Sunday, December 13, 2009

Manhattan Declaration, Statement or Alliance?

About a week back there was a short entry on a blog that I follow endorsing the Manhattan Declaration Note that if you click on the link I just provided, it takes you to the home page of the Manhattan Declaration, not the declaration itself. I have to admit that I mistakenly read the home page, and went from there to a page to sign, and never noticed that I had not read the actual declaration. And I may never have noticed my mistake, but for another blog that I follow coming out strongly against the declaration.

So what is this declaration all about? In a nutshell it is a statement affirming the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as the union of husband and wife, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty. Not exactly the type of thing that I would normally expect to find denigrated on a blog that I normally find edifying. But it seems that there were a couple items that made this declaration anathema in some quarters.

One "problem" was that the declaration includes Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians. The other was this statement: "It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season." As a matter of fact, it is this second statement about the gospel which alerted me to the fact that I had not read the actual declaration before signing it. When the declaration was condemned for implying that Catholics taught the true gospel, I had to go back and look because I didn't recall any mention of the gospel in it.

Now anyone who knows me well can tell you that I am about the last guy on the block to endorse any sort of ecumenism, however after reading the entire document and considering it much more, I must admit that I do not believe I made a mistake in signing it. The document says nothing about joining together to proclaim the gospel, and I certainly believe it is my duty to proclaim the gospel to the best of my ability. The three issues that are the meat of the declaration are all one's that I am willing to put my name to in support. The declaration does not even speak of joining together to accomplish any goals, but only to affirm the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage, and the right of religious liberty.

I am thankful that those of our founding fathers who were Christians (and most of them were), were willing to put their name to a document that affirmed that God has given us rights such as life, liberty and religious liberty, dispite the fact that they did not all belong to the same denomination. "But that was a political document", you say? Sure it was, and so is the Manhattan Declaration. And for those who are too "spiritual" to ever dirty their hands by becoming involved in politics in any way, shape or form, I hope they are prepared for the persecution that is sure to follow the downfall of this nation as it was founded.


Anonymous said...

Politics change and shape our Country. It is our duty to spread the Gospel AND to get involved in politics. I have a problem with people who just don't try to improve the nation they live in. Another good post Lee!

Dennis said...

I agree, good post. I don't think we made a mistake in signing the Manhattan Document.

It saddens me that some prominent Evangelical leaders whom I respect will not sign a document stating that we will obey God rather than man just because others with whom we disagree also signed it.

The document emphasizes the importance of proclaiming the gospel. I would have thought we could all agree on that. If the document had defined the "gospel" as some kind of works salvation, I wouldn't have signed it either.

But just because some who signed the document do not understand the gospel correctly, that should not keep us from affirming that we will obey God rather than man.

This refusal to sign the Manhattan Document reminds me of something a German pastor (Martin Niemoller) once wrote:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Unless people of faith (not only Christians, but Jews and Muslims also) unite against the secular tyranny that is being foisted on this country, we will continue to lose the freedom our forefathers died to give us.

St. Lee said...

Mike, Dennis, thanks for the comments. I notice that today the discussion continues over at Pryromaniacs blog, with one commenter being ostracized for merely stating that he would "consider" signing that type of document if it accurately depicted his views. I am happy to say that from what I have seen the "bigger names" in Christianity have been quite gracious whichever side they come down on. Many of the "foot soldiers" on the other hand, seem to be out for blood.

Anonymous said...

church and state!

St. Lee said...

Anonymous said...
"church and state!"

Um to elaborate on that? As it stands, I haven't a clue what you mean by it.

Anonymous said...

In response to Mike Petri ;It is the duty of Christians to PRAY for the Government and all those in authority.
It would be wise to listen to the Lords own words when he tells Pilate (john 18:33-37) that his Kingdom is not of this world and his followers do not respond in the same way as the worldly kingdom's followers do.
Political systems function in worldly ways .
God's kingdom operates on different values ,and it does not come about by legislation or politically.
It is always a danger that some Christians mistakenly believe that If only Christians were in charge politically that all would be good ,and Gods kingdom could be ushered in by legislation .
Not very Biblical but thats how it looks where I stand on the otherside of the world and see whats going on in the USA
The apostle Paul reminded the early believers "for though we live in the world,we do not wage war as the world does.The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world."(see 2Corinthians10)
Unfortunately believers of today are not great students of church history,a study of which would reveal the disaster that combining the two has been.
The seperation of Church and state is a wise thing and I see nothing in the new testament that would show otherwise.
Please dont mistake me for saying Christians should not be involved in influencing society for the greater good of the society. Godly men and women thru out history have blessed many by their principled stands on important issues,
But danger lays in suggesting that Christians should be in politics so as to bring about Christs kingdom .This misses the whole point of making disciples of men thru the Gospel.
Just some food for thought.
Yours in Christ

St. Lee said...

Rene, you said:
"Unfortunately believers of today are not great students of church history,a study of which would reveal the disaster that combining the two has been."

Sorry, but I have to reject that argument. The apostate Roman Catholic "church" which at one time ruled much of the world bore no resemblance to the Christian nation that the United States was founded as. Our founding fathers knew that the republic which they formed could only survive in a nation which held a Judeo-Christian ethic. As that ethic faded at the beginning of the 20th century, so did the adherence to our Constitution, not to mention the moral fiber of our citizens. Our founders never advocated a theocracy, nor does any Christian that I know. By the way, your comment about Christians not being students of church history also applies very well to Americans and the history of the United States.

The USSR did a thorough job of separating church and state. Not so sure that was such a good thing.

I don't believe Mike was advocating spreading the Gospel and being involved in politics as both being part of the same endeavor. Being involved in politics is necessary to keep men free from oppression by other men. Spreading the Gospel is necessary to free men from the oppression of sin.

The progressives are the one's trying to bring the kingdom of god to earth today - trouble is, they have a different god in mind.

Thanks for your comments. I don't think we are so far off in our views, possibly more semantics than doctrine.