The Chicago Declaration Turns 50

The Chicago Declaration Turns 50 November 22, 2023

This week marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Chicago Declaration, the evangelical left’s founding document. In honor of this significant moment in American religious history, I’ve posted the full text below. But first, here are some links for context:

***

As evangelical Christians committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and the full authority of the

Word of God, we affirm that God lays total claim upon the lives of his people. We

cannot, therefore, separate our lives from the situation in which God has placed us in the

United States and the world.

 

We confess that we have not acknowledged the complete claim of God on our lives.

We acknowledge that God requires love. But we have not demonstrated the love of God

to those suffering social abuses.

 

We acknowledge that God requires justice. But we have not proclaimed or demonstrated

his justice to an unjust American society. Although the Lord calls us to defend the social

and economic rights of the poor and oppressed, we have mostly remained silent. We

deplore the historic involvement of the church in America with racism and the

conspicuous responsibility of the evangelical community for perpetuating the personal

attitudes and institutional structures that have divided the body of Christ along color

lines. Further, we have failed to condemn the exploitation of racism at home and abroad

by our economic system.

 

We affirm that God abounds in mercy and that he forgives all who repent and turn from

their sins. So we call our fellow evangelical Christians to demonstrate repentance in a

Christian discipleship that confronts the social and political injustice of our nation.

We must attack the materialism of our culture and the maldistribution of the nation’s

wealth and services. We recognize that as a nation we play a crucial role in the imbalance

and injustice of international trade and development. Before God and a billion hungry

neighbors, we must rethink our values regarding our present standard of living and

promote a more just acquisition and distribution of the world’s resources.

 

We acknowledge our Christian responsibilities of citizenship. Therefore, we must

challenge the misplaced trust of the nation in economic and military might – a proud trust

that promotes a national pathology of war and violence which victimizes our neighbors at

home and abroad. We must resist the temptation to make the nation and its institutions

objects of near-religious loyalty.

 

We acknowledge that we have encouraged men to prideful domination and women to

irresponsible passivity. So we call both men and women to mutual submission and active

discipleship.

 

We proclaim no new gospel, but the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ who, through the

power of the Holy Spirit, frees people from sin so that they might praise God through

works of righteousness.

 

By this declaration, we endorse no political ideology or party, but call our nation’s

leaders and people to that righteousness which exalts a nation.

 

We make this declaration in the biblical hope that Christ is coming to consummate the

Kingdom and we accept his claim on our total discipleship until he comes.

 

November 25, 1973, Chicago, Illinois 

 

Chicago’s YMCA hotel, where the Chicago Declaration originated

Signatories

John F. Alexander

Joseph Bayly

Ruth L. Bentley

William Bentley

Dale Brown

James C. Cross

Donald Dayton

Roger Dewey

James Dunn

Daniel Ebersole

Samuel Escobar

Warren C. Falcon

Frank Gaebelein

Sharon Gallagher

Theodore E. Gannon

Art Gish

Vernon Grounds

Nancy Hardesty

Carl F. H. Henry

Paul B. Henry

Clarence Hilliard

Walden Howard

Rufus Jones

Robert Tad Lehe

William Leslie

C. T. McIntire

Wes Michaelson

David O. Moberg

Stephen Mott

Richard Mouw

David Nelson

F. Burton Nelson

William Pannell

John M. Perkins

William Petersen

Richard Pierard

Wyn Wright Potter

Ron Potter

Bernard Ramm

Paul Rees

Boyd Reese

Joe Roos

James Robert Ross

Eunice Schatz

Ronald J. Sider

Donna Simmons

Lewis Smedes

Foy Valentine

Marlin Van Elderen

Jim Wallis

Robert E. Webber

Merold Westphal

John Howard Yoder

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