First We Take Manhattan

Okay, I’m back, at least for now.

I hope you are sitting down, because I think I’m about to agree with something that the Pyromaniacs said. In response to the Manhattan Declaration, Dan Phillips of the Pyros posts a series of questions that generally point toward how he doesn’t like that Protestants are co-signers of the Declaration alongside Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians since he thinks they have a lousy gospel. Because of this he fears that the gospel itself might be diluted. Now, compared to Phillips I think I have a bit more of a charitable view of our RC and EO brothers and sisters, but nonetheless he’s on to something. For reasons slightly different than Phillips I would agree that the Manhattan Declaration does dilute the gospel.

What is the Manhattan Declaration after all? It’s a group of socially conservative Christians coming together and signing a document that says they are socially conservative. Regardless of how you feel about the topics discussed in the Manhattan Declaration, is anyone actually surprised by it? Is it a shock that conservative Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox are pro-life, anti-euthanasia, anti-gay marriage, and would like their freedom of religion protected so that they may continue to hold these views? The sporting world’s equivalent would be if a large number of high-profile Yankees fans signed a declaration stating that they were of the opinion that the Yankees are the best, Yankee Stadium is the best, A-Rod is innocent, and that Boston sucks at everything forever. Well duh.

What this does though is beyond Dan Phillips having the spectre of the Pope haunting him. Instead I fear that it reinforces the broad cultural stereotype that Christianity is primarily a political platform that seeks to tell everyone else what to do with their reproductive organs. Now here the temptation is to say that God is god of everything so, yes, that includes your reproductive organs – but that line of thinking only works if you’re already a Christian! Even then, most Christians would say that there are several far more important, primary truths about Christianity of which someone should be aware. Instead, the broader culture’s view of Christians as busybodies just gets another layer of shellac. Things like the Manhattan Declaration further obfuscate the central message of Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection in favour of telling everyone something that they already knew about socially conservative Christians.

Lastly, here’s the Leonard Cohen song (as sung by Jennifer Warnes) if you got excited by the title of this post: