In July 1974, 2,700 evangelical Protestants from 150 nations gathered in Lausanne, Switzerland, for the first International Congress on World Evangelization. Time magazine called the gathering "possibly the widest ranging meeting of Christians ever held." The congress produced the Lausanne Covenant, which set evangelization into a broader context than had been the practice among evangelicals to that point—including the purposes of God, the authority of Scripture, the uniqueness of Christ, the mission of the church, the power of the Holy Spirit and the second coming of Christ. It has been hailed as one of the most significant documents of the 20th century.
The covenant's principal framer was John R. W. Stott, then rector of All Souls, Langham Place, London. At 82, Stott continues to minister through his books, which have sold in the millions, and John Stott Ministries, which is "dedicated to helping pastors and church leaders in the Majority World to bring growth with depth to their nations." And he continues to write wisely about world evangelization.
Naturally, Stott has already been reflecting on the 2004 Lausanne Forum on World Evangelization. Gary Barnes, associate director for the 2004 Forum and Lausanne's senior associate for forgotten peoples, sat down with him to draw out his take on next year's forum.
What do you believe to be some of the most critical issues needing to be addressed by the working groups preparing for the 2004 forum?
I focus on what to me is the most critical issue, and that is the challenge of pluralism. Pluralism is not just recognition that there is a plurality of faiths in the world today. That is an obvious fact. No, pluralism is itself an ideology. It affirms the independent validity of all faiths. ...1
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