125 Theologians Endorse Core Beliefs: American Evangelical Protestant Leaders Issue 3,400-Word Manifesto
Witham, Larry, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The nation's evangelical Protestant leaders have issued a manifesto of core beliefs to anchor a movement with no central office, myriad preachers and a mass following that has become less theologically literate.
The 3,400-word statement, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration," is a broader look at beliefs than other statements evangelical thinkers have issued in recent decades, one of the 125 signing theologians said yesterday.
"It's important to remind ourselves that the [evangelical] label attaches to some deep theological commitments and not just a spiritual high or a church-growth strategy," said Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.
The centerpiece of the document, which took two years to draft, is a definition of the Gospel as a message of salvation that comes by faith alone in the resurrected Christ under the sovereignty of a Trinitarian God.
The Rev. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago and a member of the 15-person drafting committee, said the heart of the document is that salvation comes by Christ's righteousness and God's free gift.
"That stands against works righteousness," Mr. Lutzer said in an interview. "Of necessity, [forgiveness of sin] has to be a gift. It is not through the good deeds that we receive the eternal."
Good works, Mr. Lutzer added, follows as "evidence that we have received" God's grace.
The statement adds: "The Gospel requires of all believers worship, which means constant praise and giving thanks to God, submission to all that he has revealed in his written word, prayerful dependence on him, and vigilance lest his truth be even inadvertently compromised or obscured."
The statement will be released in the June 14 issue of the evangelical magazine Christianity Today and also posted on its Web site "www. …