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Manhattan Declaration — Where are the theistic evolutionists?

About 150 Christian leaders were the original signatories of the recent manifesto asserting the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and liberty of conscience — the Manhattan Declaration. At the time of this writing, over a 100,000 have signed it (including me). I encourage readers of UD to read the document and sign it if it reflects your views on God and culture.

Of the 150 original signers, I know about 25 personally. Interestingly, the original signers seem overwhelmingly pro-ID. That raises the question why no notable theistic evolutionists are signers (e.g., Francis Collins). To be sure, signers such as Tim Keller and Dinesh D’Souza have indicated an openness to evolutionary theory. But I’m not finding any among the signers who are adamantly committed to theistic evolution, seeing it as the only way to be both scientifically and theologically responsible.

Perhaps I’m missing something here. If so, I’m happy to be disabused. But is it possible that ID is friendlier to classic Christian teaching on the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and liberty of conscience than theistic evolution? It not, I’d like to see the names of theistic evolutionists who are also signers of the Manhattan Declaration.

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Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience
November 20, 2009

The following is the text of the Manhattan Declaration signed by 149 pro-life and Catholic and evangelical and Orthodox Christian leaders. LifeNews.com supports the pro-life aims of the resolution.

http://manhattandeclaration.org

Preamble

Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering.

While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of Christian institutions and communities in all ages, we claim the heritage of those Christians who defended innocent life by rescuing discarded babies from trash heaps in Roman cities and publicly denouncing the Empire’s sanctioning of infanticide. We remember with reverence those believers who sacrificed their lives by remaining in Roman cities to tend the sick and dying during the plagues, and who died bravely in the coliseums rather than deny their Lord.

After the barbarian tribes overran Europe, Christian monasteries preserved not only the Bible but also the literature and art of Western culture. It was Christians who combated the evil of slavery: Papal edicts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries decried the practice of slavery and first excommunicated anyone involved in the slave trade; evangelical Christians in England, led by John Wesley and William Wilberforce, put an end to the slave trade in that country. Christians under Wilberforce’s leadership also formed hundreds of societies for helping the poor, the imprisoned, and child laborers chained to machines.

In Europe, Christians challenged the divine claims of kings and successfully fought to establish the rule of law and balance of governmental powers, which made modern democracy possible. And in America, Christian women stood at the vanguard of the suffrage movement. The great civil rights crusades of the 1950s and 60s were led by Christians claiming the Scriptures and asserting the glory of the image of God in every human being regardless of race, religion, age or class.

This same devotion to human dignity has led Christians in the last decade to work to end the dehumanizing scourge of human trafficking and sexual slavery, bring compassionate care to AIDS sufferers in Africa, and assist in a myriad of other human rights causes­from providing clean water in developing nations to providing homes for tens of thousands of children orphaned by war, disease and gender discrimination.

Like those who have gone before us in the faith, Christians today are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace, to protect the intrinsic dignity of the human person and to stand for the common good. In being true to its own calling, the call to discipleship, the church through service to others can make a profound contribution to the public good.

Declaration

We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities. 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. We call upon all people of goodwill, believers and non-believers alike, to consider carefully and reflect critically on the issues we here address as we, with St. Paul, commend this appeal to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.

Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of conscience and religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak and act in their defense. In this declaration we affirm: 1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.

We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right­and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation­to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty.

Life

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Although public sentiment has moved in a pro-life direction, we note with sadness that pro-abortion ideology prevails today in our government. The present administration is led and staffed by those who want to make abortions legal at any stage of fetal development, and who want to provide abortions at taxpayer expense. Majorities in both houses of Congress hold pro-abortion views. The Supreme Court, whose infamous 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade stripped the unborn of legal protection, continues to treat elective abortion as a fundamental constitutional right, though it has upheld as constitutionally permissible some limited restrictions on abortion. The President says that he wants to reduce the “need” for abortion­a commendable goal. But he has also pledged to make abortion more easily and widely available by eliminating laws prohibiting government funding, requiring waiting periods for women seeking abortions, and parental notification for abortions performed on minors. The elimination of these important and effective pro-life laws cannot reasonably be expected to do other than significantly increase the number of elective abortions by which the lives of countless children are snuffed out prior to birth. Our commitment to the sanctity of life is not a matter of partisan loyalty, for we recognize that in the thirty-six years since Roe v. Wade, elected officials and appointees of both major political parties have been complicit in giving legal sanction to what Pope John Paul II described as “the culture of death.” We call on all officials in our country, elected and appointed, to protect and serve every member of our society, including the most marginalized, voiceless, and vulnerable among us.

A culture of death inevitably cheapens life in all its stages and conditions by promoting the belief that lives that are imperfect, immature or inconvenient are discardable. As predicted by many prescient persons, the cheapening of life that began with abortion has now metastasized. For example, human embryo-destructive research and its public funding are promoted in the name of science and in the cause of developing treatments and cures for diseases and injuries. The President and many in Congress favor the expansion of embryo- research to include the taxpayer funding of so-called “therapeutic cloning.” This would result in the industrial mass production of human embryos to be killed for the purpose of producing genetically customized stem cell lines and tissues. At the other end of life, an increasingly powerful movement to promote assisted suicide and “voluntary” euthanasia threatens the lives of vulnerable elderly and disabled persons. Eugenic notions such as the doctrine of lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”) were first advanced in the 1920s by intellectuals in the elite salons of America and Europe. Long buried in ignominy after the horrors of the mid-twentieth century, they have returned from the grave. The only difference is that now the doctrines of the eugenicists are dressed up in the language of “liberty,” “autonomy,” and “choice.”

We will be united and untiring in our efforts to roll back the license to kill that began with the abandonment of the unborn to abortion. We will work, as we have always worked, to bring assistance, comfort, and care to pregnant women in need and to those who have been victimized by abortion, even as we stand resolutely against the corrupt and degrading notion that it can somehow be in the best interests of women to submit to the deliberate killing of their unborn children. Our message is, and ever shall be, that the just, humane, and truly Christian answer to problem pregnancies is for all of us to love and care for mother and child alike.

A truly prophetic Christian witness will insistently call on those who have been entrusted with temporal power to fulfill the first responsibility of government: to protect the weak and vulnerable against violent attack, and to do so with no favoritism, partiality, or discrimination. The Bible enjoins us to defend those who cannot defend themselves, to speak for those who cannot themselves speak. And so we defend and speak for the unborn, the disabled, and the dependent. What the Bible and the light of reason make clear, we must make clear. We must be willing to defend, even at risk and cost to ourselves and our institutions, the lives of our brothers and sisters at every stage of development and in every condition.

Our concern is not confined to our own nation. Around the globe, we are witnessing cases of genocide and “ethnic cleansing,” the failure to assist those who are suffering as innocent victims of war, the neglect and abuse of children, the exploitation of vulnerable laborers, the sexual trafficking of girls and young women, the abandonment of the aged, racial oppression and discrimination, the persecution of believers of all faiths, and the failure to take steps necessary to halt the spread of preventable diseases like AIDS. We see these travesties as flowing from the same loss of the sense of the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life that drives the abortion industry and the movements for assisted suicide, euthanasia, and human cloning for biomedical research. And so ours is, as it must be, a truly consistent ethic of love and life for all humans in all circumstances.

Marriage

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:23-24 This is a profound mystery­but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:32-33 In Scripture, the creation of man and woman, and their one-flesh union as husband and wife, is the crowning achievement of God’s creation. In the transmission of life and the nurturing of children, men and women joined as spouses are given the great honor of being partners with God Himself. Marriage then, is the first institution of human society­indeed it is the institution on which all other human institutions have their foundation. In the Christian tradition we refer to marriage as “holy matrimony” to signal the fact that it is an institution ordained by God, and blessed by Christ in his participation at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. In the Bible, God Himself blesses and holds marriage in the highest esteem.

Vast human experience confirms that marriage is the original and most important institution for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all persons in a society. Where marriage is honored, and where there is a flourishing marriage culture, everyone benefits­the spouses themselves, their children, the communities and societies in which they live. Where the marriage culture begins to erode, social pathologies of every sort quickly manifest themselves. Unfortunately, we have witnessed over the course of the past several decades a serious erosion of the marriage culture in our own country. Perhaps the most telling­and alarming­indicator is the out-of-wedlock birth rate. Less than fifty years ago, it was under 5 percent. Today it is over 40 percent. Our society­and particularly its poorest and most vulnerable sectors, where the out-of-wedlock birth rate is much higher even than the national average­is paying a huge price in delinquency, drug abuse, crime, incarceration, hopelessness, and despair. Other indicators are widespread non-marital sexual cohabitation and a devastatingly high rate of divorce.

We confess with sadness that Christians and our institutions have too often scandalously failed to uphold the institution of marriage and to model for the world the true meaning of marriage. Insofar as we have too easily embraced the culture of divorce and remained silent about social practices that undermine the dignity of marriage we repent, and call upon all Christians to do the same.

To strengthen families, we must stop glamorizing promiscuity and infidelity and restore among our people a sense of the profound beauty, mystery, and holiness of faithful marital love. We must reform ill-advised policies that contribute to the weakening of the institution of marriage, including the discredited idea of unilateral divorce. We must work in the legal, cultural, and religious domains to instill in young people a sound understanding of what marriage is, what it requires, and why it is worth the commitment and sacrifices that faithful spouses make.

The impulse to redefine marriage in order to recognize same-sex and multiple partner relationships is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the erosion of the marriage culture. It reflects a loss of understanding of the meaning of marriage as embodied in our civil and religious law and in the philosophical tradition that contributed to shaping the law. Yet it is critical that the impulse be resisted, for yielding to it would mean abandoning the possibility of restoring a sound understanding of marriage and, with it, the hope of rebuilding a healthy marriage culture. It would lock into place the false and destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and not, in any intrinsic way, about procreation and the unique character and value of acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life. In spousal communion and the rearing of children (who, as gifts of God, are the fruit of their parents’ marital love), we discover the profound reasons for and benefits of the marriage covenant.

We acknowledge that there are those who are disposed towards homosexual and polyamorous conduct and relationships, just as there are those who are disposed towards other forms of immoral conduct. We have compassion for those so disposed; we respect them as human beings possessing profound, inherent, and equal dignity; and we pay tribute to the men and women who strive, often with little assistance, to resist the temptation to yield to desires that they, no less than we, regard as wayward. We stand with them, even when they falter. We, no less than they, are sinners who have fallen short of God’s intention for our lives. We, no less than they, are in constant need of God’s patience, love and forgiveness. We call on the entire Christian community to resist sexual immorality, and at the same time refrain from disdainful condemnation of those who yield to it. Our rejection of sin, though resolute, must never become the rejection of sinners. For every sinner, regardless of the sin, is loved by God, who seeks not our destruction but rather the conversion of our hearts. Jesus calls all who wander from the path of virtue to “a more excellent way.” As his disciples we will reach out in love to assist all who hear the call and wish to answer it.

We further acknowledge that there are sincere people who disagree with us, and with the teaching of the Bible and Christian tradition, on questions of sexual morality and the nature of marriage. Some who enter into same- sex and polyamorous relationships no doubt regard their unions as truly marital. They fail to understand, however, that marriage is made possible by the sexual complementarity of man and woman, and that the comprehensive, multi-level sharing of life that marriage is includes bodily unity of the sort that unites husband and wife biologically as a reproductive unit. This is because the body is no mere extrinsic instrument of the human person, but truly part of the personal reality of the human being. Human beings are not merely centers of consciousness or emotion, or minds, or spirits, inhabiting non-personal bodies. The human person is a dynamic unity of body, mind, and spirit. Marriage is what one man and one woman establish when, forsaking all others and pledging lifelong commitment, they found a sharing of life at every level of being­the biological, the emotional, the dispositional, the rational, the spiritual­on a commitment that is sealed, completed and actualized by loving sexual intercourse in which the spouses become one flesh, not in some merely metaphorical sense, but by fulfilling together the behavioral conditions of procreation. That is why in the Christian tradition, and historically in Western law, consummated marriages are not dissoluble or annullable on the ground of infertility, even though the nature of the marital relationship is shaped and structured by its intrinsic orientation to the great good of procreation.

We understand that many of our fellow citizens, including some Christians, believe that the historic definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a denial of equality or civil rights. They wonder what to say in reply to the argument that asserts that no harm would be done to them or to anyone if the law of the community were to confer upon two men or two women who are living together in a sexual partnership the status of being “married.” It would not, after all, affect their own marriages, would it? On inspection, however, the argument that laws governing one kind of marriage will not affect another cannot stand. Were it to prove anything, it would prove far too much: the assumption that the legal status of one set of marriage relationships affects no other would not only argue for same sex partnerships; it could be asserted with equal validity for polyamorous partnerships, polygamous households, even adult brothers, sisters, or brothers and sisters living in incestuous relationships. Should these, as a matter of equality or civil rights, be recognized as lawful marriages, and would they have no effects on other relationships? No. The truth is that marriage is not something abstract or neutral that the law may legitimately define and re-define to please those who are powerful and influential.

No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage. Marriage is an objective reality­a covenantal union of husband and wife­that it is the duty of the law to recognize and support for the sake of justice and the common good. If it fails to do so, genuine social harms follow. First, the religious liberty of those for whom this is a matter of conscience is jeopardized. Second, the rights of parents are abused as family life and sex education programs in schools are used to teach children that an enlightened understanding recognizes as “marriages” sexual partnerships that many parents believe are intrinsically non- marital and immoral. Third, the common good of civil society is damaged when the law itself, in its critical pedagogical function, becomes a tool for eroding a sound understanding of marriage on which the flourishing of the marriage culture in any society vitally depends. Sadly, we are today far from having a thriving marriage culture. But if we are to begin the critically important process of reforming our laws and mores to rebuild such a culture, the last thing we can afford to do is to re-define marriage in such a way as to embody in our laws a false proclamation about what marriage is.

And so it is out of love (not “animus”) and prudent concern for the common good (not “prejudice”), that we pledge to labor ceaselessly to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and to rebuild the marriage culture. How could we, as Christians, do otherwise? The Bible teaches us that marriage is a central part of God’s creation covenant. Indeed, the union of husband and wife mirrors the bond between Christ and his church. And so just as Christ was willing, out of love, to give Himself up for the church in a complete sacrifice, we are willing, lovingly, to make whatever sacrifices are required of us for the sake of the inestimable treasure that is marriage.

Religious Liberty

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. Matthew 22:21

The struggle for religious liberty across the centuries has been long and arduous, but it is not a novel idea or recent development. The nature of religious liberty is grounded in the character of God Himself, the God who is most fully known in the life and work of Jesus Christ. Determined to follow Jesus faithfully in life and death, the early Christians appealed to the manner in which the Incarnation had taken place: “Did God send Christ, as some suppose, as a tyrant brandishing fear and terror? Not so, but in gentleness and meekness…, for compulsion is no attribute of God” (Epistle to Diognetus 7.3-4). Thus the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the example of Christ Himself and in the very dignity of the human person created in the image of God­a dignity, as our founders proclaimed, inherent in every human, and knowable by all in the exercise of right reason.

Christians confess that God alone is Lord of the conscience. Immunity from religious coercion is the cornerstone of an unconstrained conscience. No one should be compelled to embrace any religion against his will, nor should persons of faith be forbidden to worship God according to the dictates of conscience or to express freely and publicly their deeply held religious convictions. What is true for individuals applies to religious communities as well.

It is ironic that those who today assert a right to kill the unborn, aged and disabled and also a right to engage in immoral sexual practices, and even a right to have relationships integrated around these practices be recognized and blessed by law­such persons claiming these “rights” are very often in the vanguard of those who would trample upon the freedom of others to express their religious and moral commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife.

We see this, for example, in the effort to weaken or eliminate conscience clauses, and therefore to compel pro- life institutions (including religiously affiliated hospitals and clinics), and pro-life physicians, surgeons, nurses, and other health care professionals, to refer for abortions and, in certain cases, even to perform or participate in abortions. We see it in the use of anti-discrimination statutes to force religious institutions, businesses, and service providers of various sorts to comply with activities they judge to be deeply immoral or go out of business. After the judicial imposition of “same-sex marriage” in Massachusetts, for example, Catholic Charities chose with great reluctance to end its century-long work of helping to place orphaned children in good homes rather than comply with a legal mandate that it place children in same-sex households in violation of Catholic moral teaching. In New Jersey, after the establishment of a quasi-marital “civil unions” scheme, a Methodist institution was stripped of its tax exempt status when it declined, as a matter of religious conscience, to permit a facility it owned and operated to be used for ceremonies blessing homosexual unions. In Canada and some European nations, Christian clergy have been prosecuted for preaching Biblical norms against the practice of homosexuality. New hate-crime laws in America raise the specter of the same practice here.

In recent decades a growing body of case law has paralleled the decline in respect for religious values in the media, the academy and political leadership, resulting in restrictions on the free exercise of religion. We view this as an ominous development, not only because of its threat to the individual liberty guaranteed to every person, regardless of his or her faith, but because the trend also threatens the common welfare and the culture of freedom on which our system of republican government is founded. Restrictions on the freedom of conscience or the ability to hire people of one’s own faith or conscientious moral convictions for religious institutions, for example, undermines the viability of the intermediate structures of society, the essential buffer against the overweening authority of the state, resulting in the soft despotism Tocqueville so prophetically warned of.1 Disintegration of civil society is a prelude to tyranny.

As Christians, we take seriously the Biblical admonition to respect and obey those in authority. We believe in law and in the rule of law. We recognize the duty to comply with laws whether we happen to like them or not, unless the laws are gravely unjust or require those subject to them to do something unjust or otherwise immoral. The biblical purpose of law is to preserve order and serve justice and the common good; yet laws that are unjust­and especially laws that purport to compel citizens to do what is unjust­undermine the common good, rather than serve it.

Going back to the earliest days of the church, Christians have refused to compromise their proclamation of the gospel. In Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered to stop preaching. Their answer was, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required. There is no more eloquent defense of the rights and duties of religious conscience than the one offered by Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Writing from an explicitly Christian perspective, and citing Christian writers such as Augustine and Aquinas, King taught that just laws elevate and ennoble human beings because they are rooted in the moral law whose ultimate source is God Himself. Unjust laws degrade human beings. Inasmuch as they can claim no authority beyond sheer human will, they lack any power to bind in conscience. King’s willingness to go to jail, rather than comply with legal injustice, was exemplary and inspiring.

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

Dr. Daniel Akin President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, NC)

Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola Primate, Anglican Church of Nigeria (Abika, Nigeria)

Randy Alcorn Founder and Director, Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM) (Sandy, OR)

Rt. Rev. David Anderson President and CEO, American Anglican Council (Atlanta, GA)

Leith Anderson President of National Association of Evangelicals (Washington, DC)

Charlotte K. Ardizzone TV Show Host and Speaker, INSP Television (Charlotte, NC)

Kay Arthur CEO and Co-founder, Precept Ministries International (Chattanooga, TN)

Dr. Mark L. Bailey President, Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas, TX)

His Grace, The Right Reverend Bishop Basil Essey The Right Reverend Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America (Wichita, KS)

Joel Belz Founder, World Magazine (Asheville, NC)

Rev. Michael L. Beresford Managing Director of Church Relations, Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn. (Charlotte, NC)

Ken Boa President, Reflections Ministries (Atlanta, GA)

Joseph Bottum Editor of First Things (New York, NY)

Pastor Randy & Sarah Brannon Senior Pastor, Grace Community Church (Madera, CA)

Steve Brown National radio broadcaster, Key Life (Maitland, FL)

Dr. Robert C. Cannada, Jr. Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando, FL)

Galen Carey Director of Government Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals (Washington, DC)

Dr. Bryan Chapell President, Covenant Theological Seminary (St. Louis, MO)

Scott Chapman Senior Pastor, The Chapel (Libertyville, IL)

Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput Archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver, CO

Timothy Clinton President, American Association of Christian Counselors (Forest, VA)

Chuck Colson Founder, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview (Lansdowne, VA)

Most Rev. Salvatore Joseph Cordileone Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, CA

Dr. Gary Culpepper Associate Professor, Providence College (Providence, RI)

Jim Daly President and CEO, Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs, CO)

Marjorie Dannenfelser President, Susan B. Anthony List (Arlington, VA)

Rev. Daniel Delgado Board of Directors, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference & Pastor, Third Day Missions Church (Staten Island, NY)

Dr. James Dobson Founder, Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs, CO)

Dr. David Dockery President, Union University (Jackson, TN)

Most Rev. Timothy Dolan Archbishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of New York, NY

Dr. William Donohue President, Catholic League (New York, NY)

Dr. James T. Draper, Jr. President Emeritus, LifeWay (Nashville, TN)

Dinesh D’Souza Writer & Speaker (Rancho Santa Fe, CA)

Most Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church in North America (Ambridge, PA )

Joni Eareckson Tada Founder and CEO, Joni and Friends International Disability Center (Agoura Hills, CA)

Dr. Michael Easley President Emeritus, Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, IL)

Dr. William Edgar Professor, Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia, PA)

Brett Elder Executive Director, Stewardship Council (Grand Rapids, MI)

Rev. Joel Elowsky Drew University ( Madison, NJ)

Stuart Epperson Co-Founder and Chariman of the Board, Salem Communications Corporation ( Camarillo, CA)

Rev. Jonathan Falwell Senior Pastor, Thomas Road Baptist Church (Lynchburg, VA)

William J. Federer President, Amerisearch, Inc. (St. Louis, MO)

Fr. Joseph D. Fessio Founder and Editor, Ignatius Press (Ft. Collins, CO)

Carmen Fowler President & Executive Editor, Presbyterian Lay Committee (Lenoir, NC)

Maggie Gallagher President, Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and a co-author of The Case for Marriage (Manassas, VA)

Dr. Jim Garlow Senior Pastor, Skyline Church (La Mesa, CA)

Steven Garofalo Senior Consultant, Search and Assessment Services (Charlotte, NC)

Dr. Robert P. George McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)

Dr. Timothy George Dean and Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School at Samford University (Birmingham, AL)

Thomas Gilson Director of Strategic Processes, Campus Crusade for Christ International (Norfolk, VA)

Dr. Jack Graham Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church (Plano, TX)

Dr. Wayne Grudem Research Professor of Theological and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary (Phoenix, AZ)

Dr. Cornell “Corkie” Haan National Facilitator of Spiritual Unity, The Mission America Coalition (Palm Desert, CA)

Fr. Chad Hatfield Chancellor, CEO. And Archpriest, St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (Yonkers, NY)

Dr. Dennis Hollinger President and Professor of Christian Ethics, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (South Hamilton, MA)

Dr. Jeanette Hsieh Executive VP and Provost, Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL)

Dr. John A. Huffman, Jr. Senior Pastor, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church (Newport Beach, CA) and Chairman of the Board, Christianity Today International (Carol Stream, IL)

Rev. Ken Hutcherson Pastor, Antioch Bible Church (Kirkland, WA)

Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr. Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church (Beltsville, MD)

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse President, American Orthodox Institute and Editor, OrthodoxyToday.org (Naples, FL)

Jerry Jenkins Chairman of the board of trustees for Moody Bible Institute (Black Forest, CO)

Camille Kampouris Publisher, Kairos Journal

Emmanuel A. Kampouris Editorial Board, Kairos Journal

Rev. Tim Keller Senior Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church (New York, NY)

Dr. Peter Kreeft Professor of Philosophy, Boston College (MA) and at the Kings Collge (NY)

Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz Archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, KY

Jim Kushiner Editor, Touchstone (Chicago, IL)

Dr. Richard Land President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC (Washington, DC)

Jim Law Senior Associate Pastor, First Baptist Church (Woodstock, GA)

Dr. Matthew Levering Associate Professor of Theology, Ave Maria University (Naples, FL)

Dr. Peter Lillback President, The Providence Forum (West Conshohocken, PA)

Dr. Duane Litfin President, Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL)

Rev. Herb Lusk Pastor, Greater Exodus Baptist Church (Philadelphia, PA)

His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida Archbishop Emeritus, Roman Catholic Diocese of Detroit, MI

Most Rev. Richard J. Malone Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, ME

Rev. Francis Martin Professor of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Heart Major Seminary (Detroit, MI)

Dr. Joseph Mattera Bishop & Senior Pastor, Resurrection Church (Brooklyn, NY)

Phil Maxwell Pastor, Gateway Church (Bridgewater, NJ)

Josh McDowell Founder, Josh McDowell Ministries (Plano, TX)

Alex McFarland President, Southern Evangelical Seminary (Charlotte, NC)

Most Rev. George Dallas McKinney Bishop, & Founder and Pastor, St. Stephen’s Church of God in Christ (San Diego, CA)

Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns Missionary Bishop, Convocation of Anglicans of North America (Herndon, VA)

Dr. C. Ben Mitchell Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy, Union University (Jackson, TN)

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY)

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117 Responses to Manhattan Declaration — Where are the theistic evolutionists?

  1. Dr. Dembski:

    Fallacy of the complex question.

  2. Heard about this last night on O’Reilly. Thanks for posting the link.

  3. I would love to sign this document. I agree whole heartedly with 99.9% of what it says. But I think it would be dishonest to do so since I do not believe in the “triune God” exactly. I do believe Jesus is my Savior though. What do others think? Can I honestly sign this?

  4. Collin,

    But I think it would be dishonest to do so since I do not believe in the “triune God” exactly. I do believe Jesus is my Savior though. What do others think? Can I honestly sign this?

    This is just what I had in mind when I remarked to Dr. Dembski that he is posing a complex question for his adversaries. Someone might agree with much of the document, but decide against signing because of particular details.

  5. Collin,

    The basic question is, “How can Jesus be the Savior unless He is the ultimate authority?”

    If Jesus is not God in the ultimate sense then He is only an agent for a higher power.

    Your statement indicates that you believe in His ultimate power. Lack of full understanding is not a reason for doubt. Therefore, feel free to sign it and additionally just ask for the ability to understand the Trinity.

    God Bless,

    Gesualdo

    PS The basis of the Trinity is easier to understand than many make out.

  6. The declaration quotes Genesis 1:27, yet ignores Genesis 5:3, which is the foundation of the Gospel (see Romans 5:12-21). For some reason, Christians (and others) like to think that they were created like Adam and Eve. The truth is that all of us were born of natural parents in the fallen line of Adam.
    Further, the declaration gives the impression that Christianity is about morality-a viewpoint that is regularly trumpeted on this blog-an interpretation which is at odds with the Gospel itself.

  7. I wonder if Francis Collins et all have been invited to sign. I would like to hear them say why they don’t sign it if they have declined.

  8. Interesting observation about the theistic evolutionists. Maybe they are just confused peoples haha…

    On another note…

    Some good ppl on that list, but still I agree w/ Dr. John MacArthur and Dr. James White on why evangelicals should not sign the declaration:

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3641

  9. Mystic,

    “Fallacy of the complex question.”

    Dr Dembski is not making a logical argument, he is making an informal observation and posing a question. It’s a thought experiment, not a debate.

  10. Here’s what MacArthur writes:

    “Although I obviously agree with the document’s opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, and other key moral problems threatening our culture, the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel.”

    Can you imagine if he had said this, instead:

    Although I obviously agree with the document’s opposition to rape, torture, and theft and other key moral problems threatening our culture, the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel.

    MacArthur, though a decent man with his heart in the right place, does not seem to understand that “the Gospel” is more than merely getting people into heaven. It is about loving one’s neighbor as oneself, and that requires a concern for the moral ecology of one’s community, since that community, whether we admit it or not, has the power to shape Christian culture and its influence on the wider culture. Consider this example. As a Christian, I have an interest in making sure that the Church’s children grow up to be loving ambassadors for Christ, living holy lives. But that task, that hope, becomes more difficult when they are surrounded by, and saturated in, a wider culture that opposes that hope. To put it another way: it may be the case that the children of one Christian will never have to sit through hours of indoctrination in a public school. But other Christians’ children will. Yet, it the latter children may grow up to date the former children

    Shameless plug: I have a book coming out in March with InterVarsity Press–Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraft–which addresses these and other concerns. See http://tinyurl.com/yhw4o3b

  11. Please let us know when it is released!

  12. fbeckwith

    that is a bit of a distortion of MacArthur’s full reasoning.

    In the rest of the article he says that the document portrays Catholics as bona fide Christians along with Protestants, which according to their official theology which allows a place for works in justification (e.g. Council of Trent), is a denial of the Gospel. And MacArthur things it is a travesty to send out a message that Catholic theology is ok to be a saved Christian.

  13. I personally think many Catholics do not really hold to justification by works in reality and so the label ‘Catholic’ is not accurate for them. Hence many Catholics are genuine Christians.

    But according to their official stance MacArthur has a very good point.

    And is it not inconsistent not to invite Mormon’s and JW’s to sign it? Their theology, according to Protestants, is also fundamentally flawed. So why allow Catholics to sign it but not JW’s, since all the Protestants who signed it would surely agree Catholic theology is fundamentally flawed?

  14. It amazes me the way some so-called Christians militate against all reasonable attempts at Christian unity, especially on matters of social justice about which there should be little debate.

    This is very reasonable document, calling for a unified front against unified secularist forces. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that a large number of theistic evolutionsits would ignore it or even scoff at it. I suspect that you couldn’t even get a majority of them to acknowledge the problem of a declining culture in the first place.

    John MacArthur’s comments about “gospel values” presume that supporters of this initiative were inspired by something less. Quite the contrary, everyone who signed the document in question believes that it reflects “gospel values” reasonably interpreted. To hear McArthur and White talk about it, one would think that the New Testament provides specific answers to every social problem imaginable.

    In fact, the Bible provides theological principles which, if reasonably interpreted, understood, and internalized, creates a Christian mind-set that recognizes the soul-saving relationship between our heavenly aspirations and our earthly obligations. Any Christian who thinks that we can steal heaven while passively allowing this world to go to hell has not yet internalized the gospel message.

  15. 15

    stephenb

    Signing a document does not make one more moral than not signing it. That some Christians have misgivings about signing it is not a reflection of disunity, rather, it is a manifestation of their higher interest of obedience to God, in my view. Those who feel compelled to sign it are in the right as morally committed individuals, as are those who do not feel so compelled for other moral reasons. The Church can still be unified as individuals commited to a common goal of obedience, while still having differences as to how such obedience is manifested.

    We must also keep in mind that this document (declaration) is not holy writ. It was written by men. We CAN have higher commitments. Our unity does not come at the cost of obedience to God however we perceive obedience manifest.

  16. 16

    I should also add, stevenB, that a Christian can commit to all of the values of the document without committing to actually signing it.

  17. I personally think many Catholics do not really hold to justification by works in reality and so the label ‘Catholic’ is not accurate for them. Hence many Catholics are genuine Christians.

    One of the most detailed descriptions of the basis for the final judgment in all of the Gospels starts at Mt 25:31. I’m not seeing a whole lot of “faith alone” there.

    Strangely, though, where I do see “faith alone” is James 2:24, which reads “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” With much explication of the idea in the preceeding verses.

    So, yeah, you’re right, it does seem that many Catholics are genuinely Bible Christians, but perhaps not the ones you seem to think. Oh, and thanks for your condescending approval along the lines of “the only good Catholics are non-Catholics”. I’m touched, really. Please pray for my condemned soul that I may see the light as clearly as you do.

  18. This is the paragraph that would keep me from signing:

    –Going back to the earliest days of the church, Christians have refused to compromise their proclamation of the gospel. In Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered to stop preaching. Their answer was, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required. There is no more eloquent defense of the rights and duties of religious conscience than the one offered by Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Writing from an explicitly Christian perspective, and citing Christian writers such as Augustine and Aquinas, King taught that just laws elevate and ennoble human beings because they are rooted in the moral law whose ultimate source is God Himself. Unjust laws degrade human beings. Inasmuch as they can claim no authority beyond sheer human will, they lack any power to bind in conscience. King’s willingness to go to jail, rather than comply with legal injustice, was exemplary and inspiring.–

    In Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered to not speak about Jesus by the Sanhedrin, not some civil authority. This was a theological debate, not a civil one.

    I’m surprised to see MLK presented as a model in this document. The writers make it sound like he was some mild-mannered Sunday school teacher. Hardly the case.

    Lastly, whatever happened to Romans 13? I submit that the authors of the declaration have it exactly backward: “…Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required.” Well, Christianity may teach that, but you’re going to have a very hard time proving that from the Scriptures.

  19. Matteo,

    Protestants had a reformation saying ‘salvation is by faith alone but not by a faith that is alone’ – i.e the point in James – true faith manifest itself in works – faith without works is no true faith at all.

    I’m sure you know Paul’s clear statements regarding justification by faith and ‘not by works, lest any man should boast’. So Paul and James must be using justification in 2 different senses. Paul is speaking in terms of being justified before God and James in terms of a person’s faith being shown to be genuine – justified before men.

    How would you understand Paul and James’ two different uses of justification?

    If we can earn salvation by our works then what was the purpose of Christ’s death? I find it a dangerous and hopeless thought to think that I can trust in my own works to get me to heaven.

    How do you see it?

  20. Any Christian who thinks that we can steal heaven while passively allowing this world to go to hell has not yet internalized the gospel message.

    Amen!

    One of the most detailed descriptions of the basis for the final judgment in all of the Gospels starts at Mt 25:31. I’m not seeing a whole lot of “faith alone” there.

    Yes, but don’t forget context and audience relevance. Why should we think this “final judgment” is still future?

  21. stephenB

    you didn’t really engage MacArthur’s point – if the declaration is sending out a message that Catholic theology that says works can help justify you before God – and if that message is false – then how can you call MacArthur unreasonable for not signing it?

    Is he wrong to hold the Gospel – the way of salvation – as the most important truth on earth that must not be compromised?

  22. —halo: “If we can earn salvation by our works then what was the purpose of Christ’s death?”

    No one is talking about earning salvation with works. That is a theological strawman.

    The problem is, and always has been, the difference between the words, “necessary” and “sufficient.”

    The Bible says that faith is necessary for salvation, but not sufficient. The Bible says that works are necessary for salvation, but not sufficient. None of this is to say that we are “saved by works,” another version of the theological strawman. We are saved by faith, grace, and works. Take any one of the three out of the picture, and there is no salvation. We must believe and we must act on what we believe.

    That is why James says, “we are NOT saved by faith alone.’

    That is also why Jesus Christ says:

    “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

    Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

    When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
    When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

    And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

    Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

    For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

    a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’

    Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’

    He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’

    And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    Does that sound like “faith alone” to you?

  23. I follow UcD on Google Reader since I rather like what Behe and Meyer write. Not having seen any mention of this on the ASA mailing list, late this afternoon, I posted the first part of Dembski’s article to the list. The reaction was that this declaration had not shown up on peoples radar scope as yet. At least half of the list members are not citizens of the USofA and it seems inappropriate for us to sign it as it comments about Obama. However this post from Ted Davis just arrived:

    I signed it as soon as I learned about it–3 minutes ago. I have to wonder, how many people in the TE category were approached and invited to sign?

    I do this, of course, as an individual and not as an ASA officer. I say this only b/c of the fact that this conversation is happening on an ASA-owned list.
    —end quote

    By the way some on the list prefer the term Evolutionary Creationist EC to TE although I think everyone will answer to TE.

  24. StephenB

    That was a really misleading quotation of James – ‘we are not saved by faith alone’ when it actually does not use the word ‘saved’ but ‘justified’.

    As I have asked how do you reconcile your understanding of James with Paul’s clear statements such as ‘one is justified by faith apart from works of the law’ Rom 3:28. Or ‘by works of the law no one will be justified’ Gal 2:16. That is why I think you stand on perilous ground if you try and be justified by your own works.

    I have explained how Protestants believe both Paul and James, how do you do so?

    And to clarify, I am saying works are the inevitable fruit of genuine faith, but that works are never the ground for salvation. And if a person professes faith yet displays a contrary life, one should be skeptical of such a profession.

    Your Matthew verses fit perfectly into this understanding. They displayed that their faith was genuine by the good works that they did. But nowhere in that passage does it say that those good works were the ground for their salvation.

    Again, if MacArthur sees the Manhatten declaration as promoting a false Gospel that could damn people by making them trust to some degree in their works instead of casting themselves completely on Christ’s mercy then why is he unreasonable to not sign it?

  25. p.s I understand your point that Catholic’s see ‘works’ as part of the package but not the whole thing. My comments refer to the ‘works’ part of the package.

  26. StephenB,

    another verse to consider:

    ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast’ Eph2:8

    May I ask how a Catholic would understand that?

  27. —halo: “if the declaration is sending out a message that Catholic theology that says works can help justify you before God – and if that message is false – then how can you call MacArthur unreasonable for not signing it?”

    I must have missed something. Where does MacArthur use this as his reason for signing? Even if it was his reason, what parts of the document reflect that theology?

  28. Halo, the way I see it is the way Paul sees it:

    Romans 2:5

    By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness. Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek. But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek.

    Jesus speaks quite plainly in Mt 25, Paul speaks quite plainly above.

    Let’s delve a little more into James:

    James 1:22

    Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.

    If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

    James 2:13

    For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?

    So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

    Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.

    You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.

    Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?

    Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?

    You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.

    Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.”

    See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

    Now, how does a Catholic resolve the apparent contradiction between the passage you cited (Romans 3:28) and all of the above? Basically it is that we cannot do anything that would *require* God to let us into Heaven. However that simply does not mean that God cannot require certain things of us in order to receive the grace of getting to a Heaven that we simply do not in any way deserve. We cannot bind God, but that does not mean He cannot bind Himself by letting us in if certain conditions are met. The passages I quoted above are some of those conditions. Romans 4:2 describes the difference between works that would somehow obligate God, as if we deserved Heaven, and those that are pleasing to God, because God, by His grace, allows them to be:

    “Indeed, if Abraham was justified on the basis of his works, he has reason to boast; but this was not so in the sight of God.
    For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” [and remember from the James quote above, it was credited to him as righteousness due to a particular act] A worker’s wage is credited not as a gift, but as something due. But when one does not work, yet believes in the one who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

    ——

    A key phrase above is “A worker’s wage is credited not as a gift, but as something due.” In this case “worker” means someone who can obligate God in an absolute sense. In the case of all of the works referred to above, man is not binding God via justice and he is receiving a gift rather than a wage, because God is binding God as an act of grace. In no way whatsoever is the judgment scene in Matthew thereby nullified. Man cannot say to God, “Look, I am working, so you have to let me into Heaven! But God can say to Man, if you want to get into Heaven, this is the work I am requiring you to do.”

    An entirely fascinating lecture series on this whole topic is Scott Hahn’s “Romanism in Romans”. I highly recommend it.

    Now I realize, that a Protestant can somehow attempt to explain all of this by making distinctions between “salvation” and “justification”, etc, but I find that this can all be understood quite cleanly without having to do such a thing.

    As far as I’m concerned, Catholicism and Scripture mix just fine. And if so, I guess that makes us “real Christians”.

    When you accuse Catholics of thinking that we get to Heaven by works, do you really imagine that we’re running around in fear doing this that and the other, all without any faith in the grace of God to save us? Do you really imagine that we think our pitiful efforts are, in and of themselves, going to get us anywhere, and that we don’t have faith in Christ? Do you think people with a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus are actually wallowing around with no understanding of God and his works? I mean really?

    Come on, that’s about as accurate as thinking that because “Bible Christians” are against “works righteousness” then that means that they are sitting around drinking cases of beer, fornicating, and cheating on their wives and taxes because they at one timed prayed the sinner’s prayer and, you know, “once saved, always saved”.

    Both are ludicrous caricatures.

  29. it is implied throughout the document by referring to all parties who signed – Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox – as Christians, obviously speaking of genuine Christians. (As I mentioned earlier I don’t necessarily deny this, see comment 13). Plural phrases such as ‘we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak…’ abound.

    James White said in his article:

    ‘I listened to Chuck Colson speak on the Hugh Hewitt program this afternoon. He made it very clear that this is, in fact, a theological document, despite the assertions of others that it is not. He was asked why Jews, Mormons, and others, were not invited to sign the document. He said they were not asked because this is a specifically Christian statement, quoting from the Christian scriptures. Once again we are led to the inevitable conclusion that “Christian” then is “Trinitarianism plus agreed upon historical truths such as the crucifixion and resurrection, but, most importantly, without any gospel content.”‘

    I find that conclusion hard to deny.

    Anyway, no hard feelings…

  30. stephenB

    oh, and regarding John MacArthur, I’ll just paste in the salient points:

    “It assumes from the start that all signatories are fellow Christians whose only differences have to do with the fact that they represent distinct “communities.” Points of disagreement are tacitly acknowledged but are described as “historic lines of ecclesial differences” rather than fundamental conflicts of doctrine and conviction with regard to the gospel and the question of which teachings are essential to authentic Christianity.

    • Instead of acknowledging the true depth of our differences, the implicit assumption (from the start of the document until its final paragraph) is that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant Evangelicals and others all share a common faith in and a common commitment to the gospel’s essential claims. The document repeatedly employs expressions like “we [and] our fellow believers”; “As Christians, we . . .”; and “we claim the heritage of . . . Christians.” That seriously muddles the lines of demarcation between authentic biblical Christianity and various apostate traditions.

    • The Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels. That is the stated intention of some of the key signatories, and it’s hard to see how secular readers could possibly view it in any other light.”

  31. —halo: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast’ Eph2:8

    May I ask how a Catholic would understand that?”

    Yes, Catholics interpret that to mean that we are saved through faith, in the same spirit in which Jesus says, “without me you can to nothing.” Without faith in Christ we cannot be saved nor can we do a single good thing. So, it is foolish to boast about our works, or to believe that they can save us, because we cannot do a single one of them without the power provided for us by faith in Jesus Christ.

    On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to do them. Christ doesn’t say that we are saved through faith alone. It gets back to the words “necessary” and “sufficient” again. A misreading of the Gospel can prompt one to mistakenly insist on faith at the exlusion of works, or, for that matter, works at the exlusion of faith.

    For example, when Peter says, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” he is not saying that works will save us in the absence of faith and grace; he is saying that they are, nevertheless, necessary. That is not the same as saying that we are “saved by works,” which, of course, we are not.

    When the Gospel emphasizes the importance of something, it doesn’t mean that the thing being emphasized is the only thing that counts. If someone was bleeding to death and was saved by a blood transfusion, that doesn’t mean that food and air are not also necessary to keep him alive. On the other hand, it would be pretty foolish for that man to say that he had no need for the medical intervention and boast that he saved himself with his careful eating habits.

    In keeping with that point, when James says that the Devil’s belive and “tremble,” he is dramatizing the obvious point that not everyone who believes will automatically follow up with good works.

    It gets back to interpreting the whole of the Gospel and not just parts of it, which, in isolation, can be misleading.

  32. I want to retract my signature. Would that be un-Christian of me?

  33. Matteo,

    the verses you quote don’t identify works as the ground for salvation, only a necessary fruit. I am not denying that Christians are to do good. The James scriptures you quote perfectly describe what I am saying – faith, if it is genuine, will be evidenced by works – faith that is devoid of works is bogus.

    I am denying that scripture teaches that we must perform works in order to earn any part of our salvation.

    You quote Paul and say:

    “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” [and remember from the James quote above, it was credited to him as righteousness due to a particular act]

    This seems to clearly say that you think righteousness itself can be gained by works.

    (Note that Paul bases righteousness of Abraham’s belief not his work, and teaches that our righteousness is from God (Rom 1:17).

    You say:

    But God can say to Man, if you want to get into Heaven, this is the work I am requiring you to do.

    and

    “However that simply does not mean that God cannot require certain things of us in order to receive the grace of getting to a Heaven that we simply do not in any way deserve”

    This really seems to be saying that man has to achieve of himself certain works that are required to get into heaven. It seems that you have to depend on yourself to gain access to God’s grace, since on your view that is how God has set it up – ‘do these works and only then you will you get access to my free grace that is undeserved.’ And if you have to depend on yourself to open the door of grace (even though you don’t deserve that grace) then it is hard to see how you cannot claim a piece of your own justification – well done for opening that door.

    But most importantly I don’t see how you get round: ‘one is justified by faith apart from works of the law’ Rom 3:28. I have tried to understand your explanation but it does not seem to account for the fact that ‘one is justified by faith apart from works…’ I.e works are not what enables/opens the door to justification as you seem to say.

  34. Mung # 32:

    Nope. You’re free to do so.

  35. Ok, I see your point StephenB, that works you do are by God’s grace and so they are not really *your* works but are a gift of God, that sounds a bit different. But Rom 3:28 and elsewhere seem to undercut that understanding of salvation. ‘One is justified by works apart from faith.’ I still don’t see how you guys explain it.

    Also is this view of works consistent with official Catholic teaching like the Council of Trent?

  36. Halo,

    Your initial statement in this thread was:

    In the rest of the article he says that the document portrays Catholics as bona fide Christians along with Protestants, which according to their official theology which allows a place for works in justification (e.g. Council of Trent), is a denial of the Gospel. And MacArthur things it is a travesty to send out a message that Catholic theology is ok to be a saved Christian.

    I don’t see the point in splitting hairs. I’ve provided plenty of plain-on-the-face-of-it scriptural evidence that we’ll be judged by the faith we have and by the things that we do. Call it justification, call it sanctification, who cares? Jesus did not come here to offer salvation on the condition that everyone hold to a 16th century logic-chopping understanding of the Gospel. Like I’m really going to find myself on Judgment day saying “I know my works are worth very little, and that my salvation owes to Your grace and mercy, which I now appeal to.” And he’s going to turn around and say “You’ve confused justification and sanctification! Go forth into the fire prepared for the devil and the unrighteous!” Riiight.

    It is you who came in here hurling the charge that Catholics are not Christians. On the basis of what? That Jesus didn’t mean what he said in Mt 25? That James was just being sly and subtle? That Paul reversed himself a few verses after Romans 2:5? I don’t think so.

  37. Matteo, you accuse me of what I did not say.

    When did I say that Catholics are not Christians, full stop? See comment 13.

    Second, surely you can appreciate that Protestants do not see this as splitting hairs.

    You seem to say that you must depend on performing certain works as well as having faith in order to be saved, whereas if Paul is fiercely against such a view like I have argued, then works are never the ground, only the fruit of salvation, and so to neglect that is to turn to a false gospel that cannot save.

    When have I been ‘hurling’ charges? That is unfair, I have tried to be quite respectful in our discussions.

    You keep saying Mat 25 but I am not denying that but have explained that I do not see that it says works justify, but rather fits very well with the understanding from James that works evidence those who have genuine faith.

  38. And if you have to depend on yourself to open the door of grace (even though you don’t deserve that grace) then it is hard to see how you cannot claim a piece of your own justification – well done for opening that door.

    And how precisely is this any different for an act of faith? You do the altar call, you pray the sinner’s prayer, and, hey, well done for opening that door. Your own justification required that you make the act of faith, so you can claim a piece of it, thereby ripping off God in some way, I guess. So it’s into the pool of fire you go?

    I’ve never understood why Protestants (Calvinists?) tie their minds up in knots over this.

    It seems that in the magnificence of His power, God gave us free will instead of having us be puppets, but in using this free will to perform works that he allows Himself to be pleased by, well then we’re in trouble because it might look like we had something to do with it instead of God being the puppet master? And all of this being based on one verse being made into the lynch pin around which everything else must revolve (and fifteen centuries after the fact, to boot)?

    Again, I highly recommend the lecture series “Romanism in Romans” in which Scott Hahn deals with Rom 3:28 at length and quite convincingly. Regardless, why is it valid to say that Rom 3:28 trumps everything else, when from a logical view, one could (with greater justification) just as well say that everything else trumps Rom 3:28? If you check it out, you’ll see that Hahn does a great job harmonizing all of these things.

  39. Matteo, you accuse me of what I did not say.

    When did I say that Catholics are not Christians, full stop? See comment 13.

    You said

    I personally think many Catholics do not really hold to justification by works in reality and so the label ‘Catholic’ is not accurate for them. Hence many Catholics are genuine Christians.

    So Catholics are Christians, but only provided that the label “Catholic” is not accurate for them.

    I don’t doubt that you meant no offense, but then you’re not Catholic. To a Catholic, your original statement is a provocative insult with a clear meaning: “The only good Catholic is a non-Catholic.” That may not be what you intended, but to Catholic ears, that is precisely what you said. Especially since you imply that only a Protestant understanding of justification could make them real Christians. So the Catholics who are Protestants, hey, they’re okay. But not the Catholics.

  40. Respectfully, anyone who reads the Bible from cover to cover and concludes that obedience to God’s commands is optional has missed the point, or rather, all the points.

    Read Hebrews chapter eleven, which defines faith by example. Which example of faith does not include the actions by which it was demonstrated? There are at least twenty examples of faith demonstrated by action. What an odd way of telling us that faith requires no action.

    Much of the Bible is a record of those who obeyed and those who didn’t, and their outcomes. That’s a whole lot of pages to read if it doesn’t matter anymore because obedience is optional as long as we believe.

    A person is saved by faith, not works. Salvation is a gift, not a wage. But if a person does not obey God’s commandments, his faith is dead and he will receive no such gift.

  41. All I know is, I don’t base my decisions about something like this based on what it doesn’t say. That’s just a joke.

  42. Catholics are Christians. I would say they are kind of stunted Christians though. I can’t for the life of me figure out why you would actually want to put a barrier between you and God when it’s clearly not needed. I don’t buy that the Pope is the voice of God on earth just because he gets voted into office by the Cards just like some Electoral College deal. I don’t get the Eucharist thing either. Practically speaking, most lay Catholics have little or no idea what is in the Bible even if they went to Catholic school which I find a bit puzzling. But all in all, Catholics are most definitely Christians I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

    Also Bill, I think Francis Collins for one might have an issue with the opposition to therapeutic cloning. He didn’t give an opinion on it in his book but I think he definitely leans in favor of it from what he wrote in the Appendix.

  43. “A person is saved by faith, not works. Salvation is a gift, not a wage. But if a person does not obey God’s commandments, his faith is dead and he will receive no such gift.”

    A better statement of “Billy-goat” Christianity you will not find (but, but, but…). Scott, If you could be saved by obedience to the law, then Christ came for nothing. He could have just stayed in heaven and saved himself a lot of grief.

  44. There are so many ironies in McArthur’s stance. First, he made big hay about 20 years ago by suggesting something he called “Lordship Salvation.” It is the view that good works are a necessary condition of forensic justification. So, ironically, McArthur takes a stronger stand on the necessity of works than the Catholic Church does! See, for example, the Catechism’s take on grace and justification: http://www.vatican.va/archive/.....s1c3a2.htm

    Second, for many years McArthur embraced an ancient heresy: he denied Christ’s Eternal Sonship. He has since changed his mind. But, in doing so, he has become more Catholic! See http://www.catholic.com/librar.....Christ.asp

    God bless John McArthur. He has brought many souls to Christ. But I wish on this matter that he would entertain the possibility that the Holy Spirit may very well work beyond the confines of American Regular Baptist Fundamentalism. Buy this man a glass of wine and a copy of Summa Theologica! :-)

  45. A better statement of “Billy-goat” Christianity you will not find (but, but, but…). Scott, If you could be saved by obedience to the law, then Christ came for nothing. He could have just stayed in heaven and saved himself a lot of grief.

    So He was joshing when He said “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

    Paul was joshing when he explained in Rom 8:16-17 “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

    Wait, what? Boy, Jesus sure wasted His time on the Cross if we need to take up ours and also suffer with Him. His whole sacrifice is in vain, because it didn’t get the whole job done, and because our suffering is also somehow necessary. Doesn’t Jesus know about “faith alone?” The poor Guy, born before the 16th Century and all, how could He possibly know?

    And Paul, that Romanist fool, was completely deluded when he said (Phil 2:12) “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” What an insult to Christ, who already did all that was necessary! But Paul was much further from the time of the Gospel events than any Reformer, so what does he know?

  46. My 2 cents,

    Brief background.

    I was raised in a very devout Catholic home I attended Catholic grade school and high school. What a blessing and what a great education. In college I left the church and drifted into strong agnosticism but later became a christian and now am a Calvinistic Protestant.

    I can categorically state that as a Catholic I was not a Christian. That is not to say that Catholics are not Christians. Being a Christian is not about being a Catholic. It is not about being a Baptist. It is not about being a Protestant. Nor is it about being an Arminian or being a Calvinist.

    There are some Catholcs who are Christians and some who are not. The same is true for the Calvinists , the Arminians or any other flavor represented by the various Protestant denominations.

    Dont get me wrong doctrine is important but we are not made right before God based on our doctrinal positions rather God judges the heart. Many Catholics will tell you that the last thing they are going to rely on when before God is to point to their good works.

    I have great respect for MacArthur and know James White personally but I a with Beckwith when he writes “Buy this man a glass of wine and a copy of Summa Theologica”

    Vivid

  47. —halo: But Rom 3:28 and elsewhere seem to undercut that understanding of salvation. ‘One is justified by works apart from faith.’ I still don’t see how you guys explain it.

    —”Also is this view of works consistent with official Catholic teaching like the Council of Trent?”

    I’ll say one thing. You certainly pay attention to you Bible. The passage actually reads “faith apart from the works of law.” Roman’s 3:28 refers to initial justification, which of course comes by faith and must precede any good work. When he writes about works of the Law, St Paul is referring to Mosaic observances, which would include things like circumcision. He is not talking about Christian obedience.

    Our good works, while necessary, don’t earn our initial justification. The Council of Trent puts it this way: “We are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that preceded justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification.”

    On the other hand, the works of Christian obedience that follow our initial justification contribute something as well. That is what James means at 2:24: [A man in justified by works and not by faith alone.]

  48. It is you who came in here hurling the charge that Catholics are not Christians.

    no, No, NO! He came here claiming that someone else was hurling the charge that Catholics are not Christians, and that this “someone else” was perfectly justified (um, is it ok if I use that word in this context?) in affixing his (or her) signature to some document because that document failed to make a clear statement to the effect that “Catholics are not Christian” because they preach a different gospel.

    As a catholic non-Catholic, I fidn this all very confusing.

    Didn’t Jesus say, “you shall know them by their fruits”?

    yeah yeah, I know. Apples. Oranges. whatever.

  49. The basis of the Trinity is easier to understand than many make out.

    Indeed. To deny that Jesus is God is to deny the Trinity. To accept that Jesus is God, is to affirm the Trinity.

    Anyone who denies the Trinity, is someone who denies the divinity of Jesus Christ.

    As always, the relevant question is, “who do men say that I AM”?

  50. I want to retract my signature. Would that be un-Christian of me?

    Nope. You’re free to do so.

    But didn’t Jesus say, “let your yes be yes, and let your no be know, anything else is from the devil”?

  51. Given the nature of this discussion, some of you may be interested in a recent blog post of mine on my Return to Rome blog, “Is Catholicism rational?: a reflection”

    You can find it here: http://romereturn.blogspot.com.....ction.html

    Blessings,
    Frank

  52. First, he made big hay about 20 years ago by suggesting something he called “Lordship Salvation.” It is the view that good works are a necessary condition of forensic justification. So, ironically, McArthur takes a stronger stand on the necessity of works than the Catholic Church does!

    I remember that book. I loved it!

    There’s a “revised” edition out now, which I have not read:

    http://www.amazon.com/Gospel-A.....038;sr=1-8

    Did he admit somewhere in a subsequent book that he was wrong?

    http://www.amazon.com/Gospel-A.....y_b_text_b

    Thank you Francis for reminding me of these books. They were instrumental in my formation as a Christian. It would be devastating to find that the author was mistaken. Am I still a Christian?

  53. In case any should feel pity for rome and be moved toward some emotional embrace of her, remember that your feelings are not reciprocated…

    LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy — For the second time in a week, Pope Benedict XVI has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, reasserting the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church and saying other Christian communities were either defective or not true churches.

    Benedict approved a document released Tuesday from his old office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which repeated church teaching on Catholic relations with other Christians.

    While there was nothing doctrinally new in the document, it nevertheless prompted swift criticism from Protestants, Lutherans and other Christian denominations spawned by the 16th century reformation.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,288841,00.html

  54. Mung @ 52

    Am I still a Christian?

    How do you answer that question?

  55. NZer @ 53

    LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy — For the second time in a week, Pope Benedict XVI has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, reasserting the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church and saying other Christian communities were either defective or not true churches.

    For some reason, this calls to mind a paraphrase of Senator Joseph McCarthy: “Are you or have you ever been a Christian?”

    Who or what decides what is a true Christian?

    Fred Phelps, Ted Haggard, Steve Anderson, the Pope, the Catholic priests who abuse children as well as those who work selflessly and without recognition for the poor, the deprived, the oppressed, the hopeless and the dying, all believe themselves to be Christian.

    No doubt Martin Luther or those who prosecuted the Inquisition or conducted pogroms against the Jews or defended slavery believed themselves to be Christian and could cite passages from Scripture to justify those beliefs just as well as those who would denounce them today.

    Where, then, is this “objective morality”, this indisputable yardstick by which these matters can be measured and settled beyond any doubt?

  56. Matteo @38

    you ask how does doing works differ from exercising faith? Well faith itself is a gift (Eph 2:8 and many other scriptures) such that the Christian can boast of nothing at all in his salvation.

    I see the doctrine of election/predestination coming….! I don’t have time to go there right now….

    stephenB @47

    whether or not you see your works as meriting any of your justification does not take away from the fact that you still depend on your works to fulfill an important part of your justification.

  57. Fred Phelps, Ted Haggard, Steve Anderson, the Pope, the Catholic priests who abuse children

    Why do you list the Pope with that group?

  58. Interesting: the hatred and revulsion with which some ID supporters hold evolutionary biologists is apparently small potatoes compared with that with which they hold their fellow “Christians”. It’s also very interesting to find what amounts to a purely theological dispute at a website which claims to be focused only on the “science” of ID, and at which almost all of the commentators adamantly assert that ID is a completely non-religious doctrine.

    Interesting, because similar disputes regularly break out among evolutionary biologists (I vividly recall the brouhahas over the neutral theory and punctuated equilibrium). But, however much they disagree on the details, they all agree that evolution has indeed occurred and almost all agree that their intellectual opponents are only misguided (usually as the result of making what they perceive to be mistaken inferences from the data), not genuinely evil or somehow deliberately perverse.

    Once this comment makes it out of moderation (assuming it ever does), I’m confident that I will once again be accused of mis-characterizing ID as an essentially religious doctrine. This, despite the fact that it’s the pro-ID commentators here that most clearly and regularly illustrate that conflation.

  59. Allen_MacNeill,

    It’s also very interesting to find what amounts to a purely theological dispute at a website which claims to be focused only on the “science” of ID, and at which almost all of the commentators adamantly assert that ID is a completely non-religious doctrine.

    We can talk about whatever we like on this blog. It’s Thanksgiving, give the ol straw man a rest please, and have a good time with your family today.

  60. Seversky,

    Where, then, is this “objective morality”, this indisputable yardstick by which these matters can be measured and settled beyond any doubt?Where, then, is this “objective morality”, this indisputable yardstick by which these matters can be measured and settled beyond any doubt?

    It is implicit in your declaration that folks like “Fred Phelps, Ted Haggard, and Catholic priests who abuse children….Martin Luther or those who prosecuted the Inquisition or conducted pogroms against the Jews or defended slavery” actually did something wrong. You have to use it, otherwise, you have no case whatsoever.

  61. Clive, this is always the same point made by people claiming that morality is objective. It is flawed because it reasons from within a system of objective morality, thereby concluding what it assumes, aka circular reasoning.

    People who consider morality a cultural, social and historic inter-subjective construct that originated at some time with the advent of man and has slowly evolved over the course of history, claim that certain things are right or wrong in the context of such a framework.

    They don’t make moral pronouncements in a vacuum, they use their concept of morality just as you use yours – a yardstick of right or wrong, larger than and outside of themselves, a tool to decide how to judge behaviours and actions of all people in society.

    Such a framework is necessary for societies to exist, and dialogue around it is necessary for societies to adapt to the inevitable changes caused by the relentless march of history. No morality has remained constant over the course of the generations; even though each generation undoubtedly contained many who thought that their personal version of morality was the one and only objective and eternal one.

    I have no illusion that you will concede this, because that would be incmpatible with your concept that morality is objective. Conversely, those who view morality as man-made can logically never accept claims of objective morality, because to them these are merely transparent attempts to stack the deck.

    None of us can step outside our own perspective. All we can do is try to accept these differences and settle on the only workable solution: discuss the moral ground rules that society should accept on the merits of their content, rather than their claimed provenance.

    fG

  62. —halo: “whether or not you see your works as meriting any of your justification does not take away from the fact that you still depend on your works to fulfill an important part of your justification.”

    Yes, I think we have established that. However, the issue on the table is whether or not that point of view reflects the correct Biblical theology. I believe that I have argued successfully that it does.

  63. faded_Glory,

    None of us can step outside our own perspective. All we can do is try to accept these differences and settle on the only workable solution: discuss the moral ground rules that society should accept on the merits of their content, rather than their claimed provenance.

    All moral judgments imply a standard. If the standard isn’t objective, there is no real standard. If it is a matter of convention, like driving on the right side of the road, then no morals are “real” in the respect that they could have been just the opposite, such as torturing other people’s babies to death for fun could be considered perfectly good if that was the conventional consensus.

  64. —Allen MacNeil: “Once this comment makes it out of moderation (assuming it ever does), I’m confident that I will once again be accused of mis-characterizing ID as an essentially religious doctrine. This, despite the fact that it’s the pro-ID commentators here that most clearly and regularly illustrate that conflation.”

    May the spirit of thanksgiving bless you, illuminate your mind, and teach you the difference between a method and a world view.

  65. —-faded glory: “None of us can step outside our own perspective. All we can do is try to accept these differences and settle on the only workable solution: discuss the moral ground rules that society should accept on the merits of their content, rather than their claimed provenance.”

    How would you settle the issue of abortion?

  66. From a psychotherapeutic point of view I think everyone would feel much better if they give up this pretence that ID is not religious (well, Christian). This thread is purely religious but you would be hard put to find thread with over 20 posts here that doesn’t at some point delve into a religious discussion. Talk about the elephant in the room. I’ve never seen so many bible quotes in my life, and this on a blog who’s adherents claim the central topic is a legitimate part of science! Give me a break.

  67. Re #66

    Hmmm Zero recognizes that this thread is religious in nature ( the manhattan decaration)then criticizes the posts on this thread because one would be hard pressed to find a post that at some point doesn’t delve into a religious discussion!!! Lets see the topic is religious, the thread is religious yet he calls the elephant in the room that the posts are religious. Truly an example of incoherency on zeros part.

    Allen also comes up out of his hole to throw up his favorite carnard ” ID is religious” because we are talking about theological subjects about a topic and a thread that deals with theology. Sad as well as instructive.

    Vivid

  68. Madness here!

    I think I started this w/ comment #8 and citing James White and John MacArthur. (Forgive me!)

    But let me just add…

    Just what is the difference between Protestants vs Roman Catholics vs Evangelicals. We are all called “Christian” properly b/c we all believe in the Triune God. So how are we different?

    The key difference is that though we have the same religion we have different GOSPELS!!!

    Galatians 1:8 “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed [ie go to hell]”
    ****************
    Here are the 3 DIFFERENT GOSPELS (though we have the same God)

    1) Evangelicals: Justification/Salvation by Faith Alone

    2) Roman Catholics: Justification/Salvation by Faith + Works

    3) Eastern Orthodoxy:

    Justification/Salvation by Faith + Works

    **************
    This is why it’s a big deal , b/c one God, but 3 different Gospels.

    That’s why Godly men like John MacArthur and James White would not sign the document (though I understand why one would…).

    I am no one to lift my tongue at Dr. Beckwith, but I have to with all respect disagree with his return to Rome and stand with the John MacArthur and Co. and vehemently oppose such a move and it is easy to see why:

    I will not support a different Gospel. To say that justification by faith alone and the other unique protestant doctrine of sola scriptura are such small differences that we 3 august Christian bodies are one is more than an oversight.

    Besides, how could a Roman Catholic worship along someone who preaches a different Gospel than them? How can someone who practices Easteran Orthodoxy? How can an Evangelical? The answer is we can’t and we haven’t [see the past 500 years (ie reformation) and 1000 years (ie West/East split].

    But since the advent of postmodernism and relativism where there is no such thing as absolute truth, well you can see how that is fertile ground for ecumenism.

    I will end with this quote:

    “Pope Benedict XVI has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, reasserting the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church and saying other Christian communities were either defective or not true churches” ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19692094/ )

    And I agree! I mean if Roman Catholicism is true then the Pope is right.

    This ain’t small potatoes folks – it is the very heart of our religion ie the Gospel itself

  69. stephenB @62

    not so fast… whose to say your explanation of those scriptures is convincing, plus there are many more scriptures you must deal with, we haven’t touched on Jesus or the Apostle John yet:

    John 3:36 ‘He who believes in the Son has eternal life’. The fact remains that ‘has’ is present tense – believing ensures eternal life. And the following part of the verse confirms the Reformation saying that ‘salvation is by faith alone but not by a faith that is alone’.

    John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’

    John 3:18: ‘Whoever believes in him is not condemned’. Again, present tense – faith is what delivers from condemnation.

    John 5:34: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.’ Present tense again. What about having to do some works too?

    John 6:29: ‘What must we do to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ So why say that people must do works as well as believe in order to gain salvation?

    John 20:31: ‘These things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’ Again it is believing that ensures life.

    I only see works as a product of genuine faith, as in James, and not as a requirement for justification.

    Does it not seem unsettling to you that you do not depend on Christ alone for your justification but must also depend on doing some of your works?

    Add to these Paul’s verses I have already mentioned such as:

    Eph 2:8: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works…’

    So I think it is best to interpret the unclear (the verse in James) in light of the clear. Especially since the whole context of James is all about that true faith results in works – a ‘faith’ without works is dead, so works justify in the sense of proving that the faith was genuine, that the person really is justified. Also, apparently Catholic scholars do not even take this verse are referring to justification by works, but as progressive justification (growth in righteousness) – which is what Protestants call sanctification.

    Regarding the passage in Matthew again – I don’t see that this has anything to do with our actual justification, where does it say that – rather it is about God’s rewarding of his saints.

    Respectfully, halo

  70. @67

    Sorry Vivid if I wasn’t clear. I meant other threads on UD that aren’t ostensibly about religion often break down into religious discussions as well. On a site that is meant to be about ID, and given ID adherents’ oft stated mantra that ID is science and religion has no part of it….well, I just find that very interesting. It would not happen on a site that was actually dedicated to scientific exploration.

    However, let me add, I think this is a great forum. I have enjoyed reading it for a long time. Great clash of ideas. I don’t bother with the threads on sites like pharyngula as they are too monotone.

  71. We make this commitment … as followers of Jesus Christ …

    What if Im not a follower of JC ?

    And what has all this to do with Intelligent Design ?

  72. halo, thanks for your post and your courtesty. I am familiar with the passages that you allude to, but the problem of “necessary” for salvation and “sufficient” for salvation persist. In my judgment, we have to take the whole gospel, not just those parts that are emphasized for one reason or another.

    When Jesus says that some will say, “Lord, Lord,” did we not prophecy in your name….” yet condemns them because they had not love, he was talking about Christians.

    When St. Paul tells us that we can have faith that moves mountains, and then goes on to tell us that if we have not charity, we have nothing. He is not just kidding around. He is talking about Christians who do not act on their faith.

    When James tells us that we are NOT saved by faith alone, he means exactly what he says. He dramatizes the point a second time so that there will be no misunderstanding.

    When Peter tells us to work out our faith with fear and trembling, he is making it very clear that we are to take nothing for granted.

    When Jesus says, “Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” he is asking everyone to strive for sainthood–to pay the price that must be paid for sanctity. It doesn’t come cheaply, which is another way of saying that it does not come automatically—certainly not from just getting on the roster.

    In fact, faith does not automatically produce good works, neither does grace. People lose their faith and reject grace daily. We must cooperate with the grace God gives us, which is the source of our good works.

    It does no good to say after someone falls from grace then they were never saved in the first place. Before they fall, they thought they knew well enough. How can anyone know that they are infallibly saved unless they know they will not fall before the fact? How does one distinguish between that kind of infallible knowledge and presumption. Those who did fall were quite sure they could not fall. {Pride cometh before the fall}.

    And that is the whole point. Salvation is a drama. Judas was once once high, and fell: Peter was once low and rose up. Sure, I think we can grow toward that kind of assurance, but not easily, not overnight, and not without the kind of spirtual progress that Christ asks for.

    The rich young man who walked away sadly was full of faith, but he was not willing to follow through. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The road to perdition is wide and the road to life is narrow not because Christians are unwilling to join up, but because they are not willing to get in the game after they do.

  73. zeroseven,

    A couple of things.

    A large percentage of those who espouse ID are religious. Some are very prone to talk about religious or social issues because that is their interest. Several pro ID commenters rarely talk about religion. For example, Joe G, PaV, Patrick (when he posts) will hardly talk about religion and focus mainly on the science issues. I tend to stay away from religious issues but will occasionally comment on moral or social or historical contexts. Most of the ID books stay clear of religion. Michael Behe is a religious man but keeps religion out of his writings. Stephen Meyer is a religious man but his book, Signature in the Cell, is pure science and logic. Dembski’s books are often esoteric mathematics.

    There have been a couple of threads recently that have run over a hundred comments where little if any religious thoughts were discussed. There have been a few in the past that were over 300 and did not discuss religion directly.

    Since the science for ID or against naturalistic evolution has been discussed hundreds of times, some believe it is not necessary to repeat the same things again and again but over time they all get treated on an on-going basis.

    With that said, evolution has always been highly involved with religion and you get three major players in the evolution debate define their position based on religious implications. There are atheistic Darwinism as espoused by Dawkins, Coyne and many other aggressive atheistic proponents; theistic evolutionists who by the very name include religion and evolution and some of which are vehemently anti ID; Young Earth Creationists whose ideology and theology has direct implications for evolution. These are all major players in the evolution debate and religious conclusions are part of their ideology. Some are consistent with ID while others are antagonistic to ID.

    So ID finds itself in this religious environment and even if religion has no part of ID (show me where it does) it will have to deal with the issues that these other players espouse especially if they are antagonistic to ID. I personally have strong religious beliefs but rarely bring them into the ID debate because they are not relevant. I could just as easily accept Darwinian evolution and not change my religious beliefs one iota. I know of others who have strong religious beliefs and never consider evolution at all. It is not something that is of concern to them. Some were at dinner at my house today.

    I personally would like to see less bible quoting on this site but I don’t see where it has ever entered into the framework of ID, which is essentially one of logic, science and probability. A lot of people are interested in ID because it has implications that are consistent with their religious beliefs. But that does not make ID religious.

  74. Clive Hayden @ 60

    Where, then, is this “objective morality”, this indisputable yardstick by which these matters can be measured and settled beyond any doubt?

    It is implicit in your declaration that folks like “Fred Phelps, Ted Haggard, and Catholic priests who abuse children….Martin Luther or those who prosecuted the Inquisition or conducted pogroms against the Jews or defended slavery” actually did something wrong. You have to use it, otherwise, you have no case whatsoever.

    I have pass such a judgement on the basis of a moral standard, certainly, but we have no reason to think that mine or anyone else’s is The One True and Objective Standard. Those who make such a claim are simply trying to impose their personal beliefs by diktat.

    In another comment, you argue that the lack of any objective moral standard implies that, in principle, baby-torturing for pleasure could be permissible. I agree, in principle it could.

    Yet, as far as I am aware, there is not, nor has there ever been, a human society, Christian or otherwise, in which such behavior is, or was, morally acceptable.

    Why not?

    My answer, as before, is that all human beings have a number of interests in common. Whatever their origin, moral codes function as a means of trying to protect those interests. We haven’t discovered, or been provided with, some sort of objective morality. What we have done is to evolve a collective morality.

  75. in regards to works being necessary for salvation…I would ask those who advocate that position, what works do you need to do? how many times do you need to do them?

  76. Tsmith said

    In regards to works being necessary for salvation…I would ask those who advocate that position, what works do you need to do? how many times do you need to do them?

    Jesus has helpfully provided a list of works in Mt 25 (parable of sheep and goats). How often should you do them? How about more often than one would naturally prefer, for starters?

    What happens to the goats in this very clearly stated (and what *should* be quite difficult to misinterpret) parable coming from the Lord Himself?

    Work, strive, take up your cross, work out your salvation, do things for “the least of these” as the Lord has commanded to avoid the pool of fire (“He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment“), and trust in God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness while doing these things. And also don’t insult God by saying this amounts to a checklist and that salvation is our own doing.

    Where’s the difficulty?

  77. Considering how they interpret the Bible, one wonders if Matteo and StephenB still have eyes and hands (see Mt 5:27ff)! You’ll never make sense of the Scriptures until you realize the difference between the old and new covenants. Jesus taught under the old, and told us to look forward to the new, which did not go into effect until His death (see Heb 9:16-17).

  78. I have said more than once that if ID should somehow win the argument, then you will see the real food fight begin again.

  79. Poor, confused Jesus. He just didn’t understand the New Covenant when he gave us the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, which, coming from His lips, is a direct prophecy of what will happen at the time of Judgment (and is in no way, shape, or form, given the merest whiff of an implication by Jesus of meaning anything else whatsoever).

    But, no. Everything He taught and said while He walked the Earth is to be tossed out and/or radically reinterpreted in order to accomodate a dispensationalist theology that was only explicated 19 centuries after the fact (or perhaps a Reformed theology that came a mere 15 centuries after the fact).

    Riddick, in charity, and in all due respect, I’d advise you to start worrying if you’ve embraced a hermeneutic that can so lightly toss aside the direct sayings of Jesus. Should not one start with precisely what He said and go from there, rather than with precisely what the Reformers said and go from there?

    I appreciate your concern, but I’ll take my chances with the former.

  80. —riddick: “Considering how they interpret the Bible, one wonders if Matteo and StephenB still have eyes and hands (see Mt 5:27ff)! You’ll never make sense of the Scriptures until you realize the difference between the old and new covenants. Jesus taught under the old, and told us to look forward to the new, which did not go into effect until His death (see Heb 9:16-17)”

    Adding to the arguments that I have already presented, there is also the matter of placing them in their historical context. In order to accept the novel doctrine of “faith alone,” which was introduced by one man in the 16th Century, one must hold that the apostles, the Church Fathers, and, indeed, the whole body of believers had it wrong all that time, and that God was waiting patiently for Martin Luther to come along and make it right. Further, one must hold that this same man, who admitted that the book of James contradicted his novel teaching, and was, therefore a “book of straw,” had to be taken out of the Bible. This is more than a small stretch.

  81. On the matter of religious discussions in general, here is a thought. Some on this site feel a bit put out because we sometimes put science aside and have these debates about theology.

    Consider this: When the ACLU provided the intellectual firepower for Judge Jones’ decision at Dover, they had three goals in mind, not one.

    [A] Smear ID and discredit the science

    [B] Chill religious speech

    [C] Divide the ID community

    Judge Jones’s decision accomplished all three goals because too many of us are running scared. We should not play along by hiding in the tall grass everytime an atheist comes to this site and seizes on these religious discussions, hoping to perpetuate the lie that ID methodology is faith based. We can talk about world views and we can talk about scientific methods. All ID contributors here know the difference. If our adversaries do not know the difference, we should not reward their ignorance by chilling our own speech. We should, instead, send them to the FAQ section to become familiar with the subject matter.

  82. For those who are interested in digging more deeply into this issue of justification and Catholicism, please consider one of my favorite papers. Written by Richard A. White in 1987 for a class he was taking from Harold O.J. Brown at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, it offers a careful articulation of the Catholic view of justification. (I believe that Dr. White, who at the time he wrote the paper was a Calvinist, eventually earned his Ph.D. at Marquette University and is now a professor of theology at Benedictine College). Here’s how it begins:

    The doctrine of justification was, as John Calvin stated, the “hinge of the reformation.” James Buchanan provides us with the classic “reformed” definition: “Justification is a legal, or forensic, term, and is used in Scripture to denote the acceptance of any one as righteous in the sight of God.” (The Doctrine of Justification, p. 226). Understood in this way, justification is purely extrinsic to the sinner, inasmuch as he is justified solely on the basis of Christ’s righteousness graciously imputed to him. The sinner does not become righteous himself, but because he trusts in Christ’s work for him, he is considered innocent by God the judge. In this way, works contribute nothing to justification; it is “by faith alone” (sola fide).

    In contrast is the Roman Catholic position, which sadly, few evangelicals even bother to consider, let alone understand. In many cases, the issue is naively boiled down to justification by faith, on the one hand (evangelicalism), versus justification by works, on the other hand (Roman Catholicism). This crass caricature has little basis in reality, and hampers the cause for theological truth and Christian unity. In this essay then, I will summarize the Roman Catholic teaching on justification. To accomplish this task, I will consider the Council of Trent’s “Decree Concerning Justification,” (Session VI) the most authoritative, even-handed, representative Church pronouncement on the issue to date (the Council was held 1545-1563). I will also consider a wide array of Catholic authors, both past and present.

    My goal is to set forth the Catholic position, not to critique it. Thus, I will not preface my remarks with such phrases as “the Catholic position says” or “in Rome’s view.” The reader should assume that all of the text represents the Catholic teaching.

    Now the Catholic view of grace and justification is very complex. Due to the scope of this essay, therefore, many subject areas (e.g., metaphysical questions, purgatory, indulgences, the mode of God’s indwelling in the soul, etc) relating to the Catholic teaching on justification have been excluded. The reader should consult the bibliography for elaboration on certain points.

    You can read the whole thing here. It is one of the many works I read when I was thinking more seriously about Catholicism.

    In any event, it is a real shame that so many Protestant Fundamentalists like John McArthur, who clearly love Christ, must continue to jealously guard a Catholicism they do not believe and that the Catechism does not embrace.

  83. Seversky,

    My answer, as before, is that all human beings have a number of interests in common.

    And one interest is recognizing objective morality, such as it is always wrong to torture other people’s infants to death for fun. This is objective, whether it serves interests or not is, quite frankly, beside the point. Even if it served no interest it would still be wrong. “Interest” as you use it seems vague anyway, to be invented on the spot to fit every scenario. But it can’t be the true matter, because, in the last resort, we would have to say that it is objectively “right” to serve interests in the first place. No matter what you use as your basis, interests, life, cooperation, etc., all imply and rely on the moral premise that they “should” be followed, but you can find no reason in the last resort except that it is “right” to do so. Morality is always the premise, not the conclusion.

  84. StephenB at 81-

    What is the “ID methodology” you speak of?

    I think a methodology is a body of practices, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline or engage in an inquiry; is that what you mean by methodology?

  85. What is the “ID methodology” you speak of?

    Step 1: Identify internet trolls.

  86. —Walter Koover: “I think a methodology is a body of practices, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline or engage in an inquiry; is that what you mean by methodology?”

    Sure. ID’s “explanatory filter” is a good example of a methodology. The point, as you can probably gather, is that it is not tied to a religious world view.

  87. 87

    The explanatory filter indeed clearly is not tied to a religious world view. What are the current or imaginable scientific uses for the explanatory filter methodology?

  88. What are the current or imaginable scientific uses for the explanatory filter methodology?

    Well, we can recognise that your questions follow a pattern, one that we have seen before. From that, we can draw an inference.

  89. stephenB @72

    thanks for your response, I hope you don’t mind me chirping in one more time.

    It seems to me that those verses I have listed present faith as sufficient, not just necessary.

    I am not denying the place of works – I just see them as having a very different place than you do. Even Paul said (in reference to some sins) ‘those who do such things will not enter the kingdom of heaven’. So obviously he was not denying any place at all for works. I am just denying that we must look to ourselves for any of our righteousness/justification/requirements for heaven, which is why in the passages I have listed, faith/belief is presented in such singular terms, and why works are oftentimes denounced with regard to salvation. I don’t see that the Catholic doctrine adequately accounts for this.

    The two must both have a place, and to me it seems that the best way these passages fit together is that works are the outworking of genuine faith, such that a faith that is without works is no faith at all – James’ point.

    ‘Salvation is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.’ That reformation saying makes a lot of sense of the scriptures we have talked about.

    The danger to me seems to be that once you allow that certain works are required of us it seems to inevitably leads to a mentality whereby we must strive to be accepted by God, can you be sure that you have fulfilled the requirements? And it seems to leave us with an air of self-righteousness – it will always be that we can thank ourselves for doing something that helped us get saved.

    That is why comments like Matteo@76 frighten me. It seems to take away from casting ourselves solely on Christ and trusting that his work was sufficient to save us from our sins. And from that place of faith and acceptance where there is no pressure to perform we are liberated to go forth and do good works in faith and love.

    It is true that Martin Luther called James ‘the epistle of straw’ but I don’t think he permanently cast if off. He just struggled to see how Paul and James fitted together and in a trying moment made that comment.

    Aside from this issue, I also struggle to see the scriptural basis for having a pope and for purgatory. Not to mention papal infallibility, given history and indulgences etc. I could easily say the same about many protestants who believe some things I think are very contrary to scripture so don’t take it personally.

    Anyway, I appreciate your courtesy, thanks for the discussion.
    halo

  90. fbeckwith@82

    thanks for the link to that article, I probably do not understand the Catholic position very well so I would like to read it. Thankfully it is not hopelessly long!

  91. Walter Kloover @87:
    I once knew a piano player who taking requests from patrons. One lister asked him if he knew the piece, “Misty,” to which he responded, “Sure, would you like to hear it.” Hearing that the listener asked, “well in that case, do you know “Somewhere in time.” Again, the pianist offered to oblige him, but the questions kept coming until finally it became clear that he didn’t really want to hear any music. He just wanted to play, “let’s stump the piano player.”

  92. StephenB,

    If he can’t play a single tune, is he really a piano player?

  93. —scrofulous: “If he can’t play a single tune, is he really a piano player.”

    Never present a Darwinist with a metaphor.

    The story had nothing to do with my ability to answer the question, or ID’s potential to do meaningful research. The relationship is as follows: The customer made a request from the piano player, but when he found out that the piano player could, indeed, play what he asked for, he was no longer interested in hearing that tune–he wanted to hurry on to another request in hopes of discrediting the piano player.

    In keeping with that point, Walter’s proclivity to ignore my straight to his straight question and continue on with another one as if the first one was no longer an issue, resembles the behavior of the customer who didn’t really come hear the music.

    See how that works.

  94. OK, I can already hear the wails. Call it an analogy.

  95. “If he can’t play a single tune, is he really a piano player?”

    Does anyone else ever question the 1) reading comprehension skills or 2) the logic prowess of materialists?

    wow

  96. Slightly sort-of off topic:

    StephenB, are you old enough to remember the Johnny Carson show? One of my favorite bits was when Ed and Doc would front the band and the audience would try to stump them. I’m not sure if the piano player was the same guy all of those years, but I recall that that person had an incredible ear. A great “skit” for sure, and light years ahead of anything currently on late night–with the exception of Paul Shaffer’s (sp?) impressive talents on the Letterman show.

  97. That is why comments like Matteo@76 frighten me. It seems to take away from casting ourselves solely on Christ and trusting that his work was sufficient to save us from our sins.

    It should frighten you. Did Jesus in Mt 25 say anything whatsoever about the final judgment involving “casting ourselves solely on Christ and trusting that his work was sufficient to save us from our sins?”

    Do you agree with Riddick (77) that the teachings of Jesus while He walked the earth were under the Old Covenant, not the New? Do you not see what a very, very strange doctrine that would have to be, i.e. that Jesus came to teach us at length under the Old Covenant, but then whole thing was immediately superseded? Where did this doctrine come from? When was it first explicated? Why was such an on-the-face-of-it outlandish thing not believed for the first 1.5 millenia of Christianity? Do you really choose to ignore the crystal-clear words of Christ (in the parable of the sheep and the goats) in favor of some sort of soteriological theory? Are you asserting that it’s all in Paul (interpreted your way) but none of it is in the Gospels themselves? On precisely what basis?

  98. tsmith,

    A couple of examples. Yesterday, in Taoyuan, I was driving down the road and saw a family of 6 walking. I thought to myself, maybe they might need some directions or something. I passed by and something said to turn back and do just that. So I went outta my way to make a U-turn and approached them to offer help. Turns out they wanted to head to the nearest bus stop to head to Taipei.

    My office was nearby so I parked there to do some overtime, then I went downstairs just to check that they had made it alright. In fact they passed it up because the sign was not easy to find, being crowded out with election signs. So I went after them and hailed them back.

    I got to know them a bit and when the bus came, I didn’t have the exact change. So I automatically offered 12 bucks no questions asked to help them out. But when the bus came, it was full and they couldn’t get on so they then had time to go to the convenient store to get change and they handed back my money. (my reflexive response to offer them bus fare didn’t go unnoticed by the father or myself. When was the last time I was so generous without thought? 12 bucks is still twelve bucks. I don’t even thought these people. )

    Another interesting thing thing is that the father was a docter and he was taking his youngest daughter to have an operation to alleviate the effects of scoleosis on her spine.

    I immediately thought to myself that this is how Christ works; setting me up to intersect with this family; to help lessen their worries, their emotional pain and to let them know that He is in their midst.

    By following the silent whispers that prod you to against your world judgement (ah they dont need help, they’ll be just fine, or thats too much work for me to go outta my way or maybe they’re shiesters or something), I also received something. I was able to do something other appreciated immensely, and I had the comfort of knowing that my time was not wasted. Rather is was more fulfilling than anything I could imagine.

    This is what Christ means by works.

    And I don’t want to toot my own horn (God knows how many opps I passed up due to those ‘worldly excuses;) but imagine how different a place the world would be if each and every one of us was not afraid to lend a simple hand to his fellow man, to stop building emotional, financial, and physical walls to separate each other.

    It is these teachings of Christ that are the catalyst by which Man can begin to repair the damage caused by our fall from grace. For these works do need grace, that power and feeling that comes over you, suspends your objections, suspicions, and concerns, and allows you to do exhibit what the Chinese call “Moi Chi”, which means literally to “touch Chi”. It can be translated as thinking another’s thoughts, or having like mind. For me, I also interpret it to mean one soul touching another soul.

    How often we do works depends on how close we wish to come to Christ. It is as simple as that.

    in regards to works being necessary for salvation…I would ask those who advocate that position, what works do you need to do? how many times do you need to do them?

  99. Matteo, since you disagree with the writer of Hebrews (specifically 9:16-17), please answer one question for me.

    If the New Covenant indeed became effective before the death of Christ, would you please cite at least one Scripture to support this position?

  100. —riddick: “A great “skit” for sure, and light years ahead of anything currently on late night–with the exception of Paul Shaffer’s (sp?) impressive talents on the Letterman show.”

    You bet. The boys in that old band had it all.

  101. –halo: “I am just denying that we must look to ourselves for any of our righteousness/justification/requirements for heaven, which is why in the passages I have listed, faith/belief is presented in such singular terms, and why works are oftentimes denounced with regard to salvation.”

    Right you are. We cannot look to ourselves. Insofar as we do any good works, it is Christ working throught us. Without him, we can do nothing. On the other hand, if we forbid Christ to work through us, long term, our salvation is in danger. Like any other relationship, it must be maintained.

    Context is all important. When John says that he who believes will be saved, he is speaking in contrast to those who don’t believe. In effect, he is saying, if you don’t believe [provided you have the opportunity and the exposure] you are not saved; if you do believe, you are. He is not saying that works are not necessary because he is simply not addressing that issue.

    Think of it this way: He who eats will live; he who does not eat will die. Does if follow, then, that food alone will save us and we no longer have any need for air.

  102. Heb 9:16-17

    Now where there is a will, the death of the testator must be established.

    For a will takes effect only at death; it has no force while the testator is alive.

    —-

    No doubt. But you seem to assert that Christ was not telling us about the contents of this will while He was alive. What He told us during His life was what the terms of the Covenant were going to be. Again, I ask you directly: Is the parable of the Sheep and the Goats a throw-away, superseded and ignorable? If so, I ask you to consider very carefully where this doctrine came from, and whether it is in accord with the first 15 centuries of Christian understanding.

    Also, what do you make of this from Paul (Col 1:24):

    Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…

    How can there be something lacking, if there is nothing we can possibly add? Remember, this is Paul talking (who, it seems, supersedes Christ for some). You need to find an understanding that gives due weight to this, as well as Rom 3:28. I find that these things all harmonize nicely under the Catholic understanding.

  103. 103

    StephenB-

    In keeping with that point, Walter’s proclivity to ignore my straight [answer] to his straight question and continue on with another one as if the first one was no longer an issue, resembles the behavior of the customer who didn’t really come hear the music.

    I guess the applicability of the metaphor was lost on me, StephenB. I understood and agreed with your straight answer to my straight question. As you said, the explanatory filter is not tied to any particular worldview. If we both agree, doesn’t that mean that that question is “no longer an issue”? But you complain that I go on to ask another question? Should I have asked the same question over again? I thought Joseph had the copyright on that schtick.

    My next question was, how is the explanatory filter a useful scientific methodology? Do you have any thoughts on that one? My impression is that the scientific community at large has not found that methodology useful. Do you disagree? Indeed, the ID community does not seem to have run with that methodology. Do you disagree?

    Maybe you are the wrong person to ask, your expertise seems to be more in philosophy than biology.

  104. —Walter Kloover: “If we both agree, doesn’t that mean that that question is “no longer an issue”? But you complain that I go on to ask another question?”

    Perhaps, I didn’t give you a fair shake. If so, I apologize.

    —”Consider the context of the thread Should I have asked the same question over again?”

    Considering that fact that dozens on this site continue to peddle the lie that ID=religion, I didn’t want to casually leave that theme for another one. On the matter of my response to you, maybe I pushed too hard on that one and made a design inference about game playing that wasn’t there.

    —”My next question was, how is the explanatory filter a useful scientific methodology? Do you have any thoughts on that one?”

    Sure, I have a great many ideas on that subject. For one thing, I think it is very useful to show scientifically that certain elements in nature have been designed. That would open up the possibility of reverse engineering as a diagnostic tool, something that is not feasible if Darwinism is true. I know of some brain surgeons who insist that their belief in the brain’s design has improved their practice for the very reason indicated—reverse engineering.

  105. Clive Hayden @ 83

    Seversky,

    My answer, as before, is that all human beings have a number of interests in common.

    And one interest is recognizing objective morality, such as it is always wrong to torture other people’s infants to death for fun.

    We would all like these issues to be settled and certain. It would be so much easier if someone else had decided them for us, much like our parents set rules for how we should behave when we were children. We may have found them restrictive on occasions but, overall, it was comforting to have them there in the sure and certain knowledge that they were given with our best interests at heart.

    Unfortunately, as we grow up, we learn that things are not so simple or as clear-cut. We have to struggle with all those gray areas of uncertainty :
    1 Cor 13:11

    When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

    This is not to say morality is childish, you understand, only that, as adults, we become aware of questions which, as children, we did not, and probably could not, consider.

    This is objective, whether it serves interests or not is, quite frankly, beside the point.

    There are two questions here, one of objectivity and one of purpose.

    As I see it, we all experience the world subjectively. Everything we know or feel about what we assume to be beyond us takes place in our conscious awareness. I envisage that consciousness as a ‘model’, constructed inside our brains on the basis of sensory input, ‘Subjective’ is what exists only in our mental model or mind. ‘Objective’ is what also exists outside us whether we are thinking about it or not.

    For example, I have a car. Sitting here, I can call up a detailed image of that car in my mind. That image is a subjective experience. But I can also go to my window and look at the car in its parking bay. I can go out and touch it and drive it around if I choose. I assume, although it is hard to prove, that the car is an object in an external reality.

    If I try, I can also imagine a futuristic spaceship in considerable detail. In my mind the image can seem almost as real as that of my car. But the spaceship, as far as I know, does not exist outside of my imagination.

    I can also call up in my mind an image of the Star Trek ship USS Enterprise. This a widely-known image which was the joint creation of the teams which produced the TV shows and movies. This image is probably shared by billions of minds. Representations of the image can be found in the aforementioned TV shows and movies, as well as books and magazines.

    However, while the representations are real, the ship is not. In spite of all those billions of minds thinking about it, there is no USS Enterprise traveling around the galaxy at warp speed, not yet at least. It still exists only in the imagination and is thus subjective.

    On the second question of purpose,
    you have asked on what grounds atheists or agnostics like myself can choose one morality over another. I have argued for a common interests justification.

    I also throw the question straight back at you. What are your grounds for claiming that your morality is superior?

    Remember that we are both asking for reasons to support our claims. If your morality is derived from Biblical prescriptions, I would remind you that, for example, the Ten Commandments are just that, Commandments not arguments. We are given a list of rules to follow but there is no rationale given for any of them.

    Aren’t you in the least bit curious as to why God chose those particular rules? We are told not to swear or covet our neighbor’s ass but there are no specific prohibitions of what might be considered much worse offenses like rape or child abuse or slavery or even the one which seems to exercise so many Christians, homosexuality.

    No matter what you use as your basis, interests, life, cooperation, etc., all imply and rely on the moral premise that they “should” be followed, but you can find no reason in the last resort except that it is “right” to do so. Morality is always the premise, not the conclusion.

    That’s right, and it is as true for your morality as it is for mine.

    As I have said, I argue a common interests justification for morality but I recognize that it is only a post-hoc rationale. There is no reason why I or the human race should survive or expect any privileges in this Universe. On the other hand, if there is no God then why shouldn’t we assert our own claims and decide our own morality and purpose?

    All Christianity, or any other faith, can offer as an alternative is a morality which is as unfounded as any other, decreed by a Creator who, as far as we can tell, is no more objectively real than the Starship Enterprise.

  106. 106

    StephenB-

    . . . I think it is very useful to show scientifically that certain elements in nature have been designed. That would open up the possibility of reverse engineering as a diagnostic tool, something that is not feasible if Darwinism is true.

    I’m not certain what you mean by using reverse engineering as a diagnostic tool. Are you referring strictly to making medical diagnoses?

    As a general matter, I think it is feasible to use reverse engineering even if the object to be reverse engineered has arisen without intelligent input. At least that’s what I take from the description of reverse engineering copied in (from the dreaded Wikipedia) below. It doesn’t seem to rely on the object having been intelligently engineered in the first place.

    Reverse engineering (RE) is the process of discovering the technological principles of a device, object or system through analysis of its structure, function and operation. It often involves taking something (e.g., a mechanical device, electronic component, or software program) apart and analyzing its workings in detail to be used in maintenance, or to try to make a new device or program that does the same thing without copying anything from the original.

  107. Seversky,

    As I see it, we all experience the world subjectively. Everything we know or feel about what we assume to be beyond us takes place in our conscious awareness.

    Both of these statements are objective statements about how we see the world.

    On the second question of purpose,
    you have asked on what grounds atheists or agnostics like myself can choose one morality over another. I have argued for a common interests justification.

    Why should anyone care about another persons common interest or even their own? This has to be maintained only and solely on the grounds that it is “right” to consider another person’s interest, so you’re using objective morality in the first degree to justify all other moral actions to that principle of shared interests. And secondly, things are of mutual interest only because they are right, not because they are of interest. They are of “interest” because we are interested in what is right, and to argue the other way around is to beg the question. If killing all other people’s babies for fun were in everyone’s interest, then by your system of shared interests determining morality, torturing babies to death for fun would be perfectly fine. But it’s not in our interest, because it is wrong. First things first, Seversky, first things first. Morality is the first principle in which all interests are built upon. Morality is always the premise, never the conclusion. If you don’t see it from the outset, the inherent goodness of it, no argument can bring you to it. This is true and has been true for all civilizations across the globe since man has been man. If you want to imagine a country in which people are rewarded for killing all the people who were kindest to that person, and where torturing other folk’s babies to death for fun is admired by everyone, you might as well imagine a country where two and two makes five. We can correct these objectively wrong behaviours only because we know what is right, and right cannot be as arbitrary as what we’re trying to correct, or else there can be no correction. If you correct a child’s sums, it is only because you know that there is a correct answer. If there weren’t, you could do not correcting. This is obvious.

  108. —-Walter: “I’m not certain what you mean by using reverse engineering as a diagnostic tool. Are you referring strictly to making medical diagnoses?’

    No, I was just providing a practical example of a professional person who claimed that it helped him.

    —”As a general matter, I think it is feasible to use reverse engineering even if the object to be reverse engineered has arisen without intelligent input.”

    I think if something was designed, it would reveal more about the way it was constructed than if it wasn’t designed, even assuming that some well functioning thing has ever been constructed without a design, which has never been shown to happen.

    —”At least that’s what I take from the description of reverse engineering copied in (from the dreaded Wikipedia) below.”

    Wikipedia has designophobia.

  109. 109

    Thanks for your responses, StephenB.

  110. Walter Kloover: Thanks for giving me second chance to compensate for my leap to judgment.

  111. Clive Hayden @ 107

    Why should anyone care about another persons common interest or even their own? This has to be maintained only and solely on the grounds that it is “right” to consider another person’s interest, so you’re using objective morality in the first degree to justify all other moral actions to that principle of shared interests.

    I prefer to call it pragmatic. If I want other people in society to respect my interests then I must, in turn, respect theirs. It is a simple exercise of the Golden Rule or “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.

    The obverse of that principle, of course, is acting selfishly without any consideration for others. However, if someone behaved like that towards me then I would regard myself as being released from any obligation to respect that persons interests. The problem with that is how long do you think any society would last if all of its members behaved like that?

    And secondly, things are of mutual interest only because they are right, not because they are of interest. They are of “interest” because we are interested in what is right, and to argue the other way around is to beg the question.

    I think you are misunderstanding what I mean by interest because it has nothing to do with ‘right’.

    My most fundamental interest is to live as long as I can or, at least, for as long as I retain some capacity to enjoy life. Whether or not this is “right” or even rational is irrelevant to me. It is what I want and I make no apologies for it.

    Like everyone else here, I will die sooner or later of something. There appears to be no way to avoid that. All I can do is to minimize those risks over which I have some influence. One of those risks is from other people: people who might view me as a threat, people who might compete with me for scarce resources, people who might just take a dislike to me. If I can ameliorate that threat to my survival by joining a society in which all members agree not to harm others in order to prevent harm being done to themselves then, to me, it makes good sense to do so.

    In that way, simple self-interest could lead to the complex moralities we see today. As I said, collective not objective.

    First things first, Seversky, first things first. Morality is the first principle in which all interests are built upon. Morality is always the premise, never the conclusion.

    The naturalistic fallacy lies in arguing that we can derive any moral lessons from observing the way the Universe is. I am a miniscule part of that Universe and I want to survive for as long as I can. There is nothing in the way the Universe is to say that I should or should not survive. It is supremely indifferent to the question as far as we can see. In that case, why shouldn’t my desire to survive be its own justification or, rather, does it need any justification at all?

    Bringing a deity like the Christian God into it is no use either. It would be just another intelligent agent expressing an opinion. What reason do we have for thinking that a god’s morality is any better-founded than our own?

  112. Seversky,

    I prefer to call it pragmatic. If I want other people in society to respect my interests then I must, in turn, respect theirs. It is a simple exercise of the Golden Rule or “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.

    The obverse of that principle, of course, is acting selfishly without any consideration for others. However, if someone behaved like that towards me then I would regard myself as being released from any obligation to respect that persons interests. The problem with that is how long do you think any society would last if all of its members behaved like that?

    But of course all of this presupposes that things like obligations should be respected, that is, that respect and mutual agreement should be protected and respected because they are already the right thing to do.

    This means that your system presupposes morality. And secondly, by your system, there is no reason to respect pragmatism. Chaos works just as well for any end as any other, for no end would be objectively better than any other, including pragmatism and survival. There is no “goodness” even in survival, there is only desire, but of course desire means things that are morally wrong too. But if there are no differences between desires, then there is no reason to prefer one to any other other than another desire. When all that says “it is good” is gone, that which says “I want” remains. And morality will not and cannot be built on those grounds. All of your messages to me presuppose a real morality, a real duty to others, whether you call it pragmatism or shared interests.

  113. Clive Hayden @ 112

    But of course all of this presupposes that things like obligations should be respected, that is, that respect and mutual agreement should be protected and respected because they are already the right thing to do.

    I see it as a conditional rather than an imperative morality. Rather than what is right being decreed by some sort of supreme moral authority, it is an argument which runs: if you want a better chance of a long and happy life then you should respect the same wish in others.

    Our moral beliefs may not be far apart. Where we differ is over the authority or justification for those beliefs. I see no reason to assume the existence of a god or that moral codes can have any objective existence in any meaningful sense. The moral codes that undoubtedly do exist have arisen as conventions in human cultures. This does not make them any less valid just as being enshrined in scripture doesn’t make them any more valid.

  114. —-seversky: “Rather than what is right being decreed by some sort of supreme moral authority, it is an argument which runs: if you want a better chance of a long and happy life then you should respect the same wish in others.”

    There are plenty of people who subscribe to a different philosophy. For them, they can live a happy life only if they can dominate you and me. They do not subscribe to our notion of reciprocity. Quite the contrary, they hold that “might is right,” which is why they seek power over all other things. Indeed, this group has more influence than any other group because they make it a life-long pursuit to gain that very power that they lust after. You say, “let’s all just get along.” They say, “let’s not. I would prefer that you be my slave. You say, “I prefer to scratch your back while you scratch my back.” They say, “I prefer to keep you in chains.’

    Since you cannot tell them that they are violating the inherent dignity of the human person, or the natural moral law, or any other objective standard, you are out of options and headed for slavery. You cannot build a well ordered society around your wishes or even the sum total of all of societies wishes. You can only build a well ordered society around moral truths that put conditions on everyone’s wishes, including those whose wish is to deny your wishes.

  115. StephenB @ 114

    There are plenty of people who subscribe to a different philosophy. For them, they can live a happy life only if they can dominate you and me. They do not subscribe to our notion of reciprocity. Quite the contrary, they hold that “might is right,” which is why they seek power over all other things. Indeed, this group has more influence than any other group because they make it a life-long pursuit to gain that very power that they lust after.

    Yes, there are such people. There always have been. They existed when the prevailing cultures were religious and they asserted themselves more recently through avowedly atheistic ideologies.

    Although it has not been a necessary precondition, a common theme amongst both groups has been justifying their actions as being carried out in pursuit of some supreme or ultimate Truth, whether it be Holy Mother Church or Allah or National Socialism or the Marxist State or even Manifest Destiny.

    You tend not to find such attitudes succeeding where the rights of the individual are established and upheld as being equal or superior to those of the state or any religious or political bloc.

    Since you cannot tell them that they are violating the inherent dignity of the human person, or the natural moral law, or any other objective standard, you are out of options and headed for slavery.

    On the contrary, we can argue that any form of authority that tries to impose itself without the consent of the population it seeks to govern is illegitimate.

    Need I remind you that in 1776 the American colonists fought a war based on that very principle; they then went on to enshrine that principle in a constitution which is notable for its establishment of the principle of individual rights and democratic government which stand in their own right. They need no justification by or permission from some other supreme authority.

    You cannot build a well ordered society around your wishes or even the sum total of all of societies wishes. You can only build a well ordered society around moral truths that put conditions on everyone’s wishes, including those whose wish is to deny your wishes.

    That depends on how well-ordered you want a well-ordered society to be. The rigidly-disciplined societies of seventeenth-century Puritans or twentieth century communist regimes were well-ordered on the surface, but I would argue that it was a facade. It was only achieved by suppressing basic human nature.

    It is significant that, in England, the Puritans were popular initially because they broke the power of the monarch and the aristocracy in the English Civil War. They became less than popular and eventually fell out of favor when it became apparent that the oppression of the King was being replaced by the oppression of a particularly narrow, rigid and doctrinaire version of Christian belief.

    Human nature is human nature and will not be repressed for long. Societies which recognize and allow for that may appear to be messy and disorganized but is that really worse than the alternative?

  116. 116

    Thank you, Seversky, for your eloquent and well-reasoned arguments.

    You always focus incisively on the heart of the matter.

  117. Seversky,

    Sounds like you just laid out the “Bush Doctrine.”

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