The Cape Town Commitment and its radical ethical call
The Czech Fellowship of Evangelical Theologians has continued the direction laid forth in the FEET 2014 Conference in Paris. Dr. Chris Wright and his explanation of Ethics, Mission and Evangelism in the Cape Town Commitment (CTC) greatly inspired our delegates in Paris, and in March 2016 we held an ecumenical forum in Prague on the subject of Christian Ethics in Our Society. Influenced by the biblically- and culturally-based CTC, we focused on the Scriptures as the primary source of our ethical decision-making. The understanding of love as the language of the Covenant has transformed our thinking and prompted us to action.
One paper presented at the forum opened up discussion on biblical truth and the challenge of pluralism. We have tried to underline both the dangers and the challenges of our pluralistic era, including religious pluralism. Another important subject was the peace of Christ in our divided and broken world of poverty and oppression. We inevitably focused on the migration crisis and its broader ethical context. We heard biblical analyses on the treatment of migrants in the Old and New Testaments, and we expressed certain criticisms of our government regarding some of its more rigid statements and policies. Building on the groundwork laid by the CTC, our forum discussed questions of integrity and simplicity in Christian life, which are essential to following the pattern set by our Master.
The CTC serves as a great inspiration for us of how to embody and apply Christian ethics in our contemporary European society with its pluralistic and postmodern context. We reject theological liberalism, which neglects the revealed truth of God’s word, and at the same time we reject angry fundamentalist or legalistic applications of Christian ethics, which neglect love. We expressed again our appreciation for the CTC and for its broad emphasis on God’s love for this world: love which we are obligated both to live and to pass on.
Dr. Pavel Cerny is a pastor in the Church of the Brethren. Formerly he was president of his denomination and president of the Czech Republic Ecumenical Council of Churches. He also teaches Practical Theology and Missiology at the Evangelical Theological Seminary, Prague.