The "Manhattan Declaration"; Selling out the Reformation? Part I

The New York Times Magazine, Dec. 20, 2009 carried an article by David Kirkpatrick on his old mentor and friend Dr. Robert P. George, a Roman Catholic “natural law theorist” who teaches at Princeton University. 

During the interview, Dr. George is quite candid about the theological and philosophical basis of the “Manhattan Declaration,” a document that recently surfaced in New York City and has made headlines in the secular media. Dr. George is the hand behind the Declaration from beginning to end. 

What makes the “Manhattan Declaration” significant are the three points laid out in the interview:
  1. The Manhattan Declaration “disavows dependence on divine revelation or biblical authority” (p. 27). Luther’s teaching that “reason is so corrupted that faith in the divine was humanity’s only hope” (p. 29) was specially denounced by Dr. George. 
  2. He noted that the Protestant doctrine of original Sin poses a serious threat to the basis of the Declaration. Dr. George comments, “This is a serious issue and, if I am wrong, this is where I am wrong” (p. 29). 
  3. The Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura, if true, would mean that, according to Dr. George, “that he (George) puts too much faith in the power of reason, in overlooking what Christians describe as Original Sin.”    (p. 29)

    Thus the basis of the Declaration is that the Protestant doctrines of Original     Sin and Sola Scriptura are erroneous.  
  4. God and His Word are not the ultimate authority of what we are to believe     or how we are to live.  
  5. Once Sola Scriptura is rejected, what or who is the ultimate authority on what to believe and how to live? George stated that “human reason,” apart from and independent of revelation is the Origin of truth, justice, morals, meaning, and beauty. Man’s reason is the measure of all things.

Kirkpatrick summarized George’s position: 
George is the leading voice for a group of Catholic scholars known as the new natural lawyers. He disavows dependence on divine revelation or biblical Scripture…Instead, George rest his ethics on a foundation of “practical reason”; “invoking no authority beyond the authority of reason itself.”  (p. 27) 

George argues that sodomy and same sex marriages can be condemned   and made illegal on the sole grounds of “reason” and “logic.” (pgs 26f)  Kirkpatrick comments, “George argues that reason alone show that     heterosexual sodomy and homosexual sex are morally wrong…” (p. 29)

 “Heterosexual sodomy” refers to oral sex between a man and a woman   - including between a husband and wife. “Reason,” according to George, would make oral sex between a husband and wife a matter of criminal  law!

George expressed his amazement that so many “evangelicals” signed the Manhattan Declaration, which is clearly based on Roman Catholic natural law theory. He noted that evangelicals historically denied Catholic natural law and preached that the Bible was the ultimate authority over faith and practice. 

How did he get so many Protestants to sign on to his Catholic Declaration when by signing they were unwittingly rejecting the very basis of the Reformation?  George stated, “I sold my view about reason!” (p.29) He tricked them into throwing out the Bible and putting human reason in its place!

Who Signed?
The Roman Catholic “Manhattan Declaration” was one of the most deceptive statements ever written. It affirmed that human reason apart from and independent of Scripture was the ultimate and final Judge of truth and morals. It was an affirmation of Catholic Natural Religion, Natural Theology, and Natural Law. It was also a protest statement against the Reformation doctrine of Sola Scriptura in which the Bible alone is the ultimate authority over doctrine and morals. 

The following Protestant leaders who signed the Catholic statement of faith in Natural Law fall into three groups:
  1. Some of them did not read the document but signed it because they trusted those who said it was “OK” to sign. “If so and so signed it, it must be OK.”  They were ignorant and foolish to sign a “Manifesto” without understanding what they were signing.  
  2. Some read the Declaration superficially and were ignorant that it was teaching Catholic Natural Religion, Law, and Theology. They did not understand that the Reformation had repudiated. Catholic Natural Theology and Law as humanism.
  3. Some of them do not believe that the Bible is the final authority over morals and doctrine but they trust in their own reason, feelings, and experience as the Origin of truth, justice, morals, meaning, and beauty. They do not believe in Sola Scriptura and laughed at those who signed it in ignorance.

As we documented in our last report, Catholic leaders, such as Dr. George, who wrote the Declaration have publicly stated their amazement that Evangelical leaders would sign a document that was actually a repudiation of the Reformation. We are just as amazed.  

The following well-known Protestants leaders signed the Declaration. We know some of these men and hold them in the highest respect as fellow brothers. We know that they believe in Sola Scriptura and that they will be embarrassed now we have exposed the Catholic nature of the “Manhattan Declaration.”  We pray that they will be not angry for our pastoral admonition for signing such a document. To receive correction is a mark of true humility and wisdom. Thus they should demonstrate their love of the truth by withdrawing their name and support for the Declaration. 

Those leaders who signed the Declaration with full knowledge that they were dethroning the Bible and replacing it with human reason, should be placed under church discipline and fired from their teaching or pastoral positions. We do not view them as fellow Christians but as “wolves in sheep clothing.”    

The Catholic “Manhattan Declaration” underscores the importance of my new book, The Bible, Natural Law, and Natural Theology: Compromise or Conflict? We must boldly proclaim that the Bible is the final Rule of faith and life and that any attempt to replace it with rationalism, mysticism, empiricism or fideism is heretical and a denial of the Reformation Gospel. 

Contact those who signed the Catholic Statement and ask them to withdraw their name from it. If they refuse to do so, then do not financially support them or their schools, churches or organizations. Be bold as a lion and kind as a lamb because most of the signers were ignorant of what they signed. If they deny it was a Catholic Declaration or that it repudiated Sola Scriptura, it will reveal that they signed it in ignorance.

Lastly, pray for these people as they have a hard decision to make. If they humble themselves before the Lord and affirm their allegiance to Sola Scriptura, they must swallow their pride and admit that they signed the Declaration in ignorance of what it really meant. But such humility will be hard for those who are bloated with their own self-importance. But as soon as some of the well-known leaders withdraw their name, many others will follow their lead. Who will be the first leaders to do the right thing and withdraw their name?

If you contact a signer and he denies the Catholic connection to the Declaration, make the following offer: Dr. Morey is ready, willing, and able to debate you in public whether the “Manhattan Declaration” is a Roman Catholic affirmation of Natural Law and Natural Theology and whether it is in principle a repudiation of the Reformation doctrine of Sola Scriptura.”  

Religious Leaders who signed the Catholic Manhattan Declaration.

Dr. Daniel Akin
President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, NC) 

Randy Alcorn
Founder and Director, Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM) (Sandy, OR) 

Rt. Rev. David Anderson
President and CEO, American Anglican Council (Atlanta, GA) 

Rev. Dr. Gordon L. Anderson
President, North Central University, Minneapolis, MN 

Leith Anderson
President of National Association of Evangelicals (Washington, DC) 

Carole K. Ardizzone
TV Show Host and Speaker, INSP Television (Charlotte, NC) 

Kay Arthur
CEO and Co-founder, Precept Ministries International (Chattanooga, TN) 

Dr. Mark L. Bailey
President, Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas, TX) 

Most Rev. Craig W. Bates
Archbishop, International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (Malverne, NY) 

Joel Belz
Founder, World Magazine (Asheville, NC) 

Rev. Michael L. Beresford
(Charlotte, NC) 

Rev. Thomas V. Berg
President, Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person (New York) 

Ken Boa
President, Reflections Ministries (Atlanta, GA) 

Joseph Bottum
Editor of First Things (New York, NY) 

Pastor Randy & Sarah Brannon
Senior Pastor, Grace Community Church (Madera, CA) 

Brian Brown
Executive Director, National Organization for Marriage (Princeton, NJ) 

Steve Brown
National radio broadcaster, Key Life (Maitland, FL) 

Dr. Robert C. Cannada, Jr.
Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando, FL) 

Galen Carey
Director of Government Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals (Washington, DC) 

Dr. Bryan Chapell
President, Covenant Theological Seminary (St. Louis, MO) 

Timothy Clinton
President, American Association of Christian Counselors (Forest, VA) 

Dr. Kenneth J. Collins 
Professor of Historical Theology and Wesley Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary 
(Wilmore, KY) 

Chuck Colson
Founder, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview (Lansdowne, VA) 

Dr. Mark Coppenger
Managing Editor, Kairos Journal 

Dr. Barry H. Corey
President, Biola University (La Mirada, CA) 

Dr. Gary Culpepper
Associate Professor, Providence College (Providence, RI) 

Jim Daly
President and CEO, Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs, CO) 

Marjorie Dannenfelser
President, Susan B. Anthony List (Arlington, VA) 

Rev. Daniel Delgado
Board of Directors, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference & Pastor, Third Day 
Missions Church (Staten Island, NY) 

Dr. James Dobson
Founder, Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs, CO) 

Dr. David Dockery
President, Union University (Jackson, TN) 

Dr. James T. Draper, Jr.
President Emeritus, LifeWay (Nashville, TN) 

Dinesh D'Souza
Writer & Speaker (Rancho Santa Fe, CA) 

Dr. J. Ligon Duncan
Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, & President, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals 

Dr. Michael Easley
President Emeritus, Moody Bible Institute Chicago, IL) 

Dr. William Edgar
Professor, Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia, PA) 

Brett Elder
Executive Director, Stewardship Council (Grand Rapids, MI) 

Rev. Joel Elowsky
Drew University ( Madison, NJ) 

Rev. Jonathan Falwell
Senior Pastor, Thomas Road Baptist Church (Lynchburg, VA) 

William J. Federer
President, Amerisearch, Inc. (St. Louis, MO) 

Carmen Fowler
President & Executive Editor, Presbyterian Lay Committee (Lenoir, NC) 

Commissioner Israel L. Gaither
National Commander, The Salvation Army 

Maggie Gallagher
President, National Organization for Marriage (Manassas, VA) 

Dr. Jim Garlow
Senior Pastor, Skyline Church (La Mesa, CA) 

Steven Garofalo
Founder, National Apologetics Training Center (Charlotte, NC) 

Dr. Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University (Princeton, NJ) 

Dr. Timothy George
Dean and Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School at Samford University (Birmingham, 

Thomas Gilson
Director of Strategic Processes, Campus Crusade for Christ International (Norfolk, VA) 

Dr. Jack Graham
Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church (Plano, TX) 

Dr. Wayne Grudem
Research Professor of Theological and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary (Phoenix, AZ) 

Dr. Cornell "Corkie" Haan
National Facilitator of Spiritual Unity, The Mission America Coalition (Palm Desert, CA) 

Alec Hill
President, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA 

Dr. Dennis Hollinger
President and Professor of Christian Ethics, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (South 
Hamilton, MA) 

Dr. Jeanette Hsieh
Executive VP and Provost, Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL) 

Dr. John A. Huffman, Jr.
Senior Pastor, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church (Newport Beach, CA) and Chairman of the 
Board, Christianity Today International (Carol Stream, IL) 

Dr. Edith M. Humphrey
William F. Orr Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary 

Rev. Ken Hutcherson
Pastor, Antioch Bible Church (Kirkland, WA) 

Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr.
Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church (Beltsville, MD) 

Jerry Jenkins
Author (Black Forest, CO) 

Camille Kampouris
Editorial Board, Kairos Journal 

Emmanuel A. Kampouris
Publisher, Kairos Journal 

Rev. Tim Keller
Senior Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church (New York, NY) 

Dr. Alveda King
Director of African American Outreach, Priests for Life 

Most Rev. Emmanuel Musaba Kolini
Primate, Anglican Church of Rwanda (Kigali, Rwanda) 

Jim Kushiner
Editor, Touchstone (Chicago, IL) 

Dr. Richard Land
President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC (Washington, DC) 

Jim Law
Senior Associate Pastor, First Baptist Church (Woodstock, GA) 

Dr. Matthew Levering
Associate Professor of Theology, Ave Maria University (Naples, FL) 

Dr. Peter Lillback
President, The Providence Forum (West Conshohocken, PA) 

Dr. Duane Litfin
President, Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL) 

Rev. Herb Lusk
Pastor, Greater Exodus Baptist Church (Philadelphia, PA) 

Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer
Pastor, The Moody Church (Chicago, IL) 

Dr. Joseph Mattera
Bishop & Senior Pastor, Resurrection Church (Brooklyn, NY) 

Phil Maxwell
Pastor, Gateway Church (Bridgewater, NJ) 

Josh McDowell
Founder, Josh McDowell Ministry (Plano, TX) 

Alex McFarland
President, Southern Evangelical Seminary (Charlotte, NC) 

Dr. C. Ben Mitchell
Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy, Union University (Jackson, TN) 

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY) 

Dr. Russell D. Moore
Senior VP for Academic Administration & Dean of the School of Theology, Southern Baptist 
Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY) 

Richard J. Mouw
President, Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, CA) 

Thomas D. Mullins
Christ Fellowship Church, Palm Beach, FL 

J. Todd Mullins
Christ Fellowship Church, Palm Beach, FL 

Rt. Rev. Charles H. Murphy, III
Missionary Bishop of Rwanda and Chairman of the Anglican Mission in the Americas 

David Neff
Editor-in-Chief, Christianity Today (Carol Stream, IL) 

Tom Nelson
Senior Pastor, Christ Community Evangelical Free Church (Leawood, KS) 

Dr. Jerry Newcombe
Host/Senior Producer, Coral Ridge Ministries (Fort Lauderdale, FL) 

Niel Nielson
President, Covenant College (Lookout Mt., GA) 

Nikolas T. Nikas, Esq.
President and General Counsel, Bioethics Defense Fund 

Dr. Tom Oden
Theologian, United Methodist Minister and Professor, Drew University (Madison, NJ) 

Marvin Olasky
Editor-in-Chief, World Magazine and provost, The Kings College (New York City, NY) 

Rev. Neftali "Charles" Olmeda
Pennsylvania Chapter Director, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference 
(Allentown, PA) 

Rev. William Owens
Chairman, Coalition of African-American Pastors (Memphis, TN) 

Dr. J.I. Packer
Board of Governors, Professor of Theology, Regent College (Canada) 

Tony Perkins
President, Family Research Council (Washington, D.C.) 

Eric M. Pillmore
CEO, Pillmore Consulting LLC (Doylestown, PA) 

Dr. Everett Piper
President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University (Bartlesville, OK) 

Todd Pitner
President, Rev Increase 

Dr. Cornelius Plantinga
President, Calvin Theological Seminary (Grand Rapids, MI) 

Dr. David Platt
Pastor, Church at Brook Hills (Birmingham AL) 

Rev. Jim Pocock
Pastor, Trinitarian Congregational Church (Wayland, MA) 

Fred Potter
Executive Director & CEO, Christian Legal Society (Springfield, VA) 

Dennis Rainey
President, CEO, & Co-Founder, FamilyLife (Little Rock, AR) 

Bob Reccord
Founder, Total Life Impact, Inc. (Suwanee, GA) 

Dr. Harry L. Reeder
Sr. Pastor, Briarwood Presbyterian Church (Birmingham, AL) 

Rev. Eugene F. Rivers
Senior Policy Adviser to the Presiding Bishop, Chuch of God in Christ 

James and Betty Robison
Founder and President, LIFE Outreach International (Fort Worth, TX) 

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference 

Frank Schubert
President, Schubert Flint Public Affairs (Sacramento, CA) 

David Schuringa
President, Crossroads Bible Institute (Grand Rapids, MI) 

Tricia Scribner
Author (Harrisburg, NC) 

Dr. Dave Seaford
Senior Pastor, Community Fellowship Church (Matthews, NC) 

Alan Sears
President, CEO, & General Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund (Scottsdale, AZ) 

Randy Setzer
Senior Pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church (Lincolnton, NC) 

Kelly Shackelford, Esq.
Chief Counsel, Liberty Legal Institute (Plano, TX) 

Rev. Louis P. Sheldon
Founder and Chairman, Traditional Values Coalition (Anaheim, CA) 

Dr. Ron Sider
Director, Evangelicals for Social Action (Wynnewood, PA) 

Fr. Robert Sirico
Founder, Acton Institute (Grand Rapids, MI) 

Dr. Robert Sloan
President, Houston Baptist University (Houston, TX) 

Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth
Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality/Lifewatch 

Charles Stetson
Chairman of the Board, Bible Literacy Project (New York, NY) 

Dr. David Stevens
CEO, Christian Medical & Dental Association (Bristol, TN) 

John Stonestreet
Executive Director, Summit Ministries (Manitou Springs, CO) 

Dr. Joseph Stowell
President, Cornerstone University (Grand Rapids, MI) 

Dr. Sarah Sumner
Professor of Theology and Ministry, Azusa Pacific University (Azusa, CA) 

Dr. Glenn Sunshine
Research Fellow of the Action Institute (Grand Rapids, MI) 

Chuck Swindoll
Founder and Chairman of the Board, Insight for Living, Senior Pastor—Stonebriar 
Community Church (Frisco, TX),
Chancellor—Dallas Theological Seminary 

Joni Eareckson Tada
Founder and CEO, Joni and Friends International Disability Center (Agoura Hills, CA) 

Luiz Tellez
President, The Witherspoon Institute (Princeton, NJ) 

Dr. Timothy C. Tennent
Professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (South Hamilton, MA) 

James R. Thobaben
Professor of Bioethics and Social Ethics, Asbury Theological Seminary 

Dr. Greg Thornbury
Dean of the School of Christian Studies, Union University, Fellow at the Wilberforce Forum (Washington, D.C.) 

Michael Timmis
Chairman, Prison Fellowship and Prison Fellowship International (Naples, FL) 

Michael Timmis, Jr
Chairman of the Board, Ave Maria University (Ave Maria, FL) 

Mark Tooley
President, Institute for Religion and Democracy (Washington, D.C.) 

H. James Towey
President, St. Vincent College (Latrobe, PA) 

Juan Valdes
Middle and High School Chaplain, Flordia Christian School (Miami, FL) 

Todd Wagner
Pastor, WaterMark Community Church (Dallas, TX) 

Dr. Graham Walker
President, Patrick Henry College (Purcellville, VA) 

Dr. James Emery White
Founding and Senior Pastor, Mecklenberg Community Church (Charlotte, NC) 

Luder Whitlock
Excelsis (Orlando, FL) 

Dr. Hayes Wicker
Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church (Naples, FL) 

Don Wildmon
American Family Association 

Mark Williamson
Founder and President, Foundation Restoration Ministries/Federal Intercessors (Katy, TX)

Parker T. Williamson
Editor Emeritus and Senior Correspondent, Presbyterian Lay Committee 

Dr. Craig Williford
President, Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL) 

Dr. John Woodbridge
Research professor of Church History & the History of Christian Thought, Trinity Evangelical 
Divinity School (Deerfield, IL) 

Don M. Woodside
Performance Matters Associates (Matthews, NC) 

Dr. Frank Wright
President, National Religious Broadcasters (Manassas, VA)  

Paul Young
COO & Executive VP, Christian Research Institute (Charlotte, NC) 

Dr. Michael Youssef
President, Leading the Way (Atlanta, GA) 

Ravi Zacharias
Founder and Chairman of the Board, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (Norcross, GA)