Similar views on the authority of Scripture have not prevented Christians from advocating radically different economic and political programs. Yet many on opposite sides of the political fence—some of whom have lambasted one another in print or in person—are widely acknowledging a major breakthrough of unity in evangelical political and economic thought.

Symbolic of this unity is “The Oxford Declaration on Christian Faith and Economics,” an 18-page document of 65 affirmations falling into four categories: creation and stewardship; work and leisure; poverty and justice; and freedom, government, and economics.

The document is the product of a five-day consultation held in January in Oxford, England, in which over 100 bankers, theologians, economists, ethicists, business leaders, and development practitioners participated.

Six continents were represented; among the countries represented were Uganda, Peru, Ghana, Sweden, South Africa, Australia, the Philippines, India, Mexico, Norway, Malaysia, Yugoslavia, Tanzania, the U.S., England, and Canada.

According to one of the conference conveners, theologian Ronald Sider, “liberation-oriented theologians affirmed free-market strategies,” while “conservative-market economists demanded a special focus on justice for the poor.” Sider added that the declaration “bridges several sharp debates and affirms strengths on both sides.”

Traditionally, one of the most troubling points to conservatives has been Left-leaning evangelicals’ concept of justice as entailing equal distribution of wealth. In contrast, the document perfected last month defines biblical justice as “impartially rendering to everyone their due in conformity with the standards of God’s moral law.” The declaration adds that justice ...

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