New Christian declaration causing division

Bible Teacher and Pastor John MacArthur addresses the new sensation among Christians called “The Manhattan Declaration“. The framers of the document say it reaffirms truths about justice and the common good. But is there something else we should be aware of?

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths mdabout 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: the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

I’ve had invites to sign it and have read commentary both for and against it. While I do believe in the sanctity of human life, marriage comprises the sexual union of a man and woman, Im not so sure about how  “the rights of conscience and religious liberty” is to be interpreted by people who have questionable religious beliefs. That’s too broad and is certainly not a “fundamental truth” of the gospel (ref Romans 14).

As I would do with any documents which ultimately chooses compromised unity (think emergent church) over biblical unity, I reject the Manhattan Declaration as an appeasement effort towards people who want to use Christ’s name but reject the authority of his word in the critical matters which confront the 21st century church.

That being said, MacArthur spoke clearly enough that I agree with his fundamental divergence not only with the document but its intent. Frankly, the entire thing is suspect to me. Do we need such documents in lieu of the scriptures or as some sort of addendum to the scriptures?

In some issues (called nonessentials) we can agree to disagree without penalty to either party. On some things, we are still in the discovery mode pursuant to our study of the Word and subsequent revelation of the Holy Spirit. And then on somethings (called essentials), we cannot budge one inch to the left or right as it would destroy the foundations of our faith.

The Manhattan Declaration’s major goal in my opinion is loose knit unity.  To wit, the signatories affirm a fairly wide perspective on “critical” issues. If the resolutions to the issues and the root causes of these issues were clearly biblical, I suspect the signatory numbers would be considerably less. Thus, widening the allowing agreement does not follow biblical unity, but as stated unity based on compromised positions.

One signer, Dr. Ronald Sider a Canadian theology professor is the type of person which proves the document isnt a biblically oriented document but social one with Christian overtones. Read his interview with the Village Voice.

Christian unity is never valid if is only for the sake on being one. The terms of our unity is spelled out by Christ and any offers of deterrence from that should be rejected.  In John 17, Jesus prayed that our unity would mirror the unity he had with the Father. On the weightier matters,  were no “differing perspectives” between Christ and God the Father and there should be none among his followers. Christ did not come to do away with God’s commands but rather to fulfill them in love.

Pastor MacArthur says “the document fails most egregiously.”

“It [the Manhattan Declaration] assumes from the start that all signatories are fellow Christians whose only differences have to do with the fact that they represent distinct “communities.” Points of disagreement are tacitly acknowledged but are described as “historic lines of ecclesial differences” rather than fundamental conflicts of doctrine and conviction with regard to the gospel and the question of which teachings are essential to authentic Christianity.”

He concludes, “Anything that silences, sidelines, or relegates the gospel to secondary status is antithetical to the principles we affirm when we call ourselves evangelicals.”

The gospel shouldnt be a factor in how we decide to resolve the issues of our day. For followers of the Lord Jesus, it shouldnt become merely a reference book we check after we’ve exhausted our intellect.  It stands the ultimate authority of who we are, what we should be doing and why. We would do well to keep our name off all the declarations and documents which do not glorify God and do not follow true biblical unity.

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22 thoughts on “New Christian declaration causing division

  1. Ann, I think this is why the MD is severely problematic and would not get my signature or support.

    Its supposed to be a show of unity, but its only fostering division. GOD is not the author of confusion.

    The link didnt say if SP was signing did it? Just that somebody wants her to sign?

    Personally, I dont care if an angel from heaven came and signed it, I wouldnt.

  2. I read the document in it’s entirety and was well pleased with the language it contained. I didn’t research the religous backgrounds of the originators of this document and so I cant comment on that but, I looked closely at the scripture references and the exposistion of those texts and it seemed pretty sound. I perceived it as a clarion call for us as the body of Christ to begin to be more vocal in regards to this perverse culture, weve been sleep to long, especially in the african american church on issues such as abortion and many others. Im sure I don’t agree with the theology of some within the group, but what was in the manifesto appeared to be consistent with God’s word.

  3. wh, I agree with you for too long our voices have been dormant and or passive while the culture rages around us. But I question this as a “solution”. What exactly does it achieve and other than signatures on a paper or website, what measurable actions will come from it. My understanding is that the God ordained the preaching of the gospel as our response to the culture of death, sin and immorality. We would do well to preach and leave the declarations alone. The bible has given us more than enough clarion calls, yet we still do not obey. How is it that we will rally behind a declaration of people who may or may not hold the scriptures in high esteem, yet we will not be obedient to the word of the Lord in the first place?

    Thanks for your comments.

  4. GCMWatch,I don’t believe that this declaration is the solution and I am in complete agreement that the source of the churches problems is caused by not submitting to the authority of God’s word, but I do understand that people even in the kingdom are motivated by different methods . Paul said that his incarceration for preaching the gospel gave others boldness to do the same, so I know that the signature means nothing in and of itself, but my hope is through this public declaration that many will be awakened to action. You must admit it takes courage in this day and age to even make such a declaration. When I read the manifesto what delighted me was the biblical references and , it appeared on the surface at least to be devoted to the cause of Christ. If the individuals spearheading this movement are not submitted to the word of God then that most definitely needs to be exposed. Im tired of the charlatans and the imposters. This is the hour were the true bondservants of the Lord Jesus should demonstrate the power and character of Christ.

  5. Why do I think of a Pork Bill when I see and have seen this in the space of about a week now?

    I wouldn’t agree to this nonsense because it meshes groups together that don’t necessarily agree on doctrine, and for that reason I decline to wish them Godspeed or come into common agreement with them!

    This so reminds me of the inter-faith gatherings that they spawn in D.C., in the guise of unity of the faith(s), b.k.a. Universalism, so sad.

    “We would do well to preach and leave the declarations alone.”

    @GCM,

    I’m glad that you’ve said this

  6. Im tired of the charlatans and the imposters.

    Me too WH. Sure I appreciate the effort of the MD but Im just not willing to jump on the ride anymore if the wheels are wobbly.

    @ Vaughn…”unity” has been so abused with these sorts of things, I just want to stick close to Christ. I am super wary of anything “interfaith”, “ecumenical”…

  7. If the Document didn’t specifically say

    1.)Jesus Christ is the only way.
    2.)The only true God.
    3.)World peace only comes with His reign after He throws satan into the lake of fire.

    I wouldn’t have signed it. ;^)

  8. We are “energized” and “motivated” to all that we do, not by a meaningless Declaration, but by the in dwelt Holy Spirit that is at unity with the Word of God! When we start to look to another “galvinizing forces” to unify us,to energize us, to motivate us, this comes dangerously close to idolotry (putting trust in something else other than God). We are seeking to “add” our “good idea” to the inerrancy and sufficiency of God’s Word and Plan! This very similiar to having a form of godliness but denying its inherent power!(2 Tim 3:15) We need to step back from this Declaration, and anything like it that shifts our focus and takes our eyes off of Him! We should expect evil men with evil hearts to continue to reek havoc on our country and our world! The message of the Gospel must be brought to bear on their hearts and minds! It is the ONLY agent of change that we can put our hope in! Declarations and documents are just distractions from our true purpose! Lord help us to rely on you and kepp our eyes on you!

  9. Religious liberty is part and parcel of what we, as Christians, are (or should be) all about. As the MD says, it is founded on the confession that “God alone is Lord of the conscience.” Who among us would vote that it is okay for individuals to be forced by the powers that be to embrace a religious viewpoint against their wills? Or forbidden to worship God according to the dictates of their consciences? Or to freely express their religious convictions? Yet we are seeing this every day in efforts to weaken or eliminate conscience clauses, in the use of anti-discrimination statutes, and in the decline of respect for religious values in the media to force compliance with immoral activities. If we honor justice and the common good, how can we stand by and allow this (abortions, embryo research, euthanasia, the blessing of immoral sexual unions, forced religious liberty) to happen? To do so is to “render to Caesar what is God’s.”

  10. We dont need anytype of a declaration. What we need is the body of Christ to be united and uphold the scriptures as our final authority, yes, lets declare to the world that this is the truth.

    We cannot stop what The bible tells us will happen. I doubt we can stop homosexuals from having the right to get married, the anti Christ will surely appear, the world will hate Christians more and more and many will be decieved, simply because the devil is the god of this age. I think we forget that these things will happen and are trying to prevent them by these kind of means. WE CANNOT STOP IT, perilous times have come!

    I have been thinking that the church as much as trying to reach the world needs to get into presevervation mode, we must refocus on teaching the word. The true church of Christ needs to get it together, return to our first love and leave the things of this world.

    Our youth need to stop listening to sinful music and flee youthful lusts, our elders need to get out of pride, the love of, money, position, titles and sexual immorality also. We must kill self centered teaching and stop the preaching about all what God is gonna bless us with, in this life. What soldier thinks only about what his country is going to do for him and not the battle at hand? thats a recipe for death as your focus is off. “Be sober and vigilant”

    We also need to teach endtimes; Jesus said to watch and pray but many are not saying what to watch for while politicians, musicians, well, the famous, throw up signs, sing songs and make movies with influential messages that we know nothing about. Yes we surge forward to the one world government while the church lays silent waiting for all of the blessings to fall out of the open window from heaven. Our president talks about a global community while most black Christians praise God for the first black president, singing “look what The LORD has done”.

    Maybe I am off but looking at the many lapses in the church do we think we need any declaration apart from the unity of The Church governed by Gods word, solidly based on the gospel of Jesus Christ?

    This world is going to get worse and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. So, May we live Christ before men, be the salt and the light that Christ has called us to be and turn from sin.

    Blessings!

  11. Duly noted okiebeliever. But this seems to go on the assumption that satan plays fair. Perhaps we forget that he has an obsessive, nonretractable goal to kill, steal and destroy.

    There are two answers to the how can we stand by and allow this to happen. I dont advocate Christian passivism. However, our marching orders have already been given to us by Christ and the apostles. As I said before, why are we rallying behind documents, and not obeying the Word of the Lord?

    1. We cannot stop evil, we can only inhibit it though holy living, preaching the gospel and refusing to support leaders who are hell bent on legalizing this madness (attention Obama supporters).
    2. The growing evil and spread of wickedness is a sign to us. Dont miss it trying to make the world a better place.

  12. exactly right, we dont want to stop this ship from sinking, we want to get people out of the ship to safety in Christ.

    We vote proponents of evil in, peoples whose views are obviously unbiblical and then we complain that those in leadership will try to may gay marriage legal! HUH?!

    Can we get real please?

  13. Hi all ,about 2 years ago there was a story run about a gay preacher from a north carolina school who was invited to speak at a class in another school and because he was met with biblical opposition he claimed he was being attacked by the host and the students,there was a link to the actual mp3 which proved he was not attacked .does anyone here still have that link?
    thank you

    GCMW: Its in this story.

  14. I totally disagree with you on this one, gcmwatch, and your citing of Dr. Mohler’s statement doesn’t seem to enhance your position against the MD at all. Dr. Mohler said he signed the MD because it is a timely and urgent statement of conviction and courage, because the threats to our religious liberties are immediate and real, and finally because he will not render to Ceasar what is God’s. What problem do you actually have with Mohler’s reasons?

  15. okie, I only posted Dr. Mohler’s link so that people could read a “pro” side of the MD. That’s all.

    I dont agree with him on this but I do always appreciate his perspectives.

  16. In the document’s context I understood “the rights of conscience” … refering to one not being forced by law to preform abortions or sign same sex marriage certficates etc..

    “and religious liberty” as a way of re-affirming what has currently being taken away by the state; freedom OF religion.

    The reason documents like this don’t work biblically speaking – they must include “all faiths and beliefs” and in our world, that gets no one closer to Christ than before the way I see it.

  17. Friends,

    I believe the body of Christ, is to be “meek” not “pacife” there is a difference in the words. I can appreciate the efforts of the “MD”, but I cannot adhere to them. There are so many issues’ going on in the body of Christ right now that we need to deal with and this particular post addresses most of them. The position of the body is secure because its in Christ, but our condition is of a different matter rd the bk of Rev., concerning the seven churches’. It doesn’t mean were not to evangelize and fulfill the great commission, for which I do not see this exemplifying, oh I’m sure some evangelizing and ministeering will occur, but it doesn’t seem to be the purpose of the MD. We must be careful of the church becoming a “social club”, and if were all honest, those of us who believe, its rapidly becoming that, though some of the efforts and programs appear honorable and noble. The Lord said himself, “I tell you these things, so that you won’t be surprised”, there are just somethings, that are going to happen according to God’s word to set up the arrival of the anti-Christ, and nomatter how many noble and honorable declarations we make it will come to no avail and sometimes if were not careful it takes our attention off of the things we should be focused on (perhaps a subtle move of the enemy). I might’ve incurred the wrath of some, wasn’t my intention, Paul once said, “make sure you have obtained before you go and strengthen the brethren”, well perhaps maybe and I say maybe we need to deal w/stark issues within the “BODY” before making declarations and remember it took the “Declaration of Independence” 12yrs before it was ratified, Hm just a nugget I threw out there. Loving you all.

  18. GREETINGS ELDER FOSTER

    LET US ALL WATCH AND PRAY, THESE DAYS ARE EVIL WE SEE WHATS GOING ON THE CHURCH AROUND THE CHURCH ETC, IF WE LOOK BACK AND STUDY THE CHRISTIAN HISTORY,WE WILL SEE THAT THIS GENERATION HAS ERR FROM THE TRUTH,WHEN WE SEE THESE THINGS COMING TO PASS TRULY WE WOULD LIKE TO DO SOMETHING AND SEE CHANGE BUT WE ALSO MUST REALIZE THAT SCRIPTURE IS BEING FULFILLED.THAT BEING SAID CONTINUE TO ABIDE IN CHRIST JESUS SO THAT NONE OF US WILL ERR WE MUST BELIEVE TO THE SAVING OF THE SOUL AND NOT DRAW BACK LIKE SOME HAS, THIS EVIL GENERATION AS CHANGE AND MOST ARE ON THAT BROAD WAY THAT LEADS TO DEATH.I ASK I PLEAD WITH EACH OF YOU THAT ARE TRULY BORN AGAIN NOT TO LET THESE UNCLEAN SPIRITS THAT ARE IN THESE VESSELS OF DISHONOUR TO DISTRACT YOU THATS THERE JOB BUT EXAMINE YOURSELVES WHETHER YE BE IN THE FAITH PROVE YOUR OWN SELVES KNOW YE NOT YOUR OWN SELVES HOW THAT JESUS CHRIST IS IN YOU EXCEPT YE BE REPROBATES IF THESE UBCLEAN SPIRITS CAN GET YOU FROM ABIDING IN CHRIST BELIEVING (TRUSTING RELYING) IN JESUS CHRIST THEY WON THATS THERE JOB. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IS THAT WE JUST HAVE A FORM OF GODLINESS, NO POWER, WE DON’T HAVE THAT HUNGER AND THRIST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS, IN OTHER WORDS WE JUST STOP GROWING, AND STUN ARE FAITH CAUSE FAITH COMES BY HEARING AND HEARING BY THE WORD OF GOD SO STAY FOCUS ON JESUS CHRIST WHEN WE TRULY BELIEVE OUT OF ARE VELLY WILL FLOW RIVERS OF LIVING WATER IF THAT HAS NOT HAPPEN YET WE NEED TO CONTINUE AND THEN THESE SIGNS WILL FOLLOW THE THAT BELIEVE ALSO IN JESUS NAME THEY WILL DO MARK 16:17,18 SO LET US ALL STAY FOCUS AND REALLY FOCUS JESUS SAID WATCH WHAT I SAY UNTO YOU I SAY UNTO ALL WATCH GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU THIS LORD DAY

    GCMW: Thank you Rev Robinson, your words are wise and true for all of us. Examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith, not the church.

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