Thursday, May 11, 2006

1973 Chiacgo Declaration Still Speaks


Chicago Declaration II---In 1973 a group of evangelical Christians gathered in Chicago to offer a declaration of social concern. In November of 1993, evangelicals sharing the same concerns and convictions gathered again in Chicago to reconsider what they should do in the midst of a worsening social and moral crisis.

We give thanks!---We give thanks for the Christian communities that are living out the sacrificial and compassionate demonstration of the reconciling love of God. Their faithfulness encourages us to follow Christ more closely in the power of the Holy Spirit. While we acknowledge our weaknesses and confess our failures, we take heart from the love of God at work in their lives and communities.

We weep and dream

We weep for those who do not know and confess Jesus Christ, the hope of the world. We dream of a missionary church that, by its witness and love, draws people into a living relationship with our Lord.

We weep over the persistence of racism, the broken relationships and the barriers that divide races and ethnic groups. We dream of churches that demonstrate the reconciling Gospel of Christ, uniting believers from every nation, tribe, and tongue.

We weep over the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, the scandal of hunger, and the growing number of people who live in oppressive conditions, insecurity, and danger. We dream of churches that work for education, economic empowerment and justice, both at the personal and structural levels, and that address the causes and the symptoms of poverty.

We weep over escalating violence, abuse, disregard for the sanctity of human life, and addiction to weapons -- in both nations and neighborhoods -- that destroy lives and breed fear. We dream of faith communities that model loving ways of resolving conflict, and seek to be peacemakers rather than passive spectators, calling the nations to justice and righteousness.

We weep over the brokenness expressed in relationships between generations, between men and women, in families, in distorted sexualities and in cruel judgementalism. We dream of faith communities that honor and protect both our elders and our children, foster a genuine partnership and mutual submission between men and women, nourish healthy families, affirm celibate singleness, work for healing and compassion for all, and for the keeping of marriage covenants.

We weep over the spiritual emptiness and alienation of modern secular society. We dream of a redemptive church that restores personal identity, provides loving community, offers purpose in life, and brings transcendent values and moral conscience to the public square.

We weep over our exploitive practices and consumerist lifestyles that destroy God's good creation. We dream of a Church that leads in caring for creation and calls Christians to serve as faithful partners of God in renewing and sustaining God's handiwork.

In all of these, we have fallen so far short of God's glory and awesome holiness, yet we rejoice that in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are called by God to the obedience than comes from faith.

We commit---Because of the hope we have in the Gospel, we dare to commit ourselves to the kingdom of God and oppose the demonic spiritual forces that seek to undermine the reign of God in this world. Because of our faith we dare to risk and seek the future that God has promised, and we give ourselves to works of love.

We recommit ourselves to grow in the knowledge and the love of God, drinking from the well of worship and praise, word and sacrament. We commit ourselves to sacrificial and loving engagement with God, with all other Christians, and with a needy world.

We commit ourselves to share the good news of Jesus Christ, by living and announcing the Gospel of the kingdom, so that all may come to know, love and serve God.

We repent of our complacency, our reliance on technique, and our complicity with the evils of the status quo. We repudiate the idolatries of nation and economic system, and zealously dedicate ourselves to Christ and his kingdom's values. We turn away from obsession with power, possessions, self-fulfillment, security, and safety, and willingly risk discomfort and conflict as we live our dreams.

In 1973, we called evangelicals to social engagement: this call still stands. We are thankful that more social engagement is emerging, yet tragically it has frequently divided us along ideological lines. Too often recent evangelical political engagement has been uncivil and polarizing, has demonized opponents, and has lacked careful analysis and biblical integrity. Faithfulness to the full authority of the Scriptures transcends traditional categories of left and right.

The Gospel is not divided -- it embraces both the call to conversion and the summons to justice. Obedience to Jesus' teaching and example demands congregations that integrate prayer, worship, evangelism, and social transformation.

We Pray---In the face of such complex and unremitting problems, we claim the promise of God to give wisdom to those who ask. Therefore we ask: Oh God, Giver and Sustainer of life, Holy Redeemer and Lord, comforting and empowering Spirit, teach us your ways, show us your will, give us your presence and pour out your power. Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

Evangelicals for Social Action
10 Lancaster Ave.
Wynnewood, PA 19096 USA
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