Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Statement 2006
Living out the Accra Confession
1.1 In the process of covenanting for justice in the economy and the earth a milestone was reached in Accra, Ghana, in August 2004, with the declaration of the Accra Confession by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) General Council. Following on from this the journey has been joined by the Council for World Mission (CWM) keen to explore the mission implications of the Accra Confession, as it names the principalities and powers with which we must contend as we seek to proclaim God's good news in our time. Together WARC and CWM convened this meeting, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (15-19 May 2006) Living out the Accra Confession: Implications for our spirituality and mission to take the process on so that it might not remain like lake Chilwa in Malawi, Southern Africa, which was described for us as rich and pregnant with life, yet stagnant and limited because it has no river outlets to share its goodness beyond its shores.
1.2 Thus, we affirm that Accra was not the end, but a signpost along the way and that with us and all those who have declared that 'we commit ourselves to seek a global covenant for justice in the economy and the earth in the household of God' (AC 33) the covenanting process now enters a new stage and we invite all God's people to join us in this journey.
1.3 Further we believe that the Accra process must continue, for confessing
- can lead to spiritual renewal (I John 1:9)
- is itself a missional response to God's calling today (Philippians 2:11)
- is an expression of our partnership with God (Revelation 3:5)
2.1 We were reminded in our Bible studies that God created us and the whole creation in God's integrity. However, today we are driven towards madness by the forces of domination, the logic of empire (AC 19) and the neo-liberal temptation to worship mammon, not God (AC 22). This madness extends to the whole creation which is today paying a high price, threatening life in all its forms (MK 5:1-19). The Accra Confession warns that there may be no life at all if this madness continues and reminds us of God's call to choose life not death.
2.2 In this spirit we affirm that restoring our relationships with one another based on the virtues of mutual love, respect and justice, and our interconnectedness with the Earth, and with the compassionate God, the very source of life, is an urgent action that we and all humanity must take.
2.3 In this spirit we recognise that our human-centred perspective on nature is a misconception of God's creation.
2.4 In this spirit we are called to cherish the earth for it is the source of life; that we should recycle what we have already taken and find our rest and renewal in its life-giving beauty.
2.5 In this spirit we should reclaim the significance of spirituality in our lives and reconnect ourselves with nature, the incarnate reality of God's life-giving and life-renewing bounty, in communities of celebration.
2.6 In this spirit we should rejoice with those who are rejoicing and weep with those who are weeping, celebrating God's love and care for all creation in the giving, sustaining, transforming and ending of life.
2.7 In this spirit we acknowledge that many churches have distorted the full wonder of God's purposes in creation in their theology, their worship of wealth, their misunderstanding of God's blessings, their anthropocentric notions of relations with nature and God.
2.8 We therefore seek to reclaim our spirituality that we may be empowered for life in this world of death and destruction.
Reclaiming a theology of Oikonomia
3.1 The Accra Confession's great challenge for churches in our time is to reclaim the true theological and biblical meaning and activities of economy (oikonomia), from the way it has been distorted, indeed poisoned, by the modern neo-liberal economy. Theological concepts such as trust, riches, fidelity, bond, exchange, saving, fiduciary, even business (Chinese meaning of life) have been co-opted by the dominant neo-liberal economy, and must be reclaimed or rescued by the churches. The neo-liberal global economy, an economic system based primarily on individual accumulation of wealth and property, is claiming total and hegemonic control over all of life, "demanding an endless flow of sacrifices from the poor and the Earth" (AC 10). The Accra Confession has stated very clearly that "in biblical terms such a system of wealth accumulation at the expense of the poor is seen as unfaithful to God and responsible for preventable human suffering and is called Mammon" (AC 14).
3.2 As churches we must reclaim the theological idea that the economy of God is in direct contradiction to the current neo-liberal economy. God's oikonomia is located within God's good earth (oikonomene) and God's all-encompassing household (oikos), which is no less than the whole lovely earth and the vast interconnected cosmos. It is God, not the market, who ultimately shapes the form and direction of the world, including economic activities.
3.3 God's oikonomia, in direct contradiction to the dominant neo-liberal economy:
Is a participatory economy which is life-enhancing and life-centred,
Promotes a solidarity economy of justice and sharing to ensure that all people have fullness of life,
Ensures that there is no poverty and no inequality,
Advocates participatory practices and values leading to equitable and sustainable mechanisms and governance for production, trade and finance,
Emphasizes that compassion, grace, love and justice are God's economic measures,
Recognizes the limits of extraction of natural resources and promotes ecological integrity
Celebrates and builds-up communities that are centred on the sharing of goods, ensuring justice for all.
3.4 This is the churches' task to reclaim a theology of life sustaining wholeness.
4.1 The Accra Confession names the principalities and powers of our time as neo-liberal economy, environmental destruction and our living in the context of empire. Against this background we are called by God to follow Jesus in announcing the good news of liberation and redemption, to reclaim life in its fullness for all.
4.2 We have learnt from the participants and churches represented here how this can be taken up in transformative mission,
- Rejecting - saying 'no' to the forces of death and destruction
- Rebuilding - working with God to establish life in its fullness
- Rejoicing - celebrating the goodness of God
4.3 Specifically in respect of the economy we understand this as:
- Reaffirming the call of the Accra Confession to reject the injustices of the present neo-liberal, consumerist market system
- Rediscovering and rebuilding 'markets' as the place for celebrating and nourishing life in community
- Rejoicing in the joy of mutual sharing, of giving and receiving which markets at their best truly enable
4.4 Specifically in respect of the environment we understand this as:
- Rejecting the exploitation of creation and repenting of lifestyles which contribute to its exploitation and degradation
- Rebuilding our relationship with the creation, which God has entrusted to our care
- Recognising the beauty and bounty of God's creation and rejoicing in it, for it is God's gift to us
4.5 Specifically in respect of empire we understand this as:
- Joining with the Accra Confession in rejecting all ideas of empire which subvert God's sovereignty over life and which act contrary to God's just rule; and confessing our historical complicity with empire
- Rebuilding relationships amongst the peoples of the earth, accepting all as sisters and brothers in the global community of all God's people; and committing ourselves to partnership in mission
- Recognising that in mutual love and respect we are enriched by each other and through this discover the joy of life
4.6 In these terms God calls us to transformative mission today.
Invitation to Covenanting for Justice together
5.1 Accordingly we invite all God's people to join with us in a 'covenanting for justice' movement to transform ourselves and the world according to God's purposes and promises, inspired by the vision of a new heaven and a new earth.
5.2 The Accra Confession defines our relationship as a covenanting relationship which has been initiated by God. Initiating a Covenanting for Justice movement opens a door to everybody to join in the struggle for God's justice in the economy and the earth. The Accra Confession reminds us that our journey will not be easy; therefore, we need the solidarity of one another. Through mutual encouragement and solidarity we can increase our capacity, our strength and our courage as we engage with the principalities and powers of our time. Our working together in Kuala Lumpur has given us a lot of encouragement and a promising experience to this end, so we boldly say, 'Join us!'
We, the participants of the WARC-CWM Malaysia forum invite:
6.1 Our churches and congregations, and their partners in the worldwide ecumenical community to unite their commitments, wisdom, and resources in our common covenanting journey.
6.2 CWM, WARC WCC, LWF and other ecumenical and mission agencies to work together on the basis of their own processes such as WARC's Covenanting for Justice in the Economy and the Earth, and the WCC's AGAPE process, in order to build synergy in their efforts.
6.3 CWM and WARC, along with the WCC, to commit themselves for an initial period of five years to the Covenanting for Justice movement working together ecumenically.
6.4 The Covenanting for Justice movement to intentionally work together with social movements, people's movements and civil movements as the Accra Confession has encouraged us to do.
6.5 The Covenanting for Justice movement to intentionally work together with other faiths communities so that it might be enriched by their rich traditions of justice and respect for the earth.
6.6 Mission agencies to engage in a similar covenanting process on mission in the context of empire.
6.7 All parties to contribute to the sharing of stories, experiences and resources, contributing to the development of a Covenanting for Justice movement.
6.8 Churches, ecumenical and mission agencies to develop training opportunities on covenanting for justice in the economy and the earth.
6.9 The Covenanting for Justice movement to initiate a study on the theology of wealth, poverty and justice.