First we had the so-called 'Nashville Statement' (see my response on this blog) with its homophobia and idolatry masquerading as 'Bible-based' theology.
Now we have the 'Boston Declaration' from a huge and diverse group of American academics and Church leaders, including a number from well-known conservative Evangelical seminaries, sub-titled: 'A Prophetic Call to Christians of the United States'.
The whole Declaration is worth reading. The first half is a powerful statement of the nature of the Christian faith and is worthy of attention from us all. The second part, properly, is about the specific context of the United States and the many issues that confront the nature of Christian truth and Christian faithfulness at this current moment there - though that is not to say that many of the social, political and theological evils the signatories identify do not have their counterparts not only in England, but across Europe.
This statement stands at the heart of the Declaration:
We believe in a God who holds all difference within God’s own life and in whom there is no one or no people who are distant from God’s justice, merciful love, and presence (Micah 6:8; Acts 10:34-35). We affirm the beauty and humanity of all people in their manifold difference--race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion--as reflecting God’s image through lives of love and hope. We believe the Jesus Way calls us to the possibility of living in a world where all can love and be loved, and live into joy.
The 'prophetic call' in the Declaration is both a profoundly theological one, and a call to practical action. Theological, because it challenges Christians to change the way they read the Bible, and the way think about, understand and articulate their faith. It is also a profoundly incarnational theological understanding: we are called to ‘live’ our faith into being. We are called to embrace the deep Christian truth that all people are God’s people, that nothing and no-one stands outside the scope of God’s love and concern for God’s world, that God with us stands as much in solidarity as in judgement, that the incarnation of our God means that everything matters. We are called to open our hearts and minds to the love of God active in the world, and in everyone.
But we are also called to act decisively.
The Jesus Way continues through our best, prayerful, honest, and empirical attempts to understand why and how the world has come to be in the shape it is today. This pathway calls us to act in ways that are Spirit-led and strategic in confronting evil wherever evil exists, to combat ignorance wherever ignorance has led people astray and to place our lives and our bodies on the line with whoever is being threatened, beat down, or oppressed in any way, anywhere.
This is a clarion call worth heeding, for it re-calls us to the roots and dynamics of faith in a living God, active in us and in the world. We need this call back to the roots of love that are the foundation of our faith. We need this call at a time when truth is discarded and lies and corruption are rife. We need this call at a time when people and their lives and flourishing count for little and abuse of all sorts is tolerated – even perpetuated – by those with power in state and church. We need this at a time when some churches are so worried about numbers that they neglect those for whom they exist and treat with contempt those who would point to the Christ and say, ‘the world need not be the way it is’. We need this call to action, this call to revisit the deep roots and truth of our faith: we need this call because the world God loves needs this call.
The Living God asks us to make a decision: ‘today I offer you the choice of life and good, or death and evil…choose life’ (Deut. 31) Following Jesus today means choosing life, joining the Spirit-led struggle to fight the death-dealing powers of sin wherever they erupt. Whenever one of God’s children is being oppressed, we will fight with them for liberation with the power of the Holy and Life-Giving Spirit.