Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thoughts on The Manhattan Declaration

I just learned earlier today of The Manhattan Declaration through Bob Heyton at Fundamentally Reformed who is leery of it. Later I stumbled on Eric Landry's less than glowing opinion at White Horse Inn. Then on Facebook, I saw a comment from one of the ladies in our church describing how important it was.

Time to check it out.

The declaration's home page gives a good summary of the document. Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical leaders desire to unite and defend three key tenets of a civil society: sanctity of human life; marriage between one man and one woman; right of religious liberty. On a separate page is the list of notable signatories many of whom are easily recognized depending on one's faith background.

My thoughts
I am not enthusiastic about joining with Orthodox and Roman Catholic leaders in a purportedly Christian endeavor, as this is claimed to be. Let's face the facts—the three groups teach the same gospel (death, burial, and resurrection of Christ) but apply it to the adherent in vastly different ways, so that it comes out looking like the preaching of different gospels. That said, how do you get the three groups to agree on how to term their mutual displeasure in mutually acceptable tones. You end up with a document without backbone. The MD has trouble making a biblical case. It tends to be built more on natural law in a social construct with some supporting Scripture as might be applicable.

I question the historicity of some claims in the preamble concerning the degree of Christian involvement in women's suffrage and the civil rights movements, but maybe I am ignorant of those facts.

I also question the logic of the following quote:

There is no more eloquent defense of the rights and duties of religious conscience than the one offered by Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Writing from an explicitly Christian perspective, and citing Christian writers such as Augustine and Aquinas, King taught that just laws elevate and ennoble human beings because they are rooted in the moral law whose ultimate source is God Himself.
I read Dr. King's letter. He is eloquent and passionate, but the letter was not written from an explicitly Christian perspective. Yes, he quoted Augustine and Aquinas, but it was in matters of making and following just laws, not the biblical basis for just law.

I applaud the writers for the effort and diligence in seeking to bring these issues to the fore, but they would have been better served to write three different declarations with their unique perspectives or one that was based primarily on holy writ.

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