After the release of the Evangelical Manifesto, Frank Pastore interviewed Manifesto signer and National Religious Broadcasters President Frank Wright.
Frank Pastore: The Evangelical Manifesto. You probably heard about it some time ago and you chose to sign it. Why?
Frank Wright: Well, I actually had a chance to read it and study it over a period of several days before I signed it. And I didn’t sign it on behalf of the National Religious Broadcasters, in fact no one signed on behalf of an organization, all the signers were signing as individuals.
Here’s the background on this: 50, 60 years ago the term “fundamentalist” in our cultures wasn’t a bad term. It described those people who were committed to the fundamental teaching of scripture, the fundamental articles of faith, the means of grace. “Fundamentalist” was once upon a time a good thing. Over time the culture sort of decomposed or destroyed that word, and gave it a very pejorative meaning. And if you would have asked an average Christian today, “Are you a fundamentalist?” they’d go, “Oh, no, no, no, not me. Don’t put me down in that camp.” And many fundamentalists, including my mentor Dr. D. James Kennedy began to describe themselves as Evangelicals. They felt that term was a better fitting term.
What’s happened in the last 20 or 30 years is the same thing: The term “Evangelical” has been deconstructed by our opponents on the left and made into something pejorative. So, with that as a background, what attracted me to the Evangelical Manifesto was that it was an affirmative articulation—and I thought a biblical one—of what it meant to be an Evangelical, what doctrines did you hold, what defined who we were. In other words, it was an attempt for Evangelicals themselves to define the meaning of the term, rather than having unbelievers and the culture continue to define it in a pejorative manner.
In the aftermath of the press conference introducing it, it took on quite a different character. Instead of an effort to reach the culture with a different understanding of “what it means to be an Evangelical,” it turned a little bit into a skirmish between Evangelicals on the left and conservative Evangelicals on the right.