- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2000

AMSTERDAM A conference of evangelical Protestant leaders, the largest ever, reaffirmed old-time religion yesterday in an "Amsterdam Declaration" to defend against attempts to water down the Gospel under assault by modern pluralism and relativism.
The participants renewed their belief that Jesus Christ is the "one and only Savior," and that the only path to salvation is belief in His death on the cross to redeem human sin. The Bible, the declaration says, is God's "totally true and trustworthy" revelation.
The conference concluded last night with a Communion service, rousing songs by a multiracial youth choir from 50 nations and brief marching orders from its absent chairman, the Rev. Billy Graham.
Mr. Graham, looking reasonably fit but speaking in a husky voice, had recorded his remarks Saturday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he is recovering from surgery.
"Let us light a fire of commitment to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit to the ends of the Earth, using every resource at our command, and with every ounce of our strength," he said.
He urged the crowd to light fires that would renew faith in the Bible as God's word, make evangelism the church's priority, banish moral blight and "roll back the poisons of racism, poverty and injustice."
He had been too ill to deliver his scheduled address by video hook-up at the first session July 29.
Participants at the $40 million event came from 209 nations and territories, making it probably the most diverse Christian conference ever.
Mr. Graham's son and designated successor, the Rev. Franklin Graham, indicated in an interview he was dubious about the declaration. "I don't know why every time we have a meeting we have to have a document," he said. "The Bible's the document, because we believe it word for word."
The evangelical activists were nevertheless asked to join Billy Graham in privately signing a second text, a 14-point "Covenant for Evangelists," pledging to be faithful, Bible-based and ethical representatives of Christianity. After silent reflection, most stood to indicate their dedication.
The two documents, loosely drawn from speeches and discussions among 900 participants meeting in strategy discussions, were written by the Rev. Timothy George of the Southern Baptist seminary at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., and eight colleagues from Australia, Britain, Guatemala, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka and the United States.
"This is a unique event in the history of the church," Mr. George said, because it was attended by theologians, church officials and missionary strategists along with the predominant group, preaching evangelists.
In another immediate result of the conference, participants made commitments to establish a church in each of the world's 253 sizable ethnic groups still untouched by Christianity, as identified by missionary researchers.
The Rev. Richard Bewes, Anglican rector of All Souls Church in London, presided over last night's huge Communion service, in which wafers and grape juice were distributed. The final hymn was an American black spiritual, "Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born."

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