Ten years ago a few men had a dream that resulted in the 1966 World Congress on Evangelism, held in Berlin. This was followed by regional congresses around the world. Two years ago, in the midst of the European Congress on Evangelism, another dream was born that went far beyond Berlin or any regional congress. It was an enlargement of the original vision, an expansion from evangelism to evangelization. This seemingly minor change of the original word altered the whole concept. Evangelism and missions were now linked inextricably, and missionary agencies as well as evangelists were drawn into the plans for the International Congress on World Evangelization, which opens in Lausanne, Switzerland, on July 16.
A splendid theological foundation was laid in Berlin, and this work on the theology of evangelism will not need to be redone. The achievement of Berlin will be the starting point from which the Lausanne congress approaches the ultimate objective embraced in the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ: worldwide evangelization. Lausanne is intended not to be an end in itself. As Berlin was the theological launching pad for Lausanne, now Lausanne must be the launching pad from which the people of God go on to finish the work of proclaiming the Gospel to every creature.
It is not liberal and nonbiblical ideologies that are the greatest hindrance to world evangelization. Resolving the confusion over the mission of the Church, universal salvation, syncretism, and social action would not guarantee the evangelization of the world. For the greatest threat to the fulfillment of this vision is sheer indifference. One would expect evangelistic indifference among those who believe that all men will ultimately be saved or that the mission ...1
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