Skip to comments.Whose 'Evangelical Manifesto'?
Posted on 04/18/2008 6:18:45 AM PDT by Terriergal
If all goes according to plan, on or about May 7, a group of evangelical leaders -- including the Rev. Rick Warren (of Saddleback Church and "Purpose Driven Life" fame) and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals -- will publish a document to be called "An Evangelical Manifesto: The Washington Declaration of Identity and Public Commitment."
Though the document has been circulating around the Internet for a month, it has been "embargoed." For purposes of our discussion here, I will honor the embargo and not delve here into the contents except to say this: it contains, like other documents of this kind, both virtues and flaws. It's better than most, worse than some. But the contents are not my main concern here: In the end, I fear that the contents, however worthy, will be overshadowed by the process of its writing and gathering signatories for it.
Os Guinness, one of the "Manifesto's" primary authors, told me that a "representative group" has been asked to sign it, and that "scores of people have given input." In defense of his assertion, I will say that in my investigating, I have determined that, in addition to Warren and Anderson, theologians Timothy George and Richard Mouw have been a part of the drafting process. Jesse Miranda, Richard Ohman, and John Huffman also reportedly had a hand. The involvement of long-time Billy Graham PR guru Larry Ross suggests that Graham might end up a signatory. (Ross would not confirm or deny that.) Best-selling author Dallas Willard and Christianity Today's David Neff were also involved.
Guinness claims the document is not political in the sense that it says "Christians are not to be defined culturally or politically" and that it is first and foremost a "charitable call to reform." Nonetheless, the timing of the document's release, during the "home stretch" of the presidential election season and during a week when many states will be holding primaries, makes the claim disingenuous.
So let's be plain: Despite Os Guinness's protestations, this is -- unavoidably -- a political document. Also, it's important to be plain about another unfortunate reality: There is an unseemly power struggle going on in the evangelical world these days. It is a struggle for leadership and dominance, for the right to be the unofficial spokesperson for evangelicals. The "religious left" has put forth men such as Jim Wallis. Rick Warren has had everyone from Bono to Barack Obama in his pulpit to help him assert his claim. The Emergent Church is putting forth Tony Jones and Brian McLaren, among others. And, of course, there are the "traditional" leaders of the so-called "religious right," including Gary Bauer, Tony Perkins, Chuck Colson, and James Dobson.
This unfortunate and unseemly power struggle should not be ignored in evaluating this "Manifesto." The list of people who have not been asked to sign it, or who have chosen not to, is as revealing as the list of those who have, or will. Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins both told me they had not seen the "Manifesto." Tom Minnery, executive vice president of Focus on the Family and the organization's "point person" on public policy issues said neither he nor James Dobson has signed the document.
Other conservative evangelical leaders who often speak out on political issues have been kept out of the process. That list includes Rick Scarborough of Vision America, and former White House speechwriter and Beverly LaHaye Institute senior fellow Janice Crouse.
Also shunned, at least so far: the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land, Ohio-based Phil Burress of Citizens For Community Values, Faith2Action's Janet Folger, homeschool guru Michael Farris, and Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright.
There is also a growing list of evangelical heavyweights who have been asked to sign but have (so far) refused -- due either to flaws in the document or, as one prominent evangelical leader told me, to the "exclusivity" of the list of signatories.
So a reasonable question remains: What is the true purpose of this document? If it really is, as Os Guinness maintains, a "charitable call to reform," why not let voices from the "conservative" or so-called "pro-family" wing of the evangelical movement have input? The worst that could happen is this: the drafters could ward off a nagging concern that they are backroom schemers, attempting to assert an exclusive claim to leadership over a sometimes (regretfully) fractious, though still powerful, evangelical movement. And what is the best thing that could happen? The signatures of Jim Wallis, Rick Warren, Billy Graham, and Jim Dobson on the same carefully crafted document. Now that would be truly historic.
It seems to me that this is a goal worth striving for -- unless, of course, the assertion of power and control, and not a "charitable call to reform," is what this document is really all about.
Warren Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the publisher of the Evangelical Press News Service. This column, printed with permission, was originally published at BeliefNet.com. Opinions expressed in 'Perspectives' columns published by OneNewsNow.com are the sole responsibility of the article's author(s), or of the person(s) or organization(s) quoted therein, and do not necessarily represent those of the staff or management of, or advertisers who support the American Family News Network, OneNewsNow.com, our parent organization or its other affiliates.
Warren Smith (email@example.com) is the publisher of the Evangelical Press News Service. This column, printed with permission, was originally published at BeliefNet.com.
Opinions expressed in 'Perspectives' columns published by OneNewsNow.com are the sole responsibility of the article's author(s), or of the person(s) or organization(s) quoted therein, and do not necessarily represent those of the staff or management of, or advertisers who support the American Family News Network, OneNewsNow.com, our parent organization or its other affiliates.
Thanks anyway, Rick Warren & Company, Inc.
Any effort to "unite people" at some point Right of center is an automatic non-starter.
The left is usually very effective at infiltrating groups and changing the politics from the top down. However in this case, I am betting they fail.
An Evangelical Manifesto
A Strategic Plan for the Dawn of the 21st Century
This is a kairos moment for the church of Jesus Christ. At the close of the 20th century, the church exists in a world tortured by polarization, selfishness, indifference and godlessness. Furthermore, the church, particularly the body of Christ in America, despite its significant influence and ministry, has been so infected by such sins that it has a witness and ministry for Christ that is far less than it could or should be.
In this day, however, this critical need for greater unity and godliness among Christians is being met with a surging desire for just such a transformation. And, it is springing up across the breadth of the church. It could well be that the body of Christ is ready now to allow the pastoral prayer of the Son of God in John 17:20-23 to renew itself dramatically in our lives. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” This could result in a sharpened witness for Christ and a strengthened service to those in need.
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is well positioned to serve a strategic role in this renewal because of the breadth of its association. NAE is comprised of approximately 42,500 congregations nationwide from 47 member denominations and individual congregations from an additional 26 denominations, as well as several hundred independent churches. The membership of the association includes 245 parachurch ministries and educational institutions.
Through the cooperative ministry of these members, the National Association of Evangelicals directly and indirectly benefits over 27 million people. Through NAE’s headquarters in Carol Stream, Illinois, and its Office for Governmental Affairs in Washington, D.C., through its subsidiary, World Relief Corporation, and five affiliates — Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies; National Religious Broadcasters; Christian Stewardship Association; Evangelical Child & Family Agency; National Association of Christian Child & Family Agencies — NAE has a long history of service to its members, the broad church of Jesus Christ and to those in need around the world.
Although NAE’s commitment to service is worldwide, its membership is drawn from the evangelical community in the United States. This membership represents a substantial portion of the diversity within the body of Christ in this country. The unifying characteristic of NAE’s membership is found in their agreement with NAE’s brief statement of faith and their support of the association’s mission statement.
This manifesto presents both a call to the whole body of Christ in the United States of America and the commitment of the National Association of Evangelicals to that call.
The desired results of this call to action are to glorify God, to strengthen our witness to those who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, to maintain our nation’s religious freedom, and to expand and improve our ministry to the world.
The Board of Directors and the vast leadership network of NAE are committed to the five calls for action listed below and urge evangelicals from all quarters to join in a commitment to these:
Call for Prayer
Call for Repentance & Reform
Call for Unity & Cooperation
Call for Evangelism
Call for Cultural Impact
Further, this manifesto is being distributed widely in the hope other members of the body of Christ will make such commitments a part of their lives.
To expand and expedite NAE’s commitment to unity, Don Argue, president of NAE, has appointed a task force that will recommend new courses of action designed both to advance the biblical mandate for unity within the body of Christ and to improve NAE’s ability to assist its own membership in such growth. This task force will represent the great diversity found in the body of Christ including age, gender, race, church tradition, and ministry focus.
Call for Prayer — Prelude to Effective Ministry
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:22-25)
We call on evangelicals everywhere to pray-for unity and for the spread of the gospel.
We call on evangelicals everywhere to pray-worshipping and praising God, calling on him, confessing our sin and need for his grace, seeking his wisdom and counsel, interceding for others, and offering ourselves to him and his service.
We call on evangelicals everywhere to pray-alone, with family, with friends and colleagues, and with the church.
We encourage leaders of local, regional, and national endeavors to come together first to pray, before strategizing and before any plans are set.
We encourage our constituency to be involved in programs which encourage prayer:
World and national days of prayer
Concerts of prayer
Church prayer meetings
Small groups which emphasize prayer.
There are numerous prayer networks and prayer ministries forming throughout the United States. NAE will serve its members by assisting them in their awareness of the growing prayer movements of America.
NAE will continue to produce and make available the World Day of Prayer worship guide, which provides an evangelical structure for this worldwide observance; and the NAE Christian Citizenship Ministry manual, which provides a suggested structure for Christian action built on our citizen obligations of voting and prayer.
Call for Repentance and Reform
“...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14)
As an association that serves as a voice for evangelicals we humbly and publicly make the following confession.
We confess that although we have been conscientious in our response to the mandate of the Great Commission to go and make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20 & Mark 16:15), we have too often failed to live out and actualize the mandate of a loving unity which testifies to our Lord Jesus (John 13:34-35 & John 17:21-22).
We confess that although we value unity and united evangelical action, we too often do more to build our own ministries than to cooperate at making it difficult for someone in our own neighborhoods to be lost for eternity.
We confess, that in our pursuit of faithfulness, we have too often accommodated the spirit of this world which elevates a political correctness over the more difficult tasks of critical reflection and repentance.
We confess that although we have assented to Christian truths as embodied in our statement of faith, we have been unwilling to be confronted redemptively with the implications of biblical truth on life and faith.
We confess that although we exist to serve the ministry of the local church, we have done little to advance a wholly biblical understanding of the church and her Lord’s mandates-in evangelism or in reconciliation.
We call the church to repentance in the pursuit of revival and renewal through prayer and fasting, and through faithfulness to God in every aspect of our lives as commanded in Scripture.
We call on the church to pursue the fruit of the Spirit manifested in reconciliation-to God and to each other.
We call on the church to lead our nation in biblically directed racial and ethnic reconciliation, providing a glimpse of the worshipping people of God as pictured in the book of Revelation.
We call on the church to edify the most basic social structure created by God — the family — in ministry, programming, and support and use of its human resources.
Call for Unity and Cooperation — The Command Actualized
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
We call on the evangelical community to work together diligently based on our common commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and only Savior. Furthermore, as long as the truth is not compromised, we urge evangelicals, in a demonstration of love, to work alongside others who may not necessarily have an evangelical identity on various specific issues.
NAE will facilitate and support united evangelical endeavors in upholding the authority of the Bible, in evangelism, and in demonstrable unity which are based on biblical truth. We will do this locally, regionally, and nationally.
Local & Regional Action
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria....” (Acts 1:8)
The ministry of the church is essentially local. Therefore NAE first calls on evangelicals in local and regional areas to provide and carry out strategic cooperation in prayer, evangelism, and discipleship in order to reach the lost of the particular area. NAE encourages the local church to demonstrate godly, reconciling love as together, God’s Word is proclaimed. NAE will avail itself and its networking services to any extent, if desired, in any area committed to such united action.
We encourage the use of a strategy which includes these five principles in an approach of cooperation without compromise:
Focus on the absolutes of the Christian faith.
Promote the ministry of Christ and His Word above our own ministry or method.
Pray to raise the level of the Holy Spirit’s activity in your area.
Appreciate one another’s respected interpretations of Scripture.
Practice supportive speech and actions toward one another.
The National Association of Evangelicals will assist and take the lead as appropriate in the facilitation of target areas with the intentional approaches to local and regional cooperative evangelism. NAE will freely cooperate in appropriate ways to fulfill the Great Commission and to live out the command to demonstrate loving unity-for the sake of the lost. In so doing we will seek to advance first, the gospel, and secondly, the ministry of the local church.
“... and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) We call on evangelical denominations and movements to operate in cooperation without compromise-maintaining our particular distinctives, yet standing together on the basis of the command of our Lord Jesus Christ found in John 13:34-35.
We freely offer the associated network strength of the National Association of Evangelicals in order to facilitate evangelism and discipleship on a national basis.
We call on the vast expertise of the membership of two of our affiliates- the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies and the National Religious Broadcasters-to consider their respective roles in cooperative strategies which would enhance local church-based |evangelistic ministry.
We acknowledge our part in the international evangelical community through our participation as one of the 110 national members of World Evangelical Fellowship.
Call for Evangelism — The Mandate Realized
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
We call on evangelical churches, denominations, and ministries to work together according to Christ’s paradigm of reconciling love on an integrated agenda of cooperative evangelism and discipleship.
The implications of this call require more than the agenda of one local church. This call requires evangelicals to come together across biblical value-based, broad horizons of cooperation to reach the lost. NAE will offer its networking services to these cooperative efforts so that the world which needs Christ will be confronted with his love and truth.
Call for Cultural Impact
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:13-16)
We call on the evangelical community to be faithful and rely wholly on the power of God to transform our lives, our churches, and our communities. The church can make no greater impact on the world than in simply being the faithful, vibrant, worshipping, evangelizing, and loving community which Christ has redeemed.
The National Association of Evangelicals will continue to offer its strategic assets in the pursuit of biblical justice (i.e., ministry to the poor) through its various offices, cooperative ministries, and programs, and commend them to the use of the church.
We encourage our constituency to engage fully their dual citizenship (heaven and earth), exercising one’s rights and privileges freely to pray and participate in our nation’s democratic form of government. NAE offers the Christian Citizenship Ministry to assist in this endeavor.
NAE will encourage local churches and denominations to support the call of World Relief Corporation as they minister through emergency relief in times of war and natural disaster. Working through local evangelical churches, physical aid and spiritual witness are provided on our behalf.
NAE will foster cooperative ministry through NAE’s subsidiary and affiliates.
NAE’s programs, conferences, and annual conventions all seek to nurture, encourage, and facilitate fidelity to the Word of God-Incarnate, Revealed, and Proclaimed.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Eph. 3:20-21)
Epilogue — Evangelical Aspirations
Billy Graham has played a strategic and an integral role in the National Association of Evangelicals for almost five decades. He shared the following comments which appropriately serve as this manifesto’s epilogue.
It is my fervent prayer that the evangelical community will take seriously the command of the Great Commission in the manner which Jesus described in his great priestly prayer-cooperating without compromise, so that the world might believe!
The challenge before us calls for a strategic united evangelistic effort as we ve never undertaken before. The world in our time is said to have made discipleship harder. But it has also made evangelism easier. Today’s world is said to be multiplying crises all around us. But we must never forget that, for the gospel, each crisis is an opportunity. So it is important that we speak and act in hope. The night has not yet fallen. The culture is far from closed. Many of the previous Western rivals to the Gospel are weaker then ever before. In our modern world more people are more open at more moments of their lives than perhaps at any time in history.
But we must ask ourselves: Is all we do still accompanied by prayer and fasting, or have our modern insights, tools, and technology made them redundant? Are we still burdened by a passion for those who do not know Christ or have our neighbors become statistics and the abstract “unreached”? Is our faith integrated and applied in all our lives or is it relevant only in the private world? Is it still our heart’s desire to know and love God above all else or is it enough simply to be an evangelical?
We need to re-examine ourselves to see where there is more laxity and worldliness in our churches than we realized. We need to recover the first things of the gospel in both our doctrine and our lives. We need to re-integrate truth and theology into all our lives so that we are a community defined by truth, united by truth.
We need to re-dedicate ourselves to the primary task of winning and making disciples of Jesus Christ in our generation. Today’s world waits to see our response to questions and challenges such as these. Evangelicalism has a future to the extent that we evangelicals ourselves are drawn by the gospel, are defined by the gospel, and are declaring and demonstrating the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in word and deed.
I wholeheartedly concur with Don Argue when he says that the National Association of Evangelicals is strategically positioned to be a catalyst for such cooperation. We should reaffirm our faith, as NAE has done through the years. The National Association of Evangelicals has stood true and faithful to the Evangel. NAE has lifted high the cross of Christ, NAE has declared the Resurrection, and NAE has believed in the power of the Holy Spirit. And our efforts will not go unrewarded. Through his prophet, our God declared,
“As the rain and bthe snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and read for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:10-11).
Our faithful united witness may or may not result in a new understanding of the name “evangelical” by the culture and media. Our faithful united witness might result in visible Christian worship of our Lord in the public celebrations of the year A.D. 2000 rather than merely a glorification of another epoch of human achievement and existence. But our faithful united witness will result in revival and reconciliation and renewal. Let us go forward in faith together — and the very gates of hell cannot prevail!
NAE Statement of Faith
1. We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
2. We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
3. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
4. We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
5. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
6. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
7. We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The mission of the National Association of Evangelicals is to extend the kingdom of God through a fellowship of member denominations, churches, organizations, and individuals, demonstrating the unity of the body of Christ by standing for biblical truth, speaking with a representative voice, and serving the evangelical community through united action, cooperative ministry, and strategic planning. [National Association of Evangelicals, Wheaton, Il. - http://184.108.40.206/ ]
I am so disappointed at seeing Os Guinness tied in with these worldly “evangelicals”. His book, “The Call” (http://www.amazon.com/Call-Finding-Fulfilling-Central-Purpose/dp/0849944376) is a great, Biblical alternative to Warren’s PDL.
The bible and the Westminster Confession of Faith (in that order) have already set the definition.
Don’t need an apostate consensus process junkie to tell me anything.
Thanks for posting the Manifesto itself. I will be reviewing it later.
Me too. I read The Call a number of years ago.
NOte to Rick Warren et al.....
I am an Evangelical and the Bible is my manifesto. Read it and weep.
This trcks back to Howard Dean, that is my bet.
The "religious left" has put forth men such as Jim Wallis. Rick Warren has had everyone from Bono to Barack Obama in his pulpit to help him assert his claim. The Emergent Church is putting forth Tony Jones and Brian McLaren, among others. And, of course, there are the "traditional" leaders of the so-called "religious right," including Gary Bauer, Tony Perkins, Chuck Colson, and James Dobson.
Who died and made one or more of them king?
it was way before Howard Dean.
There has always been someone who tried to gather the Evangelicals together, but lately they seem to be much beter organized. Jim Wallis and Howard Dean.
Tony Campolo, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen...Doug Pagitt, Brian Mclaren, etc...
This document is presented as a group confession only it is quite clear that what it really is is a group accusation against others. Which of the signers is really personally admitting guilt and turning from the list of wrongs outlined in the document? Yeah, probably no one. No, they are actually pointing fingers and making charges and laughably but sadly trying to confess other people's sins as they perceive them. Is this a bad joke?
The contradictions are more than I have time to address. But here is one more quick one. They claim to not speak for all evangelicals as they try to define all evangelicals. Oh....I must say more. They claim to be above politics while the document is deeply political. They claim to embrace diversity while dissing evangelicals who disagree with their take on everything from faith to politics to arts and culture.
Oh....and what is with labeling conservatives as reactionaries? They went with "progressives" for liberals, which is common usage. But reactionaries?
I am continually amazed at the overreactions of some to the pro-life and pro-family political movements. I have long been supportive of these positions yet I cannot recognize the extreme characterizations of the people within the movement -- people who have supposedly completely supplanted their faith in Christ with politics. Huh? Why is it so inconceivable that people can have strong poltiical views without selling out their faith for them?
I could go on and on but I've already invested too much time in this post. I thank them for this creed of clarity about themselves, especially from a group of signers many of whom reject creeds and clarity. It is certainly a new approach to confess other people's sins under the guise of confessing your own sins. Good luck with that.
Our form of government -- "we the people" -- calls every citizen to the duty of participation. We are going to have different opinions. Big shock. On the one hand the document acknowledges that while at the same time it implies that evangelicals should all agree with them. Okay, whatever. That's one opinion. I happen to think they are ridiculous, contradictory and dishonest in much of what they say in that document. They supposedly do not use the term evangelical in the public square while they use the term in the very document they make that claim. It is just too crazy weird. Again, whatever. We now have a clear view of what these signers believe. I thank them for that as I reject their little manifesto. Clarity benefits everyone.
Since every citizen has a duty to participate in the exchange of ideas so that voters can be informed at the polls, even Christian citizens are going to be part of that. Get over it everyone who has a problem with that.
People will vary on what they find most important. That's natural. Stop pushing pro-lifers to spread their energies to global warming or whatever. One citizen does not get to choose for another citizen what his priorities should be. If you don't like the pro-life cause, go join PETA or whatever. We will debate these things and then meet at the polls and choose representatives to cast votes for us. May the best people and policies win. I just think everyone should stop being so bossy about what other citizens do in the political arena. Speak for yourself. Repent for yourself. Liberty is most crucial in the area of speech, not sex and drugs. Hello? We should have more talk from everyone, but less speech coercion or calls for silence or bossing around about what should and shouldn't be said. Just say what you believe and let others say what they believe. Then vote. Live with the fact that religion informs morality which informs policy. It's supposed to be that way.