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Hans Boersma

The Real Presence of Hope & Love

The Christocentric legacy of Benedict XVI.

In 1966, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in partnership with Christianity Today magazine, sponsored the World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin. Further conferences followed over the next four years. Finally, in July 1974, a ten-day gathering was held in Lausanne, Switzerland, for discussion, fellowship, worship, and prayer. The influence of many noteworthy global leaders marked this event, but the most important development was likely the adoption of the Lausanne Covenant, whose chief architect was the late John R. Stott.

The Lausanne committee has remained a grass-roots conversation, right through the third global gathering, held in Cape Town (October 2010). The Cape Town Commitment urged all Christians to work together in unity for mission. This led to conversations with Catholic leaders, including the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In a visit to Rome in 2011, I heard Vatican leaders specifically ask for more conversation between Catholics and evangelicals. The first Lausanne Catholic-Evangelical Conversation was held at Mundelein Seminary (Illinois) on April 18-20, 2013. We began with two presentations on the centrality of Christ, by Hans Boersma and Edward T. Oakes. An edited version of Hans Boersma's paper appears below; the paper by Father Oakes will appear in the November/December issue of Books & Culture.

—John H. Armstrong, chair of the Lausanne Catholic-Evangelical Conversation and president of the ACT3 Network in Carol Stream, Illinois.

The lasting legacy of Pope Benedict XVI may well prove to be, as Edward Oakes has recently argued, his insistence on a Christocentric theological approach.[1] The Christocentrism of Benedict's thought is worth highlighting for at least two reasons. First, we have developed a nasty tendency in contemporary Western society to classify theological approaches under the remarkably non-theological rubrics of "conservative" and "progressive." In this taxonomy, Benedict mostly gets qualified as a "conservative." ...

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