Critical Reflections on “An Evangelical Manifesto”

On Wednesday, a group of high-profile, centrist evangelicals unveiled “An Evangelical Manifesto” at the National Press Club in Washington, D. C. A nine-person steering committee is responsible for the contents of the document (including Timothy George, David Neff, Richard Mouw, and Os Guinness). There are also scores of notable “charter signatories” (including Mark Bailey, Darryl Bock, J. P. Moreland, Alvin Plantinga, Ron Sider, Jim Wallis, and others).

The document aims to reclaim the term “Evangelical” from popular distortions.
The writers say that the term “evangelical” is widely misunderstood in the culture today, and they want to eliminate erroneous views of what it means to be an evangelical. So their purpose is two-fold: “We wish to state what we mean by Evangelical, and what being Evangelicals means for our life alongside our fellow citizens in public life and our fellow humans on the earth today” (p. 4).

To that end, the “Manifesto” has three parts, each of which is stated as “mandates for Evangelicals”:

1. We Must Reaffirm Our Identity
2. We Must Reform Our Own Behavior
3. We Must Rethink Our Place in Public Life

I have mixed feelings about the “Manifesto.” I have the highest regard for some of the framers and charter signatories. For instance, Timothy George is a fellow Southern Baptist with whom I have long felt a kindred spirit (though I know him mainly through his writings). Nevertheless, even though there are certainly some aspects of the Manifesto that I heartily agree with, there are others that are less than satisfying.

On the positive side of the ledger, the “Manifesto” insists that “Evangelicals should be defined theologically, and not politically, socially, or culturally” (p. 4). I enthusiastically endorse this way of approaching evangelical identity. D. A. Carson has recently delineated the problems with defining evangelicals by purely historical or sociological criteria (listen to the talks here), and I think he is right on the money. If evangelicals aren’t defined first and foremost by the evangel for which they are named, then the term becomes meaningless. For this reason I am grateful for a statement that roots evangelicals both in the Great Tradition of orthodox Trinitarian and Christological affirmations and in some of the distinctives of the Protestant Reformation.

The “Manifesto” also calls on evangelicals to repent of their own sin and inconsistencies in the way that they have lived out the gospel in the world. Who could disagree with that? Not me.

Nevertheless, it is precisely the Manifesto’s recipe for “reforming our own behavior” that becomes problematic. The Manifesto calls for “an expansion of our concern beyond single-issue politics, such as abortion and marriage” (p. 13). The blanket dismissal of “single-issue politics” is what concerns me. Yes, the Manifesto says that “we cannot back away from our biblically rooted commitment to the sanctity of every human life, . . . nor can we deny the holiness of marriage as instituted by God between one man and one woman” (p. 13). But the document also seeks to raise other “public square” issues as if they have the same moral urgency as abortion and marriage. I for one am unwilling to tell evangelicals that they should treat the Kyoto Protocols with the same moral urgency with which we address the abortion issue—especially when it comes to evangelical engagement in electoral politics. Abortion and marriage are transcendent moral issues, and evangelicals should treat them as such.

I am especially concerned about single-issue politics in this high political season in which we presently find ourselves. In November, Americans will go to the polls to elect a president who is likely to appoint at least two Supreme Court Justices. Those Justices will determine whether Roe v. Wade remains the law of the land for the next generation or whether it will be finally overturned. Roe v. Wade has presided over the legal killings of over 50 million babies since 1973. When I step into that voting booth in November, I will not pull the lever for a candidate who will continue the immoral regime of Roe v. Wade, no matter how much I like his views on the Kyoto Protocols or balancing the federal budget. And I will make the case with all my might that other evangelicals should do the same. Saving the babies takes priority over saving the environment and the budget. That “single-issue” determines my vote, even though I think the other issues deserve my attention as well.

Some will say that I am not interpreting the Manifesto according to the framers’ intent. That may be the case. But I am not so sure that the responsibility for misinterpretation lies solely with a misunderstanding on my part, for the document is so vague on this point that it is open to such a reading. I offer three lines of evidence in support of this. First, it is notable that leading pro-life evangelicals have chosen not to sign the manifesto (e.g., James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Charles Colson, Albert Mohler, Richard Land, just to name a handful). Have they concluded that the Manifesto leaves no room for evangelicals who treat abortion and marriage as transcendent moral issues? Second, media coverage has already interpreted the Manifesto as an attempt to get beyond abortion and gay marriage. Third, Jim Wallis recently expressed to Christianity Today his desire to demote abortion and gay marriage on the list of evangelical priorities in the public square. Yet he is a charter signatory for the Manifesto. How can this be unless he has interpreted the Manifesto in precisely the way I suggested above?

I share Alan Jacobs‘ concern that “the chief goal of this document is to establish the differences between evangelicalism and fundamentalism.” Do the framers want readers to conclude that those who treat abortion and marriage as special priorities are fundamentalists? I don’t think the framers would claim that as their intention, but that may nevertheless be the unintended consequence of a document like this one.

40 Responses to Critical Reflections on “An Evangelical Manifesto”

  1. Brett May 9, 2008 at 2:21 am #

    “But the document also seeks to raise other “public square” issues as if they have the same moral urgency as abortion and marriage.”

    Does it ever say this? No. You’re reading more into it than you are reading out. It never denies the weight of these sins. It only calls for Evangelicals to broaden their horizons for social issues besides the main two we hear in every election (abortion and gay marriage). This, I feel, is much needed.

    Why do you think every time somebody says we must consider other issues, they are devaluing and degrading human life? In fact, Denny, it seems like all you advocate for annihilating these issues is what we do in the voting box. Personally, I do not see Jesus in this. He was out there ministering to these hurting and sinful people, not preaching that the right people must be in power to make the practices illegal. I just don’t understand how you can continue to remain so near-sighted on these issues because none of us are devaluing human life, nor de-emphasizing moral urgency on some of these issues. Your comments continue to leave me puzzled every time I read what you write about it. People think different than you, and are just as “right” as you are. Big deal.

    I don’t even know what the “Kyoto Protocols” are, but the way I look at it, is that I would rather have somebody in office who will actually do something and take action on social issues as opposed to one who is strongly against abortion but yet does not do much to annihilate the problem. I am just as vehemently pro-life as you, I just come at it from a different angle. Are you going to tell me I’m wrong? I hope not. It’s subjective to what I feel is right (political beliefs and methodology that is). I do not fault you for believing the way you do, I only become upset when you act like all should believe and vote the way you do and those who don’t do this devalue human life and don’t think abortion is morally urgent. This is a shame.

    As to this election determining whether Roe v. Wade will be the law of the land for the next generation or not: weren’t you guys saying this on the last 2 elections as well? This is why young Evangelicals like myself are getting very tired of the religious right: they make claims and express this utmost urgency about something, yet seemingly nothing really ever happens. Now, we’re stuck in a crappy war, the economy is spiraling, abortion is still in the millions, and homosexuality is just as prevalent as ever. What gives?

    Well I’m glad your piety would never lead you to vote for a Democrat over how strongly you feel about abortion. I totally respect that and have no problem with it. But please just realize that others think differently than you do about these issues, and thus others may not follow in your footsteps. I think abortion is evil and perhaps the single most social injustice of our day, but my views to annihilate and decrease the problem are different than yours. I just ask that you not slander, degrade, and demoralize those like myself who do not decide to follow in your footsteps and for not investing all of our money in the Republican stock.

    Many people do view evangelicals as fundamentalists. Thus, when all we do is preach and teach about how evil and wrong abortion and gay marriage are, we are looked at as fundamentalists. I am glad this document seeks to show others that we care about a few more things than this, and we don’t have to vote for one party down the line just because of one issue. I personally feel like it speaks volumes about evangelicals to those in the secular world. This will lead to points of further dialog beyond our screaming about one or 2 issues which others interpret as: these things seemingly must be all we care about. It will lead to further questioning over what evangelicalism is all about. This is a good thing, not one worthy of criticizing because it doesn’t share our methods on politics.

  2. D.J. Williams May 9, 2008 at 7:08 am #

    It seems to me that those who are criticising the manifesto are doing so because of their perception of the intent of the authors, as if Timothy George, Os Guinness and company had some clandestine purpose to stick it to the right-wingers. My views on the overriding importance of the abortion issue in national politics are almost lock-step with Denny’s, and I had no problems whatsoever signing this document. As I said on one of the earlier threads, it seems that people are blasting the manifesto for what they think it should be rather than any actual problems with what it is. I’m a Boyce grad and have all the respect in the world for Mohler, but I think he’s off the mark on this one.

  3. Lance May 9, 2008 at 8:04 am #

    Two thoughts shooting from the hip:

    1) It seems that the religious right has made this bed, not due so much to single issues, as much as what seems to be a heavy dependence on government change, at the expense of the one thing that will truly alter behavior–conversion, rather than legislation.
    Although the NT calls for us to honor and submit to the governing authorities, there seems to me no strong push for heavy political involvement (sadly, I have heard Dobson explain that Romans 13 is a clear call for involvement in the political process—NO–it’s a call for submission to God-given authority).

    The Ted Haggard story illustrates the point, because when he fell morally, the press wondered aloud about the timing of the revelation, in light of surrounding Republican elections and issues.

    2) The religious left is making the same mistake. I’ve read enough of Jim Wallis to know that he is not fighting the mistakes of the religious right with the gospel, but with issues he values more than abortion and gay marriage.

    Both terms “right” and “left” are political terms, rather than faith terms–and perhaps that is what confuses our culture and ourselves.

  4. AJ May 9, 2008 at 8:45 am #

    A very poignant analysis (in two parts)of this manifesto by James K. A. Smith can be found here http://www.generousorthodoxy.net/thinktank/. He doesn’t believe that he can sign the manifesto, but for somewhat different reasons than the ones stated in this post.

  5. Bruce May 9, 2008 at 8:46 am #

    I have actually become increasingly concerned with what I fear is a shift toward a repeat of the social gospel. After a hundred years, it’s about time for history to repeat itself.

    I am hesitant to believe Timothy George is part of something moving in that direction, but I cannot help but feel it is true.

    While this new document does emphasize theology, it is endorsed by Jim Wallis, whose theology makes me suspect. Also, as you noted, its vagueness leaves too much room for there to be real doctrine. Remember, a social gospel movement begins with a push to consider broad social movements as theologically essential while core doctrinal issues are, while not disowned, made to be less “divisive.”

    Other recent events in this move toward social gospelism, in my opinion, include the “Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative” and the Creation Care movement by Joel Hunter, et al.

    The “Climate Initiative,” for example, is also so vague it is meaningless. It states, “We pledge…to give serious consideration to responsible policies that acceptably address the conditions set forth in this declaration.” I wrote to the group and asked how their declaration is different than the UN Declaration on Human Rights, which was signed by Saudi Arabia and requires that women have equal rights. The problem is that Saudis interpret equal rights very differently than Swedes. I never received a response.

    Are evangelicals, in their effort to become relevant, moving toward becoming as relevant as the UN? Let’s pray not.

  6. Darius May 9, 2008 at 8:51 am #

    Brett said – “I am just as vehemently pro-life as you, I just come at it from a different angle. Are you going to tell me I’m wrong? I hope not. It’s subjective to what I feel is right (political beliefs and methodology that is). I do not fault you for believing the way you do, I only become upset when you act like all should believe and vote the way you do and those who don’t do this devalue human life and don’t think abortion is morally urgent. This is a shame.”

    Let’s apply this logic to a different topic. Pretend we’re living 150 years ago and Denny and you view slavery as morally wrong. Giving your honest opinion, would you really tell Denny that there are several equal and valid ways to skin the cat of slavery? Taking you out of it, let’s say Denny believed that slavery was so wrong and needed to end so immediately that the ONLY way to fight it was to make it illegal. Meanwhile, another supposedly anti-slavery person believed that slavery would never change via the courts or through legislation, but by changing the hearts and minds of people and helping buy the freedom of the occasional slave that crossed his path. Is the validity of those positions truly subjective? Do the simple math. If we had gone with your advice on slavery, we probably would just be getting rid of it now, with millions of blacks needlessly suffering under the oppression of slavery. Likewise, if we follow your logic on abortion, millions of babies will needlessly die while we wait for the hearts and minds of Americans to change or while we wait for all crisis pregnancies to be charitably sponsored.

  7. Adam Omelianchuk May 9, 2008 at 9:01 am #

    Denny,

    We are at odds on a number of things, but I wanted to say I respect your concerns. Here is how I would respond. About abortion: I highly doubt Roe v. Wade will be overturned by Republican nominations. The Court does not operate in such a simple manner. Not even the terrible decision made in Buck v. Bell that permitted involuntary sterilization laws in 1927 has been overturned. I’m afraid this dream of seeing Roe v. Wade be overturned in the next election cycle is a myth evangelicals have bought into ever since the Reagan years. Our naive hope in this prospect is exploited again and again by politicians who see us as “useful idiots.”

    On gay marriage, there is a glaring inconsistency in our application of “transcendent” morality. The battle over gay marriage was lost when it was deemed legally permissible to protect the rights of gay couples to adopt children. The idea that we as a society would allow gays to be parents and not marriage partners is patently absurd. Evangelicals as a voting bloc hardly made a peep about the former, and are crying foul about the latter.

    The manifesto seems to understand these complications. It doesn’t condone or downgrade our moral beliefs, but it does declare our political involvement to be something subordinate to our mission. Furthermore, it shows how our political involvement has detracted from our mission. I think that is the point the authors wanted to make.

  8. Denny Burk May 9, 2008 at 10:05 am #

    Adam,

    Thanks for the comment. But I disagree with your assessment of the importance of judicial nominations. It was because George Bush put Roberts and Alito on the court that the ban on Partial Birth Abortion was finally upheld last year. That is a real gain that must be underscored as we think about the importance of judicial nominations.

    There will be at least two vacancies under the next president. If judges like Roberts and Alito are seated, then there will be test cases that come to the court. That’s how this is going to play out. If Obama makes the appointments, we will see the death toll of ROE V. WADE climb another 10 or 20 million or more in our lifetimes.

    The appointment of Supreme Court justices is paramount in my view.

    Thanks for commenting.

    Denny

  9. Bruce May 9, 2008 at 10:16 am #

    Those who think the Supreme Court doesn’t matter must not have been paying attention last month when the Court ruled in Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood that a partial birth abortion ban was Constitutional. While it is true the Court is unlikely to render a sweeping decision that completely nullifies Roe, the Court may well chip away at Roe. That is more typically how the Court works.

    Yes, Reagan thought the Court was the key, but he was also more interested in getting the first woman on the Court; so, he nominated O’Connor, who conservatives suspected of being a pro-choicer.

    The comparison with the sterilization decision is invalid. Because the Supreme Court once ruled government *could* do something does not force the gov’t to do that act. The Court cannot overturn the ruling until a gov’t tries to force sterilzation again. Since that isn’t likely to happen any time soon, the decision is largely without affect. Roe on the other hand ruled the gov’t *could not* do something–regulate abortion. Since gov’ts are trying to regulate abortion, the issue keeps working its way back to the Court. With enough conservative judges, Roe could be overturned.

    As for the claim of abortion ultimately being a heart issue, that is true of all sins. But remember what Martin Luther King Jr once said, “It may be true that the government cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important, too.”

  10. Darius May 9, 2008 at 10:31 am #

    Bruce, that was a fantastic and well-reasoned comment. Thanks!

  11. pastorsteve May 9, 2008 at 10:37 am #

    Denny,
    I bounce over to your blog every once in a while & I was intrigued about this topic on the evangelical manifesto. I think you bring up some serious concerns about this document. In my casual reading of it, I first thought that it was too vague and had some agenda against certain “narrow” view points.

    My personal thoughts about it are as follows:
    #1. As far as statements, the Together For The Gospel document is one of my favorites. It is very centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This one doesn’t have that same feel to it.
    #2. Since when did people feel they could hijack the word “fundamental” and slander it. The message of the Gospel is founded on fundamental truths that cannot be compromised. I am getting rather weary of ecumenicism for the sake of unity.
    #3. A church’s love for the Lord Jesus Christ and willingness to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked & perverse generation, is what is demanded most in America. Do a good systematic study through Revelation if you want to understand God’s sovereignty and the role of the church.

    I am curious Denny (if you are gutsy enough to comment), what are your thoughts on seeing Mark Bailet’s name on the document? Do you think it is indicative to where the Seminary is headed?
    Steve

  12. Adam Omelianchuk May 9, 2008 at 10:44 am #

    Fair enough. The ban on partial-birth abortion being upheld was certainly a victory, and I share the enthusiasm about it. The kind of nominees you get out of an election are important, to be sure. Perhaps Justice nominated in the future will do more chipping away. But in the early 90’s it was apparent that the Court was more interested in preserving its precedents in Casey than overturning them. I’m not as sanguine about the Court changing, though it is clear that is key.

  13. E.G. May 9, 2008 at 10:59 am #

    “When I step into that voting booth in November, I will not pull the lever for a candidate who will continue the immoral regime of Roe v. Wade, no matter how much I like his views on the Kyoto Protocols or balancing the federal budget.”

    Well, then, I am really rather curious as to who you will vote for. I note that Mr. McCain is not too likely to do anything particular about R v. W.

  14. Darius May 9, 2008 at 11:15 am #

    For his part, Mr. McCain has a stellar pro-life voting record. He may not be particularly principled on the issue, but at least he’s not a principled pro-abortion candidate like his opponent Obama (who actually fought for de facto infanticide).

  15. Bruce May 9, 2008 at 11:43 am #

    I voted for George W Bush the first time because of his pro-life views, his promises about fixing Social Security, his views against–he really said this–nation-building, etc. But, I realized that was a bad vote in many, many ways. So, I now tend to vote libertarian. I would love for Ron Paul to run as an independent.

    The libertarian viewpoint is an actual philosophy on freedom that I think fits very well with Christian theology. After all, the foundation of America and capitalism were based on Christian principles. (Yes, I know not all the Founders were good Christians).

    As a libertarian, I don’t think of myself as a single-issue voter. I vote on overarching principles; the government exists solely to protect individual rights–and for me those rights extend to the not-yet-born.

    I have not decided who I will vote for in ’08. It absolutely will not be Obama or Clinton, since both are collectivists. I am fearful of McCain, for though he is pro-life, he also seems a little too close to Manifest Destiny in his ideas. Plus, as a libertarian, I tend to think free speech is important, but he once said he’d prefer, if forced to choose, a country where people had faith in their government to one where people had free speech.

    But, I’m also a Calvinist, so I can take heart in knowing the God is in control.

  16. Darius May 9, 2008 at 1:19 pm #

    “Focus on the Family’s Doctor James Dobson says he was asked, but his board of directors advised against it “due to myriad concerns,” including the lack of African-American involvement.”

  17. Quixote May 9, 2008 at 1:22 pm #

    The term “single-issue voter” has come to annoy me. If two candidates were both pro-life, I would certainly look at other issues to determine who to vote for.

    IMO, a better term would be “non-negotiable.”

    In other words, where a candidate stands on the abortion issue is a non-negotiable for me. Once I determine (by your VOTING record) that you are a pro-life, then I will look at ALL THE OTHER issues to determine which candidate has my vote at the polls.

    But if you aren’t pro-life, then you’re not even in the running.

  18. Quixote May 9, 2008 at 1:24 pm #

    African-American involvement? One look at that photo and you can quickly spot what’s missing: blacks, women, minorities…

    Pardon my ignorance of modern academia, but who do these people think they are to act as if they are speaking for “evangelicals” as a whole?

  19. Brett May 9, 2008 at 2:13 pm #

    So now that Denny and others have spoken out about it expressing their concerns, we can all follow suit and nitpick about every single thing they left out? Not enough black people and women? Give me a break. You guys are just looking for stuff now.

  20. Darius May 9, 2008 at 2:16 pm #

    Not enough??? From what I’m hearing and reading, there are NONE.

  21. Darius May 9, 2008 at 2:17 pm #

    And Brett, do you have a reply for comment #6?

  22. Brett May 9, 2008 at 2:46 pm #

    Darius,

    I’m not going to answer because it has been dealt with elsewhere. Also, you can’t compare something that happened 150 years ago with something in the modern day. Times are different, culture is different, government is different. It’s a totally different context. What may have worked then may not work now. The slavery thing is just a straw-man and you know it. Also, you come to the table with the presupposition that the only way to demolish slavery was by the method that was practiced. I hate to break it to you, but in Christianity we do not seek to abolish things by wars and laws.

    Just what do you plan on doing to help annihilate and decrease the abortion problem Darius? I would like to know. Do you have any other ideas besides voting for Republicans?

    There are NONE (black people)? Big deal. The Southern Baptists are predominantly white, middle-class people. I guess that means that we should be concerned about the Southern Baptists. ETS predominantly has white scholars. I guess that means that everything that is published by a member of ETS should cause us great concern and should not carry much weight to it.

    Honestly, it’s a bad argument and you all are just looking for stuff now.

    Also, Darius, you were nothing but praiseworthy of it a couple of days ago. What gives? Denny didn’t like it, Mohler didn’t like it, Dobson didn’t like it, so now you’ve jumped off the train?

    The fact that they didn’t like it communicates that they did their job. It’s a slap in the face to their beliefs and methodologies, and now they’re being defensive about it calling it “vague” (what can you not call vague?).

    Our country views evangelicals as equative with Republicans. When “evangelical” comes to mind, all they think about are anti-abortion, and anti-gay marriage. This document seeks to destroy that equation…and rightfully so. Mohler et al become more and more fundamentalist and right-wing when they criticize and disagree with attempts such as these. They see that a couple of people they disagree with have signed it, and a couple of people they agree with have not signed it…therefore, it must be wrong. There is no unity, no one seeks for unity, there is only more and more division in Jesus’ name, and it breaks my heart. It almost makes me want to disassociate myself from the term “Evangelical” to avoid the baggage of the label.

  23. Darius May 9, 2008 at 2:58 pm #

    So William Wilberforce was wrong? Good to know.

  24. Darius May 9, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    I hate to break it to you, but Jesus said he came not to bring peace, but a sword. In other words, not unity but disunity. Yes, we should strive for unity with our Christian brothers whenever possible. But that does NOT mean commending falsehoods and anti-Christian ideas.

  25. Brett May 9, 2008 at 3:01 pm #

    Yeah Darius, that’s exactly what I said (sarcasm). You’re impossible to talk to. I’m out of this conversation.

  26. Darius May 9, 2008 at 3:16 pm #

    And I don’t think slavery is a straw man. Obviously it is to you, since you live by some creed of moral relativity where culture, times, and government dictate what is right. Slavery can and should be compared to the modern day abortion battle.

    As for the reason I’ve (slightly) changed my mind about the Manifesto… if you go to one of the other threads, right away I said my biggest issue was with the “single-issue politics” portion. It was a useless paragraph which illuminates the reader as to the motivations of the authors of the Manifesto. And some others have pointed out things I didn’t notice or realize (such as the lack of diversity in a document calling for diversity) I am still not condemning it, so you’re putting words into my mouth. For that matter, I have yet to hear anyone (Dobson, Denny, etc.) call it utter trash. It’s flawed, but not fatally. By itself, it’s a document worthy of mitigated praise. Combined with the peripheral issues (lack of theological, political, racial, and gender diversity; enlightening interviews with the authors), it’s a document that will be taken to mean many things by many people (as we have already seen on these threads alone). The media takes it as a political manifesto, while it reads more like a theological (albeit incomplete) declaration. So when some call it “vague,” they do so accurately.

  27. Darius May 9, 2008 at 3:18 pm #

    Brett, need I remind you of what you did say?

    “I hate to break it to you, but in Christianity we do not seek to abolish things by wars and laws.”

    In other words, William Wilberforce was wrong. Plain and simple. Defend your words or take them back.

    I’m not surprised you’re avoiding the topic of slavery, because it gives you no room for the moral gymnastics that you practice with the topic of abortion.

  28. Darius May 9, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    “Just what do you plan on doing to help annihilate and decrease the abortion problem Darius? I would like to know. Do you have any other ideas besides voting for Republicans?”

    A bogus question based on a faulty premise that you choose not to answer when compared to slavery. But a question I will answer nonetheless. While limited in my resources (I have a young wife and two children to care for), I help the local crisis pregnancy center in any way I can and encourage others to do so as well. This has included getting people together to replace its rotted fence, painting and remodeling the offices, and raising support for a recent Walk for Life. You asked, so I told you. I don’t think everyone can or has to do that, as there are many other worthy causes need help. It is sufficient for some to lend merely their votes on the issue of abortion. But those who are able should support their local crisis pregnancy centers. There is more work of the Kingdom done in those buildings in one day than in many churches in a whole week. And I’m not talking only about convincing women to keep their babies. The local one near me teaches the women parenting skills, helps them become financially independent, shares the Gospel with them, and provides baby resources after the child is born.

  29. Scott May 10, 2008 at 1:49 am #

    Darius,

    In your response to Brett, you offered an analogy to the abolishment of slavery. Your two options were (a) make it illegal or (b) change the hearts and minds of the South. You associated the latter option with Brett’s argument regarding abortion, and posited the superiority, with some apparent smugness, of option (a). The hilarity of this argument stems from just how blatantly your wording demonstrates the vast divide between the ending of slavery and the liberal-democratic hope of ending abortion through the slow electoral process.

    Slavery was only “made illegal” through war and loss of life. If you truly believe that genocide is being committed on a daily basis, the proper response to this so-called transcendental issue is an equally transcendental response. Neither voting for conservative candidates nor volunteering at a Crisis Pregnancy Center are adequate responses to the moral imperative of mass murder (though I certainly commend working for CPC much more than I do voting Republican).

    You cannot claim that no other political issue reaches the level of abortion (or marriage, for that matter), and then commit to a course of action that goes NO FURTHER THAN ANY OTHER FORM OF POLITICAL ACTION–that is to say, which does not go beyond the voting booth, and which does not actively, and violently if necessary, work to end abortion.

    I wonder why the “just war” people don’t pick up a rifle and forcibly end abortion in this country. By your own terms, nothing could be more just than that. But then, of course, you might lose your “transcendental” argument stopper.

    -Scott

  30. Brett May 10, 2008 at 2:34 am #

    Scott,

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks for the thoughts.

  31. Darius May 10, 2008 at 9:16 am #

    Scott, you are significantly incorrect on your analysis, though at least you don’t run from the debate like Brett has. The reason for your mistake (one that many people make with regard to the Civil war and slavery) is that you put the chicken before the egg. When Lincoln was elected, the South knew that he would fight (through legislative means) to end slavery (quite possibly successfully). So they seceded. Lincoln decided it was right (this is a separate debate on the sovereignty of states) that the fed should force the states back into the Union. The war was NOT to ban slavery, but to re-unite the Union. The method that Lincoln would have used to ban slavery was similar to what Wilberforce used (though since Lincoln had more power than Wilberforce, it would have happened sooner). That the South seceded only made it easier, since he first freed those about whom he would have little resistance.

    Wilberforce is a better example since there is no war to confuse the issue. He fought slavery exactly as we should fight abortion: politically with every fiber of our being. He did NOT, as Brett thinks is the truly Christian way, believe that Christians should only fight slavery by sponsoring the freedom of any slaves we come in contact with. That is not to say that such methods or working on the Underground Railroad was not legitimate, but rather that BOTH were Christ-like methods to abolish slavery.

  32. Darius May 10, 2008 at 9:18 am #

    Scott, you sound very similar to a guy from a few weeks ago (Jeremy was it?) who believes that to truly believe abortion is wrong is to kill abortionists. Please please never become pro-life, because the pro-life cause does not need the likes of you.

  33. Susan May 10, 2008 at 9:43 am #

    “the chief goal of this document is to establish the differences between evangelicalism and fundamentalism”. Can that be true? If so, then why does the document fail to define fundamentalism. Liberalism is fairly well described, but for a non-USA reader like myself, I wasn’t too sure that my understanding of fundamentalist was the same as that of the authors.

  34. Bryan L May 10, 2008 at 10:03 am #

    Darius,

    I think you are thinking of me (not Jeremey although he might have said that also) and you’ve misunderstood my point. I was saying that the pro-life rhetoric doesn’t match the action and thus it should be ignored as just an emotional appeal (i.e. abortion is the biggest moral evil of our age, it is mass murder and the single most important issue our generation faces). Obviously if y’all really believed that you would do more than just vote a particular way and help occasionally at the crisis pregnancy center.

    Before you can convince the rest of the country (and world) that abortion is as bad and evil as you say and worthy of all our attention and effort to eradicate you have to seem a little more convinced yourself (through your life and actions) and I don’t think we’ve seen that. Heck PETA and Greenpeace seem more concerned with their causes than adamant pro-lifers do.

    As I’ve mentioned in the past if you are going to be a one issue voter than your life should really reflect that. If you are going to raise the issue of abortion up so high that it overshadows all the other needs that are present in our country and in the world (that can actually be affected by politics)then I hope your life really reflects that that one issue is the most important issue to you and that we can see that your life is drastically different than had another issue been the most important issue to you. Otherwise one issue voting just become a cop out and debates on blogs just become something we do to make ourselves feel better like it actually makes a difference.

    That’s the bottom line for me.

    Bryan

  35. Darius May 10, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    My life does reflect that abortion is the biggest issue to me. However, as a Christian I have this little thing called a Bible that also tells me not to murder. Furthermore, what would killing an abortionist solve? It likely wouldn’t save any babies (or only temporarily). It would hurt the cause, giving evidence that pro-lifers are as nutty as PETA and Greenpeace. It’s truly sad that you believe PETA is morally consistent. You have one of the most twisted moral compasses I’ve ever seen.

  36. Bryan L May 10, 2008 at 12:05 pm #

    Darius nobody said you had to murder anyone to be serious about your pro-life convictions. Stop being silly.

    And just as a side note your appeal to the Bible is also a silly theological move because in the same breath you would make an argument for just war and against pacifism to justify killing (which you probably wouldn’t call murder in that case) so it’s obvious that you’re only using the Bible to justifying whatever position you feel like taking.

    And my comparison to PETA and Greenpeace is that those people actually live their convictions more than pro-lifers (I am not commenting on whether I agree with them or not). Please show me that you can actually understand an analogy or just like Brett said this would be a useless waste of my time to try to talk to you about.

    BTW how does your life reflect that that is the biggest issue to you? All you said is when you find some time in your busy schedule you try to spruce up the crisis pregnancy center (not to put that down but it was you who was trying to toot your own horn about that).

    Bryan

  37. Darius May 10, 2008 at 12:36 pm #

    It’s called basic hermeneutics… you might try reading up on the subject. Your simplistic approach to morality is breath-taking in its absurdity.

    Stop being such a liar. In one breath you tell me that if I am truly pro-life, I should take up a gun and get violent (this would lead to murder, if you haven’t figured that out) and then the next you back off that statement.

    I was not trying to toot my own horn, or are you also incapable of basic reading skills? Brett asked me what else I do besides vote for Republicans, genius. You might want to try reading the comments before adding your own.

    It is indeed useless to talk to you or Brett when neither of you will stand by your own statements if called on them. Pathetic. You have my utter contempt. I’m sure Denny will moderate this comment, but I am sick and tired of your moral obfuscation on the issue of abortion.

  38. Darius May 10, 2008 at 12:43 pm #

    What this has shown me is that post-modernism has done serious damage to the Christian church, if people can think like that. “You ain’t a pro-life Christian until you kill yourself some abortionists.” What kind of Bible does one read to get that mindset? You know, one who believes the above statement would make an excellent radical Muslim.

  39. Bryan L May 10, 2008 at 1:50 pm #

    wow. I see what this has denigrated into. It doesn’t matter what I say you will only hear one thing. Before I leave this thread let me state clearly: I do not want anyone to get killed, including abortion doctors. I really don’t and I would hate for a pro-lifer to come along read anything I have said and conclude that they have to kill aboriton doctors to be serious about being pro-life. I just would like those who use highly charged and emotional rhetoric in speaking about abortion to try to make their lives match up a little closer with that rhetoric (or the rhetoric abandoned all together).

    later.

    Bryan

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