Yesterday, a rather large number of ecclesiastical leaders officially announced the Manhattan Declaration. Many of these leaders came out to the National Press Club in order to make the announcement. Thus far, there’s been a decent amount of media coverage. This document was a collaborate effort from leaders of various faiths, churches, and denominations: Anglicans, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, etc.
Basically, this statement addresses three main issues:
1. the sanctity of human life
2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty
The document itself is a little too ecumenical for my tastes and I think there are parts of it which could have been written better. That being said, this is not so much a theological document as it is a statement of solidarity on the aforementioned issues. I was pleased to see such notables as J.I. Packer, Al Mohler (president of SBTS), Tim Keller, Wayne Grudem, and Robert Cannada (chancellor of RTS) had signed the document.
Some people may have been caught off guard by this announcement and are wondering what this is all about. The reason this document came out in the first place is because the handwriting is on the wall with respect to religious liberty. In fact, James White posted a story on his blog yesterday about homosexual groups in Britain wanting to force churches to “marry” same-sex couples.
The last paragraph of the Manhattan Declaration sums up its purpose:
Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.
It will be interesting to see what becomes of this in the coming months. Supposedly it took eight months to draft this document in the first place. Considering the trends taking place within the Obama Administration with respect to erroding rights of conscience, I think these leaders saw what was coming long before the health care debate ever started. Given the passage of the latest “hate crime” bill giving special protections to homosexuals while silencing moral opposition, this couldn’t have come at a better time.