Although the experts had been discussing for decades the place of culture in the communication of the Gospel, I suspect that it was the Lausanne Congress that brought this matter to the attention of many evangelicals for the first time. Culture was at the forefront of the discussion, and there are several important references to it in the Lausanne Covenant.
The Gospel simply cannot be shared with others in a cultural vacuum. There is no such thing as the pure Gospel isolated from a cultural setting. On the contrary, three distinct cultures are involved in any presentation of God’s good news. First, there are the cultural situations within which God chose to reveal himself to mankind in the Bible. Secondly, there is the cultural background of the evangelist or missionary. Thirdly, there is the culture of the people to whom the missionary or the evangelist bears witness. How, then, can Christian witnesses who live in one culture take the Gospel out of the Bible, which was written in another culture, and share it with people who belong to a third, without either distorting the good news or rendering it unintelligible?
This problem of cross-cultural communication, involving an interplay between three cultures, brought thirty-three Christian thinkers together to Willowbank in Bermuda last January, under the joint sponsorship of the Lausanne Committee’s Theology and Education and Strategy working groups. The twenty-eight participants were all committed to the Lausanne Covenant, while the four consultants expressed themselves in general sympathy with it, and there was also one visitor. We came from all six continents, approximately one half belonging to the North Atlantic and the other half to the Third World. Such theologians ...
John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (www.langham.org), a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more