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If you pay attention to religious news and check religious blogs you’ve probably already heard about The Manhattan Declaration.  I urge you to read it and consider signging.

What is it?  Here’s a synopsis from the website:

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

  1. the sanctity of human life
  2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
  3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

You can read the whole Declaration here.  It takes about 10 minutes to read and is well worth your time.  The Declaration is biblical, wise, clear, firm, and free from rancor.  The Declaration was drafted by Robert George, Timothy George, and Chuck Colson.  The llist of original signers include prominent evangelicals like: Peter Akinola, Randy Alcorn, Leith Anderson, Kay Arthur, Joel Belz, Bryan Chapell, James Dobson, Wayne Grudem, Tim Keller, Duane Litfin, Herb Lusk, Josh McDowell, Al Mohler, Marvin Olasky, J.I. Packer, Neal Plantinga, Dennis Rainey, Ron Sider, Joni Erickson Tada, and Ravi Zacharias.

To read the Declaration, see the list of original signers, and sign up yourself, go here.

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39 thoughts on “The Manhattan Declaration”

  1. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Kevin DeYoung: “I urge you to read it and consider signging.”


    What do you think of Frank Turk’s explanation of why he won’t sign the Manhattan Declaration titled “I Respectfully Decline?”

    Read the comment thread as well.

  2. Kevin DeYoung says:

    I like Frank and respect him. I haven’t read his piece real thoroughly. But my initial reaction is: 1) I believe liberty of conscience is a Christian idea and it is good that the state protect that freedom, not infringe upon it. 2) I don’t have a problem saying RC/EO worship the same God with us (evangelicals). I would not say that about Muslims. But with RC/EO I don’t see a problem with a joint statement about certain societal/ethical issues.

  3. Kevin DeYoung says:

    I forgot to say that I’m sorry I don’t have more time to interact on this issue.

  4. Mike says:

    When I hear Ann Coulter comment that the church needs to be more active in issues like blocking same-sex marriage and condemning homosexuality rather than the “fashionable” issues like the poor or AIDS in Africa, I can’t help but think that your movement is doomed from the start. Whether or not two people of the same gender get married is not a matter of life and death, but poverty and AIDS certainly are. The Manhattan “Fatwa” lists among the good deeds of the church their care of those with AIDS in Africa – how about prevention, use of condoms, etc. When Bush pulled federal funding from any agency advocating use of prophylactic birth control methods, it was hailed as a moral decision. That is such BS. I am a recovering Catholic, and a spiritual person. But issues like this make me so happy that I left that corrupt den of snakes years ago. Earlier in the year the Catholic church declared Yoga, reiki, and transcendental meditation to be sins – but sodomize an alter boy? No problem, we’ll just send you to a parish in Nova Scotia. The Catholic church even supported Hitler at one time. Something is wrong with this picture.

  5. Greg says:

    I happily signed the Declaration because I see the U.S. Government gaining more and more ground in infringing the liberty of the Church.The government has become increasingly anti-Christian yet pro-Islam,and the Constitution has been all but discarded.It is time for all freedom-loving Americans,especially Christians to stand up to this garbage.

  6. Chris Fisher says:

    I disgree with Kevin on this one. Here’s who else signed the document and they are referred to as “We Christians” in the document. Why can’t Bible Believing Truly Faith ALONE regenerated leaders make their own document? Poor discernment for a temporal cause ignoring the eternal ramifications of comprimising and adding to the confusion concerning the Gospel.

    Here are the apparent Christians:Signatories of the declaration include Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia; Cardinal Adam Maida, Archbishop Emeritus of Detroit; Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Denver; Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York; Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C.; John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark; John Nienstedt, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis; Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City; Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville; Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix; Michael J. Sheridan, Bishop of Colorado Springs; Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, Bishop of Oakland; Richard J. Malone, Bishop of Portland; and David A. Zubik, Bishop of Pittsburgh.

    Please use discernment and DON’T sign.

  7. Chris Fisher says:


    You should not have a blog if you don’t have the time to respond to one of the most high profile documents you’ve ever signed your name to. Unifying with Roman Catholics and being part of the “we believers” in it is dead wrong. I’m saddened that my brothers signed this document. Like our Soveriegn Lord isn’t in control? Please. You’re commanded to show discernment and this document clouded up the waters of the Gospel to the weak and undiscerning brothers or unregenerates who think they are in the RCC. Our country is not more important than the Gospel being protected.

  8. John Goodell says:

    How do we come under the Christian banner with those who believe another gospel and call them fellow followers of Christ? (2 Cor. 6:14-18)

    I can see that these issues need to be contended for but to do it arm and arm as though we are brothers in Christ with those who believe another gospel sure seems like compromise to me. It is almost like we are setting aside serious gospel differences for a fight for the law.

  9. Kevin:

    I’m sorry, but compelled to admonish (2 Thess. 3:15) you as a brother for your joining with Roman Catholic signatories in The Manhattan Declaration. This act does NOT, “honor Him as God.” Signing on to TMD in fact has you holding hands with the RCC. This action by the “conservative” evangelicals is a betrayal of the Scriptures that forbid such an unholy alliance (2 Cor. 6:14-17) under ANY circumstance.

    Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…

    Just where does your first loyalty lie; to God and His Word or to a well-intended social agenda?


  10. Chris Fisher says:

    Amen Lou!! As a former RC I’m sickened by this lack of discernment.

  11. Chris:

    Glad you found my notes helpful. I too was saved out of the RCC.

    The following was written by Dr. Ernest Pickering 16 years ago. (Holding Hand with the Pope: The Current Evangelical Ecumenical Craze) It was in response to the Evangelicals & Catholics Together issue. Note how Pickering’s commentary is applicable today over TMD as it was to E&CT.

    In recent years Romans 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 fro 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’.

  12. David says:

    Chris & Lou:

    1. There is no unequal yoking. By signing this Declaration, the Christian is not yoked in subservience to pagans. The Declaration sets forth mutual agreement to a set of principles that are grounded in the immutable Truth of the Word of God. No one is bridging a divide on matters of the Gospel.

    2. There is no unholy alliance. If you gentlemen truly believe that there is, then consider that you yourselves are to be measured by the standard with which you measure. Thus, for starters, you should not be voting in the elections of the kingdoms of this world. If you do, you should stop because you are in an unholy alliance to a far greater degree. According to your high standard, you cannot have it both ways; there is no room to formulate a rationale that you can vote, but cannot join in proclaiming what is not man’s truth but is actually God’s truth.

    The persistent claim is that the true believer who signs this document is guilty by association with those who do not proclaim the true Gospel. But according to the Apostle Paul, the saints will judge the world (1 Cor. 6:2). Therefore, as bearers of the true Gospel, the authority lies with us; the liberty is at our disposal. We are not constrained by their errors, insofar as we are not agreeing to their errors. There is no guilt-by-association, and no tacit approval of their error. We have every authority to weigh in on a document that does not pollute the Gospel, but does proclaim Truths that can only have their basis in the Gospel.

    This document sets forth immutable truths that Christians and non-Christians alike agree with. The true Christian must be present in a declaration like this because only the true Christian brings true light to bear on what the non-Christian perceives to be true.

  13. Mark says:


    I must agree with the sentiment that this was a mistake. Regardless of the main thrust of the document, it is undergirded by the concept that the signatories are allegedly all Christians and stand together accepting one another as Brothers in Christ.

    Given that Rome is a false church with a false gospel that can not be. Indeed, as 2 John states:
    “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”

  14. Chris Fisher says:


    Again, the document says “We Christians” “As Christians” and gives the idea to the undiscerning that we are all going to heaven together because only a Christian is going to heaven. The confusion lies in that the Roman Catholic priests who embrace Rome and its false system are not going to heaven and are hence NOT Christians, but having signed along side Al Mohler, Kevin and Wayne Grudem they may be validated to many who want to believe their very moral Catholic friend is heaven bound.

    I have heard many a young or poorly taught believer say their Roman Catholic neighbor or relative has faith in Jesus and is probably saved. When we walk along side them on social issues we add to the confusion and now evangelism is off the table. Hence, it DOES pollute the Gospel. Confusion pollutes the Gospel.

    This is not MY high standard. Souls are on the line. These temporal issues are not more important than the eternal ones.

    I appreciate your opinion, but feel you’re in error.

  15. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Lou Martuneac and Chris Fisher,

    I’d like to get clarity as to the severity of your criticism of Rev. Kevin DeYoung. Are you saying that he committed sin for signing and supporting the Manhattan Declaration? And that a repentance for this public sin is to publically acknowledge this sin and to publically repudiate his signature and support for the Manhattan Declaration?

    Or would you say that Rev. DeYoung support the Manhattan Declaration wasn’t a sin, but an unwise decision?

    Help me to clearly understand the severity of your criticism.

  16. Ed Daly says:

    The bible declares; “guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life”…and for most of us that truly is saying protect the Love for Jesus and the Gospel word that represents him…both in our heart. Never allow anyone or anything to contaminate His character.
    This Manhattan Declaration document does exactly that…the person that signs their name to it is “affirming or swearing” to its validation. They introduce a false epistle verse by name, the “Epistle to Diognetus”.
    The bible consists of 66 books not 67…
    No one is sounding the alarm to this error…
    The spirit of religion is all over this thing…The very strongholds we fight against should never be a reason for compromise.

  17. Jason Engwer says:


    The Epistle To Diognetus is a good patristic document. It’s worth reading, much as we often read letters written by other Christians who weren’t Biblical authors. The Manhattan Declaration doesn’t claim that The Epistle To Diognetus is scripture.

    As far as signing is concerned, a person can sign a document without agreeing with everything in it. A signature is sometimes representative of full agreement, but not always. The issue here is more nuanced. How is a signature likely to be perceived? Are the problematic elements of the document significant enough to keep us from signing it? Or are the problems too insignificant for that? Did the signer issue some sort of clarification of what he meant, as Albert Mohler did? Or did he offer no clarification? We ought to take factors like those into account. These things aren’t as simple as you’re suggesting. I’m critical of the document, and I haven’t signed it, but we need to be careful in our criticism of it.

  18. adam says:

    Here is my question … don’t you have to give up the definition of marriage and the idea of human sanctity in order to keep ‘conscience and religious liberty’?

    Otherwise ‘conscience and religious liberty’ only means something with in the Christian worldview, which would negate the very meaning of ‘conscience and religious liberty’.

  19. Gary Van Ee says:


    I supposed I should not be, but I was surprised by some of the negative responses you received for signing the Manhattan Declaration (MD). The rationalization for not signing seemed to be a bit of a stretch. MD is not meant to be a creed. Seems some people are so “purity minded” that they well never be able to cooperate with anyone. My Dad occasionally observed that some people were so “heavenly minded” that at times they were no “earthly” good. This type of attitude may be one of the reasons some converts to Christ find “organized church” so hard to live with.

    In the seventies I served on a Birthright board in Ames, Iowa with wide variety of faiths and/or Christian cults by some definitions but that did not stop us from cooperating on a ProLife agenda.

    Satan must have a celebration every time he sees Christ’s followers throwing stones at each other and their secular neighbors when there is an opportunity walk as a “witness” in our society. Some times I catch my self smiling “mockingly”; when I see divergent sects of Islam attempting to destroy each other. But I am concerned that we may be equally amusing to them.


  20. Caleb Kolstad says:


    I have great respect for you and your ministry. I believe you’ve made an error of judgment here. May God grant all of us (myself included) greater wisdom and discernment.

  21. Gary is right: unity means power and health, division- that’s the meaning of the word “dia-ballein”, is always disruption, loss of hope.

  22. Jake Meador says:

    Kevin – Given the level of criticism you’re getting from the majority of commenters, I figured I’d speak up for the readers who appreciate you signing the document and posting your reasoning for doing so here. I’m grateful for leaders like you, Dr. Tim Keller, Dr. J.I. Packer, and Dr. Timothy George who are demonstrating an irenic, brotherly spirit on some of these hard questions. Thanks for signing.


  23. Coram Deo says:


    Do you believe that Rome preaches another gospel? If so, how is it that Romanists are worshipping the same God as those who preach the true Gospel?

    If “worshipping the same God” were the core issue defining TMD, why were Orthodox Jews not invited to sign, since the scriptures clearly teach that they worship God with zeal, but without knowledge, and therefore they are not saved (Romans 10:1-3)?

    Perhaps bare Trinitarianism, a belief in the deity of Christ and the virgin birth are the defining truths of what it means to be a Christian?

    In Christ,

  24. Kevin DeYoung says:

    CD, a friend of mine passed along this same question from a friend of his about “worshiping the same God.” Here’s what I said.

    I think we agree in substance but are using the same words in different ways. Your friend is using worship to mean true worship. This is a fair use of the word because we are not really honoring God’s worth-ship if we worship him falsely. But you can also use the word more generally to describe acts of devotion done by a person to God. Jesus says to the Samaritan woman “you worship what you do not know” (John 4:22). Paul says the same thing to the men of Athens (Acts 17:23). We wouldn’t say, “But wait a minute Paul, they aren’t worshiping in the Spirit through Jesus Christ and they aren’t regenerate, so they aren’t really worshiping at all.” Your friend’s logic seems to be, they aren’t worshiping in spirit and truth, therefore they aren’t worshiping. I follow that on one level, but I think the Bible allows for using “worship” in a less restrictive I’m-affirming-your-conversion-with-this-word sort of way.

    “Worship the same God” may not be the most helpful phrase because people can hear it in so many different ways. What I had in mind was the “yearbook test.” Muslims, or Jews I would say, don’t worship the same God because even if their understanding of God overlaps in some ways with ours, if we point to Christ and say, “This is the God I’m talking about.” The Muslim or Jew would say, “That’s not who I’m talking about.” So we are not worshiping the same God because we are not talking about the same God. But with RC/EO they would gladly say, when we point to Christ, “Yes, that’s the God I’m talking about. I worship the God revealed in him.” This doesn’t mean I agree with their gospel or think Trinitarian theology is all that is required to be a Christian. But it means we are both talking about the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  25. Coram Deo says:

    Thanks Kevin,

    That’s an interesting response, but in the light of scripture it’s manifest that the Samaritan woman and the Athenians were idolators. As you know, human beings are hopeless idolators offering worship to demons apart from the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.

    Mormons would also gladly affirm that they worship the “same Christ” as you and I worship, even as they look forward to the day they become “gods” themselves.

    And not unlike the Christ of the LDS, the Christ of Romanism is unable to save completely – his sacrifice wasn’t efficacious to completely justify those who trust him, therefore the Romanist must be purified in purgatory in order to be prepared for heaven whereas the Mormon must be obedient to his works righteousness false religion with his “Jesus” picking up the tab after the faithful Mormon “has done all he can do”.

    Again, not unlike Mormonism, Romanism is a different religion, with a different Christ, and another gospel.

    With your indulgence (pun intended) may I ask you how blood-bought believers in the Lord Jesus Christ can attain to anything but a false, temporal, man-made “unity” with the enemies of the gospel of grace? In the light of scripture is this type of false unity with false professors desirable for the children of God under any circumstances? Indeed, what communion hath darkness with light?

    In reflecting on this matter I found myself wondering, like many others, why for example no Latter-Day Saints or Watchtower representatives were invited to sign TMD.

    Aren’t all the cults and false religionists equally threatened by the social evils described in TMD? And don’t the LDS and Watchtower Society claim to be “true Christians” and “true churches” as do the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches?

    In light of this I wonder how you might have justified not signing The Manhattan Declaration had it been written as a joint declaration of co-belligerency between the Mormon and JW “churches” along with evangelicals. In your mind are Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy deemed as somehow less apostate and heretical than the cults of Christianity because they affirm some of the cardinal Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, the virgin birth of Christ, and the inspiration of the scriptures? In your opinion is a faithful practicing Roman Catholic more truly “Christian” than a faithful practicing Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness? Why or why not?

    In Christ,

  26. Chris Fisher says:


    CD is speaking for an overwhelming percentage of the reformed brethren who oppose the co-belligerency arguement. It simply doesn’t hold water. The Romanists are no less apostate than the Mormon’s or JW’s and if co-belligerency for the common morality is the purpose, again why weren’t they invited?
    The reason…the primary drafter of the document Chuck Colson considers RC’s and EO’s brethern (read his book “The Body”) based on the creed’s and you may have ignorantly validated his belief by signing it. You may have ignorantly validated every RC Cardinal and Bishop into thinking he is a brother by signing it when they desperately need the Gospel.
    What impact has this MD had on our leader’s in Washington? It appears little. See here –
    What impact has it had on the brethren? It has been a stumbling block to many and has saddened many converts who have come out of the RCC.
    Also, anyone who opposes the signing has been lowered to a judgemental, legalistic believer who doesn’t care about the moral issues.
    Bottom line, MD has done more harm than good.

  27. Chris:

    I appreciate much of what you noted above. While signers, “may have ignorantly validated every RC Cardinal and Bishop into thinking he is a brother by signing it when they desperately need the Gospel,” we should remember that the RCC stills see non-Catholic signatories as objects for conversion to the RCC.

    FWIW, much “more harm than good” came from the MD when men like Al Moher and Ligon Duncan signed on to it.


  28. Coram Deo says:

    Lou Martuneac,

    I believe you were spot on in your November 27th comment.

    I agree that in the light of scripture professing evangelicals who signed TMD ought to be admonished and marked out per 2 Thess. 3:13-15 and 2 Cor. 6:14-18 because they have erred greatly. This is not a Romans 14 issue.

    Based upon what I’m reading in the blogosphere and the discussion within my local church it’s clear that there are many who are in agreement with this position. This being the case in my view the next obvious step resulting from TMD is the question of applying proper church discipline to the rogue signers, whether they stand in the pulpit or sit in the pew.

    In your opinion how should the process of church discipline begin? Since TMD is a very public document and the signers names and church/denominational affiliations are therefore very public should local bodies comb TMD for their pastors, elders, deacons, and members and bring forth formal charges?

    I don’t believe this is a Matthew 18 issue because the sin isn’t private against a brother, but rather seems to require public admonishment, marking out, and rebuke.

    I’ve not read about anybody else discussing the proper application of church discipline over TMD yet, but this is God’s prescribed way to maintain the purity of Christ’s church, and it’s not an option, but a commandment.

    Your thoughts?

    In Christ,

  29. CD:

    Thanks for the follow-up with me. Glad you appreciate my previous.

    Church discipline is a local church matter. So, I don’t rally want to comment on that here. The Bible does, however, speak to the matter of separation for the sake of a pure church, i.e. body of believers.

    IMO, the passages that come into play in regard to the actions of those believers who signed the MD would be 2 Thess. 3:6-15; Romans 16:17; Phil. 3:17-19. Now there is more to it than that, its needs to be a case by case application. Mohler’s signing the MD is not his first foray into this kind of compromise, which I document at my blog. For him we have one choice, “withdraw, mark and avoid.” Others may have been playing follow the leader. They saw some high-profile man sign it and thought “Well, if so-and-so signed it I surely can,” and may now think better of having signed on.

    Hope this helps.


    PS to Kevin: FWIW I am a Michigan State Alumnus (1981). I was saved while at MSU. However, I’m still mad about the humiliation of last year’s NCAA Finals loss and again this year to UNC.

  30. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Why Brian Signed the Manhattan Declaration:

    “It seems the controversy is not in the statement itself, but in the idea that it includes Catholics, Evangelicals, Anglicans, and Orthodox under the same banner and definition of “the gospel.”

    This may be a testimony to my discernment skills, but when I read the Manhattan Declaration, my mind really didn’t go to the place where I thought that this was an attempt to redefine the gospel. I believe that when it comes to the gospel that many groups who fly the Christian banner have it wrong, but when it comes to the Manhattan Declaration and its statements on marriage, life, and religious liberty, I believe that the groups included have it right. When I signed the statement I did not feel that I was being strong armed into doctrinal compromise. After signing the statement I do not feel that I was duped into doing the same.

    My prayer in all of this is that The Manhattan Declaration would accomplish what I believe it was intended to do, to make a strong statement from the Christian community to the culture. Furthermore, I pray it makes a strong statement to lawmakers and to our President that there are a significant number of voters in our Democracy who believe our leaders are headed down the wrong path on these issues. I could only hope that this controversy does not do what usually happens in Christendom, and this is we end up with 4, or 7, or 40 different documents that essentially say the same thing, but demonstrate that we have no sense of agreement or unity.

    I signed the Manhattan Declaration. I believe that the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God. I believe that salvation is received by grace, through faith alone, in the risen Son of God. I also believe that when I signed the Manhattan Declaration I did not make a mistake.”

  31. Coram Deo says:


    Do you believe that Rome proclaims a false gospel?

  32. Mara says:

    Coram – the Mormons have no need to sign the declaration because 14 years ago they put forward their own! It’s titled The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Mormons believe, as Jehovah’s Witnesses and others – that God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are three separate individuals – we are not Trinitarian. To say that we (or any of the others) worship a “different Christ” is ignorant. We worship the same Christ as is the Holy Bible. Though our understanding is different – HE is the SAME.

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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