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Thoughts on the Manhattan Declaration: What's Next?

If you signed the Manhattan Declaration, you already received the following email. I am thankful for this message from the leaders because they state that the one million or so Christians who will eventually sign the document will actually be called upon to do something in response to their declaration of agreement.

In the next few days, I am going to write my thoughts on the various sections of the Declaration. I thought that all of my conservative activist friends would throw their hands up toward the sky annd shout, “Hallelujah! This is the breaking point we have been praying for!” I was surprised that so many conservative Christians have criticized this document, not for what it says, but for not going far enough without compromise on certain points. Or so they think.

At the outset, let me say that I am sympathetic to that point of view. If you are a politically or socially active Christian, there is no need to sign the document. Your actions speak louder than any symbolic gesture. This Declaration is meant to awaken a slumbering giant. However imperfect the language or philosophy of such a document may be, at the least we ought to agree with the purpose, and that is to reengage an evangelical church that has become increasingly irrelevant for the past 151 years and is threatened with becoming a persecuted minority if the culture is not confronted and reformed according to biblical laws and principles.

JCR




To all signers of the Manhattan Declaration:

Thank you for signing. We are now over 200,000 strong-and counting, for which we give thanks to God.

We have received thousands of e-mails asking what’s next – a good question. The goal of those of us who drafted and signed the document is not just to get a lot of names on a manifesto, gratifying though that is. We are seeking to build a movement – hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Catholic, Evangelical, and Eastern Orthodox Christians who will stand together alongside other men and women of goodwill in defense of foundational principles of justice and the common good. These are people who could expose the lie which so many in our culture have embraced about self being the center of life; and then winsomely present, in the words of St. Paul, “a more excellent way.”

We are looking for people who will work in every possible arena to advance the sanctity of life, rebuild and revitalize the marriage culture, and protect religious liberty.

So what’s next for you? Let us offer some specific suggestions. More will undoubtedly follow in the weeks ahead.

  1. Pray. We can do nothing apart from God. So lay this before the Lord every chance you have, and ask your friends and prayer chains to do the same thing.

  2. Study and learn about these issues. We see the Manhattan Declaration as a great teaching and reference source. Share it with others. Only after you have tried to teach it to someone else will you have really learned it. And go deeper in your own study. There are many organizations that offer excellent resources in support of these foundational truths. If you can’t find resources, you can visit http://www.colsoncenter.org and look at the Worldview Resource Directory we’ve assembled.

  3. Come back to http://www.manhattandeclaration.org if you want help in answering questions others pose to you. We’ve posted a FAQ (frequently asked questions) tab on the home page, but most people signed the statement before this was added. So revisit http://www.manhattandeclaration.org – and watch for other resources we will be posting.

  4. Invite all of the friends on your e-mail lists to go to http://www.manhattandeclaration.org, read the Declaration (that’s most important) and sign it.

  5. Talk to your pastor or small group leader in church. We have heard from a number of pastors who are already referring to this document in their sermons and using it in their teaching. We’ve also heard from bishops and other church leaders who are planning ecumenical gatherings in their areas of responsibility. Some are talking about campaigns to equip the faithful. Other pastors are asking their congregations to sign the document, and become informed. Go to your pastor; urge him to do this. You can really help in this area. Suggest it, and then volunteer to be a part of it. Step forward as a leader.

  6. If you belong to a civic group like Kiwanis or Rotary, and you have regular meetings, that’s a great forum in which to share information about the Manhattan Declaration. Explain to people what you’ve signed and why you’ve signed it. A lot of people are asking about this statement, its meaning and purpose. Educate them.

  7. Letters to the Editor can be a very effective way to spread information about important issues. According to some sources, more people read the Letters to the Editor columns than the editorials.

  8. Watch the issues being debated in the public arena, particularly as the health reform bill is moving through Congress. As a citizen you have a duty to let your representatives know what you think about the issues, particularly on profoundly important moral questions like those being raised now.

  9. Get on Facebook or any other chat rooms or blogs that you have access to. Social networking, as we are learning, can have a powerful impact.

  10. Finally, talk to your neighbors. Robert Naisbitt wrote that fads begin from the top down, movements from the bottom up. We are convinced that societies are changed over the backyard fence, standing around the barbeque grill, and sitting in the barber shop or hair salon. Learn to be an advocate in any environment.


In conclusion, in asking you to sign we were not just asking you to raise your hand, but to raise your voice. Great changes in society have often come about when Christian people unite in this way – think of the Wesley awakening, the Celtic revival, or movements for social justice and civil rights in our own country. We believe God is looking for good men and women who will pledge (as you have done in signing the Manhattan Declaration), never to compromise the gospel, and to become well-informed, effective advocates true and godly principles.

This is a message of hope for every area of human life and endeavor, and a call to discipleship for every believer.

God bless you.

Dr. Robert George
Dr. Timothy George
Chuck Colson

Your comments are welcome!

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