Bock

Manifesto Feedback 05.13.08

My updated take on the manifesto can be seen in two different locales:

My updated take on the manifesto can be seen in two different locales:

Here at dallasnews.com as well as in a piece to be posted soon at beliefnet.com.

There is a lot of misemphasis in the responses I have seen. A fair critique comes from Al Moehler and his blog. Nonetheless, I think the major point about tone of engagement (not absence of it or a claim of withdrawal from it in certain areas) has been missed by most. To focus on content to the expense of tone is to miss the balance of emphasis in the manifesto. This means that all claims that issues important to evangelicals will be abandoned or compromised if the values of the manisfesto are adopted is somewhat of a straw man. The point of the manifesto was to add to the array of issues, not just to focus on a few.

To the extent evangelicals contend for the old issues, then well and good. But the reaction of some about the manifesto that says, "Well, the manifesto is all nice and good, but what really matters is an issue or two of exceptional importance." Such a response actually makes the point the manifesto articulates concern about, since such a focus ends up denying that there are many "life" values we need to take into consideration as evangelicals in the public sqaure.

Contending for the full array of life issues also reflects a commitment to God and the Scripture.

5 Comments

  • Avatar

    Alex

    thanks
    Finally, it all is making sense to me. For the past few days I have been trying to figure out how possibley the Manifesto was a “straw man” argument. I kept asking myself, did they actually read the document? People kept giving me crap about hte Manifesto becuase they were upset about how it “tells people how they should vote…” and agian I was having diffuculty understanding what they were talking about and left me asking, “Did you read the Manifesto?”
    As you point out, most people (those I mentioned above) are missing the balance aspects of the Manifesto and idea that it is more of an edition or a reminder than a replacement of all we as evangelists believe.
    I agree completely with this:
    ” “Well, the manifesto is all nice and good, but what really matters is an issue or two of exceptional importance.” Such a response actually makes the point the manifesto articulates concern about, since such a focus ends up denying that there are many “life” values we need to take into consideration as evangelicals in the public square. ”

    People are missing the point altogether. And I agree that we should be well-rounded voters if we are true believers of the Word of God.
    And another thing that critics are missing is that the Manifesto is NOT just political and about voting, but about more. I have yet to hear a fair critic of the other parts of this document.

    Thanks for your post and opinions.

    Alex

  • Avatar

    Rob G. Reid

    Interesting
    Dr. B.,
    Is it not interesting that so-called high profile evangelical leaders are choosing not to sign because it is not “exclusive” enough. I read Mohler’s blog and found some of his responses bordering on absurdity, especially his concern that the manifesto not clearly guard against universalism or inclusivism. Granted Mohler is a very articulate and well educated scholar, I think sentiments like those he expressed evidence the exact mentality the manifesto seems to be championing a cause against. However, I think there may be something further that may be noted, just below the surface. I think Mohler is one of the “powerbrokers” who have had far too much control over the term and that his critique likely has more to do with maintaining partisan evangelicalism by the ultraconservative wing. For if the manifesto succeeds in moving away from ardent “us against them” absolute-truthers, then the voice that he represents will not maintain the freedom and control over the movement that the last 20 years has afforded ultraconservatism. Just a thought, I could be entirely wrong. What do you think? How is Israel?

    • Avatar

      bock

      Interesting dlb

      First, Israel is great, Rob.

      On your point: I prefer not to try and delve into motives. This is a tact that has made dialogue difficult and I do not claim to be able to read the minds of others. I said the critique by Moehler was fair because it expressed the legitimate concerns of some. In my mind, these are not enough to step back for affirming the ideals stated in the document as the response from one of the other comments on this blog states so well.

      I also remind people that the manifesto decidedly stepped back from trying to make this statement a power play since no continuing organization is a part of it. For this reason alone anyone who wants to see this in power terms is mistaken. The statement is ideals and values driven. The manifesto is about engendering healthy conversation, something it already shows it has done.

      dlb

       

  • Avatar

    Chicago guy

    The larger implications of the Manifesto
    Dr. Bock:
    How much thinking went into the way that the Manifesto would be interpreted?

    Faint praise is one of the most effective way you can critique someone. So it doesn’t surprise me that there is a general assent (in the Manifesto) to the immorality of abortion and other issues.

    Reading various message blogs, newspaper articles and opinion pieces out there, it seems that the following interpretations are real and may well be the net impact of the Manifesto:

    a) The moral framework of the left and the right are essentially a wash – if one chooses to believe that water boarding of Guantanamo Bay prisoners or the deportation of illegal immigrants is just as bad as abortion, no problem – Christians, you have a green light to vote either Republican or Democrat in November – in fact, maybe you should vote for Democrats so that we can gain credibility with the culture (never mind the fact that the fundraising and strategic apparatus of the DNC is fundamentally opposed to a Biblical worldview)

    b) Those who speak out about issues like abortion and homosexuality do so at the risk of being labeled a fundamentalist

    c) Biblical inerrancy is on the way out, if it isn’t already

    d) Folks like young earth creationists are often anti-science – the evangelical community is officially distancing ourselves from them

    So then I ask, how could it be a straw man argument if these are real interpretations that many, if not most people, are forming about the Manifesto and its larger implications for how we live our lives?

    Dr Bock, at any point in your process of reading and decision making (whether to sign it) did it cross your mind that reasonable people would draw these conclusions? Did that matter or factor in to your decision? Do you feel that it is is unfortunate or fortunate that people might draw these conclusions and does it concern you that this might be the ultimate legacy of this document?

    • Avatar

      bock

      Chicago guy dlb

      The response is below with the *:

       

      a) The moral framework of the left and the right are essentially a wash – if one chooses to believe that water boarding of Guantanamo Bay prisoners or the deportation of illegal immigrants is just as bad as abortion, no problem – Christians, you have a green light to vote either Republican or Democrat in November – in fact, maybe you should vote for Democrats so that we can gain credibility with the culture (never mind the fact that the fundraising and strategic apparatus of the DNC is fundamentally opposed to a Biblical worldview)

      *I find it interesting that you label the content statements on right to life as faint praise and ignore points about tone to argue that the moral framework is a wash, something the statement does not say as it takes on both the right and left on these issues. Seems to me this critique misses the point about being a prophetic voice to all sidesof the debate, whcih means on some issues political consrvatives may be right and on others they may not (the same is true with liberals). This is not a "wash" argument, but having discernment one issue at a time.

      b) Those who speak out about issues like abortion and homosexuality do so at the risk of being labeled a fundamentalist

      *The manifesto only suggests this with a certian tone and approach to these issues. Nuance is key to the document, whcih is what made it long.

      c) Biblical inerrancy is on the way out, if it isn’t already

      *Supreme authority seems like a solid statement to me in street language, not church code.

      d) Folks like young earth creationists are often anti-science – the evangelical community is officially distancing ourselves from them

      * Again only in certain contexts.

       

      So then I ask, how could it be a straw man argument if these are real interpretations that many, if not most people, are forming about the Manifesto and its larger implications for how we live our lives?

      *Such a read is only a problem for people who insist that the way they see things is the only way to see these issues. I imagine for them the room for discussion is a problem. They also are a problem for people who cannot distinguish between their advocacy for issues and the disitinct priorities other might bring to the discussion.

      *I much prefer the legacy of a healthy dialogue about such issues to the way we as a movement were proceeding in the public square. The manifesto is already a success in part because it has opened up this discussion among evangelicals, which is part of the point.

      dlb