Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Sproul, Colson, and You, on the Manhattan Declaration
12/10/2009 - James White
Many had been wondering when RC Sproul would comment on the MD, and as most of you know, he has finally broken his silence. He strongly asserts a direct connection between the MD and the ECT, citing from comments made by Colson which I had not read. Colson, one of the leading voices bringing confusion to the nature of the gospel in America today (along with Timothy George, both crafters of the MD and signers of ECT), wrote regarding the MD:
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.
And just as important, I believe the Manhattan Declaration can help revitalize the church in America. One great weakness of the Church today is its biblical and doctrinal ignorance. This document is, in fact, a form of catechism for the foundational truths of the faith.
Once again we see that for Charles Colson, the gospel is no longer a part of "the faith" that he refuses to compromise. That is, "the faith" has been boiled down to a skeleton of basic beliefs (Trinity, resurrection) that can unite varied and disparate religious traditions into one big (and politically powerful) group. This Least Common Denominator (LCD) form of "Christianity" is what is needed, evidently, to "revitalize the church in America." I cannot help but shake my head in disbelief as someone promotes a gospel-less Christianity and says this is what the church needs to be "revitalized" today. But it is truly a matter for deep concern that Mr. Colson believes this document is a "form of catechism for the foundational truths of the faith." How can this gospel-less document be a catechism for anything other than cultural Christianity? Without the gospel, you cannot change hearts and minds. So while the document mentions the gospel and says we must preach it in its fulness, evidently, that fulness does not include the very doctrinal precision demanded by the inspired Scriptures themselves. Paul, and all who would follow his example today, have gone overboard, evidently, and missed the great unifying impact of allowing anything and everything to fit under the banner of "the gospel." Somehow, we are asked to believe that this document, with its noble words regarding life and marriage and freedom, but which lacks any warning of the wrath of God, the holiness of God, punishment of sin and sinners, the cross, redemption, repentance, and the once-for-allness of the substitutionary atonement of Christ, is an antidote to "biblical and doctrinal ignorance." If abandoning these vital revelations of God is what is needed for me to get in line with the new enlightened and unified "Church of today," may I ever remain in dismal ignorance.
I, too, refuse to compromise on life, marriage, and freedom. I hereby let the world know that my allegiance is first and foremost to God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, and with all those who this day suffer around the world under the hatred and persecution of those who hate the gospel (whether they be atheistic communists, Muslims, or Hindus), I will refuse to bend the knee to any government's demands in these areas. But apart from, in clear distinction from, those who crafted this document, I add that I even more clearly and firmly refuse to compromise the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I refuse to boil it down to an inoffensive minimalism that allows all the falsehoods of Rome to pass for the pristine, soul-saving gospel once for all delivered to the saints. I refuse to blaspheme that gospel by identifying such things as the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice, purgatory, indulgences, the Marian dogmas, and the identification of the Roman priest as an alter Christus, as mere "differences of opinion" that do not fundamentally deny the gracious nature of the gospel. I hereby promise to remain steadfast in seeking to clarify, not confuse, the gospel message, and to hold forth even those elements of the gospel that the world finds most repelling and distasteful, including the wrath and holiness of God, and the coming judgment upon all who refuse God's gracious offer of salvation solely in and through Jesus Christ. I call upon all who likewise love and honor the gospel to refuse to join in any man-made movement that would remove the gospel from the definition of the Christian faith, but instead to demonstrate their steadfastness in their profession of the faith, in their lives, and in their cultivation of a vital, active Christian worldview.
Finally, I call upon those who have been caught up in the euphoria of "joining together" at the cost of the gospel to withdraw their signatures from the Manhattan Declaration, but to do so only in conjunction with a clear affirmation not only of the noble elements of defense of life, marriage, and freedom, but to do so in the context of an open and public profession of the centrality of the gospel as the sole means by which the hearts of men and women can be changed to God's glory. I call upon pastors and elders to give serious consideration to this matter, and to address it openly, in light of the concerted effort of Colson, George, and others, to promote this document and its ever clearer compromise of the gospel itself.