Saturday, May 10, 2008

An Evangelical Manifesto

70 leading Evangelical pastors signed a document this past Wednesday entitled 'An Evangelical Manifesto'. The signers range from Os Guiness (a clear Reformed theologian) to Dallas Willard (who I believe is one of the leading guru's for the Emergent church movement.) Among the drafters and preliminary supporters of the manifesto are Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in California; Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Jim Wallis, founder and editor of Sojourners Magazine; and Frank Wright, president of the National Religious Broadcasters. Dr. James Dobson did not sign it, nor any Black American Evangelicals that I am aware of. The Manifesto can be found at:


From my quick review of the Evangelical Manifesto, it seems designed to address two problems: first, to help people understand what is an Evangelical. And second, to call for reform of Evangelicals involvement in the political process. I see (and I may be wrong here) that the two main points of attack for this document are first, prosperity preachers in America who are not preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. Second the Manifesto takes aim at Evangelicals involved in politics who are compromising Christian principles, in order to get things accomplished. It is interesting that this came out now, when the World seems especially turbulent.


The Manifesto starts out: The two-fold purpose of this declaration is first to address the confusions and corruptions that attend the term Evangelical in the United States and much of the Western world today, and second to clarify where we stand on issues that have caused consternation over Evangelicals in public life.


It also includes the following: As followers of Jesus Christ, Evangelicals stress a particular set of beliefs that we believe are true to the life and teachings of Jesus himself. Taken together, they make us who we are. We place our emphasis on ...


1. Jesus, fully divine and fully human, as the only full and complete revelation of God and therefore the only Savior.


2. The death of Jesus on the cross, in which he took the penalty for our sins and reconciled us to God.


3. Salvation as God's gift grasped through faith. We contribute nothing to our salvation.


4. New life in the Holy Spirit, who brings us spiritual rebirth and power to live as Jesus did, reaching out to the poor, sick, and oppressed.


5. The Bible as God's Word written, fully trustworthy as our final guide to faith and practice.


6. The future personal return of Jesus to establish the reign of God.


7. The importance of sharing these beliefs so that others may experience God's salvation and may walk in Jesus' way.

Sadly, we repeatedly fail to live up to our high calling, and all too often illustrate our own doctrine of sin. The full list of our failures is no secret to God or to many who watch us. If we would share the good news of Jesus with others, we must first be shaped by that good news ourselves.


Let me know what you think about the document, or if you have a different impression of what the Evangelical Manifesto is designed to accomplish. Thanks, and may God bless you this day.


Edward Oleander said...

Well, it seems that at least some Evangelicals want to return to their Puritan roots.

Although couched in positive and diplomatic language, this document seems very much an Iron-Fist-In-A-Velvet-Glove call to action. Some very subtle wording gives these Evans self-permission to launch a crusade to return the church to its' Reformative, and ultra-
conservative, roots. I was not at all comforted by the talk of eschewing both ends of the political and religious extremist continuums. The weight and flavour of the words were definitely tilted towards an anti-liberal bias (freely admitted at one point). Open words of tolerance and acceptance of other faiths and cultures (especially faiths) were contradicted by more subtle phrasing that would allow rejection of anything the signers don't like, as long it's for my own good. The anti-Choice and anti-gay positions staked out were a taste of the real agenda, despite their shrill denial that any such agenda does or should exist.

While I don't see the burning stakes being re-planted in the village square quite yet, I can hear axes being ground to sharpen them...

Note: Didn't anybody proofread this dog for grammar? Even a grade school English teacher would cringe at the horrors being visited upon proper sentence structure in this manifesto. It is so poorly written that it calls to mind some wild-eyed fanatic, frantically pounding out words on an archaic, perhaps even manual, typewriter, trying to rush his burning message out to the audience, mostly imaginary, that he quite sincerely believes is waiting breathlessly to share in his wisdom.

And yes, before you ask, that last 50-word sentence was designed to poke some fun at the Manifestos' authors. While I realize that my own writing skills have atrophied considerably since college, I'm not trying to convince millions of people to jump up and dance, either.

rant = /off/

Pax Y'all,

Edward Oleander said...

Oh, one more thing...

Tom, you mentioned that you didn't believe that any black Evan leaders had signed the document. I wonder if they felt, as I did, that the manifesto paid only minor lip service to the role played by emerging (not Emergent!) African congregations? The document was seemingly by and for the American audience...

tom wolff said...

Thanks Ed for writing. The names of the signers are now starting to leak out. They include some of the biggest names in the American Church:

Leith Anderson;
Kay Arthur;
Mark Bentley, Pres. of Dallas Theological Seminary;
Darell Bock of DTS;
Jack Hayford;
Max Lucado;
Erwin Lutzer;
JP Moreland;
Harold Smith, CEO of Christianity Today;
and, last but not least, Rick Warren today's biggest American Christian voice apparently signed it also (but does not appear on the 'EM' website as a signer.)