Phil Johnson wrote a great blog article that goes hand-in-hand with my preceding discussion of the consistency and (as a result) supremacy of biblical revelation and truth. It focuses upon the primary writer of the Manhattan Declaration, Robert George, a Roman Catholic philosopher and leading conservative political thinker. Read Phil’s article, and follow his links. I wanted to provide one particular quotation here, as it is quite relevant to the very criticisms I and others have leveled against the document.
I asked George several times if he was really hoping to ground a mass movement in abstract principles of reason so at odds with the prevailing culture. It was a bet, he said, on his conviction about the innate human gift for reason. Still, he said, if there was one critique of his work that worried him, it was the charge that he puts too much faith in the power of reason, overlooking what Christians describe as original sin and what secular pessimists call history.
It is a debate at least as old as the Reformation, when Martin Luther broke with the Catholic Church and insisted that reason was so corrupted that faith in the divine was humanity’s only hope of salvation. (Until relatively recently, contemporary evangelicals routinely leveled the same charge at modern Catholics.) “This is a serious issue, and if I am wrong, this is where I am wrong,” George acknowledges.
Over lunch last month at the Princeton faculty club, George noted that many evangelicals had signed the Manhattan Declaration despite the traditional Protestant skepticism about the corruption of human reason. “I sold my view about reason!” he declared. He was especially pleased that, by signing onto the text, so many Catholic bishops had endorsed his new natural-law argument about marriage. “It really is the top leadership of the American church,” he said.
“Obviously, I am gratified that view appears to have attracted a very strong following among the bishops,” he went on. “I just hope I am right. If they are going to buy my arguments, I don’t want to mislead the whole church.”
I wonder what my brothers who signed the document think of George’s claim that they bought into his views about reason, especially since this is a direct refutation of the biblical view of the supremacy of divine revelation and the corruption of human reason through sin? This surely explains the absence of biblical teaching, the wrath of God, etc. I’m sure “Robby” George (as those who know him refer to him) is a really bright guy, and probably as nice as the day is long. I hear Arius had a killer smile and could carry a great tune, too. None of that changes the fact that Robert George promotes a gospel that does not give peace, and a philosophy that, unlike the biblical gospel, cannot ever change a God-hater into a God-lover.