Tuesday, November 24, 2009

THE MANHATTAN DECLARATION and EVANGELICAL CO-BELLIGERENCE
...the ineffectual intersection of politics and faith

The goal of both the church and the state is to advance the public good.”
-Francis Beckwith


The ultimate goal of the church biblically
is not the public good,
but the glory of God in the proclamation
and advancement of His gospel of sola fide.
God, not the audience, is sovereign.
The “public good” is political speak for tolerance.
The gospel, however, does divide;
it is a stumbling block, offensive and foolishness
for those who are perishing.


Here we go again!

In the face of President Obama's economic wasteland and political indecision vacuum concerning Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq; coupled with an abortion provision being slipped into the latest health care bill championed by Harr Reid yand company - the religious right has found reason again to try itself in the political arena through The Manhattan Declaration.

It is nothing more than ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) and Justice Sunday revisited. Same framers and advocates of the benign philosophy of political remedy for moral malady. The religious right of the past 24 years has all but been silenced. And despite the grass-root efforts by many well respected evangelical leaders and politicians, our country remains unchanged on key social and family issues. So once again, those who are impassioned about important social issues from a "faith perspective" such as abortion, same sex marriage, and religious liberty and freedom, are all but silent about the real "faith solution" for these same issues. The solution being regeneration through the Lord Jesus Christ and not political legislation. The solution for the Christian must be Gospel-Centered; Christ-Centered; and Cross-Centered. Anything less is ineffectual in bringing real resolve spiritually to these concerns.

The lack of sea change in American society to a conservative political ethic for many of us has been frustrating. But attempting to fight spiritual battles with carnal weaponry is just as disappointing. Christians who in the past have sought real change on key cultural issues did so, in part, absent of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. IOW, the gospel became the afterthought, not the primary thought. That failed strategery to keep the proclamation of the gospel center in a righteous quest I have defined as Evangelical Co-Belligerence (ECB).

I offer the following definition:
Creating alliances with individuals or groups who do not share belief in or with orthodox biblical Christianity, in order to fight an agreed upon social, moral, cultural cause that seeks to undermine the traditional family and family values. This includes, but not limited to: gay marriage; abortion; euthanasia; etc. and those who aid, influence, or control such societal moral decline such as the Supreme Court, Congress, state and local officials, and a run-a-way Federal Judiciary. This is accomplished by using boycotts, petitions, picketing, legislation... any political remedies available to resolve the moral maladies in our nation.

This is further accomplished by organizing evangelicals/local churches as PAC's, lobbyist groups, or as some refer to as "Christocrats", as Christian voting blocks to threaten with militant tones sitting politicians with the prospect of not being reelected if they fail to adopt the ECB moral/family agenda. This tactic is being championed by many evangelical leaders, seminary presidents and pastors absent of the authority of Scripture, absent of the preaching of God's Word, and absent of the heralding of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
-Steve Camp, July 14, 2005
Christianity in culture does have impact and does produce change. But it only does so as long as Christianity doesn't become a political organization and remains at its very core deeply gospel-centered. Is it wrong for believers to enter politics? Of course not. Is it wrong for Christians in politics to use their office, driven by a biblical worldview, for the good of society and their fellow man as say Wilberforce did on the issue of slavery? Absolutely not. But the church itself is not driven by the brilliance of U.S. Constitutional ethics, but by the Scriptures of the living God.

So again, what is the solution to the plight our nation finds itself in? The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And that brief answer is not about offering cultural reform back to an era of family values and more virtuous days. Jesus Christ did not come to transform America, but to transform Americans. The gospel is not the new nationalism for the conservative, but the hope for any sinner (like me and you) who by God's sovereign electing love trusts that eternal life and salvation is attained only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord alone.

IOW beloved, in this hour in our nations history may I propose a simple mandate: it is time for the church to be the church.
Gospel-driven Worship:
Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.
Gospel-driven Welfare:
44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
Gospel-driven Witness:
47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

31 comments:

Rick Frueh said...

Great.

Stan McCullars said...

I agree completely.

Blue Collar Todd said...

It almost seems to be a badge of honor for some Christians to say that they have gay friends. I think this mentality fits into your critique of what is going on. Christians are almost more concerned about how they treat the world then how we treat other brothers and sisters in Christ. Yes, we are to look after to poor and oppressed but I think Christians ought to focus on helping other Christians first and that could prove a powerful testimony to the world.

SJ Camp said...

Rick and Stan
Thank you gentlemen.

SJ Camp said...

Blue CT
Really good thoughts.

Your comment reminds me of Gal. 6:10: "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."

Grace and truth,
Steve

Don P said...

Not that I disagree with any point you made in your post, But v45 sounds to me like an argument for communism.
Apart from that, you are right. Christians should be Christians first, politicians second, and that only if that is where God has called you. We cannot legislate morality, it must be found within our hearts, and the only one who can put it there is God. Your point of the pitfall of ECB is on the money. For the most part, non Christian conservatives do not like us any better than nonChristian liberals.exingsab

Blue Collar Todd said...

@Don P,

But v45 sounds to me like an argument for communism.Unfortunately many Christians are getting seduced by such thinking. Communism, Marxism, Liberalism are all sides of the same coin anymore and they all stand in total antithesis to biblical Christianity.

Former Communist Arthur Koestler saw the incompatibility between Marxism and Christianity and wrote about it in Darkness at Noon. I think America is trying to merge the two and now we have Darkness in America.

Blue Collar Todd said...

Weird comment thing going on here. I think some of my comments from another post have shown up here by mistake, not sure how that happened.

As to the Manhattan Declaration: this is an issue of the Church, Gospel centered Christians, being able to be the Church and live out it's implication without being coerced into accepting or promoting sin. I reject the Ecumenical position of the thing, but standing for the helpless unborn, elderly, sick, and disabled is what we should do. Not accepting homosexuality as another normative sexual activity is also something we must preach against by preaching the Gospel.

Once sins like the above are declared an unquestionable public right by the State, the Church will be persecuted for remaining faithful to preach the Gospel. I think the signers of this are reacting to the State's propagation of sin on society and the Church, I am thankful that at least they get that part, because persecution is likely coming if these Totalitarian radical get their way.

~Mark said...

Amen on a solid post!

Mark | hereiblog said...

Thanks, Steve.

I made some arguments quoting the document itself. I can't seem to get anyone to show where my understanding is flawed. Instead, the supporters of MD argue from a position I am not necessarily objecting too.

They are missing the foundation which is the Gospel and moving right into the end goal. These areas are inseparable as I understand them.

Plus, statements by Colson who is one of the authors of the MD said it is a theological document.

SJ Camp said...

Mark L
I agree with you and I so appreciated your article as well. Well done!

Colson says it is a theological document and others say it is a social/political one.

Doctrine matters... even in social issues for the Christian.

Grace to you brother,
Steve

SJ Camp said...

-Mark
Thanks brother.

SJ Camp said...

Blue Collar
As to the Manhattan Declaration: this is an issue of the Church, Gospel centered Christians, being able to be the Church and live out it's implication without being coerced into accepting or promoting sin.

Amen!

Brett S said...

Mr.Camp,

Sorry to break up your amen chorus, but this is a shameful way to present your opinion:

“The goal of both the church and the state is to advance the public good.”
-Francis Beckwith

Nice that you conveniently didn't reference the context of this statement. Do you actually think that Dr. Beckwith ever believed (catholic/ or not catholic) that this is the #1 goal of the Christian church?
Do you think he may have been referencing the goal of the church & state in regards to political life?

You would make a Chicago democrat proud with these shameful tactics, Mr.Camp. Is it possible to state your own opinion without lying about someone else's?

Brett S said...

Don P:
"We cannot legislate morality, it must be found within our hearts, and the only one who can put it there is God."

Try that one on a police officer next time you get pulled over for doing 47 in a 35mph zone and see how far it gets you.

Gordan said...

Bingo, Brett.

Every law on the books is a reflection of someone's morality. The question is not whether to legislate morality or not, but only whose morality will be legislated. Someone's god is in charge, even while some Christians apparently like to insist that ours shouldn't be.

R W S said...

Steve you have in a very brief post nailed the problem with this whole endeavor.

We need Christians who will preach the gospel clearly and not get the law mixed up with the gospel message. For one can have a moral society just as hell damned as a depraved one.

Excellent post.

Ed M said...

"Jesus Christ did not come to transform America, but to transform Americans."

YES!!!!!

Strong Tower said...

I address a local church that takes the same bent. It doesn't matter what one believes, good deeds is what makes for Christianity. This is what makes the Declaration so dangerous. It has become the norm that there are no distinctions anymore, and making a stink about the fact that there are is seen as radical and obscene.

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."

We note the progression, teaching first, then fellowship. We get to verse 45 at the end of the chain of event, and it is not to the world that these things are being done, but to the brethren, and with accountability, just as Jesus said. "They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another."

SJ Camp said...

Brett
That is spot on.

All law legislates some standard of morality - that's what law does. It defines what morals and ethics a society will honor and live by for the common good of all in that society.

Well said and good observation!

SJ Camp said...

R W S
Steve you have in a very brief post nailed the problem with this whole endeavor.

Thank you for your kind and encouraging words brother.

The veneer of morality without regeneration leaves people more civil and upstanding - but does not help them for eternity. The church needs to keep both in mind: the gospel message for regeneration; the gospel message in sanctification.

SJ Camp said...

Brett
Do you think he may have been referencing the goal of the church & state in regards to political life?

I did consider the context of his remarks brother. The church's role in society at large is never just "the public good." However, that is the role of government according to Roms. 13:1-7 - "to keep the peace..."

The church's mandate is to fulfill the Great Commission and live out the two Great Commandments. "Loving our neighbor" flows from and out of our love for the Lord. No greater loving message for a nonbeliever to hear than that of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I've been involved in many causes: right to life; AIDS; feeding the poor; etc. The one constant in each of these areas was always the gospel was front and center. It is what distinguishes the Christian response different from their secular counterpart. One of the most unloving things that any believer in the Lord can do is to be consumed with the temporary causes around and then remain silent, numb, blind, and ineffectual to the eternal issues of death, sin, hell, the grave, and the wrath to come that await all without Christ.

Mr. Beckwith's context for his statements were made within the realm of political remedy for moral malady. Specifically within the context of this document - which is political. That biblically cannot be defended. Unless, of course, you are a Romanist who does not believe in the authority of Scripture or in a social gospel (red letter Christian agenda).

I welcome your opinion here. But let's stay away from impugning motives. Also, the burden of proof is with you on this as to a biblical mandate. Can you demonstrate your convictions biblically?

I await your reply...

Brett S said...

SJ Camp,

Thank you for the reply,

“However, that is the role of government according to Roms. 13:1-7 - "to keep the peace..."
If that’s the sole mandate then Red China would meet the biblical standard. They have done an adequate job of shooting anyone attempting to disturb the peace.

I agree completely with you that the church’s mandate is to live out the 2 great commandments and to go and make disciples of all nations, and to baptize them in the name of the Holy Trinity.
“No greater loving message for a nonbeliever to hear than that of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” - Very well said SJ Camp!
I believe this, and I’m almost certain Dr. Beckwith believes this. Anyone that would twist his comments out of context to insinuate other is a liar. I don’t think you need me to provide the biblical mandates that a man ought not lie about another man.

“I've been involved in many causes: right to life; AIDS; feeding the poor; etc. The one constant in each of these areas was always the gospel was front and center.”
I would be interested to hear more what you mean by this. Does this mean that you won’t give a starving child a bowl of rice, until you can find an interpreter to translate your preaching to him? I do agree with you in differentiating between natural human compassion, and charity done under those aforementioned 2 great commandments.

I personally signed the Manhattan declaration, and it is a beautiful document that I pray the Lord uses to do much good. I first heard of the document from Dr. Mohler’s program (whom I listen to religiously and greatly admire); but I would probably have more in common ecclesiastically with some of the other fine gentlemen who penned the document.

“Therefore God has greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow …. and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”

Thank again for the reply SJ Camp, Peace

donsands said...

"But it only does so as long as Christianity doesn't become a political organization and remains at its very core deeply gospel-centered."

Amen.

Have a joyous and Christ focused Thanksgiving Day my brother!

I thank the Lord for you.

John said...

I can just see Luther signing a doc like this! MacArthur had some great comments,

"• Although I obviously agree with the document’s opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, and other key moral problems threatening our culture, the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel. The gospel is barely mentioned in the Declaration. At one point the statement rightly acknowledges, “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”—and then adds an encouraging wish: “May God help us not to fail in that duty.” Yet the gospel itself is nowhere presented (much less explained) in the document or any of the accompanying literature. Indeed, that would be a practical impossibility because of the contradictory views held by the broad range of signatories regarding what the gospel teaches and what it means to be a Christian.

• This is precisely where the document fails most egregiously. It assumes from the start that all signatories are fellow Christians whose only differences have to do with the fact that they represent distinct “communities.” Points of disagreement are tacitly acknowledged but are described as “historic lines of ecclesial differences” rather than fundamental conflicts of doctrine and conviction with regard to the gospel and the question of which teachings are essential to authentic Christianity."

danielabbey.com said...

while i wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of the MD and the recent insights of dr macarthur, james white, and alistair begg, what caught my attention was the church's biblical mandate (lifted from Acts 2:42) that you set forth at the end of your post. as a man who will soon start training for fulltime pastoral ministry, i appreciate this reminder as to what church really is - and why we should never forget it. thanks steve.

Ms Darla said...

Well said, I agree completely!

yourundeservinglove said...

Brett,

Not to get in between the debate you are having but I think it is important that you stay on topic and refrain from the straw man arguments.

Let us focus on the point of this post which I believe is expressed in 2 Corinthians 6:14 "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?"

The point I believe Mr. Camp is trying to make is that as believers, what is primary is proclaiming CHRIST CRUCIFIED. The problem presented is that when believers join forces with non-believers, even if for a moral cause, the gospel can and will be thwarted. Christ did not come as a republican or democrat, or to unite political parties, protest against abortion or gay marriage. Christ came to DIE for SINNERS.

No matter how much we protest against gay marriage or abortion, or how many hungry people we feed. Even if these actions have "successful" outcomes, those people, without the regenerating work of the GOSPEL will still die and and have to face God's just wrath and perish in Hell.

We need to put faith in God's sovereignty and keep the Gospel primary so that others may be saved by God's grace as we have been saved. I do not believe Mr. Camp is calling for passivity, but for Gospel centered unity between brothers and sisters in Christ, so that we may see faith come from hearing and hearing by the WORD of GOD. If homosexuals and pro-choicers hearts of stone get replaced with hearts of flesh there will be no need to protest.

Asparagus Tip said...

The last 40 years has seen the complete collapse of mainline Protestantism in the United States. That has more to do with what is happening in American culture today than anything else you can posit. Wasn't it about six weeks ago that some 500 Protestant churches rang the bell for global warming?

Your post hides the subtlest anti-Catholicism. What you're saying is that I, as a Catholic, am not welcome. But you can't deny Christ to me no matter how cleverly you try. I belong to the Church that Christ founded and the one He promised he'd never leave. I would never deny Christ to you, or to anyone who calls upon His name.

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