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The 1993 Chicago Declaration II

The background story for the 1993 Chicago Declaration II, as told by Sojourner's magazine:

But by 1980 a new evangelical foray into politics emerged, known as the "Religious Right." The following years of Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons made evangelicalism synonymous with the political Right. The promise of Chicago was effectively derailed - at least in the public perception - by this development. In the meantime, evangelical social concern, especially for the poor, has continued to grow quietly across the country and around the world. This leaves us with a fundamental paradox. Never in this century has there been more evident evangelical commitment to social justice in America than now. Yet, "evangelical" means "right wing" to most people in this country.

That paradox was foremost on the minds of those who gathered again in Chicago on November 19-21, 1993, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first Chicago Declaration and to issue a new one. "Chicago Declaration II: A Call for Evangelical Renewal" celebrated the many signs of evangelical commitment to compassion and justice; wept over evangelical complicity in racism, economic oppression, broken family and personal relationships, and escalating violence; and dreamed of an evangel that is truly good news to the poor and proclaims the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.

Another new generation of evangelical leaders was present along with the veterans of 1973. Together they forged an alliance for a new evangelical witness in our time. In part, the new statement reads:

The 1993 Chicago Declaration

Chicago Declaration II: A Call for Evangelical Renewal -- November 21, 1993

Twenty years ago a group of evangelical Christians, committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and the full authority of Scripture, gathered in Chicago to offer a declaration of social concern. Today in 1993, evangelicals sharing these same concerns and convictions have gathered again in Chicago to reflect and reconsider what we 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 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, 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 judgmentalism. 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 exploitative 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 that 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 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: 0 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.

November 21, 1993.

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