The big news today in the Evangelical world and beyond seems to be the release of The Evangelical Manifesto, complete with a news conference at the National Press Club. The big two, Tim Challies and Justin Taylor, have posted excerpts, along with an interview with the main drafter, Os Guinness.
The subtitle of the twenty page document is A Declaration of Evangelical Identity and Public Commitment, because the goals of the document are to both help define better the Evangelical movement for the culture at large and to state what the movement is and is not. The steering committee and signatories are a wide-ranging group of people, some of whom I know and respect, like Erwin Lutzer, Sr. Pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.
The document is critical of the extremes of both the far religious right and the far liberal left. There are some things in the document I do applaud, including the call for evangelicals to reform themselves. There is much in evangelicalism that needs to be reformed. One of the best paragraphs is found on page 11 of this document, when the authors close the paragraph with this sentence:
“…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.”
After reading this document I am wondering two things; one, is this group’s bark worse than its bite (will anything come of some of the more admirable goals)? Second, I wonder what other leaders think of this document. It may take time to analyze and ask questions of the steering committee, but I would like to hear the assessment of such people as Al Mohler and David Wells, especially in comparison to his insights in his book, The Courage to Be Protestant. I have not read this book, but have read his others, and I could see him both agreeing and disagreeing with conclusions found in The Evangelical Manifesto.