The Unanswered Prayer of Edinburgh

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“Let the earth hear His voice” was the theme of Lausanne 1974. At Edinburgh 1910 the heart cry had been “Let the world hear at least once!” Now sixty-four years later it remains to be seen how much the International Congress on World Evangelization, held this past summer in Lausanne, Switzerland, contributed to the fulfillment of that unanswered prayer.

During the nineteenth century, known as the Great Century of world missionary effort, the Evangelical Alliance brought together evangelicals of all Protestant denominations for fellowship and prayer. Rouse and Neill relate these conferences to the evangelical awakenings and call them “another manifestation of Pietism in its nineteenth century form.” Massie traces the origins back to Wesley, the Moravians, and Whitefield. Latourette says that rationalism had so penetrated Protestantism that the founders of the Evangelical Alliances sought national and worldwide communion with those holding to Reformation doctrine in whatever denominations or countries they were found. These conferences were characterized by a zeal for evangelism and foreign missions.

The cardinal point in the early objectives of the alliance was unity within the framework of “the infallible word of God” and the witness of the Holy Spirit that believers are children of God. In a book published in 1847 J. W. Massie records that “the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, the judgment of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, with … the eternal punishment of the wicked, are doctrines … recognized without one differing judgment” (The Evangelical Alliance: Its Origin and Development). Conferences of the Evangelical Alliances responded to the theological problems confronting evangelicals in their generation. ...

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