The Manhattan Melting Pot

One the chief architects of the Manhattan Declaration is Charles Colson, of Prison Fellowship. For many of us, that Timothy George and Chuck Colson were two of three drafters of this document was the first sign of trouble. These two have been central players in the Evangelicals and Catholics Together efforts. Even Alistair Begg noted this connection and clearly stated his concern on this point, and he wisely argued that the bounds of co-belligerence must be limited by the gospel.

I’ve already shown the ecumenical mindset that Timothy George has about this declaration, but Chuck Colson, not surprisingly, has been even clearer regarding his view of things. On his November 25th Breakpoint Colson referred to the release of the Manhattan Declaration as “one of the most remarkable and memorable moments of my life.” Why?

There, in front of all those cameras and lights, Christian leaders lovingly, winsomely, and firmly took a stand. I will never forget the picture.  I stood between Archbishop Wuerl of Washington and Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia. I looked over at Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Jim Daly of Focus on the Family, and Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action.

To my left was the brilliant Bishop Harry Jackson, a man who has mobilized African American churches in the District to oppose gay “marriage.” And there was Fr. Chad Hatfield, chancellor of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary. I was missing only one man, my dear friend, the late Richard Neuhaus.

It was a foretaste of what we’re all going to see in heaven, when those of us who can truly trust the Bible, who love Christ with all our hearts, minds, and souls, are re-united in the presence of our gracious and loving God.

Can there any doubt, based on his own words, that one of the primary architects of this document believes it is aimed at expressing genuine Christian unity? It would be wrong to conclude that what Colson believes about this can be attributed to everybody who signed it, or even that signing necessarily commits one to Colson’s pursuit of ecumenicism. But the clarity with which its chief architects express their ecumenical ambitions can’t be ignored and should have been a major cause for concern about this project. Frankly, I don’t see how anybody who signed it could really be surprised about negative reactions given the history of George and Colson with regard to ecumenical efforts. How could the Manhattan Declaration not be viewed as part of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together package?

Another quote from Colson to illustrate a major concern that I have about a theological shift that is underway:

Just imagine what could happen if we could say to the world that a million Christians have made this pledge—that we will not compromise the faith, no matter what.  I think that would have an extraordinary impact on American culture.

Note especially these words, “a million Christians made this pledge—that we will not compromise the faith, no matter what.” In one fell swoop, Colson designates all who sign as Christians and turns a pledge to stand up on social issues into a defense of the faith. What will the world think? That being a Christian is a religious designation rather than the name for those who have been born by God’s grace through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone. They will think that being Christian is about doing something about social issues. In short, the world will be confused by the message sent via this declaration.

I don’t know if the Manhattan Declaration will actually do anything to stop abortion or prevent the destruction of marriage. Even if it does, though, the price for doing so is too high—fidelity to the gospel. This declaration does, however, provide an excellent opportunity for conservative evangelicals to fully and forcefully reject ecumenical evangelicalism. And I mean reject it completely, not merely say you oppose it while you actually engage in it.


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