The Manhattan Declaration

On November 20th, the Manhattan Declaration was released led by Chuck Colson and some 150+ signatories. To the best of my understanding, this is meant to be be a wake up call to Christians and warning to legislators on the matters of life, marriage, and religious liberty.

Read it here:
The Manhattan Declaration

Now let it be said, there are several names listed as signatories, for whom I have huge amounts of respect. But...

My first question? What is hoped to be accomplished? It almost seemed like giving up and saying, “you win, but just so you know, we are not going to obey.” One of my problems in general is our confusion about what our role in the world is to be. There is the sense that I get, that we see our purpose as getting the proper laws in place. In other words, that we would Christianize (or re-Christianize) our country, our government, and our laws. Now, I don’t deny our ability and maybe even responsibility to seek laws that make sense and seek the common good, but it seems that the purpose of the people of God is to call the nations to God rather than to conformity to biblical norms. In many ways, the biblical norms are meant to guide God’s people in the midst of their wicked surroundings. I think we have given way too much credit to the government by giving our responsibilities and our way of life over to them. In the sense that this declaration is written to wake up the church to live more faithfully, I am fully for it.

I would say, however, that it is way too narrow. This – to me – is a case of selective convictions. If we want to have a culture of life, then we also need to be decrying economic practices which exploit domestic and foreign laborers, practices of production and consumption which are harmful to our environment, positively working to provide health care the poor, and so on. Too often, the people who are hammering away at XYZ evils are apathetic or even endorsing ABC evils. (And this possibly because they have sided with a political party’s platform rather than the whole counsel of God.) If we are honest, there is more explicit biblical justification for the (re)distribution of wealth, care for immigrants, just treatment of laborers, and even the just treatment of land and animals then there is against abortion. Now, I am opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage, but if we are going to be faithful to Scripture, we need to open up this discussion wider than the select issues mentioned in this declaration. That being said, I think the mindset found through Scripture is that the people of God would be better than the world. That they would live beyond and better than the laws of the land and thus bear witness to the world of the God’s good and perfect will, expose evil and injustice, and call them to repentance and faithfulness to him. If the rulers and laws demand that we be unfaithful to God, then we would disobey man rather than God. This seems to be the goal of the declaration anyway.

I have more to say on the subject of liberty. But, that will have to be for another day.



Ordinary Radical said...

My Brother,

Well said. I couldnt agree with you more. Its about a robust understanding of the "sanctity of life", and a knowledge of complete biblical revelation concerning the such.

Thanks for sharing!

David Malouf -- said...

Perhaps my recollection of the Scriptures escapes me, but I don't remember reading anything about being involved with ruling/rules. Except in a more Theocracy model. For example, 1 Tim. 2, Romans 13, etc. don't seem to indicated direct action as it pertains to laws, ruling, etc.

Seems like a LOT of this banter about abortion, charity, ecology, etc. is more people keying in on specific topics they like and using their Democracy/Republic culture to empower themselves.

I'd say stop wasting time and money on that which is to sway PUBLIC opinion and start investing in what you think matters. Stop trying to persuade me, public figures, or the public at large and DO what you think is important.

Then pray that God grants you ease and peace in accomplishing what He has asked YOU to do.

In case it isn't coming through (and because we were asked to mix it up), NO ONE is taking the whole council of the Scriptures into account. And swinging the pendulum on this makes the People of God look like idiots -- reactionary, cranky (against the public and/or each other), and as short-sighted as the politicians being courted (or reprimanded).

Enough mindlessness - think ahead and think much, much more fully!

Sad but hopeful.