In this interview, John MacArthur does an excellent job weighing-in on the gospel compromises made by the “Manhattan Declaration.” (Although we disagree with the degree of power MacArthur seems to say Satan has over the world, since Christ has total control; see, for example, Matt. 28:18.)
Like the wicked Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) document, the Manhattan Declaration (MD)--which is intended to battle such immoral practices as abortion and sodomite "marriage"--considers false forms of Christianity (in this case, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox, both of which teach salvation by works) to be genuine Christian.
An example where the MD considers Romans Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxism to be Christian is the following:
“We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities. We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love, who has laid total claim on our lives and by that claim calls us with believers in all ages and all nations to seek and defend the good of all who bear his image.”R.C. Sproul, in his explanation of why he didn’t sign the document, writes:
“The Manhattan Declaration confuses common grace and special grace by combining them. While I would march with the bishop of Rome and an Orthodox prelate to resist the slaughter of innocents in the womb, I could never ground that cobelligerency on the assumption that we share a common faith and a unified understanding of the gospel.”
R.C. Sproul, “The Manhattan Declaration: Why Didn’t you sign it, R.C.?” (Ligonier Ministries)
R.C. Spoul’s critique of the ECT document years ago is applicable to the Manhattan Declaration.
It is not surprising that Chuck Colson is part of the Drafting Committee, since he played a large role in ECT as well. Comparing the two documents, Sproul writes:
“The drafters of the document, Charles Colson, Robert George, and Timothy George, used deliberate language that is on par with the ecumenical language of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) movement that began in the 1990s. The Manhattan Declaration states, “Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s Word,” and it identifies “Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelicals” as “Christians.” The document calls Christians to unite in “the Gospel,” “the Gospel of costly grace,” and “the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness.” Moreover, the document says, “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.”This document is nothing sort of distressing; in considering false gospels to be true gospels, those evangelicals who have signed this document have implicitly said, “‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14b). This document is a betrayal of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sproul, "The Manhattan Declaration."
The signers of this declaration should read the book of Galatians. Who could read this and think the Apostle Paul would approve of an "evangelicals and Judaizers together" document?
Instead of encouraging the Christians of Galatia to forge an alliance with the Judaizers in order to end abortion, Paul curses the Judaziers for teaching a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9)--and Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxism, both of which teach salvation by works, likewise teach a false gospel (cf. Gal. 3:1-6). Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxism both deny justification by faith alone (cf. Gal. 5:1-4), and those who do are cursed (Gal. 3:10).
If the Apostle Paul was alive today, here is the kind of argument that might be used against him in defense of the Manhattan Declaration:
"Paul, we need to maintain unity among those who profess a belief in Christ. The Judaizers at least stand with us as we confront the surrounding paganism and humanism, which prevail within the culture of the contemporary Roman Empire. The Judaizers are our allies in our struggles against abortion, homosexuality, government tyranny, etc. We cannot afford to allow differences over doctrinal minutiae to obscure this important fact." “A Letter to Paul the Apostle” (The Trinity Review, July, August 1988)The Manhattan Declaration, like the Evangelicals and Catholics Together Document, sacrifices the Gospel at the altar of the humanistic strength-in-numbers fallacy; the thinking goes that "if just our numbers were great enough, we could end abortion, sodomite 'marriage,' etc." However, God doesn't bless such an approach, but curses it:
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD’” (Jeremiah 17:5).The mindset of this document is that physical death (abortion) is worse than eternal death (Hell)--which results from believing the false gospels of Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxism. But to accommodate false gospels is to oppose God. Thus the Manhattan Declaration is a declaration of war against God.
Critiques of the Manhattan Declaration:
Buddy Hanson, A Biblical Antidote for the Manhattan Declaration
John MacArthur, The Manhattan Declaration
R.C. Sproul, The Manhattan Declaration: Why Didn’t you sign it, R.C.?
Alistair Begg, The Manhattan Declaration
Michael Horton, A Review of the Manhattan Declaration
Richard Bennett, The Roman Catholic Agenda Embedded in the Manhattan Declaration
(written by a former Roman Catholic priest)