The Manhattan Declaration

I know I’m a bit slow to comment on the Manhattan Declaration, but I wanted some of my fathers in the faith to speak out first before I said anything. I had some initial impressions, but wanted them debated before I stuck out my neck. I shall stick it out now.

On each of the three issues, I issue a hearty amen to the position of the declaration. It would be difficult to do otherwise, when these issues are of such paramount importance, and the stance taken so completely biblical. I have picketed abortion clinics in the past, and support doing so now and in the future (as long as it is done legally). I firmly stand for marriage as God has defined it, not as how man wants to redefine it. And, in our context, where the freedom to worship God has been constantly eroded by humanistic thinking, what Christian wouldn’t be eager to say that he wants the freedom to worship the God he loves?

However, the concerns of Sproul, MacArthur, Horton, and Challies have all raised some very important issues about particular words and ideas used in the effort to create a monolithic Christian coalition on these issues. And there is where the rub lies. How is the word “gospel” and “Christian,” among other words, being used in this document? Is it a wax nose, twistable by any signer or reader into the shape he wishes? I was forced to come to this conclusion: those words are empty vessels, into which anyone can pour what meaning he chooses. I would much have preferred language like this: “Although we do not agree on the definition of “gospel” or “Christian” or “justification,” we can agree on these social issues.” This, I think, would have allowed folks like the ones linked above to sign this document in good conscience. It is really too bad that these flaws are deal-breakers for the men listed above, and for myself, especially when SOO many men I deeply respect have signed it, and when I yearn to say yes on the particular issues.

About these ads

93 Comments

  1. Kenneth L cox said,

    December 9, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Hi Lane greetings in the blessed name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Who has reconciled us to Him by His own blood. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgivness. It is not populular to talk about sin and how that is the problem in coming before being accepted and indeed included as son in the family of God who is infinitely Holy. How many evangelicals can define Holy?? Hope I didn’t ramble too much but the Good News is not being presented as it should I am not excusing myself Give much Thanks for a loving God who is very Patient though we must realize accountability Blessed and Thankful Holidays Ken and Judy

  2. mary kathryn said,

    December 9, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Lane – I’ve discussed this a bit with a friend who is rather adamantly opposed to the M.D., and cites MacArthur’s letter as close to his own views. I think it’s interesting that some folks won’t sign it because (as you indicate) it contains words like “gospel” and “Christian,” and thus links us too closely to those we disagree with, and others won’t sign it because it does NOT contain more about the gospel and sin — they find it lacking as a theological document. It seems that an attempt like the M.D. is doomed from the beginning. Like you, I think it’s a shame that Christians from many, various denominations cannot get together on such broad topics that unite them.

  3. December 9, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Lane, I am a little confused by your post, especially the last line. You seem disappointed in not being able to sign a document with which disagree concerning its presentation of the gospel even though you agree with what it says ethically. You act as if by not signing you are somehow missing out on or not participating in standing for biblical truth. But you already do that consistently here on your blog. Why do you need to be in agreement with some extra biblical document when you already promote and defend biblical truth?

    I have been disappointed with the Reformed men who have signed and have been disappointed by some of the “pardon me for not signing” attitudes of some who have not signed. Signing or not signing says nothing about one’s commitment to standing for truth–simply standing for truth says everything that needs to be said.

  4. December 9, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Just reading the language that was far too ecumenical, coupled with the fact that Colson was one of the authors, which confirms the inappropriately ecumenical nature of the document, I knew there was a problem. You are right to hold out for language that recognizes our lack of unity on those issues that are most definitional of all our traditions even though we do have unity on the deity of Christ and the Trinitarian nature of God (and, as you know, there’s even division on aspects of that with the Orthodox) as well as the issues addressed by the declaration. It’s a matter of keeping the horse before the cart. The gospel’s more important than our name on a document.

  5. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 9, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Ligon Duncan (and others like Albert Mohler and James Grant) echo my thoughts and reasons for signing the Manhattan Declaration:

    “[T]hose Council members who signed the document fully understand the agreement on the documents’ statement on social issues that they share with those who didn’t sign, and also fully appreciate the non-signers’ concerns for Gospel clarity and fidelity. However, the Council members who signed do not believe that the document commits them to an agreement with Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox on the nature of the Gospel, the Church or who is a true Christian.

    The signers believe that the explicit assertions and emphasis of the documents relate only to areas of principled social-ethical agreement between evangelicals and non-evangelicals. Further, they believe that it is important for individuals from the major quadrants of the historic Christian tradition to speak on these pressing matters in solidarity.”

  6. greenbaggins said,

    December 9, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Hey, Ken and Judy! Hello, and good to hear from you!

    TUD, Dr. Duncan’s name was the name I respected the most of those who signed it. And I did not lose any respect for him because he felt he could sign it. That’s his conscience. And I know he would never compromise the Gospel. As for me, my conscience won’t allow it. And I’m happy to leave it at that.

  7. Steven Carr said,

    December 9, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    FWIW, it’s hard for me to consider Tim Challies as your father in the faith. ;)

    I’m a bit troubled by the direction that some want to take the MD, especially those who are its framers. Colson for example see this as an ecumenical enterprise that brings Evangelicals and Catholics one step closer. He also sees this as some sort of catechism for the Christian Church. The main problem with these two ideas is that there was never any official Church council called. This was written apart from any official Church proceedings.

    Now I speak from a Reformed perspective, so my ideas of “council” and “official proceedings” are shaped by the Reformed Confessions. This also gives me a Reformed bias against a document endorsed by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Evangelicals. Be that as it may, any one of the signers should have been asking the question, “What does the Church body that I belong to think of such a document?” If there was a stronger commitment to one’s own Church, I suspect that there would have been fewer signers. I understand that the conscience is of great importance, but a Christian conscience should not act alone. It should act according to the dictates of Christ and out of submission to the brethren. Did the Catholics and Orthodox consult those in authority over them before they signed it? Did any of the Evangelicals who signed it consult any of their brethren? (Closer to home) Drs. Duncan, and Chapel, at the very least, should have consulted others in their presbyteries or discussed it with other fathers and brothers in the faith in the PCA. Furthermore, I do not think that there was any reason for those in our PCA denomination to sign their name to this document. Our own PCA General Assembly has official positions on the first two issues in the MD, and the third one is a fundamental point within our own Confession, yet the General Assembly’s position papers and the Confession do not contain ambiguity concerning the gospel.

    The MD, though it claims to be a document in support of Christian conscience, resembles a party platform of some grassroots movement. There is nothing “Churchly” about this document and that reason alone should cause those who love their respective Churches and THE Church to rethink signing it.

  8. Roy said,

    December 9, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    I’ve kept my first reading appreciation for the careful wording, serious warning of the MD, especially as it is balanced with concern for one’s own failures. But my initial hesitation has grown into solid opposition to signing as I’ve read comments. I’m convinced the MD conceals major differences regarding the Gospel.

    But another idea has grown in my pondering the MD, an idea I think perhaps more serious than, if I may put it this way, the *mere* existence of differences regarding what is the Gospel.

    I’m convinced the writers of the MD *intentionally* (although perhaps subconciously) concealed the differences. It could have been written as a statement from a group of people with a variety of confessed differences who were notwithstanding those differences united in their concerns regarding the three focii cited. But it was not written that way. I think at least some of the writers wanted both to convey the idea that there did not exist any serious differences among the signers and also to sucker many into signing the document and thus give the impression that they, too, did not think those differences major.

  9. December 9, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    I can only hope that the Manhattan Declaration is ultimately as unsuccessful as the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document was in 1994. I guess Colson really enjoys putting these things together. It’s the politician in him, I suppose.

  10. Scott said,

    December 10, 2009 at 6:26 am

    This could be done as a statement expressing support for biblical moral issues and religious freedom (freedom from civil government encroachment) without the theological pretext.

    It could honestly acknowledge that all the signatories consider themselves Christians and have differences of doctrine, theology and practice, but they all agree and are united on these issues.

    That sort of pretext would strengthen the import of this.

    There is usefulness in standing united to oppose evil and to support what is good even if the supporters do not hold right biblical views.

    God uses many means, and there is common grace.

    Something like that could be used for good and the welfare of many, even unbelievers, without compromising the witness of biblical Christianity.

  11. GLW Johnson said,

    December 10, 2009 at 7:27 am

    The bishop of Moscow , in his usual pontificating way , took time on two different occasions to single out Lig Duncan for criticism. Everybody else who signed the MD got a free pass from the good bishop.

  12. TurretinFan said,

    December 10, 2009 at 8:46 am

    TU&D:

    Do you believe that Rome proclaims a false gospel?

  13. KBennett said,

    December 10, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I’m not sure I understand how or why such a document is the job of the church at all. Yes, our culture is collapsing. Yes, many creational standards are being destroyed or spat upon.

    So, now what is the church’s responsibility here? I’m not sure that it has one clearly stated. Least of all the signing of useless manifestos.

  14. ray kikkert said,

    December 10, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    #10 common grace? A good enough reason then NOT to sign and reject it.

  15. Scott said,

    December 10, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    ray kikkert said,
    “#10 common grace? A good enough reason then NOT to sign and reject it.”

    Common grace in the sense that God’s favor can go out for the sake of His People and benefits all people- believers and nonbelievers. So, even unbelievers can be carried along to, for example, restrain evil- which benefits everyone, believer and unbeliever alike.

  16. David Gray said,

    December 10, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    >The bishop of Moscow , in his usual pontificating way , took time on two different occasions to single out Lig Duncan for criticism. Everybody else who signed the MD got a free pass from the good bishop.

    He was correct in his observations. I’d be happy if Pastor Duncan could oppose egalitarianism in the PCA in the manner he opposes much lesser errors like those of the FV.

  17. December 10, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    DG, RE #15,

    Since FV compromises sola fide at the heart of the gospel, I believe that TE Duncan’s priorities are correct. FV is not a lesser error by a long shot. While I cannot sign the MD primarily for the reasons provided by Dr. R.C. Sproul, I stand by my brother Dr. Duncan without apology or hesitation.

  18. David Gray said,

    December 10, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    >I stand by my brother Dr. Duncan without apology or hesitation.

    I believe you.

  19. Reed Here said,

    December 10, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    David:

    I too am a little surprised that you see egalitarianism as a greater defect than the FV. I’m not suprised at your ambivalence towards declaring the FV a problem. We’ve had enough conversations here that I recollect this opinion (and no, not offering any criticism in this regard.)

    I would be interested if you might provide a little comparison, showing while you see the former as more dangerous than the latter.

  20. Reed Here said,

    December 10, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Scott, #14:

    Ray comes from a denominational background that denies common grace. In this regard, his comment is very consisten with his convictions.

  21. David Gray said,

    December 11, 2009 at 8:10 am

    >I too am a little surprised that you see egalitarianism as a greater defect than the FV.

    First, I see the FV’s primary problem, and it is signficant, is one of what might be termed “pastoral sloppiness.” I don’t believe they’re denying the gospel (and people who think they’re defending the Reformation against the FV seem to forget that Lutherans were half of the Reformation). Their errors are generally those of nuance and their misuse of language prone to mislead sheep in the flock. This is worthy of attention.

    Egalitarianism is rank rebellion against God and his utterly clear commands. Women are not to exercise authority over men in the church or in their home. That is stated explicitly. No theological fine-tuning required, the simplest of believers can understand that. It is not an area where people with equal commitments to the authority of scripture (in fact, not assertion) can disagree. I’d worship with the Lutherans before I’d worship with egalitarians who openly act in rebellion against my King.

  22. Reed Here said,

    December 11, 2009 at 10:04 am

    David: o.k., good observations.

    I guess it is a matter of degrees for me. I agree that the issue of pastoral sloppiness is critical (I still pray and work my faith to increase the accuracy. clarity, and simplicity of my ministry.) For me, the pastoral sloppiness of the FV is very, very significant. If this were the whole scope of my concern, I do not believe in good conscience I could encourage sheep to participate in a ministry affirming the FV.

    While much of Evangelicalism has a muddled gospel, I see the FV as an increasingly clarifified distortion of the gospel. (I struggle to recommend DW’s pre-FV works, as I fear he wrote so well that naive sheep may read him indiscriminantly.)

    Its one thing to wander in life walking by the limited sight of flesh because you have not been given better light in the gospel, enabling you to more walk by faith (my effort at the analogy is clumsy here, please bear with me.) It is another thing actually be given a pair of glasses, supposedly giving you that better focus on the gospel, when in reality the lenses haver a variety of flesh tinting on them.

    Aside from that, while I’m not ready to call the FV a Galatian variety of an “another gospel,” I am concerned that this is the inevitable path the FV is on. The system has some fundamentally flawed premises. As the FV brothers continue to apply the FV hermeneutic to the Bible, they will necessarily end up with more and more distortions. As they systematize this (i.e., maybe a great FV mind in the next generation) the FV may very well end up maturing into full blown perversion of the gospel.

    (An aside, I see the anecdotal evidence of the occassional FV’er wandering to Rome as an example of the kind of perversion that occurs when the flawed premises of the FV are applied with consistency. I knwo the FV brothers would object that such travelers have actually not been consistent. I demure.)

    And yes, if it ever happens, I’ll join you in the Lutheran church. I’ll see about the FV church :-)

  23. Zrim said,

    December 11, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    David,

    Re #21: Some might construe that as latitudinarian on the first mark of the true church but precisionist on something that doesn’t make it into any of the three. Frankly, your remark seems to share as much in common with those egalitarians who raise what seems to be a cultural concern above a cultic one.

    But is the gospel not as clear as both creational and redemptive (sub) ordination? It seems to me that the question is not so much one of clarity, since both concerns are equally clear (and by extension, their violations are just as clear), but one of essence as to what marks the true church. True, a woman (or anyone else who doesn’t pass the objective tests for ordination—egalitarianism is a broader problem than just sex roles you know) who preaches the true gospel does not gain legitimate authority by doing so, but a man who doesn’t preach the true gospel loses his authority.

  24. December 11, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    David, RE #21,

    I believe that FV clearly diverges from the very heart of the Reformed faith as contained in the Westminster Standards. This goes well beyond a pastoral imperfection issue. The SJC reports show this with great clarity, as do the fine writings and conclusions of many brothers in seven orthodox Reformed denominations. More importantly, the more FVers write, the further their doctrines depart from Reformed orthodoxy.

    That aside, how many Lutherans do you figure we should allow to hold ordained offices in the PCA?

  25. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 11, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I commend this article by Dr. Niel Nielson, President of Covenant College, titled “Why I Almost Didn’t Sign the Manhattan Declaration.”

    Here are some excerpts, but do read the entire article:

    “I realized as well that the Declaration, while implying that the signers may agree on the nature and meaning of the gospel, does not define the gospel in any way that I find objectionable, i.e. by signing I was not affirming any heterodox, unbiblical view of the gospel. My signature – and this is important – signals my agreement with the Declaration as it explicitly and specifically stands, and nothing more.

    To critics of the Declaration who say that it implies agreement with Catholics and Orthodox on the nature and meaning of the biblical gospel, I say that such implication is possible but certainly not necessary. To critics of the Declaration who say that it commits the signers to agreement with Catholics and Orthodox on the nature and meaning of the biblical gospel, I say strongly, “No, it does not.” I disagree with official Catholic and Orthodox understandings of the gospel, and embrace wholeheartedly our Protestant Reformation theology, grounded in the Scriptures and summarized most beautifully and convincingly in the Westminster Standards. The Declaration not only does not in any way violate those Standards, but in fact flows from them.”

    I heartily commend Dr. Nielson’s thoughtful article.

  26. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2009 at 5:35 am

    >Frankly, your remark seems to share as much in common with those egalitarians who raise what seems to be a cultural concern above a cultic one.

    When obedience to God is filed away as a “cultural concern” I think we have a problem.

  27. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2009 at 5:41 am

    >I believe that FV clearly diverges from the very heart of the Reformed faith as contained in the Westminster Standards. This goes well beyond a pastoral imperfection issue.

    I believe you believe that.

    >The SJC reports show this with great clarity, as do the fine writings and conclusions of many brothers in seven orthodox Reformed denominations.

    I know you like to wave this about but the reports certainly aren’t identical. The OPC, for example, has approach this matter as a church whereas the PCA approach has too often smacked of Tammany Hall. I wonder if some of this isn’t because of the origins of the PCA in the PCUSA and how many PCUSA elders (and members for that matter) were ensconced within the PCA without ever having properly repented for accepting a heterodox authority (or even being part of it) and the errors associated with that authority. It is clear to see that the PCUSA’s path of egalitarian rebellion is being followed by the PCA. Reading the OPC report is a salutary experience.

    >More importantly, the more FVers write, the further their doctrines depart from Reformed orthodoxy.

    I think in some cases that is true.

    >That aside, how many Lutherans do you figure we should allow to hold ordained offices in the PCA?

    That is a fatuous comment. But if we agree with Calvin we’d allow them in before Baptists, egalitarians and liberals.

  28. Bob said,

    December 12, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Lane, it is not only on Social Issues but even, broadly speaking, Christian and Gospel issues where definitions are “make or break” considerations. Witness the heat that Martyn Lloyd-Jones took when he separated from Packer in the 1960’s over liberalism with the Evangelical Alliance. Nearly fifty years later Packer must now see that MLJ was spot on.

  29. Coram Deo said,

    December 12, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Like many others I’ve read a number of articles, scanned through a number of combox discussions, and carefully considered the implications of TMD from across the Romanist, EOC, and Evangelical spectrum, and to be honest I’m struck by the sheer consistency of the positions being taken.

    The Romanists are almost uniformly thrilled with the document, breathlessly gushing over the “unifying nature” of the document, and praising the “brave Protestants” who signed TMD thus far as they eagerly urge more to “come alongside” and sign their names to TMD.

    The EOC proponents I’ve read are similarly situated in their joyous exuberance for TMD.

    Now, this is not surprising in the least as both of these organizations are fundamentally based upon the premise of the church being a visible, “unified” corporate body. For them “unity” is an outward adherence to the forms, traditions, and ritualism of “the true church of Christ” which, ironically, both lay claim to being.

    But it’s the evangelical (whatever that means) response that has been the most telling. In my estimation TMD has neatly subdivided this eclectic and theologically diverse group into four fairly distinct camps.

    Group 1. – The true, saving Gospel of Jesus Christ is fundamentally central to what it means to be a Christian, and all other considerations are secondary. Co-belligerence with like-minded culture warriors is fine and commendable, but there’s a line in the sand at the Gospel, which may not be compromised by declaring sub-biblical apostate sects to be truly “Christian”, and then signing a declaration which yokes oneself to that abhorrent definition. If your professing church’s formal doctrines, dogmas, and confessions have gotten soteriology wrong, then that professing church lies outside of Biblical Christianity according to the scriptures and is, in fact, a sub-biblical apostate sect.

    Group 2. – The true, saving Gospel of Jesus Christ is not fundamentally central to what it means to be a Christian, but is rather a secondary issue which may be conveniently set aside for co-belligerence with like-minded culture warriors, and it’s fine and commendable to sign a declaration which declares Romanism and Eastern Orthodoxy to be truly “Christian” and to yoke oneself to that definition. The basis of the definition of what it means to be truly Christian can be boiled down to lowest common denominators such as a belief in the Trinity, the virgin birth, and the deity of Christ, all other considerations are secondary and don’t serve to define Christianity.

    Group 3. – This eclectic group consists of hand-wringing, waffling signers of TMD who were sold a fine, high-sounding bill of goods, but who have subsequently developed severe cases of buyers’ remorse. Members of this group have variously defended signing TMD, finding comfort in appeals to authority, or else they have requested to have their names removed from TMD and publicly apologized for their lack of clarity on the absolute centrality of the Gospel, or else they resort to ad hominem style attacks on the utter “uncharitableness” and “spiritual myopia” of those comprising Group 1.

    Group 4 – This group seems to mainly consist of post-modern libertines and radical latitudarian/egalitarians who decry TMD for not going far enough in its ecumenical spirit, and who denounce the document because it was drafted (and signed) mostly by middle-aged white guys, thus it’s an inherently hateful, divisive, bigoted and racist manifesto. Think Brian McLaren.

    Perhaps this is the greatest irony, that the ecumenical, “unifying” intent of TMD has served to further divide evangelicalism. I for one am thankful for God’s providence which allowed TMD to be fashioned and set forth so that all can see who bowed the knee to the Ba’al of a false, temporal, man-made unity, who refused, and why.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

    In Christ,
    CD

  30. Coram Deo said,

    December 12, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    From: Ralph Ovadal, Pastor of Pilgrims Covenant Church, Monroe, Wisconsin.

    The Manhattan Declaration is an ungodly manifesto, contemptuous of the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an ecumenical treatise, complete with a Romish gospel and shot through and through with popish error. Those evangelicals who have authored this document and who have led the way in signing it show themselves to be in rebellion to God. It is, in their case, a brazen manifesto of treason against the Lord Jesus Christ. And they are not friends but rather are enemies of Christian liberty in that they disobey and provoke the Author of liberty with their spiritual fornication, even wresting His word and corrupting His blood-bought church. It is the biblical duty of all faithful Christian pastors to stand against the evangelical authors of the Manhattan Declaration and all evangelicals who sign it or promote it in any way. Such betrayers of Christ and His church must be separated from and called to account by all faithful Christian ministers and people.

    HT: DefendingContending

    As the inimitable Spurgeon well said:

    We must have no truce, no treaty with Rome. War! War! War! with her! There cannot be peace. She cannot have peace with us – we cannot have peace with her. She hates the true Church, and we can only say that the hatred is reciprocated. We would not lay a hand on her priests; we would not touch a hair of their heads. Let them be free; but we will attempt to destroy their doctrine from the face of the earth because it is the doctrine of demons. O God, let the Roman Catholic Church perish, let it be consumed in the smoke.

    In Christ,
    CD

  31. Zrim said,

    December 12, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    When obedience to God is filed away as a “cultural concern” I think we have a problem.

    And when, in Erasmonian fashion, gospel disobedience is filed away under “pastoral sloppiness” we have an even bigger one. It’s that sort of disobedience that yields things like the Protestant Reformation. And it’s interesting to observe that egalitarianism similarly bothers authoritarian Romanists way before gospel disobedience.

  32. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    >And when, in Erasmonian fashion, gospel disobedience is filed away under “pastoral sloppiness” we have an even bigger one.

    If it existed in the fashion you imagine that would be true. But how do you justify disobedience to God as a mere cultural concern?

  33. December 12, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    DG, RE#32:

    But how do you justify disobedience to God as a mere cultural concern?

    We don’t, but that statement goes to the heart of FV as well. Zrim’s point in #31 is spot on. If we’re going to be zealous for the Word as we should, we don’t have the option of picking and choosing the parts for which we’ll be zealous. Whether “pastoral sloppiness” as you posit or misrepresentation of the gospel by FV as I would put it, or disobedience to the clear teaching that a woman shall not be over or teach a man, both are bad. But misrepresenting the gospel has much broader implication in leading the flock away from the Christ of the Scriptures. Those who abandon the Reformation for Rome or some other aberration over doctrine may never reach heaven. That’s a far more serious issue in my opinion that what we call women who assist the deacons in caring for the poor and the sick.

    I also challenge your use of the term “egalitarian”. There may be some in the PCA, but not the best-known names. While I disagree with these brothers on the issue of deaconesses, they are not egalitarians.

  34. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    >We don’t

    He did.

  35. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 13, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Coram Deo, #29,

    Where does Dr. Ligon Duncan, Dr. Niel Nielson, Dr. Albert Mohler, Dr. Wayne Grudem, et al fit into your classification schema in your comment #29? Or do you need to create another grouping?

  36. Coram Deo said,

    December 13, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    TUAD,

    Although I’ve not read each of their individual defenses as to why they signed, based on those I have read the men you listed reside in Group 3.

    Would you be so kind as to respond to #12?

    In Christ,
    CD

  37. December 13, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    CD,

    I strongly believe that Rome preaches a false gospel, and so do Drs. Duncan and Mohler, and probably the others. That’s not the issue here for them. Have you actually read their statements? They clearly state that the MD is a social document about morality in a fallen world, not a theological document or gospel statement.

    I respectfully disagree with these brothers on the implications of signing the document, but I don’t question their commitment to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. That line of argumentation against these particular brothers is a red herring in this regard. These particular men have strong records that speak clearly for their commitments to the true gospel. A more productive discussion would proceed along the lines of the document’s content rather than falsely impugning brothers’ beliefs.

  38. Coram Deo said,

    December 13, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    reformedmusings,

    Yes, I’ve read the statements put forth by Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan, and they have both clearly attempted to take the position that TMD is not a theological or gospel document, however this is an indefensible position. There is a sense, I suppose, in which this is commendable; but in truth there’s really not other ground for them to take is there?

    Were they to affirm that TMD is a theological or gospel document, then they would have signed up to a de facto repudiation of the Reformation. Among the many great ironies of TMD is that its architects, such as Chuck Colson for example, strongly affirm that it is a theological document, going so far as to claim:

    “This document is, in fact, a form of catechism for the foundational truths of the faith.” – TMD (and ECT) architect Chuck Colson

    Of course Mohler and Duncan may stand on the other side and say “No it isn’t!”, but at the end of the day their names are on the document along with Colson’s, and the Romanists, and the EOC ecumenists, and to the man on the street all those voices are sweetly in one accord – and on the record – as united together as “Christians proclaiming the gospel of grace”.

    Please understand that I’m not questioning Mohler’s or Duncan’s commitments to the gospel, nor am I in any position to do so. No one who knows anything about Ligon Duncan or Al Mohler questions where they stand on the gospel.

    But at the end of the day TMD itself lays claim to being a theological/gospel document, and there’s simply no avoiding this pesky fact. TMD specifically references “the gospel” in several contexts, and in doing so by ecumenical necessity it must redefine “the gospel” as something other than salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the praise and glory of God alone. Yet anything other than the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins and the declaration of righteousness by Christ’s merits alone is representative of “another gospel” (see Galatians).

    For example TMD states:

    “Like those who have gone before us in the faith, Christians today are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace…”

    and again:

    ““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.”

    TMD places the Romanist, EOC, and evangelical “gospels” on the same footing, thereby equating them as “the gospel”. This is both false and misleading, yet the signers of the declaration necessarily give tacit approval to this redefinition of “the gospel”.

    This is too high a price to pay, my friend.

    I too disagree with the brothers who signed TMD, and I pray that I do so in brotherly love, because love without truth is falsehood, and truth without love is tyranny.

    In my estimation those who signed ought to be admonished and marked out per 2 Thess. 3:13-15 and 2 Cor. 6:14-18 because they have erred greatly. This is not a Romans 14 issue.

    May the Lord of Hosts grant us wisdom, discernment, and the boldness to speak the truth in love.

    In Christ,
    CD

  39. Scott said,

    December 13, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Coram Deo said,
    “Of course Mohler and Duncan may stand on the other side and say “No it isn’t!”, but at the end of the day their names are on the document along with Colson’s, and the Romanists, and the EOC ecumenists, and to the man on the street all those voices are sweetly in one accord – and on the record – as united together as “Christians proclaiming the gospel of grace”.

    Your concerns are quite understandable. And after perusing the declaration, it is clear there is (unnecessarily) an ecumenical theological pretext given for it. Much more than merely, we all consider ourselves Christian, and are united to support or oppose these things.

    However, I don’t think “the man on the street” will understand this in the way of unity on a “gospel of grace.” Those who study theology may understand it that way, but the ordinary person will not.

    The saving grace here (no pun intended) may be he will not understand beyond the mere unity of “a whole bunch of religions” on life issues, family definition and religious freedom in the face of government encroachment.

    Also, while I won’t presume upon the intentions of many good people who signed this, don’t be too surprised if discussions like this bear fruit of some of them reconsidering, and removing their affirmation.

  40. Darlene said,

    December 13, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    I’ve been following this dabate on various blogs and the controversial wrangling is astonishing. First, I must come clean. :) I have not read the document in full, only excerpts. Second, I am an Orthodox catechumen, but have in particular taken note of various Reformed folks strident opinions.

    I spoke with an Orthodox bishop today (whose name will remain anon), and he hasn’t signed it. Firstly, because he hasn’t read it. But he did say that not all Orthodox bishops were compelled to sign. However, from all that he did say to me, he did not view signing or not signing as an indicator of one’s spiritual condition, i.e. signing = ecuminism gone amuck or zeal for the truth and the Christian’s commitment to one’s neighbor v.s. not signing = apathy toward one’s Christian responsibility or zeal for the truth in not aligning one’s self with non-Orthodox (or some version of such). Of course I realize that those of you here more than likely couldn’t care less what an Orthodox bishop thinks. :) My point is that just like among the Reformed, there is not 100% agreement in opinion among the Orthodox about MD. However, it seems more to be viewed as a matter of conscience, and thus, some have/will sign and others not.

    Interestingly enough, last night I was at a Bible study/prayer mtg. among Pentecostal Christians (AOG) and they passed an article around on the MD. The man conducting the mtg. was elated about the MD. While I am not Pentecostal, and I have various disagreements with their beliefs, I can vouch for this man’s faith and love of Christ. Both my husband and I have gone street witnessing with him and he is unashamed of Jesus Christ. He lives the gospel and believes that we must be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to others. He has a burning desire to evangelize and make Christ known. Again, I would venture to say that most here couldn’t care less what an AOG churchman believes. :)

    Conclusion, I think it is dangerous to judge people’s hearts and their spiritual condition/relationship with God on the basis of whether or not they signed or did not sign the MD. And I’m in no way a politically correct geek!

    Just my two cents – or four.

  41. December 13, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Darlene,

    Welcome to Greenbaggins! I believe that your conclusion is right on the money. I believe to a large extent that whether one signs the MD or not depends on how one personally reads it as far as social vs. theological intent, regardless of what the drafters may or may not have intended.

  42. Darlene said,

    December 13, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    All of this hubbub over MD has brought to mind the suffering that Christians endured under Communism. Why? Because I think the real issues run deeper than any of us would care to admit. How committed we are to Jesus Christ goes far beyond signing/not signing a document or be willing to speak out against those who have/have not signed. Are we willing to pay the ultimate price for Christ as many blessed saints throughout the centuries have with their very blood?

    Richard Wurmbrand, a Lutheran pastor, suffered for 12 yrs. for his faith in the prisons of Rumania. I met this godly man on more than one occasion and was truly inspired by his testimony. He was aglow in the Spirit and an exuberance for Christ emanated from him.

    While he was in prison being tortured for his faith, he witnessed others who also were suffering for the cause of Christ. Among those suffering were Baptists, Pentecostals, Orthodox, Catholics, and Lutherans. At one point, the torturers conducted sessions over the course of many months attempting to force these Christian pastors and Orthodox priests and Catholics to deny Christ. However, they were unsuccessful.

    During this time, word had gone out that the Communists were severely torturing Christians in prison. After having been beaten and tortured in gruesome and unimaginable ways, these men were near to death. But, the media wanted proof that the rumors were untrue. So, the warden in the prison had an idea.

    He fed these Christian men food, and had them take baths, and gave them new, clean clothing. Mind you, these Christian pastors/priests had no idea what had gotten into the warden. Perhaps, they thought, the Communists were convicted of their inhumane actions.

    One day, after about a week of treating these Christians so benevolently, the guards came to round up all of these Christian men. They were taken to a room and there, to their astonishment, was a photographer from the local media. He took pictures of these Christian men and they were released to the public. All of this was done to quell the rumors and convince the public that Christians were not being tortured.

    You see, the hate-filled Communists couldn’t have cared less about the beliefs of the Baptists and how they differed from the Orthodox, or the Lutherans, or the Pentecostals. They didn’t know the difference between monergism and synergism, or Arminianism and Calvinism. They saw these men from different faith traditions as Christians, and further, as crazy men who were willing to die for what they perceived to be a god that was dead.

    So, what would you have done? Should you have been taken to the prison, would you exclaim, I refuse to be put in the same cell as a Pentecostal or an Orthodox priest. I will only share a cell with other Reformed Christians who hold to the same tenents of faith as me. And furthermore, all of those here who do not embrace the Reformed faith are apostatizing the gospel of Christ. Be away with them!

    Meditate on what the Holy Scriptures have to say:

    “Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or faithhearted. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

    “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”

    “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

    “Yet if someone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God.”

    “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps.”

    When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, are we willing to give our life for Christ? Are we willing to die for Him? Oh, may it be so!

    The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.

  43. Coram Deo said,

    December 13, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    reformedmusings,

    Most Mormons would gladly affirm that they worship the same Christ as you and I worship, even as they look forward to the day they become “gods” themselves.

    And not unlike the Christ of the LDS, the Christ of Romanism is unable to save completely – his sacrifice wasn’t efficacious to completely justify those who trust him, therefore the Romanist must be purified in purgatory in order to be prepared for heaven whereas the Mormon must be obedient to his works righteousness false religion with his “Jesus” picking up the tab after the faithful Mormon “has done all he can do”.

    Again, not unlike Mormonism, Romanism is a different religion, with a different Christ, and another gospel.

    With your indulgence (pun intended) may I ask you how blood-bought believers in the Lord Jesus Christ can attain to anything but a false, temporal, man-made “unity” with the enemies of the gospel of grace? In the light of scripture is this type of false ecumenical unity with false professors desirable for the children of God under any circumstances? Indeed, what communion hath darkness with light?

    In reflecting on this matter I found myself wondering, like many others, why no Latter-Day Saints or Watchtower representatives were invited to sign the declaration. And what about representatives of Orthodox Judaism? After all, according to the scriptures which cannot be broken, they worship the true God with zeal, albeit without knowledge, and therefore they are not saved (Romans 10:1-3).

    Aren’t the cults and false religionists equally threatened by the social evils described in TMD? And don’t two of these three groups claim to be “true Christians” and “true churches” as do the Romanist and Eastern Orthodox churches?

    In light of this development I wonder how some of the signers might have justified not signing The Manhattan Declaration had it been written as a joint declaration of co-belligerency between the Mormon and JW “churches” along with evangelicals.

    In your mind are Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy deemed as somehow less apostate and heretical than the cults of Christianity because they affirm some of the cardinal Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, the virgin birth, and the deity of Christ? In your opinion is a faithful practicing Roman Catholic more truly “Christian” than a faithful practicing Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness? Why or why not?

    In Christ,
    CD

  44. December 13, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    CD,

    We’re clearly not communicating. I did not nor will not sign the document, period. If you want to debate Romanism vs. Orthodox vs. Mormons, vs. the Redskins in the context of the MD, please start a discussion with someone who signed the MD. Some of them must have blogs. I have exhausted my comments on your take on the issue. The Reformed men whom I know who signed the MD don’t need me to defend them.

  45. December 13, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Darlene, RE #42,

    Interesting post but irrelevant to the topic at hand. Would you suggest that we should abandon sound theology in our daily walk? Are you willing to practice believer’s baptism? Speaking in tongues? Women ministers? Faith healing? Name it and claim it Word-faith? I doubt it. Last I checked, no one is being tortured over the MD.

    Although I won’t sign the MD, I would not argue that we shouldn’t partner cross-denominationally to serve the poor, fight abortion, etc. Our church hosts one of the new Anglican congregations that split off over the issues in the liberal U.S. Episcopal church. In doing so, we honor their stand for Christ against an apostate Goliath, and at great cost to themselves. We meet weekly with six or seven other local churches, none of them PCA, to pray together and support each other in an area that provides incredibly hard soil against the gospel. But, we don’t preach in each others’ churches or teach each others’ Sunday schools. We don’t sign up to each others’ theology. We simply serve Christ and each other together in the community.

    We don’t have to sign up to each others’ theology to honor Christ together. Context is important. The close calls come down to personal judgment. For me, that’s where we stand on the MD. I’ve made my decision, but I don’t see the need to shoot my brothers who made a different one.

  46. Darlene said,

    December 13, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Coram Deo,

    Would you have suffered with others in the same prison cell who were willing to die for Christ yet are not Reformed Christians? Would you have been willing to suffer with a Pentecostal, or an Arminian, or an Orthodox Christian?

    I understand what it is to be a purist. I once was one myself. I belonged to a Christian group who believed they had been given the true interpretation of the Bible and that the majority of other Christians were contentious or blind. In fact, we called other Christians the Church of Laodicea. But we were chosen for a special purpose. Our tracts began by saying, “We are into what the churches should be doing but aren’t.”

    And those who left this group were warned that they would be compromising on the truth and “playing games.” We we warned that those who left would deny Christ or “play church” with other Christians. We were told that God’s judgment would come upon us if we left, for God had chosen us and prepared us for the TRUE interpretation of the Bible. We were called to go out and preach this truth to those who would hear, or refuse to hear. And those who refused to hear were rebellious toward the Truth. And if someone was thinking of leaving, we would warn them what the apostle John said, “They went out from us because they were not of us.”

    The leader would issue out harsh statements to the effect that those who leave would suffer God’s discipline. When we heard of someone leaving who had died, intense fear would grip us; the same fate loomed before us if we were to leave! Women were told that they would become fornicators or adulteresses, or prostitutes, or commit suicide. Men were told they would backslide into sexual immorality or commit suicide as well.

    But, we were purists, plain and simple. Those who did not believe as we were unenlightened as regards the Bible. We had been given the true keys to understanding the figure system in the Scriptures and we were called to be faithful to this high calling.

    I knew of many who when they left and attended other churches struggled for years that they were hypocrites and playing church with unfaithful Laodicea. I remember the first time I sat in a church with these lesser Christians, who I had been told were likened to the foolish virgins in Matthew. How I stuggled not to judge every soul that sat around me. How could I play such church games with these Laodicean Christians? I was a game player and compromising on the Truth and God would judge me for it.

    And such is the way of hyper purists. They are so right, so spot on, that they can’t help but judge the spiritual condition of those around them, and in the process, reject the very brother or sister that God has made in His image. They end up living in solitary confinement in a world that is so black and white that few if any can live up to their standards.

  47. Coram Deo said,

    December 13, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Darlene asked:

    Would you have suffered with others in the same prison cell who were willing to die for Christ yet are not Reformed Christians? Would you have been willing to suffer with a Pentecostal, or an Arminian, or an Orthodox Christian?

    By the grace of God I should like to think so.

    This being said, no one that I’ve read, myself included, has taken the position that believers ought not work alongside unbelievers for common benefit of humanity, this has never been the issue with TMD.

    The issue with TMD is that it unequally yokes the true saving gospel of Jesus Christ, and false soul-damning non-gospels together under an ecumenical umbrella that states in no uncertain terms that those who hold these irreconcilable views are united in the Christian faith proclaiming the gospel.

    This is simply a lie.

    Romanists and the EOC both proclaim another gospel, a false gospel, which thing is anathema according to the scriptures. One cannot be a true Christian while embracing a false gospel, and this is the grave error of TMD, and the error of those who tacitly approved the lie by signing their names.

    In Christ,
    CD

  48. Darlene said,

    December 13, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Reformed Musings,

    Thank you for the welcome, btw. As regards your post 45, I think you misunderstood the thrust of my argumentation. These men who came from various Christian traditions were all suffering under the same banner i.e.= Christian. Were the Lutherans compromising on their sound theology by being willing to suffer with others whom they disagreed with? Was it giving a false representation of the gospel to the unbelievers around them? Should they have insisted on being in a cell with only those who held to the same confessions? Apply that to the others as well.

    As far as abandoning sound theology, where do I begin to even tell of the heart wrenching, soul searching process I have gone through in my desire to be faithful to Christ and His teachings? I have worshipped among the Wesleyans, the Mennonites, the AOG, the Reformed Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Lutherans, and non-denominationals. All the while I grew very troubled by the sharp disagreements each of these Christian churches had with the other.

    All I wanted to do was serve Christ among Christians who had the fullest and closest expression of the Apostles’ teaching. Yet, I cannot deny that within each of these churches there were genuine believers in Christ, even though they practice Believer’s Baptism, (except the Luth and Pres), which I now understand to be heterodox, if not heretical. Even among the Pentecostals who tried to force me to be slain in the Spirit (which is very unscriptural), and who accepted women preachers, even among them there were true believers in Christ. They had been given a certain amount of light/understanding and were faithful with it.

    Let me say that I could never in good conscience and before God be a Pentecostal, or even a Wesleyan, or even a Reformed Baptist at this juncture, or even a Protestant of any stripe for that matter. However, I do not judge those who reside in those faith traditions as apostates, or unfaithful to Christ. Having been among them at one time, and that having been all that I knew at the time, I can say I loved Christ as much as He was revealed to me. Which brings me to my current status of how I have come to the Orthodox faith.

    And that’s a whole other story! :)

    May Christ be with you always as you journey toward the Celestial City, that one made without human hands.

    In His Immeasurable Love,

    Darlene

  49. Zrim said,

    December 14, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    David Gray,

    Re #32: But how do you justify disobedience to God as a mere cultural concern?

    As a subordinationist, I share a bed with authoritarians (what some call the “shut up and sit down” crowd). And to me, they seem much more concerned to push back at least as hard as egalitarians shove. And to the extent that both the egalitarians and the authoritarian-subordinationists seem latitudinarian on the gospel, the more I watch the more it just seems like culturalists fighting. One wants men to know the world is flat, the other for women to know their place.

    Or do you imagine the Pope’s sex makes up for his false gospel?

  50. Zrim said,

    December 14, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Reformedmusings,

    Re # 37: I respectfully disagree with these brothers on the implications of signing the document, but I don’t question their commitment to the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

    When the gospel is confusingly linked up to certain cultural concerns, and to the extent that confusing Christ with culture is tantamount to confusing law and gospel, would you be willing to agree that their signing at least obscures their otherwise orthodox witness? If so, I am just not sure what the principled difference really is between holding out a false gospel and obscuring a true one. I respect respect, but could it be that obscuring the true gospel calls for more chutzpa than respect?

  51. David Gray said,

    December 14, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    >One wants men to know the world is flat, the other for women to know their place.

    That is probably how a pagan would view it.

  52. Coram Deo said,

    December 14, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Zrim,

    You’re spot on in #50.

    May I ask if you agree or disagree with the statement below from my comment in #38?

    In my estimation those who signed ought to be admonished and marked out per 2 Thess. 3:13-15 and 2 Cor. 6:14-18 because they have erred greatly. This is not a Romans 14 issue.

    And I have a follow up; assuming that there are at least some who are in agreement with my statement above, then in my view the next obvious step resulting from TMD is the question of applying proper church discipline to the rogue signers, whether they stand in the pulpit or sit in the pew.

    In your opinion how should the process of church discipline begin? Since TMD is a very public document and the signers names and church/denominational affiliations are therefore very public should local bodies comb TMD for their pastors, elders, deacons, and members and bring forth formal charges?

    I don’t believe this is a Matthew 18 issue because the sin isn’t private against a brother, but rather seems to require public admonishment and marking out.

    I’ve not heard anybody talking about applying proper church discipline over TMD yet, but this is God’s prescribed way to maintain the purity of Christ’s church, and it’s not an option, but a commandment.

    Your thoughts?

    In Christ,
    CD

  53. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 15, 2009 at 1:08 am

    Why Brian Signed the Manhattan Declaration:

    “It seems the controversy is not in the statement itself, but in the idea that it includes Catholics, Evangelicals, Anglicans, and Orthodox under the same banner and definition of “the gospel.”

    This may be a testimony to my discernment skills, but when I read the Manhattan Declaration, my mind really didn’t go to the place where I thought that this was an attempt to redefine the gospel. I believe that when it comes to the gospel that many groups who fly the Christian banner have it wrong, but when it comes to the Manhattan Declaration and its statements on marriage, life, and religious liberty, I believe that the groups included have it right. When I signed the statement I did not feel that I was being strong armed into doctrinal compromise. After signing the statement I do not feel that I was duped into doing the same.

    My prayer in all of this is that The Manhattan Declaration would accomplish what I believe it was intended to do, to make a strong statement from the Christian community to the culture. Furthermore, I pray it makes a strong statement to lawmakers and to our President that there are a significant number of voters in our Democracy who believe our leaders are headed down the wrong path on these issues. I could only hope that this controversy does not do what usually happens in Christendom, and this is we end up with 4, or 7, or 40 different documents that essentially say the same thing, but demonstrate that we have no sense of agreement or unity.

    I signed the Manhattan Declaration. I believe that the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God. I believe that salvation is received by grace, through faith alone, in the risen Son of God. I also believe that when I signed the Manhattan Declaration I did not make a mistake.”

  54. Coram Deo said,

    December 15, 2009 at 5:28 am

    TU&D:

    Do you believe that Rome proclaims a false gospel?

  55. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 15, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Coram Deo (#52):

    In my estimation those who signed ought to be admonished and marked out per 2 Thess. 3:13-15 and 2 Cor. 6:14-18 because they have erred greatly. This is not a Romans 14 issue. … In your opinion how should the process of church discipline begin? Since TMD is a very public document and the signers names and church/denominational affiliations are therefore very public should local bodies comb TMD for their pastors, elders, deacons, and members and bring forth formal charges?

    There are several obstacles to this.

    (1) BCO 32-2 requires that

    Process against an offender shall not be commenced unless some person or persons undertake to make out the charge; or unless the court finds it necessary, for the honor of religion, itself to take the step provided for in BCO 31-2.

    So for each TE, you would need either an individual to make a charge, or to convince a Presbytery that signing the MD rises to the level of an offense that is necessary to prosecute for the honor of religion.

    Just as a guess, I would say that many presbyteries would not view this as a chargeable offense. They would, rather, appeal to BCO 34-2:

    As no minister ought, on account of his office, to be screened in his sin, or slightly censured, so scandalous charges ought not to be received against him on slight grounds.

    If you yourself were to undertake to be the individual to make a charge, you would need to be quite certain of yourself, lest you become viewed as a “litigious individual”, which would certainly diminish your continued ability to make such charges.

    (2) If you or another individual were to press charges, your charge would have to demonstrate itself to meet the test of BCO 34-5:

    Heresy and schism may be of such a nature as to warrant deposition; but errors ought to be carefully considered, whether they strike at the vitals of religion and are industriously spread, or whether they arise from the weakness of the human understanding and are not likely to do much injury.

    (3) And finally, the outcome of such trials is unlikely to be a censuring and “marking out” of the signers. BCO 34-6:

    If the Presbytery find on trial that the matter complained of amounts to no more than such acts of infirmity as may be amended, so that little or nothing remains to hinder the minister’s usefulness, it shall take all prudent measures to remove the scandal.

    Assuming that a presbytery took up your case, the likely defense would be (a) that there was nothing in the document itself that was directly heretical, so that any failure to heed danger was a result of failing to think through implications (cf. #53 above); and (b) that in any event, the dangers perceived by Sproul and Horton and others are not directly contrary to the standards, but rather contrary to certain opinions that these men hold (opposition to the ECT, and hard distinction between law and gospel, respectively). That is, the document is not contrary to the Standards per se, but contrary only to the strand of Reformed theology taught by Sproul and Horton.

    (I’m not endorsing this defense; I’m just projecting how it would go down)

    In light of such defense, assuming the presbytery found in your favor, the likely remedy would be to ask the minister in question to withdraw his signature, on the basis of error in good faith.

    And that would be the end of the matter.

    I don’t recall, but was anyone ever disciplined for signing ECT? If not there, then certainly not here.

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff Cagle

  56. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 15, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    #52, Coram Deo,

    Have you seen Professor R. Scott Clark’s response to you? If not, he wrote:

    “No, I don’t agree.

    I don’t think that disagreeing about how to speak to such questions should be a matter of discipline. People make mistakes but not all mistakes are willful sin.”

  57. Darlene said,

    December 15, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    A question has arisen in my mind that is just a trite puzzling. Perhaps the well-informed Reformed folk here can clarify. Don’t a number of the Reformed pastors/teachers/preachers, etc. who are speaking out against the MD hold to a different confession of faith and a different understanding of the Sacraments? For example, aren’t James White, John MacArthur, R.C.Sproul, Alistair Begg, Mark Driscoll, Steve Camp (and others whose names I can’t recall at the moment), from a low-church, Reformed Baptist type tradition?

    If this is the case, how can those who hold to various Confessions, (Westminster, Heidleberg, 1689 Baptist Confession, etc.) call for the discipline of those who differ with them?

    I hope my question is clear. Just kinda scratchin’ my head here. :)

  58. Zrim said,

    December 15, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Coram Deo,

    Re # 52:

    Short answer, I think RSC’s response mainly suffices.

    Extended answer, I think a stronger statement is in order, something more forthright than “respectfully disagree” (like Horton’s or Sproul’s) but not as strident as actual church discipline. And don’t forget the rare sort of facility, skill and insight of something like Darryl Hart’s take at Front Porch Republic.

    The MD is just not the same as the FV, which directly and publically challenges confessional or churchly formulations. It is public, but it is of a different nature. And for something like church discipline to work the individuals at hand have to actually take vows to uphold the doctrinal formulations and endeavor to not contradict, circumvent or otherwise undermine them. Yes, some MDers fall into that category, but not all. Presbyterians can’t really discipline Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox or Baptists. And when it comes to those that do, while I think there is something craftier about an obscured true gospel than a clear but false one, it seems enough to sternly remind (instead of respectfully disagree with) Presbyterian MDers that these projects do not well serve the unfettered gospel.

  59. Scott said,

    December 15, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Darlene,

    Not to derail the back and forth but thought this might be helpful.

    For many of us Reformed/Evangelical/Protestant Christians we could almost go along with this Declaration (some actually have signed, others will likely reconsider) because we can agree with the summary of the declaration:

    “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. ”

    These are things that we do support and know are under direct threat under the current political/pop culture climate.

    The following part, even makes it better, by qualifying individuals rather than the official pronouncement of each denomination/church:

    “We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities.”

    The problem many of us have with this is the theological pretext of the document that is part of its substance.

    “Like those who have gone before us in the faith, Christians today are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace, to protect the intrinsic dignity of the human person and to stand for the common good.”

    We know we disagree on something fundamental- the Gospel.

    Reformed/Evangelical/Protestants would know this as by grace through faith in Christ’s righteousness alone. That is, the centerpiece of all of God’s Word. The whole of the Old Testament was about looking forward to it, the New Testament looking directly at it and back on it as accomplished fact in Jesus, risen Savior.

    More specifically, we know “the Gospel of costly grace” is a specific theological phrase that means something very different than that -it means man’s works or efforts in some way meriting salvation which we do not believe at all represents the perfection of Christ’s work.

    Granted, many ordinary Christians may not notice or understand or care about that.

    I’m not asking you to agree with this, particularly with the broad and varied denominational backgrounds you mention, only to explain that’s why many of us are not comfortable signing this. It makes us feel we are being asked to compromise our biblical witness to declare ends we do agree with.

    And, make no mistake about it, the Gospel (salvation by grace through faith in Christ’s righteousness alone) has to be an “end” of everything we do.

    Even in the face of representing biblical moral values in the public arena.

    It’s painful, and some of us are disappointed this was not considered in the crafting of the pretext of this declaration because this could have been done without that.

    Because without pre-supposing that, an overlooking of a faithful biblical witness of the gospel, many of us would gladly sign this.

  60. Coram Deo said,

    December 15, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    TU&D:

    Do you believe that Rome proclaims a false gospel?

    In Christ,
    CD

  61. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 16, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Coram Deo,

    Do you believe that there are genuinely Christians who are going to Heaven and who are members of the Roman Catholic Church?

  62. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 16, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Coram Deo,

    Do proponents of Federal Vision proclaim a false gospel?

  63. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    TU&D:

    Coram Deo is just repeating the same question I asked you at #12 above. For someone with your nick, you seem unusually reticent to speak your mind.

    If you simply can’t answer the question, perhaps you could explain why. Is it because the Roman Catholic Church is like the Federal Vision, with no centralized control and leadership – no official statements except one ambiguously worded joint statement? Or is because identification of the preached gospel is like asking someone to judge the hearts of those who lack credible professions of faith? If it is like either of those, your questions to CD make sense. But if not, what’s the hold up?

    -TurretinFan

  64. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 17, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    TurretinFan,

    I answered your question before. Don’t be continuously annoying just because you’ve been answered already. What did I tell you before? It hasn’t changed.

  65. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    You evaded the question before – multiple times. Same as you’re doing to CD.

  66. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 17, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    (Apologies for this thread being deformed.)

    TurretinFan,

    I have answered you before on your own blog. It’s there.

  67. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    You answered by evading, same as you are doing here. We can all guess why, but it would be nice if you would come out and say what whether you answer the question affirmatively or negatively. Does Rome proclaim a false gospel?

  68. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 17, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    TurretinFan,

    Repeat the answer I gave you.

  69. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 17, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    TurretinFan, Coram Deo, et al,

    Are you familiar with Andrew Sandlin? If so, do you think he’s sound in his theology?

  70. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    TU&D:

    Your repeated non-answers make me question your purpose in promoting the MD. Perhaps you can just explain why you don’t tell us whether you think that Rome is proclaiming a false gospel.

    To answer your question (despite your continued discourtesy of evading mine): I have only a passing familiarity with Sandlin. I’ve heard nothing good about him from the Westminster West crowd, and the “about” page you gave me tells me next to nothing about his theology.

    -TurretinFan

  71. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    For example, are you worried about the question that comes after you either affirm or deny that Rome proclaims a false gospel?

  72. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 17, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    TurretinFan,

    You are making imputations that don’t help you. Again, repeat the answer that I gave you on your own blog.

  73. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    You didn’t answer the question on my blog, nor here, nor on Triablogue. You have consistently evaded. Why? Who knows. Maybe you just enjoy the attention that evading questions gets you.

  74. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    In case your memory about your non-answer on my blog has faded, here’s a direct your response which (you will note) does not either affirm or deny that Rome proclaims a false gospel. (link to the evasion in question)

  75. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 17, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    I did answer the question on your blog. For you to deny it is ridiculous.

    Why do you continue to accuse without merit? Do you enjoy being a false accuser?

  76. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I have given the evidence that you evaded there just as you are evading here. Repent of your lies.

  77. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    And here’s a link to how you evaded the question over at Triablogue (link to evasion). You’ve responded many times, but you’ve never answered the question.

  78. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 17, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    TurretinFan,

    You’re accusing me of lying. And I’m saying that you’re making a false accusation which charges you with lying.

    I don’t know how often I have to repeat myself, but I answered you on your own blog. Look again. I don’t know why you want to act so badly.

  79. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    You should be ashamed of yourself TU&D. You know very well you haven’t stated whether you believe that Rome proclaims a false gospel. I don’t think you’re fooling anyone here, either. Do you? After all, they can see the repeated evasions above, and the evasions at the links I’ve provided. As I said above, repent.

  80. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 17, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    TurretinFan: “TU&D,

    Do you believe that Rome proclaims a false gospel?”

    Me: “TurretinFan:

    Imagine asking that question of Albert Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Tim Keller, et al. Then imagine their responses. (I doubt that their answers would differ from mine).”

    It’s so straightforward. And so staggering to see you be so dense. Why do you want to explore the lower-bound of your stupidity?

  81. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    And what do you think their answer would be?

  82. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Because you and I clearly think quite differently. Our imaginations are not in sync. as it were.

  83. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    If it helps you, condescend to my stupidity and just use “1”or “2” to answer the following question:

    Does Rome proclaim (1) the Gospel of Christ or (2) another gospel?

  84. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 17, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    TurretinFan: “Do you believe that Rome proclaims a false gospel?”

    Albert Mohler: “———–”

    Ligon Duncan: “———–”

    Tim Keller: “————-”

    Niel Nielson: “————”

    Me: “What they said.”

    TurretinFan, being a false accuser is so bad, in and of itself. But then to compound it with obnoxious, rank stupidity is almost unbearable.

    I leave it to you whether you want to apologize. If you want to add sinful pride to your list, go ahead.

  85. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    See my comments at 81-83.

  86. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    December 17, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    I’m getting off the merry-go-round. Go falsely accuse someone else with your obnoxious stupidity.

  87. December 17, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    I believe that we’ve strayed from the topic. It would be best if you two could take this back-and-forth over to one of your own blogs. Thank you.

  88. TurretinFan said,

    December 17, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Perhaps you’ll condescend to my boundless stupidity at trying to guess what you imagine those men would say, and just type me a 1 or 2 in answer to #83. If you really think I’m stupid, please have mercy on me and answer my question in a way that someone as puerile as me can understand without having to guess what you imagine several third parties might say.

    This will be my last comment here on this tangent.

  89. Justin said,

    December 17, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    TU&D says:
    “Imagine asking that question of Albert Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Tim Keller, et al. Then imagine their responses. (I doubt that their answers would differ from mine).”

    Really? Thats nice, so what would your answer be?

  90. michael said,

    December 18, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Justin,

    For the life of me, can’t you read? TU&D answered you. His answer wasn’t an answer that established anything but doubts and unbelief. And we all know that answers of doubt and unbelief are just a powerful as a yes or no answer!

    Now, with a name like “Just[in], you should equalize yourself! :)

    How’s that for an answer?

  91. Tim Harris said,

    December 18, 2009 at 10:39 am

    It seems like TU&D is offering us a Protestant version of implicit faith. “I don’t know what I believe, but I believe Mohler et al believe the right stuff.”

  92. Tim Harris said,

    December 18, 2009 at 10:40 am

    “(whatever that might be) and so I believe in them.”

  93. December 18, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    I’m having a hard time seeing how the current direction in this thread glorifies God. Perhaps prayer by all for all involved would be helpful. Other than that, I believe that we’re done here.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 351 other followers

%d bloggers like this: