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The Manhattan Declaration:

Another Dominionist Covenant

Although I obviously agree with the document’s opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, and other key moral problems threatening our culture, the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel. The gospel is barely mentioned in the Declaration. At one point the statement rightly acknowledges, “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”—and then adds an encouraging wish: “May God help us not to fail in that duty.” Yet the gospel itself is nowhere presented (much less explained) in the document or any of the accompanying literature. Indeed, that would be a practical impossibility because of the contradictory views held by the broad range of signatories regarding what the gospel teaches and what it means to be a Christian.
– Rev. John MacArthur [1]

Part 3: The New Global Civility*

Whenever you see a broad ecumenical coalition gathering together to sign some sort of agreement, statement, covenant, declaration, manifesto, or whatever name they call it, be on the lookout for Dominionism. The agreement, statement, covenant, declaration, manifesto, etc. may sound all well and good. It probably represents any number of worthy causes, ideologies and agendas. And this is precisely how people are hooked in to signing on. After all, how could you be AGAINST saving unborn babies, good marriages, and morality?

But there are a number of red flags that indicate that these types of documents have other agendas, causes and ideologies than meet the eye — most of which can be lumped under the generic category of Dominionism. What is meant by this? The idea that man, by his works — especially political, structural or mystical — can reverse the tide of evil that the document purports to address.

There are other indicators of Dominionism. Here are just a few:

1. ECUMENISM. These documents typically represent a broad ecumenical coalition of diverse theological groups, and are are characterized by a theologically diverse “who’s who” list of well-known signers. Doctrinal differences are set aside in order to achieve the appearance of some sort of common purpose. As John MacArthur pointed out in his brief but excellent critique of The Manhattan Declaration, this ecumenism “seriously muddles the lines of demarcation between authentic biblical Christianity and various apostate traditions.”[2]

2. COVENANT. Most of these agreements, statements, covenants, declarations, manifestos, etc. require that you have to SIGN ON. This act of signing is a psycho-social tool, creating a “formal joining up process, a type of psychological contract in which one aligns their life’s purpose with the organization’s purpose.”[3] In other words, once you sign on, it glues your sense of commitment to the purported “cause” represented in the document.

3. BAIT AND SWITCH. These agreements, statements, covenants, declarations, manifestos, etc. are all cleverly worded. But what are you really signing on to? Is there another agenda lurking beneath the surface? Take The Manhattan Declaration, for example. There are indications in the wording that there are some political agendas afoot, such as changing laws, or definitions in law, even (alarmingly) civil disobedience. While the document may ostensibly give lip service to changing people’s hearts, without the Gospel it is more about changing laws. One can reasonably assume that The Manhattan Declaration is a clear signal that there is a marshaling of forces to start up the drumbeat for some new legislative or political activities in the near future. These types of activities usually require the State to define things that are of the Church, another symptom of classic Dominionism.

4. COMMON GROUND FOR THE COMMON GOOD. These “civility” documents are rife with the terms like “people of good will,” “conscience,” “ethics,” “justice” and “morality.”[4] But how are these terms defined? These terms can be so redefined as to EXCLUDE those who cannot or will not, for whatever reason, conform. Depending on how these terms are defined, they can actually exclude biblical Christians, particularly those who practice biblical separation. For example, carefully read these excerpts below from The Manhattan Declaration and ask what is really meant by popular phrase “the common [or public] good.” Next, ask how it would be prescribed or enforced — for example, “the church through service to others.” Just because the phrase uses the word “biblical” does not mean that it is.

“Like those who have gone before us in the faith, Christians today are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace, to protect the intrinsic dignity of the human person and to stand for the common good. In being true to its own calling, the call to discipleship, the church through service to others can make a profound contribution to the public good.”

“The biblical purpose of law is to preserve order and serve justice and the common good; yet laws that are unjust – and especially laws that purport to compel citizens to do what is unjust – undermine the common good, rather than serve it.”

5. THE MISSING GOSPEL OF SALVATION. Significantly minimized in such documents, if you carefully examine them, is the Gospel of Salvation. Replacing it is the gospel of man’s endeavors, causes, concerns and activities. John MacArthur, commenting on this very issue, wrote: “Anything that silences, sidelines, or relegates the gospel to secondary status is antithetical to the principles we affirm when we call ourselves evangelicals.”[5] This de-emphasis of the Gospel of Salvation happens to be a key indicator of the presence of Dominionism.

There is much more that we could say and write.[6] Those who have a passion for discernment research can follow the fascinating rabbit trails to learn more about the interesting list of “who’s who” of document signers,[7] what they believe, their connections and interests.[8] There is plenty of evidence that this whole thing is about Dominionism.[9]

Suffice it to summarize our cynicism about The Manhattan Declaration by suggesting that readers sit up and pay notice to what might surface in the coming months as a Christian Right-morphing-into-Emergent ecumenical political agenda.

The Truth:

“He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isaiah 44:20)

1. “The Manhattan Declaration,” John MacArthur, 11/24/09, http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4444
2. Ibid.
3. See page 42 of the monograph, “The Pied Pipers of Purpose: Human Capital Systems and Church Performance,” especially noting footnote 64. http://www.discernment-ministries.org/Purpose_Driven.pdf
4. For more information, read https://herescope.net/2009/01/new-global-civility.html
5. MacArthur, Ibid.
6. For additional reading, see: http://www.biblicalintegrity.org/blog/?p=290 and http://www.biblicalintegrity.org/blog/?p=300 and
7. “The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience,” posted with signers here: http://demossnews.com/manhattandeclaration/press_kit/manhattan_declaration_signers
8. Start here: http://demossnews.com/manhattandeclaration/press_kit/nov_20_press_conference_speaker_bios
9. For example, see Chuck Colson: http://www.colsoncenter.org/wfp-home and http://demossnews.com/manhattandeclaration/multimedia/ Especially see Chuck Colson’s “Worldview Spheres,” http://www.colsoncenter.org/search-library/worldview-spheres and http://www.colsoncenter.org/the-center/partners/12622-disciple-nations-alliance which is pure Dominionism. See these Herescope posts for an explanation: https://herescope.net/2007/06/neo-kuyperian-spheres.html and also this: https://herescope.net/2006/03/worldview-vision-part-1.html. Also see https://herescope.net/2006/03/transformative-worldview.html and http://www.discernment-ministries.org/ChristianImperialism.htm

* This is an ongoing series as new documents like this come out. For Part 1 of The New Global Civility go HERE. For Part 2 of “The New Global Civility: Manifestos, Declarations and Covenants” go HERE.