In December of 2009 I began receiving emails and calls seeking information regarding The Manhattan Declaration. During the last month questions have increased not only from individual pastors but also from circuits asking whether they could sign the Declaration.
The authors of The Manhattan Declaration (Robert George - Professor, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University; Timothy George - Professor, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University; and Chuck Colson - Founder, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview (Lansdowne, VA)) have labeled the Declaration ‘A Call of Christian Conscience’. It seems to be born out of two recognitions:
- A historical recognition … that is, throughout history, Christians who have maintained and lived “the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.
- A present
recognition … that is, that the above mentioned social institutions and civil values
are under assault.
The authors invitation is, first, for all Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians to unite in signing this Declaration to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good. Secondly, they are asking all fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join them in defending these three fundamental truths:
- the sanctity of human life
- the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
- the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
The authors share this introductory paragraph to the The Declaration: “Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
You can find, read, (and sign) The Manhattan Declaration at http://www.manhattandeclaration.org/the-declaration.
Most of the inquiries that I have received revolve around
the appropriateness of signing the Declaration. After consulting with the CTCR office
in St. Louis, I would pass on the following:
- The CTCR has limited resources that doesn’t always allow the opportunity to do the requisite research needed before an official decision to participate can be made. (They were not approached to play a part in The Manhattan Declaration.) No official particular position has been taken on it.
- However, since it appears that our church body’s positions
on such issues as life, marriage, and religious liberty are aligned with those
stated in the The Manhattan Declaration,
they did not see a problem with any of our pastors signing the declaration,
with the following understanding:
a. The signing was done after the brother pastor had thoroughly read the Declaration;
b. That pastors understand that their personal signing of the Declaration in no way conveys that the members of their congregation agree with the Declaration. (It would seem, however, that The Manhattan Declaration might be well worth the read and brief study in a staff or congregational forum and or by the officers of the church.);
c. That if the pastors in a Circuit decided to sign it, they should have studied it together, and what is said above in ‘b.’, the signing by the pastor not being representative of his congregation, would still apply.
There are already more than 400,000 signatories with
seemingly hundred’s more being added every day. A number of the signers are Missouri Synod pastors. I personally believe that The Manhattan Declaration is very
well written, does uphold our Synod’s stance on the issues addressed, and is something that believers in Christ and good citizens of this country (and world) who have it's best in mind, could support and sign.
- Protecting Traditional Marriage
- Sanctity of Life
- Life Library Resources
Civil Obedience and Disobedience (1967)
- Guidelines for Crucial Issues in Christian Citizenship (1968)
- Human Sexuality (1981)
- Abortion in Perspective (1984)
Christian Care at Life’s End (1993)
- Render Unto Caesar … and Unto God: A Lutheran View of Church and State
- Christian Faith and Human Beginnings: Christian Care and Pre-Implantation
Human Life (2005)
I am grateful for the opportunity of passing on to you a resource written by one of our very gifted pastors in the Michigan District. It is entitled, "A STUDY GUIDE for The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience," and can be found at http://www.fflinchrist.org/Resources.htm. It is a downloadable pdf file and is free. (Once you get to this site of excellent resources, just scroll down the page until you get to Study Guide.)
I will look forward to your comments after you’ve read The Manhattan Declaration.