In the rather spartan surroundings of Chicago’s Wabash YMCA, fifty influential evangelicals at a landmark weekend meeting last month hammered out a 473-word social-action statement, “A Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern” (see reprint, this page). The group, sharing a common commitment “to the Lord Jesus Christ and the full authority of the Word of God” but representing a divergence of backgrounds and other viewpoints, hopes to arouse America’s millions of evangelicals to a greater degree of social concern—and action.
The statement confesses the failure of evangelicals to demonstrate “the love of God to those suffering social abuses” and to proclaim God’s justice to “an unjust American society.” It strikes out at racism in the Church. “Fellow evangelical Christians” are urged to “demonstrate repentance in a Christian discipleship that confronts the social and political injustice of our nation.” There must be an attack on materialism and the “maldistribution of the nation’s wealth and services.” Militarism and civil religion must be shunned. No “new gospel” is proclaimed and no political ideology or party is endorsed: the declaration is to be seen simply as a call for “total discipleship” and national righteousness.
Participants who signed the declaration included such disparate personalities as editor Sharon Gallagher of Right On, published by the Christian World Liberation Front of Berkeley; President William Bentley of the National Black (formerly Negro) Evangelical Association; Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship Canadian director Samuel Escobar; theologian Carl F. H. Henry, former editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY; Carl Thomas McIntire of Toronto’s Institute of Christian Studies (he parted years ago with the politics of ...1
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