I Say No to the Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration attempts to join Christians together against abortion, in protection of traditional marriage, and for religious freedoms. But in reading the document I realized that I cannot sign it. The entire document has language that is troubling, but the following paragraph convinced me that I cannot sign it

We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesiastic differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. 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. May God help us not to fail in that duty.

First, I don’t agree that everyone who signs this document is a Christian and some people teach things that I cannot approve of. With such people, I cannot agree that we are both proclaiming the same Gospel. For example, I took a look at the leaders who signed the document and can see that there are Catholics leaders signing this document. The Catholic church has problematic doctrine that adds the tradition of men and the sayings of popes to the Gospel. Protestant churches largely believe justification by faith in Christ alone is at the heart of the Gospel; while the Catholic church teaches that it’s not justification by faith alone, but there are sacraments and other traditions by which the church makes it possible for someone to reach heaven.  I realize there are a variety of Catholics, who, despite the teachings of the Catholic church possess a genuine faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior; but I cannot sign a document proclaiming that I am in unity with the Catholic church’s gospel when I know that we are not.

Also, consider that there are false teachers in many denominations, Catholic and more, who lead people away from the truth and teach dangerous lies; how can I, in good conscience, sign this document and have my name permanently side-by-side with such people? It would be foolish for me to sign it.

Second, the declaration confuses the Gospel and is more likely to communicate a false understanding of the Gospel. Today we have the prosperity gospel, the social gospel, the universalism gospel. I can recall my own personal conversations with a Catholic teacher who clearly taught a false gospel. I do not agree that I stand side-by-side with the other signers proclaiming the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The declaration also makes no mention of the contents of the Gospel. It briefly mentions it, immediately after a section talking about the social issues. This makes the Gospel seem more to do with social issues than with the Gospel of Jesus that was taught in the Bible. The Gospel in the Bible teaches that all have sinned and fallen short and are in need, not of social justice, but of forgiveness of sins. And the good news of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ has accomplished the forgiveness of sins through his death on the cross and that this forgiveness is a free gift from God for all who repent of their sins and believe in Christ as Lord and Saviour.

This declaration would be much better if it stuck with combating the social evils. I desire remedies to these social evils, but it is more important to take seriously the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and not confuse it by providing opportunities for it to be attached to false gospels. America is already confused enough about the Good News. Many professed Christians cannot give a correct answer to this essential truth of the Christian faith. It is of prominent importance to stand firm and proclaim the Gospel with clarity and without mixture, synthesis, or confusion.

John MacArthur also has an excellent response.

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