The Spirit-filled life has profound implications for social justice and outreach, said Burchell Taylor, a vice president of the Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) at the 8th Baptist International Conference on Theological Education (BICTE).
Taylor, who spoke on the topic The Holy Spirit and Social Justice, advocated for what he called “Spirit-empowered praxis,” a committed involvement in the world beyond the confines of the church. “The Spirit is deeply involved in the unfolding and outworking of God’s purpose in the world and the whole created order,” Taylor claimed. Therefore the Spirit’s witness is not limited or restricted to “the inner life of the church and its members.”
This understanding has several profound implications. Firstly, a Spirit-led movement will be keenly interested in working toward the healing of creation. This is because “the Spirit is the life-giving, sustaining and transforming power of and within creation,” asserted Taylor.
Secondly, a church led by the Spirit exists as an alternative community in a world that “operates with a sense of its own self-sufficiency and self-serving ends.” The church, on the other hand, works “for the establishment of an order of justice, righteousness and peace in society and the entire world.” The church, even while being involved in the world, should take caution that it does not lose its distinctiveness and status as an alternative presence.
Thirdly, in order to be faithful to this Spirit-empowered praxis, the church should train and prepare pastors and other church workers to be sensitive and discerning to the movement and work of the Spirit within their own context. “Spirit-empowered praxis demands that pastors and workers are prepared to relate to the concrete realities and particularities of the lived experience. Theological education, curriculum planning, course content and delivery must be mindful of this.”
The mission and ministry of the church should be contextualized, Taylor declared, especially in instances where social justice issues arise. There is the need, he said, to make sense of the circumstances of the people’s lived experience within their own socio-economic, political and cultural context. Theological and spiritual preparation of pastors and church workers is therefore of utmost importance. This, Taylor said, constitutes a challenge to the traditional way of doing theology. “There is a need for training which involves spiritual formation to be given to those who are called to give pastoral leadership and guidance to congregations, for participation in such a ministry and mission.”
BICTE, planned and sponsored by BWA, is normally held every five years. The 8th edition is being held in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, from June 28-30.
Baptist World Alliance®
© June 28, 2013