Archive for the ‘Ecumenism’ Category
A few days ago, I posted an article by Jan Markell (Olive Tree Ministries) concerning Rick Warren’s newest initiative—a health and fitness seminar featuring three doctors representing three very different worldviews – Dr. Oz (a Muslim), Dr. Hymen (a Jew) and Dr. Amen (a Christian).
As a follow-up, I am posting this article by Jennifer Pekich (Ponderings from Patmos blog), who personally attended the event on January 15, 2011. This is a well-written, well-researched and very important article that has been picked up and re-posted on many discernment and apologetics blogs across the internet.
I want to extend my personal thanks to Jennifer for her excellent work on this and for her permission to post her article here.
Saddleback Health & Fitness Seminar – Infomercial for Sustainable Development
by Jennifer Pekich (Ponderings from Patmos) (click here for original post)
Today on Patmos we will discuss my experience at the Saddleback Health and Fitness Seminar this past weekend. I first arrived to Saddleback’s campus only to be told that “all parking lots were full.” I drove across the street to see if there were any spots available in the business lots and they were full too. I ended up parking in a housing tract and walked a mile or two back to Saddleback’s campus. As I arrived, I overheard a parking lot attendant say they estimated about 6,000 people had come to the seminar.
I was a little late, so I was grateful to my nephew who went online and began to relay what was being said in the opening comments, as I didn’t want to miss what was to be the foundation of the talks that day. I was a little taken aback when my nephew told me the first speaker, Dr. Amen, made reference to the Egyptian pyramids and how they were built upon an ”idea,” and if man could build something like that all those thousands of years ago, what could he do today if he put his mind to it? I found that to be somewhat disturbing, as the pyramids, no matter how impressive they were, represent the ancient pagan religions which got their start in Babylon when Nimrod gathered men (the community) together to commit idolatry by building a tower to honor themselves as gods (Gen. Ch. 11).  And yet here it was, the analogy that was chosen to illustrate this new “idea” Saddleback would launch their 52 week program with. No matter what Dr. Amen’s intent was, I believe the analogy was appropriate, and the subtle message is telling…”MAN CAN DO ANYTHING HE PUTS HIS MIND TO.” Sound familiar? (Read Gen. 3:4-5). 
As I began to head up the hill toward the main sanctuary, a Saddleback tram pulled up and the driver asked if I wanted a lift and I said I preferred to walk, but thanks. The driver yelled, “Let’s all give her a hand folks, she’s started the Daniel Plan already!” And the people on the tram cheered. Nevermind the fact that I have been walking my entire life because I enjoy doing so, not because of some health and fitness campaign. I sensed I was entering a nightmare.
The main sanctuary was full & it was standing room only. They told me the overflow areas were full too. So I found a spot on the patio outside the main sanctuary looking in. I had a good view and could see the stage perfectly. Their outdoor sound system made it so I could roam around, observe the audience, continue to listen to the guest speakers, and take notes.
To begin, I’d like to state that Saturday Jan. 15th, 2011 will go down in the history books as the day Saddleback Church was sold a bill of goods. The masses had come out in droves for answers to their weight loss difficulties & health problems, but unbeknownst to them, they were being given a prescription for restructuring society & population control.
The prescription goes by the name Agenda 21, a.k.a. “Sustainable Development” or “Smart Growth.” Agenda 21 is a published document put out by the United Nations with the intent to put limits on population and to restructure nation-states into a global society.  Rick Warren’s “new friends” had dubbed it, “The Daniel Plan – God’s Prescription For Your Health.” A more appropriate title would’ve been, ”Sustainable Living - Destroying Inalienable Rights, One Community at a Time.”
By the time I settled into listening more intently, the second speaker, Mark Hyman, began. It didn’t take too long to figure out what the basis of his message was. We ”need to heal with community” (he termed this “accompaniment”), “we’re here for the sake of each other,” this plan “is our way out,” this plan “saved me,” and in fact will ”change the world.” Saddleback was being told they were a “test community” to show the world how to live “healthy and sustainably.” When I heard these words, my heart sank. It was as I’d feared. I knew which buzzwords to listen for, and he was hitting them all. The audience was told they would be champions in health to show the world what “living sustainably” was all about, but Dr. Hyman is a leftist who is more than a champion in health, he’s a change agent for the global elite, as is Dr. Oz & Dr. Amen. Dr. Hyman is the founder and medical director of the Ultra Wellness Center, he advises Dr. Oz’s healthcore group, and he’s a nominee to President Obama’s advisory group on prevention, health promotion, and integrative and public health.  Hmmmmmm. I smell an agenda.
Dr. Hyman practices what’s known as “functional medicine,” which means he uses a “whole systems” approach to medicine, in other words, he practices medicine ”wholistically.” This is also known as “Mind Body” medicine. At Saddleback’s seminar, “mind body” or “functional” medicine was presented as if it’s completely scientific. Any scientist worth his salt will tell you that yes, the body can be measured scientifically, but the mind falls into an entirely different category which can never be measured by science. As stated by Dave Hunt in his book Occult Invasion – The Subtle Seduction of the World and Church, “Physical science, by very definition, can make no judgements concerning a nonphysical realm” as is the mind & the soul.  In other words, the mind and the soul are scientifically immeasurable.
It’s the same with the religions of ”Mind Science.” Calling a religion “Mind Science” or “Scientology,” when there’s nothing scientific about it, is the same as calling a cereal “Grapenuts” when it contains no grapes or nuts. But we live in an era when the masses have been sufficiently dumbed down and all it takes to impress is clever packaging and branding. If “they” say it’s science, then dog-gone-it, it’s science! After all, “these doctors are on television.”
As I sat through all 3 presentations by Dr.’s Hyman, Amen, & Oz, what came to mind were the traveling snake oil salesmen of the 1800′s. They talk fast, so fast that the message that’s really being given, goes right over people’s heads. They used tactics to tug at the heart strings such as videos of sick little girls who suddenly got well from being on “the program” and have been “set free” from relying on medications. Then they flooded the audience with “facts” and “statistics” to scare any grandmother, such as “a tsunami of disease is hitting us,” “life expectancy is going down,” “1 out of 2 people are diabetic or pre-diabetic,” “70% of all agricultural land is taken up by growing animals to feed all the people,” “the bigger your body gets, the more your brain shrinks,” etc.
I about fell off my chair when Dr. Hyman stated, “The key to the success of the “Daniel Plan” is “group living”…”individuals” will not succeed, our only hope lies in “community.” And with that, it was announced that the “Saddleback community” would be an example of “sustainable living” and would set the course to ”change this world”…and the crowd went wild! I have to admit that visions of the masses being manipulated by Adolf Hitler’s oratory skills came to my mind, only this particular crowd had just been manipulated by a really bad infomercial.
Dr. Hyman said that he is a Jew, Dr. Amen is a Christian, and Dr. Oz is a Muslim. And doesn’t that represent the demographic of “most of the population of the world?” But then he said, “We’re all the same underneath.” True to his snake oil salesman fashion, Dr. Hyman didn’t define his terms. What in the world does he mean “we’re all the same underneath”? That can mean a number of things. Since he was speaking to a religious crowd, I’d venture to say some of the folks present took that to mean we’re all children of God (Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.), which is patently false according to the Bible. The Bible says there are only two groups, children of wrath and children of God. You’re either one or the other, a believer in Christ Jesus, or a non-believer. We aren’t “all the same underneath.” (Ephesians Ch. 2). 
The only way in which we’re “all the same underneath” is we’re all sinners in need of a savior, and the savior isn’t “sustainable living.” The Savior is Jesus Christ and He is the only way unto salvation. (John 14:6).  And to become a child of God, Jesus said, “You must be born again.” (John Ch. 3).  The tragic thing about the talks given at Saddleback is, Jesus was never mentioned…and I mean NEVER. There was a reference to Jesus in the opening worship song along with a few passing references to God by Rick Warren. Daniel Amen mentioned that our bodies were ”a temple of the Holy Spirit and the brain is the innersanctum,” but in the lessons being taught that day, Jesus didn’t make the cut, “sustainable lifestyles” & “group living” did.
Following Dr. Hyman’s talk, my best friend arrived to observe the day with me, only to hear Dr. Amen mention in his presentation that he did a brain scan on one of his clients who had a habit of cheating on his wife. The brain scan showed that there were “holes in the pre-frontal cortex of his brain” which controls the impulses. In other words, this man wasn’t sinful, he was “mentally ill.” All he needed was to get on the “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body” program, and his personal struggles with sin were remedied. Once again, Jesus was removed from the equation. My friend and I were dumbfounded when we listened to the Saddleback crowd cheer. My best friend couldn’t contain it any longer and let out a, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” My thoughts exactly!
Dr. Hyman recommended yoga and meditation to the crowd. Dr. Amen gave a diplomatic denunciation of yoga (which is contradictory since he has recommended it himself), but about five sentences later mentioned a study done by a friend of his named Andy Newberg who did brain scans on Tibetan nuns and Franciscan priests while in “prayer and contemplation” and the study showed that “spiritual connection” is healthy. Dr. Amen has been an advocate of ”Sa Ta Na Ma” meditation. 
If by chance any attendees of the Saddleback “Health and Fitness Seminar” read this blog post, I encourage you to educate yourself about what globalism truly is. You also need to research Agenda 21. As stated earlier, the purpose of Agenda 21 is to restructure society. Sounds conspiratorial, I know. But it isn’t a conspiracy, it’s a published document of the United Nations that’s in full swing. Anywhere you hear the terms, “Sustainable Development,” “sustainable living,” “smart growth,” “going green,” etc., rest assured you’ve just been exposed to the U.N.’s Agenda 21. 
It shouldn’t surprise us that Pastor Rick Warren would allow a seminar of this nature at Saddleback, after all, he himself has “GONE GREEN.”  He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  This illustrates the natural progression of one being unequally yoked with non-believers & buying into heresies such as ”Kingdom Now,” “Dominionism,” or ”Restoration Theology.” Where these heresies reign, as they do at Saddleback, you will find that the focus subtly shifts from salvation in Christ alone, through faith alone, to misguided efforts to restore mankind & the earth through “community” works, sustainable living, and social justice. How convenient that these just happen to be the vehicles which the United Nations is using to further it’s own agenda to restructure society & unite the world under its governing body of global elites.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
(I found it to be slightly humorous that, on page 9 of the booklet which Saddleback passed out to attendees, the symptom of “itchy ears” was listed in the “Medical Symptom/Toxicity Questionnaire”…oh, the irony!)
1. Genesis 11:4 – “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’”
2. Genesis 3:4-5 – “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
3. Agenda 21 -
4. Mark Hyman’s presentation at “Authors @ Google” titled, The UltraMind Solution: Healthy Body, Powerful Mind.
5. Occult Invasion – The Subtle Seduction of the World and the Church, Dave Hunt, Harvest House Publishers 1998, pg. 61
6. Ephesians Ch. 2:1-5 – “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).”
7. John 14:6 – Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
8. John 3:3 – Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
9. Dr. Amen recommends “Sa Ta Na Ma” meditation a form of Kirtin Kriya yoga.
10. Agenda 21 – The U.N. Plan for Your Sustainable Community
11. A Greener Spirit: Evangelicals Embrace “Creation Care”
12. Council on Foreign Relations Membership Roster
Rick Warren has been broadly criticized for both his alliances and his projects. His latest initiative, launched on January 15 at Saddleback, is almost certain to attract similar attention – not so much because of the issue itself, but because of those who are partnering with him.
Jan Markell, over at Olive Tree Ministries, discusses this issue in her latest article which is featured in this edition of the ABI Blog. I hope you will take a few moments to read this important piece.
(This article is reproduced by permission of the author.)
by Jan Markell
What on earth is Pastor Rick Warren thinking? I have avoided being harsh concerning Rick but on the issue I am about to outline, I must be blunt. A series of errors is outlined below but the zinger following them is my focus.
* Praising Syria for its religious freedom when it is an evil, repressive regime.
* Perfecting church-growth efforts that even include synagogues, but what is missing in the process is the proclamation of the gospel. Warren’s church-growth plan focuses only on numbers.
* Being a part of the leadership or board of advisors for questionable organizations such as the World Economic Forum, The Council on Foreign Relations, and Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation which is a pagan, ecumenical outfit.
* Speaking to the North American Islamic Society in July 2009 but withholding the gospel from his message. This was another ecumenical effort.
* Misquoting Jesus in The Purpose Driven Life saying that He stated, “My return is none of your business” when, in fact, the Bible emphasizes that His return is our blessed hope. The Bible encourages us to watch and pray for His return. This theme consumes more than one-third of the Bible.
* Embracing the false theology of Kingdom Now/Dominion eschatology which says the church will save the world through Pastor Warren’s global P.E.A.C.E. plan, global AIDS’ efforts, etc. This is raging through evangelicalism and is a delusion, as we are on a cursed planet that only Christ’s return can save.
* Underplaying the issues of hell, sin, repentance, etc., in his book and other global platforms he has been given.
Because of a new effort launched January 15 at Saddleback Church, I join the voices of vocal critics. He has put the souls and lives of his people and millions more in danger. I do not know his motive. Last Saturday he launched a year-long effort to get his congregation and himself in shape. You can hear and read about it on the Saddleback Web site: “God’s prescription for your health. Be a part of this transformational debut to be a healthier you! We’ll hear from world-renowned doctors on a plan to get healthy and stay that way in the new decade.”
Who are “the world-renowned doctors” who have designed this program just for Saddleback Church? Men who are blatant promoters of Eastern mystical practices. Let me elaborate.
Best-selling author Dr. Richard Amen is a professor of psychiatry and teaches Eastern religious meditation and New Age energy-based Reiki. You can hear Rick and Dr. Amen interacting on the Saddleback Web site. On page 238 of Amen’s book, Making a Good Brain Great, he states, “I recommend an active form of Yoga meditation called Krya Kirtan. It is based on five primal sounds.” He advocates repeating these sounds daily for 12 minutes.
Dr. Mark Hyman is a four-time New York Times best-selling author who again promotes mystical meditation based on Buddhist principles. In his book, The Ultramind Solution, Hyman emphasizes meditation, saying it doesn’t matter what religion one is — all will benefit from it (p. 322). He praises the practice perfected by Buddhists (p. 384).
Dr. Mehmet Oz is a promoter of Reiki and Transcendental Meditation. Oz says he is also inspired by Emmanuel Swedenborg, an 18th century cult founder who taught that all religions lead to God. Swedenborg denied all orthodox Christian beliefs. There are many followers of the cult of Swedenborgism today.
What is Pastor Warren’s comment on the character of his three guests? “I am honored to be partnering with these internationally distinguished health experts.” Has he no understanding that putting into practice the various procedures they teach will put his congregation in great jeopardy?
Is the deception that great today? And what about the tens of thousands of churches who align with Saddleback? Will they get on board as well, putting millions of Christian’s souls and lives at stake? How many demons are lurking around the wicked practices of Transcendental Meditation, Reiki,Yoga, and similar Eastern traditions?
As apologist Eric Barger says, “Among the most troubling aspects of Warren’s progression are his alliances. When the most visible Christian leader of our day rubs shoulders with and aids the causes of assorted globalists, New Agers, Muslims, and now looks to one who is inspired by cultist Emanuel Swedenborg, the results are devastating. When leaders decide to reject discernment in favor of ecumenism, then innocent, unsuspecting people are, in effect, targeted by Satan’s unrelenting plan to move the church away from the truth of God’s Word. This is a perfect example of why following men, instead of the Bible, is a dangerous proposition.”
Rick Warren says, “Americans are getting fatter and fatter and we must do something.” This seems a strange cause for a man some call ‘America’s pastor.’ Shouldn’t our burden as evangelicals be the leanness of the soul and not the body? Equally perplexing is why his church leaders and members are fine with this year-long effort to glorify men who promote Eastern mysticism and other practices that are ungodly.
Ministry leaders have to choose our battles. Criticizing Christian leaders causes us distress and results in the loss of supporters, donations, churches, and even friends. We are called every name imaginable so understand that contending for the faith costs everything. But contending isn’t an option. It’s a commandment in Jude 3. Saddleback Church is now presenting a different gospel via the three doctors who will speak into the lives of many for one full year. These men will be affirmed by Pastor Rick Warren. There will be damage.
If some do not sound a warning, millions will be swept up in a program that could cause far more damage than obesity could ever do. The gods represented by the three doctors are after souls. They are gods who lead people away from eternal life in heaven and target souls for a Godless eternity. We cannot be silent no matter what the cost is to the critics.
Pray for Pastor Rick Warren and his church leaders. The program launched last weekend could be stopped by the leadership if they would grasp the offense of this effort.
To better understand such issues, visit our Web site category of “Spiritual Deception.”advertise
Should we be concerned about Glenn Beck’s 8/28 “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington?
I have watched Glenn Beck almost every day since he has been in the 5 o’clock slot on the FoxNews channel and I agree with virtually everything that he says about the fact that we have been witnessing the decline of the principles and values upon which this country was founded. I tend to agree with much of his analysis as to why and how this has happened. I also agree that returning the Constitution to its rightful place in the legislative and judicial realms of government, as well as “Restoring Honor” would be a good place to start to get things turned around.
As a patriotic American I can stand with the half-a-million people who were present at the 8/28 rally on Saturday to let it be known that the majority of the citizens in the United States are not happy about the current state of affairs. And I could stand with Glenn Beck if we were only being called upon to exercise our rights as outlined in the Constitution with the goal of restoring integrity and honor to the governance of our country.
Many liberal pundits and politicians are calling Beck a radical right-wing hate-monger who is leading a bunch of angry, old, white, disgruntled, leftovers from the McCain / Palin run for the presidency. The last thing I would want is to be identified with either those who are saying such things or the caricature they have used to cynically portray the majority of decent Americans in this country.
However, just as with the Manhattan Declaration last fall, this issue has been taken out of the political, civil and legal realm, and brought squarely into the religious / theological realm. This presents a serious problem that seems to be lost on many who should be concerned, including a significant number of evangelical leaders who joined him on his program on Friday and who were standing with him on the platform this Saturday. Through his radio and TV programs, and now with the immeasurably successful “Restoring Honor” rally, Glenn Beck has arguably become the single most influential religious leader in America.
It is true that Mr. Beck frequently talks about the need for personal faith in Jesus Christ. He regularly uses the language of conservative evangelicalism. He has devoted entire shows to decry the liberal gospel of collective salvation through social justice reforms and its cousin, Liberation Theology.
However, Glenn Beck is first and foremost a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons. He often speaks about his Mormon faith and how much it means to him. And he credits his recovery from a life of self-destruction through alcohol and an immoral lifestyle to the faith he found in the Mormon church. He was baptized into the Mormon church in 1999 by his radio talk show co-host and close friend Pat Gray.(1)
Now, even though he has been around for awhile, in our celebrity-driven culture, Glenn Beck has become an overnight sensation with superstar status in his new role as a spokesman for many (though certainly not all) religious conservatives. He has eclipsed presidential candidate and fellow-Mormon, Mitt Romney, and is possibly now more influential than Sarah Palin (who is known for her open identification as a born-again evangelical Christian). Again, this is a serious problem precisely because he is on a faith-based mission.
Beck has repeatedly insisted that the Restoring Honor rally was to be decidedly non-political in nature – and he worked hard to make sure that happened. He fervently asked his radio and television audiences to leave their signs at home and to not expect that this would be a pre-election campaign rally:
First of all: No signs. Don’t bring your signs. Bring your hearts. Bring your open minds. That’s it. Bring your kids. Your kids are important. If you bring a sign, you’re going to be disappointed. No signs.(2) (click here for transcript)
But more importantly, he pulled together a group of religious leaders to make sure this gathering was understood to be explicitly religious. For those that might doubt that the goal was to make Restoring Honor about a return to religion, on Monday’s program, Mr. Beck explicitly said that the whole thing was entirely about “God and faith.” He also believes that God gave a clear sign of his approval and blessing on Saturday:
I want to show you first [the] miracle that happened at…9:59, what happened was there was a flock of geese that ran. It was a flyover, if you will. Someone caught it on tape. Here’s the flyover. This was happening just as the opening music was starting. We wanted to have a flyover, but you can’t fly over in the District of Columbia. It was perfect coordination and perfect timing. Coincidence? Maybe. I think it was God’s flyover.
It was not supposed to happen. We couldn’t get a flyover. We couldn’t even get anybody dressed in a military uniform to present the flag. We tried for almost a year. We couldn’t get it done.
Thank God we had our flyover. (3) (transcript)
The concept to ultimately make this a religious rally can be clearly seen in an exchange months ago between Glenn Beck and historian David Barton on the April 29 Glenn Beck Show:
Beck: So I want to talk to you a little bit about something else you and I talked about off-air for a while and that is the Black Robe Brigade.
Beck: And America, I’m going to ask you now if you have your pastor or your priest or your rabbi, whoever it is, tell them to turn on the show or take down this information because this is important.
You have to do this. The media is not going to it. The government is not going to do it. The parties are not going to do it. They don’t care. They’re about power and control.
If you care about the Constitution, this is what you have to do.
Tell me about the Black Robe Brigade. What were they? Who were they?
Barton: The Black Brigade or Black Regiment were the preachers, because they wore black robes. Black preachers, white preachers — they all wore black probes. And the British specifically blamed the preachers for the American Revolution. That’s where the title “Black Regiment” came from. One of the British officials talked about that.
It’s interesting that the British so hated what the preachers — they claim if it hadn’t been for the preachers, America would still be a happy British colony. So they blamed it on the preachers.
When they come to America, they start to decimating churches. They went to New York City. Nineteen churches — they burned 10 to the ground. They went across Virginia burning churches. They went across New Jersey burning churches. Because they blamed these preachers.(4) (transcript)
On Friday night, at the Kennedy Center, Glenn Beck hosted a program called “Divine Destiny,” attended by approximately 1900 religious leaders who were personally invited to the event. On a section of his website devoted to FAQs about Divine Destiny, we find the following:
Glenn Beck’s Divine Destiny is an eye-opening evening at the historic Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C that will help heal your soul. Guided by uplifting music, nationally-known religious figures from all faiths will unite to deliver messages reminiscent to those given during the struggles of America’s earliest days. The event will leave you with a renewed determination to look past the partisan differences and petty problems that fill our airwaves and instead focus our shared values, principles and strong belief that faith can play an essential role in reuniting the country.(5)
On Friday evening, Mr. Beck was introduced by Pat Gray:
This building was [filled] by invitation [to] some of the best and bravest pastors, priests, rabbis, clerics in the country. Tomorrow, we will announce the beginning of the Black-Robed Regiment. And here is what’s amazing, here’s what’s amazing, they keep saying this is a political event, and it is not. It is not a political event at all. I’m convinced that not just this event, but this time period is going to be remembered as the beginning of the great awakening in America.(6)
So, it is clear that Glenn Beck’s intent was to personally recreate a Black-Robed Regiment to lead the way in “restoring honor” to our country. On yesterday’s (8/30/2010) program which was devoted to discussing the many important aspects of the rally, one of the main focal points was the support and platform presence of his “Black Robe Regiment.” There were 240 religious leaders, standing arm-in-arm in a display of unity with one another, with the man who had pulled them together for this explicitly religious event and with God. They were there because of their desire to take a stand for truth and a return to integrity and honor in leading this nation, which is a good thing. But they were also there because of their conviction that the only solution to the problem and the only hope for the nation is a return to God – and therein lies the problem, because it begs the question, “Which God?”
As you listen to Glenn Beck and read the many forums where this is being discussed across the internet, you will find that what happened this weekend is being celebrated and hailed as a true breakthrough because of the diverse religious views that these 240 men and women represent. The group consisted of Protestant pastors (including evangelicals like John Hagee), Catholic priests, Jewish rabbis and Muslim imams. (I have searched everywhere on the internet for several hours trying to find a listing of these 240 religious leaders, without success. If you find anything, please let me know.)
These leaders represent such divergent views of God that we cannot think that this is a call to rally together under the banner of the God of the Bible. Allah is certainly not the God of the Bible. Jews emphatically deny that Jesus is the God of the Bible. Catholics, who are still bound by the decrees of the Council of Trent, are obligated to view evangelicals as heretics if they wish to remain true to the official teachings of the Church.
And then there is the god of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In her weekly e-update, “Understanding the Times,” which came out today (8/31/2010), Jan Markell (Olive Tree Ministries) writes the following:
The theme of the Friday gathering of spiritual leaders and the Saturday rally was an encouragement to turn back to God. The not-so-subtle theme was “many faiths, but one God.”
I believe many conservative Christians would have been relieved if Glenn had not brought out Mormon doctrine that very few are familiar with. He stated at the Saturday event that the American Indians are the “chosen people” — blatant Mormon doctrine. The crowd applauded in approval. You can view that here at the 4:30 mark.
He stated — and has affirmed this on his radio and television programs — that God is the only answer. While much was troublesome last weekend, who else is sticking their neck out saying we have to turn back to God and gathering hundreds of thousands in the process? It would be wonderful if Franklin Graham or even Joel Rosenberg could attract a half-million people and deliver the true gospel. We aren’t quite there yet. Again, by default, we defer to Glenn Beck.
The weekend opened on Friday night, Augsust 27, with Glenn’s “Divine Destiny” program which again, is straight out of Mormonism. Many participants have implied, or blatantly stated, that Glenn is a “saved Mormon” or on the way to becoming one.
Leading up to the statement referred to by Jan Markell above, beginning at the 3:01 mark, Beck says the following:
The story of America is the story of humankind. Five thousand years ago, on the other side of the planet, God’s Chosen People were led out of bondage by a guy with a stick, who was talking to a burning bush. Man first began to recognize God and God’s law. The Chosen People listened to the Lord. At the same time those things were happening, on this side, on this land, another group of people were gathered here and they, too, were listening to God.
How these two people came together, again, happened because people were listening to God. They didn’t have the right to worship God the way they saw fit. So, they got down on their knees – and they didn’t want to come to this land – they just did because they thought that’s what God was telling them to do. And with malice toward none, they got into their boats and they came.
God’s Chosen People, the Native Americans and the Pilgrims (applause).
As Markell noted, this is pure Mormon doctrine. The following is from an article in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism on the Brigham Young University library website:
The Book of Mormon, published in 1830, addresses a major message to Native Americans. Its title page states that one reason it was written was so that Native Americans today might know “what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers.”
The Book of Mormon tells that a small band of Israelites under Lehi migrated from Jerusalem to the Western Hemisphere about 600 B.C. Upon Lehi’s death his family divided into two opposing factions, one under Lehi’s oldest son, laman (see Lamanites), and the other under a younger son, Nephi 1 (see Nephites).
During the thousand-year history narrated in the Book of Mormon, Lehi’s descendants went through several phases of splitting, warring, accommodating, merging, and splitting again. At first, just as God had prohibited the Israelites from intermarrying with the Canaanites in the ancient Promised Land (Ex. 34:16; Deut. 7:3), the Nephites were forbidden to marry the Lamanites with their dark skin (2 Ne. 5:23; Alma 3:8-9). But as large Lamanite populations accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and were numbered among the Nephites in the first century B.C., skin color ceased to be a distinguishing characteristic. After the visitations of the resurrected Christ, there were no distinctions among any kind of “ites” for some two hundred years. But then unbelievers arose and called themselves Lamanites to distinguish themselves from the Nephites or believers (4 Ne. 1:20). (7) (click here for article)
On Sunday, John McTernan posted the following on his blog:
My heart is very heavy as I write this. I attended two events led by Glenn Beck. Friday night, I was at the Kennedy Center for a Glenn Beck special. He had a gospel choir singing with a mixed group of speakers. Beck was freely talking about the “LORD.” There were speakers from other religions. He was talking about the need for a spiritual revival, who can argue about that! The problem is that Beck is a Mormon with a different Jesus.
There were several prayers offered at this event and NONE were made in the name of Jesus. I was deeply grieved after I left.
On Saturday, I attended the huge rally. If it was just political, I could accept Beck as a leader; however, it went way beyond that. I am not questioning anything about Beck’s character or motives. What I am deeply grieved about is that this was not led by the real church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Is America in such desperate spiritual condition, that masses of Christians will follow a Mormon for spiritual revival? (8) (click here for his blog)
Again, just as in the Manhattan Declaration, Glenn Beck is calling people of all faiths to come together “in the spirit of God” – and in keeping with Mormon doctrine, he is specifically calling together what Mormons believe are the three strands of God’s Chosen People (Jews, Christians and Native Americans) under the leadership of Beck’s new Black-Robed Regiment. Beginning at 4:40, he introduces the following guests who represent these three groups:
I would like to introduce you to Rabbi Daniel Lapin (applause).
This is John and Kyla Ward. They are direct descendants of the Native Americans that met the Pilgrims on the shores as they arrived. (applause)
And Pastor Paul Jehle is a direct descendant from those that arrived on the Mayflower.
To restore America, to restore honor, we’ve got to start at the beginning and look at the pattern, when people came together, of different faiths, in the spirit of God, and the first thing they did was pray together.
At this point, Pastor Jehle delivers the opening prayer for the rally in unmistakable evangelical terms, clearly naming Jesus Christ as the “Redeemer” and the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” closing with the words “in Christ’s name, amen.”
However, we have seen this before. Shortly after the Manhattan Declaration was published, Governor Mike Huckabee commented that perhaps it could be considered as comparable to Luther’s 95 Theses. And concerning the Divine Destiny event and the Restoring Honor rally, following the sentiment expressed in Pat Gray’s introduction at the Kennedy Center, NaplesNews.com published an article with the title, “The Fifth Great Awakening: The Restoring Honor Rally in Washington, D.C.” (The author, Edward Wimberley is a fairly well-known “educator and Presbyterian minister“):
The Second Great Awakening occurred almost a century later and resulted in the emergence of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (the Mormons), The Seventh Day Adventist Church, The Advent Christian Church as well as the dramatic expansion of Baptists and Methodists throughout the Western States. The Third Great Awakening spanned the 1850’s through the early 1900’s and produced the “Social Gospel Movement,” Christian Science, the Holiness Denominations, and the Nazarenes. The leaders of this era included Mary Baker Eddy, Dwight L. Moody, and evangelist William Ashley “Billy” Sunday.
How is it that the emergence of the Mormon church and the rise of the Social Gospel Movement can be seen as contributing factors in the Great Awakenings? Do these not instead have all the marks of being dark spiritual opposition to the broad work of the Spirit of God at specific times in this country’s history? Both movements have contributed to incredible confusion and the deception of millions of people including an alarming number from among those who would consider themselves evangelicals. That Mormonism is once again contributing to spiritual confusion, while pulling in evangelicals, is evidenced by the following comments from someone who was at the “Restoring Honor” rally:
I was actually at the 8-28 event in DC… It WAS an evangelical Christian event. Beck made some ecumenical noises up-front and I was prepared to be very disappointed, but almost every single speaker, other than Beck…and all of the major ones, were un-apologetically evangelical Christians. Their words on faith carried far more weight than Beck’s. I heard “Jesus, Lord and Savior” or similar terms through the whole program.
I really don’t understand Beck’s spiritual journey. I think that he would have considered himself a terribly back-slidden Christian 15 years ago when he was a raging alcoholic who’s life was out of control. He turned to Mormonism, found his way out of the bottle and rebuilt his life. He clearly is comfortable with evangelical Christians…he surrounds himself with them.(9)
It was an “evangelical Christian event?”
The Naples News article continues:
In a very real sense, the nation has drifted afar from its religious and patriotic foundations.
However, the spiritual drift of the nation ceased on Saturday October 28, 2010 on the National Mall between the Washington and Lincoln Memorials. On that day, hundreds of thousands of Americans from all walks of life and from virtually every region and ethnic community gathered together to recommit to the task of restoring America’s honor by reaffirming an individual commitment to faith, duty, honor and country.
This profound contemporary spiritual renewal was ushered in by the most unlikely of leaders, a recovering alcoholic, high-school graduate, and college dropout with an unsavory past. Moreover, it was predominantly (though not exclusively) a “Christian” renewal prophetically introduced by a Mormon layman.
The following is from a December 23, 2007 interview with Joel Osteen by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday,
Wallace: And what about Mitt Romney? And I’ve got to ask you the question, because it is a question whether it should be or not in this campaign, is a Mormon a true Christian?
Osteen: Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior, and that’s what I believe, so, you know, I’m not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are.
And so, you know, Mitt Romney seems like a man of character and integrity to me, and I don’t think he would — anything would stop me from voting for him if that’s what I felt like.
Wallace: So, for instance, when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, and the golden tablets in upstate New York, and God assumes the shape of a man, do you not get hung up in those theological issues?
Osteen: I probably don’t get hung up in them because I haven’t really studied them or thought about them. And you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don’t know.
I certainly can’t say that I agree with everything that I’ve heard about it, but from what I’ve heard from Mitt, when he says that Christ is his savior, to me that’s a common bond.
I am deeply concerned that Mormonism may now be on a fast-track to be accepted into mainstream Christianity, and perhaps even Evangelicalism. That this is even conceivable is very troubling. Returning to Jan Markell’s article, she notes the following concerning the teachings of Mormonism:
* God was born and raised on another planet.
* He has a harem of wives.
* They produce spirit-babies that are sent to earth; there they gain bodies and earn sainthood.
* Jesus is the brother of Lucifer.
* Jesus is the chosen/elected savior by a council of gods from other worlds.
* America is the promised land, not Israel. The holy city is Independence, Missouri, not Jerusalem. Jesus’ latter-day agenda is to return to Missouri.
* America’s founding fathers were “spirit babies” who created a “sacred Constitution.”
* The U.S. Constitution is as sacred as the Book of Mormon. In the latter days, it will be under siege and will be saved by Mormons. Thus, we must “reclaim America” to save the Constitution and usher in a genuine age of Mormon leadership. They want to build a Mormon kingdom on earth, similar to modern day Dominionists/Kingdom Now proponents within Christianity. Founder Joseph Smith had a socialistic philosophy and wished to have a society that shared things in common.
Markell’s last point is referring to something I just became aware of late last week when ABI co-founder Jimmy DeYoung alerted me to what is known in Mormonism as “The White Horse Prophecy.” The “white horse” in the prophecy by Joseph Smith is a reference to the first horse of the four horses of the Apocalypse.
An article about The White Horse Prophecy can be found on the pro-Mormon website, FAIR (The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) at this link. According to the prophecy, someone within the Mormon church is going to appear on the national stage to rescue the Constitution – in conjunction with a group of people that Joseph Smith identified as the “red horse.”
On today’s Glenn Beck Show, he emphatically reiterated that his goal is not to be a religious leader. Yet, a few minutes later, he also remarked that he believes we are now witnessing the 3rd Great Awakening— the first of which, he noted, was largely led by George Whitefield. And more than once (including again today) I have heard him infer or even state that this movement—this new awakening—is something that has started with him and which he is leading.
Even though I question whether or not another Great Awakening is actually underway, that someone with Mormon convictions could suggest that they might be at its forefront should be of deep concern to evangelicals. However, that a Mormon could be enthusiastically endorsed and embraced as such a leader by a significant number of conservative evangelicals seems to say far more about the state of the church in the United States than it does about Mr. Beck.
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoring_Honor_rally, accessed 8/31/2010.
2. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,600310,00.html, accessed 8/31/2010.
3. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,600442,00.html, accessed 8/31/2010.
4. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,591785,00.html, accessed 8/31/2010.
5. http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/44012/, accessed 8/31/2010.
6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoring_Honor_rally#cite_note-32, accessed 8/31/2010.
7. LSD Beliefs, accessed 8/31/2010.
8. http://johnmcternansinsights.blogspot.com/, accessed 8/31/2010.
9. From an email to an acquaintance of mine
(An article combining this post and the previous one on the Manhattan Declaration is available in downloadable and printable PDF, 2-column article format: Click here to download)
This is the third and final post in a series concerning the Manhattan Declaration. I would encourage you to read the first two posts so you will have the context for understanding my final conclusions.
Please take a moment to complete the ABI Manhattan Declaration Survey
The Nature of the Manhattan Declaration
The Manhattan Declaration addresses issues that are a part of the current public debate and symptomatic of the culture wars: life, marriage and religious liberty. The Manhattan Declaration was also designed to speak directly to the present administration because of the increasingly liberal policies it seeks to enact that come into conflict with conservative values. However, beyond this, the document is designed to speak specifically to conservative Christians to encourage them to take a stand for the moral values that are formed exclusively in the context of their Christian faith. As the document states:
which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities. We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness
The document would not need to be considered as anything but a civil document addressing social issues if it left out explicit mention of Christianity. But by invoking the framers obedience to the Lord and his word as the authority for their moral beliefs, it automatically becomes an inherently Christian document because it is informed by Christian theology.
That this is primarily a theological document is further confirmed by the following:
Like those who have gone before us in the faith, Christians today are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace, to protect the intrinsic dignity of the human person and to stand for the common good. In being true to its own calling, the call to discipleship, the church through service to others can make a profound contribution to the public good.
These are very important statements in the overall evaluation of the Manhattan Declaration. As it does in several places, it clearly identifies all of the writers and original signers as acting in unity as a single group – not a group defined by their individual conservative values or their American citizenship – but rather defined primarily by their identity as Christians. However, this is a very serious issue, because it is inappropriate to simply assume that just because Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians call on the name of Christ and identify themselves as Christians in the world-religion sense, they can all be viewed as brothers and sisters in Christ – born-again Christians in the biblical sense.
And although the above quote makes reference to the call to “proclaim the gospel” – it is widely understood and biblically demonstrable that the gospel proclaimed by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church is what the apostle Paul would label, “a different gospel.” Reaction to this different gospel birthed the Reformation. It was this very gospel against which the Reformers preached, for which they were persecuted and which eventually became the foundation of evangelicalism.
If the Manhattan Declaration were a purely civil document addressing social concerns with no theological implications, then anyone who agreed with the tenets of the document could have and arguably should have been included. As a strictly civil document, it could have included conservative Protestants of all kinds, Mormons, Quakers, even Muslims – and actually anyone who might have a conservative moral compass – including possibly even agnostics and atheists.
If it had been that kind of document, that could be signed simply as a morally conservative patriot – then I think I could sign it. As an American citizen with my own personal conservative moral views, I could add my signature to a document that was signed by any other conservative American citizen.
However, that is not the nature of this document. It is not asking me to sign it as an American citizen. It is asking me to sign it as a conservative Christian. But beyond that, by signing it, I would not only be making a statement that I agree concerning the issues of life, marriage and religious liberty. I can’t say, “Well, I’m only signing the parts of the document I agree with.” If I sign it, I am signing the whole thing – including the statements that form the most foundational aspects of the document, namely that I am joining with other brothers and sisters in Christ. But this isn’t true. This isn’t what I believe.
If a Roman Catholic firmly believes the official Church teaching concerning the gospel, it would be almost impossible for that person to know enough of the gospel clearly enough to be born-again (it could happen, but it isn’t likely and doesn’t happen often). But Chuck Colson wouldn’t agree with this. His understanding of the gospel is broad enough and inclusive enough that it led him to be one of the primary leaders in the first Evangelicals and Catholics Together document. The Manhattan Declaration does not stand independent of ECT. In fact, I would suggest that the Manhattan Declaration could never have been written as it was if it weren’t for ECT.
Beyond this, it isn’t just a matter of joining together with a few friends of other faiths to actively work on a common political cause. It is joining together with some of the most prominent leaders in their respective denominations – pastors, teachers, theologians, who are leading untold numbers astray with false doctrine. This would almost certainly fall into the category of being unequally yoked with unbelievers – which Paul clearly forbids.
And I would suggest that the theology of the issue is also important to everyone who might sign – although many might initially say that it’s all about the issues. To test that, let’s suppose there were another document that is identical concerning the issues of life, marriage and religious liberty – but those who are identifying themselves as Christians are Mormon, and it was written and signed only by Mormon leaders. Would there be very many conservative evangelicals who would sign the Manhattan Declaration – even if they agreed with everything it said about the issues? My sense is that there would be almost none – and the reason would be purely theological.
So, by signing the Manhattan Document which identifies evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox all as Christians, then we’re saying that the theological differences are not as great as they would be if it were a Mormon Document – and that these differences aren’t really important. The question then becomes, if I wouldn’t sign it because the Mormons are theologically wrong and preach a false gospel – then why would we join with anyone else who has the same problem?
The Value of the Manhattan Declaration
In practical terms, let’s ask ourselves about the actual value of the Manhattan Declaration. Exactly what is it going to accomplish – and how?
Again, here’s what the document says:
We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities. We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love, who has laid total claim on our lives and by that claim calls us with believers in all ages and all nations to seek and defend he good of all who bear his image.
So, one of the document’s purposes is to “speak to” our communities – to us. But in reality, how many sincere, committed Christians are presently going around violating God’s laws in order to obey Caesar? How many spiritually mature Christian doctors are violating their consciences and performing abortions? And how many of them would not be willing to go to jail rather than be forced to take the life of an unborn child?
How many pastors of conviction would perform a homosexual marriage – or even allow one to be held in their church? How many would be willing to give in to governmental pressure to stay far from violating hate-crime laws and not condemn homosexuality as sin when teaching on Romans chapter 1?
I don’t think we have to sign a document that says we are going to do those things that we are already doing. And furthermore, the government and everyone else knows what we’re going to do and what punishment we’re willing to face if we must obey the Lord rather than Caesar.
Why would I compromise the very theology that informs my worldview and morals in order to simply confirm publicly what is already public knowledge concerning my worldview and morals?
Then there’s the value of the Manhattan Declaration with regard to those who don’t agree with it. Who in our society is somehow going to be influenced by even hundreds of thousands of signatures such that they won’t get an abortion, or avoid extra-marital sex, or stay out of homosexual relationships? If they are not persuaded by the Word of God, they won’t be persuaded by the content or the number of signers of what is essentially a petition.
And finally, what is the value of the Manhattan Declaration with regard to public policy? I can’t imagine any lawmaker being influenced to change his position because of this document. Those who agree will continue to vote the way they would have anyway – and those who disagree will do the same.
I can’t see that this document will ever have any political force. I don’t think it will save one unborn child. I don’t think it will prevent a single homosexual relationship or marriage. And if I thought signing the document would actually accomplish these goals, I might have to reconsider. But I don’t think that is what is going to happen.
I can imagine that despite the best of intentions and hopes that it might make a difference, in six months the Manhattan Declaration will be nothing more than a brief footnote that generated some interest for a few weeks.
I don’t think it will ever be a second “95-Theses” as Mike Huckabee speculated last week. And if it might, we must remember that Luther’s document was theological – and it made a theological difference. If the Manhattan Document has any effect, it will not be that of changing society, but rather, it will be just another contribution in the long process that has been underway for quite some time – that of undoing the Reformation. The Manhattan Declaration encourages us to act as if the Reformation never happened and that the theological reasons for the Reformation were really inconsequential.
If we’re going to get involved with things like the Manhattan Declaration now or in the future, we should sign something that calls on us only as concerned American citizens with common moral values – but not as “Christians” in the world-religion sense – and let it include anyone, regardless of religion. Or alternately we should join together with others of same like faith so that we can remain true to the Word of God and to our Spirit-guided consciences.
But let’s be very careful to be consistent in how we obey the full counsel of God if we find it necessary to resist or even challenge the law of Caesar. Let’s not do it if it requires us to minimize, overlook or discard the Word of God – something that always leads to negative consequences in the present generation and assures deep troubles for the next.
Whether you agree or disagree with these conclusions, I would like to hear from you – so please take a moment to comment.
In His Care,
(An article combining this post and the previous one on the Manhattan Declaration is available in downloadable and printable PDF, 2-column article format: Click here to download)
A week ago today, the Manhattan Declaration was released by Chuck Colson and almost 150 other signers at the National Press Conference. Since then there have been countless blogs and articles written about the 4700-word document and the response has been quite mixed.
Predictably, it has been denounced by liberals of all stripes who support the LGBT agenda and who advocate “a woman’s right to choose.” But neither has it been received well by those who would consider themselves to be evangelicals, but who also challenge the historical view that the Bible condemns homosexual behavior.
In contrast, a significant number of Christians have enthusiastically embraced the Manhattan Declaration. with the number of signers via the internet now at 184,780 and counting. They have joined the original signatories in voicing their concern that as America continues its turn to the left, led by the present administration, they are prepared to take a stand to protect life, marriage and religious liberty.
Yet, another view has been expressed by some Christians who have not signed the Manhattan Declaration. In this view, the Manhattan Declaration is itself a cause for concern, being seen as a misguided ecumenical cooperative effort that conservative evangelicals would do well to avoid. John MacArthur has written a cogent blog from this perspective.
To make matters more confusing for the average evangelical believer, it must be noted that there are good, solid, conservative theologians on both sides of the issue. This would tend to indicate that whatever our personal opinion might be, the “correct” response is probably not as obvious nor as certain as we might hope or desire. So, after a week of reading, talking, thinking and praying, I’m going to take my own stab at evaluating the Manhattan Declaration and developing a framework of principles for responding to this document, as well as the overall situation that precipitated it.
First, I would say that overall the Manhattan Declaration is a carefully crafted, well-worded document. It was obviously written out of both passion and conviction. It would be difficult to fault the drafters in their intentions or desire to make a difference in the “culture wars.”
Second, I think all who truly believe in the authority of Scripture should agree with the framers of the Manhattan Declaration concerning the three specific issues it addresses, namely, life, marriage and religious liberty. It affirms that life begins at conception and should be allowed to continue until natural death (Exodus 20:13; Job 1:21; Psalm 139:12, 16; Jeremiah 1:14). It affirms that marriage was instituted by God to be solely between a man and a woman and that sexual relations are to be only within that relationship (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:5,6; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). And it affirms the principle of religious liberty which seems to be legitimately rooted in the truth of Matthew 22:21 (“Render unto Caesar…and to God…”) and Acts 5:29 (“We ought to obey God rather than men.”)
And third, I believe that as American citizens we have a legal right and a moral responsibility to participate in the democratic process in upholding and preserving the rights we have as guaranteed by the Constitution, as well as the ideals upon which this country was founded.
It could be argued that the Moral Majority, founded by Jerry Falwell in 1979, provides an historic backdrop and precedent for the Manhattan Declaration. The Moral Majority became the politically active extension of the Christian Right, which was riding the wave of the resurging political conservatism that swept Ronald Reagan into office in 1980. The Moral Majority sought to gain an influence in governmental policies and legislation, such that they would reflect or at least not contradict Christian morality – and thereby broadly shape, influence and guide the direction of American society as a whole.
A demographic map of the United States shows that geographically the entire country continues to be overwhelmingly conservative – both politically and socially. And this conservatism is certainly not limited to evangelical Christians. Therefore, it was considered expedient and prudent to be as broadly inclusive as possible to maximize the potential political influence of the movement. This meant that the Moral Majority consisted of not only conservative evangelicals, but virtually all types of conservative Protestants, Catholics, Jews and even Mormons who joined forces for the purpose of advocating common moral values with a unified voice.
Probably the most common argument in favor of evangelicals joining together with those from Catholic and Orthodox traditions in signing the Manhattan Declaration follows that used to defend the Moral Majority in the face of similar criticism. In this view, it is argued that because we share a common moral heritage with other theological traditions within Christendom, we can and should join together as allies in the culture wars against the common enemy of those morals. Therefore, the Manhattan Declaration is hailed as an opportunity for those who name the name of Christ to fulfill a long-neglected obligation to engage and even confront a society and an administration that is increasingly liberal, secular and humanist – and even anti-Christian in its bias. Looking at it this way, it is understandable why, as I noted earlier, many concerned Americans have already signed the document and I would assume that many have been conservative evangelicals.
However, I have not yet signed it myself because I have some questions and concerns about both the nature and the value of the Manhattan Declaration. At the risk of being dismissed, ridiculed or criticized as being too picky, too narrow-minded, divisive or just overly critical, I am going to present what I believe are some significant reasons why a born-again believer should consider not endorsing or signing the Manhattan Declaration.
The Manhattan Declaration begins with these words:
Christians are heirs of a 2,000year tradition of proclaiming God’s word
This is a statement of exclusivity, identifying the framers of the document as “Christians” as opposed to adherents of any of the other world religions. It is also intended to reflect Christian values and morals. As such, it must necessarily be viewed as an inherently Christian document. Consider the following quotes from the Manhattan Declaration:
we claim the heritage of those Christians Christian monasteries preserved not only the Bible but also the literature and art of Western culture It was Christians who combated the evil of slavery Christians today are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace, to protect the intrinsic dignity of the human person and to stand for the common good We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths
Therefore, the writers of the Manhattan Declaration present it as a document by Christians on behalf of Christians. And as a Christian document, it discusses the issues of life and marriage within a framework of Christian morality. It derives its authority to speak about these moral issues from the Bible. The Manhattan Declaration reflects a very specific worldview which is informed by very specific theology. Therefore, not only is it a Christian document, it is first and foremost an inherently theological document – or at least theologically-driven. This point is extremely important to the discussion because for some, the defense of cooperation with Catholic and Orthodox writers and signers depends largely upon the validity of the argument that the Manhattan Declaration isn’t a theological document. If true, then it could be argued that theological differences are irrelevant to the task at hand and cooperation is not an example of unbiblical ecumenism. But, again, it is a Christian document and is therefore a theological document by nature. And being a theological document, not only does theology under-gird the moral argument set forth in the Manhattan Declaration, theology also forms the basis for what the writers consider to be their essential unity as a group. This is clearly reflected in the first paragraph under the Declaration section:
We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities. We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love, who has laid total claim on our lives and by that claim calls us with believers in all ages and all nations to seek and defend the good of all who bear his image.
It is important to not miss the significance of this statement. When one discusses Judaism, Islam, or Hinduism for example, these are treated as world religions. And, of course, Christianity can be spoken of as a world religion, as well. But there is an important and fundamental distinction that must be remembered: A Christian in the biblical sense of the term does not merely mean someone who is an adherent of Christianity as a world religion. For someone to become a true Muslim, a person must simply make a decision to follow the teachings of Islam and live accordingly. However, the same is not true for biblical Christianity. For someone to become a true Christian, they must explicitly place their faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ and thereby be born-again of the Spirit of God. Someone does not become a Christian by merely adopting Christian traditions or by beginning to live a Christian lifestyle – or even by faithfully following the teachings of Christ. In 1994, Chuck Colson was involved with drafting the first Evangelicals and Catholics Together document. That document blurs and actually eliminates the distinction between Christians in the world-religion sense and Christians in the biblical sense, such that it seems clear that Mr. Colson considers the two as not only intersecting, but as synonymous as indicated by the next three quotes from the first ECT document:
As we near the Third Millennium, there are approximately 1.7 billion Christians in the world. About a billion of these are Catholics and more than 300 million are Evangelical Protestants.
We are Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics who have been led through prayer, study, and discussion to common convictions about Christian faith and mission.
All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters in Christ. Evangelicals and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Some may argue, however, that the two documents are fundamentally different in scope and purpose and therefore should not be compared or evaluated in this way. Yet, the essential philosophical /theological similarities between the two documents cannot be ignored because they reflect the broader philosophy out of which they were formulated:
Manhattan Declaration: We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities. First ECT document: We are Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics who have been led through prayer, study, and discussion to common convictions about Christian faith and mission. This statement cannot speak officially for our communities. It does intend to speak responsibly from our communities and to our communities.
Manhattan Declaration: We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. 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. May God help us not to fail in that duty. First ECT document: There is a necessary connection between the visible unity of Christians and the mission of the one Christ. We together pray for the fulfillment of the prayer of Our Lord: “May they all be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, so also may they be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” (John 17) We together, Evangelicals and Catholics, confess our sins against the unity that Christ intends for all his disciples. The one Christ and one mission includes many other Christians, notably the Eastern Orthodox and those Protestants not commonly identified as Evangelical. All Christians are encompassed in the prayer, “May they all be one.”
It seems appropriate to suggest that some important linkage does exist between the Manhattan Declaration and the ECT document and that this linkage is intentional and by design. This shouldn’t be surprising given Mr. Colson’s key role in the formation of both documents. Given that the purpose of the ECT document is inherently ecumenical, it seems reasonable to more carefully explore the potential ecumenical issues raised directly by the Manhattan Declaration. Likewise it seems reasonable to at least examine whether or not those issues might be sufficient to give legitimate reasons for withholding support and participation in the Manhattan Declaration. I will conclude my response to the Manhattan Declaration, in a couple of days and try to make a case for why Christians should or should not be involved with this initiative or others like it. It doesn’t seem that there is a one-size-fits-all answer, but I can discuss general principles related to the role of Christians in government and political activism. Can and should Christians engage and confront the culture and government in their social context – and what kind of ecumenical alliances can be formed to accomplish this? Ecumenical alliances and civil disobedience. Just what should we think and do? And what, if any, is the potential historical significance of the Manhattan Declaration?advertise