More on the Manhattan Declaration

Having now carefully considered the Manhattan Declaration, I made the decision not to sign. I have now read and re-read the various responses to the Manhattan Declaration and  have come to two conclusions. In the first place, there are many right, helpful and persuasive arguments that have been aptly asserted. But I am also deeply saddened that so many pastors and theologians do not acknowledge the logical implications of the ecumenical tone of this document.

The list of signatories includes such prominent evangelical leaders as, Chuck Colson, Ravi Zacharias and Randy Alcorn; as well as a significant number of Calvinist church leaders such as Al Mohler, Danny Akin, Russel Moore, Neil Nielson, Steve Brown, Robert Cannada, Ligon Duncan, Bryan Chapell, Timothy George, Bill Edgar, Wayne Grudem, Tim Keller, Peter Lillback, Joel Belz, Marvin Olasky, and  J.I. Packer. These men have expressed that such a document is a welcomed response to the problems that have been fueling the deterioration of a society that was once built on biblical principles.  They have unanimously expressed the need for national reform in what are said to be the three most significant areas of concern: sanctity of life, marriage and religious freedom.

There have also been several prominent voices, such as Alistair Begg, John MacArthur,  Mike Horton, James White (here, here and here), Tim Challies, Dave Doran, and John Stackhouse who have conscientiously raised objections to the nature of the document. It is also interesting to note that R.C. Sproul, John Piper, Mark Dever, and Mark Driscoll did not sign. The men who have expressed concern have, in a humble manner, articulated their reasons for abstaining from signing it. It is not because they believe that the causes set forth in it are unworthy of our immediate prayers or actions. Nor are they simply theological kill-joys, who love opposing any significant movement outside of their own congregations. They are men deeply committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and who believe that the Manhattan Document reduces Christianity to mere Trinitarianism, thus denigrating the heart of Christianity, namely, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They understand that there is no Christianity without Jesus, and that to speak of the Jesus of Scripture is to speak of His Person and His Work. You cannot lay aside the saving work of Christ and reduce Christianity to a set of ethical standards.

Then there is Brian Maclaren, who represents an emergent view of the document. It is evident that saving the planet means more to McLaren than the salvation of sinners, human life or the sanctity of marriage. His concerns show that he does not understand the Gospel or ethics.

In response to the men who gave their reasons for not signing, Kevin DeYoung has dismissed the concerns of the aforesaid as really being nothing more than the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent. You can read his analysis here. If you agree with that assessment, I encourage you to read this article. It serves as grounds to show that Chuck Colson, the chief architect of the document, believes that these Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelicals leaders are united by the Gospel. Note what Colson concludes about the salvation of these Orthodox and Roman Catholic leaders in the article above. If authorial intent matters, then Colson’s role should not be understated. Colson (notable for his political activism and ecumenical endeavors such as ECT) was one of only three members of the drafting Committee, together with Robert George (Professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University and a committed Roman Catholic), and Timothy George (President of Beason Divinity School).Consider the language employed in the Manhattan Document. These three men have given further exhortations concerning the Declaration here. Note their statement that the people who have signed pledge not to compromise the Gospel!

As far as the statement is concerned, there is some equivocation in the composition as to whether it is meant to be considered an ecumenical statement or merely an ethical statement. The first sentence begins with the words, “We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration,” but ends by saying, “we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities.” This qualification seems to sweep away any concern of there being an ecumenical agenda, that is, until we come to the latter part of the statement–the wording of which is almost verbatim from Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). In both places, an attempt is made to  make to qualify that it is not an official statement on the part of any specific ecclesiastical bodies. But in both documents the individuals involved are purposefully joining together on the confession of their adherence to the Christian religion. It appears that Colson carefully crafted the declaration to reflect the language employed in ECT with regard to ecclesiastical affiliations. In this post Colson explains, “The Manhattan Declaration is a wake-up call—a call to conscience—for the church.” While the Manhattan Declaration is obviously less doctrinal, similar phraseology to that used in ECT I and ECT II is nevertheless present.

Furthermore, the language in the Declaration of a (single) “2,000-year tradition” betrays the denial of any ecumenical agenda. The document states that over those 2000 years, “Christians have refused to compromise their proclamation of the gospel,” and that “the nature of religious liberty is grounded in the character of God Himself, the God who is most fully known in the life and work of Jesus Christ.” How can anyone insist that the Gospel and its implications are not involved in this document? What is the “proclamation of the Gospel” in Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches? What are the doctrinal statements concerning the life and work of Jesus Christ expressed in Orthodox and Catholic Catechisms? History and established doctrinal standards clearly reveal a radical difference in the beliefs about the life and work of Jesus in these ecclesiastical bodies.

The emphasis of the document is largely, albeit not exclusively, on social and ethical concerns. There is no grounds for objections to the legitimacy of these concerns. These ethical matters in the civil sphere are important to me as an Christian and they matter to me as an American citizen. I do not, in any way, want to send a contrary message. Concern for ethical matters that effect society are important to me as a Christian because the apostle Paul said “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, but especially to those of the household of faith.” When we as individuals and citizens of a democracy have opportunity., and the right, to do good in the civil sphere, we then have a responsibility to do something. But do we, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, have the right or the responsibility to join with others from different religious communities to make a “joint statement?” I want to suggest that we do not. In fact, if the Gospel is the central unifying factor then we have a right and a responsibility to reject any unified movement that compromises the definition of the “Gospel.” This is the precise concern of the men, listed above, who have given reasons for not signing the declaration. Here is where the problem arises.

The language, “the Gospel of costly grace,” and “The Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness” are used in the document  The document even goes so far as to make the joint statement by “Orthodox, Catholic and evangelical Christians” that “It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season.” This is a troubling statement on several levels. It is a dangerous statement because it does not define “the Gospel.” The declaration that it is “our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” is not problematic in and of itself. It is only problematic in the context of an ecumenical statement. This is a nuance that should not be overlooked. But, the statement is troubling for another reason. As Protestants we are historically known for “protesting” Rome’s perversion of the Gospel. The heart of the Gospel is “justification by faith alone.” Rome rejects the Protestant articulation of justification. Rome rejects the idea that by it is only by faith in Christ we have the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of His righteousness as the sole ground of our justification. Protestants have historically said that the Roman Catholic Church, as a ecclesiastical body with doctrinal standards, teaches “another Gospel.”

In Galatians 1:6-8 the apostle Paul told the churches of Galatia, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” In 2 Corinthians 11:3 he declares, “I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or ifyou receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” We would be foolish to think that Paul is only rejecting the idea of preaching a Jesus who is less than God. He is certainly rejecting that. But there is no indication that the Judaizers were preaching a Jesus that was less than divine. They were preaching a Jesus who was less than a complete Savior. They were taking away from the work of Jesus. Paul boldly explained that this was “another Gospel.”This is the principle concern I have with the Manhattan Declaration.

While many have suggested that it is not an ecumenical document, or a theological document, I want to suggest that they are overlooking a key factor–the use of Scripture in the very fabric of the Declaration. Now, consider this together with the fact that Colson would not allow Jews and Muslim’s to sign, and it becomes all the more clear that it is a theological document. If it is simply a matter of Law, then would we not also be able to include Jews, Mormons, Jehovah’s witnesses and Muslims? These  groups all acknowledge the moral law (i.e. the 10 commandments) to be the ethical standard by which men are called to live? In fact the apostle Paul tells us that those who do not have the law “show the works of the law written on their hearts (Romans 2:15).” This means that any concerned American, who by common grace acknowledges those principles of law revealed in the hearts of all men, should be able to join with other concerned Americans to make a declaration on these issues.But to join with individual Jews, Mormons, JWs, and Muslims would mean there would be no ecumenical statement.

So, to which Scriptures is appeal made in the document? There are three couplets, each containing one verse from the Old Testament and one verse from the New Testament for the three ethical and social concerns enumerated. Some of the verses are general principles of creation, and others deal more specifically with the work of redemption. They can be summarized as “Law and Gospel.” While I do not believe that each of these verses have been interpreted carefully, the greater question arises as to the appeal to them in the first place. Mike Horton has made the observation, “The law is indeed the common property of all human beings, by virtue of their creation in God’s image.  As Paul says in Romans 1 and 2, unbelievers may suppress the truth in unrighteousness, but the fact that they know this revelation makes them accountable to God.  However, in chapter 3, Paul explains that a different revelation of God’s righteousness has appeared from heaven: God’s justification of the ungodly through faith alone in Christ alone.” The use of the word “law” is never used in the declaration. But the word “Gospel” is used throughout. There is a confusion of the “law” and the “Gospel” in the Manhattan declaration. If someone thinks this is too hard a criticism I again quote from Horton: “Having participated in conversations with Mr. Colson over this issue, I can assure readers that this is not an oversight.  He shares with Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI the conviction that defending the unborn is a form of proclaiming the gospel.  Although these impressive figures point to general revelation, natural law, and creation in order to justify the inherent dignity of life, marriage, and liberty, they insist on making this interchangeable with the gospel.

While much more could be said, I hope this serves as a defense of the concerns of the men who decided not to sign the Manhattan Declaration. Their concerns are valid and right. Should we voice our opinions publically on these issues? Absolutely! Can we join with other Christians and make joint declarations? Certainly! We can also join with non-believers and make statements concerning life, marriage and religious freedom. Is it the work of the church to make such declarations? Perhaps. But let us beware of the dangers of joining forces with representatives of ecclesiastical bodies that have a different Gospel than the Gospel we have received.

 
 

28 Responses to “More on the Manhattan Declaration”

  1. Excellent analysis Nick! Thanks for all the hard work you put into this.

  2. Tim H. says:

    Thanks again Nick!

  3. Brian says:

    It seems that the only thing the Manhattan Declaration has done is to get Evangelicals to argue over who signed and who didn’t. Theological lines in the sand are being drawn based on if one signed or not. I know very little of the contents of the Declaration from reading others comments about it. I only know why it was wrong to sign it or why it was OK to sign it. I wonder if the originators of the document had this in mind when they wrote it.

  4. Nicholas T. Batzig says:

    Brian,

    Did you read through my post, or any of the posts linked above? I attempted to give a careful critique of the language and content of the Declaration, without getting lost in what we all agree upon. I certainly did not draw a line in the sand on the basis of who signed and who didn’t sign it. I articulated the concerns I had immediately after reading the Declaration. They are concerns based on Biblical standards and beliefs.

  5. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Dear Nicholas,

    I joyfully signed the Manhattan Declaration for the reasons that Albert Mohler, Denny Burk, Russell Moore, Wayne Grudem, and other conservative Calvinist Protestants did.

    And I do appreciate the extremely thoughtful work that you put together in your case against signing the Manhattan Declaration.

    I should like to ask you: Is signing the Manhattan Declaration a matter of Christian Liberty? Or do you think that those conservative Protestants who have signed and supported it have committed a sin?

    Because I think pro-MD’ers regard the anti-MD’ers as exercising their Christian Liberty in not signing. But I’m curious as to the other direction. Or do you not make a distinction between error and sin?

  6. Nicholas T. Batzig says:

    I am not sure that I can answer that question without giving it more serious consideration. I know that many of the men who signed did not believe it to be an ecumenical document. This certainly adds a variable to the matter. The best thing I can say is that I believe that signing this document does more harm than good to the cause of the Gospel.

  7. Nicholas T. Batzig says:

    For the record, I do not think that the conservative protestants who signed the document have compromised the Gospel. I believe that the document is an ecumenical statement that will have ramifications for those seeking ecumenical endeavor in a postmodern, relativistic society.

  8. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Dear Nicholas,

    I deeply appreciate your gracious responses.

    Pax in Christ Alone,

    Truth Unites… and Divides

  9. iMark says:

    Nicholas,

    Your reason for not signing essentially line up with mine. Those phrases speaking of the Gospel and being united in the MD mean something. If they have such loose definitions that we can define them according to our preferences, then is there really any agreement upon with to stand?

    Anyway…thanks.

  10. Nicholas T. Batzig says:

    As an editors note to readers:

    A friend pointed out Colson’s language in this post.

    “I believe the Manhattan Declaration can help revitalize the church in America. One great weakness of the Church today is its biblical and doctrinal ignorance. This document is, in fact, a form of catechism for the foundational truths of the faith.”

    That’s as clear a statement of authorial intent as I have found.

  11. Brother Batzig:

    I agree with and appreciate much of your article here. You do reference J. I. Packer, Chuck Colson and Evangelicals and Catholics Together.

    I’d like to share a brief except from a pamphlet by the late *Dr. Ernest Pickering.

    “In recent years Romans Catholics and evangelicals have made common cause in the political arena, uniting forces in struggles over the abortion issue, homosexuality, etc. These joint efforts have brought together leaders from both sides who had never worked together previously. Personal friendships have been formed, and, as a result, serious doctrinal differences have begun to be down-played. Since there is agreement on some social issues, and since these issues are so important in the life of America today, many leaders on both sides are willing to minimize doctrinal conflicts on the plea that we need to cooperate in ‘saving America’.” (Holding Hands with the Pope: The Current Ecumenical Evangelical Craze

    This excerpt, which was in response to Chuck Colson’s Evangelicals and Catholics Together (E&CT), is IMO just as applicable to The Manhattan Declaration (TMD) as it was in 1994 to E&CT. TMD is the first cousin of E&CT and was likely crafted to in part reinvigorate the raw ecumenism of E&CT under more subtle terms, i.e., a Trojan horse for full-blown ecumenism.

    I’d be surprised if men like Al Mohler did not recognize the stark similarity of TMD to E&CT before he signed the Manhattan Declaration.

    Kind regards,

    LM

    *Dr. Pickering is author of, Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church and The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism.

  12. Dan V says:

    Nick,

    Excellent post! My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and appreciate your care for the gospel.

    I thought it was exceptionally well written, too.

  13. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    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.”

  14. Nicholas T. Batzig says:

    Truth Unties and Divides,

    (Can I kindly ask for your name so that I may address you personally?

    I agree with much of the assessment by Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon mentioned above. I do not agree with MacArthur on this, except as he is safegaurding the “spirituality doctrine of the church.” I like to make a distinction between Christians as individuals, or members of groups, and Christians as the visible church.

    As far as the prophets are concerned, there is a redemptive-historical nature to their proclamations. They are not simply proclaiming judgment on wicked nations as some have indicated. The absence of any explicit reference to”Good news” in the Scriptural record of Jonah does not necessarily mean that there was no “Good news” proclaimed together with the judgment. In fact, I think that it could be argued theologically that there must have been. Good and necessary consequence would be a legitimate hermeneutical principle in this case. This is another subject altogether though.

    We must remember that there was one visible church (Israel) in the OT of which all those prophets were a part. There is not one visible church now, unless you concede the mistaken belief of Roman Catholics.In fact, Protestants have historically said that Rome is not a true church.

    I humbly disagree with my friend James Grants’ arguments. I would be glad to engage with him on them, but am not interested in picking a fight, so to speak. I respect James and am thankful for so much of what he says, but I believe that the way he used the term “catholic” in his post can only be conceived of in relation to the invisible church, and not necessarily to all visible organization that go by the name “Christian” that have established doctrinal positions. That is the point I wish to make.

  15. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Dear Nicholas,

    No offense, but I respectfully decline to be addressed personally. I hope you’ll be charitable about that.

    “I humbly disagree with my friend James Grants’ arguments. I would be glad to engage with him on them, but am not interested in picking a fight, so to speak.”

    A disagreement need not necessarily be construed as being “interested in picking a fight.” Although, if not careful, a vigorous disagreement can certainly strain a relationship that’s not accustomed to vigorous disagreement.

    “… I believe that the way he used the term “catholic” in his post can only be conceived of in relation to the invisible church, and not necessarily to all visible organization that go by the name “Christian” that have established doctrinal positions.”

    I am sure that’s what he means.

  16. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Gay Activists Target Signers Of The Manhattan Declaration

    By Susan Brinkmann, For The Bulletin

    Monday, December 07, 2009

    Same-sex marriage proponents are threatening to cause disruptions in the diocese of every bishop who signed the Manhattan Declaration, a statement calling on Christians to stand up for their belief in the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty.

    A post appearing on GayBuzz.blogspot on Nov. 28 calls upon gay activists to punish Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Catholic Diocese of Oakland, Ca., for signing the declaration.

    “It is time we let Bishop Cordileone know there are consequences for his actions,” the blogger states. “Is anyone up for a rally in front of the Oakland Diocese or a disruption of services? Let me know and I’m happy to help organize.”

    After listing an address where people could write to the bishop, the blogger goes on to say: “By the way, here are the other Catholic cardinals and bishops who signed the Manhattan Declaration.” Listed are the names of the 17 bishops who signed the Declaration to date.

    The blogger goes on to cite Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate who refers to the 152 framers of the document as “zealots” who “drafted, approved and signed their Declaration of War on full civil rights for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans last week. They threw in some other societal beefs, just to try and mask the overriding issue, their fervent opposition to same-sex marriage.”

    From here.

  17. I’m not sure about the purpose of the last comment. And since, I cannot address you by name I will leave it at that!

  18. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    It’s worth considering that the conservative anti-MD Protestants are shadow-boxing against “enemies” that aren’t the priority while the Real Enemy maintains a stranglehold on our Gospel-denying culture.

  19. That is actually a logical fallacy. The apostle Paul did not tell the Christians in Galatia to join forces with the Judaizers (a group which incidentally considered themselves Christians and affirmed the Trinity and the deity of Christ) because of the Jews and Romans who were persecuting the church. So, I am afraid that your conclusions are actually opposed by Scriptural witness. Furthermore, no one is suggesting that we “box” with anyone. I believe that the men who are anti-MD simply do not want to “join forces” (i.e. the language used in the declaration) with leaders in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. That is the point!

  20. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    It’s an observation. If observations can be “logical fallacies” then have fun with it.

    Incidentally, the idea of “shadow-boxing against distractions while the Real Enemy delivers an uppercut knockout” goes back a 100 years or more when (some/many) Protestants were neurotically obsessed with fighting 16th century Catholicism while the more deadly enemy of Higher Criticism was making inroads into the Christian universities.

  21. Timothy Dietz says:

    Nick,

    Very helpful and informative.

    You wrote:

    “Now, consider this together with the fact that Colson would not allow Jews and Muslim’s to sign…”

    However the FAQ on the MD website has:

    “So the signatories are happy to stand alongside our LDS brothers and sisters who have worked so heroically in the cause of defending marriage, our Jewish brothers and sisters, members of other faiths, and people of no particular faith (even pro-life atheists such as the great Nat Hentoff), who affirm our principles and wish to join us in proclaiming and defending them.” (http://www.manhattandeclaration.org/faqs)

    Can you point me to where Colson discusses the document being off-limits to sign for Jews and Muslims? Or is the FAQ avoiding that by saying “stand alongside”?

    As a side note, I wouldn’t want to put my name to anything that would align me as a spiritual brother (though not in the actual document, but through an official statement by the associated organization) of those synagogues of Satan.

    Timothy

  22. Timothy,

    I believe that in light of question 14, the language of “stand along side” can only be viewed as an invitation to agree unofficially. It certainly cannot be understood as an invitation to sign the declaration. Consider #14 on the FAQ:

    Q: Why did you see a need now to organize on these issues when people of faith have been expressing concern about them for decades?

    A:”In some respects these issues have reached a critical tipping point. Many of us believe that it is time for “the church” to take a united stand, to speak with one voice. With respect to all three of the issues addressed in the Declaration, important decisions are being made now or will be made soon. For the sake of fundamental justice and the common good, it is important that the right decisions be made.

    Hope this helps!

  23. Eric says:

    “Calvinist church leaders such as Al Mohler, Danny Akin, Russel Moore, Neil Nielson, Steve Brown, Robert Cannada, Ligon Duncan, Bryan Chapell, Timothy George, Bill Edgar, Wayne Grudem, Tim Keller, Peter Lillback, Joel Belz, Marvin Olasky, and J.I. Packer. These men have expressed that such a document is a welcomed response to the problems that have been fueling the deterioration of a society that was once built on biblical principles.”

    “There have also been several prominent voices, such as Alistair Begg, John MacArthur, Mike Horton, James White (here, here and here), Tim Challies, Dave Doran, and John Stackhouse who have conscientiously raised objections to the nature of the document. It is also interesting to note that R.C. Sproul, John Piper, Mark Dever, and Mark Driscoll did not sign.”

    i.e: “Our heroes” are divided. Uh oh… we might actually have to start thinking for ourselves ; )
    -Eric

  24. Gentlemen:

    We are witnessing an on-going proclivity among some Baptist pastors to give the conservative evangelicals the benefit of the doubt, if not an outright pass, for almost every indiscretion among them. 

 Indiscretions, such as:

    *John Piper hosting a RAP artist in his church and his affinity for the Toronto Blessing.
    
*John MacArthur’s Resolved (Youth) Conference that features the Rock music genre.

    *C. J. Mahaney and Piper’s promotion of the Charismatic sign gifts.

    *Mark Driscoll for “corrupt communication” and his numerous disturbing actions, including speaking at Robert Schuler’s Crystal Cathedral.

    *Al Mohler sitting as chair for the Billy Graham crusade, honoring a rank liberal (Duke McCall) and signing the Manhattan Declaration.



    The latest indiscretion, of course, being the signing of the Manhattan Declaration (MD).

    Al Mohler signing the MD gave, as Dave Doran noted at his blog,

    “Christian recognition to people without a credible profession of the gospel.”

    To pass this action by Mohler in particular off as merely “bad judgment,” which Doran contends, is to ignore and sidestep the obvious “biblical obligations” toward what has been done by these signatories to the MD.

    When are men like Dave Doran who claim to be biblical separatists going to give the Lord and His Word first benefit of the doubt instead of the conservative evangelicals who make these compromises and show no sign of retreating from doing those things?

    These things with the conservative evangelicals are not grey areas. We must arrive at our response to the actions of men like Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan from the starting point of what does the Bible mandate for me, not what is in the best interest of keeping my friends and/or fellowships.

    LM

  25. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    I commend this article by Dr. Niel Nielson, President of Covenant College, titled “Why I Almost Didn’t Sign the Manhattan Declaration.”

    Here are some excerpts, but do read the entire article:

    “I realized as well that the Declaration, while implying that the signers may agree on the nature and meaning of the gospel, does not define the gospel in any way that I find objectionable, i.e. by signing I was not affirming any heterodox, unbiblical view of the gospel. My signature – and this is important – signals my agreement with the Declaration as it explicitly and specifically stands, and nothing more.

    To critics of the Declaration who say that it implies agreement with Catholics and Orthodox on the nature and meaning of the biblical gospel, I say that such implication is possible but certainly not necessary. To critics of the Declaration who say that it commits the signers to agreement with Catholics and Orthodox on the nature and meaning of the biblical gospel, I say strongly, “No, it does not.” I disagree with official Catholic and Orthodox understandings of the gospel, and embrace wholeheartedly our Protestant Reformation theology, grounded in the Scriptures and summarized most beautifully and convincingly in the Westminster Standards. The Declaration not only does not in any way violate those Standards, but in fact flows from them.”

    I heartily commend Dr. Nielson’s thoughtful article.

  26. Ilana says:

    John MacArthur & Pretrib Rapture

    Who knows, maybe John (Reformedispy) MacArthur is right and the greatest Greek scholars (Google “Famous Rapture Watchers”), who uniformly said that Rev. 3:10 means PRESERVATION THROUGH, were wrong. But John has a conflict. On the one hand, since he knows that all Christian theology and organized churches before 1830 believed the church would be on earth during the tribulation, he would like to be seen as one who stands with the great Reformers. On the other hand, if John has a warehouse of unsold pretrib rapture material, and if he wants to have “security” for his retirement years and hopes that the big California quake won’t louse up his plans, he has a decided conflict of interest. Maybe the Lord will have to help strip off the layers of his seared conscience which have grown for years in order to please his parents and his supporters – who knows? One thing is for sure: pretrib is truly a house of cards and is so fragile that if a person removes just one card from the TOP of the pile, the whole thing can collapse. Which is why pretrib teachers don’t dare to even suggest they could be wrong on even one little subpoint! Don’t you feel sorry for the straitjacket they are in? While you’re mulling all this over, Google “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” for a rare behind-the-scenes look at the same 180-year-old fantasy.

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I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. (Romans 16:17-18)

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