Manhattan Declaration

December 23, 2009

Culture, Gospel

This year end has seen a lot of activity and discussion centered around the Manhattan Declaration.  The gist of the document is as follows:

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. 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.

For more information go to the following link:

http://www.manhattandeclaration.org/

Within the Reformed camp there has been some opposition to this document based on a percieved alliance with traditions and sects that deny the basic tenents of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and as such the Protestant Reformation; namely that Justification is by faith alone, through grace alone.  See the link below for R.C. Sproul’s comments:

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/the-manhattan-declaration/

Contrast that with the statement given by Ligon Duncan, one of the original signers, at the reformation21 website:

http://www.reformation21.org/articles/the-manhattan-declaration-a-statement-from-ligon-duncan.php

And to complete the overview check out the “Knowing the Truth” radio broadcast with Ligon Duncan as he gives some very reasoned responses for why he decided to sign the Manhattan Declaration.

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=12150914842

There is not a politician alive that doesn’t know that a person of faith would normally affirm the truths laid out in that document.  I say normally, because there are some who choose to deny the clear teaching in scripture that directs our stances to these truths.  Really, though, these are boiler plate type issues within the Christian Right.  Therefore, in considering the Manhattan Declaration document, there is question as to it’s effectiveness and necessity.

Second, when it comes to Gospel truth I choose to error on the side of caution.  The proper and historical Gospel is something that cannot be altered even if it’s only in a percieved manner.  What is important for our culture today is a clear, true, salvation presentation that rightfully portrays Christ’s sacrifice and His imputation of our sins.  Standing with my Pastor and the Church I attend, we have determined that we cannot stand with those who deny Sola fide and resultingly give the appearance that we are compromising something for which, in truth, we would die.

I can understand the other side of the discussion and in no way is there a need to separate over this issue.  It is mostly a matter of conscience.  What impresses me most about the whole situaition, and for this I praise God, is that our leaders have chosen consciously not to bicker, fight and struggle for their “side” of the argument.  We, as members of the body of Christ, have to give way to pride and do what is in the best interest of the Church.  In this instance there is no clear-cut solution, and that is how we have to leave it.  Christ has ordained other things for us to do and so on we must go in support and continual growth of each other’s faith.  This is how we must be.

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