Lausanne, Theology of Integral Mission and Israel
By Julio Severo
The Lausanne Movement was in full force in Brazil, April 2014, to discuss its most important theological worry. No, no, their worry is not about Brazilian theologians — all of them adherents of the Theology of Integral Mission (TIM) — who work together with the ruling socialist Workers’ Party and its ideological campaign to advance its anti-family agenda in Brazil.
According to the Brazilian leftist Protestant magazine Ultimato, “45 specialists from 17 nations — prominent thinkers, ministers and professionals — gathered together in Atibaia, SP (Brazil), from March 30—April 2 for the Lausanne Global Consultation on Prosperity Theology, Poverty and the Gospel.”
The consultation was headed by Valdir Steuernagel, a fervent TIM advocate. His religious roots, as exposed by the Portuguese essay “Por que esconder a real intenção da Teologia da Missão Integral?” (Why hide the Theology of Integral Mission’s real intent?), go back to his denomination, the Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession, which embraces both the most radical variety of Christian Marxism — Liberation Theology — and its hardly watered Protestant version, TIM.
The second speech fell to Paul Freston, old TIM advocate. Freston, a former member of the Workers’ Party, has always been a staunch PT opponent.
The Portuguese essay “A maior ameaça à Igreja Evangélica do Brasil” (The Most Important Threat to the Brazilian Evangelical Church) explains why the most prominent PT opponents are TIM theologians.
The ruling Workers’ Party, in the person of Gilberto Carvalho, said that its most important worry are neo-Pentecostal televangelists, whose PT basic message is that the key supplier of all human needs should be God, as opposed to the proposal that the Workers’ Party and other radical socialist movements want to impose: government as a god supplier of all human needs.
These two visions — God-Supplier versus Government-Supplier — are at the core of the clash between socialists and neo-Pentecostals.
Carvalho, as the chief minister in the General-Secretariat of the Presidency of the Brazilian Republic, has a special friendly relationship with TIM theologians, including Ariovaldo Ramos. The most important adviser to Carvalho for the Workers’ Party administration in its relationship with the evangelical community is the Presbyterian theologian Alexandre Brasil, who receives a monthly wage of R$15,000 and has a classical pattern of TIM adherents: he has a book against PT.
The Global Consultation on Prosperity Theology also had a speech titled: “The New Apostolic Reformation and Prosperity Theology.”
The New Apostolic Reformation was founded by C. Peter Wagner, who in the 1st Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in 1974 confronted left-wing theologians from Latin America who wanted to turn Lausanne into a platform for the Marxist ideology.
The central personality in the 1st Lausanne Congress was Billy Graham. Without him, there would have been no Lausanne, but even he did not expect repercussion on ideological level. When Graham perceived that the Protestant Left was trying to co-opt everything, he stopped funding Lausanne, and it displeased Brazilian Marxist Anglican Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti, an old Ultimato columnist, who openly charged that Lausanne was under a “hegemony from a conservative, white, anti-WCC (World Council of Churches) and anti-socialist group,” etc. (Poor Graham: white, Anglo-Saxon, conservative, etc!) Cavalcanti wanted Graham to continue in the Lausanne movement to raise funds to advance the TIM revolution. This revolution has been happening, but without Graham’s money and participation. Valdir Steuernagel, a TIM leader, has said that today Lausanne is much more TIM than ever. It is not, therefore, a movement with the Gospel’s face, but with the face of an ideology.
For his old opposition to the raging Left in Lausanne, even today C. Peter Wagner is criticized by the Protestant Left, and even by the secular Left, which has been denouncing his New Apostolic Reform.
Lausanne has become a movement of the Protestant Left. And as usual for every left-wing (secular or pseudo-Christian) movement, it sees neo-Pentecostals, especially their PT, as the most important threat to the advance of socialism. Yet, with theological tricks, the Protestant Left has changed slightly the rhetoric, by saying that PT is a threat to the Gospel.
Socialism in Lausanne is old. In the 1980s, Ultimato magazine was officially recommended by Lausanne for Brazilians. It was the incipient left-wing Lausanne promoting the Brazilian Protestant Left.
Today, Lausanne and Ultimato advance in their socialism, though the so-called “conservative” theological Presbyterian elite in Brazil, who have a fine relationship with Ultimato and TIM leaders, have had a hard time to recognize TIM in Lausanne or even in their own Presbyterian midst.
Ultimato is Presbyterian and it has controversial Presbyterian columnists in its magazine and publishing house, including Rev. Marcos Botelho, who had made the strange point that Christians have a duty to fight for people’s right to commit homosexual vices, and Rev. Rev. Luiz Longuini, a four-times divorced minister in PCB (Presbyterian Church of Brazil) and author of a book defending TIM.
Another Ultimato columnist, Marcos Amado, is the director for Latin America in the Lausanne Movement, and he has been writing articles to deconstruct the evangelical support for Israel. This deconstruction is a trend in the Protestant Left around the world, often led and spurred by well-funded U.S. Protestant groups.
Even the left-wing Jewish-American billionaire George Soros has invested millions to make evangelical views on Israel lesser positive. If I am asked how a Jew can campaign against Israel, my answer is that the same socialism that turns Jews against Israel also turns evangelicals against the Gospel. There are thousands of left-wing evangelicals with no sincere love for the Gospel, but passionate about using it as a platform for the socialist ideology, which typically opposes Israel.
In his deconstruction effort, Amado also shows, in Ultimato, that he is opposed to what he labels “evangelical Christian Zionism,” and he stresses that in 2014 he took part in a special conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bethlehem. This conference was “Christ at the CheckPoint,” which seeks to present Jesus as a “Palestinian” oppressed by Israelis.
In 2014 the Israeli government warned evangelicals around the world to steer clear of “Christ at the Checkpoint.” Notwithstanding the Israeli warning, the Lausanne Movement and the World Evangelical Alliance, two movements where Steuernagel has prominent leadership posts, have supported “Christ at the CheckPoint.” Steuernagel is also an Ultimato columnist.
Marcos Amado and Ultimato want you to avoid PT, neo-Pentecostals, Israel and Zionist evangelicals and they are already helping prepare Brazilian evangelicals for the “Christ at the CheckPoint” message, whose contents is the Palestinian Liberation Theology, a TIM sister.
Therefore, you should be worried when you read about theologians “worried” about PT or the so-called “evangelical Zionism.” Their “worry” has other interests.
Evidently, you should oppose neo-Pentecostal abuses, but should you stand passively while these abuses are maliciously attacked as a way to create an opportunity to advance TIM and deconstruct the evangelical support for Israel?
The defense of Israel that many Brazilian neo-Pentecostal leaders make is necessary. Besides, their message, though defective, emphasizing God, not the government, as the supplier of the human needs is fundamental for the people — and abominable to the secular and Protestant Left.
The Lausanne Movement has lost credibility, and it will only have respect from evangelicals when actually it shows that it is worried about its Brazilian adherents and leaders who work together with the ruling Workers’ Party, which has made everything to advance its antifamily dictatorship in Brazil.
Portuguese version of this article: Lausanne, TMI e Israel
Liberation Theology and Neo-Pentecostalism: A Leading Challenge to the Evangelical Churches in Brazil