Archive for the ‘Brian Maclaren’ Category

Manhattan Declaration – Partial Roundup

November 29, 2009

Much has been said on the ‘net regarding the Manhattan Declaration. This is a partial roundup, with my brief thoughts on the thoughts of others, in no particular order (though, perhaps, there is a generally newest-to-oldest bias):

1. William Watson Birch (Arminian) Birch unsurprisingly signed. He oddly wrote:

By holding hands with other followers of Christ in this endeavor, I am only committing myself to do what is right, not forming an alliance on doctrinal issues or of the proper understanding of the Gospel with others with whom I may disagree. We all may debate doctrinal issues with one another. But the one thing that is not up for debate is to “promote justice, to be faithful, and to live obediently before your God” (Micah 6:8 NET Bible).

Apparently for Birch the gospel is debatable, while the sense of Micah 6:8 is not.

2. Ronald di Giacomo (Reformed and Presbyterian) Mr. di Giacomo won’t sign, but he’s willing to respect the liberty of others to sign.

3. Daniel J. Phillips (Calvinistic Baptist) Mr. Philips won’t sign because signing appears to compromise the gospel.

4. Alistair Begg (Calvinistic Baptist) Pastor Begg refuses to sign saying (among other things), “Are we wise to lay aside crucial historical differences of eternal significance so as to secure temporal advantages? George Smeaton, in his classic work on the atonement observes, “To convert one sinner from his way is an event of greater importance than the deliverance of a whole kingdom from temporal evil.””

5. John MacArthur (Calvinistic Baptist) Pastor MacArthur refuses to sign, noting (among other things): “the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel.”

6. Brian Maclaren (Emergent) He doesn’t particularly like the document because it’s signed by old white males and it minimizes the things that are important to him. The word “gospel” naturally does not appear in his article.

7. Steve Camp (Calvinistic Baptist) He won’t sign it because “It is nothing more than ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) and Justice Sunday revisited.”

8. Dr. James White (Reformed Baptist) He won’t sign it, noting (among other interesting things): “Great damage has been done to the cause of Christ by those who have sought to promote the Kingdom by compromising the gospel, the only power given to the church that can change hearts, and hence change societies. “

9. Tim Challies (Calvinist Baptist) Challies won’t sign, noting (in addition to large quotations from others): “It is good to speak of the gospel, but what does the term mean if used by Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox? Each has their own understanding of the term—the term that stands at the very heart of the faith. I just cannot see past this issue.”

10. Albert Mohler (Calvinistic Baptist) He signed the declaration because he “believe[s] we are facing an inevitable and culture-determining decision on the three issues centrally identified in this statement.” However, he insists:

My beliefs concerning the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches have not changed. The Roman Catholic Church teaches doctrines that I find both unbiblical and abhorrent — and these doctrines define nothing less than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But The Manhattan Declaration does not attempt to establish common ground on these doctrines. We remain who we are, and we concede no doctrinal ground.

11. Mark aka johnMark (Reformed and Southern Baptist) Mark will not sign and explains, “If these “ecclesial” lines can line up together in the Gospel without confusion then this statement and the others make sense. If not, where does the real agreement lie? My vote based on the way the MD is written brings confusion rather than clarity.”

12. T at First Word (Reformed and Presbyterian) He opposes the declaration and adds: “I would only add, that if the particular points of this manifesto are all they could come up with, then why not become even more ecumenical and invite like-minded Unitarians and atheists? True, they sign it “as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” but that comes at the end of the short statement, there is no attempt to show implication, and they are not signing it as authorized agents of the representative church of any of their branches.”

13. L P Cruz (Lutheran) He mischaracterize’s Dr. White’s and Pastor Macarthur’s reasons for not signing, but would prefer not to sign because it would label him an “Evangelical.”

14. Kevin DeYoung (RCA) Mr. DeYoung wishes he hadn’t signed it, but still abides by his decision. He thinks: “The debate is about whether The Manhattan Declaration implies that there are no essential core-gospel differences among us. After reading the criticisms that have come out I understand how the Declaration could be seen as minimizing our differences. I have great respect for those who read the document in that way. But I still think the Declaration can be read as a statement that simply says “We all as individuals stand in the tradition of Nicene Christianity and we speak together on these three crucial issues of our day.””

15. Doug Wilson (CREC) Says he applauds the document, but cannot sign it. He does not cite doctrinal reasons, but strategic reasons:

The second strategic concern has to do with the actual deployment of the gospel (if I may speak that way), as distinct from mere abstract definitions of it. The only way our nation is going to be saved is if preachers of the gospel get out there and start preaching it in a way that calls this nation to true repentance and sincere faith in Jesus Christ. In order for that to happen, the gospel that we train young men to preach must be studied, lived, taught, defined, and preached. If we want the Word to cut between joint and marrow, then our task should be one of sharpening, not dulling and blunting. Please note that the concern here is not how accurate a man must be in his understanding of the gospel to be saved (an interesting doctrinal question), but rather how much anointed precision must come upon the preaching of the gospel such that a preacher becomes an effective servant in a day such as ours. This is the strategic question.

16. Jason Engwer (Reformed, I think) He thinks it is “a mostly good document that probably will do more good than harm.”

17. Steve Hays (Reformed) He thinks: “The basic problem with the Manhattan Declaration is that it has more than one target audience. As the document itself says, the framers are speaking both “to and from” their respective faith “communities.””

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