Some 80 conservative Christian luminaries have composed a manifesto which, according to this article, says that these leaders:
...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 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.
"That way faith loses its independence, Christians become `useful idiots' for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology," according to the draft.
The declaration, scheduled to be released Wednesday in Washington, encourages Christians to be politically engaged and uphold teachings such as traditional marriage. But the drafters say evangelicals have often expressed "truth without love," helping create a backlash against religion during a "generation of culture warring."
"All too often we have attacked the evils and injustices of others," they wrote, "while we have condoned our own sins." They argue, "we must reform our own behavior."
The document is the latest chapter in the debate among conservative Christians about their role in public life. Most veteran leaders believe the focus should remain on abortion and marriage, while other evangelicals - especially in the younger generation - are pushing for a broader agenda. The manifesto sides with those seeking a wide-range of concerns beyond "single-issue politics."
Among the signers of the manifesto are Os Guinness, a well-known evangelical author and speaker, and Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, a leading evangelical school in Pasadena, Calif. Organizers declined to comment until the final document is released.
I hope the manifesto is more specific than is this news article as to how often Evangelicals have failed to be loving in their proclamation of the truth and how, exactly, they have condoned their own sins. It's easy to criticize using nebulous allegations which reflect conventional prejudices, especially when one is reasonably assured that relatively few people will take the trouble to ask how prevalent and serious the problem really is.
I also hope the manifesto explains how a pastor can preach the gospel without preaching on the themes of justice and compassion and how, unless he speaks in terms so circumspect and vague as to be meaningless, he can preach on doing justice and compassion in this world without also urging people to be politically engaged. How political is "too political"?
Were not the early abolitionists like William Wilberforce, who is much admired by Os Guinness, politically engaged? Were not the churches havens for the American civil rights movement and, for better or worse, the anti-war movement of the sixties? How can we fight against hunger and oppression around the world without being politically involved? How can we effectively oppose the wanton killing of millions of unborn children without trying to elect pro-life politicians? How can we insist on decency and academic quality in our schools without being willing to elect like-minded school board members and legislators?
Perhaps we'll see on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Joe Carter has some good things to say in addressing the issue of evangelicals in politics.RLC