By Mike Gendron
A coalition of 150 Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical leaders, calling themselves "Christians" and "fellow believers," have joined together in ecumenical unity to fight against abortion, same-sex marriage and anything that betrays their religious beliefs. On November 20th, a 4,700-word document called the Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience was released (http://manhattandeclaration.org/). The document was drafted by Chuck Colson and Princeton University professor Robert George, a Roman Catholic.
After reading the Manhattan Declaration, we believe it may have the same effect as The Manhattan Project of the 1940's, an atomic blast on Christian faith. Anytime born-again Christians link arms with unregenerate professing Christians, even for ostensibly moral purposes, they are impeding the Great Commission. The fallout from Chuck Colson's previous attempts to reverse the Reformation has been devastating to the evangelical church. He has influenced many evangelical leaders to embrace Roman Catholicism as a valid expression of biblical Christianity. According to the second Evangelicals and Catholics Together Accord (ECT II) that Colson drafted in 1997, the following differences should not divide Catholics and Evangelicals as "brothers and sisters in Christ": baptismal regeneration, the Eucharist, sacramental grace, justification by works, purgatory, indulgences, the role of Mary and the saints in salvation and salvation for those not evangelized.
Many of the signers of Colson's Evangelicals and Catholics Together Accord have given their name to this Declaration as well. Purposefully, the Gospel is never defined, explained or presented in the Manhattan Declaration. This is because the signatories embrace contradictory and opposing views on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The implication throughout the document is that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Evangelicals share a common faith. There is nothing that could be further from the truth. Evangelicals and Catholics submit to different authorities, read different Bibles, worship a different Jesus, believe a different Gospel, have a different view of sin and are on a different path to eternity. Furthermore we disagree on the necessity, sufficiency and efficacy of our Lord Jesus Christ in the salvation of sinners. There can never be unity between true Christianity and apostate or counterfeit Christianity. Believers and unbelievers are as distinctively different as light and darkness (2 Cor. 6:14-18). Have we forgotten the Reformers who were tortured and burned at the stake for refusing to compromise with Rome? The apostle Paul never signed unity accords with people who perverted the Gospel of Jesus Christ; he condemned them with anathema (Gal. 1:6-9). It was Paul's great fear that we would put up with counterfeit Christians who preach another Jesus and another gospel (2 Cor. 11:4). He warned us that these false apostles and deceitful workers, who disguise themselves as brothers in Christ, could corrupt our minds and lead us astray (2 Cor. 11:13). In these times of great deception and compromise we must heed his warnings. People who preach another gospel are not Christians; they have betrayed Christ. The true church ought to rise upagainst such persons and declare that they are not Christians. They are counterfeits who shame the name of Jesus.
Although it is good to unite as co-belligerents with one voice to fight moral and political issues, any accord that attempts to overlook, dismiss, nullify or compromise the Gospel is antithetical to the command for all Christians to earnestly contend for the faith. We can never deny the profound importance of protecting the life of every baby and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. We must earnestly contend against those who seek to destroy both (Jude 3). However, we must remember that this is a spiritual battle which can only be won through fervent prayer and the proclamation of the true Gospel, a Gospel that is denied by every Catholic priest when he offers the Eucharistic Christ upon his altar for the forgiveness of sins. If Evangelicals must put their names on accords, why not remain sanctified and set apart by drafting our own accords? We can start by declaring our unity was established when the Holy Spirit baptized us into one Body upon believing the one and only Gospel of grace (1 Cor. 12:13).
Throughout the history of the church Satan has unleashed his fiery darts against the Christian faith. He has been most successful when God's children lack discernment. Charles Spurgeon said, "To pursue union at the expense of truth is treason to the Lord Jesus." Since we have been sanctified by the truth, we must remain separate for God's glory and purpose."