The Manhattan Declaration

See http://www.manhattandeclaration.org/.

From the Manhattan Declaration web site:
Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour 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. These truths are:

  1. the sanctity of human life
  2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
  3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.


Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

There is so much in this statement that I can give my unconditional amen to. However, before I decide to sign this document and thereby "stand together" with those who composed it, I need to figure out the specific theological meanings some of the statements in this particular paragraph were intended to convey:

"We acknowledge that there are those who are disposed towards homosexual and polyamorous conduct and relationships, just as there are those who are disposed towards other forms of immoral conduct. We have compassion for those so disposed; we respect them as human beings possessing profound, inherent, and equal dignity; and we pay tribute to the men and women who strive, often with little assistance, to resist the temptation to yield to desires that they, no less than we, regard as wayward. We stand with them, even when they falter. We, no less than they, are sinners who have fallen short of God’s intention for our lives. We, no less than they, are in constant need of God’s patience, love and forgiveness. We call on the entire Christian community to resist sexual immorality, and at the same time refrain from disdainful condemnation of those who yield to it. Our rejection of sin, though resolute, must never become the rejection of sinners. For every sinner, regardless of the sin, is loved by God, who seeks not our destruction but rather the conversion of our hearts. Jesus calls all who wander from the path of virtue to 'a more excellent way.' As his disciples we will reach out in love to assist all who hear the call and wish to answer it."

I can interpret those sentences I have highlighted in bold italics in a way that is consistent with what I believe. However, I believe they are sufficiently vague as to allow others to interpret them in a way that is NOT consistent with what I believe.

Specifically, I wonder how others who are signing this document understand the first two highlighted statements in light of First Corinthians 5 and 6:9-11.

Secondly, I wonder exactly what theological meaning the third highlighted sentence is intended to convey. It has a "theology of glory" ring to it in my opinion.

I am glad that the authors connect marriage and procreation, but I am disappointed (though certainly not surprised) that it does not connect contraception and abortion. Furthermore, I am concerned with what is meant by "fulfilling together the behavioral conditions of procreation." I fear the authors and fellow signers would overwhelmingly say that this can be fulfilled even if the procreative intent of these "behavioral conditions" is intentionally prevented. If I stand with those who sign this, am I agreeing with a statement that would include intentionally childless marriages as God pleasing?

I need to read it over a couple times again more carefully to see if I have any other reservations about the language of this statement. Nevertheless, I agree that this statement is a bold step in the right direction.

GL said...

I certainly understand your concerns, Erich. There are things in the declaration that I would have preferred to have seen worded differently or even omitted altogether. Nonetheless, I signed the declaration. I would not, however, criticize anyone who agreed with the overall direction, but had problems with some details and, so, decided that they could not in good faith sign the declaration.

As you know, I believe that our efforts to resist our society free fall into the abyss will prove futile unless we go back to a completely Scriptural understanding of marriage, contraception, procreation, children and the family. The Manhattan Declaration is a move in the right direction, but it represents on a move in that direction. We must go much further.

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Daniel Gorman said...

Professing false doctrine is not adiaphora. The Manhattan Declaration is loaded with Pelagianism (e.g., “In this declaration, we affirm: 1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God. . .”). Human beings are not fashioned in the very image of God. “That original sin (in human nature) is not only this entire absence of all good in spiritual, divine things, but that, instead of the lost image of God in man, it is at the same time also a deep, wicked, horrible, fathomless, inscrutable, and unspeakable corruption of the entire nature and all its powers, especially of the highest, principal powers of the soul in the understanding, heart, and will, so that now, since the Fall, man inherits an inborn wicked disposition and inward impurity of heart, evil lust and propensity. . .” SD, Original Sin.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Good point. I agree that the statement you highlight certainly could be Pelagian if the term "image of God" is understood in the narrow or "proper" sense. However, one could possibly interpret it in accordance with pure doctrine if the term is being used in a broad sense and the following distinction is observed:

"We believe, teach, and confess that there is a distinction between man’s nature and original sin. This applied not only when he was originally created by God pure and holy and without sin [Genesis 1:31], but it also applies to the way we have that nature now after the fall. In other words, we distinguish between the nature itself (which even after the fall is and remains God’s creature) and original sin. This distinction is as great as the distinction between God’s work and the devil’s work."
(Affirmative Theses of the Formula of Concord)

In the broad sense of the term, all men can still be considered to be made in the image of God. The question is: What do the authors and signers of this declaration intend this statement to mean?

Daniel Gorman said...

No, the intent of the authors should be irrelevant to potential signers. The real question for potential signers is: What does this declaration mean?

To affirm "the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God" is to affirm that man is deserving of dignity due his being fashioned in "the very image of God" (i.e., the knowledge of God, righteousness, and truth). Pelagians uphold this view of fallen man. The FOC rejects this view.

The Affirmative theses of the FOC rightly makes the distinction between man's nature and original sin. However, that distinction does not imply "the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being" or that "the right to religious freedom has its foundation. . .in the very dignity of the human person created in the image of God." As the Affirmative Theses state, "But, on the other hand, we believe, teach, and confess that original sin is not a slight, but so deep a corruption of human nature that nothing healthy or uncorrupt has remained in man's body or soul, in his inner or outward powers, but, as the Church sings: 'Through Adam's fall is all corrupt, Nature and essence human.' This damage is unspeakable, and cannot be discerned by reason, but only from God's Word. And [we affirm] that no one but God alone can separate from one another the nature and this corruption of the nature. . ."