For a no-holds-barred, well documented, and biblically sound critique of the Lausanne Movement, this work by E. S. Williams would be difficult to beat. The concluding statement demonstrates well what the author intends to prove, “In light of the evidence presented in this study, we must conclude that Lausanne is a heretical movement that is perverting the gospel of truth” (p. 150). In order to come to this conclusion Williams organizes his book around individual chapters devoted to his concerns. He begins with the history, background, and founders (Billy Graham and J.R.W. Stott) of the original Lausanne Congress in 1974. Their social/political action was combined with the gospel to provide the “whole gospel” (p. iv). The social agenda has continued to be a key component of Lausanne and evangelicalism to this day (see pp. 8-11, 13-14, 40-45, 117-128, 148). A strong charismatic element was added at Lausanne II held in Manila in 1989. Lausanne III at Cape Town in 2010 widened the ecumenism by drawing evangelicals closer to Rome, emphasized the arts over Scripture (p. 64), introduced the orality movement (pp. 75-106), added the feminist agenda (pp. 129-135), promoted the Alpha Course (pp. 107-116) and favored the unproven claims of environmentalism (pp. 136-144). Overall, Lausanne and its leaders have a low view of Scripture (pp. 36-38, 50) and a high view of liberation theology (pp. 46-47).
Williams actually summarizes his own book very well:
Cape Town 2010 provided a vivid picture of ecumenical confusion. It showed that the ever closer unity of evangelicals with every other brand of ‘Christianity,’ no matter how unbiblical, no matter how compromised, is gathering momentum. We saw how the Alpha Course, which openly works with the Roman Catholic Church, was given a platform to promote its ecumenical agenda. Nicky Gumbel made an impassioned plea for Protestants and Catholics to stop fighting each other, for ‘what unites us is infinitely greater than what divides us.’
There is no doubt that the Lausanne leadership is comfortable with the liberal ideology of the World Council of Churches, the excesses of the charismatic movement, the ecumenical and deficient ‘gospel’ of the Alpha Course, the false teachings of Roman Catholicism, and the new ideas and methods of the emerging church. The evidence in this book demonstrates that Lausanne has turned its back on the doctrines of the Reformation.
For those who want to understand more about the Lausanne Movement than what is normally advertised, I recommend Ecumenism: Another Gospel highly.
Ecumenism: Another Gospel, Lausanne’s Road to Rome by E. S. Williams (London: Belmont House Publishing, 2014) 156 pp. + VI, paper $23.00
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor/teacher Southern View Chapel.