferences.
Paul Freston, a naturalized Brazilian who has books published in English about the Brazilian Church, has a story of socialist involvements in Brazil and is a key figure in TIM events in Brazil.
Another TIM proponent is Rev. Alexandre Brasil, a Brazilian Presbyterian minister who has delivered speeches in Calvinist institution in the U.S. about the situation of the Evangelical Church in Brazil. Rev. Brasil has kept a high-paid job as a consultant for the Brazilian presidency in the current socialist administration.
All of them are upper class Brazilians addressing poverty issues largely not experienced by their Protestant segment, but by Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal segments.
Nevertheless, Lausanne has been a platform for these not poor theologians to promote their Marxist ideas in the name of the Gospel — which has already abundant assistance for the poor, without socialism.
If spiritual curses can affect spiritually sick Christians, could the Marxist meeting of Karl Marx in Lausanne in 1867 and its dark spiritual influences have affected an evangelical meeting 100 years later?
The responsibility of a Christian is to preach the Gospel to every creature, including Marxists, socialists and communists. To infuse the Gospel with Marxism, communism or socialism is not God’s plan.
To preach socialism masked as a “Christian” social responsibility or as “married” to the Gospel to every Christian is not what Jesus commanded. He commanded Christians to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and heal the sick and expel demons — presumably, even demonic ideologies among Christians. Sign and wonders, or healing and demon expelling, are married to the original and first Gospel.
If given the opportunity, the Holy Spirit could have manifested himself in Lausanne and other similar evangelical conferences. Instead, Karl Marx’s spirit made its Protestant manifestations in Lausanne, which, according to Padilla, established TIM as “the mission of the church,” leading evangelicals to embrace and help an ideology that makes the State replace the Gospel in the capacity to help the poor, heal the sick and expel demons through its social services, funded not by the pockets of its political rulers, but by the pockets of its exploited citizens.
Why does no one dare to call TIM another gospel and another spirit?
Portuguese version of this article: O espírito de Karl Marx em Lausanne: Teologia da Missão Integral
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