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Evangelical Manifesto

CNN and AP broke the news on Friday, May 3, about a statement by evangelical leaders that is scheduled for release on Wednesday, May 7. Here’s a portion of the story:

Conservative Christian leaders who believe the word “evangelical” has lost its religious meaning plan to release a starkly self-critical document saying the movement has become too political and has diminished the Gospel through its approach to the culture wars.

The declaration encourages Christians to uphold traditional marriage, as in this Massachusetts protest.

The statement, called “An Evangelical Manifesto,” condemns Christians on the right and left for using faith to express political views without regard to the truth of the Bible, according to a draft of the document obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

From what I gather, it’s especially focusing on the relation of evangelicals to political concerns. More than 80 evangelical leaders have signed it. Like everyone else, I’m waiting for the full announcement on Wednesday, but from the way the AP story reads, it looks as though the alignment of evangelicalism with conservative politics will be strongly challenged. From where I sit, evangelicals need to emphasize high ethical values in relation not only to abortion but also in relation to civil rights, justice, the environment, fiscal responsibility, etc. One of the things that I’ve found fascinating is that liberal theologians often accent social justice and are troubled by the politically-conservative evangelical one-size-fits-all morality (i.e., focusing just on the abortion issue). I’m not sure why social justice should be the provenance of only liberals. Same with the environment.

I was on the radio in Montreal last week, on the Joe Cannon Show at 940 AM. I was interviewed about the Albania manuscripts that CSNTM photographed this past summer, but the interview quickly turned to politics. Mr. Cannon asked, “If Jesus were alive today, where would his political alignments be?” I responded, “I believe he is alive today, and he is above politics.” If the Evangelical Manifesto calls on evangelicals to follow Jesus in this regard, I’m all for it. Of course, how to execute that is the trick. Evangelicals should align themselves with biblical ethics, which are never fully compatible with either political party.

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