Contrary to my hopes yesterday, I was not able to go to the congress in the morning to listen to Piper. I had to stay in the hotel room and edit a text on post-communism for a World Vision publication.
I arrived at the reunion site at lunch and what I heard from various friends about Piper’s presentation conformed my suspicion. His approach was, they said, judgmental and aggressive, in clear polemic with Ruth’s presentation the day before. Although his duty was to do an exposition of Ephesians 3, Piper did not abstain from correcting Ruth on some things in Ephesians 2. He also commented ungraciously about the applause she received, in spite of the fact that she tried to dissuade people from clapping at the end.
I wonder why cannot these people be gracious to others if they think they own the truth? Is this the way they think they will be able to persuade us to follow their fundamentalist gospel of an angry God who is seeking every opportunity to punish us.
Piper has put in clear contrast to the view presented the day before, of the responsibility of Christians to respond in service to the pain in the world with his version of the Gospel, centred in the eternal pain that the sinners are going to suffer if they do not turn to God. If that is all that these neo-Reformed can do, I am glad I am nort reformed.
Fortunately, in the evening Tim Keller, who is a pure breed Presbyterian and Reformed (born, not made) redeemed the faith of the Reformation from the hands of these ‘new kids on the [reformed] block’ with a gracious, persuasive and brilliant exposition on the Christian responsibility for the megacities of our world. I suggest you absolutely have to listen to this. Please also look to the new blog dedicated by Vasilica Croitor to this event. He takes good notes and you may benefit from it. Only it is in Romanian and non-Romanian speakers have to use automated translation means if they want to understand.
I have during this day another disappointment and a pleasant surprise.
The first was a multiplex, on the topic of globalisation moderated by Glen Smith, a Canadian theologian that I have met before in WV context.
The main contributors were Os Guinness (interesting, though quite aggressive and negative towards an unavoidable phenomenon) and David Wells, from Gordon-Conwell, who did a good analysis of the concept and its implications, but landed with his solutions in pure modernity, as he also does in his books.
There were also other two contributors, an African Anglican bishop, who spoke a lot and said very little (see HERE), besides some funny definitions given by children and an Egyptian medical doctor who used the opportunity to do some PR for his ministry, quite parallel to the topic (see HERE).
The most disappointing part was that of questions (s0me of them quite sharp and pointed) and answers (way too long and most of the time quite unsubstantial). I have to confess I have expected much more from these great names.
Thee pleasant surprise began with a little bit of confusion. For the dialogue sessions, I have decided to participate in the one titled ‘Challenges of Post-communist Contexts’. When I read the title I was wondering who has stolen my topic. I was happy to find out that Peter Kuzmic was in charge. Yet, Peter did not show up (we have found out that, in fact, one of the organisers failed to announce him not only of the time and place, but also of the topic). After waiting for about 10 minutes, at the suggestion of a friend whom I have met in the context of my ministry in Vietnam, I was asked to do the presentation together with Anne Marie Kool. However, when we have started, Peter showed up and we decided on the spot to proceed with all three of us.
The result was a very engaging conversation that was extended also over the dinner time. Many of those who came took their dinner food and returned to the room , where we have continued the conversation and ended with Peter’s moving prayer for the persecuted church. This is was for me really the highlight of this day Vasilica Croitor has some notes, in Romanian, on his blog, about this meeting; you may find it HERE).
Before the last session I had to suffer again through the very superficial charismatic music that dominates this event.
Tim Keller’ short address was a real treat. It was so dense that I have decided not to take notes and to get it from the web site when published. I highly recommend that you listen to it when published.
The evening ended with a Latin American session, whose highlight was a conversation between two Lausanne veterans, Rene Padilla and Samuel Escobar. What a delight!
Tomorrow is the reconciliation tour day. So, I have to go to sleep. It is again past 1am.