Tag Archives: civil discourse

Why I signed the Manhattan Declaration

MHDLRecently a number of prominent evangelical figures have made waves by signing the Manhattan Declaration, an ecumenical1and rather terse (in scope anyway) statement consisting of three points:

  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.

While these may seem pretty vague and readily agreeable to by a wide range of people (in fact, the deceleration is implicitly inclusive of even non-theists) and rightly so. The goal of this declaration is not to form yet another creed or charter  or statement of faith. The goal is simply to come together with others of like mind over a very limited set of issues. It’s an old and wise tactic, pool resources and efforts in order to accomplish a common goal. In this case it’s the cessation of threats (real or imagined, you be the judge) to religious liberties by government encroachment, combating abortion, and combating the constant assaults to the traditional family prevalent in our times.

However, as simple as all this sounds, the amazing thing is that some evangelicals, or fundamentalists rather, are staunchly opposed to even the notion of this declaration. It’s as if the notion that a Christian would forge an alliance with anyone that doesn’t hold their exact level of legalism is somehow being “unequally yoked”2.

In my opinion those who hold such views are not only out to lunch on this issue, but are also poor strategists when it comes to the culture war we are engaged in.

Sadly, however, such narrow and sectarian thinking is not new. In fact, not too long ago Os Guinness set out to form a new (or reclaimed) public square where fruitful discussions and debates could be had in our nation3. The Williamsburg Charter was his attempt to forge a healthy platform from which opinions could be expressed rationally. Where debates could be had that were productive more than they were divisive.

His greatest opposition ended upcoming not from the secularists or atheists. But from his fellow Christians. In fact, his only death threat came from a supposedly Christian group that valued their hatred of others more than their love of their fellow man.

My fear is that the Manhattan Declaration will end up being remembered more for those who opposed it (and mistakenly called for the repentance of those like myself who signed it) than for what it truly represents, a concerted effort to rid the world of at least a few evils.

  1. On a side note; one of the signers, Peter Kreeft has an excellent sermon titled, Ecumenism Without Compromise. []
  2. Which ends up being a thinly veiled attempt at legalistic control. []
  3. Much more about his vision of public discourse can be found in his excellent work The Case for Civility []