Has the Lausanne Movement Moved?

By Bonk, Jonathan J. | International Bulletin of Missionary Research, April 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Has the Lausanne Movement Moved?


Bonk, Jonathan J., International Bulletin of Missionary Research


Front and foremost in this issue is the Cape Town Commitment, twenty-two pages long. It offers tangible evidence of the hard work of Christopher J. H. Wright and his team of evangelical theologians from every continent (six men and two women) who were charged with distilling the essence and emphases of the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, held in Cape Town October 16-25, 2010. The smooth and orderly prose of the Cape Town Commitment belies the exhausting and at times exasperating challenge of creating a document that could be endorsed by the astonishingly diverse assembly of 4,200 evangelicals from 198 countries.

This is not the first time that the Lausanne movement has taken center stage in the Intern ation al Bulletin of Missionary Resear ch. Lausanne I (the first International Congress on World Evangelization) was convened in 1974 by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Lausanne, Switzerland. Although this landmark event drew more than 2,300 delegates from 150 countries, our publication's predecessor, the barely functioning Occasional Bulletin from the Missionary Research Library, made no mention of it. With the Bulletin's transfer to the Overseas Ministries Study Center in January 1977, subsequent Lausanne movement events and publications would not go unnoticed.

In October 1989 the IBMR published the 'Twenty-one Affirmations" of the Manila Manifesto (vol. 13,no. 4 [1989] : 164-66), the official statement of the Second Lausanne International Congress on World Evangelization, held in Manila, Philippines, July 11-20, 1989. The editorial records that the congress "brought together more than 4,000 participants representing about 170 nations . . . [including] sixty-six representatives from a dozen Soviet republics, from both registered and unregistered churches." It goes on to report that Chinese delegates - some 300 in all - had been denied permission by their government to attend, the same problem faced by 200 Chinese Christians whom Beijing barred from attending Cape Town 2010. Three months later, associate editor Robert T. Coote provided insightful analysis of the movement in his essay "Lausanne II and World Evangelization" (vol. 14, no. 1 [1990]: 10-17). The Manila Manifesto was the work of a task force chaired by John R. W. Stott, who, more than any other individual, was charged with ensuring that strategy -preoccupied American evangelicals were grounded in biblical and not mere folk theology - a continuing concern voiced by René Padilla in his article in this issue.

Robert Hunt's lead article skillfully traces the history of the Lausanne movement from its early beginnings, highlighting the social and theological milieus within which its principal animators - one an American, globe-trotting evangelist and the other a British evangelical Anglican respected for the no-nonsense exegesis of his biblical teaching and commentaries - lived and moved. …

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