The Manhattan Declaration

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009

(By John MacArthur)

Here are the main reasons I am not signing the Manhattan Declaration, even though a few men whom I love and respect have already affixed their names to it:

• Although I obviously agree with the document’s opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, and other key moral problems threatening our culture, the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel. The gospel is barely mentioned in the Declaration. At one point the statement rightly acknowledges, “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”—and then adds an encouraging wish: “May God help us not to fail in that duty.”  Yet the gospel itself is nowhere presented (much less explained) in the document or any of the accompanying literature. Indeed, that would be a practical impossibility because of the contradictory views held by the broad range of signatories regarding what the gospel teaches and what it means to be a Christian.

• This is precisely where the document fails most egregiously.  It 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.” That seriously muddles the lines of demarcation between authentic biblical Christianity and various apostate traditions.

• The Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels. That is the stated intention of some of the key signatories, and it’s hard to see how secular readers could possibly view it in any other light. Thus for the sake of issuing a manifesto decrying certain moral and political issues, the Declaration obscures both the importance of the gospel and the very substance of the gospel message.

• This is neither a novel approach nor a strategic stand for evangelicals to take.  It ought to be clear to all that the agenda behind the recent flurry of proclamations and moral pronouncements we’ve seen promoting ecumenical co-belligerence is the viewpoint Charles Colson has been championing for more than two decades. (It is not without significance that his name is nearly always at the head of the list of drafters when these statements are issued.) He explained his agenda in his 1994 book The Body, in which he argued that the only truly essential doctrines of authentic Christian truth are those spelled out in the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds. I responded to that argument at length in Reckless Faith. I stand by what I wrote then.

In short, support for The Manhattan Declaration would not only contradict the stance I have taken since long before the original “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document was issued; it would also tacitly relegate the very essence of gospel truth to the level of a secondary issue.  That is the wrong way—perhaps the very worst way—for evangelicals to address the moral and political crises of our time. Anything that silences, sidelines, or relegates the gospel to secondary status is antithetical to the principles we affirm when we call ourselves evangelicals.

John MacArthur


The Troubling Aspects of the Manhattan Declaration

11/23/2009 – James White

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.  Continue reading

Thanksgiving Sabbatical

by Mike Ratliff

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

This year my wife and I will be traveling for the Thanksgiving Holiday. We leave tomorrow (Monday) after my physical therapy appointment and will return Saturday the 28th. This time off from writing and contending has come at just the right time for me as I feel drawn to the throne of grace as I seek my Lord’s wisdom. I am both discouraged and encouraged with events in the Church at this time. Continue reading

Majoring on the Minors

A few years ago after my wife and I left our old church because it was going Purpose Driven, we visited another church not far from our home. It was a very traditional SBC church. After a few visits the Pastor asked us to have lunch with him and his wife after church services that Sunday. At the restaurant, we had to wait for the pizza so we had time to talk. He informed me that he had been to my blog and he had a lot of questions for me personally. This surprised me. I thought he was going to ask me about why I had such a hard stance on the PDC, but instead, his questions had to do with my understanding of theology and what we as Christians in this world should mainly be about. He wanted to know how I would get along with the other men in that church whose theological understanding was barely past that of a new Christian, et cetera. He told me that in his estimation that I was a thinker and since I was all about discipleship and obedience that some of those men would see me as a bit legalistic even though he knew that was not so. I made the comment that the vast majority of Christians I have ever known were enslaved to their flesh. He nodded in agreement and said that that was why the American Church was in such sad shape. He stated that we were welcome at that church, but I had better get prepared for a bunch of baby Christians who saw themselves as leaders having problems with what I taught. We went back one more time and I found that some others had been to my blog and none of them wanted me to even be in the same building with them. That was the last time we visited there.  Continue reading

Jesus Is Coming

by Mike Ratliff

I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. (Revelation 3:11 ESV)

knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4 ESV)

It is one thing to say, “Come soon Lord Jesus!” and quite another thing to live as if you mean it. There are even some today who are of the emergent mindset that teach we should live this life with our focus on the here and now rather than eternity. Why? This is to create a better world or make this world a better place. However, I also tire of those who treat eschatology much like the world handles conspiracy theories always looking for the right combination of “signs” that our Lord’s return is imminent. I used to do that myself, but I do not do that very much anymore. Why? My focus is on living this life for the glory of God and that means I focus on my relationship between me and my Lord first and from that flows my relationships with everyone else. Yes, the sad shape of the visible Church grieves me and, to me, this is the most telling sign that our Lord’s return is imminent.  Continue reading

Triumph in Christ

by Mike Ratliff

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, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18 ESV)

Much of the heresy being taught and preached by the apostates in our time is the product of a wrong view of Christ. Their knowledge of Jesus Christ is flawed, incomplete, or man-made. On the other hand, we should not despair that this is happening because our faith is not in any man, but in Christ Himself who promised to build His Church and the gates of Hell would never be able to prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). Therefore, when we see well known Christian leaders compromise and the largest Churches and groups of Churches in our time be those who have butchered the Gospel or who major on things other than it, we must look to God in faith, which was given to us at our New Birth, and commit ourselves to being where He wants us to be and doing what He wants us to be doing.  Continue reading

Our Heavenly Dwelling

by Mike Ratliff

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:11-13 ESV)

I was taught in College when writing a newspaper story or a paper that we should never state facts without corroboration via quotes from accepted authorities using documentation to back it up. However, I have found it very difficult to do this lately in the articles I post here. I have used J.I. Packer a lot over the last several years because of his summary writing of works such as John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Jesus Christ. However, it has been pointed out to me that J.I. Packer seems to be one who writes wonderfully true expositions of Biblical truth while also compromising with the very ones we oppose in their stands to corrupt our faith and attack the church with false doctrines, et cetera. My good friend Ken Silva pointed this out to me via this post. Continue reading

Preach the Word!

by Mike Ratliff

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4 ESV)

I read the other day that the Emergent or Emerging “Church” was replacing Christian liberalism or at least morphing into the same role. That means that it assumed a Gospel stance of universalism. For many years, it was assumed that if one was reformed in his or theology, like me, that it was a sure deal that that Christian was not going to fall into the cesspool of this nonsense. However, now we have a new term to deal with called New Calvinism or a reference to a certain group of Christian leaders called New Calvinists. Those we have looked at in this group appears to lean towards mysticism and compromise. I am one who simply cannot wrap my mind around how one who confesses to believe that God is Sovereign over all things and that man is incapable of saving Himself can seek to make the compromises in their ministry that would line themselves up with the Emergents. Universalism and Calvinism are polar opposites in my understanding of things and that means that Calvinists should have a proper understanding of what it means that Jesus Christ is Lord. It means that we do not call the shots. We do not design new and more popular ways to serve and worship Him. No, we must worship and serve as directed by Him. Continue reading

Lies and Deceit

by Mike Ratliff

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8 ESV)

A principle that must be engrained in us as we run this race set before us by our God is that our enemy is a deceitful liar and he has many who belong to him who, like him, are wicked and the truth is not found in them. Many of these people proclaim to be Christians but are, in fact, only wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). Like their father, Satan, they have no problem using half-truths and outright lies when it appears to serve their purpose, whatever that is. If we are not very careful and prepare ourselves for the journey through prayer and immersion in God’s Word then these wolves can deceive us if we are not very careful. If this happens, we might find ourselves stumbling into error. Continue reading

Spiritual Therapy

by Mike Ratliff

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household? “ (Matthew 10:24-25 ESV)

I began my series of six sessions of physical therapy today. This is to address some damage to my left shoulder because of the seizures I had in August and September. The therapist evaluated me today and told me that my right shoulder has some of the same damage, but not quite as severe. I had not told anyone about that pain because it was not as bad as that in my left shoulder. His discovery made me feel a whole lot better about submitting to his treatment.

When God saves a person, it is a resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual life. No matter how many years that person lives in this life after that, that condition will not change. However, all those whom God saves are left to deal with their flesh in a demon infested temporal place that He uses to purify and mold them unto the image of their Saviour. This process is dealt with all through the New Testament and is referred to as fiery trials or tests. The journey from that moment of spiritual rebirth to the Celestial City is a pilgrimage along a narrow way through these tests and trials. The way is not bereft of problems, false brethren, false teachers, false prophets, pressure to conform to this Vanity Fair, pressure to dilute the pure truth from God’s Word, pressure to fit in with this lost and dying world, et cetera. It can seem at times that we are about to be destroyed by the very things God is using to perfect us and ready us for our eternity with our Saviour forever.  Continue reading

Idolatry and Judgment

by Mike Ratliff

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17 ESV)

The response to the article I wrote before I left to go visit my son in Washington, D.C. was very eye opening. Even though I was staying in a hotel in Georgetown with an Internet connection, I was not in any position to ably respond to your reactions to Little Children Keep Yourselves From Idols. In response to this, I did quite a bit of soul searching, reflection, meditation, and self-examination through those six days while on the road. I could tell from some responses that I was not the only one who had certain favorite Christian leaders elevated up on pedestals of idolatry.  Continue reading

Rebuking Repentance and Restoration

by Mike Ratliff

This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them– since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. (2 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV)

Early last week before I traveled to Washington, DC to visit my son, I received an email from someone claiming that a very well known and beloved Christian leader was actually a lying hypocrite. I looked at the evidence and was surprised to find by my own reaction that I had actually been idolizing this person. I wrote Little Children Keep Yourself From Idols from that perspective. I did not intend to raise a firestorm or to rouse a witch-hunt against this person. I have been inundated with requests for me to reveal this person’s identity. The problem for me is that I posted that article right before my trip. During it, I had no ability to follow it up.

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post especially the part in bold print. The allegations against the person in question are all based on the testimony of one individual. Are we so ready to crucify a man based on the testimony of one person? I have not revealed what I know because I am awaiting the response from him to my own questions about this. Once I receive a response, if I do, then I will proceed from there to make matters very clear to everyone. To be honest, I am very doubtful that the allegations are true and I am proceeding from that context as a brother in Christ dealing with another brother in Christ.  Continue reading

Little Children Keep Yourselves From Idols

by Mike Ratliff

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21 ESV)

My bags are packed. We have finished the first leg of our trip and tomorrow we fly to Washington, DC. This morning I received an email from a friend imploring me to go to his site and follow a link he had setup to a discernment site that had information on a very well known Christian “leader” who most believe is the numero uno “exegete” in the Church. I have many of this man’s books and use some of them in my research for these articles even though I disagree with him on some very important issues. As I read what he had written, my first reaction was to dismiss it as an attack by the enemy to divide the elect. However, I did pray and ask God to show me what to do. I followed the link and was very surprised by what I found.  Continue reading