Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration

Seems that you can't go anywhere on the internet without finding a reference to The Manhattan Declaration. Even Bill O'Reilly dedicated a segment of a recent show discussing its merits.  Since learning about it on or about the date of its release (11/20) I've been somewhat ambivalent about it.  On the one hand I appreciate its willingness to stand against modernity and anything that might cause us to go against Scripture.  On the other hand, I'm a bit suspicious about its theological underpinnings.  As yet I've not signed the declaration largely because I'm a naturally skeptical person.

A few days ago Dr. Al Mohler wrote an enthusiastic piece about signing this declaration.  Similarly other evangelical leaders have signed it too: Chuck Colson, Gary Bauer, Joel Belz, Randy Alcorn, Leith Anderson, Tim Keller, Bryan Chapell, James Dobson, Wayne Grudem, Neil Neilson, and the list goes on seemingly forever. 

So naturally, everyone is going to sign it, right?  Not so quick. Gene Veith reports that confessional Lutherans are ambivalent about it if not antagonistic (read the comments).  Closer to home, Tim Challies reports that he will not sign this declaration because it assumes unity on the word, 'gospel', when in fact, the word is not defined in the declaration at all.  Prof. John Stackhouse refers to it as 'a waste of everybody's time.' 

Mike Horton at The White Horse Inn has also come out against the declaration.  To him there is a certain similarity between this declaration and the ECT Declarations (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) which also assumed a unity on the definition of the gospel without actually defining it. He writes,

This declaration continues this tendency to define “the gospel” as something other than the specific announcement of the forgiveness of sins and declaration of righteousness solely by Christ’s merits.  

Horton goes on to explain how the gospel is redefined in this declaration or equated with social action (i.e. defending the unborn).  He does on to argue that this illustrates a profound confusion of law and gospel. 

Read the pros and cons for yourself.  As for me, I think that I'll remain on the curb as this parade goes by.

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