An Evangelical Manifesto

A little over a week ago, a group of Evangelical leaders—including not a few scholars, pastors, and authors held in high regard around The Crossing—issued “An Evangelical Manifesto: A Declaration of Evangelical Identity and Public Commitment.” According to the group’s website:

An Evangelical Manifesto is an open declaration of who Evangelicals are and what they stand for. It has been drafted and published by a representative group of Evangelical leaders who do not claim to speak for all Evangelicals, but who invite all other Evangelicals to stand with them and help clarify what Evangelical means in light of “confusions within and the consternation without” the movement. As the Manifesto states, the signers are not out to attack or exclude anyone, but to rally and to call for reform.

As an open declaration, An Evangelical Manifesto addresses not only Evangelicals and other Christians but other American citizens and people of all other faiths in America, including those who say they have no faith. It therefore stands as an example of how different faith communities may address each other in public life, without any compromise of their own faith but with a clear commitment to the common good of the societies in which we all live together.

For those who are Evangelicals, the deepest purpose of the Manifesto is a serious call to reform—an urgent challenge to reaffirm Evangelical identity, to reform Evangelical behavior, to reposition Evangelicals in public life, and so rededicate ourselves to the high calling of being Evangelical followers of Jesus Christ.

The full document runs 19 pages, though the group has also published a significantly shorter summary. You can find them both here.

From what I can judge, the release of the Manifesto succeeded in garnering some initial attention from the national press, particularly regarding its potential political implications. Perhaps more interesting, however, is the conversation/debate the document has sparked within the larger Evangelical community. My own initial evaluation is largely positive, though I admit to having a few significant concerns and questions. Perhaps I’ll elaborate in a later post.

Regardless of what you ultimately think about the Manifesto, my bet is that reading at least the summary of the full document and a few critical responses will prove a highly beneficial exercise in helping us think more about what it means to engage our world as faithful followers of and ambassadors for Christ.

Toward that end, Justin Taylor has helpfully rounded up some snippets of the more thoughtful Evangelical responses to the Manifesto here, along with links to their fuller comments–see especially Alan Jacobs, Denny Burk, and Douglas Wilson (at the bottom). Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is also worth reading. As with the document itself, I won’t claim to agree with everything said by these commentators, but they provide a great deal food for thought.

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