Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"The Manhattan Declaration"

The Manhattan Declaration
A Call of Christian Conscience

from their introductory page:

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:
1. the sanctity of human life
2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

You can read and download the declaration, and view the list of religious leaders who have signed it (and add your own signature) at their website.


Larry Krause said...

I read this last week...Christians should be signing this!!!

Douglas Phillips said...

For what it’s worth, I have been caught off guard by some of the negative response to the Declaration, primarily because I did not read it the same way as some like, for example, John MacArthur, did. Nor did I conceive of the Declaration as functioning in some of the ways its critics have described — although I can see how they would view things differently.

I write as someone who, in recent posts on my own blog, has maintained that the continuing doctrinal differences between evangelical Christianity and Roman Catholicism are significant and fundamental. I would even say that official Catholic teaching on justification amounts to a ‘false gospel, which is no gospel at all.’

Having said that, when I read a document like the Manhattan Declaration, I read the word ‘Christian’ (applied to Catholics and Orthodox) differently — in what I guess I would call a ’sociological’ and not a ’soteriological’ sense (I’m sure there are better, more precise ways of putting it than that). What I’m trying to say is that for the purposes and audiences and situations addressed in the Declaration, I think it is meaningful to use the term ‘Christian’ to apply to Roman Catholics and to the Orthodox. (Many would be surprised that this is even controversial.) So again, in a ’sociological’ sense (think of, how would such a person would self-identify on a religious survey) such persons are ‘Christian’ (they aren’t ‘Jewish,’ ‘Hindu,’ or ‘atheist.’)

In fact the online edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘Christian’ as “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.” So for purposes of standing together in the ‘public square’ and addressing together matters of such monumental importance for the common good (rooted in common grace), I come down on the side of saying it’s right to ’sign on’ with others in the historical stream of Christendom (who have been influenced by Scriptural teaching) to address matters of such crucial concern — even while saying that I would not unite with them in a theological concern like the statement, “Evangelicals and Catholics Together,” or in an evangelistic endeavor.

-- Doug Phillips

Douglas Phillips said...

One more point, in light of the contention, by some, that words like "Christian" and "believer" in the document can only be understood in one way: I am intrigued by Titus 1:12, where Paul is making a point about the Cretans. He quotes one of their own “prophets,” affirming the truth of what that “prophet” said.

Surely Paul would not have regarded this “prophet” to be a prophet in the same sense that Isaiah, Jeremiah or Agabus (in the NT)were and yet he uses the word in a general way that he knows has a more distinctive theological meaning in a Christian context. And he is willing to use the truth found in this unusual source for his own (inspired) (declaratory) purposes.

Again, this is only an analogy…it’s not an identical situation. But it might..MIGHT…be suggestive.