Friday, December 11, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration -- Why I agree, and won't sign

I was reading R. C. Sproul's blog for a post by Sinclair Ferguson (more about it later), when I noted a post about The Manhattan Declaration.

I've heard some about the Manhattan Declaration, but between work and Number One Son being back in the hospital twice in the last month, we've been busy. When I read Sproul's blog post, I went and read the Declaration. In general, it makes me glad to see the Church making a principled stand on three of the serious issues facing America. I would prefer more clarity on fighting the evils of divorce and fornication too, but that's just me.

I also have trouble agreeing with RC's insistence that it would be wrong to sign the document because of whom else is signing it: Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Sproul says:
The Manhattan Declaration confuses common grace and special grace by combining them. While I would march with the bishop of Rome and an Orthodox prelate to resist the slaughter of innocents in the womb, I could never ground that cobelligerency on the assumption that we share a common faith and a unified understanding of the gospel.

As a Restoration Movement adherant, I am naturally hesitant to distinguish between types of Christians. I believe in "Not the only Christians, just Christians only" motto. Sproul goes too far (IMHO) in condemning Catholics and the Orthodox in not agreeing with his theology.

Nonetheless, I won't sign, because Sproul is not totally wrong. There is a difference between saying "You're not Christian enough" and saying "I can't co-sign on your theology". Chuck Colson said, "This document is, in fact, a form of catechism for the foundational truths of the faith." I don't believe it is an adequate catechism; that is reserved for the Bible itself. Second, the document is incomplete: any such document should have condemned divorce, fornication, and the sexualization of our society (porn, etc.) in equally strong terms.

Finally, if it is a statement of theology, then I can't agree that all Catholics and all Orthodox are preaching exactly the same Gospel as I am. There are saved Catholics and saved Orthodox. However, the Orthodox church and the Roman Catholic church both teach as doctrine non-Biblical principles. I may be in Christian union with believers in both organizations, I most certainly am NOT in union with either organization itself, and the document implies that I am.

Even without arguing the Stone-Campbell "no creed but Christ", I won't be signing the Manhattan Declaration, no matter how much I agree with 99% of it.

1 comment:

DrTorch said...

Interesting points. I read Colson's championing of this Declaration as well.

I personally was unhappy with his rhetoric that the Church was really doing something. Wow, we signed a piece of paper. Chalk another one up for Foxe's book.

Funny how I like Sproul very much too, and his work overlaps w/ Colson's a great deal but they come to some different applications.

Another on-line colleague pointed that there was no discussion about "Economic liberty" in the declaration. I have come to the opinion that such a concept is very Biblical and very important. If we truly care about the poor, economic liberty is a tool to help.