The Manhattan Declaration and why we didn’t sign it

150,000 Americans have already signed the Manhattan Declaration, released last week. But not us.

“We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

  1. the sanctity of human life
  2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
  3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.”

The loudest voice on my radar in favor of the MD was Big Al Mohler, who is “not usually inclined” to sign petitions or declarations. The ultra-conservatives booed it down, mainly because of the presence of the Catholics and Orthodox or assuming it was a statement about the gospel. Steve Camp called it the “New Downgrade and John MacArthur rejected it as he did the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document. The liberals tended to shy away from it also.

I read it through with my American wife. The reason we didn’t sign it is not because we didn’t affirm the 3 points, because we did. Nor is it about the ecclesiastic bedfellows with funny hats and robes. In fact, I think it is healthy to not forsake the assembling of ourselves around issues we agree on. It sends a signal that there is one church, bigger than we think and smaller at the same time, which, surprisingly, is true. Our decision not to sign has more to do with not knowing how our vote will be used in the long tail of American politics.

And besides that, I really believe societal change happens from the grassroots, when people make friends and tell stories, more than trying to push papers to politicians. When the church forgets how to make friends and tell stories, they have to resort to less personal, less effective means.

I have 3 stories that come to mind about choices we have made:

[hey – i made a boo-boo here. My 3 stories have disappeared because i downloaded this post into iblogger on my iphone and the extended part didnt make it. when it resent the post, it lost them. I will repost them on a different post, maybe tomorrow.]

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

18 Comments

  • Nice response… your point “Our decision not to sign has more to do with not knowing how our vote will be used in the long tail of American politics.” was exactly where I went. Blessings and love to all.

  • I wrote some similar thoughts to a friend who could not understand why I would not sign it, and in turn send out invites and more about it on FB.
    Mine were not nearly as well written, but thank you for the affirmation that we can agree with the principles, but refuse to let them be hijacked by the politically minded.

  • Thank you – and I couldn’t agree more. I read the declaration and didn’t have any problem with the wording, but I was suspicious of what it was for.

  • These kind of declarations are pointless. Modernistic efforts to bring us all on the same dogmatic page, while we should learn to accept each other in Christ.

  • Andrew – good call. Here in the US nothing is ever as black and white as it may first appear. When a national organization gets together with ANY position statement, it can and will be used to influence lawmakers in ways that would probably make the baby Jesus do a dump in his diaper.
    My recommendation for folks is NOT to sign anything unless it’s a grassroots effort where you know the people, so you can ascertain exactly how your signature will be used.

  • Well, Andrew, I did sign it. I did so because I do agree with the three points; I found many signers whom you have not named that are leaders for whom I have deep respect; and, it’s not a perfect world.
    Your concerns and those who echo them are legitimate, and I won’t cease to appreciate you because you didn’t sign. I would be disappointed if the signers were used in some sort of political way. I suppose I’ll have to cross that bridge if I ever come to it.
    Be blessed, my friend.

  • Thanks for saying that Ted. A lot of readers here will have signed it and it’s good to have both decisions represented. Ivdidnt want to start a rant against it

  • The Manhattan Declaration is not a statement about the gospel. However, any attempt at morality without the gospel is self-defeating. Attempting to reform the results of a gospel-deprived culture, rather than the foundation of it is the equivalent of snipping the heads of dandelions with scissors, rather than employing the true remedy.
    “Nor is it about the ecclesiastic bedfellows with funny hats and robes.”
    The MD includes the preface, “We as believers.” Therefore, signing it would affirm the legitimate salvific effect of Congruent Merit. Let us not forget that men have given their lives to standing against such heresy.

  • If I had to choose a christian declaration, XVI-century anabaptists were far more christians and far more interesting:
    – condemnation of oaths.
    – The believer must not bear arms or offer forcible resistance to wrongdoers, nor wield the sword. No Christian has the jus gladii (the right of the sword)
    – Civil government (i.e., “Caesar”) belongs to the world. The believer, who belongs to God’s kingdom, must not fill any office, nor hold any rank under government, which is to be passively obeyed.
    – the Bible requires the separation of church and state.
    And it is fundamentalist enough to be taken seriously by the conservative crowds of Manhattan declaration. (I hope this comment will not be erased).

  • Without apology, I signed the declaration, not for the ones in hats and robes, but for those who are true Christians in the Eastern and Roman churches. Most importantly, my spirit discerned it was the right thing to do.
    I am not surprised that the bluenose Baptist types shun the document for its affiliation with the RC. The mega church leaders are also evading it, for PC keeps their coffers full, their followers smug, and the IRS off their backs.
    My rough estimation figures that less than half of the 77,000,000 true Christians in America are not Internet users. For that reason, they are not represented. However, if 38 million is divided by 295,000 extant signers = 0.78%. One week ago, the statistic was 0.74$. The mustard seed grows slowly, and it will!
    Eventually the shirkers will they come out from beneath their rocks and will hopefully stand upon the ROCK and speak boldly for Jesus Christ and His Two Commandments.
    –AW Loescher of PILMOA = Politically Incorrect Like Minds Of Agabus

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