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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:

The End.

Categories: Creeds, Evangelicals
  1. mikerucker
    May 13, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    good thoughts. i’m enjoying reading the various opinions here and there around the web. i had some hesitations and misgivings before reading the document, but i’m actually quite impressed and invigorated after taking in the whole of what it addresses.

    one of the things i like is that the authors have chosen not to list creationism and inerrancy as non-negotiables. for the first, there’s very little biblical justification anymore behind whatever the latest flavor of anti-natural-selection dessert is being served up; for the latter, somehow we can admit that we can’t prove the existence of God, but goshdarnit we have a golden egg this unprovable God laid right here. still, some people hold to these positions; so be it. there’s simply too much of a tendency to add items to the ever-increasing laundry list of ideas and doctrines to which we have to pledge allegiance before we’re allowed into the room marked “Christian.”

    nothing’s going to please everybody, and there are a few things i object to. for instance, i don’t agree with this statement: We Evangelicals should be defined theologically, and not politically, socially, or culturally. Jesus’ message uses “action” verbs: teach them to DO as I have commanded you, LOVE God and LOVE your neighbor, by this will all men know … if you LOVE one another. any theology that defines us must have feet.

    i did, however, like these words: We are also troubled by the fact that the advance of globalization and the emergence of a global public square finds no matching vision of how we are to live freely, justly, and peacefully with our deepest differences on the global stage. somehow, we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to peacefully share the same bathroom over the next few decades in our ever-shrinking world.

    one interesting thing: maybe i missed it, but there doesn’t seem to be a great emphasis on evangelism in this Evangelical Manifesto. do you think that was intentional? i didn’t see a single chick tract referenced in the bibliography…

    more than anything, i find myself motivated and energized by the very positive nature of the piece – that it isn’t yet another “here’s everything we’re against” rant but an effort to make the gospel again a message of good news. imagine that – the gospel being good news. American Christianity has lost this defining characteristic that once served it well.

    perhaps one unintended benefit of the proposal is a clear opportunity to take this EM (Evangelical Manifesto) and align it with the other EM (Emergent Manifesto) and finally have all our EM & EMs in a row without demonizing the other side.

    one can only hope…

    mike rucker
    fairburn, georgia, usa

  2. November 24, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Conservative Republicans are proposing a 10-point checklist gauging proper adherence to core principles of the party. This approach reminds me of Moody’s Fundamentals of Christianity, which began the fundamentalist movement. For more, I recommend http://euandus3.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/the-fundamentals-of-the-gop/

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