Evangelical Manifesto


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

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In recent days, I became aware that my name is on the list of “Charter Signatories” for the Evangelical Manifesto (EM) (http://www.evangelicalmanifesto.com/sign.php).

There is only one problem. 
I never signed it.

A few months ago, I was consulted by a member of the steering committee, and invited to read through a rough draft. At that time, I stated in an email that I felt the language concerning the forefathers of evangelicalism was too dismissive and too harsh. Men such as the founder of our University, Dr. Jerry Falwell, acted with courage in putting evangelical Christianity on the frontlines of the American dialogue.

I was saddened to read that this language was not changed.
Then I became angered by the tone of the presentation at the National Press Club (NPC).

I must state for the record, the EM does NOT reflect my position, and the speakers at the NPC do NOT reflect my position concerning the current state of Evangelicalism.

Even in the preface, I disagree fundamentally with a number of assumptions, namely, (1) that there is any confusion at what being evangelical means, and (2) that we stand in the tradition of the Protestant Reformation. First, I do not see any “confusion” concerning the term- we have always been clear what it means. We are conservatives who believe that Jesus alone is Lord, and the Bible is the only Word of God. The only confusion occurs when a non-evangelical wants to muddy the waters in order to become one of us, since we are such a large constituency.

Secondly, as a Baptist, I do not stand in the “Protestant” tradition. Historically Baptists are dissenters, and were hunted by many of the Reformers. I do not believe, as the longer version of the Manifesto reads, that “evangelical is synonymous with Protestant” (p. 10).

Further, reading the document sounds like an extended apology, and I do not apologize for the stance we have taken for decades: evangelicals are unapologetically and unabashedly pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-prayer. We believe that Christianity has been pushed out of the public square, and I do not believe such a “manifesto” will accomplish the aim of bringing prayer back in schools or rescuing the unborn. Simple logic states that standing for something requires standing against something else.

This was the genius of men such as Dr. Jerry Falwell, D. James Kennedy, Tim LaHaye, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Adrian Rogers and others. They accepted the challenge of an unabashedly secular society without hesitation and without reservation. We are not “owned” by any political party, but we will stand with and for candidates that are for our values, and against those values that we see as unbiblical, such as homosexuality and abortion.

I absolutely stand against the tenor of the NPC meeting that seemed to distance itself from our forefathers in evangelicalism. Men such as James Dobson and Jerry Falwell stood for truth and righteousness. I not only thank God for these men, I believe we must carry on this fight. It is our duty to continue their stance, not run from it when criticism makes us unpopular. Popularity is not the goal of an evangelical; Converted souls in heaven are the ultimate goal. You do not change a culture by surrender. This is precisely what the document seems to do.

Thankfully, the aforementioned forefathers raised up a generation of men and women who continue to speak in the public square, and build great institutions that do the same. I shall continue to stand in the public square, without apology. I ask that my name be STRICKEN from the charter list of the Evangelical Manifesto. This is NOT a movement with which I am comfortable. I am more than happy to discuss these differences with any member of the EM body, either publicly or privately. My email is ecaner@liberty.edu.


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