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eBook - The Whtley Lecture 2016 - Church Without Walls

Recent events in Ukraine have forced post-Soviet evangelicals to address a question they had long avoided: ‘in what way is the gospel not only the source of personal salvation, but also the source of social transformation?’
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Recent events in Ukraine have forced post-Soviet evangelicals to address a question they had long avoided: ‘in what way is the gospel not only the source of personal salvation, but also the source of social transformation?’ This lecture advances the provocative argument that instead of calling the people to repent and make peace, the church itself should repent for betraying the people, and for failing for so many years to speak truthfully to those in power and to stand on the side of the oppressed. It is argued that Baptists in both Ukraine and Britain need to reject the kind of narrow pietism that over-emphasises individual salvation, and should instead rediscover their holistic mission, in which both the individual and society become complementary parts of the overall Christian vision of biblically-informed action on behalf of the overriding biblical imperative of social justice. The lecture concludes on a hopeful note by showing that despite their limited numbers, Baptists can be in the vanguard of a new movement (a ‘church without walls’) for the reformation of the church and the renewal of society, which moves towards an open future with hope for greater freedom. While drawing on the author’s experience of living and working in Ukraine, this lecture also addresses vital issues that affect the global Baptist community, such as the missional imperatives of social justice and solidarity and the limits of political authority.

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As a loyal and long-suffering supporter of Middlesbrough FC, he has had to learn the theological virtue of keeping hope alive, even in the most hopeless circumstances!

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