Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thoughts on the Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration is the latest response by key Christian leaders over key moral issues facing our society today. No one can deny that the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage and the family is under attack today. Nor can anyone deny that our religious liberty is threatened as well.

There is already a long list of signatories from numerous religious leaders from a very diverse background. And I do mean a very diverse background; the list includes those from Catholic and Orthodox persuasions.

Now, I certainly commend the effort to speak out in an attempt to prevent the further slide away from traditional marriage and family values in our culture. And I certainly believe that we should speak out against the merciless slaughter of multitudes of innocent unborn lives. I share the same opposition to the key moral issues that are rampant in our culture.

So, why am I not so enthusiastic about this declaration? My objection stems from the fact that this is being touted as a “Christian” movement. However, many of the signatories, particularly from the Catholic Church, embrace a brand of Christianity that diminishes the significance of the finished work of the cross. The Catholic Church to this day denies salvation by grace alone through faith alone. This has been the chasm that has divided Catholics and evangelicals for centuries. This is no insignificant matter, but rather strikes at the very core of the gospel, which is the true essence of the Christian faith. To deny this one crucial point is to ultimately nullify the significance of Christ’s sacrifice, and to severely diminish the message of the gospel. The Christian faith is much more than merely upholding moral values. It is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, resulting in an individual embracing and fully trusting in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for the atonement of their sins, by faith alone. It is characterized by repentance for sins and a life that exhibits ongoing sanctification and a desire for holiness in their lives. The gospel is the only thing that can truly reform people’s lives and ultimately impact the culture.

Particularly disturbing is that nowhere in the document is the gospel ever actually given or clearly explained. This is extremely troubling and further confuses the issue of what it means to be a Christian.

The way I see it, to sign this agreement is to give an endorsement of the beliefs of those who, while bearing the label Christian, essentially deny a crucial core element of the Christian faith. We are essentially giving a nod of approval of groups such as the Roman Catholic Church and confirming their beliefs as a legitimate expression of the Christian faith. Rather than clarifying the Christian message, it muddies the water and obscures the clarity of the gospel. Even if this effort would bring about a resurgence of conservative values in America, I am afraid that we would merely be dressing up corpses who embrace moral reform, but never receive new life in Christ, the very thing that will save their souls and restore a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That, my friends, is the true essence of what it means to be a Christian.

As Bible believing Christians, we must never lose sight of the real mission that Christ has for us; proclaiming the gospel and making disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, 15:1-8; Romans 1:16-17)

The Gospel is central to what we are called to uphold, and may we do everything we can to boldly proclaim it and seek to preserve its clarity above everything else.


Anonymous said...

Eric, Thanks for your declaration concerning thye MD. I am in agreement with you.

AuthenticTruth said...

Thankfully, men like John MacArthur and Alistair Begg have not signed this document. But I was very disappointed to see Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan signed it.

nightmoon said...

good.thank you.