10th Year Anniversary of the Accra Confession from Hungarian Perspective

2014. december 18., csütörtök

This year, 2014 marks important events in the life of our church, among them, 10 years since the so called Accra Confession was adopted by the delegates of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) 24th General Council in Accra, Ghana (2004). In light of the 10th Anniversary of the Accra Confession, we would like to share some of our commentaries on the document that not only highlights our thoughts, but also sheds some light on our position on the document. 

This year, 2014 marks important events in the life of our church, among them, 10 years since the so called Accra Confession was adopted by the delegates of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) 24th General Council in Accra, Ghana (2004). The Accra Confession was a 15 year long process, and after its adaption we as the RCH have engaged it reflectively in various work that we do in the church including this year, where we took part in a recent WCRC European consultation to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Accra Confession in Hanover, Germany where the discussion focus topic was Refugee Issues in Europe.

In as much as we are dedicated to the issue of justice in the world as an integral part of our faith in God, we as the RCH have always had some reservations of which we have openly stated in previous discussions. These reservations are: first, in regards to the status of the document (as a confession). Second, scope of the approach formulated in the document. We lived through communist planned economy and know its effects on people’s daily lives as well as the ecology, therefore speaking only into the effects of neoliberal capitalism somewhat ignores other systems that threaten integrity of life and justice.

In light of the 10th Anniversary of the Accra Confession, we would like to share some of our commentaries on the document that not only highlights our thoughts, but also sheds some light on our position on the document. 

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Reflection by Bishop Gusztáv Bölcskei, Former President of WARC Europe

(First published as a preface for the book Europe Covenanting for Justice)

There is no unjust communion in Christ.

Christian faith creates an open space for responsible action in the perspective of hope in God’s coming kingdom. This is a basic insight which Christian communities have had to learn throughout their histories in different places around the globe.

And this is our faith based responsibility which we failed to fulfil so many times in the past. When hope fades, God’s people loose direction. This is the case in those situations when we transform the good news into human action – but also in times when we fail to hear that creation continues to groan, in bondage, waiting for its liberation (Rom 8,22).

Paul reminds us that “for in hope we were saved” (Rom 8,24). Based on this hope the freedom of Christians is born who are called to share in Christ’s mission and live as partakers in His anointing, thus “as kings fight with a free and good conscience against sin and the devil in this life” (Heidelberg Catechism 32).

We are called to become a community recognizing and shaping the “penultimate in the light of the ultimate” (Bonhoeffer). We are called to discern our common path in the apparent alternative of radical rejection of the world and accepting its compromise rejecting the ultimate. We shouldn’t confuse them but we mustn’t separate the two. In Christian awareness we have to discern together our hope-based responsibility, with a free and good conscience, based on our liberation in Christ. In him we have communion, therefore we are called to build a just communion.

In Accra we recognized again that “we are challenged by the cries of the people who suffer and by the woundedness of creation itself.” In our covenanting process we are about to take a step forward together.  “In our continuing journey as people of faith in a God of life toward the June 2010 Uniting General Council, under the theme Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace (Ephesians 4:3), we are reminded that the reign of God calls us into hope for justice, peace, wellness, harmony and unity (Titus 3:13-14). Covenanting for justice in the economy and the earth is a testimony to just communion with God and God’s creation.” (Message of the Johannesburg consultation)

God’s kingdom calls us into hope for justice in different contexts. But in a global world these different circumstances, I would say, the different regimes can have a common agenda: they want us to believe that they are exclusive and pretend to be without alternative. In Accra we rejected this claim of the “current world economic order imposed by global neoliberal capitalism and any other economic system, including absolute planned economies, which defy God’s covenant by excluding the poor, the vulnerable and the whole of creation from the fullness of life”. As Christians we know, that no paradigm, regime or power created by men can raise such claim, “which subverts God’s sovereignty over life and acts contrary to God’s just rule” (Accra 19) In regard to the reign of God we know, that “the present form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor 7,31) - including the neoliberal regime. We are thus free to raise our voice and set clear signs in action.

In all this we have to consider that our lives are limited, determined by necessities which we cannot by-pass. We cannot stop the world passing away. But the necessity isn’t an excuse for structural evils imposed by self-set limits of men. In 2004 we asked for reactions to the text adopted in Accra and published them in a special volume of our church monthly. I remember the one written by a protestant professor of economics, minister in the first free elected government in Hungary after the political changes. He wrote that the global market economy and the modern technology together were dangerous because they multiply the effects of those human sins, wickedness and mistakes which always existed. “If there is an empire, it is after all to find in the hearts of the citizens of the developed and rich countries. Thousands of toll-keepers of consumerism can only prosper, because there are millions of those dependent on consumption”.

In this sense we recognized the neoliberal capitalism as such a structural evil and we dedicated ourselves to fight against it. But we also confessed our sins, being part of the culture of consumption.

Let us remind the basic aspects of the being of the Church: koinonia, martyria and diakonia. It means, Christian witness creates and is based in communion with the Triune God and with each other, and is inseparably bound together with the responsibility for God’s creation. Therefore action for justice within the church and beyond (should be) is a natural part of the community created and led by Christ. It belongs to our every day life, especially as Reformed people.  

Let us remember: there should be no unjust communion Christ!

We owe thanks to those who contributed to and edited this booklet, which contains – pars pro toto – examples of thoughts and actions, of common witness in confessing and worshipping and covenanting in action of future European member churches of World Communion of the Reformed Churches. Thank to God, this is only a selection of the abundant everyday life of the Churches enriched with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The book is designed to be a helpful tool in our discernment process in Grand Rapids, in giving an account of ideas and endeavours of the WARC member churches in Europe, which “want to be part of the World Communion of Reformed Churches after June 2010 and they want as such to be part of a Communion of Churches that sees the obedience to the call to justice as a deep part of its faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” (Douwe Vissert)

I close this preface with a prayer, known as the serenity prayer, in the hope that this European contribution to the covenanting process will help us in making those differences and wise decisions in Grand Rapids. For doing so, we definitely need the wisdom granted by God which enables us to respond together to God’s salvation in a clear and accountable way, confessing and acting together as communion.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; The courage to change the things that I can; And the wisdom to know the difference.

 

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