Billy Graham Center

The Chicago Call - Collection 33

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent.]

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Historical Background of the Chicago Call

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

Other Information Which Will Be Helpful to the User of This Guide

List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records in This Collection (Container List)

Click to go to an online version of the Chicago Call.

Brief Description.
Materials related to the conference which drafted the Chicago Call, including minutes of the planning committee and printed post-conference report.

Collection 33 [December 2, 2009]
The Chicago Call; 1977
Records; 1974-1978
2 Boxes (DC; 1.0 cubic feet)


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Historical Background

In late 1976, Dr. Robert Webber (Associate Professor of Theology at Wheaton College) called together a planning committee consisting of Richard Holt, Donald G. Bloesch, Jan P. Dennis, Lane T. Dennis, Gerald D. Erickson, Peter E. Gillquist, Thomas Howard and Victor Oliver. The purpose of the committee was to plan a National Conference of Evangelicals for Historic Christianity. This group met nine times during December (1976) and January (1977). They decided that the goal of the conference would be to bring together selected Evangelical leaders to draft an appeal to fellow Evangelicals which would stress a recovering of the theology and practice of historic Christianity and to call them to a Christianity truly catholic and Evangelical. The statement was to be loosely modeled after "The Chicago Declaration," "The Hartford Appeal," and "The Boston Affirmation," and would be called "The Chicago Call." The conference was held May 1-3, 1977, at the Cenacle Retreat Center in Warrenville, Illinois, and was attended by approximately forty-five Evangelical leaders. The participants were broken into working groups, and each group worked on a particular section of the Call such as: A Call to Historic Roots and Continuity; A Call to Biblical Fidelity; A Call to Creedal Identity; etc. After several drafts and revisions, the final form of The Chicago Call was decided upon, and it was printed for public distribution. The Chicago Call received favorable but limited response from Evangelicals and non-Evangelicals. A book was published in 1978 by the participants of the conference.

Scope and Content

[NOTE: In the Scope & Content section, the notation "folder 2-5" means box 2, folder 5.]

This collection constitutes almost all the existing written and printed records of the Chicago Call. Important papers include the detailed minutes of the planning committee and the conference; the correspondence of Robert Webber and Richard Holt (Treasurer) and Peter E. Gillquist, editor of Thomas Nelson, Inc., who published The Orthodox Evangelicals, a book on the meeting, and drafts of each section of The Chicago Call. The sections are: A Call to Historic Roots and Continuity; A Call to Biblical Fidelity; A Call to Creedal Identity; A Call to Holistic Salvation; A Call to Sacramental Integrity; A Call to Spirituality; A Call to Church Authority; and A Call to Church Unity. Also in the collection are drafts of the different chapters of the published book The Orthodox Evangelicals. Items of note in the Webber correspondence are: a negative reaction by Sharm Gallagher to the conference (3/14/77); a statement by Al Glenn on spirituality (4/25/77); a response to the invitation to attend by Henri Nouwen (2/4/1977); and two letters (Donald Bloesch 11/19/76 and Jim Hestrom 12/7/76) written in response to a manuscript sent by Webber; a reaction to Webber's editorial by Dr. E. H. Schludermann (9/6/74). Another item of note is the post-conference report by Robert Webber. Also included are copies of articles in the Newsweek, The Reformed Journal, and the New Oxford Review on the conference and other press reaction. Miscellaneous items include clippings on The Chicago Call, and Bulletin of the Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania. The collection includes a copy of The Orthodox Evangelicals. The records are in general chronological order corresponding to the development of the conference.

The material in folder 2-17 concerns the preparation of The Orthodox Evangelicals' chapter, "A Call to Biblical Fidelity." The original draft of this chapter was written by James Daane, Professor of Theology and Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary. Inasmuch as it dealt extensively with the topic of Biblical inerrancy, it was found unacceptable by the book's publisher, Thomas Nelson, Inc. Daane declined to rewrite the chapter and when the book was published, the chapter on Biblical fidelity was authored by Roger Nicole of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (see folder 2-7).

The folder contains a draft of Daane's chapter (lacking page 1) with annotations by readers, and correspondence among Daane, Thomas Nelson Inc., and The Orthodox Evangelicals' senior editor, Robert Webber.



The records were given to the Center in December 1977, December 1978 , and 1980 by Robert Webber.

Accession 77-28, 78-47, 80-112

December 19, 1977
Robert Shuster
Abraham Labiano
James Stambaugh

Revised, January 12, 1978

Revised, August 5, 1982
Galen R. Wilson


Preface (page vii)

I. Introduction

    1. The Chicago Call: An Appeal to Evangelicals (page 11)
    2. Behind the Scenes: A Personal Account, Robert Webber (page 19)

II. An Explanation of the Call

    3. A Call to Historic Roots and Continuity, Roger Lovelace (page 43)
    4. A Call to Biblical Fidelity, Roger Nicole (page 68)
    5. A Call to Creedal Identity, Morris Inch (page 77)
    6. A Call to Holistic Salvation, Lane Dennis (page 94)
    7. A Call to Sacramental Integrity, Thomas Howard (page 118)
    8. A Call to Spirituality, Donald Bloesch, (page 146)
    9. A Call to Church Authority, Jon Braun (page 166)
    10. A Call to Church Unity, F. Burton Nelson (page 190)
III. Responses
    11. Reservations about Catholic Renewal in Evangelicalism, David F. Wells (page 213)
    12. A Roman Catholic Appraisal of the Chicago Call, Benedict T. VIviano (page 225)
    13. An Annotated Bibliography for Further Reading, Jan Dennis (page 234)


Box Folder Description
The Chicago Call
1 1 Minutes of Planning Meetings (Evangelicals for Historic Christianity); 1976-1977
1 2 Drafts of Invitations and Copy of Final Printed Invitation; n.d.
1 3 Second Letter to Participants; n.d.
1 4 Registration and Arrangement Forms; n.d.
1 5 Drafts of Program of the Conference; n.d.
1 6 Packet of Materials given to Each Participant (Robert copy); n.d.
1 7 Opening Statement to Conference by Robert Webber; n.d.
1 8 May 2, 1977 meeting
1 9 May 3, 1977 meeting
1 10 "Prologue;" n.d.
1 11 "A Call to Historic Roots and Continuity;" n.d.
1 12 "A Call to Biblical Fidelity;" n.d.
1 13 "A Call to Creedal Identity;" n.d.
1 14 "A Call to Holistic Salvation;" n.d.
1 15 "A Call to Sacramental Integrity;" n.d.
1 16 "A Call to Spirituality;" n.d.
1 17 "A Call to Church Authority;" n.d.
1 18 "A Call to Church Unity;" n.d.
1 19 "A Call to Church Authority;" n.d.
1 20 "A Call to Church Order" and "A Call to Servanthood & Stewardship" (not used in final paper); n.d.
1 21 Complete The Chicago Call; n.d.
1 22 Copy of the final printed form of The Chicago Call; n.d.
1 23 Post Conference Report by Robert Webber; n.d.
1 24 Gillquist, Peter E.; November 1976-February 1977
1 25 Holt, Richard; February-April, 1977
1 26 Webber, Robert; September, 1974 - February, 1978
2 1 Financial Records; March-May, 1977
2 2 Miscellaneous Papers; February, 1977; n.d.
2 3 Press Reaction; March-October 1977
2 4 Books - The Orthodox Evangelicals; 1978
2 5 "Behind the Scenes: A Personal Account by Robert Webber;" n.d.
2 6 "A Call to Historic Continuity by Richard Lovelace;" n.d.
2 7 "A Call to Biblical Fidelity by Roger Nicole;" n.d.
2 8 "A Call to Creedal Identity by Morris Inch;" n.d.
2 9 "A Call to Holistic Salvation by Lane Dennis;" n.d.
2 10 "A Call to Sacramental Integrity by Thomas Howard;" n.d.
2 11 "A Call to Spirituality by Donald Bloesch;" n.d.
2 12 "A Call to Church Authority by Jon Braun;" n.d.
2 13 "A Call to Church Unity by F. Burton Nelson;" n.d.
2 14 "Reservations about Catholic Renewal in Evangelicalism by David Wells;" n.d.
2 15 "A Roman Catholic Appraisal of The Chicago Call by Benedict T. Viviano, O.P.;" n.d.
2 16 "An Annotated Bibliography for Further Reading by Jan Dennis;" n.d.
2 17 Drafts and Correspondence, "A Call to Biblical Fidelity" by James Daane; 1977-1978

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Last Revised: 3/15/02
Expiration: indefinite