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Topic: The Nashville Statement

A manifesto not for the world but for the church

March 21, 2018
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Mark Hemingway has a fascinating profile of Russell Moore over at The Weekly Standard. The piece focuses on the fallout among evangelicals from the 2016 election, but he includes a small bit about The Nashville Statement at the beginning. Hemingway writes:

The Nashville Statement is, in some respects, a model for civic engagement by churches and an effective platform for a group of influential Christian leaders to publicly reaffirm their commitment to biblical values, untethered to any sort of legislative agenda.

I am grateful for Hemingway’s favorable depiction of The Nashville Statement. There was indeed much “civic engagement” in the aftermath of the release of The Nashville Statement, due in no small part to a tweet by the mayor of Nashville. But it is worth clarifying once again that we did not intend for The Nashville Statement to be an item of “civic engagement.” It was not intended to be a manifesto addressed to the world so much as a declaration addressed to evangelical churches and ministries. As I wrote in The Hill last September,

The Nashville Statement is not a culture-war document. It is a church document. It stakes out no public policy positions. It advocates for no particular piece of legislation or political program. Rather, it was drafted by churchmen from a variety of evangelical traditions who aim to catechize God’s people about their place in the true story of the world. And fundamental to that storyline is our “personal and physical design as male and female.”

Our aim was then and still is to serve churches and ministries who are looking for clarity on what the Bible teaches about sexuality and gender. We think we achieved such clarity in the affirmations and denials contained in The Nashville Statement. Nevertheless, the goal wasn’t public moralizing but church strengthening. In other words, we wanted churches and ministries to have a resource that they could use in their own organizations to clarify and strengthen their commitment to biblical teaching. We published our initial list of signatories simply so that we could commend the statement to as many evangelicals as possible.

Our work at CBMW goes on. We are actively doing all that we can to commend The Nashville Statement to as many believers as possible and to encourage them to adopt its teaching. As a result, we’ve seen churches adopt the statement as a part of their confessional standards. We’ve seen an evangelical seminary do the same. We’ve seen denominational bodies commend The Nashville Statement to their churches. This is the kind of institutional commitment that we hope and pray will bear fruit in the long run.

Thanks to Mark Hemingway for bringing attention to The Nashville Statement again. If you haven’t read it yet, you can do so here.

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