Dr. Darrell Bock and I have been discussing our differences about the “Evangelical Manifesto” in my previous post, and I want to continue that conversation here. But this time, I’m going to post my response to another one of my former professors who has signed the document, Dr. Daniel Wallace. Dr. Wallace was a mentor to me when I was a graduate student, and I am very grateful for his ministry to me over the years. So I offer this response with humble regards.
His endorsement is here, and he expresses his hope that many will sign the Manifesto. What follows is an item that I left in the comments section of his blog in which I explained why I would not sign it. There may not be a lot that is new here, but I’m hoping to keep the conversation going for those who missed it over the weekend.
Dear Dr. Wallace,
My feelings about the Manifesto are mixed. I wholeheartedly agree with its attempt to define “Evangelical” biblically and theologically rather than sociologically or politically. I also agree that we have much to repent of.
The second and third sections of the document, however, are devoted to the question of evangelical engagement in the public square. There are some good suggestions here as well, but the stumbling-block for me came in its chastisement of “single-issue politics.” While I agree, that evangelicals have to be concerned about a broad range of issues in the public square, we still have to realize that some issues are transcendent and will require our giving them the greater priority in certain venues.
For instance, consider the “venue” of the upcoming presidential election. All evangelicals should be concerned about poverty, the environment, the economy, etc. While all of those issues must be put into the balance as we consider whom to vote for, I would argue that defending the unborn is a transcendent moral value.
Roe v. Wade (and the subsequent Doe decision) made it legal to kill an unborn baby at any time from 0-9 months gestation. Since 1973, Roe has presided over the legal killing of over 50 million babies in the United States. Can you see how many of us consider overturning Roe to be an urgent priority?
The next President will likely have the opportunity to appoint two Justices to the Supreme Court. We only need one more justice to tip the balance of the Court against Roe. If you consider defending the unborn a transcendent moral value, then this is not the time to vote for a candidate who will continue the immoral regime of Roe.
Even if I like a candidate’s views on poverty, the environment, and the economy, I’m not going to vote for him if he wants to appoint Justices that would uphold Roe and the legal killing of innocents. It’s a transcendent moral imperative that grows right out of my evangelical faith, and that “single-issue” should disqualify pro-abortion rights candidates.
It’s not clear to me that the Manifesto allows for disagreements on transcendent moral values in the public square in general and in electoral politics in particular. It reads to me like a rebuke against those who would argue like I did in the previous paragraphs. At the very least, the document is eminently unclear on this point (which incidentally is why Al Mohler called the Manifesto too “vague”).
So I have decided not to sign it.
Grateful for you,