The Rev. Dr. Michael Ovey 'speaks at GAFCON 2013 (Photo credit: Stephen Sizer/GAFCON)

October 23, 2013

GAFCON Delegates Share Across Cultures as Mini-Conferences Begin

On the third day of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) delegates divided into a series of mini-conferences that will stretch over two days. The multi-session events have the same participants throughout, with topics ranging from marriage and family, the challenge of Islam, aid and development and theological education among the nine topics.

Participants in one mini-conference on the Gospel and Culture discussed “How can we re-evangelize the West?”

Dr. Alfred Owla, Dean of Divinity and Theology at Ugandan Christian University, opened the session with John Chapter 3, in which Jesus declares to Nicodemus “You must be born again.”

Owla outlined three points: first, the Gospel is the Gospel — in the West or elsewhere.

“The Gospel needs nothing added to it — there are those who want to pervert the Gospel,” Owla explained, directing participants to Galatians Chapter 1, in which St. Paul writes of those “turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the Gospel of Christ.”

Second, Owla maintained that those who distort the Gospel of Christ reject his message and are cursed, with St. Paul specifically invoking God’s wrath and damnation. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed,” Owla read from the text. “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”

Third, Owla explained only the Gospel saves – and nothing saves apart from it.

“Without the witness of the spirit of Christ, our witness is futile,” Owla declared. “This is the heart of the GAFCON meeting — that the Gospel may transform the cultures we live in.”

In a breakout session, small groups discussed the implications of evangelism in the West and how GAFCON churches could fully participate.

Later in the afternoon, participants heard from the Rev. Dr. Michael Ovey, principal of Oak Hill College in London. The British clergyman opened his talk with Jeremiah Chater 2 verse 11: “Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.”

Ovey explained that many in western culture had adopted varying “gods” of individual liberty and majoritarian government, or an “unaware polytheism” with the self-image of “rugged secularism.”

While some people might respond that the “gods” were nothing of the sort, Ovey quoted Tertullian in asserting that they were in fact “god substitutes” or “in front of God.”

Mini-conferences will conclude on Friday morning, when plenary sessions resume.