The Lausanne Covenant

What do you know about the Lausanne Covenant?

The Lausanne Covenant was ratified at the International Congress on World Evangelization, held in Lausanne, Switzerland, in July 1974. 2,300 people, representing 150 nations, attended the Congress and were involved in the ratification of the Covenant. Since that time, the Covenant has become a confession of faith for many evangelical ministries and associations.

Following are comments on the Lausanne Covenant that appeared in the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly in 1974: “The Lausanne Covenant, as it is called, commits its signatories both to the infallible authority of the Bible and to Christian social responsibility…..There is much in the 14 articles with which we find ourselves in wholehearted agreement…..It warms the heart to read so forthright a statement on the authority of the Bible in an age in which that authority is so often the victim of the proponents of negative higher and historical criticism…..Article 5 on ‘Christian Social Responsibility’ offers a fine positive statement of the individual Christian’s responsibility as a member of society. From our viewpoint the statement is weak because it does not supplement its positive emphasis with a negative statement to the affect that the Lord has not made social action a part of the church’s task as such…..The covenant is also deserving of a bouquet for its unequivocal rejection ‘as degrading to Christ of every kind of syncretism and dialogue which implies that Christ speaks equally through all religions and ideologies’…..As for the Congress itself, it was a thoroughly unionistic enterprise.”

Our church body’s criticism of the covenant is based not so much on what the Covenant said but on what it did not say. Because evangelicals wrote the Covenant, statements on the sacraments and church fellowship are absent.