Reformed Groups Stand Against Mammonism and Neoliberal Capitalism

''We believe that the integrity of the Gospel is at stake in the face of the current system of neoliberal economic globalization''
( [email protected] ) Aug 12, 2004 08:35 PM EDT

Members of the Reformed family of faith voted against “global neoliberal capitalism” during the World Assembly of Reformed Churches’ 24th General Council in Accra, Ghana, on August 11, 2004.

“We reject the current world economic order of global neoliberal capitalism,” the general council said in agreement against ‘mammon’.

The current world order is rooted in an “immoral economic system defended by empire”, the statement adds.

Placing profits before people causes wealth to flow from the poor to the rich. "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."

“Global economic justice is essential to the integrity of our faith in God and our discipleship as Christians,” the general council affirms. “We believe that the integrity of the Gospel is at stake in the face of the current system of neoliberal economic globalization.”

Speakers from both “Northern” denominations and “Southern” denominations spoke in support of the newly added text.

“This marks a major historical turning-point in our confessing,” applauded Kim Yong-Bock of Taiwan.

“We are celebrating here very kairos moments, very strong moments,” agreed Egbert Rooze of Belgium.

Others were cautious against the “newfound” unity between the church groups.

“[Be aware of] the price that we will have to pay for getting that unity today. It is obvious there is a gap between us, not only between northern and southern churches, but obviously inside of our churches,” said Serge Fernerod of Switzerland

According to the WARC press, however, there were several heated discussions that took place before the Council adopted the statement. Most of the discussions centered on the words “empire” and “confession” – terms that were used in describing the stance of the Council.

“It was like dropping a skunk into the middle of the room,” said Anna Case-Winters of the United States, about the fierce debate unleashed by her proposal merely to replace “confession” with “confessing” in a sub-heading.

The sensitivity arose because a “confession” is one step away from ‘status confessionis’ – a situation of confessing, where the truth of the gospel is at stake. A “confession” alone does not debate “classical doctrinal confessions, because the World Alliance of Reformed Churches cannot make such a confession”.

Ultimately, most of the delegates decided such debate over theologians’ jargon was fruitless, since such statements of religious beliefs “may be expressed in various ways according to regional and theological traditions”.

“Please don’t play one off against the other,” urged Eberhard Hitzler, an ecumenical guest from Germany.

As of now, only nine of the alliance’s 218 churches made a direct “confession of faith” against economic injustice, even though some three-fourths of the nations come from third world countries. Other churches are in the process of covenanting. And others still are at an earlier stage of recognizing the depth of the crisis. Covenanting is a central concept of Reformed theology that declares a collective commitment to serve God.

The Alliance is a fellowship of congregational, Presbyterian, reformed and united churches that links more than 75 million Christians in 107 countries around the world.