It is hard to imagine a time when over 300 Christian theologians have been able to stand together and agree on anything, let alone a strongly worded passionate document of nearly 2,000 words.

But that is what happened in Boston yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, the largest annual gathering of religious scholars and leaders in the US.

Clearly, the context in which this forceful declaration has emerged is the social and political unrest currently seething in the United States of America. Specifically, behind the statement it is not hard to detect the authors’ distaste for much of what passes as “Christianity” in the evangelical world of today.

But the challenge of “The Boston Declaration” is a sobering call to Christians of all stripes, denominations, and nationalities. This is not about someone else. The challenge of these words is intended to be a mirror held up to the face of all Christians, offering us an opportunity for deep self-examination, self-awareness and honesty. “The Boston Declaration” will have missed the mark if it becomes only another opportunity for pointing the finger at those who are different than the signatories to this document.

“The Boston Declaration” seeks to move beyond a Gospel that is defined by the appearance of difference and reaches for a proclamation that takes joy in the common journey of our shared humanity. The authors hold up a powerful vision of the inclusive, embracing love of a gracious and merciful God that they see embodied in the person of Jesus and seek to manifest in their own lives by following “the Jesus Way” and challenges the reader to live this radical vision of welcome in relation to all people:

We believe in a God who holds all difference within God’s own life and in whom there is no one or no people who are distant from God’s justice, merciful love, and presence (Micah 6:8; Acts 10:34-35). We affirm the beauty and humanity of all people in their manifold difference–race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion–as reflecting God’s image through lives of love and hope. We believe the Jesus Way calls us to the possibility of living in a world where all can love and be loved, and live into joy.

“The Boston Declaration” raises up an alternative vision to much of what passes as Christianity in our culture. It should be read and pondered in its entirety. The declaration is clearly aimed at the politics and religious world of the United States at this time. But much of the statement applies equally to the church throughout the world.

I was particularly struck by the searching litany of attitudes and actions the declaration specifically chose to denounce. Sometimes it is important to acknowledge that being for something carries a commitment to being against something as well.

“The Boston Declaration” calls the church to repent of the times we have failed to fully embody those things the Gospel commits us to be for. But it also challenges us to acknowledge those ways in which we have failed to live boldly in opposition to those things which the Gospel commits us to being against.

Politically and theologically there may be disagreement over aspects of this declaration. But, we should not allow these disagreements to cause us to fail to hear the call to genuine self-examination and deep honesty the document embodies. In many ways we have all strayed from the strong way Jesus calls us to live. We have fallen short of the noble light of truth in Jesus’ teaching. We need to repent and seek to return to the luminous vision of love and compassion that is the call of Jesus.

Here is an edited version of what seem to me to be the most universally applicable anti-gospel attitudes that “The Boston Declaration” renounces:

We reject the false ideology of empire building and the myth of racial laziness and substance abuse

We reject the false ideology that peace is achieved through military strength and that violence is the necessary foundation for freedom, safety, or security….

We reject the false ideology of white normalcy and bigotry. We reject the false identification that exclusively binds whiteness with Christianity We reject anti-Semitism

We reject the patriarchal and misogynistic legacies that subject women to continual violence, violation, and exclusion. We stand strongly against sexual abuse and harassment in the highest offices of power.

We reject violations against the Earth, especially the stripping of her resources and polluting that harms her and the creatures that inhabit her soil and seas.

We reject economic policies that are grounded in an illusion of extreme individualism and favor the accumulation of wealth for a few to the detriment of the many.

We reject Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry.

We reject homophobia and transphobia and all violence against the LGBTQ community.

We reject all anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies that fail to recognize the contributions of immigrants who have come from every corner of the world to strengthen the fabric of this nation—culturally, economically and spiritually.

These rejections embody a fundamental Christian call to build communities in which differences are embraced and celebrated. It is a vision of community in which gentleness prevails and openness, listening, and compassion are foundational values. In the face of so much that passes as Christianity today, this bracing corrective offers a compelling alternative vision for followers of “the Jesus Way.”