Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
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(Ed.) Ronald J. Sider. The Chicago Declaration. Carol Stream (Ill.): Creation House, 1974. 144. Paper, $2.75.
The Introduction, written by the editor, announces in grand style that this book deals with an event of historic importance, one that might well change the face of religion and politics in America (p. 12). That is The 1973 Thanksgiving Workshop on Evangelicals and Social Concern, held in Chicago, which formulated the so-called “Chicago Declaration,” a declaration of repentance for past unconcern and of purpose, that there should be greater involvement of evangelicals in social action. The declaration is begun even on the front cover and continues on the inside (pp. 1, 2) before the title page.
Throughout there is an atmosphere of great expectation. Evangelicals are beginning, it is said, to transcend their onesidedness, which developed in the wake of the social-gospel/fundamentalism controversy (pp. 12, 13). They are learning that God lays a total claim upon the lives of his people (cover), claiming their total discipleship (p. 2), and leading them to a wider ministry. The moment is propitious “for a new evangelicalism proclaiming and living the whole gospel for the whole man” (p. 16).
Besides the Declaration and the Introduction, the small book also contains four papers delivered at the conference and a short series of “Reflections.” In the first paper, “The Present and the Future,” William Pannell accounts for some evangelical underinvolvement because of “an inadequate theology of sin…very little understanding of the corporate nature of sin” (p. 47); a “privatistic application of the Cross…” (p. 49); and a false conservatism (p. 50), from which evangelicalism must disengage itself if it is to “speak to the moral issues that threaten the very survival of a free society…” (p. 56). In the second paper, “Engagement—the Christian Agenda,” Foy Valentine calls for a realistic effort on the part of evangelicals to break out of a dualistic, personalistic viewpoint (p. 62) and “to apply Christian principles in every area and relationship of life” (p. 60). He bases the agenda of involvement on three “theological” presuppositions for social change: (1) things need
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changing; (2) Christians are obligated to change them; and (3) God’s people can do it (p. 64). The agenda calls for “changed men to change the world” (p. 96). In the third paper, “Prayer and Social Concern,” Paul S. Rees pleads for a prayerful openness towards people and their needs, “the second dimension of prayer,” issuing in prayer as engagement (p. 83). The fourth paper, “The Biblical Mandate,” by John H. Yoder, is of the four the one that ...
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