Sunday, November 29, 2009

Manhattan Declaration - Partial Roundup

Much has been said on the 'net regarding the Manhattan Declaration. This is a partial roundup, with my brief thoughts on the thoughts of others, in no particular order (though, perhaps, there is a generally newest-to-oldest bias):

1. William Watson Birch (Arminian) Birch unsurprisingly signed. He oddly wrote:
By holding hands with other followers of Christ in this endeavor, I am only committing myself to do what is right, not forming an alliance on doctrinal issues or of the proper understanding of the Gospel with others with whom I may disagree. We all may debate doctrinal issues with one another. But the one thing that is not up for debate is to "promote justice, to be faithful, and to live obediently before your God" (Micah 6:8 NET Bible).
Apparently for Birch the gospel is debatable, while the sense of Micah 6:8 is not.

2. Ronald di Giacomo (Reformed and Presbyterian) Mr. di Giacomo won't sign, but he's willing to respect the liberty of others to sign. (UPDATED April 11, 2011)

3. Daniel J. Phillips (Calvinistic Baptist) Mr. Philips won't sign because signing appears to compromise the gospel.

4. Alistair Begg (Calvinistic Baptist) Pastor Begg refuses to sign saying (among other things), "Are we wise to lay aside crucial historical differences of eternal significance so as to secure temporal advantages? George Smeaton, in his classic work on the atonement observes, “To convert one sinner from his way is an event of greater importance than the deliverance of a whole kingdom from temporal evil.”"

5. John MacArthur (Calvinistic Baptist) Pastor MacArthur refuses to sign, noting (among other things): "the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel."

6. Brian Maclaren (Emergent) He doesn't particularly like the document because it's signed by old white males and it minimizes the things that are important to him. The word "gospel" naturally does not appear in his article.

7. Steve Camp (Calvinistic Baptist) He won't sign it because "It is nothing more than ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) and Justice Sunday revisited."

8. Dr. James White (Reformed Baptist) He won't sign it, noting (among other interesting things): "Great damage has been done to the cause of Christ by those who have sought to promote the Kingdom by compromising the gospel, the only power given to the church that can change hearts, and hence change societies. "

9. Tim Challies (Calvinist Baptist) Challies won't sign, noting (in addition to large quotations from others): "It is good to speak of the gospel, but what does the term mean if used by Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox? Each has their own understanding of the term—the term that stands at the very heart of the faith. I just cannot see past this issue."

10. Albert Mohler (Calvinistic Baptist) He signed the declaration because he "believe[s] we are facing an inevitable and culture-determining decision on the three issues centrally identified in this statement." However, he insists:
My beliefs concerning the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches have not changed. The Roman Catholic Church teaches doctrines that I find both unbiblical and abhorrent -- and these doctrines define nothing less than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But The Manhattan Declaration does not attempt to establish common ground on these doctrines. We remain who we are, and we concede no doctrinal ground.
11. Mark aka johnMark (Reformed and Southern Baptist) Mark will not sign and explains, "If these “ecclesial” lines can line up together in the Gospel without confusion then this statement and the others make sense. If not, where does the real agreement lie? My vote based on the way the MD is written brings confusion rather than clarity."

12. T at First Word (Reformed and Presbyterian) He opposes the declaration and adds: "I would only add, that if the particular points of this manifesto are all they could come up with, then why not become even more ecumenical and invite like-minded Unitarians and atheists? True, they sign it “as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” but that comes at the end of the short statement, there is no attempt to show implication, and they are not signing it as authorized agents of the representative church of any of their branches."

13. L P Cruz (Lutheran) He mischaracterize's Dr. White's and Pastor Macarthur's reasons for not signing, but would prefer not to sign because it would label him an "Evangelical."

14. Kevin DeYoung (RCA) Mr. DeYoung wishes he hadn't signed it, but still abides by his decision. He thinks: "The debate is about whether The Manhattan Declaration implies that there are no essential core-gospel differences among us. After reading the criticisms that have come out I understand how the Declaration could be seen as minimizing our differences. I have great respect for those who read the document in that way. But I still think the Declaration can be read as a statement that simply says “We all as individuals stand in the tradition of Nicene Christianity and we speak together on these three crucial issues of our day.”"

15. Doug Wilson (CREC) Says he applauds the document, but cannot sign it. He does not cite doctrinal reasons, but strategic reasons:
The second strategic concern has to do with the actual deployment of the gospel (if I may speak that way), as distinct from mere abstract definitions of it. The only way our nation is going to be saved is if preachers of the gospel get out there and start preaching it in a way that calls this nation to true repentance and sincere faith in Jesus Christ. In order for that to happen, the gospel that we train young men to preach must be studied, lived, taught, defined, and preached. If we want the Word to cut between joint and marrow, then our task should be one of sharpening, not dulling and blunting. Please note that the concern here is not how accurate a man must be in his understanding of the gospel to be saved (an interesting doctrinal question), but rather how much anointed precision must come upon the preaching of the gospel such that a preacher becomes an effective servant in a day such as ours. This is the strategic question.
16. Jason Engwer (Reformed, I think) He thinks it is "a mostly good document that probably will do more good than harm."

17. Steve Hays (Reformed) He thinks: "The basic problem with the Manhattan Declaration is that it has more than one target audience. As the document itself says, the framers are speaking both “to and from” their respective faith “communities.”"


Anonymous said...

Have you read First Word:
Highly critical of the MDec.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Ronald di Giacomo (Reformed and Presbyterian) Mr. di Giacomo won't sign, but he's willing to respect the liberty of others to sign.

I respect this position of those who won't sign the most.

I take the converse position (or is it the inverse position?): I signed the Manhattan Declaration, and if people don't want to sign it, I respect that.

Anonymous said...

I won't sign, I am a "Reformed" California Indian.

Not because I am native american, I won't sign. Because the "purpose of God" does not permit I should do anything of this order of business.

God's business is clearly spelled out, here and please note* verse 7:30:

Luk 7:20 And when the men had come to him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, 'Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?'"
Luk 7:21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight.
Luk 7:22 And he answered them, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.
Luk 7:23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."
Luk 7:24 When John's messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
Luk 7:25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings' courts.
Luk 7:26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
Luk 7:27 This is he of whom it is written, "'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.'
Luk 7:28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
Luk 7:29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John,
Luk 7:30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)
Luk 7:31 "To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like?
Luk 7:32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, "'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.'
Luk 7:33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.'
Luk 7:34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'
Luk 7:35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children."

I shall be about my Father's business!

Turretinfan said...


Do you believe that Rome preaches a false gospel?


TimB said...

I will not sign ( I'm non-reformed, non-calvinistic, not a baptist or any combo but one who confesses the unaltered Augsburg Confessions)

I think that the Manhattan Declaration by using generic language "Christian" can cause unionism and syncretism and does no favor for the unbeliever, only acts as a feel-good public spotlight moment .

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I am of a similar mind with Steve Camp. The Manhattan Declaration seems to me to be ECT Redux. Perhaps Colson, et. al., have a need to drag these concepts out in a some new document every few years. I'm leaning toward not signing, though I am under some pressure from a friend to do so, not that I am anybody in particular.

Jason Smathers said...

I will not sign the Manhattan Declaration.

Jon Elliff signed it, but has buyers remorse.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...


Imagine asking that question of Albert Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Tim Keller, et al. Then imagine their responses. (I doubt that their answers would differ from mine). Imagine your rebuttal to their response. Then imagine their rebuttal to your rebuttal. And imagine this going for a number of iterations.

Hopefully, you might reach the conclusion that Ronald di Giacomo reached (and whom I quoted):

He won't sign, but he's willing to respect the liberty of others to sign.

A matter of Christian liberty.


Turretinfan said...


No, I think Mohler, Duncan, and Keller would readily agree that Rome preaches a false gospel. I have no rebuttal for that.

Apparently you do not think so?


John I. said...

Turretinfan unnecessarily makes a derogatory comment about W. Birch. Birch does not imply that the gospel is negotiable, nor does he ever state so on his own blog.


Turretinfan said...


I provided the evidence for what I said, which was that Birch views the interpretation of that verse in Micah as less detable than the gospel.


Pilgrimsarbour said...


Are you saying "debatable" or "detestable?"

Rhology said...

For the record, I don't think Jason Engwer is Reformed. I think he's Ev-Free and a few-point Calvinist.

Also, and please excuse the pedantry if you find it excessive, was there any reason you sometimes used "Calvinistic" and sometimes "Calvinist"? Just curious.

Turretinfan said...

No - I just left off the "ic" in Challies' case. The Calvinistic/Reformed distinction was intentional, as I wouldn't view some of those guys as meaningfully Reformed, and others I'm just unsure about. I'm sure Dr. White is reformed, notwithstanding how much I generally like R. Scott Clark.

Anonymous said...

Theses: The Manhattan Declaration is a dangerous and divisive document which threatens the Wall between Church and State. This Wall is our Constitutional heritage and one that we fought hard and many innocents died for. This carrot puts us at risk of another national religion and monarchy.

Turretinfan said...

No it isn't and no it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

You argue that this document is not divisive; whom does it not include?

You argue that this document doesn't present a threat to the Wall between Church & State. I insist that by its very nature which requires an accounting of signatures, it is therefore also a petition.

I will not sign it.

Magnum Serpentine said...

Magnum Serpentine will not sign (Independent, Center-Left Christian) because of Romans 13 1-2 (NIV) which in essense says obey government. Manhattan Declaration clearly states that civil disobedience is ok. I oppose this for the reason stated above and because During bush administration church said obey bush and government. During President Obama church says dis-obey. Another reason to oppose MDEC is that MDEC states its for Catholics, Orthodox and Fundamentalist. They say, "Oh yes anyone can join, its not just for those three" If thats so then why did they word it the way they did? Why did they not say all could join?

Turretinfan said...

The Scriptures also declare that it is better to obey God than man, when the two are in conflict.

That part of your objection is unwarranted.

And technically, it says "evangelicals" not "fundamentalists." There is a difference: "evangelicals" is a much broader category.

It is interesting that you view the document as underinclusive, while I view it as overinclusive. Thanks for your thoughts.

Turretinfan said...

No, Anonymous. It is divisive, but it is not particularly dangerous. It certainly doesn't threaten the separation of church and state. And the Constitution was only aimed at preventing established religion at a national level - at the time most of the colonies had their own established religions. The point was not to crush out the states' rights, not to make a secular nation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you; but what concerns me is the fact that this could be used, not be congress other than as a threat to representatives of congress and with their constituency (which doesn't concern me) but rather as a petition on the federal level and within the federal courts. If so, this does concern me and for good reasons. With a little research, I found that many separate on each of the issues in recent petitions failed for lack of signatures. If this is used by a PAC it could be trouble and influence the stability of the wall. Thank you for your response.

Turretinfan said...

As far as I know, it can't be used that way.

Anonymous said...

Read further: “The goal of those of us who drafted and signed the document is 'not' just to get a lot of names on a manifesto, gratifying though that is. We are seeking to build a movement - hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Catholic, Evangelical, and Eastern Orthodox Christians who will stand together alongside other men and women of goodwill in defense of foundational principles of justice and the common good. These are people who could expose the lie which so many in our culture have embraced about self being the center of life; and then winsomely present, in the words of St. Paul, "a more excellent way."
The words found today ... 'more excellent way', 'justice and common good', and 'in defense of foundational principles' bespeaks of actions quite far removed from saving a soul by example or protecting the rights to observe one's faith without interference from government or monarchy. It is very disturbing to me.

Turretinfan said...

Are you worried that abortion might be outlawed and that marriage might not be redefined?


Anonymous said...

Regarding Abortion: No, I worry that a person or man made law other than God counsels a women who may be drawn to make a decision - I find this extremely offensive and have for 57 years. The separation of Church and State allows those who are called to be disciples and who truly believe in God let God make these occasions available. Otherwise, you don't really have an opportunity to witness the miracle of forgiveness has on a person's life.

Anonymous said...

Regarding redefining a marriage; Should we not be more focused on sanctity of marriage by banning divorce or encouraging a more severe humiliation of those who fail a marriage? To fight the decay of marriages from this abhorrent position is almost more insulting than abomination itself.

And, to ultimately put to risk what was long and hard fought for; separation between church and state seems about as rational as throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Your response?

Turretinfan said...


1) You don't seem to have answered my question regarding marriage. Other questions about failed marriages are not on the table.

2) Killing a child is more offensive than preventing a woman from killing a child.

3) I don't think this document will have any impact on the separation of church and state, and I wouldn't be the least bit concerned if it did.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your response.

The fire in my belly has to do with saving souls which has never been accomplished with a big stick. I truly believe in the way of the Lord. My relationship with people takes more time and relies on God to show me the way. The truth becomes evident and cannot be forced. The MD is impatient, defers to man's law over God, is shamefully forceful and without balance, seems to attempt to shout over the voices of those who see the need for separation between church and state. As previously stated, it is also divisive. It is embarrassing to me and I therefore I am and will continue to express my displeasure with it in a patient manner.

Anonymous said...

The Manhattan Declaration usurps God's authority. It is boisterous and will not save one soul but have quite the opposite will drive more of those who surround me from ever comprehending and trusting in the way. I do care; therefore I will never sign such a document and further am grateful to those who counsel against it.

Anonymous said...
Their very both-sides-of-their-mouth take on the MD.

Anonymous said...

Anon, I have been intrigued with your responses in here.

You stated: "....The Manhattan Declaration usurps God's authority....".

I would say, "no", the powers of the rulers and authorities in heavenly places usurp God's authority and it ends up looking like the Manhattan Declaration.

I hear your heart a little bit and would venture a thrust through it with these cutting Words of the Apostle and ask you to engage yourself in them keeping your focus fully on things above and not on things on earth:::>

Eph 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Eph 3:9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,
Eph 3:10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Eph 3:11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Eph 3:12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon: "We may take the example of the Evangelical spokesman, John MacArthur, Jr. His complaint was very simple: The Manhattan Declaration scans only the symptoms of these social evils but neglects to address their root cause. That is to say, this document fails to proclaim the Gospel of salvation, which is the sole remedy for every social ill.

The objections of MacArthur and Tobias are curious in their evident presumption that Christians, when they speak in public, should limit their discourse to the proclamation of the Gospel and the summons to repentance.

This may be a legitimate view, though it is neither shared by many Christians over the centuries nor obviously favored by the prophets. Jonah, for instance, preached judgment—not repentance—at Nineveh, nor did his proclamation include one syllable of Good News. If this was true of Jonah, what shall we say of Nahum, whose own message to the Ninevites was just an expansion of Jonah’s meager half-verse?

Respectfully, these objections to the Manhattan Declaration (including its rhetoric) could easily have been made against any one—and perhaps all—of the biblical prophets. Our modest Declaration, as a statement of social concern, invites the endorsement of Christians who share that concern. The matter is truly as plain as that.

James Grant: "I disagree with what I would consider a sectarian view of Christianity that would require me to never agree on these issues with Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians. I had no problem signing it. I would encourage you to to read it and sign it as well."

Nicholas Batzig in his comment thread while opposing the Manhattan Declaration: "For the record, I do not think that the conservative protestants who signed the document have compromised the Gospel."

Turretinfan said...


Reardon's characterization, "their evident presumption that Christians, when they speak in public, should limit their discourse to the proclamation of the Gospel and the summons to repentance." is way off.

But you still haven't answered my question, TU&D. Do you believe that Rome preaches a false gospel?