For more than a decade, a group of self-described evangelical renewal leaders within mainline churches has met quietly once a year to support one another and exchange information about the battles they are waging in their respective denominations. These renewal organizations maintain generally that their churches are in decline because they have failed to uphold the Bible as uniquely authoritative, leading to unscriptural stances in such areas as homosexuality and abortion (CT, March 5, p. 25).

Last month the group, meeting in DuPage County, Illinois, took a step toward increasing its visibility by issuing a three-page statement, “The DuPage Declaration: A Call to Biblical Fidelity.” Over 20 renewal leaders came to the meeting having read a first draft of the statement written by United Church of Christ theologian Donald Bloesch. After three revisions, it was finalized.

The statement’s preamble expresses “concern for the church of Jesus Christ in its drift away from the evangelical faith” and calls for “genuine revival rooted in the Word of God.” According to the preamble, the statement does not represent “an exhaustive list of church doctrines and concerns,” but focuses on the major issues currently in dispute within mainline churches.

Spokespersons identified the statement’s four major concerns as: the authority of Scripture, abortion, homosexuality, and inclusive language. The statement speaks to other issues, including euthanasia and divorce, though not explicitly.

The main body of the declaration consists of eight affirmations and denials. It affirms “the Trinitarian name of God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—” while denying that these designations for God are “mere [cultural] metaphors.” The declaration upholds Jesus Christ as the “one way to salvation” and the Bible as the “uniquely inspired testimony to God’s self-disclosure.”

The statement affirms “the biblical guidelines for human sexuality,” including “lifelong fidelity and holiness in marriage.” It denies that homosexual relations “can ever be in genuine accord with the will and purpose of God for his people.” It affirms “the sanctity of human life at every stage based on our creation in the image of God,” while denying that “the personal choice of either parent takes precedence over the right of the unborn child to life.”

Todd Wetzel, of the renewal group Episcopalians United, said the statement illustrates recognition among its adherents that “the fundamentals [of the Christian faith] are far more important than the denominational differences.” Denominations represented included the United Methodist Church; Presbyterian Church (USA); Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Roman Catholic Church; United Church of Christ; and the Episcopal Church.

The statement concludes with an invitation to other believers to join in affirming the declaration. Some renewal leaders plan to seek signatories from within the ranks of their organizations.

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