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The Manhattan Declaration (Part 2) The Barmen Declaration revisited

Anyone who feels they cannot sign the Manhattan Declaration for reason that it does not go far enough, should not sign it. That being said, I personally think that those who have problems with the language of the document are reading things into it that it does not say. However, my biggest concern is that there are those who would use the controversy as an excuse for inaction. We have been called upon to act on the issue of legalized child-killing again and again and most have continued to slumber. In many ways, we are similar to the German Church in the 1930s who refused to defend the lives of the Jews.

Martin Niemöller was a German U-boat commander in WWI. He later became a Lutheran pastor and used to preach anti-Semitic sermons. He was also virulently anti-Catholic. Later he resisted Hitler and almost lost his life. He used to give speeches in America about the need for civil resistance to tyranny. He would usually end his speeches with one of several variations of the following:

In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.

At the beginning of Hitler’s administration in Nazi Germany, there was the Barmen Declaration, or The Theological Declaration of Barmen 1934. It was is a statement of the Confessing Church opposing the Nazi-supported “German-Christian” movement. This was signed by Neo-orthodox Lutheran pastors such as Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. While I disagree with Barthian theology, I would have signed the Barmen Declaration.

This is the same idea behind the Manhattan Declaration. There is a higher principle at stake here than the admittedly important theological differences that divide us.

If evangelicals do not join with Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and others who do not agree with us, to speak out against encroaching federal tyranny, there may be no one left one day to speak out for us. We must speak out in some form, no matter what our view is on the Manhattan Declaration. We must unite and redouble our efforts to speak out the evil of federal tyranny.

I knew that the Manhattan Declaration was self-consciously patterned after the Barmen Declaration, but I had never read the latter until today. This document was actually written by the neo-orthodox Karl Barth, with whom I have far more serious theological reservations than I do with former Hitlerian and Supreme Roman Pontiff, Herr Joseph Ratzinger. Ironically, I admire both of them on some levels.

Several of the Reformed luminaries, such as Duncan, Sproul, MacArthur, Piper and others, ought to get together and write an amendment to the Manhattan Declaration stating what it says and does not say that is objectionable to the Reformed position (in all the humility that the “Truly Reformed” are able to muster) and state that with these reservations in mind, the core issues of the Manhattan Declaration are agreeable to them.

Or they could write their own declaration. One could literally just rewrite the Barmen Declaration substituting “American Evangelicals” for the Germans.

Theological Declaration of Barmen

Written by Karl Barth and the confessing church in Nazi Germany in response to Hitler’s national church. Its central doctrines concern the sin of idolatry and the lordship of Christ.

I. An Appeal to the Evangelical Congregations and Christians in Germany

8.01 The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church met in Barmen, May 29-31, 1934. Here representatives from all the German Confessional Churches met with one accord in a confession of the one Lord of the one, holy, apostolic Church. In fidelity to their Confession of Faith, members of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches sought a common message for the need and temptation of the Church in our day. With gratitude to God they are convinced that they have been given a common word to utter. It was not their intention to found a new Church or to form a union. For nothing was farther from their minds than the abolition of the confessional status of our Churches. Their intention was, rather, to withstand in faith and unanimity the destruction of the Confession of Faith, and thus of the Evangelical Church in Germany. In opposition to attempts to establish the unity of the German Evangelical Church by means of false doctrine, by the use of force and insincere practices, the Confessional Synod insists that the unity of the Evangelical Churches in Germany can come only from the Word of God in faith through the Holy Spirit. Thus alone is the Church renewed.

8.02 Therefore the Confessional Synod calls upon the congregations to range themselves behind it in prayer, and steadfastly to gather around those pastors and teachers who are loyal to the Confessions.

8.03 Be not deceived by loose talk, as if we meant to oppose the unity of the German nation! Do not listen to the seducers who pervert our intentions, as if we wanted to break up the unity of the German Evangelical Church or to forsake the Confessions of the Fathers!

8.04 Try the spirits whether they are of God! Prove also the words of the Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church to see whether they agree with Holy Scripture and with the Confessions of the Fathers. If you find that we are speaking contrary to Scripture, then do not listen to us! But if you find that we are taking our stand upon Scripture, then let no fear or temptation keep you from treading with us the path of faith and obedience to the Word of God, in order that God’s people be of one mind upon earth and that we in faith experience what he himself has said: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Therefore, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

II. Theological Declaration Concerning the Present Situation of the German Evangelical Church


8.05 According to the opening words of its constitution of July 11, 1933, the German Evangelical Church is a federation of Confessional Churches that grew our of the Reformation and that enjoy equal rights. The theological basis for the unification of these Churches is laid down in Article 1 and Article 2 of the constitution of the German Evangelical Church that was recognized by the Reich Government on July 14, 1933:

Comments

Your comments are welcome!

Dear Jay,
I am one of those who will not sign the MD due to its ecumenical nature. I am also one who has been politically active since becoming a Christian 15 years ago. I think we who believe in the Crown Rights of Jesus Christ for our nation should write our own declaration. In fact, we should pattern it after the Solemn League and Covenant of the Scottish Covenanters.

Posted by Friend for Life on 07/22/2014 09:14 PM #

Well good for you. I thank God for people like you, as I've repeatedly said.

My only objection to that thought is that it cannot be ecumenical in nature since the Manhattan Declaration was formulated by a group of individuals from different churches. No church or denomination was part of the committee or has endorsed it. That which is ecumenical is endorsed by the whole Church.

We don't need an ecumenical effort to make this successful. In fact, I favor a synod of Reformed churches declaring a Christian Commonwealth dependent upon God.

No one who says they believe in the WCF has actually tried to unite under it as a civil covenant since the time of the Scottish Covenanters and the Puritans -- no Reformed presbytery, denomination or group of churches or ministries has written or endorsed such a Declaration -- not even as a symbolic gesture.

If they did, there would be enough dissent among the "Truly Reformed" who would find enough problems with it in order to squelch it. In fact, as you well know, it's a small miracle that the WCF was ever formulated and signed in the first place.

In the meantime, I think it is necessary for obedient individuals to act against abortion. Many individuals have tried to write up these Declarations and have them endorsed by church denominations.

So far the response has been underwhelming. The person who came closest to leading such a movement was Francis Schaeffer. Some of his disciples have been trying for years to do the same thing, but they can never get together on one idea.

In any case, abortion will never be defeated by a group of individuals. It can only be defeated by the church.

I am persuaded that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church alone. It could be ANY church -- even the Roman Catholic Church. Sadly, they too, with us, prove we are not truly the militant church of Christ on earth by our inaction and disobedience.

When abortion is defeated, I hope that it will be Reformed and Presbyterian churches, but so far it doesn't look like it will be.

Posted by Jay Rogers on 07/22/2014 09:14 PM #

Hi Jay,
Please forgive the delayed response... You and I are in much agreement and I pray the good LORD will unite His Church to form "a synod of Reformed churches declaring a Christian Commonwealth dependent upon God." Let us continue to pray and work toward this end while we stand at the gates of hell declaring the personhood of the preborn. :)
Your sister in Christ,
Angela Wittman
PS
Thank you for the many ways you serve our Lord and bring glory to His Name.

Posted by Friend for Life on 03/01/2010 12:59 PM #

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

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God's Law and SocietyGod's Law and Society (DVD)

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God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.

Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!

Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:

1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
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9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House. More recently, it was by catching just a glimpse of what this film reveals that Planned Parenthood director and abortion advocate Abby Johnson turned and became a strong advocate for the pre-born.

The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.

“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine

Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese

Running Time: 28 minutes

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