Monday, November 30, 2009

The Public Appeal of the Manhattan Declaration

Our ethics class at CCU read and discussed the Manhattan Declaration last week, and we had a lively interaction about the broad claims as well as the specific details contained in this “declaration of Christian conscience.” It would be well worth your while to read it through (about 7 printed pages) just to see what over 200 thousand people have signed their names to (as of 11/30/09).

One of the larger issues which caught my attention shows up in the “Declaration” section. They write:

We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love, who has laid total claim on our lives and by that claim calls us with believers in all ages and all nations to seek and defend the good of all who bear his image. We set forth this declaration in light of the truth that is grounded in Holy Scripture, in natural human reason (which is itself, in our view, the gift of a beneficent God), and in the very nature of the human person.

Two things jump out immediately. This is clearly a Christian document arising from historical Christian faith, and leading to unapologetically Christian concerns. I guess that is no particular surprise.

But it is also a document that makes a public argument – though Christian, it purports to stand for issues which are for the “good of all who bear his image” and which are grounded in “natural human reason” and the “very nature of the human person.” I like that move. Though the Declaration does quote Scripture, its argumentation is rooted in natural law concerns.

If Christians claim to have a grasp on truths that matter to everyone regardless of creed, they should hold to them.

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