Sunday, November 29, 2009

Signing the Manhattan Declaration?

In case no one has heard yet, the Manhattan Declaration, is a statement by Christians (mostly in USA) that affirm

1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.

Quite a number of well known US Christian personalities have signed it. On the other hand, I looked at the list of Christian leaders who signed the document and wonder why I see no one from the Lutheran synods who has signed this.

An interesting aspect is that I heard well know USA apologist like Dr. James White of AOMin and Christian leader such as Dr. John MacArthur would not like to sign this document. Not because it is wrong, but because the Catholics and the Orthodox are there and these denominations do not affirm JBFA.



I like to sign the document. No, I am serious, this document looks good. The thing that prevents me from signing it is the line...

We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered...

The word Evangelical is the one that makes me hesitate.

Lutherans are supposed to be Evangelicals, in fact they invented the word themselves! It first started with them. Unfortunately, I do not know what that word means now or how that word is used today, it has now been modified, hi-jacked if you will. Evangelicals are more Revivalistic than evangelical. I am not sure if I should be identified the term as it is used today. Someone said the Evangelicals are so wide, they cover from people of the likes of theologian R.C. Sproul to the faith healers like Benny Hinn.

Now that is a worry.


22 comments:

Mark Henderson said...

Lito,

I also asked the question of why no Lutheran signatories to the original document over at 'Glosses...' I think the answer is that officially the ELCA wouldn't support it, and unofficially the LC-MS leadership was burned by the Benke issue back in 2001.

Paul McCain of Cyberbrethren has since added his signature, btw, and I commen him for that, and I expect many other Lutherans will have done so too by now. As McCain said (and I paraphrase): we may have some reservations about this, but Lutherans tend to nuance everything to death, this is life and death stuff - literally - so let's just sign the document and add our support

Daniel Gorman said...

Lutherans are Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians. That's not the problem with the document. Lutherans are not signing the Manhattan Declaration because of its false teachings regarding the state of fallen man.

Fallen man is not "fashioned in the very image of God." Fallen man does not possess "inherent rights of equal dignity and life." Religious liberty is not grounded in "the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image."

Contrast the false doctrine of the Manhattan Declaration with the pure doctrine of FC, SD, Original Sin: Instead of the lost image of God, fallen man inherits "an inborn wicked disposition and inward impurity of heart, evil lust and propensity." Instead of freedom and dignity, fallen man inherits "the tyranny and dominion of the devil, so that human nature is subject to the kingdom of the devil and has been surrendered to the power of the devil, and is held captive under his sway, who stupefies [fascinates] and leads astray many a great, learned man in the world by means of dreadful error, heresy, and other blindness, and otherwise rushes men into all sorts of crime." Instead of life, fallen man inherits "death, eternal damnation, and also other bodily and spiritual, temporal and eternal miseries."

L P said...

Daniel,

Thanks for commenting.

I did not read what you pointed out that way but I have not looked in it deeper anyway.

But before his fallen state, was not man fashioned in God's image as per Gen 1:27?

Gen 1:27 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

So are they missing this Scripture?

Re: Original Sin, no problems there, but I think we have to be careful that we are not being Manichaean in stressing our fallen state.

Religious liberty is not grounded in "the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image."


So where should it be grounded? Just interested in your ideas here.

LPC

Mark Henderson said...

Let's also remember the context and purpose of the declaration: this is basically Christians saying to government, you may be abrogating your God-given responsibility to protect and nurture life (AC XXVIII, 11) but we will not be co-erced into co-operating with you in this endeavour. One doesn't have to agree with a Roman Catholic in theological anthropology to join him in a protest outside an abortion clinic. Similarly, this is not a confessional document, it is a declaration to government.

L P said...

Pr. Mark,

I am with you. It is saying to government, this and that is wrong. With the thread of Islam, for it is evident that Islam is putting sharia law thru the back door, show of unity amongst "christians" on issues is not a bad idea.

LPC

Brett Meyer said...

Quote, "In case no one has heard yet, the Manhattan Declaration, is a statement by Christians..."

Quote, "Quite a number of well known US Christian personalities have signed it."

List of individuals who have signed the document http://manhattandeclaration.org/list-of-religious-leaders-signatories

This begs the question, what is the succinct definition of a Christian?

L P said...

Hi Brett,

I was using the term "Christian" operationally or loosely.

I guess you can only identify them with their confession, Christ is Messiah and whatever else this implies.

This of course still does not cut the cheese.

On the other hand if someone says to me, as an example - will you sign a statement that gay marriage is wrong, or that abortion is wrong, I probably will sign it - even if it is a secular document.

LPC

Augustinian Successor said...

I am grateful to Daniel for his staunch defence of the Reformation truth of the bondage of the will.

Having said this, the Manhattan Declaration is on the left-hand kingdom - the Law. The ECT signed by Packer etc. is on the right-hand kingdom - the Gospel. I think it is important that Reformation Christians join with Roman and other Christians to uphold the Law.

Augustinian Successor said...

I am grateful to Daniel for his staunch defence of the Reformation truth of the bondage of the will.

Having said this, the Manhattan Declaration is on the left-hand kingdom - the Law. The ECT signed by Packer etc. is on the right-hand kingdom - the Gospel. I think it is important that Reformation Christians join with Roman and other Christians to uphold the Law.

L P said...

A.S.,

Good to hear from you.

It seems to me the document is also about natural law too, some basics of it.
Have you got your MPA or LLM,yet?

LPC

Daniel Gorman said...

LP asks, "But before his fallen state, was not man fashioned in God's image as per Gen 1:27?" Yes, before the fall, man was fashioned in God's image of knowledge of God, righteousness, and truth.

LP asks, "So are they missing this Scripture?" They're missing the following scripture: Gen 5:3 "And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image."


LP asks, "Re: Original Sin, no problems there, but I think we have to be careful that we are not being Manichaean in stressing our fallen state." Absolutely, the FC is careful to condemn both Pelagianism and Manichaeanism.

Daniel Gorman opines, "Religious liberty is not grounded in "the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image." LP asks, "So where should it be grounded?" How can qualities that do not exist be grounded? Fallen man has no religious freedom and is unworthy of any dignity.

What the Manhattan Declaration calls "religious freedom" and "dignity" are grounded in the Fourth Commandment and the authority of government. The function of government is to bear the sword against evil-doers. Governments create laws to protect its citizens from evil-doers. Without law, evil-doers would kill, steal, force men to worship false gods, etc. "Religious freedom" and the "dignity of man" do not exist; however, governments use these expressions to better control evil-doers.

L P said...

Daniel

Said
What the Manhattan Declaration calls "religious freedom" and "dignity" are grounded in the Fourth Commandment and the authority of government. The function of government is to bear the sword against evil-doers. Governments create laws to protect its citizens from evil-doers. Without law, evil-doers would kill, steal, force men to worship false gods, etc. "Religious freedom" and the "dignity of man" do not exist; however, governments use these expressions to better control evil-doers.


Right, but I do not think you are using the expression "religious liberty" as they are. For the reason you stated above, the document is not that bad at all.

LPC

Daniel Gorman said...

According to His hidden and sovereign will, God sometimes allows government to use false teaching as an instrument to maintain order. Christians must not become apologists for the government's false teaching.

Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Kuya,

God-willing, I'm finishing next year! Lots of work, but just one more year to go!

L P said...

Christians must not become apologists for the government's false teaching

Which government false teaching are Christians apologists for?


LPC

Daniel Gorman said...

The false doctrine of the American Declaration of Independence has been inserted into the Manhattan Declaration. Fallen man has no right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness endowed by his Creator.

L P said...

Fallen man has no right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness endowed by his Creator.

So it should be ok to kill babies and abort fetuses since that human being has no right to life, liberty or pursuit to happiness?

LPC

L P said...

A.S.

God-willing, I'm finishing next year! Lots of work, but just one more year to go!

One day at a time, the year runs quite fast and before you know it, it is over.

LPC

Daniel Gorman said...

LP asks, "So it should be ok to kill babies and abort fetuses since that human being has no right to life, liberty or pursuit to happiness?"

Killing babies and aborting fetuses is contrary to the fifth commandment of God. Instead of authorizing its agents (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc.) to murder the unborn, the state should be bearing the sword against these evil-doers. Those who commit these crimes should be punished by death or imprisonment.

The Manhattan Declaration should have affirmed scriptural doctrines of law and the function of government. Instead, the Manhattan Declaration chose to mix law and gospel and the two kingdoms.

The Manhattan Declaration affirms the false doctrine of the humanists as embodied in U.S. Declaration of Independence. Scripture teaches that fallen man, whether born or unborn, has no God-endowed rights or dignity.

L P said...

Hi Daniel,

A few points:

1. You said Scripture teaches that fallen man, whether born or unborn, has no God-endowed rights or dignity

Precisely because God made man in his on image that murder is a sin such as abortion. Here is

Gen 9: 6Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

This was given after your quoted passage, and before the Mosaic Law.

I believe this is what the Manhattan Document is alluding to.

2. I have not heard of a Constitutional Document that has Law and Gospel on it. I think it is unrealistic to expect such a thing, because declarative documents are not necessarily sermons/proclamations. I have worked for Christian clients, my contracts with them, for example, have never mentioned Jesus, Sin nor the Atonement. I am being facetious of course.


I think it is unfair to require the framers of the Manhattan Document to conform to Law and Gospel paradigm. Firstly, they are not Lutherans. Secondly, it is an affirmation of natural law namely a.) the protection of unborn child for its right to live, b.) the confinement of marriage to male and female, c.) the right of the individual to believe or not to believe in a religious teaching.

3.) Indeed, the document has mixture of Law and Gospel, it has no idea of Left/Right hand kingdom In fact if they simply stuck to the 3 things I mentioned above without any peppering of much Christian talk, it would have been much better.

But it is like drawing water from a rock to expect these framers to be Lutherans, which I think you want them to be.


LPC

Daniel Gorman said...

1. God authorizes government to bear the sword against murderers, not because fallen man is made in the image of God, but because the first man, Adam, was made in the image of God.

2. A pro-life document doesn't necessarily have to conform to the law/gospel paradigm. The document can be based solely on natural law. However, if the pro-life message is founded on the worthiness of fallen man, law and gospel are wrongly mixed. "For everything that comforts, that offers the favor and grace of God to transgressors of the Law, is, and is properly called, the Gospel, a good and joyful message that God will not punish sins, but forgive them for Christ's sake." SD, Law and Gospel.

3. The framers do not need to be Lutheran. They need only present a document that is faithful to scripture.

L P said...

Hi Daniel,

Thanks, you are a bit clearer now for me.

The wonder of it all is that though fallen man is worthy of death, God still desires him to come to Christ and be saved.



LPC