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Evangelical

The following statement comes from The Evangelical Manifesto: A Declaration of Evangelical Identity and Public Commitment and was published in May of 2008. The whole manifesto is worth reading, but I was particularly struck by the following passage which details the need for Evangelicals to be radically refashioned in their own life and witness. It conforms to my own beliefs and views regarding the Church and culture:

Our second major concern [as Evangelicals] is the reformation of our behavior. We affirm that to be Evangelical or to carry the name Evangelicals is not only to shape our faith and our lives according to the teaching and standards of the Way of Jesus, but to need to do so again and again. But if the Evangelical impulse is a radical, reforming, and innovative force, we acknowledge with sorrow a momentous irony today. We who time and again have stood for the renewal of tired forms, for the revival of dead churches, for the warming of cold hearts, for the reformation of corrupt practices and heretical beliefs, and for the reform of gross injustices in society, are ourselves in dire need of reformation and renewal today.

Reformers, we ourselves need to be reformed. Protestants, we are the ones against whom protest must be made.

We confess that we Evangelicals have betrayed our beliefs by our behavior.

All too often we have trumpeted the gospel of Jesus, but we have replaced biblical truths with therapeutic techniques, worship with entertainment, discipleship with growth in human potential, church growth with business entrepreneurialism, concern for the church and for the local congregation with expressions of the faith that are churchless and little better than a vapid spirituality, meeting real needs with pandering to felt needs, and mission principles with marketing precepts. In the process we have become known for commercial, diluted, and feel-good gospels of health, wealth, human potential, and religious happy talk, each of which is indistinguishable from the passing fashions of the surrounding world.

All too often we have set out high, clear statements of the authority of the Bible, but flouted them with lives and lifestyles that are shaped more by our own sinful preferences and by modern fashions and convenience.

All too often we have prided ourselves on our orthodoxy, but grown our churches through methods and techniques as worldly as the worldliest of Christian adaptations to passing expressions of the spirit of the age.

All too often we have failed to demonstrate the unity and harmony of the body of Christ, and fallen into factions defined by the accidents of history and sharpened by truth without love, rather than express the truth and grace of the Gospel.

All too often we have traced our roots to powerful movements of spiritual revival and reformation, but we ourselves are often atheists unawares, secularists in practice who live in a world without windows to the supernatural, and often carry on our Christian lives in a manner that has little operational need for God.

All too often we have attacked the evils and injustices of others, such as the killing of the unborn, as well as the heresies and apostasies of theological liberals whose views have developed into “another gospel,” while we have condoned our own sins, turned a blind eye to our own vices, and lived captive to forces such as materialism and consumerism in ways that contradict our faith.

All too often we have concentrated on great truths of the Bible, such as the cross of Jesus, but have failed to apply them to other biblical truths, such as creation. In the process we have impoverished ourselves, and supported a culture broadly careless about the stewardship of the earth and negligent of the arts and the creative centers of society.

All too often we have been seduced by the shaping power of the modern world, exchanging a costly grace for convenience, switching from genuine community to an embrace of individualism, softening theological authority down to personal preference, and giving up a clear grasp of truth and an exclusive allegiance to Jesus for a mess of mix-and-match attitudes that are syncretism by another name.

All too often we have disobeyed the great command to love the Lord our God with our hearts, souls, strength, and minds, and have fallen into an unbecoming antiintellectualism that is a dire cultural handicap as well as a sin. In particular, some among us have betrayed the strong Christian tradition of a high view of science, epitomized in the very matrix of ideas that gave birth to modern science, and made themselves vulnerable to caricatures of the false hostility between science and faith. By doing so, we have unwittingly given comfort to the unbridled scientism and naturalism that are so rampant in our culture today.

All too often we have gloried in the racial and ethnic diversity of the church around the world, but remained content to be enclaves of separateness here at home.

All too often we have abandoned our Lord’s concern for those in the shadows, the twilight, and the deep darkness of the world, and become cheerleaders for those in power and the na├»ve sycophants of the powerful and the rich.

All too often we have tried to be relevant, but instead of creating “new wineskins for the new wine,” we have succumbed to the passing fashions of the moment and made noisy attacks on yesterday’s errors, such as modernism, while capitulating tamely to today’s, such as postmodernism.

We call humbly but clearly for a restoration of the Evangelical reforming principle, and therefore for deep reformation and renewal in all our Christian ways of life and thought.

We urge our fellow-Evangelicals to go beyond lip-service to Jesus and the Bible and restore these authorities to their supreme place in our thought and practice.
We call our communities to a discerning critique of the world and of our generation, so that we resist not only their obviously alien power but the subtle and seductive shaping of the more brilliant insights and techniques of modernity, remembering always that we are “against the world, for the world.”

We call all who follow Jesus to keep his commandment and love one another, to be true to our unity in him that underlies all lesser differences, and to practice first the reconciliation in the church that is so needed in the wider world. In a society divided by identity and gender politics, Christians must witness by their lives to the way their identity in Jesus transcends all such differences.

We call for an expansion of our concern beyond single-issue politics, such as abortion and marriage, and a fuller recognition of the comprehensive causes and concerns of the Gospel, and of all the human issues that must be engaged in public life. Although we cannot back away from our biblically rooted commitment to the sanctity of every human life, including those unborn, nor can we deny the holiness of marriage as instituted by God between one man and one woman, we must follow the model of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, engaging the global giants of conflict, racism, corruption, poverty, pandemic diseases, illiteracy, ignorance, and spiritual emptiness, by promoting reconciliation, encouraging ethical servant leadership, assisting the poor, caring for the sick, and educating the next generation. We believe it is our calling to be good stewards
of all God has entrusted to our care so that it may be passed on to generations yet to be born.

We call for a more complete understanding of discipleship that applies faith with integrity to every calling and sphere of life, the secular as well as the spiritual, and the physical as well as the religious; and that thinks wider than politics in contributing to the arts, the sciences, the media, and the creation of culture in all its variety.

Above all, we remind ourselves that if we would recommend the Good News of Jesus to others, we must first be shaped by that Good News ourselves, and thus ourselves be Evangelicals and Evangelical.

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