Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mohler on signing the Manhattan Declaration

Al Mohler offers some reasoning for his choice to be an original signer of the Manhattan Declaration. You can read his whole post here.

Here's a solid statement from his post:

I signed The Manhattan Declaration because I lead a theological seminary and college, serve as a teaching pastor in a church, and am engaged in Christian leadership in the public square. Thus I see the threats to Christian liberties that now stare us in the face. The freedom not to perform a same-sex marriage is one thing, but what about the freedom to hire employees according to our Christian convictions? What about the right of Christian ministries to conduct their work according to Christian beliefs? What about the freedom to preach and teach against the grain of the nation's laws (for example, after the legalization of same-sex marriage)? When do hate crimes laws slide into definitions of "hate speech?" The threats to our religious liberties are immediate and urgent.

I signed The Manhattan Declaration because it is a limited statement of Christian conviction on these three crucial issues, and not a wide-ranging theological document that subverts confessional integrity. I cannot and do not sign documents such as Evangelicals and Catholics Together that attempt to establish common ground on vast theological terrain. I could not sign a statement that purports, for example, to bridge the divide between Roman Catholics and evangelicals on the doctrine of justification. The Manhattan Declaration is not a manifesto for united action. It is a statement of urgent concern and common conscience on these three issues -- the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage, and the defense of religious liberty.


Roger Mann said...

Dr. Mohler writes,

“I signed The Manhattan Declaration because it is a limited statement of Christian conviction on these three crucial issues [i.e., the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage, and the defense of religious liberty], and not a wide-ranging theological document that subverts confessional integrity.”

Of course, that is complete nonsense. The Manhattan Declaration is not limited to “these three crucial issues” alone, and it’s an outright lie to say that it is! It explicitly expresses “Christian” unity among “fellow believers” on the fundamental issue of “the Gospel”:

We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial 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.”

As Dr. John MacArthur points out, The Manhattan Declaration…

“assumes from the start that all signatories are fellow Christians whose only differences have to do with the fact that they represent distinct ‘communities.’ Points of disagreement are tacitly acknowledged but are described as ‘historic lines of ecclesial differences’ rather than fundamental conflicts of doctrine and conviction with regard to the gospel and the question of which teachings are essential to authentic Christianity. Instead of acknowledging the true depth of our differences, the implicit assumption (from the start of the document until its final paragraph) is that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant Evangelicals and others all share a common faith in and a common commitment to the gospel’s essential claims. The document repeatedly employs expressions like ‘we [and] our fellow believers’; ‘As Christians, we . . .’; and ‘we claim the heritage of . . . Christians’… The Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels.”

He’s absolutely correct. Signing this document constitutes a betrayal of the one true gospel of God’s grace -- regardless of one’s intentions, and regardless of how one tries to justify it!

Rick Calohan said...

I have not responded thus far, since my “comment was striking at something off subject” regarding the Bishop. I noticed while the great Pecan debate raged on people have refrained to comment on the Al Mohler post. Perhaps fearing similar retribution by the esteemed mouse. Being that I am from Missourah I pronounce “pecan” a variety of ways that aside and knowing your fairness to any issue I have included the following links to hear from those who oppose to Manhattan.

The Manhattan Declaration
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009
(By John MacArthur)

The Troubling Aspects of the Manhattan Declaration
11/23/2009 - James White

Alistair Begg
November 23, 2009

I do not doubt that what this document addresses are not important issues facing Americans but what I doubt is that this document will change the course of human behavior. Our nation’s ills are not based on what a document says but what our hearts say. Face it most of us do not see our actions as evil, most of us think of ourselves as good people, and most of us who claim the name Christian believe in our way and that our way is the only way.

So Rick what’s the big deal don’t you agree with it? Not when it subverts the Gospel. If I was a Roman Catholic I would be asking my priest or bishop that if the differences between us Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant are nil then why do we still have anathemas against Eastern Orthodox and Protestants? I will say this again when Rome recants Trent and preaches Justification by Faith Alone in Christ Alone then we shall truly be brothers and of one accord.

Reepicheep said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reepicheep said...

I totally disagree that the declaration forges some kind of doctrinal brotherhood.

"Christian" is just a label that three different groups claim.

"Gospel" means different things depending on who is reading it.

I do not sign on to RC's understanding of the gospel or the Orthodox church's understanding. The document doesn't spell out the gospel, it just refers to it in general.

The document is not about agreement around the particulars of the gospel.

The issue, for me, is joining with those who are in favor of the three issues mentioned and sending a message to elected officials and the culture in general. That's it.

We are co-belligerents on an issue. That's all. You can make it more than that. Dr. MacArthur can do the same. That's fine. But it's not more than that for me, no matter how much you insist it is.

Co-belligerence is waging the war in cooperation against a common enemy without the formal treaty of military alliance. That's what I'm doing in signing.

As the formal definition of Co-belligerence states, Co-belligerents may support each other materially, exchange intelligence and have limited operational coordination. The aims of war in which co-belligerents participate may differ considerably.

Again, on these three issues, I believe the Declartion has stated the issue well and I see it as valuable.

Don't sign. I respect such a decision. But please don't imply that I have betrayed the gospel. That's not fair.

Roger Mann said...

"Christian" is just a label that three different groups claim.

That’s the problem! The term “Christian” isn’t “just a label” that any group can legitimately claim -- it’s reserved for those who profess faith in the one true gospel of Christ (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16). Anyone who rejects the one true gospel is not a Christian, and any religious group that rejects the one true gospel is not Christian.

"Gospel" means different things depending on who is reading it.

Again, that’s the problem! The term “gospel” doesn’t mean “different things” to those who accept the Scriptural definition of the one true gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16-17; 3:22, 28; 4:5, 16; 11:6; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 2 Corinthians 11:4; etc.). Those who reject the one true gospel and preach “a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6) are to be “accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9) by those who truly follow Christ. I don’t think publicly signing a document -- as a fellow “Christian” and “believer” -- with those who preach “a different gospel” constitutes holding them in “accursed” status! Would the apostle Paul have signed a document proclaiming solidarity with the “false apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) over the issue of Rome’s sinful laws and increasing intolerance of Christians? His condemnation of Peter’s compromising action toward the gospel (Galatians 2:11-21) should answer that question in full.

I do not sign on to RC's understanding of the gospel or the Orthodox church's understanding. The document doesn't spell out the gospel, it just refers to it in general.

So, let me get this straight… The Manhattan Declaration explicitly states that it is our duty as “Christians” and “fellow believers” to “proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season.” But since it “doesn't spell out the gospel, it just refers to it in general,” it’s okay for genuine Christians to sign it in solidarity with those who proclaim a false gospel? It’s okay to send the message to the world that we all -- Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and Evangelicals -- proclaim the same “Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” as fellow “Christians” and “believers?” Come on, Pastor, snap out of it!

Reepicheep said...

The cruxt is agreement on the three issues. That's what I sign on to.

I didn't sign on to anything that spells out what the gospel is or what "Christian" means. It happens that three different groups call themselves Christians,but that's not why I'm unified with them. I'm unified because of the three areas.

I'm guessing, based on your perspective, I could never "snap out of it" to your satisfaction. Sorry Roger.

I've said my piece.

Roger Mann said...

I’m not questioning your intention, Pastor; I’m challenging your judgment. I don’t take any pleasure in taking you to task on this issue. In fact, it grieves me greatly. But I can hardly sit by in silence. I love you as a brother in Christ. I have no doubt that you believe and preach the one true gospel. But signing this document sends an entirely different message! It will result in only one thing -- dividing the true church, not uniting it. From my perspective you can and should “snap out of it!” You should recant your signature and repent for publicly signing a document that, in the words of John MacArthur, “for the sake of issuing a manifesto decrying certain moral and political issues…obscures both the importance of the gospel and the very substance of the gospel message.”

Woody Woodward said...

I have heard great things about Reverend Mohler. I rejoice in the Lord that the Southern Baptists Convention elected such a man to steer their leadership. I think we all need to show more grace and stand united stand in the Manhattan Declaration.

Zach said...

Rick & Roger,

Frankly, if you were being logically consistent, I don't think there are too many folks out there who would live up to your standards as worthy fellow co-signatories of the Manhattan Declaration.

Allow me to remind you that MacArthur is a Baptist and well-known adherent of "Lordship Salvation", which you would no doubt consider a corruption of the pure doctrine of justification by faith alone. In fact, your differences with him are so grave that you could not in good faith seek membership at each other's churches, yet implicit in your trumpeting of his hidebound ramblings is your belief that he is a fellow Christian next to whose name you could proudly scrawl your signature on a joint declaration such as this.

So good luck with your version of the Manhattan Island Declaration, signed only by those blessed enough to be deemed Christians by Messieurs Mann & Calohan. I'm sure it will be highly effective.

Rick Calohan said...


I would have no trouble being in churches where John MacArthur, Alistair Begg, or James White preach. I also have no issue being at Redeemer Presbyterian where Tony Felich preaches. The issue for me is Justification by Faith Alone which makes Roger and Me (not talking about the movie) two Heretic Schismatics according to Rome. John MacArthur, Alister Begg and James White are not heaping 150 something anathemas at us, ROME is.

It's not the aims of MD that I object to; it is ignoring the history of Christianity that I object to. Ask your priest why Trent has never been recanted, or why the Baltimore Catechism says to burn Protestant Bibles, or why Vatican II changes Heretic Schismatic to Separated Brethren. If Rome claims to be the one true church and people cannot be saved outside of Rome, and that those who believe that Justification is by faith alone are an anathema, then why sign a document saying that Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals believe in the same Gospel, when in fact they do not. Yes, they all claim Jesus to be their savior, yes they all believe in the trinity, the virgin birth, according to Chuck Colson but the chasm still exist between RC and Protestants who believe in the Five Solas of the Reformation and that is called TRENT

As for luck, c’mon Zach we are Calvinist, we don’t believe in luck, fate, or chance, God is Sovereign, it’s called Divine Providence.

Also let me be clear what Tony writes on his blog is his business. If he is for MD and I am not does not mean I walk out of Redeemer. I pray that Tony recants MD, but it is not a sticking point with me. Now if Tony was preaching another gospel that is no gospel at all then Tony knows the dire consequences he would face not by me but with our Session.



Reepicheep said...

Rick, pray for me, but on a host of other things, but for me to "recant" on my appreciation for the cruxt issues of the MD? I am not convinced that is necessary.

Rick Calohan said...

The "pray" was used as prose or poetically, I know you will never recant MD at least not publically ; ) Don't worry I pray for you and the Redeemer Family BMD, MD, and AMD.

Reepicheep said...

I very much appreciate and covet your prayers and those of the Redeemer family. Thanks.

Rick Calohan said...


I did not address this previously however; I don’t see how Lordship Salvation as John MacArthur puts it is in violation of Justification by Faith Alone.

Lordship Salvation is responses against “easy believerism” i.e. say a prayer at a crusade, come forward, therefore once saved always saved. According to MacArthur,

“This shallow understanding of salvation and the
gospel, known as “easy-believism,” stands in
stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. To put
it simply, the gospel call to faith presupposes
that sinners must repent of their sin and yield to
Christ’s authority. This, in a nutshell, is what is
commonly referred to as lordship salvation.”

MacArthur wrote:

The Distinctives of Lordship Salvation
There are many articles of faith that are fundamental
to all evangelical teaching. For example,
there is agreement among all believers on the
following truths: (1) Christ’s death purchased
eternal salvation; (2) the saved are justified by
grace through faith in Christ alone; (3) sinners
cannot earn divine favor; (4) God requires no
preparatory works or pre-salvation reformation;
(5) eternal life is a gift of God; (6) believers are
saved before their faith ever produces any righteous
works; and (7) Christians can and do sin,
sometimes horribly.

MacArthur adds.

• First, Scripture teaches that the gospel calls sinners to faith joined in oneness with repentance.

• Second, Scripture teaches that salvation is all God’s work.

• Third, Scripture teaches that the object of faith is Christ Himself, not a creed or a promise.

• Fourth, Scripture teaches that real faith inevitably produces a changed life.

• Fifth, Scripture teaches that God’s gift of eternal life includes all that pertains to life and godliness.

• Sixth, Scripture teaches that Jesus is Lord of all, and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender.

• Seventh, Scripture teaches that those who truly believe will love Christ and thus submit unto Him.

• Eighth, Scripture teaches that behavior is an important test of faith.

• Ninth, Scripture teaches that genuine believers may stumble and fall, but they will persevere in the faith.

So although you might see a contradiction based on your understanding of Sola Fide, I do not.

Grace to you,


Zach said...

Yes, Rick, I see a contradiction between what I understand to be Sola Fide and the summary you have provided of Lordship Salvation.

When you write, "Sixth, Scripture teaches that Jesus is Lord of all, and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender.", that strikes me as pretty Catholic. It is fully consistent with Sola Gratia, which Catholics joyfully affirm, but it seems much closer to the Catholic notion of "saving faith" -- which is a faith formed by love -- than it does to traditional Protestant notions of faith alone.

Rick Calohan said...


MacArthur uses these versus and here is the summary of the “Sixth, Scripture teaches that Jesus is Lord of all, and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender.”

Sixth, Scripture teaches that Jesus is Lord of all, and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender (Rom. 6:17-18; 10:9-10). In other words, Christ does not bestow eternal life on those whose hearts remain set against Him (James 4:6). Surrender to Jesus' lordship is not an addendum to the biblical terms of salvation; the summons to submission is at the heart of the gospel invitation throughout Scripture. In contrast, easy-believism teaches that submission to Christ's supreme authority is not germane to the saving transaction.

Romans 6:17-18

17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Romans 10:9-10

9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

James 4:6

6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

I don’t think ROME via TRENT is in accord with Romans 10: 9-10. I say that not with malice but how Rome teaches Justification. I believe Rome combines Justification and Sanctification. In other words as John Gerstner put it, “The Protestant trusts Christ to save him and the Catholic trusts Christ to help him save himself…If it is a salvation based on works that come from grace, it is not based on grace but on the Christian's works that come from grace… Faith is merely union with Christ who is our righteousness, our grace, our salvation…Our righteousness does not result from His righteousness, it is His righteousness."-John Gerstner, 'Justification by Faith Alone'

Rick Calohan said...

As Sinatra sung, one more for the road...
Nicholas T. Batzig offers a useful perspective on the Manhattan Declaration.

“Should we voice our opinions publically on these issues? Absolutely! Can we join with other Christians and make joint declarations? Certainly! We can also join with non-believers and make statements concerning life, marriage and religious freedom. Is it the work of the church to make such declarations? Perhaps. But let us beware of the dangers of joining forces with representatives of ecclesiastical bodies that have a different Gospel than the Gospel we have received.”