December 14, 2009

Why Brian Signed the Manhattan Declaration

After my two previous posts concerning the Manhattan Declaration I received a couple of emails alerting me to the inevitable red flags surrounding it. I suspected this would not take long. It seems the controversy is not in the statement itself, but in the idea that it includes Catholics, Evangelicals, Anglicans, and Orthodox under the same banner and definition of "the gospel." To demonstrate the point here are a couple of excerpts from an article written by Alex Crain, editor of Christianity.com:

"Evangelical leader R.C. Sproul, who elected not to sign the Manhattan Declaration, sums up the controversy by his response (posted 12/8/09) on his blog, "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 co-belligerency on the assumption that we share a common faith and a unified understanding of the gospel."

"Other Evangelical leaders like Mark Driscoll, Alistair Begg and Michael Horton believe that the Manhattan Document reduces Christianity to mere Trinitarianism and degrades the heart of Christianity, namely, the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a set of ethical standards and a non-descript gospel."

This may be a testimony to my discernment skills, but when I read the Manhattan Declaration, my mind really didn't go to the place where I thought that this was an attempt to redefine the gospel. I believe that when it comes to the gospel that many groups who fly the Christian banner have it wrong, but when it comes to the Manhattan Declaration and its statements on marriage, life, and religious liberty, I believe that the groups included have it right. When I signed the statement I did not feel that I was being strong armed into doctrinal compromise. After signing the statement I do not feel that I was duped into doing the same.

My prayer in all of this is that The Manhattan Declaration would accomplish what I believe it was intended to do, to make a strong statement from the Christian community to the culture. Furthermore, I pray it makes a strong statement to lawmakers and to our President that there are a significant number of voters in our Democracy who believe our leaders are headed down the wrong path on these issues. I could only hope that this controversy does not do what usually happens in Christendom, and this is we end up with 4, or 7, or 40 different documents that essentially say the same thing, but demonstrate that we have no sense of agreement or unity.

I signed the Manhattan Declaration. I believe that the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God. I believe that salvation is received by grace, through faith alone, in the risen Son of God. I also believe that when I signed the Manhattan Declaration I did not make a mistake.

3 comments:

Dear Mr. Branam,

Thank you for this post. I think you have a balanced view on this matter.

A portion of the R.C. Sproul quote brought to mind a program from John Ankerberg's show quite a while back in which R.C. was a guest. Walter Martin was on the show so it must have been in the late 80's. D.James Kennedy was also on the show if my memory serves me right. Anyway, at one point Mr. Ankerberg asked R.C Sproul a question with regard to whether or not Protestants should unite with R. Catholics in other
matters, such as injustices in our society (soical issues). His reply, which was very emphatic, was in effect, NO, they should do their good works among themselves and we Protestants should do our own, separate from them. Perhaps R.C. has changed his mind.

I think the problem among many Reformed folk is that they would prefer to ignore most any other Christians that do not embrace the Reformed faith, instead rather associating and fellowshipping among themselves alone. There may be exceptions but those are rare exceptions.

Just my two cents, for what it's worth.

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

Pastor Brian,

Your last statement about the document turning ineffectual by splitting into numerous versions, is right on target. This is the main problem with Christianity right now. With all due respect to your beliefs, this is exactly why I had to come home to the one fold and one shepherd that Christ Himself founded. He never meant for us to be separated like this. We are ineffectual as witnesses will we are divided. Does the Church need reform- definitely. But true reform should always come from within, not by starting anew. So many marriages have faced the same treatment as our dear faith- when unhappy, spouses just leave and start over. We know what happens to families with this behavior. What about our Christian family? Doesn't it deserve better? I hope one day soon, we will all be united as Christ prayed for on Holy Thursday- one faith, one hope, one baptism, one shepherd.
God bless you and yours,
Gregory

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