“In recent years Roman Catholics and evangelicals have made common cause in the political arena, uniting forces in struggles over the abortion issue, homosexuality, etc. These joint efforts have brought together leaders from both sides who had never worked together previously. Personal friendships have been formed, and, as a result, serious doctrinal differences have begun to be down-played. Since there is agreement on some social issues, and since these issues are so important in the life of America today, many leaders on both sides are willing to minimize doctrinal conflicts on the plea that we need to cooperate in ‘saving America’.”
Today I had scheduled publication of a new article that continued the discussion of whether or not Lordship Salvation has any “Crossless” elements in its evangelistic message. We'll resume that series at a later date. The recent revelation of *Rev. R. Albert Mohler signing The Manhattan Declaration and its disturbing implications for the Gospel takes precedence.
This event is significant on several levels, first and foremost for the cause of Christ. Second this development is significant for the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) community, the Reformed IFB faction in particular. Mohler’s controversial action is concurrent with and highly relevant to Dr. Dave Doran’s on-going blog series on what he believes are the “biblical obligations regarding separation” for every believer. “Obligations” for what Doran has defined as, “Gospel-Driven Separation.”
Upon reading the opening quote to this article you might have thought it was published in the last week and it was in regard to The Manhattan Declaration. You would be wrong. It was written by Dr. Ernest Pickering and appears in, Holding Hands with the Pope: The Current Evangelical Ecumenical Craze, which was published nearly 16 years ago. You would, however, also have been right. Dr. Pickering’s commentary is as applicable today as it was in 1994. The “Evangelical Ecumenical Craze” then was over **Evangelicals and Catholics Together; today the application fits just as perfectly to The Manhattan Declaration.
What is The Manhattan Declaration?
The Manhattan Declaration (TMD) has been defined by its chief architect Chuck Colson as,
“a wake-up call—a call to conscience—for the church…a crystal-clear message to civil authorities that we will not, under any circumstances, stand idly by as our religious freedom comes under assault.”Al Mohler is among the original signatories of TMD, which was released to the public at the National Press Club on Friday, Nov. 20th. From his personal site under Why I Signed The Manhattan Declaration. Mohler offers a lengthy explanation for why he signed the document.
Signatories to The Manhattan Declaration include evangelical leaders, as well as leaders from the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches. In addition to Mohler other notable evangelical signatories include: Dr. Mark L. Bailey- President, Dallas Theological Seminary; Dr. J. Ligon Duncan- Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church; Rev. Jonathan Falwell- Senior Pastor, Thomas Road Baptist Church; Dr. Wayne Grudem- Research Professor of Theological and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary; Dr. J. I. Packer- Board of Governors, Professor of Theology, Regent College; Dr. Joseph Stowell- President, Cornerstone University; Dr. John Woodbridge- Research professor of Church History & the History of Christian Thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Dr. Michael Easley- President Emeritus, Moody Bible Institute; and many more. These added their names alongside a host of Roman Catholic signatories.
Signing on to TMD in fact has these men, including Mohler, Packer and Duncan holding hands with the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). This action is a betrayal of the Scriptures that forbid ANY such an unholy alliance (2 Cor. 6:14-17). Joining hands with the RCC does not honor the Lord or His Word. For sake of unity in defense of vital social issues of the day Mohler signed TMD. With that he has embarked on the slippery slope of compromise with the RCC. The Bible says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers...” That is a mandate from the Lord God and it is not open to selective interpretation or application.
Well known evangelical Dr. John MacArthur expressed public opposition to TMD and by inference frustration with, “a few men whom (he) loves and respects (who) have already affixed their names to it.” You can read his extended commentary at The Shepherd’s Fellowship blog. This is one of those times I can appreciate John MacArthur for taking a stand on the right issue to take a public stand over. I posted several comments there on this issue and in those comments I referenced…
Dave Doran’s: “Gospel-Driven Separation”
At his Glory & Grace blog Independent Fundamental pastor Dr. Dave Doran has been posting a series addressing The Gospel and Separation. One of the latest installments in his series is highly relevant to Mohler joining the Roman Catholic signatories to TMD. I draw your attention to Starting at the Right Spot, Part 1 (Nov. 23, 2009) Pay particular attention to the bolded sections.
My goal through these posts on gospel-driven separation has been to lay out what I believe are the biblical obligations regarding separation that are explicitly stated in or implied by clear biblical texts. I’ve tried to summarize these obligations with the following three statements:
1) For the sake of the purity of the gospel, believers and churches must separate from those who deny essential doctrines of the faith (Jude 3; 2 John 9-11; Rom 16:17).
2) For the sake of the clarity of the gospel, believers and churches must separate from those who compromise the faith by granting Christian recognition and fellowship to those who have denied essential doctrines of the faith (Rom 16:17; Phil 3:17-19; cf. 2 Thess 3:6-15).Dr. Doran followed his three obligations above with this powerful statement, which IMO could not be improved upon or more clear in its meaning,
3) For the sake of the credibility of the gospel, believers and churches must strive to reflect God’s holiness and to live differently than those who have not experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:15-16; Eph 4:17-19).
“It is important to note the difference between what I am calling obligations and other decisions regarding the extent of our ministerial cooperation and fellowship. My understanding of these obligations is that they are necessary for our church’s obedience to Jesus Christ—we don’t have any other option if we desire to be obedient to our Lord. We cannot extend Christian fellowship to those who deny fundamental doctrines of the Faith. We cannot ignore the disobedience of those who do so. We cannot blur the line between the church and the world.”As Dr. MacArthur noted from The Shepherd’s Fellowship- The Manhattan Declaration itself (and furthermore with Mohler adding his signature) essentially:
1) “obscures both the importance of the gospel and the very substance of the gospel message…”All of which makes a perfect test case for a clear and determined application of Dave Doran’s 2nd of three Scripture based mandates for Gospel-Driven Separation toward those, “who compromise the faith by granting Christian recognition and fellowship to those who have denied essential doctrines of the faith.”
2) “tacitly relegate(s) the very essence of gospel truth to the level of a secondary issue”
3) “constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels”
With Mohler being counted among the star personalities of the so called “conservative” evangelicals, whom Reformed IFB men have been eager to formalize fellowship with, his signing TMD must surely be problematic. Mohler’s signing The Manhattan Declaration to essentially hold hands with the Roman Catholic Church for social justice irrefutably “compromise(s) the faith by granting Christian recognition and fellowship to those who have denied essential doctrines of the faith.” The only question is whether or not Doran himself would follow through on his own defined “biblical obligations” toward exactly what Mohler has done.
Will Dr. Doran make the application of his own counsel on Gospel-Driven Separation? Does he “admonish” (2 Thess. 3:15) Mohler. If Mohler refuses correction would Doran “mark” him and warn men to “avoid” him (Rom. 16:17)? Or would Mohler’s action be given a pass and the “biblical obligations” ignored for the sake of fostering fellowship around the “contemporary fundamentalist-evangelical spectrum?”
In the next installment we will see that Dave Doran has answered these questions. In the next installment we will, furthermore, review the history of Al Mohler in regard to similar questionable decisions. Signing TMD is not his first.
Please continue to the next installment, Al Mohler Signs TMD: Was This a First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism?
*Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., serves as the ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary-the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention.
**A group of Roman Catholics and Evangelical joined together in 1992 to seek unity between their two groups. They decided this step as “essential for continued missionary expansion into the third millennium.” They viewed past conflicts as crippling the progress of the Gospel. “Involving, as it did, both evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders, it was truly a monumental statement...it was an ecumenical document of supreme importance since it represented a combined effort by leading spokesmen to ‘bury the hatchet’...and work together as ‘teammates’ instead of antagonists...It laments the division between them and proposes a moratorium on Catholic / evangelical conflict.” (E. Pickering: Holding Hands with the Pope) Mohler has embarked on the slippery slope toward compromise with the RCC for sake of unity in opposition to social issues of the day.