This weekend the Associated Press reported that a group of evangelicals will release a document criticizing an evangelical movement that is too mired in partisan politics.
‘Conservative Christian leaders who 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.’
I have not yet seen the document because it will not be released until tomorrow. So I won’t be making any final judgments about it until after I have read it for myself. Timothy George (a man I hold in the highest regard) has apparently endorsed the effort. So perhaps “An Evangelical Manifesto” will turn out to be a helpful articulation of evangelical priorities in the public square. But the early reporting raises questions that make me doubtful.
First, why are the most ardent pro-life, pro-family evangelicals not participating in “An Evangelical Manifesto”? James Dobson, Tony Perkins, and Charles Colson either were not asked to participate or would not agree to sign-on. Why is this?
Second, why is the “Manifesto” taking issue with “single-issue politics”? All evangelicals will agree that our concern for the culture includes a broad range of issues. My own church not only runs a crisis pregnancy center, but it also runs a shelter for the homeless of our city. We care about life, and we care about poverty. The AP story makes it sound like the “Manifesto” might endorse those kinds of efforts at the local level, but it will frown on political engagement that prioritizes the defense of the unborn at the national level. Might this be another attempt to demote pro-life activism from its privileged place on the list of evangelical priorities?
Like I said, these are just questions I have based on the early reporting. Obviously, I’ll have more to say about the “Manifesto” once it’s released. My questions may turn out to be totally off-base. We’ll know soon enough. Be looking for “An Evangelical Manifesto” on Wednesday.