Where two or three are gathered together in Christ's name, chances are they will release a statement. For a movement based more on priorities and passions than on institutions and documents, evangelicalism has a surprising love of manifestos. This is necessary: as evangelicals are part of a movement without universally enforceable boundaries, such declarations ensure that our priorities and commitments are biblical and relevant. Still, with so many documents calling for attention, few have become rallying points or truly launched people into action. Not so the 1974 Lausanne Covenant ( www.gospelcom.net/lcwe ). Evangelicals of a wide variety of pieties and practices have used it as a touchstone, and dozens of subsequent statements have attempted to build on it. The most recent of these came out of this summer's Amsterdam 2000 conference of preaching evangelists. Theologian J. I. Packer told a group of reporters that the Amsterdam Declaration should be "bracketed with" Lausanne."It merits benchmark status," he said. "Whether it will come to pass, I don't know."Like the Lausanne Covenant, the Amsterdam Declaration emerges at a critical moment, this time in an era of global leadership transition. Both of these documents contain timeless truths and timely responses to the issues of an era—but the eras have changed. Differences between the documents should not be overinterpreted; everything contained in the Lausanne Covenant is presupposed by the Amsterdam Declaration, said Timothy George, who supervised the drafting of the document. Still, reading the documents together highlights several shifts in evangelical concern and consciousness over a quarter-century.
First and foremost, the Amsterdam Declaration is strong on commitment ...1