World evangelicals hardline platform defending Christ's uniqueness

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - A conference of world's evangelical Protestants, organized by the Rev. Billy Graham, is concluding with an uncompromising platform statement that insists ''Christ is the one and only Savior of the world'' and rejects liberal trends in Christianity.

The paper, called ''The Amsterdam Declaration: A Charter for Evangelism in the 21st Century,'' was developed from special discussions this week among 1,000 of the 10,300 participants from 209 countries and territories. It will be distributed to the meeting during its closing hours Sunday.

Conference leaders said it is a statement of the 1,000 who prepared it, not the conference as a whole. But it will be considered an important definition of the growing evangelical movement against more liberal versions of Christianity.

A second document, a 14-point ''Covenant for Evangelists,'' will also be given to all those in attendance Sunday. They are being asked to sign it as a personal pledge before God to spread the Gospel with zeal and integrity. No names or total of signers will be tabulated.

Graham, who is absent from the meeting recovering from surgery in Rochester, Minn., is the first signer of the covenant.

The other document, the declaration, states that ''there may well be traces of truth, beauty and goodness in many non-Christian belief systems. But we have no warrant for regarding any of these as ... separate roads to salvation.''

''The only way to know God in peace, love and joy is through the reconciling death of Jesus Christ the risen Lord,'' it says, although that message must be shared ''with love and humility, shunning all arrogance, hostility and disrespect.''

Similarly, the declaration takes a strong conservative stance against all modern trends toward religious relativity and pluralism, in Christian churches as well as ''post-modern'' society.

It says the ''western intellectual establishment'' largely denies there is any absolute truth and this is ''influencing popular culture throughout the world.'' But it insists that the Christian Gospel is authoritative truth ''to everyone everywhere in all times.''

Rejecting liberal theology, the declaration says the 66 books of the Protestant Bible ''constitute the written Word of God. As the inspired revelation of God in writing, the Scriptures are totally true and trustworthy, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.''

The statement affirms such classical - but often debated - Christian teachings as the Trinity, the virgin birth of Jesus, his bodily resurrection from the dead, and his personal future return as judge and renewer of all things.

It also insists that apart from faith in Christ, all people face ''eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord.''

The document also urges an action plan in which an indigenous church will be established for every group on earth so that everyone has the chance to hear the Christian message ''in a language they understand, near where they live.''

Similar statements of conservative evangelical principle and practice were issued by previous Graham-sponsored world meetings in 1966, 1974 and 1983.


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