The Effects Of Theological Convergence: Ecumenism From Edinburgh To Lausanne -- By: H. Edward Pruitt

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 10:2 (Fall 2013)
Article: The Effects Of Theological Convergence: Ecumenism From Edinburgh To Lausanne
Author: H. Edward Pruitt

The Effects Of Theological Convergence:
Ecumenism From Edinburgh To Lausanne

H. Edward Pruitt

H. Edward Pruitt is Associate Professor of Christian Studies/Missions and Director of the World Missions Center at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Georgia.


Evangelicals have asserted that a theological convergence began at the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference of 19101 and has continued to affect evangelical theology to this day. This article provides evidence that there was a convergence of theologies that took place at Edinburgh 1910 when evangelicals and ecumenicals sought unity for the sake of world evangelization. This article explores the ecumenism that flowed from Edinburgh 1910, analyzes its impact on evangelical theology, and demonstrates how convergent missiological practices emerged as a result.

This article acknowledges that there were multiple causes for the theological convergence that continue to affect twenty-first century evangelicalism. However, the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference of 1910 was a foundation for and primary contributor to theological convergence. David Hesselgrave asserts that “from the time of Edinburgh the modern ecumenical movement has been characterized more by organizational togetherness than theological consensus.”2 Hesselgrave as well as other evangelicals attribute much of the convergence to a lack of adherence to biblical theology, which in turn leads to less than biblical missiological practices. This article will explore these claims.

However, before delving into these assertions, it must be noted that there were several contributing factors to theological convergence from Edinburgh 1910 to Lausanne 1974. Charles E. Van Engen asserts that as

North American Evangelicals experienced new sociocultural strength and confidence, changes in ecumenical theology of mission, and developments in evangelical partner churches in the Third World. They responded with a broadening vision of an evangelical theology of mission that became less reactionary and more holistic without compromising

the initial evangelical élan of the ‘spirit of Edinburgh 1910.’3

Van Engen further points out that 1940s and 1950s evangelicals were influenced theologically by the threat of communism, war, a pessimism over humanity and the human condition, as well as the “essential emptiness of the old social-gospel mentality.”4

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