Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chuck Colson: Advocate of the Manhattan Declaration and Latitudinarian "Evangelicalism"

Chuck Colson in an article posted at Christianity Today said:

An aversion to doctrine caused some thoroughly orthodox young evangelicals to decline to sign the Manhattan Declaration (which defends human life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty), even though the document is rooted in Scripture. As one young evangelical explained to me, "We don't like dogmatic statements that a lot of people have to sign." What about the Nicene Creed or the Westminster Confession of Faith?  [See link at Anglicans Ablaze: Doctrinal Bootcamp].

I almost choked on my coffee when I read that line.  Colson thinks that an "aversion" to doctrine caused folks like me not to sign the Manhattan Declaration?    I thought to myself, "Chuck, you have GOT to be kidding me????"   It is NOT an aversion to doctrine that caused many Reformed folks not to agree with the Manhattan Declaration.  In fact it was a CONCERN FOR DOCTRINE that caused us not to sign on the dotted line.  Why?  Because the Manhattan Declaration, like the other ecumenical documents endorsed by Colson, says that Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthdox believe the same Gospel that Protestants believe.  That could not be further from the truth.  The fact is the anathemas of the 16th century canons of the Council of Trent still condemn Protestants.   To assume that Roman Catholics and other churches which teach faith plus good works as the basis for justification and salvation are "Christian" is to set naive people up to be deceived. 

One Presbyterian Church in America pastor recently told me that all that is necessary for salvation is that a church adheres to the three ecumenical creeds.   (See, How Far Has the PCA Fallen?) I guess that means that you don't need to believe that Scripture is the final authority?  Church tradition is an additional revelation alongside Scripture and you had better believe what the modern day apostles of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthdoxy tell you else you're violating God's Word revealed to them?

What exactly does the Manhattan Declaration say which is objectionable to born again and Reformed Christians?  Let me show you.  The Preamble says:

Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God's word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering.

While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of Christian institutions and communities in all ages, we claim the heritage of those Christians who defended innocent life by rescuing discarded babies from trash heaps in Roman cities and publicly denouncing the Empire's sanctioning of infanticide. We remember with reverence those believers who sacrificed their lives by remaining in Roman cities to tend the sick and dying during the plagues, and who died bravely in the coliseums rather than deny their Lord.

After the barbarian tribes overran Europe, 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: Papal edicts in the 16th and 17th centuries decried the practice of slavery and first excommunicated anyone involved in the slave trade; evangelical Christians in England, led by John Wesley and William Wilberforce, put an end to the slave trade in that country. Christians under Wilberforce's leadership also formed hundreds of societies for helping the poor, the imprisoned, and child laborers chained to machines.  [See, Read the Declaration].

Already we have confusion.  The Declaration says that "Christians" have advocated social justice and "resisted tyranny, reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering."  And who are these "Christians" Colson is talking about?  Apparently the pope  is included, the same popes who cursed and condemned Protestants and burned Protestants at the stake!   Colson lauds the "papal edicts of the 16th and 17th centuries" simply because they stood on the right side of the slavery issue.  Excuse me but who was it who decided to burn the English martyrs at the stake?  Has Colson not read Fox's Book of Martyrs?  I might add Colson conveniently glosses over the fact that John Wesley vehemently attacked both George Whitefield and Augustus Toplady for being Calvinists and preaching the doctrines of grace.  I wonder how Wesley related to William Wilberforce on a personal level since Wilberforce was also a committed Calvinist?

So what else is there in the Declaration to which I object on doctrinal grounds? 


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. We set forth this declaration in light of the truth that is grounded in Holy Scripture, in natural human reason (which is itself, in our view, the gift of a beneficent God), and in the very nature of the human person. We call upon all people of goodwill, believers and non-believers alike, to consider carefully and reflect critically on the issues we here address as we, with St. Paul, commend this appeal to everyone's conscience in the sight of God.  [Ibid.]
Did you get that?  Colson uses deliberately ambiguous terms to sucker and deceive Evangelicals.  The terms "Orthodox" and "Catholic" mean "right doctrine" and "universal" in some contexts.  No Christian would disagree that we need to believe the right doctrines or that we need to advocate a universally applicable Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 1:8).  But Colson and the other authors of the Manhattan Declaration do not mean any of that here.  The reference is clearly to the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.  The document conveniently overlooks the Great Schism of 1054 between the Eastern Orthodox Church and Rome over the issue of papal supremacy and it overlooks the Protestant Reformation as if neither of those cataclysmic events ever took place! 

The next paragraph sounds majestic but further confuses the Gospel by implying that basis for unity between Christians is not the Gospel and the Holy Scriptures but "moral" concerns:

While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.  [Ibid.]
And finally the punch line:

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.  [Ibid.]
Did you get that?  The Manhattan Declaration says that the Eastern Orthodox Church, Roman Catholicism, and Evangelicals are all proclaiming "the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness . . ."

And Chuck Colson has the nerve to say that R.C. Sproul is a young, orthodox and naive Evangelical who refused to sign the Manhattan Declaration because Sproul has an "aversion to doctrine"?  (See, Sproul:  Why I Did Not Sign the Manhattan Declaration).   The utter absurdity of such a statement is ridiculous.  It is not merely the young who have refused to sign.  Many of us have a mind and have rejected the Manhattan Declaration on doctrinal grounds and not because of an "aversion to doctrine". 

If the Manhattan Declaration is any indication, theological liberalism is setting in.  Colson's theology is latitudinarian at best.  Major "Evangelical" magazines are selling out the Gospel to a false gospel of good works and moralism.  If The Episcopal Church and the Anglican provinces in the UK and Canada are any indication we can clearly see where Colson's thinking leads.  It leads to theological and ecclesiastical relativism, modernism, liberalism and eventually apostasy.  Basically for Colson and his liberal cronies co-belligerency becomes accepting Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox as "Christians" and as "brothers" in Christ.  But are they?  Not according to the historical evidence and the Reformed Confessions of Faith:  Westminster Standards, Three Forms of Unity, and the Anglican Formularies.  (The Anglican Formularies are The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion of 1571, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal, which is included in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer).

What is ironic is that the Westminster Confession of 1646 said that the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy were "synagogues of satan" because of their level of doctrinal impurity.  It also said that the pope  was an "antichrist".   (See, Chapter 25. Of the Church.  Westminster Confession, 1646.  See also, Article 19 of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion.  See also, Belgic Confession: Chapter 25, of the Marks of the True Church).

For Colson becoming a Christian is some vague Christianity of the last 2,000 years, presumably a Christianity that includes all the heresies of medieval Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.  And even more disturbing, Colson expects Christians to blindly follow the leader to hell if necessary.  He uses the brainwashing techniques used in military boot camp as an illustration:

The psychology of boot camp is instructive. The first six weeks are spent—figuratively speaking, mostly—beating out of recruits every habit, attitude, and preconceived notion about life and the world. You are told you are worthless and are "not a special snowflake," as Campbell says. You are now part of the Marine Corps and will do what the drill instructor says. Period.  [Doctrinal Boot Camp].
If this sort of thinking does not alarm Calvinists, I wonder what would alarm them?  Colson reveals his true motive here.  He wants to brainwash Christians and have them blindly follow their pastors and other religious leaders without question.  He advocates "beating out" of new converts any tendency to read and study Scripture for themselves or think for themselves.  Such a view not only throws out the priesthood of believers but it totally rejects the doctrine of private interpretation of Scripture.   (See 1 John 4:1-3; John 5:39; 2  Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 John 1:7-11). Private interpretation does not exclude confessions of faith in writing or the creeds.  But it does mean that the Christian is to examine fallible documents by the Word of God and that would include examining the contents of sermons and testing those sermons by the creeds, confessions and by the ultimate and final rule of faith:  Holy Scripture.  Sola Scriptura!

Colson's view is more in line with the top down mentality of Roman Catholicism than with the Protestant Reformation.  One has to suspect that his view has been tainted by reconstructionism and theonomy, another theological error which Colson endorses.  In fact, the Manhattan Declaration and other ecumenical compromises are the perfect illustration of why theonomy and reconstructionism are in fact theological heresies.  Both emphasize the here and now and social action above the two kingdom theology of Scripture and therefore preach another gospel, which is no gospel at all.  (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4).  Fact is, Roman Catholics and theonomy have more in common with each other than theonomy has in common with the true Gospel and biblical Christianity as it is expounded in the Westminster Standards, the Three Forms of Unity, and the Anglican Formularies.

May the peace of God be with you,


Postscript:  Belgic Confession:  Chapter 25,  Of the Marks of the True Church

We believe that we ought to discern diligently and very carefully from the Word of God what is the true church, for all sects which are in the world today claim for themselves the name of church.[1] We are not speaking here of the hypocrites, who are mixed in the church along with the good and yet are not part of the church, although they are outwardly in it.[2] We are speaking of the body and the communion of the true church which must be distinguished from all sects that call themselves the church.

The true church is to be recognized by the following marks: It practises the pure preaching of the gospel.[3] It maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them.[4] It exercises church discipline for correcting and punishing sins.[5] In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God,[6] rejecting all things contrary to it[7] and regarding Jesus Christ as the only Head.[8] Hereby the true church can certainly be known and no one has the right to separate from it.

Those who are of the church may be recognized by the marks of Christians. They believe in Jesus Christ the only Saviour,[9] flee from sin and pursue righteousness,[10] love the true God and their neighbour[11] without turning to the right or left, and crucify their flesh and its works.[12] Although great weakness remains in them, they fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their life.[13] They appeal constantly to the blood, suffering, death, and obedience of Jesus Christ, in whom they have forgiveness of their sins through faith in Him.[14]

The false church assigns more authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God. It does not want to submit itself to the yoke of Christ.[15] It does not administer the sacraments as Christ commanded in His Word, but adds to them and subtracts from them as it pleases. It bases itself more on men than on Jesus Christ. It persecutes those who live holy lives according to the Word of God and who rebuke the false church for its sins, greed, and idolatries.[16]

These two churches are easily recognized and distinguished from each other.

[1] Rev 2:9. [2] Rom 9:6. [3] Gal 1:8; 1 Tim 3:15. [4] Acts 19:3-5; 1 Cor 11:20-29. [5] Mt 18:15-17; 1 Cor 5:4, 5, 13; 2 Thess 3:6, 14; Tit 3:10. [6] Jn 8:47; Jn 17:20; Acts 17:11; Eph 2:20; Col 1:23; 1 Tim 6:3. [7] 1 Thess 5:21; 1 Tim 6:20; Rev 2:6. [8] Jn 10:14; Eph 5:23; Col 1:18. [9] Jn 1:12; 1 Jn 4:2. [10] Rom 6:2; Phil 3:12. [11] 1 Jn 4:19-21. [12] Gal 5:24. [13] Rom 7:15; Gal 5:17. [14] Rom 7:24, 25; 1 Jn 1:7-9. [15] Acts 4:17, 18; 2 Tim 4:3, 4; 2 Jn 9. [16] Jn 16:2.

Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

1 comment:

Charlie J. Ray said...

Article XXXI

Of the one oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross

The offering of Christ once made is the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual, and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said that the priests did offer Christ for the quick and the dead to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.

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