Why I like the Evangelical Manifesto

On May 7, evangelical leaders from several organizations signed what has been called An Evangelical Manifesto. This document was written by the Evangelical Manifesto Steering Committee and seeks to delineate evangelical identity and public commitment. What I like is that it moves evangelicals away from the fanaticism of both the far right and the far left and puts us on middle ground.

The word evangelical means good news, yet today, many do not see evangelicals as bearers of good news. They see us as people who stand against this and that. They see us as picky; they plainly see that we don't deal with real issues. For example, I read a news story today that was about Christians calling for the boycott of Starbucks because of a mermaid logo on its cups. Mark Dice, leader of a group called The Resistance, said that the logo "has a naked woman on it with her legs spread like a prostitute." Hmmm...the woman is a mermaid and has no legs. The modern version of the logo has the mermaid's breasts covered by her hair. The 1971 version showed her nipples. Which one is more decent?

As a side note, I'd say we church people had better start taking care of our own problems first before picking on Starbucks--a company that has not declared itself to be Christian.

The statement I really like in the Manifesto states that "Just as Jesus did, Evangelicals sometimes have to make strong judgments about what is false, unjust and evil. But first and foremost we Evangelicals are for Someone and for something rather than against anyone or anything. The Gospel of Jesus is the Good News of welcome, forgiveness, grace and liberation from law and legalism. It is a colossal Yes to life and human aspirations and an emphatic No only to what contradicts our true destiny as human beings made in the image of God." Like I said above evangelicals are seen as negative and condemning. This statement from the Manifesto tells me what I am all about. Life! Abundant life and freedom from sin. Now that is something I want to share with others.

Another thing I like is the call to a "civil public square." This is a "vision of public life in which citizens of all faiths are free to enter and engage the public square on the basis of their faith, but within a framework of what is agreed to be just and free for other faiths too." At this point, some may accuse me (and the writers of the Manifesto) as believing that pluralism is utopia. That is not so. Pluralism is reality in our culture. It is not a utopian condition but it is the condition. Who am I to rant and rave about it? I want to be able to engage people in intelligent conversation about faith and hope and life while at the same time respecting their right to disagree with me. Isn't this what God did in the Garden of Eden? He put the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the middle of the garden and gave humans a choice to worship or to go their own way. That must be our way too if we expect to win the world through love.

Some Christians see the Manifesto as exclusive and fear that the timing of the document will cost millions of evangelical votes in the upcoming election. These people say that those who are pro-life are excluded especially. From reading the Manifesto I cannot see why they think this way. On page 18 it says: "we repudiate all who believe that different values are simply relative to different cultures, and who therefore refuse to allow anyone to judge anyone else or any other culture. More tolerant sounding at first, this position leads directly to evils of complacency; for in a world of such evils as genocide, slavery, female oppression and assaults on the unborn, there are rights that require defending, evils that must be resisted, and interventions into the affairs of others that are morally justifiable."

"We do not claim that the Evangelical principle--to define our faith and our life by the Good News of Jesus--is unique to us," the Manifesto says. "Our purpose is not to attack or to exclude but to remind and reaffirm and so to rally and to reform. For us it is the defining imperative and supreme goal of all who would follow the way of Jesus." This is not a statement of "in your face" Christianity; it suggests a lifestyle, one in which my life, through the power of Christ, makes a difference in the world around me. Now that is something I can live by.


Evangelical Manifesto


Opening Pandora's Box: Clergy Porn Addiction. Is help available?

My first exposure to the problem of clergy and pornography came at a ministers and wives retreat a few years ago. After squaring with the hotel where we stayed, our denominational leader told me and my husband that the clerk made an interesting comment about other pastor groups that came to the hotel. He said that whenever a religious group came in they had several requests for adult movies. The clerk was surprised (and glad) that none of our pastors had requested any. I was a little shocked after hearing this, but the magnitude of the problem didn't really hit me until I took a course on Spirituality and Ministry in my master's program.

I decided to write about this because the subject came up again a few days ago in a conversation. It seems like these days I talk to a lot of people who don't go to church for some reason or another, but want to talk about the church. Most of these people have been hurt by the church in some way. In this conversation some of the recent clergy scandals, like Ted Haggarty, came up. This person, and other people with whom I have spoken, want to know why these things happen.

My reply? "Pastor's are human beings just like us."

"Yeah," said my friend, "but we expect them to live a little above us."

Isn't this what people expect anyway when someone announces that they are choosing to live by a certain religion? This happens especially to Christians, I've noticed. The bar is set particularly high for clergy.

The discussion continued along the same vein of Ted Haggarty's scandal and then it went to clergy pornography use in general. "That's a big problem," I said. "We just talked about in in my master's course."

My friend made a mildly sarcastic remark about it being no big deal. "All you have to do is pray for two weeks and you are healed," he dryly noted. I nodded. Oftentimes we say: "Just pray, you'll be fine."

Now I'm not knocking prayer. God's power is exercised through prayer. What I am against, however, is our impatience. Like my friend said, we often think that two weeks of prayer will do it. I'm sorry to say it, but this thinking at best is a farce. Anyone who is involved in sexual sin has some deep issues that need to be resolved. Counseling and a clear accountability system are needed. And freedom is possible, it just takes work.

I can't pretend to be an expert on the matter of clergy addiction to porn. After learning in my class that one-third of all pastors struggle with Internet pornography, I wondered if we might be dealing with Pandora's box. For more insight, I would highly recommend the book we read in class called "The Pornography Trap: Setting Pastors and Laypersons Free from Sexual Addiction" by Ralph H. Earle, Jr. and Mark R. Lasser. In it the authors write:

"The combination of birth, family, childhood trauma, and pastoral challenges may leave a mammoth vulnerability in the earthen vessel--the pastor. All of us are susceptible to such a fall. Frequently, the pastor who is most certain that he or she would never transgress God's will discovers that such thinking is a seductive trap" (23).

One of the first things I realized as a pastor's wife (I was one for eight years) was that the pressures are intense. People expect you to be perfect. And many do not want to hear that a pastor has problems. You are expected to rise above your problems and if you can't, well then maybe you should just move on. Meanwhile there are people who love their pastor and recognize that this man or woman has been given the position to lead them in the ways of Christ. These people are great, but the negative ones, in combination with the stresses of home, unresolved past conflict and low self-esteem can make the ministry a very stressful place. Unfortunately, some pastors find relief in pornography. By doing this they risk their ministry, their families and their relationship with Christ.

It is not my aim in this article to suggest that we go on a witch hunt and check histories on all of our pastor's computers. What I am suggesting, however, is to give pastors the encouragement they need. Galatians 6: 6 says: "Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor." If your pastor helps you in some way, share it with him or her. Don't wait until Clergy Appreciation Month in October. If the pastor does not receive positive reinforcement during the year any recognition during this month may seem hollow and contrived. Most of all pray for your pastor and his or her family. If you have a problem with something he or she has done, talk to him or her about it. Don't participate in the gossip that runs rampant in our churches.

If you are a clergy member struggling with this issue, get help. Http:// is a good place to start. Focus on the Family also offers ministry to pastors and their families. Call their pastoral care line at (877) 233-4455 for counseling, or visit their Web site at for more information. There is a link entitled "Internet Pornography Help." The important thing to remember is that you are not alone. There are people who want to help.

Source: Leadership Magazine: (