"Faith without works is dead" : a critical analysis of the Lausanne Covenant in the light of theological insights from Protestant Methodist theologian José Míguez Bonino.
This study sets out to suggest a theological and methodological framework that assists the evangelical movement in Africa, and in Zambia in particular, to engage its missionary task with greater effectiveness. The study is located within the radical evangelical theological tradition. In this regard, firstly, the study posits that the evangelical movement has a heritage of sociopolitical engagement that can be traced back to its origins in the great evangelical awakening of the eighteenth century. Secondly, the study posits that the evangelical movement abandoned its heritage of socio-political engagement during the first thirty years of the twentieth century due to a number of seemingly unrelated factors that, nevertheless, worked in concert. Thirdly, the study posits that during the third quarter of the twentieth century, evangelicalism engaged in a process through which it inadvertently began to recover its heritage of socio-political engagement. This process began with the International Congress on World Evangelisation in Lausanne, Switzerland in July 1974 (Lausanne 1974). It was an inadvertent recovery in that Lausanne 1974 did not set out to recover the lost heritage of evangelical socio-political engagement, but to plan strategically and to encourage evangelicals in the task of worldwide evangelism. However, during the proceedings of Lausanne 1974, a group of radical evangelicals became dissatisfied with the Lausanne Covenant’s proviso on the question of socio-political engagement, in its ‘two-mandate’ approach to the missionary task of the church. This study however, argues that though the Lausanne movement has become a rallying point and the Lausanne Covenant its expression of evangelical unity and purpose, it falls short of providing an adequate theological and methodological framework for evangelical sociopolitical engagement in Africa. The study posits that with key insights from José Míguez Bonino’s theological and methodological works: socio-analytic mediation, hermeneutic mediation and practical mediation, evangelicals in Africa, and in Zambia in particular, will be enabled to engage in its missionary task with greater effectiveness. When these missional tools from Míguez Bonino are engaged, evangelicals in Africa will be equipped to engage a process of missional reflection on the contextual reality and thus engage effectively in missional activities. Employing these key insights from Míguez Bonino, the study argues for a process that will free evangelicalism in Africa from the Northern American and European ‘theological imperialism’ that prevented the development of its own theology and missiology. The study further argues that such a process, as will assist evangelicalism in Africa to free itself from such influence, will invariably lead evangelicalism in Africa to develop a theology and missiology that will be more responsive to the African context.