The Manhattan Declaration is a new statement or manifesto by numerous leaders from Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical/Protestant traditions dealing with current cultural issues that face Christians. The statement is over 4,000 words and was drafted by Chuck Colson, Robert P. George, and Timothy George. Some evangelical signers include Al Mohler, Tim Keller, Wayne Grudem, Ligon Duncan, and others. You can see the complete list here.
These Christians have united 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.” The specific truths articulated in the document are:
- the sanctity of human life
- the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
- the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
Al Mohler, one of the signers, provided a post on why he signed the declaration, but a number of Christians have voiced concern over this. Some evangelicals have complained that the document fails to articulate the Gospel, especially since these different groups of Christians (Orthodox, Roman, and evangelical) do not agree on the gospel. An example of this criticism has come from John MacArthur, Jr. as well as Michael Horton.
In his recent newsletter, Father Pat Reardon, Pastor of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, IL, and a signer of the document, explains that the Orthodox Priest Father Tobias is also frustrated because the document doesn’t call for repentance. After explaining both of these objections, Reardon concludes:
The objections of MacArthur and Tobias are curious in their evident presumption that Christians, when they speak in public, should limit their discourse to the proclamation of the Gospel and the summons to repentance.
This may be a legitimate view, though it was neither shared by many Christians over the centuries nor obviously favored by the prophets. Jonah, for instance, preached judgment—not repentance—at Nineveh, nor did his proclamation include one syllable of Good News. If this was true of Jonah, what shall we say of Nahum, whose own message to the Ninevites was just an expansion of Jonah’s meager half-verse?
Respectfully, these objections to the Manhattan Declaration (including its rhetoric) could easily have been made against any one—and perhaps all—of the biblical prophets. Our modest Declaration, as a statement of social concern, invites the endorsement of Christians who share that concern. The matter is truly as plain as that.
You can read his article here. I think Reardon is right, and I think the document is helpful in what it articulates and how it is drawing together Christians from different traditions. I do not have to deny the gospel in order to affirm the document, and I am a “catholic” Christian who believes we should seek common ground with others who identify themselves as Christians around the world. This document is a good way to do it. I disagree with what I would consider a sectarian view of Christianity that would require me to never agree on these issues with Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians. I had no problem signing it. I would encourage you to to read it and sign it as well.