Study guide - Accra Confession: Covenant for Justice in the Economy and the Earth

This pamphlet contains the Accra Confession adopted by the delegates of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) (of which PC(USA) is member) 24th General Council in Accra, Ghana (2004).

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  1. Ashley, thanks for your comment. I shared your concerns with Andrew Kang Bartlett below and his response is below. Dear Ms. Conway: First, thanks for writing in your comment. I work for the Hunger Program and wish to defend briefly the use of "Accra" by bodies within our church and welcome further discussion. The Accra statement does criticize the anti-regulatory or "neo-liberal" dynamic of capitalism that intensifies inequality unless there are safeguards and ways to distribute productivity gains more fairly. Many readers do not see it condemning capitalism per se, but calling for more balance and protection of societies that do not have the bargaining power. While its language may seem foreign to some US readers, the lack of regulation of banks and financial corporations has been identified as a primary component of the financial meltdown of 2008. Accra would also oppose the austerity measures as practiced in the developing world now being extended into Europe and the US, keeping employment depressed and extreme inequality in place. Accra does see economic divisions affecting the church of Jesus Christ itself, as well as challenging our discipleship for justice in the world. Because it can be a church-dividing issue, it does affect the church's ability to confess our faith in a unified way. It is also the case, as you point out, that the earth is God's good creation— the challenge is to keep it that way in a world where powerful forces magnify human sinfulness, including greed and war. "Christ is our peace," says the author of Ephesians, and Accra points to the ways economic "hegemony" causes a kind of economic war on poorer countries. Our Reformed view of government responsibility suggests that we should correct the extremes of the marketplace for the common good. Saint Paul talks about the "principalities and powers," which are clearly bigger and more subtle than individual people, and which put us in systems. Christ exposed the power of the Roman empire on the cross and, in his resurrection, showed God's very different power. Accra claims that we have, perhaps despite ourselves in some cases, become an empire— but not in a simple way. The General Assembly in 2006 said this position was worthy of study, but no Presbyterian is called to endorse every part of Accra. I would be glad to provide copies of various social witness policies of the denomination on these matters if you should wish. In the faith that we share, AKB

    by Jessica Maudlin

    PC(USA) Staff

    April 10, 2013

  2. As a Presbyterian Women Moderator for our church, I was deeply concerned by the anti-capitalist rhetoric found inside the Accra Confession. It seems to position one group of people vs another group. We are all God's people and His creation is important to all who love Him. Remember, He called everything He created...GOOD. As moderator, my job is to promote God's word in our actions, words, and education. The Accra Confessions have no place in a Christ-centered bible study guide. I have my doubts concerning the Horizon's editors' judgements.

    by Ashley Conway

    April 5, 2013

  3. Jessica, I was with you until the last sentence, which is a purely political statement. I've been reading up on the Accra Confession because it is integral to the current Horizon Bible Study of the Beatitudes. It is primarily a litany of what "people of the south" (so much kinder than "third world") see as the ills and injustices that afflict them, accompanied by a lot of finger-pointing. Blaming an amorphous "Empire", lumping together North American and European nations as greedy earth-rapers, and showing off archaic political science terminology just obscures any real analysis of the problems and excuses the accusers from being a part of the solutions. It reads more like a psalm - Lord, my enemies surround me and skin me like a goat. Smite them with your mighty hand and transfer their sheep to my flock! There has to be recognition that within capitalism there are corporations, institutions and individuals working for justice and giving away their profits to provide food and medicine, technology and assistance. The talents given to each servant are to be used in a way that they yield an increase, not just hidden away. [It's late and I'm not going to look up the chapter and verse.]

    by Lu Wilmot

    July 5, 2011

  4. I shared your concerns with Andrew Kang Bartlett, our associate for National Hunger concerns and he had the following to share: The Accra Confession was adopted by the delegates of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) 24th General Council in Accra, Ghana (2004), based on the theological conviction that the economic and environmental injustices of today's global economy require the Reformed family to respond as a matter of faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In biblical and Reformed thinking, we understand “justice” (mispat) as core to God’s vision, with biblical justice inextricably tied to Yahweh's mercy and compassion and grounded in the God-humankind relationship. Selfish accumulation, hoarding and over-reaping are signs of a world rebelling against God's will. Calvin affirmed the vocation of Christians to struggle so that the -- "crying difference between rich and poor" -- ceases and the Body of Christ (the community) is healthy and strong. Those who follow Yahweh are compelled to practice justice, to “Let justice flow like a river, and righteousness like a stream that never goes dry.” (Amos 6:24). Therefore, God calls us as a Communion to seek right relations among peoples and all of creation; build sustainable, inclusive, just and life-enhancing communities; resist systems of oppression; create and strengthen alternatives; and strive to witness through our accompaniment and actions the dignifying fullness of life as exemplified in Christ. The Accra Confession points us toward a critical aspect of our work as Christians in the world. It provides the theological foundation, principles and vision of the social, economic and ecological justice God calls us as to live out. The Confession provides an alternative to the neoliberal economics that have been damaging to our relationship with others and with creation.

    by Jessica Maudlin

    June 13, 2011

  5. The Accra Confession is not so much a Christian confession of faith as it is a political polemic espousing an anti-capitalist agenda in the guise of religion. Surely there is a better way to help the poor in the Southern hemisphere than by trying to destroy the economic systems that have brought wellbeing to so many in the Northern hemisphere.

    by Fritz Vinson

    June 13, 2011

  6. this is the spanish-language version. where is the english?

    by yvonne hileman

    November 18, 2010

  7. I just saw that there was a conference in Accra, Ghana. Is it too much to advocate for a desperate community in the Upper West Region of Ghana. It's the poorest part of that country.

    by Bruno Yomoah

    August 23, 2010

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