1970 BWA World Congress Message to the Churches

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1970 BWA World Congress Message to the Churches

A statement drafted by a special committee, A. S. Clement, of England, Chairman, and adopted by the 12th Baptist World Congress, Tokyo

We who have the privilege and joy of attending the Twelfth Congress of the Baptist World Alliance at Tokyo greet you, the members of churches in fellowship with the Alliance. In this written message we cannot convey the wonder of the inspiration felt in worship, prayer, and fellowship with so large a gathering of representatives from so many countries, meeting for the first time in Asia. Here we would clearly affirm our conviction that Baptists have a significant contri-bution to make to the whole church of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the world.

Our finest contribution, we know, will be as true followers of our Lord, holding fast to faith in him, submitting ourselves freely to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and living in the world as our Lord would have us live. But those convictions which distinguish us from our fellow Christians we believe to be important in the present situa-tion of rapid change in which institutions, traditions, and beliefs are under critical scrutiny.

We would that all would recognize the Lord Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, as the sole and absolute authority in all matters of faith and practice, realizing that in so believing we ourselves are under a solemn obligation to be continually seeking to know more perfectly his will. We hold that each church has liberty under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to interpret and implement Christ’s teaching, understanding the responsibility resting on us of ensuring that each church is a true fellowship of believing persons. Our understanding of Christian baptism as the baptism of believers only stresses the necessity of conversion and personal faith and carries with it the recognition that we are called in Christ to a new life of goodness in fellowship with Christ and with one another. Our understanding of the nature of the church involves our recognizing as members with us in that one church all who truly believe in Christ. We are therefore under an obligation to foster right relations with other Christians, serving with them and sharing worship and fellow- ship with them as far as conscience permits.

At a time when so many attempts are made to condition the thinking of human beings, and when many are deprived of their full liberties, it is necessary for us to continue to strive for freedom and liberty of conscience. We must of course beware ourselves of being led astray by the half-truths of propagandists, and above all of falling into the error of denying to others the liberties which we claim for ourselves.

1970 BWA World Congress Message

While we rejoice in the remarkable achievements of this space age, we are aware that our world is becoming so dominated by secularism that its moral and spiritual foundations are in danger. Our generation has been called to serve Christ in a world of revolution where war, racial prejudice and tension, poverty, hunger, and disease cause tragic and widespread misery and suffering. Political action as well as personal and corporate service is necessary to remedy these evils, but there must be a frank recognition among us of differences of political judgments and of the fact that different Baptist communities are in quite different situations as to the extent to which they can influence public opinion and initiate or encourage political action. What is required is that according to our circumstances and opportunities we must always seek to help and serve in the name of our Lord. An essential precondition is the patient study of the causes of these evils so that we may know what action is appropriate, at the same time working for reconciliation between man and man and being ready to share with others the good things which are ours, by the mercy of God.

We know that so much of the injustice and suffering in the world is the result of sin. The love of power, possessiveness, selfishness, pride, anger, and other sins have their effect in society. The supreme need of the world is of the Savior through whom a man can receive forgiveness and new life. So our main task must still be the declaration in word and in deed of the gospel which not only declares the mighty acts of the Living God, but also calls men to repentance and faith and the way of the cross.

The main theme of the Congress is “Reconciliation Through Christ.” This we know to be the answer to the needs of our time, personal, in the community, and in the nation. And mankind in the seventies is aspiring to maturity expressed in the coming together of peoples. We who know that true unity is only in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ have a grave responsibility and a glorious opportunity. As the apostle Paul declares: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself . . . and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19, RSV).


BWA; Arms Race; Asia; Culture; Discrimination; Equality; Freedom; Human Rights; Hunger; Immorality; Justice; Marriage; Media; Morality; Nuclear; Peace; Prejudice; Racism; Religious Freedom; Reconciliation; Religious Liberty; War.


Original Source Bibliography: Bryant, Cyril E., editor. Reconciliation Through Christ: Official Report of the Twelfth Congress, Tokyo, Japan, July 12-18, 1970. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1971.

Original Source Footnote/Endnote: Cyril E. Bryant, ed., Reconciliation Through Christ: Official Report of the Twelfth Congress, Tokyo, Japan, July 12-18, 1970 (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1971), pp. 245-247.

Online Document Full Citation: 1970 BWA World Congress Message to the Churches; https://baptistworld.org/resolutions.

In-text Online Document Citation: (1970 BWA World Congress Message).

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Since its formation in 1905, the Baptist World Alliance has networked the global Baptist family to impact the world for Christ with a commitment to strengthen worship, fellowship and unity; lead in mission and evangelism; respond to people in need through aid, relief, and community development; defend religious freedom, human rights, and justice; and advance theological reflection and leadership development.