Wednesday, November 25, 2009

HOW I COULD SIGN "THE MANHATTAN DECLARATION" WHEN JOHN MACARTHUR WOULDN’T

(See Dr. MacArthur’s statement)

Anyone who knows me knows of my deep love and respect for Dr. John MacArthur. Since being a young twenty-something in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970’s who visited Grace Church on occasion and listened to and read John at every chance, I have been mentored from a distance by this man in so many ways. So this in no way would indicate a lack of respect for his views. There are in fact, very close and dear friends of John’s who have signed the Declaration and remain dear brothers with him yet. Signing or not signing this document is no test of fellowship.

I have been asked why I would not take the same stance as he on this issue, especially by some who know of my commitment to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let it be said with no equivocation, in every way I agree with John on the Gospel. I agree that there are signers of the document who do not interpret the Gospel in the way that I do. I even agree with him that this document does not lay out the Gospel in clarity. In recognizing those things, I find the exact point of our differing views.

In a clearly secular analogy, The Manhattan Declaration is somewhat like The Declaration of Independence. In this birthing writing for our nation the signers called upon Nature’s God, the Creator, the Supreme Judge and Divine Providence. While there may be debate as to what each individual signer meant by those terms, a belief that this was a nation “under God” is indisputable. From that position they went on to firmly state their disagreement with certain practices of the governing authorities. They took their stand with what they believed to be “unalienable rights.”

I see The Manhattan Declaration in much the same way. It is a declaration of what we (the signers) believe so that there can be no doubt. Implicitly, there is (as there was with the Declaration of Independence) a personal willingness to bear the consequences this stand might bring.

This document, though put forth by those who claim to be Christian, is a call to all people in good conscience to heed these truths. The following excerpt from the Declaration sheds light on my position: "We call upon all people of goodwill, believers and non-believers alike, to consider carefully and reflect critically on the issues we here address as we, with St. Paul, commend this appeal to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God."

But this does not mean that I see this Declaration as merely a secular document. In fact, I believe it is a statement that says, in essence, if one claims to be Christian, one ought to hold to these truths. For me, that is a given. I’m willing to bear the criticisms of those who disagree and to love them no less. But there can be no ambiguity here. I want my family, my church, my friends, my neighbors and my enemies to know where I stand.

I do not agree that it “relegates the gospel to secondary status.” My interpretation of the written words sees them as flowing from the Gospel rather than to the Gospel. Again, it is saying if one claims to believe the Gospel then one ought to believe this.

So, I am comfortable signing a document with others who “claim” to be Christians but who do not hold to a biblical Gospel. I will proclaim the Gospel of Christ and I will stand strong against the erosion of these truths, even in this type of public format. As I have said earlier, I signed it with a resolute heart and with a sadness that the times make it necessary.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Catholic Christians are bible believing Christians. To say that we aren't is to deny what the Church of Jesus Christ teaches. Stop the false teaching that Catholics aren't Christians. What is the pillar and bulwark of truth? The church of the living God(1Tim.3:15)

tandlbrown said...

Thank you Pastor Walter for your clear stand on the Manhattan Declaration. I read John Macarthur's position and still felt strongly I should sign - for exactly the reasons you have given here.

-Tim Brown

Sharon said...

I'm on your page. Good insightfulness.

Niles said...

Pastor Walter has an amazing way of putting things into a proper perspective. I agree whole-heartedly with his perspective on this issue. My wife and I attended Grace Community Church for over 30 years. John MacArthur baptized my wife and John performed our wedding ceremony. I have the up most respect for this amazing servant of God who’s expositional teaching of the Word is perhaps unsurpassed. But, like Pastor Walter, I too take issue with John on this issue of signing the Manhattan Project. This document does flow "out of the Gospel". Signing this document does endorses and promote a Biblical point of view and at the same time does not endorse or align us with people who preach a gospel contrary to what we know to be Biblical truth. If everyone took MacArthur's position, I believe the worldview on abortion and other anti biblical issues would be enhanced simply by default. This Manhattan Document is certainly going to be read by those in power who are outside of the truth as revealed in scripture and anytime we have an opportunity to plant Biblical truth in the minds of unregenerate men, we must do that. I'm convinced that God can, and in some instances will, use the truths in this document to expose evils that are now being imposed on our society and culture as normal, natural, and completely acceptable. God help us if we don't stand up to this destructive trend. Without such a statement as the Manhattan Document, how will our voice be heard? How will the truth reach the ears of those in power who do not read the Bible, do not attend church, who mock the way of the Lord? Despite its lack of an in-depth presentation of the Gospel and its Ecumenical tenor, it must go forth with as many signatures as possible.

walter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
walter said...

Anon,

Just curious, are you anon because I know you?

Also curious, does your view of 1 Tim 3:15 include me and the believers in my church who are not a part of the Catholic church?

VangyBlue said...

I think you gave a very good response, perspective on this issue. I agree, signing this document does endorses and promote a Biblical point of view and at the same time does not endorse or align us with people who preach a gospel contrary to what we know to be Biblical truth.

Those who signed the Declaration of Independence were not all Christians. Yet when the issue was about things that needed to be addressed to function as a Society, they signed it.

This Doc. calls Christians to stop being silent and speak up. Dont be PC, thats a lie of Satan, to silence you. I'd rather be arrested for standing up for the things in the declaration, in USA, as a Christian, than be silent.

Christians need to be openly boldly opposing things that are evil and damage (long term) the things our society has always held dear since its founding. The Gospel (www.NeedGod.com) can be proclaimed, as it should be, and change people's hearts and minds to live and agree with what the Bible teaches, and this declaration touches on.

God uses the wicked and the righteous to bring about His plans. Who's to say He's not doing that in America with voices from those who believe in what is Right and have a Bible based belief in the true "God"... together standing up for what is right and true? He used all kinds of people and nations in the past to bring about change and wake people up. God can do that today also, with Christians standing up, speaking out, and not being afraid to share the truth in love. If we dont start speaking up, we will be silenced not just by satan using other people to make us feel like our beliefs arent relevant for today anymore, but also laws will be passed to silence us and the Gospel. Lives are at stake, The freedom of sharing the Gospel is at stake, and we need to boldly speak up. Shame on those who dont speak up on these matters as Christians. We need to speak up as the Apostles did, and all the Christians of the past in various countries, persecutions, and even since Americas founding until recent years (60's?).

Wake Up. Speak up... Be silent no longer Church.