“C’mon, Al…lighten up!”

My good friend, X, has provided some important comments on the publication of the Evangelical Manifesto. Thanks, X, for the pointer to Al Mohler’s analysis.

I have a few words (‘for what it’s worth’) for Al to consider.

He writes:
“[The Manifesto] leaves out the question of the exclusivity of salvation to those who have come to Christ by faith. The use of the phrase “for us” in strategic sentences makes one wonder if room is left for some manner of inclusivism or universalism? The door is certainly not adequately closed. Do all of the signatories announced on May 7 affirm that sinners must come to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved? This is one of the most crucial questions for Evangelical identity.”

Good grief, (notwithstanding Alan Jacob’s harsh, and in my opinion, red herring critique) it’s a Manifesto for crying outloud, not a full-blown theology of evangelicalism. Those who have read enough from Guinness, George, Mouw, et al. should know they’re not denying the exclusivity of the Gospel message. Mohler’s charge here is simply unfair to them.

A second “complication” Mohler raises is along the lines of being out of scope. He writes “[the Manifesto is] relegating the Evangelical understanding of the Gospel to just one among many Christian traditions undercuts our witness and sows seeds of confusion.” However, where the Gospel is clearly presented in full biblical faithfulness, then we must rejoice wherever it lands outside our favored traditions. After all, the Apostle Paul could rejoice at the proclamation of the Gospel in many varieties (Philip 1:15-18).

Thirdly, bringing in the “those who believe in a young earth cosmology” misses, again, the nature of Manifesto’s scope. As I understand, the document is not intended to address specifics, and so this charge is unwarranted. Mohler states, for example, “This represents millions of Evangelicals — perhaps by many surveys the vast majority. Are they (we) to be written out of Evangelicalism?” Of course not, Al! After all, that would be cutting off one’s Manifesto nose to spite one’s Manifesto face. The Manifesto was meant to be inclusive among the evangelical traditions, right?

Fourthly, “what the document never makes clear is how to hold to deep moral and political convictions, based in biblical principles, without running the danger of identification with a political agenda — at least to some extent. ” Good point, Dr. M. Read Carson’s Christ and Culture Revisited for a good treatment on this.

Fifthly, Dr. Mohler gives a half-hearted approval to the Manifesto’s call to civility saying “this is a good and helpful statement . . . as far as it goes.” The “as far as it goes” indicates to me that he’s granting the benefit of the doubt on this point. Why not grant that to the entire Manifesto and sign it, Al? C’mon man, lighten up! Seriously though, to suggest that a call to civility is tantamount to “endless dialogue rather than specifics on how to” is the very critical attitude that the Manifesto is trying to correct. Good grief, it’s a Manifesto, not a manual! It was not intended to be this far reaching.

Okay…I feel better now ;-> and thanks, for listening to my rant.

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