The other day I was reading something online about the Manhattan Declaration, and saw a comment stating that many evangelicals are hesitant to sign the document because it has been endorsed by Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic leaders, and so they were concerned about the loss of the Gospel.
Idiots. They haven’t stopped to consider that if it weren’t for the Orthodox and RCC churches, they’d have no gospel. For example, fundamentalists (perhaps the most idiotic of the evangelicals) rely heavily on Augustinian concepts (that’s where Calvin got most of his stuff). And, of course, the concept of the Trinity, our understanding of the dual nature of Jesus and the Biblical Canon all comes from the early Orthodox Church (before the RCC was the RCC).
In fact, many from liturgical churches question whether evangelicals really have the Gospel, or if they’re championing some “other gospel” (a la Galatians 1:8). But, that’s a topic for another time.
In 1977, a group led by Robert E. Webber drafted a statement known as “The Chicago Call,” which pointed out some of the idiocies of popular evangelicalism. This movement led to the formation of groups such as the Charismatic Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Orthodox Church (now a part of the Antiochian Orthodox Church), and to other movements within evangelicalism. Eventually, another document, known simply as “The Call,” (I believe the long name is, “The Call for an Ancient Evangelical Future”) was developed. Someday I plan to review both of these documents.
The Prologue to Chicago Call states:
In every age the Holy Spirit calls the church to examine its faithfulness to God’s revelation in Scripture. We recognize with gratitude God’s blessing through the evangelical resurgence in the church. Yet at such a time of growth we need to be especially sensitive to our weaknesses. We believe that today evangelicals are hindered from achieving full maturity by a reduction of the historic faith. There is, therefore, a pressing need to reflect upon the substance of the biblical and historic faith and to recover the fullness of this heritage. Without presuming to address all our needs, we have identified eight of the themes to which we as evangelical Christians must give careful theological consideration.
My favorite passage is in the following paragraph, in a section entitled, A Call to Historic Roots and Continuity:
We confess that we have often lost the fullness of our Christian heritage, too readily assuming that the Scriptures and the Spirit make us independent of the past. In so doing, we have become theologically shallow, spiritually weak, blind to the work of God in others and married to our cultures.
When I first read this in the early 80’s, it captivated me – and it still does. It helped a great deal to keep me from becoming one of the Idiots (although I can tell myself that I am too smart to have ever become one).
I have tried to find a version of The Chicago Call online, but apparently it has been removed from it’s old site, and no one else to my knowledge has posted it. So, I have decided to post the text on Smallvoices.net where it will remain as long as I keep paying the bills.
I don’t get it; what’s wrong with being theologically shallow, spiritually weak, blind to the work of God in others, and married to our cultures? It’s worked for me for over thirty years.