Why I Signed The Manhattan Declaration

Why I Signed The Manhattan Declaration
Vol: 101 Issue: 19 Friday, February 19, 2010

When I signed the Manhattan Declaration, I signed a political statement endorsing traditional marriage, the sanctity of life and religious liberty.

Although I signed it late last year, it was only the other day that I started getting emails accusing me of stabbing Christians, and primarily former Catholics, in the back.

A lady named Elizabeth Register is circulating an email under the title, “An Open Letter To the Signers Of the Manhattan Declaration.”   In part, she writes: 

“I stand with you against the evils that were defined in the Manhattan Declaration. I would have respected a signature on a document that did not include the clauses this one has on being fellow Christians with the Roman Catholic Church and The Orthodox Church. You have to know that by Bible definition they are not brothers and sisters of true Christians.

Though we do share some distinct beliefs, those that divide us are crucial. Tell me please, how did you sign that declaration of unity knowing they were a works based religion?

Do you see that by signing that document, you have slapped the face of every genuine Christian who has come out of the Roman Catholic Church? These Christians believed they were saved by grace and not works and left that lifeless church. To them it looks like you are saying that The Roman Catholic Church is okay after all!”

This email spawned other emails along the same lines, accusing me of slapping former Catholics in the face, stabbing them in the back and even the astonishing comment that . . .”Foxe’s Book of Martyrs may well now accuse you by association.

The email goes on . . . “The Roman Catholic Church has never repented of that sin.  One must ask then if they still believe they are justified.”

It put me in mind of Osama claiming the Madrid train bombing was in “retaliation for Andalusia” (1492) the jihad was declared in response to the Crusades (1050-1200) and the 9/11 attacks in retaliation for the Muslim defeat at the Battle of Vienna, (September 11, 1683).

I mocked Osama then for pinning the events of 1492 on Spaniards in 2003 as an example of how ludicrous Osama’s claimed justification for jihad was. 

But that was before I got an email accusing me of complicity with the 16th century European Inquisition. 

For the record, in the 16th century, the papists went on a rampage, with the full blessing of the Vatican, torturing and murdering uncounting hundreds of thousands, (perhaps millions?) of Christians who refused to convert to Catholicism.

I could go on and on about the Vatican’s evil and I have done my share of ranting about their doctrine but for the moment, I want to stick with the issue at hand. 

Signing the Manhattan Declaration was not act of faith.  It was not an endorsement of the Catholic Church or the Orthodox (which seems to have been spared much of the vitriol, although they are indistinguishable from the RCC on many important doctrines).

Assessment:

Of the Seven Churches addressed by Jesus Christ in Revelation, three are gone and the last four exist concurrently.   Rather than reinventing the wheel, I’ll refer you to Jack Kelley’s excellent explanation here.

The Manhattan Declaration was drafted by a lawyer from Princeton, a Professor from Samford and former convict turned preacher Chuck Colson.   It wasn’t drafted by the Vatican or by the Orthodox Church or the Lutherans or the Presbyterians.

The Manahattan Document recognized that there are Christians among the Orthodox, Catholics and Evangelicals who are opposed to the political policies it outlines.

The objection seems to be that Catholics and Orthodox are not Christians and by signing the Declaration,  I’ve joined them.  

The Bible acknowledges that there are two “churches” existing concurrently — the Blood-bought True Church and the ‘visible Church’.

An examination of the Church of Laodicea together with the Apostle Paul’s description to Timothy of the visible Church of the last days  makes the case that not everybody who  belongs to the visible Church is part of the Body of Christ.

Indeed, only the Church at Philadelphia escaped any word of condemnation by Our Lord.  The rest were pictured as churches that contained Christians, but had decidedly unChristian practices. 

But Jesus claims all seven as His.  

The Vatican is represented by the Church at Thyatira.  Jesus had much to say in condemnation of their practices and doctrine, but He also had this word for them.

“But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.” (Revelation 2:24)

Notes Kelly:

“It’s too easy for us to label people, automatically condemning them because of their affiliation. But in the letter to Thyatira, the Lord described Himself as “He who searches hearts and minds” criticizing the practices of some, while encouraging others to “hold on to what you have until I come.” This means He found the hearts of some in Thyatira to be given over to pagan ritual, while others remained faithful and true.”

The Church at Sardis was representative of the Protestant Reformation. 

“In both letters He distinguished non-believers from believers, warning some of tribulation and promising others escape. Today there are many we would label Catholic or Protestant that He calls His.

The church in Laodicea didn’t think they needed a Savior and that’s why the Lord called them luke-warm and spit them out. Even so, some liberals today hear His knock on the door to their hearts and invite Him in.”

The Church at Philadelphia is representative of the evangelical born again believers.  Uniquely, it received no word of condemnation from the Lord.

Conversely, the Church at Laodicea received no words of commendation from the Lord. The Church at Laodicea is representative of the visible Church today.

Now, to return to the criticism I received for allegedly marrying the Pope when I signed the Manhattan Declaration: 

“You have to know that by Bible definition they are not brothers and sisters of true Christians.” 

By the Lord’s definition, some are. Sardis is a Christian Church.  Thyatira is a Christian Church.  Laodicea is a Christian Church. They have been corrupted and infiltrated by the enemy, but each contains believers who are precious to the Lord.

Those who would call Christians to come out of the RCC condemn those still in the system to remaining in darkness.  If they come out of the Catholic Church, then they take the Light with them.  

There is an old saying that one catches more flies with honey than one does with vinegar.  If one truly wants to lead Catholics to Christ, one does so by presenting Christ, not by attacking Mary.

Former Catholics know that futility of witnessing to a Catholic by attacking the Pope or the Vatican or Mariolatry.  Catholics are sensitive to such attacks — they’ve heard them all their lives.

As soon as they hear it begin, they immediately shift into defensive mode.

I’ve seen it a hundred times — even done it a few times myself.  They start right out by attacking; which of course spawns an immediate defense.   Now both are adversaries, each wary of the other, circling each other’s positions, seeking some chink in the other’s armor . . . . that’s sharing the Gospel?? 

I believe that there are saved Christians that remain within the Catholic Church and I think it is ridiculous, naive and arrogant to argue otherwise.  How do you know what is in somebody’s heart?

That is not an endorsement of the Vatican, the history of the Catholic Church, or of the Orthodox or any other denomination.  

Membership in a denomination doesn’t make one a Christian, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ does.  Conversely, membership in a denomination doesn’t disqualify one from being a Christian. 

It is the Lord that positions His troops where He wants them. 

This entry was posted in Briefings by Pete Garcia. Bookmark the permalink.

About Pete Garcia

Christian, father, husband, veteran, pilot, and sinner saved by grace. I am a firm believer in, and follower of Jesus Christ. I am Pre-Trib, Dispensational, and Non-Denominational (but I lean Southern Baptist).

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