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‘Idea 2021’: Thinking for action in a wounded society

The annual meeting of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance addressed the challenges of freedom of conscience, the mission of the church, and its role in a society marked by the pandemic.

AUTOR 16/Daniel_Hofkamp,5/Evangelical_Focus BARCELONA 04 DE MARZO DE 2021 16:46 h
After the presentations, speakers Jaume Llenas and José Moreno (below) answered the questions posted by participants attending the online event. / [link]Spanish Evangelical Alliance[/link].

The annual gathering of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE) known as Idea, brought together over 200 evangelicals in an new online format, which facilitated the participation and interaction of the attendees.

One of the main topics of the meeting was the fundamental freedoms and their regulation. It started with a debate with political representatives from three politcal parties with presence in the Spanish Parliament.

On the second day, there were two talks on two issues related to this theme. Firstly, the biblical foundation of freedom of conscience and how evangelicals should defend it; and secondly, how evangelicals can interact and impact today's society.


Freedom of conscience for all

José Moreno Berrocal, president of the theology group of the AEE, recalled in his presentation that 2021 marks the 500th anniversary of the Diet of Worms, a key moment in the history of freedom of conscience.

Moreno quoted the text of Romans 2:14-15, which states that conscience is part of the image of God in the human being, and also an element that makes us see what is right or wrong. “Conscience is present in every human being and therefore it must be respected, that is why we defend it” .

He explained how freedom of conscience developed in European history, emphasising that it was articulated as a right “in countries where the Reformation had a special impact”.

Moreno also underlined that “UNESCO 1948 Memorandum on the Rights of Man mentions the Reformation as a reference for the defence of individual conscience”, so that freedom of conscience "is not only the fruit of the Enlightenment, but its sources go deeper, right up to the Reformation” .

According to the president of the theology group of the AEE, “freedom of conscience is of radical importance. If this right is lost, all other rights will be at risk. It is the first bulwark of all other rights”.

He acknowledged that there are countries where there is still a struggle to achieve it, while in others it could “die of success” . But in our context it is important to recognise that “freedom of conscience requires an examination of conscience: everyone has to realise that what is difficult is not to claim it for ourselves, but to recognise it for others” .

Moreno pointed out that freedom of conscience develops historically when the gospel shines brightly, “in an atmosphere of fervour, of revival, of subjection to the Word and of lives that shine with the total transformation of the gospel” .

“If we are grounded in the gospel, we must be prepared to suffer for freedom of conscience”, said Moreno, arguing that to engage in the debate, it is important to be “humble” and that victories are achieved through “persuasion” .

The importance of reflection before action

Jaume Llenas, coordinator of the Lausanne Movement in Spain and of the Graduate Bible Groups (GBG), gave the second talk, in which he reflected on the role of the Evangelical Alliance - and of evangelicals in general - in society.

Llenas questioned the hierarchical and institutional church model, calling for a network model, where the churches are “points of connection so that the life of God circulates from Jesus to everyone else”.

In this model, “the Alliance is a dance floor for the churches to find partners to carry out the mission, so that the church functions as one”, explained Llenas, who was general secretary of the AEE until 2018.

“We are not of the world, but we are of the society. Not everything is bad in society, given that the heritage of the image of creation - albeit spoiled - is still present and its traces are visible. The church must use those spaces to transmit the gospel”, said Llenas.

Regarding the current situation, he emphasised that we face a “trauma” caused by the pandemic “that makes it more difficult to interpret society, but today Christianity works from the margins, which is not a bad starting point”.

Llenas mentioned mental health issues, depression, the crisis in relationships, anxiety in young people or the “ambition for continuous happiness" as some of the problems to which the church can respond.

He stressed that the AEE can be “a place of reflection in an environment where the church has an activist tendency. The evangelical world has lost some of its capacity for reflection. There is too much action without a solid foundation”.

Regarding political participation, Llenas lamented that “we do not have an original thought to offer to the society, beyond the mantras of the predictable evangelical agenda, very much linked to the American right-wing. We think that this is the message of the gospel but in reality that is a reductionism”.

That is why he considered it “essential” to attract thinkers, specially to give space to young people and women, so that they have a place to share their thoughts and reflections.

Finally, Jaume Llenas called for the AEE  “to be able to make risky proposals. We must go back to being those who transform the world. It is time to be brave, the church that disrupts and takes risks for the Kingdom. May an excess of prudence not stifle our prophetic perspective”.

After the presentations, the speakers answered the questions posted in the chat by the participants of the meeting.


Working groups and General Assembly

Idea 2021 finished with the reports of the working groups. There are two new groups: Pastoral and Leadership, led by Marcos Zapata, and Woman, chaired by Asun Quintana.

The financial reports of the three entities (Alianza Evangélica, Areópago Protestante and Alianza Solidaria) were approved.

The elction of Emilio Carmona Ballesteros as the new secretary general of the entity was confirmed with a larg majority of over 95% of the votes.


Towards Idea 2022

Evaluating the meeting, Carmona expressed his satisfaction with both days, highlighting the ability to create a forum for friendly dialogue and to make the evangelical voice heard in a debate with political representatives.

“I am very grateful for the closeness, transparency, excellence, love for the Lord and for people, which are reflected in each meeting”, added the new secretary general.

The president of the Evangelical Alliance, Marcos Zapata, expressed his desire for Idea 2022 “to be in person, but we will see how we can maintain an online presence, so that many people can be present”, after this year's positive experience.




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