From the Renovaré Newsletter Archive

The selection below is from a January 1994 Renovaré newsletter. Download a PDF of the original newsletter.

At the start of a new year it is good to reflect on the social respon­si­bil­i­ty that a vital Chris­t­ian faith engen­ders. Fol­low­ing Christ is nec­es­sar­i­ly tied to a con­cern for the poor and defense­less. Love of God and love of neigh­bor are two sides to the same door — we must do both to get through the door. And like the Samar­i­tan we soon dis­cov­er that our path often leads us to the bro­ken and bleed­ing of humanity.

Anger and Abuse

This issue of the Per­spec­tive focus­es on the Social Jus­tice tra­di­tion, or the Com­pas­sion­ate Life. The issues in this aspect of life are always mul­ti-lay­ered and nev­er easy, so we need the best think­ing we can get to help us find our way. Donn Thomas, one of our Ren­o­varé team mem­bers, shares with us very per­son­al­ly about the prob­lems of anger and abuse among African-Amer­i­can males. Donn, who is African-Amer­i­can him­self, grew up in inner-city Cleve­land. It is impor­tant for us all to enter the unique con­text of African-Amer­i­can males in this coun­try and feel their pain with them. And as we do so, we will gar­ner many insights for con­texts that are oth­er than African-Amer­i­can and male.

Chica­go Dec­la­ra­tion II

Twen­ty years ago a group of Evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers gath­ered in Chica­go to draft a state­ment on social jus­tice that came to be known as Chica­go Dec­la­ra­tion”. Over the past two decades this has been a vig­or­ous and influ­en­tial doc­u­ment in height­en­ing the social aware­ness of many Chris­t­ian groups. On the twen­ti­eth anniver­sary of that dec­la­ra­tion a call went out for Evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers to gath­er, to take stock of where we have come, and to issue a sec­ond state­ment — Chica­go Dec­la­ra­tion II: A Call for Evan­gel­i­cal Renew­al.” Donn Thomas and I were asked to be del­e­gates to this impor­tant effort whose num­ber includ­ed such well-known Chris­t­ian lead­ers as Ron Sider, Rober­ta Hestenes, John Perkins, Gretchen Gae­belein Hull, Tony Cam­po­lo, and Samuel Esco­bar. Oth­ers gath­ered for a vari­ety of work­shops on social issues while the del­e­gates — about eighty in num­ber — strug­gled for two days to draft the declaration.

The process we went through to draft CDII was almost as impor­tant as the dec­la­ra­tion itself. With com­plex issues and deeply-felt con­cerns it would have been easy for the whole process to have bro­ken down and each leader to go his/​her own way. How­ev­er we stayed with each oth­er and final­ly, after an all night draft­ing ses­sion, we joy­ful­ly and tear­ful­ly echoed the ear­ly Chris­t­ian affir­ma­tion, it seemed good to the Holy Spir­it and to us” (Acts 15:28).

The doc­u­ment that came from those days of inten­sive, prayer-filled effort — Chica­go Dec­la­ra­tion II — is, I believe, of immense sig­nif­i­cance, and we are print­ing the entire text in this Per­spec­tive. I would encour­age you to use it for ongo­ing study and reflec­tion in your spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion group and oth­er settings.

Peace and joy,

Richard J. Foster

Chica­go Dec­la­ra­tion II

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 the 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, and 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 judge­men­tal­ism. 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 exploitive 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: Oh 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 211993

Text First Published January 1994

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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