Many civic minded individuals with religious convictions have joined together in the Manhattan Declaration to declare their opposition to abortion and support of marriage, among other socially redeeming values. Except for other signers, it might be only the commendable exertion of civic duty on the part of the citizenry that could be praised much in the same way as their registering to vote, though garnering more of it from those who agree with their position. What has turned this otherwise fair lesson in civics, however, into a debacle is the assortment of religious leaders who are now also in league together by their own declaration.
The religious signers of the Manhattan Declaration include many high-ranking officials of the Roman Catholic Church. Present are the Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese; Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, S.T.D., Bishop of Birmingham Diocese; Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver; Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn; Most Rev. Timothy Dolan, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of New York, etc., et al.1 Had it ended there it would have remained only a Constitutionally protected expression of religious beliefs to be respected.
The trouble with the document is that an assortment of famous, Protestant religious leaders has also signed onto it. This has caused many to declare openly their disappointment and disapproval, and to question the wisdom of such an act.
How can persons who conduct large ministries which include study in the scriptures be so very ignorant of the implications of their endorsements? When they sign the Manhattan Declaration they affix their seal of recognition that legitimizes the views and positions of other signatories. This writer has yet to discover that heretofore Kay Arthur, of Precept Ministries International, and Chuck Colson, of Prison Fellowship; have renounced their view of salvation through Christ alone and have joined the Catholic Church to obtain it.
Certainly it is a logical step to take after joining with its representatives in religious pursuit of ideals based on a common understanding of the scriptures. The Protestants who signed would do well to understand what the Roman Catholic Church understands about itself:
This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour [sic], after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd…. This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church.2
This tenent of the Roman Catholic Church, found in the Dogmatic Constitution On The Church, simply means that if one is not in the Catholic Church, one is not in the body of Christ; as the Catholic Church is the only true Christian church. It follows that the Catholic Church would conclude the obvious about those who left it, or remained outside of it, in regards to salvation. What the Catholic Church still affirms as its position on salvation, “basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the [Catholic] Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation.”3
In light of these things, should we now expect future study programs from Arthur’s Precept Ministries instructing on how recant Protestantism to join the Catholic Church? Will Colson’s Prison Fellowship be disturbing Bibles and rosaries to inmates? While offerings that could be forthcoming from such popular ministries would probably not be so blatant, but of a more subtle nature; such a change in directions could have ill effects on many who subscribe to those ministries. That makes the nature of these questions, if not their substance, serious; and among others that should be answered by the signatories:
Jack Graham – Will Dr. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, perform the Mass when fellow signatories such as His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida come to call on him?
Josh McDowell – Is author Josh McDowell, founder of the ministry by the same name, soon to release a book titled: New Evidence that Demands a PAPACY“?
Chuck Swindoll – More to the point, and at the foundation, can Chuck Swindoll, pastor and founder of Insight for living, lend any insight as to why he now accepts the organization which claims exclusive sacerdotal powers and that conversely finds his Pastoral Office illegitimate and ungodly?
That last question should also be answered many other signers, including:
Randy Brannon, Senior Pastor, Grace Community Church;
Rev. Jonathan Falwell, Senior Pastor, Thomas Road Baptist Church;
Dr. Jim Garlow, Senior Pastor, Skyline Church;
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary;
Dr. Michael Youssef, President, Leading Way;
Ravi Zacharias, Founder and Chairman of the board, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
(There are others of notoriety who signed the Manhattan Declaration, but who have already proved they cannot be taken seriously in the faith.) What say you?
1. List of Religious Leaders Signatories, “Manhattan Declaration,” Manhattan Declaration.org, http://www.manhattandeclaration.org/sign/list-of-religious-leaders-signatories(accessed December 5, 2009).
2. Pope Paul VI, Dogmatic Constitution On The Church, (Lumen Gentium) November 21, 1964. Ch 2, 14 (emphasis added). http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html
3. Ibid. Ch 1, 8 (emphasis added).