The Evangelical Manifesto
Have you seen the new Evangelical Manifesto yet? It was put together by a virtual who’s who of moderate Evangelicals, including Timothy George, David Neff, Dallas Willard, Darrell Bock, Jack Hayford, Michael Holmes, Mark Noll, Alvin Plantinga, Ron Sider, Kevin Vanhoozer, Miroslav Volf, and Doug Moo. It was also signed by mainstream Evangelicals like Stuart Briscoe, Max Lucado, Jack Hayford, Kay Arthur, and Steve Strang.
The document acknowledges right up front that no one can speak for all Evangelicals because Evangelicals have no centralized leadership. Nevertheless, if this is what it means to be an Evangelical, I for one want to stay on board. The document seeks to redefine what it means to be Evangelical, especially in opposition with those who would seek to align Evangelicals with the Republican party, or with conservatism, or reactionary-ism, or any other sort of -ism. It calls for Evangelicals to focus on three things: First, to reaffirm our identity as gospel-believing people above all other allegiances. Second, to act out our belief in the gospel by truly loving our neighbors as ourselves, and not merely with lip service. The document lists several crucial areas where this is particularly needed, such as moving toward multi-racial churches, rejecting the rampant materialism of the age, and renouncing anti-intellectualism. Third, to work for a truly civil public square, rejecting the notion that individuals must leave their religious beliefs behind when entering the public arena, but also rejecting any attempt to force religious beliefs on others. “Contrary to the medieval religious leaders and contemporary atheists who believe that ‘error has no rights,’ we respect the right to be wrong. But we also insist that the principle of ‘the right to believe anything’ does not lead to the conclusion that ‘anything anyone believes is right.'” (p.19) Amen.
If we Evangelicals will accept this document, with all its challenges, it will take us a long way toward fulfilling the purposes of God in our generation.
One final observation is worth making. I am surprised at the way the document ends. No catchy slogan like, “Evangelicals of the world unite,” or “Evangelicalism: the choice of a new generation.” Just two simple words: