09 December 2009

Idealism vs. Normally-Wise Pragmatism

by Frank Turk

I'm almost hesitant to blog today because the last time I blogged here I posted a link to a somewhat-helpful article about Twilight and its apparent analogical apologetic for Mormonism, and it turned into, well, something else. I enjoy blogging, especially when I think I have something useful, helpful or otherwise edifying to share, and sometimes people just take the fun out of it.

{sigh}

Anyway, again leap-frogging from a post by a co-blogger at Evangel, the Manhattan Declaration rears its ugly head as some over there are again taking up its torch. James Grant has pointed to a blog post by Father Patrick Reardon. What we should think about today is the center of Fr. Reardon's assessment of the position of (for example) Dr. John MacArthur (and for those who missed it, RC Sproul):
The critics I have in mind, rather, are those Christians who confessed agreement with the substance of the Declaration while declining to associate with the other signers. Their objections, I believe, are significant in the sense of deserving comment. Considerations of available space impose brevity here.

We may take the example of the Evangelical spokesman, John MacArthur, Jr. His complaint was very simple: The Manhattan Declaration scans only the symptoms of these social evils but neglects to address their root cause. That is to say, this document fails to proclaim the Gospel of salvation, which is the sole remedy for every social ill.

Substantially identical was the objection of the Orthodox Christian priest, Father Jonathan Tobias, who faulted the Declaration for not preaching repentance. This writer went even further, nonetheless, lampooning at length the document's form and rhetorical style. (Ironically, the somewhat softened Father Tobias has of late chastised James Carroll, for a similar mockery of it.)
That underlined part (emphasis added) is the part that interests me -- because here's what Dr. MacArthur actually wrote:
In short, support for The Manhattan Declaration would not only contradict the stance I have taken since long before the original “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document was issued; it would also tacitly relegate the very essence of gospel truth to the level of a secondary issue. That is the wrong way—perhaps the very worst way—for evangelicals to address the moral and political crises of our time. Anything that silences, sidelines, or relegates the gospel to secondary status is antithetical to the principles we affirm when we call ourselves evangelicals.
Now, you know what? I'll be glad to concede for the sake of this post and whatever argument you think you want to start at this point that it is possible for someone with a clean conscience to have signed this document. You know: Al Mohler deserves the benefit of the doubt. Ligon Duncan deserves the benefit of the doubt just in case he's reading here. I think it's possible that some people have made an error not because they have some aim to deceive even the elect (as if that was possible) but because they think public proclamations of morality are prophetic in nature.

To that I say: I respect your motives, but your are letting your idealism obscure your normally-wise pragmatism.

What I'm posting about here is about Fr. Reardon's approach to justifying the MD's signers. The idea that John MacArthur has merely decided that if we just preach the Gospel we don't need to do anything else is, frankly, unfounded for two reasons:

[1] Plainly, Dr. MacArthur's objection is grounded on the idea that the three major groups named in this declaration all define the Gospel of Jesus Christ differently! That is: all his other objections are in orbit around the point that you cannot possibly say that confessional Evangelicals and Roman Catholics can say, "preach the Gospel" and mean the same thing. This fact obscures the Gospel.

[2] Only someone who has never read Dr. MacArthur and his thorough stand on holiness and godly living could possibly say he advocates for just preaching the Gospel "as the sole remedy for every social ill". The Gospel has real-world, real-life consequences, and Dr. MacArthur is one of the loudest and clearest preachers to this point in the English-speaking church.

So in that, let's please not think that if one has repudiated the MD he has repudiated living among people, doing good works, actually protecting the down-trodden and the orphan the the widow, and suffering for the sake of others. What he has repudiated is doing that in the context of an undefined "gospel" for an inexplicable Jesus. Someone has already said this, but it bears repeating:
[the Manhattan Declaration] assumes a big tent for the definition of what it means to be a “believer”, assumes that law is greater than grace in reforming the hearts of men, and provides moral reasoning that those who are unbelievers have no reason to accept — because they are unbelievers. And in making these three items “especially troubling” in the “whole scope of Christian moral concern”, it overlooks that the key solution to these moral concerns is the renovation of the human heart by supernatural means established by the death and resurrection of Christ.
I also have a beef with the red herring of "declining to associate" which Fr. Reardon mentions. Many of the signers of this document are either hopeful or fearful (I just can't tell which) that the disagreement over this document is going to lead to some manner of quasi-fundamentalist "separation" over the matter.

We'll have to take that up another time. It's enough to say for now that this document doesn't hardly cause a person to be a rank heretic or disqualify himself from ministry. It's just a mistake which, one hopes, many of the signers will reconsider and therefore remove their names from the list.







70 comments:

Reformed and Renewed said...

Hi Frank..

one would not be ungracious to those who think a little bit different to us as far as the side-line issues are concerned. My view is simply not to be overly dogmatic, ( because tomorrow you might be proven wrong) Rather stick to stanidng yp for the essentials and let the non essentials be. I have read the manhattan declaration and it reads like a political document. It says much about nothing. But you have to at least say what it should say and what it is not saying ( in the case of Dr Macarthur) But for the rest of us, maybe we should live at peace with one another as far as possible.

DJP said...

Does "living at peace" require certifying that self-identified leaders of Gospel-perverting sects are real-live Christians who actually preach the Gospel the sects in which they are leaders pervert?

SandMan said...

Still scratching my head about what is hard to understand about this.

Is it because the RC's are nice people? Yes, most of them are. Many lead pretty moral lives. It is refreshing to meet moral people when so much of our society is casting off all moral restraint.

However, EVERY true believer knows that God is not impressed by our morals apart from Christ.

It is the most unloving/unpeacable thing to do to lock arms with Roman Catholics and tell them they are approved by God when the reality is that they are headed for Hell if they continue in the tenets of the RCC. This document declares their "gospel" to be THE Gospel. It isn't. I know this from experience, no matter how similar their terminology sounds to ours.

Even if this supposed new brotherhood stopped all abortions forever, it would simply enhance the spiritual pride and self-righteousness that is sending RC men and women to Hell. Shouldn't true Christians care about THAT?

DJP said...

Very well-put, SandMan.

Extra points for "unpeacable."

SandMan said...

Spelling notwithstanding, it is unpeaceable. ; )

James Joyce said...

Good is sometimes the enemy of the best.

SandMan said...

OH, and according to dictinary.com also NOT a word.

I give up. Even when I make a decent point it is laced with my own ignorance.

stratagem said...

Frank
I agree that the preaching of the Gospel is not the cure for every social ill, but I do think that the Gospel itself is the cure for every social ill. What what I've read of your writings, I think you also would agree with that, true?
Stratagem
(uh-oh: my verification word is "painedin" I kid you not)

DJP said...

SandMan, I like it because it's not a word.

JJoyce, that is awfully good.

Hayden said...

As a former Catholic that is now an evangelical Pastor, I get what MacArthur and Sproul are saying and say a hearty "Amen". One thing that existed in my close to 20 years in the RCC is a midst of fog about what is important, the Gospel.

I am currently reading the book "Holy Ground" by Chris Costaldo and echo lots of what he has said in his book about his confusion in the RCC and his now clarity of the Gospel as an evangelical.

Everyone should pick up a copy and read this book, which is very gracious by the way, and then ask themselves "Can I see why MacArthur and Sproul and Begg have objections?"

Eric said...

An interesting contrast, I believe, is to consider the "heavenly reaction" to a sinner being saved (Luke 15:7,10) due to the saving gospel and the lack of Biblical mention (that I am aware of) of angels rejoicing over the correct moral decision of a sinner bound for hell.

Frank Turk said...

The preaching of the Gospel is the only solution for the depravity of man. That doesn't mean that one should not, to various degrees and scopes, tell the unregenerate, "please stop hitting me."

Everyday Mommy© said...

"I think it's possible that some people have made an error not because they have some aim to deceive even the elect (as if that was possible) but because they think public proclamations of morality are prophetic in nature."

This sentence really has me thinking, Frank. Can you expound on it?

Mark B. Hanson said...

I believe the word is "unimpeaceable" ;)

Two things:

1. It seems to be enough common ground for the signers of the MD to say "we ought not do this." And such a comment is purely political in nature.

MacArthur is right, though - we Christians cannot prescribe change without prescribing the method of change. And that is the gospel.

2. I would think that co-signing such a document would be tantamount to saying, "Just ask any of these people what the solution is."

Perhaps this issue has been raised before, but would these same people have co-signed a declaration with Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses? Or are they already co-signatories?

Gabby said...

This increasingly reminds me of something Arthur Pink once said:

The gospel of Satan is not a system of revolutionary principles, nor yet a program of anarchy. It does not promote strife and war, but aims at peace and unity. It seeks not to set the mother against her daughter nor the father against his son, but fosters the fraternal, spirit whereby the human race is regarded as one great "brotherhood". It does not seek to drag down the natural man, but to improve and uplift him. It advocates education and cultivation and appeals to "the best that is within us". It aims to make this world such a congenial and comfortable habitat that Christ’s absence from it will not be felt and God will not be needed. It endeavors to occupy man so much with this world that he has no time or inclination to think of the world to come. It propagates the principles of self-sacrifice, charity and benevolence, and teaches us to live for the good of others, and to be kind to all. It appeals strongly to the carnal mind and is popular with the masses, because it ignores the solemn facts that by nature man is a fallen creature, alienated from the life of God, and dead in trespasses and sins, and that his only hope lies in being born again.

DJP said...

HansonI would think that co-signing such a document would be tantamount to saying, "Just ask any of these people what the solution is."

Another excellent point.

Frank Turk said...

EVD Mommy --

prolly not today, but eventually.

Mike Riccardi said...

What he has repudiated is doing that in the context of an undefined "gospel" for an inexplicable Jesus.

That was my favorite line. It about sums the issue up. Thanks Frank.

David Rudd said...

I was at a basketball game this weekend between 5th graders from a Catholic School and an Evangelical School. The game was played at the Catholic school's gym.

Before the game, they had all the players and coaches hold hands in a circle and recite the Lord's prayer.

Those evangelical little girls all said, "OUR Father" along with those Catholic girls...

So glad my daughter wasn't out there.

Cadis said...

274,128 self indentified Christians have signed the Manhattan Declaration as of this morning.

156,258,720 Christians have not signed.

It's been a month. I find the number of signers to be surprisingly low.

SandMan said...

156,258,720 Christians have not signed.

Interesting statistic... I haven't gotten my ID card w/number in the mail, yet.

Frank Turk said...

I find the number of not-signers not impressive. I find the number of 'not ever heard of it' far more telling.

Cadis said...

The statistic is 79.4% which I am told translates to 159 billion and further I'm told that that is down 10% from 20 yrs ago...according to those statistics I'm not sure the US needs evangelizing :)

Cadis said...

I meant million

Gabby said...

Over at Wretched (Todd Friel) the poll reflects:

35% Would Sign it
65% Would Not Sign it

DJP said...

I'm saddened by the number of "signed-it-and-want-to-talk-about-everything-except-the-real-problem-with-it"s.

stratagem said...

Frank - no argument with the point about telling the unregenerate to stop beating. I'm still a bit confused as to your view on the question I asked, though.

donsands said...

"Before the game, they had all the players and coaches hold hands in a circle and recite the Lord's prayer.

Those evangelical little girls all said, "OUR Father" along with those Catholic girls..."

I wouldn't have a problem with saying the Our Father, or Lord's prayer with Catholics myself.
Now if they pulled out their Rosaries and started the Hail Mary's, then I'd say something.

Another good post. Thanks.

MagistraCarminum said...

I have really appreciated the discussion here, gentlemen. Thank you for your thoughtful posts. I just have a little side-issue, and it is your use, Frank, or the word "pragmatism". Maybe my understanding is faulty, but I would think wisdom would be antithetical to pragmatism, and that as Christians, pragmatic would be the last thing we would want to be called. I am noting, however, that "pragmatic" is increasingly listed as a desirable quality. As believers, we ought not to be making our decisions or goals based on "what works", but on what God says. Am I missing something?
Humbly-
Chris, a homemaker in NM

olan strickland said...

they think public proclamations of morality are prophetic in nature.

This is to confuse a moralistic worldview with a Biblical worldview and the two are not the same. The former is a counterfeit of the latter.

< Red Flag > Most world religions teach a moralistic worldview whiched when examined carefully exposes the truth that what is being taught actually isn't Biblical. < /Red Flag >

Therefore to join hands with these groups in an ecumenical alliance, claiming that they are true to the Gospel, is to be untrue to the Gospel.

drmack said...

A Manhhattan Allegory...
As I travelled the narrow path on my way to the Celestial City, I came to a place where the path widened. I noticed a large crowd gathering. Some I had seen before on the narrow way and new them to be good pilgrims. Others I could see climbing over the wall along the side of the path. These had clearly not enetered by the Wicket Gate. There seemed to be much confusion. Then I saw a gentleman dressed in white shouting that we were all the same. That we all believed the same things and should continue travelling together on the wider portion of the path since it could accommodate all of us much easier than the narrow way. I was almost persuaded by the gentleman in white when my friend Centurion approached me. He told me to beware the man in white, for his white robe hides a black heart. He encouraged me to continue on the narrow way. Though it would be much more difficult, I would be sure to reach my destination.

Thanks again Team Pyro!

My word: fectr
False
Evangelicals
Catholicising
The
Reformed?

gymbrall said...

I wouldn't have a problem with saying the Our Father, or Lord's prayer with Catholics myself.

Would you have a problem with me going to your earthly father's will reading and demanding part of your inheritance on the grounds that I say I'm his son? Would you at that point, come and hold hands with me and verify my claim?

Frank Turk said...

Briefly - Everybody is pragmatic one way or another. The question is how you frame 'what works'.

And I think that speaks to the MD directly.

Frank Turk said...

Strategem --

Maybe I don't understand your question, then. Can you rephrase it for me?

donsands said...

"Would you have a problem with me going to your earthly father's will reading and demanding part of your inheritance on the grounds that I say I'm his son? Would you at that point, come and hold hands with me and verify my claim?"

What's your point, i don't understand how this compares at all with praying a model prayer in Scripture with others?

Daryl said...

Donsands,

It's the "Our" in Our Father. That means yours and mine, which is why I'm glad they took it the Lord's Prayer out of the school morning routine up here in Canada.

If I have reason to believe that someone is not a believer, how can I pray that prayer with them?

Barbara said...

In light of this statement from Charles Colson, I have contacted the MD folks and asked that my name be removed:

"This document is, in fact, a form of catechism for the foundational truths of the faith."

http://www.breakpoint.org/commentaries/13626-just-the-beginning


I don't think that's what any of the aforementioned signers "signed up for".

gymbrall said...

What's your point, i don't understand how this compares at all with praying a model prayer in Scripture with others?

It's not just a model prayer for how people should talk to the guy in the sky, it's how the Sons of God should talk to their Father. I would not grab hands with an unsaved person and say this prayer with them. It would be to say that we have the same Father.

stratagem said...

Frank
Sure. Do you think that the Gospel itself is the cure for society's ills, or only the preaching of the Gospel? That was my question.

Then later, I realized it's probably a dumb question: It is Jesus who is the answer to society's ills, not "the Gospel" necessarily. "The Gospel" is only how we refer to Jesus and what he did for us. So I think I answered my own question.

I have never let the risk of asking a dumb question keep me from asking it!

Regards

donsands said...

"It's not just a model prayer for how people should talk to the guy in the sky,"

Is that what you think I think?

Sounds like you are trying to make a point, but I'm not understanding you.

" I would not grab hands with an unsaved person and say this prayer with them. It would be to say that we have the same Father."

That's your conviction, fine.

I feel different.

CR said...

Thanks for posting RC Sproul's comments. I really appreciate that. (And I just saw that Dan sneaked in a post on that also). I was wondering what he thought of the MD. On your point [2], I'm not aware of MacArthur advocating or not advocating anything for social ills per se.

However, he is against individual Christians or the church using temporal methods like lobbying or what have you to promote legislative and judicial change. He says it is not our calling and has no eternal value. I disagree with this. I believe laws protecting the unborn can have eternal value.

He's not against the Christian voting and is not saying that Christians should be uninvolved in politics or civic causes. He says we should express our views in the voting booth supporting legitimate causes but that's where it ends.

The problem I have with this is we can't just sit around and wait for the right measures or people to come up on the ballot box. Who else but the church is going to promote legislative and judicial change? It's not our primary responsibility but it is a responsibility in a constitutional republic as ours. And while MacArthur doesn't say we should be completely uninvolved, he comes awfully close sometimes.

This is in sharp contrast to RC Sproul. He has come and out said the church does not do enough in this arena and for that, I respect him.

gymbrall said...

Donsands,
Maybe we're just talking past one another. Here's what I'm trying to say: I don't believe Roman Catholocism is an orthodox faith, as such, I would not pray with random Roman Catholics, a prayer that claims that we have the same heavenly Father. It would be a lie.

Ron said...

I continue to be amazed as to why a document such as this was actually needed in the first place.

LeeC said...

If I condoned the MD alongside with R.C. church and others, and one person took my agreement as condoning of the "gospel" they preach and therefore felt comfortable following that "gospel" to eternal damnation would thier blood be upon my head?

What of the person in the Catholic church wrestling with thier doctrine and just starting to say listen to some of Mohlers teaching, and then they see him join hands with the Roman Catholic church. Would they be put at ease with staying put with Catholic doctrine due to that wittness?

I would not chance that.

Frank Turk said...

CR:

I want you to consider something.

Imagine an island where there are 10 Christians and 1000 "other". The laws of island are plainly formed by "other" sensibilities (see Rom 1 & 2), so they are hit and miss -- no murder or stealing, but they have lax marriage laws and they like a lot of debt to support a lavish lifestyle (nothing like us, of course).

How should a Christian population which equals 1% of the total confront a culture which has some of the basics of natural law right, but really make a "culture fail" on things like marriage and material goods? Lobby the government for change?

It seems to me that while they will have political opinions, demanding that unbelievers act like believers is a fool's errand. If we were only 1% of the population (and we might be), our best bet for reform would be to bring the Gospel to people and vote our consciences -- rather than lobby for things they can't possibly understand and then try to tell them about Jesus.

Jesus comes first in reforming a culture. In fact, Jesus is the foundation for reforming a culture. But it is because there are consequences to being saved that, for example, law will follow the consensus morality.

Jesus first. Then we can deal with people who are shaped by the Gospel rather than by their fallen nature.

donsands said...

"Maybe we're just talking past one another."

That could be part of it.

Do you think all the evangelical girls were born again? And do think it would be possible for any of those catholic girls to be born again as 10 year old girls?

I bow to your convictions, and any one else's convictions to not pray with Catholics.

And this subject is quite vast, because there are many different situations in my life when i have to say no to unity, and other times it's not that serious.

It Really depends on the situation for me.

Bottom line, i do agree with you, that Roman Catholicism teaches a different gospel for salvation. It in the end is of faith & works. And I need to say there are Protestants who likewise teach faith & works.

The Reformed gospel is of faith alone by God's grace alone. Eph. 2:8
And as for the works, I will show my works, if you need to see them by my faith, James 2:18, is the Protestant answer to good deeds.

have a blessed evening.

Matthew M. Johnston said...

What is the purpose of the declaration? Now, I know the ''purpose'' - that is stated in the declaration itself but what is the actual purpose of it? :)

Do they plan on submitting it to parliament? The President?

What........

jmarinara said...

At the risk of being publiclly lampooned by Mr. Turk again, and thus ruining his fun *rolls eyes*, I want to ask a simple question to all those (including MacArthur, Sproul, etc.) who refuse to sign this document:

What have you done lately to help put a stop to the murder of the pre-born, the public affrimation of perversion, and/or the errosion of our religious liberty?

Btw, this is not a snark. It's an honest question. Also, I will not sign this document for the same reasons as many of you.

This should be "fun". :-)

Daryl said...

jmarinara,

For the record...and only because you asked:

I am raising 6 children to love God and understand His word, I have voted for conservative candidates, I teach children in Sunday School so that they might grow up to know the Lord and spread his gospel further.
Today I presented the gospel to a group of seniors at a local rest-home, so that they might be saved and pass that knowledge on to their children, grand-children and great-grand-children.

But all this is irrelevant, we shouldn't get into a "I've done more than you" thing. No doubt you think my list insufficient because there's no picketing or lobbying there.
Point is, I'm only doing what most believers do. I'm expecting that God will grow His kingdom, and those who come into the kingdom will be changed.

How will something like the MD change anyone? I don't know, maybe it will, maybe it won't. But questions like "What have YOU done" sound an awful lot like "because if you don't Jesus can't" to me.

RichardS said...

jmarinara said...
I want to ask a simple question to all those (including MacArthur, Sproul, etc.) who refuse to sign this document: What have you done lately to help put a stop to the murder of the pre-born, the public affrimation of perversion, and/or the errosion of our religious liberty?

RS: Being just a bit presumptuous, in speaking for Dr. Sproul and Dr. MacArthur, in preaching the Gospel they are taking a stand against all immorality. The Gospel is against all unbelief and as such all sin that flows from unbelief. Every time God uses their messages to translate sinners from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son, He uses them to stand against all of those sins and others. On the other hand, one can take a stand against all of those sins and be nothing more than Pharisees. All unbelievers violate all of the commandments and not just three. They need to be turned from unbelieving hearts to believing hearts. Personally, I am not sure why those three external sins were picked out. In doing so they have watered the law down way too much.

Frank Turk said...

I'm campaigning against prudery and the fear that bare shoulders reveal cleavage by proclaiming the Gospel among weak-tea evangelicals and bunkered-down fundamentalists who think they are doing God's work when they are really just demonstrating their own need for it.

gymbrall said...

Do you think all the evangelical girls were born again? And do think it would be possible for any of those catholic girls to be born again as 10 year old girls?

Maybe this is where the disconnect is:
In the original scenario, there were two groups, one from an evangelical school and one from a RC school, so there was a corporate sense of identity and associated beliefs. So in this scenario, I'm assuming I'm affiliated with the evangelical group and therefore agree with their representation of the gospel (in general) knowing full well that I have no reason to expect that everyone in the group is actually saved.
Within this framework particularly, with these identifiers and understanding, I wouldn't be comfortable going out and praying the Lord's prayer with the Catholic group. It has nothing to do with saying who is individually saved, it has everything to do with saying that external identification and testimony are real things and should not be treated lightly.

Does that make more sense?

Andrew D said...

donsands,
Were I the basketball coach of the evangelical school's girl's team, I would not consent to a public recitation of the "Our Father" (as the RCC's call it). Here's why:

In the RCC, reciting the "Our Father" has the opposite significance of Jesus' intention when taught his disciples how to pray. The "Our Father" is a portion of the Rosary, and reciting it (they recite it, they do not PRAY it), they believe they earn some merit toward heaven (or less time in purgatory with earlier admittance to heaven). That dogma alone is a slap in the face to the true gospel. This is the confession of the RCC, in their catechism and derived from the teachings of the Bishop of Rome.

There may well be many evangelical girls (perhaps all of them) on the baskeball team who are not born again. But it is not the systematic confessional teaching of the evangelical school to engage in meaningless repetition in order to earn merit towards heaven, which is a heretical belief.

Put simply: every time a confessional RCC'er recites the "Our Father", they are directly disobeying the Lord Jesus in Matthew 6:7.

In addition to this, I would ask if you would be pleased to pray the Lord's prayer in public with Mormons, JWs, or Unitarian Universalists (not to be combattive but just to take your position to it's logical conclusion to see if it holds water).
Obviously each of those groups carries their own gospel-denying baggage to their recitation of the Lord's Prayer

CR said...

Frank,

On your example of the 10 people on an island, I would somewhat agree with it if the example could be applied to our culture. You asked how should a Christian population confront a culture (in our case, American culture) which has some of the basics of natural law. Our culture fails on the very basic fundamental principle of the sanctity of human life from natural law. The principle on the sanctity of human life from natural law is that every society develops laws protecting human life. Except our own when it comes to the unborn.

Also, no one is proposing to force unbelievers to act like believers. The civil magistrate is called to be a minister of God. It exists to protect human life and establish justice and when the state fails to protect human life it fails to be the state. Not advocating to make people believers, just advocating that the church remind the state to be the state. That's it.

Lastly, on your statement of Jesus reforming the culture. We have no promise from Scripture that the culture will be reformed. In fact, if Scriptures tell us anything, it's that the culture will get worse. The Lord has always worked through a remnant and it's only in times of revival where you have the culture reforming. I'm praying for another revival in our society but that's just not how the Lord works, normatively. He only works through a remnant. Given that fact, since we are exiles in this land, we are to do good in the land we're in. Only believers can remind the state that it's subject to God and established to protect human life. In our society that's done through what I already mentioned. We don't do it at the expense of the gospel, but we still do it.

Frank Turk said...

CR:

Every human culture ever has always had a legal system which has been a mixture of truth and error. The Roman Empire itself -- which Paul extolled as an example of God's ordained ministry of the sword -- held human life ijn much lower regard than our legal system.

In that, your primary objection is a little overstated.

As to your final point, at some point we have to take the statement of Paul that the Gospel is the power for salvation (Rom 1:16 for the needy) seriously. That means that it will save people.

Let's actually try that before we start formulating plan "B".

As to your middle point, of course you are asking the unbelievers to act like believers when you ask them to treat sex, human life, and (your) religious expression as items which the courts and the police should enforce upon them. That is an inescapable and uncomplicated truth.

CR said...

Frank: Let's actually try that before we start formulating plan "B".

Not advocating a "plan B." This is not about saying, let's preach the gospel and if that doesn't work (or until that works) let's pass laws. No, no no! Legislation is not about changing hearts. Laws are about this: punishing evil.

Rachael Starke said...

"of course you are asking the unbelievers to act like believers when you ask them to treat sex, human life, and (your) religious expression as items which the courts and the police should enforce upon them."

That's one way to frame it.

Another way would be to say that we are asking our government to adhere to the document which has defined it for over 200 years.

That, for me, is the central issue. Abortion and marriage are two (as a Christian, secondary) issues that are subordinate to the larger issue (as a Christian, still secondary) of religious liberty. One of our historically-defining maxims as a nation has been the inherent right for individuals to practice their religion as their conscience dictates. It's that right that the current government is impinging on. It's also that right, by the way, that has enabled the ministries of men like Macarthur, and Sproul and Piper et al to flourish, even to the point of being a lifeline in countries where those rights don't exist. Desiring God and Ligonier and Grace To You all flourish in America and bless the world because of the common grace of religious liberty.

That's what was so frustrating about the MD. Sproul nailed it - in its attempt to unify around common grace, it diluted and denied the definiton of particular grace.

But I'm wondering - if it hadn't done that; if it had clearly stated that this was simply an issue of the defense of religious liberty, a joining hands, as Sproul puts it, with the bishop of Rome et al, over our right to practice our very different faiths,

would more have signed it? Or would the joining of hands under any circumstances still be seen as an inherent denial of the gospel?

If it had been the latter, I would have been thrilled to sign it.

For the record, were the government to answer "Sorry, we're moving forward. That old thing just isn't relevant and it's abortions and gay marriage for all"? Then bring on the persecution.

But we're not there yet. And until we are, I feel like I owe it to my children to do everything I'm free to do as a citizen of this country to hold back the tide.

As long as it doesn't compromise or deny the gospel. Which is why I couldn't sign.

jmb said...

Frank Turk said...

I'm campaigning against prudery and the fear that bare shoulders reveal cleavage by proclaiming the Gospel among weak-tea evangelicals and bunkered-down fundamentalists who think they are doing God's work when they are really just demonstrating their own need for it.

I'm impressed. You have an epigrammatic talent.

Reformed and Renewed said...

My it seems I have been all wrong. (if I check out the comments...) Would one then not associate with members of another Denomination because of a doctrinal error? I think only if we share in their error. Not if we stand and share our point of view. Almost like Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms. You have to say "here I stand" even if they do stone you afterwards.

DJP said...

You are correct, RR; evidently you have completely missed the issue at stake here. Follow this through, and you'll see it.

donsands said...

"Put simply: every time a confessional RCC'er recites the "Our Father", they are directly disobeying the Lord Jesus in Matthew 6:7." -Andrew

And when this Scripture passage is recited in a Protestant church are they disobeying the Lord?

"The "Our Father" is a portion of the Rosary, and reciting it (they recite it, they do not PRAY it), they believe they earn some merit toward heaven"

Never heard that before.

I know in the Catholic service they recite the Lord's prayer in their liturgy, as do other Protestant denoms.

Would I recite the Lord's prayer in a Mormon church, ot JW church?

Don't know. It would depend on the situation.

The main thing is the Gospel, and what it means to me. And for me to live my faith, and share my love for Christ with all people, Mormons, Hindus, the whole world, as the Lord leads me to.

Bottom line is the Jesus' words to us in Matt 6 are holy truth, and they are words that cut deep into the soul, sharper than a razor.

I would say you can certain pray those words with your heart; I have. Or you can simply read them, study them, and meditate on them as well.

I'm not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power that saves a sinners soul, and so brings pleasure to all in heaven when a sinner repents and believes the good news of Christ's forgiveness in His death and resurrection.

have a blessed day.

Frank Turk said...

CR:

So when do we start passing laws about covetousness?

CR said...

Frank,

Not talking about covetousness. I did not mean that the state exists to punish all evil. It cannot interfere in the matters of the church (e.g., it cannot perform church discipline).

Because human sin designs all kinds of ways to deprive people of life and liberty, the state exists (ideally) to protect people from harm and when it punishes people for harming people, it is performing its function as a state.

Matthew M. Johnston said...

So nobody knows [or cares] ?

Cool!

donsands said...

"It has nothing to do with saying who is individually saved, it has everything to do with saying that external identification and testimony are real things and should not be treated lightly."-gym

I agree. And for me it's a situation by situation deal.

I prayed with a Catholic nun tonight as she prayed and thanked the Lord for supper my Mom was about to eat. I have become close with Theresa as a friend, and yet she knows where I am coming from as a Protestant.

In fact she believes since i left the Roman Catholic church that I left my consecration. We have had our theological discussions, and many more I hope.

The Gospel is awesome and powerful. She has years and tons of religion on her shoulders, and yet i know God saves His elect, when he finally reaches into the heart and brings them to Himself. And on that day the Lord rejoices that one of His lost sheep has come home!
In fact, all heaven rejoices.

Thanks for the good discussion. Lord bless you with a Merry Christmas!

CR said...

gymbrall,

It makes absolute and complete sense what you're saying and the for the life of me, I don't know why donsands would pray with a Catholic nun. There really isn't any good reason whatsoever and it smacks at the so-called unity blurrism and gospel blurrism we're trying to critique of signers of the MD.

I've been asked to pray with mormon missionaries and another time with a Catholic priest. I refused.

donsands said...

"I don't know why donsands would pray with a Catholic nun." CR

I guess you had to be there. There's a lot more to it, that you can't go into on a blog.
And even then we'll prolly still disagree.

Andrew D said...

donsands asked,

"...when this Scripture passage is recited in a Protestant church are they disobeying the Lord? "

Matt 6:7 is not nebulous. The meaning of "vain repetitions" and "heaping up empty phrases" is plain I think. Jesus says don't do that. But In the RCC, this is precisely how the "Our Father" is taught! Just go to the confessional and see what the priest instructs you to do for Penance. (don't actually do this. just take my word for it or ask a practicing Catholic).

I stated,
"When reciting the "Our Father"... they (Catholics) believe they earn some merit toward heaven"

donsands said,
"Never heard that before.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1437
"Reading Sacred Scripture, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Our Father - every sincere act of worship or devotion revives the spirit of conversion and repentance within us and contributes to the forgiveness of our sins."

So, when we sit down to pray with nuns, we might as well pat them on the back and affirm their trust in this doctrine of demons, that they can "contribute to the forgiveness of their sins" since Jesus's atonement wasn't good enough. What else are we saying by pretending we have spiritual fellowship with them? The intention of their prayer entails a denial of the gospel.

And we must love them enough to want them to know the true gospel (more than wanting them to "like" us)

Basketball: yes. Cup of coffee: yes. Vote for pro-lifers: yes.

Pray together and pretend that God is pleased with your meritorious works: no.

Lou Martuneac said...

Are we witnessing an on-going proclivity to give benefit of the doubt, if not an outright pass, when the time for that has passed? If this had been Al Mohler’s first time, one time step toward compromise and ecumenism then we might give benefit of the doubt.

Al Mohler has, however, sat as chairman for the 2001 Billy Graham crusade in Louisville and honored a rank liberal, past SBTS president, Duke McCall. Now he is an original signatory to the Manhattan Declaration (MD), which I believe is a Trojan horse for the full-blown ecumenism of Evangelicals & Catholics Together.

Al Mohler signing the MD gave, as Dave Doran noted at his blog, “Christian recognition to people without a credible profession of the gospel.” To pass this action off as merely “bad judgment,” which Doran contends, is to ignore and sidestep the obvious “biblical obligations” toward what has been done by these signatories to the MD.

When are men who claim to be biblical separatists going to give the Lord and His Word first benefit of the doubt instead of the who make these compromises and show no sign of repudiating or retreating from doing those things?

IMO, we must arrive at our response to the actions of men like Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan from the starting point of what does the Bible mandate for me, not what is in the best interest of keeping my friends and/or fellowships.


LM

donsands said...

"And we must love them enough to want them to know the true gospel (more than wanting them to "like" us)"

I don't think you have read my comments. But hey that's alright.

It's difficult to understand sometimes what another person is saying on a thread.

have a godly and good weekend.