Nathan A. Finn on the Manhattan Declaration Ten Years Later

Nathan A. Finn is provost and dean of the faculty at North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C. He also serves as a research fellow for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.


Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the publication of “The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience.” The document was originally drafted by two Southern Baptists, the late Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship and Timothy George, then dean of Beeson Divinity School, as well as the Roman Catholic legal scholar and philosopher Robert George.

Almost 150 leaders from various Protestant, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions were charter signers of The Manhattan Declaration. Over the past decade, over 550,000 individuals have added their signatures. I was not a charter signer of the document, but I signed The Manhattan Declaration the day it was published and shared it publicly from my social media accounts.

The Manhattan Declaration outlined three issues that were under assault in American culture in 2009: the sanctity of every human life, the traditional biblical understanding of marriage and religious liberty for all people. The statement addressed each of these three issues from the complementary standpoints of holy Scripture (our ultimate authority), the best of the Christian intellectual tradition and human reason.

While The Manhattan Declaration offered a brief exposition of each of its three priorities, it was also a call to action. As the signers confessed,

“We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right — and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation — to 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.”

The Manhattan Declaration issued a clarion call that was clearly necessary 10 years ago. Subsequent events have shown this call is even more important in 2019.

Abortion-on-demand remains legal in the U.S. Since Roe v. Wade legalized the practice in 1973, an estimated 62 million pre-born human beings have been killed in their mothers’ wombs. Though abortion rates have dropped significantly — a trend for which we should give thanks — there have also been setbacks to the pro-life cause in recent days.

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Source: Baptist Press