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The Global Conscience of American Evangelicalism: Internationalism and Social Concern in the 1970s and Beyond


The Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in 1974 was the largest global gathering of evangelical Christians in the latter half of the twentieth century. Lausanne was significant, in part because of the struggle between two sets of evangelical leaders: those, led by the US, who wanted to retain a focus on “evangelism,” and the young radicals, led by Latin Americans, who demanded a broader attention to “social concern.” This essay traces the impact of the liberalizing faction, while also following the “evangelism-first” movement and its role in the rise of the religious right in the US in the 1980s.

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1 Padilla René, “Evangelism and the World: Pre-circulated Paper,” in Let the Earth Hear His Voice, official reference volume, papers and responses, International Congress on World Evangelization, Lausanne, Switzerland, ed. Douglas J. D. (Minneapolis: World Wide Publications, 1975), 116–33, 121–22.

2 Bonhoeffer Dietrich, The Cost of Discipleship, rev. unabridged edn (New York: Macmillan, 1963), 45 .

3 René Padilla, “Evangelism and the World: Paper as Presented,” in Let the Earth Hear His Voice, 134–46, 138.

4 Ibid., 136.

5 C. René Padilla, Billy Graham Center Archives Interview, interview by Paul Ericksen, 12 March 1987, T3, Coll 361, BGCA, at

6 Parker Jim, “Voices from Lausanne: A Report,” Post American, 3, 8 (Nov. 1974), 1314, 13.

7 Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population (Washington, DC: The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Dec. 2011), at; Jenkins Philip, The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).

8 Billy Graham, “Why Lausanne?”, in Let the Earth Hear His Voice, 22–38.

9 “Religion: A Challenge from Evangelicals,” Time, 5 Aug. 1974, at,9171,879423,00.html.

10 Welch Claude E. Jr., “Mobilizing Morality: The World Council of Churches and Its Program to Combat Racism, 1969–1994,” Human Rights Quarterly, 23, 4 (Nov. 2001), 863910 .

11 Stanley Brian, “‘Lausanne 1974’: The Challenge from the Majority World to Northern-Hemisphere Evangelicalism,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 64, 3 (2013), 533–51, 535. On Graham at Lausanne see also Wacker Grant, America's Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2014), 243–44.

12 The Spirit of Lausanne,” Christianity Today, 18, 23 (30 Aug. 1974), 27 .

13 Winter Ralph, “Thy Kingdom Come! The Story of a Movement; A Church for Every People and the Gospel for Every Person by the Year 2000; an Analysis of a Vision,” International Journal of Frontier Missions, 13, 1 (1995), at; McGavran Donald A., Understanding Church Growth (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans Pub., 1970); Hunter George S., “The Legacy of Donald A. McGavran,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 16, 4 (1992), 158–62.

14 Yoder John Howard, The Politics of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans Pub., 1972); Skinner Tom, Black and Free (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1968); Henry Carl F. H., The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans Pub., 1947).

15 Marsden George M., Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans Pub., 1995).

16 On the most important of the missions conferences see Stanley Brian, The World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910 (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans Pub., 2009). On the Student Volunteer movement see Parker Michael, The Kingdom of Character: The Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, 1886–1926 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007).

17 “Graham Is Vague on South Africa,” Natal Mercury, 17 March 1973, 25, at Alan Paton Centre Archives, PC130 1:1:10. See also Billy Graham's press conference in Johannesburg, 21 March 1973, Coll 24: 3–21, BGCA.

18 Gatu had been deeply influenced by the evangelical thrust of the East African revival. Peterson Derek R., Ethnic Patriotism and the East African Revival: A History of Dissent, c.1935–1972 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

19 James Reapsome, “Lausanne 74: Strategy and Theological Groups,” EMQOnline, Oct. 1974, at

20 Byang Kato, “Lausanne 74: An African Perspective,” EMQOnline, Oct. 1974, at

21 The quote is from Byang Kato, “Africa's Christian Future,” Christianity Today, 10 Oct. 1975, 14. On Kato see Breman Christien M., “A Portrait of Dr Byang H Kato,” Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology, 15, 2 (1 Jan. 1996), 135–51.

22 Gatu John, “The Urgency of the Evangelistic Task,” in The New Face of Evangelicalism: An International Symposium on the Lausanne Covenant, ed. Padilla C. René (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1976), 163–76, 172–73.

23 Parker, “Voices from Lausanne.”

24 A copy of “Unreached Peoples” is available in Coll 53, Folder 3–7, BGCA.

25 Table of contents sidebar, Mission Frontiers, 6, 3 (March 1984), 3 , available at

26 E. David Dougherty, “What's Happening to Missions Mobilization?,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly, July 1998, at

27 Wade Coggins, “COWE: An Assessment of Progress and Work Left Undone,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly, Oct. 1980, at

28 Wagner C. Peter, Unreached Peoples ’79 (Elgin, IL: D. C. Cook Pub. Co., 1978), 99 .

29 Jim Reapsome, “People Groups: Beyond the Push to Reach Them Lie Some Contrary Opinions,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly, Jan. 1984, 6–19.

30 Hiebert Paul G., “Missions and the Understanding of Culture,” in Klassen A. J., ed., Church in Mission, A Sixtieth Anniversary Tribute to J. B. Toews (Fresno, CA: Board Of Christian Literature, Mennonite Brethren Church, 1967), 251–65; Hiebert , “Missions and Anthropology: A Love/Hate Relationship,” Missiology, 6, 2 (April 1978), 165–80. On Hiebert see Whiteman Darrell L., “Anthropological Reflections on Contextualizing Theology in a Globalizing World,” in Ott Craig and Netland Harold, eds., Globalizing Theology: Belief and Practice in an Era of World Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 5269 .

31 LOP 2 – The Willowbank Report: Consultation on Gospel and Culture (Willowbank: Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, 1978), at

32 Foucault Michel, The Government of Self and Others: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1982–1983, ed. Davidson Arnold I., trans. Burchell Graham (New York: Picador, 2011).

33 Reapsome, “People Groups,” 16.

34 The book distributed at Lausanne was Unreached Peoples: A Preliminary Compilation (Pasadena, CA: Missions Advanced Research and Communications Center, 1974). Among the hundreds of book titles was the annual survey sponsored by World Vision International, Unreached Peoples 79, 80, 81, etc.

35 Adopt-a-People Campaign Office, “Missions in a Suitcase,” Mission Frontiers, July 1997, at

36 Borthwick Paul, How to Be a World-Class Christian (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1993).

37 World Christian Handbooks are the materials given out at regular IVCF “World Christian Conferences.” Copies in Folder 275-1, Coll 300, BGCA.

38 Escobar Samuel, “Beyond Liberation Theology: Evangelical Missiology in Latin America,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 6, 3 (July 1982), 108–14. On the Latin American Theological Fraternity see Kirkpatrick David C., “C. René Padilla and the Origins of Integral Mission in Post-War Latin America,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 67, 2 (April 2016), 351–71; Swartz David R., Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 113–34.

39 S. O. Odunaike, “Inter-mission Relationships,” in Let the Earth Hear His Voice, 520.

40 Ad hoc working group, “Theology Implications of Radical Discipleship,” in Let the Earth Hear His Voice, 1294–96.

41 “The Lausanne Covenant,” in Let the Earth Hear His Voice, 3–9.

42 Padilla C. René, “Integral Mission and Its Historical Development,” in Chester Tim, ed., Justice, Mercy, and Humility (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2003), 4258, 47.

43 Tizon Al, Transformation after Lausanne: Radical Evangelical Mission in Global–Local Perspective (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2008), 50 .

44 LOP 20: An Evangelical Commitment to Simple Life-Style (Hoddesdon: Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, 1980), at

45 The Lausanne Occasional Papers are all available at

46 Wagner C. Peter, “Lausanne Twelve Months Later,” Christianity Today, 19 (4 July 1975), 79, 7, 9. See also Stanley Brian, The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press Academic, 2013), 172–75.

47 Lindsell Harold, “Lausanne 74: An Appraisal,” Christianity Today, 18, 24 (13 Sept. 1974), 2122 .

48 Rene Padilla, Billy Graham Center Archives Interview, Tape 3.

49 King David, “The New Internationalists: World Vision and the Revival of American Evangelical Humanitarianism, 1950–2010,” Religions, 3, 4 (2012), 922–49, 938; David P. King, “Seeking a Global Vision: The Evolution of World Vision and American Evangelicalism,” Ph.D., Emory University, 2012.

50 Author interview with Ronald Sider, April 2010.

51 For descriptions of Schaeffer's series of lectures see Hamilton Michael S., “The Dissatisfaction of Francis Schaeffer: Thirteen Years after His Death, Schaeffer's Vision and Frustrations Continue to Haunt Evangelicalism,” Christianity Today, 41, 3 (3 March 1997), 2230 ; Worthen Molly, Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 210–12; Swartz, Moral Minority, 98–100.

52 Martin William, With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America (New York: Broadway, 2005), 159 .

53 Schaeffer Frank, Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right (Boston: Da Capo Press, 2007), 118 .

54 See the useful discussion of Schaeffer's theology in Hankins Barry, Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans Pub., 2008); Worthen, 209–16.

55 Shires Preston, Hippies of the Religious Right: From the Countercultures of Jerry Garcia to the Subculture of Jerry Falwell (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2007), 50 .

56 Schaeffer made the points about orthodoxy of community in his pre-circulated paper: Francis Schaeffer, “Form and Freedom in the Church: Pre-circulated Paper,” in Let the Earth Hear His Voice, 368–79. The quotes are from the talk he actually delivered at the conference: Francis Schaeffer, “Form & Freedom in the Church: Paper as Delivered,” in ibid., 366. Brockway Allan R., “Christian Lifestyle: Reflections on Lausanne,” Engage/Social Action, 2 (1 Nov. 1974), 4754 .

57 Schaeffer Francis, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Old Tappan NJ: F. H. Revell Co., 1976), 222–25.

58 Schaeffer Francis, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (Old Tappan NJ: F. H. Revell Co., 1979). Duriez Colin, Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 181–87. The Der Spiegel quote is from ibid., 191.

59 Ziegler Mary, After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015), 155 .

60 There was some overlap with the Catholic concept of a “seamless garment” of life. Byrnes Timothy A., “How ‘Seamless’ a Garment? The Catholic Bishops and the Politics of Abortion,” Journal of Church & State, 33, 1 (Winter 1991), 1735 .

61 Bush Luis, “The Challenge before Us,” in Douglas J. D., ed., Proclaim Christ until He Comes: Calling the Whole Church to Take the Whole Gospel to the Whole World (Minneapolis: World Wide Publications, 1990), 61 . The speeches are also collected at

62 On persecuted Christians see McAlister Melani, “The Persecuted Body: Evangelical Internationalism, Islam, and the Politics of Fear,” in Laffan Michael and Weiss Max, eds., Facing Fear: The History of an Emotion in Global Perspective (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012), 133–61; Castelli Elizabeth, “Persecution Complexes: Identity Politics and the ‘War on Christians’,” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 18, 3 (Fall 2007), 152–80.

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