Wednesday, November 25, 2009

James White On the Problems With the Manhattan Declaration

Blessedly, James White refused and rejects the Manhattan Declaration:

In part he states:


....The general statements of the document relating to life, abortion, marriage, sexuality, and religious liberty, are well stated and timely. There is something reassuring in realizing that the concerns we have had are shared across a broad spectrum.

But there are a number of troubling things that I cannot get past in examining this document and considering its implications. When I see some of the leading ecumenists in the forefront of the documents' production, I am made uneasy, and for good reason. 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. By relegating the gospel to a matter of opinion and difference, but not something that defines the Christian faith, these ecumenists have left their followers with a cause without power, a quest without a solution. And though their open-mindedness fits better with our current post-modern culture, from a biblical perspective, they have truly betrayed the apostolic example.

This document presents a Christianity ostensibly based upon bare Trinitarianism. I listened to Chuck Colson speak on the Hugh Hewitt program this afternoon. He made it very clear that this is, in fact, a theological document, despite the assertions of others that it is not. He was asked why Jews, Mormons, and others, were not invited to sign the document. He said they were not asked because this is a specifically Christian statement, quoting from the Christian scriptures. Once again we are led to the inevitable conclusion that "Christian" then is "Trinitarianism plus agreed upon historical truths such as the crucifixion and resurrection, but, most importantly, without any gospel content." It does no good to muddle this discussion with "Well, what about the medieval church" questions, since we are talking about a day and age when the issues are well known. We are not talking about a dark period of biblical ignorance. There is more light available today than ever before. And for many, the gospel is simply no longer part of the "non-negotiables."

But I am left confused by the inconsistency of the document. Mormons are not invited. Understandable, given that the LDS faith is the most polytheistic faith I've ever encountered. Trinitarians only need apply. I can fully understand that. So...why are we told toward the end of this Declaration that Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote from an explicitly Christian perspective? A brief visit to Martin Luther King's writings will reveal he was hardly orthodox even using the limited definition utilized by this Declaration. For example, writing in a paper while in seminary, Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

The orthodox attempt to explain the divinity of Jesus in terms of an inherent metaphysical substance within him seems to me quite inadaquate. To say that the Christ, whose example of living we are bid to follow, is divine in an ontological sense is actually harmful and detrimental. To invest this Christ with such supernatural qualities makes the rejoinder: "Oh, well, he had a better chance for that kind of life than we can possible have." In other words, one could easily use this as a means to hide behind behind his failures. So that the orthodox view of the divinity of Christ is in my mind quite readily denied.

So why put forth King as explicitly Christian, but not invite the Jehovah's Witnesses, who would "quite readily deny" the deity of Christ as well? Perhaps a document that identifies Papal actions as explicitly Christian actions can be excused for its inherent self-contradiction.

There is no question that all believers need to think seriously about the issues raised by this declaration. But what is the only solution to these issues? Is the solution to be found in presenting a unified front that implicitly says "the gospel does not unite us, but that is not important enough to divide us"? I do not think so. What is the only power given to the church to change hearts and minds? United political power? Or the gospel that is trampled under foot by every Roman Catholic priest when he "re-presents" the sacrifice of Christ upon the Roman altar, pretending to be a priest, an "alter Christus"? Am I glad when a Roman clergyman calls abortion murder? Of course. But it exhibits a real confusion, and not a small amount of cowardice, it seems, to stop identifying the man's false gospel and false teaching simply because you are glad to have a few more on the "right" side of a vitally important social issue.

This takes me back to my original response to the ECT document. I have seen so many re-organize their priorities in light of having made "common cause" with those who have a false gospel all in the name of doing social good. I am glad Rome retains elements of God's truth and morality. But when did being good or moral bring one salvation, as if anyone is ever truly good, or truly moral?

These are the matters that truly concern me about the Manhattan Declaration. Why does God have the right to determine human sexuality, marriage, and to define life itself? It all goes back to the gospel, does it not? If we are going to give a consistent, clear answer to our culture, we dare not find our power in a false unity that overshadows the gospel and cripples our witness.

End quote.


Lucy Pevensie said...

Did you hear Chuck Colson today? He was talking about being surrounded by a Bishop and a Cardinal or some others that very much impressed him.

I haven't signed it and don't quite understand the whole reason and premise ...

Denise said...

Hi Lucy,

No I didn't, however I'm not surprised. His wife is a Roman Catholic as I understand, so it makes sense he's trying to bridge Christianity with Rome.

The premise is to get a consenus on social justice by any means necessary, including giving up biblical truth. Its Rome's way of weasling its way in to get folks to come back to it. Apparently many are happy to do so--at an eternal price.