We are seeking to build a movement – hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Catholic, Evangelical, and Eastern Orthodox Christians who will stand together.–Manhattan Declaration
On November 20th, a document called the Manhattan Declaration was released at an event at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The Declaration has received wide media coverage, and as of this writing about ¼ million people have signed the document, with a current average of about 10 people a minute adding their names (around 14,400 a day). (source)
One of the four drafters of the Declaration is Chuck Colson who also co-authored a document in the 90s called Evangelicals and Catholics Together. The ECT is similar in nature in that it identifies both Catholicism and Evangelicalism as part of the Christian church and asks members of both groups to unite in areas that they have in common. With this new document, the emphasis is on morality: gay versus traditional marriage, abortion, stem cell research, assisted suicide, etc.
According to a Christianity Today article on the Manhattan Declaration, both prominent evangelical leaders and Catholic leaders are main signatories:
The declaration has received national attention because, in addition to many American evangelical leaders, its [main] signatories include nine Catholic archbishops, the president of the Catholic League, the primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, and the primate of the Orthodox Church in America.
Given the fact that a large number of the main 149 signatories have directly or indirectly promoted advocates of the New Age/New Spirituality (i.e., contemplative/emerging), it is not difficult to see that (even with good intentions) the Manhattan Declaration may provide an appealing and subtle avenue into the New Spirituality for a vast number of signers, many of whom might not otherwise have had exposure to it given the conservative tendencies of most of the signers.
Some may ask, how could this introduction to the New Spirituality possibly take place just by signing the Declaration–even if some of the main signatories are promoting it? The answer, in part, has already surfaced. On the Manhattan Declaration website, it now states:
Thousands of you have sent e-mails asking what’s next – a good question. The goal of those of us who drafted and signed the document is not just to get a lot of names on a manifesto, gratifying though that is. We are seeking to build a movement – hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Catholic, Evangelical, and Eastern Orthodox Christians who will stand together alongside other men and women of goodwill in defense of foundational principles of justice and the common good. These are people who could expose the lie which so many in our culture have embraced about self being the center of life; and then winsomely present, in the words of St. Paul, “a more excellent way.” (emphasis added)
We are looking for people who will work in every possible arena to advance the sanctity of life, rebuild and revitalize the marriage culture, and protect religious liberty.
So what’s next for you?1
In answer to their question of “what’s next,” a Worldview Resource Directory** (see note at bottom of posting) is offered to signers as a place to find “excellent resources in support of these foundational truths.” The Resource Directory, located on the Manhattan Declaration’s website, has a large listing of books, DVDs, and other material compiled especially for the signers of the Declaration. But a close look at this Resource Directory should cause believers to be quite concerned. For instance, there is a specific section titled “Spiritual Formation,” which carries recommendations to contemplative mystic advocates such as Dallas Willard, J.P. Moreland, and Kenneth Boa. The propensities of all three of these contemplative teachers are documented at Lighthouse Trails Research Project. One of the books that the Manhattan Declaration Directory recommends is J. P. Moreland and Klaus Issler’s book, The Lost Virtue of Happiness: Discovering the Disciplines of the Good Life. This book is discussed in Roger Oakland’s hard-hitting book Faith Undone, an expose of the emerging church and the Purpose-Driven Movement. Oakland states:
Moreland and Issler believe they have rediscovered important spiritual principles that have been lost. Two of the spiritual disciplines the authors have recovered are “Solitude and Silence.”The book says that these two disciplines are “absolutely fundamental to the Christian life.” …[T]he isolation and solitude Moreland and Issler promote have definite Eastern mystical overtones.
The authors attempt to add credibility to this rediscovered spiritual discipline by quoting [the late Catholic priest and mystic] Henri Nouwen, who said: “A man or woman who has developed this solitude of heart is no longer pulled apart by the most divergent stimuli of the surrounding world but is able to perceive and understand this world from a quiet inner center (Nouwen, Reaching Out, p.38).
… Continuing to develop the idea of the lost art of finding the “quiet inner center,” Moreland and Issler state:
“In our experience, Catholic retreat centers are usually ideal for solitude retreats… We also recommend that you bring photos of your loved ones and a picture of Jesus… Or gaze at a statue of Jesus. Or let some pleasant thought, feeling, or memory run through your mind over and over again.” (pp.54-55)
… But that isn’t all they recommend. For example, Moreland and Issler provide tips for developing a prayer life. Here are some of the recommendations they make:
[W]e recommend that you begin by saying the Jesus Prayer about three hundred times a day. (p.90 – see Matthew 6:7 on vain repetitions)
When you first awaken, say the Jesus Prayer twenty to thirty times. As you do, something will begin to happen to you. God will begin to slowly occupy the center of your attention.(p. 92) (from Faith Undone, pp. 117-118).
Another book that the Manhattan Declaration Resource Directory recommends is Moreland’s Kingdom Triangle. In this book, Moreland makes his case for contemplative spirituality (Dallas Willard writes the foreword), encouraging readers to practice the exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Catholic order, the Jesuits (p. 156).
It is essential to understand that by the Manhattan Declaration pointing signers to contemplative proponents like Issler, Moreland, and Willard, they are giving their signers the spirituality of Henri Nouwen, who at the end of his life (having adhered to mysticism for many years) said: “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.”2
You see, Nouwen emulated the “fruit” of Catholic contemplative mysticism, which is interspirituality (thus negating the Gospel of Jesus Christ) (For a documented expose on the spirituality of Henri Nouwen and the spiritual formation movement, see A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen).
Ironically, Nouwen probably wouldn’t have signed the Declaration. In his book, In the Name of Jesus (a book highly valued by many of today’s Christian leaders, including Rick and Kay Warren), he emphasized the need for “Christian leadership” to move from “the moral to the mystical.” In other words, the emphasis of the Christian life should be more on the mystical (i.e., contemplative) rather than on traditional taboos of Christianity, such as those that the Declaration defends.
The Resource Directory for the Manhattan Declaration signers has far more than just Willard, Moreland, and Issler. They are also recommending Brian McLaren, an emergent leader who has publicly denounced the atonement doctrine of the Bible, calling it “false advertising” for God. McLaren is also a major proponent of eastern-style mysticism (i.e., mantric), which can be clearly seen in his book, Finding Our Way Again. In this book, McLaren twists Scripture by suggesting that the Old Testament priest Melchizedek was of a different religion than Abraham, and Abraham used a mystical practice to connect with Melchizedek. Thus McLaren draws this conclusion: “[W]e discover practices for our own faith in an encounter with someone of another faith” (p. 25). This is what occultists believe. Occultist Aldous Huxley said that mysticism is the “highest common factor” that “links the world’s religious traditions” and leads man to recognize the divinity within all things (see As Above, So Below, p. 2).
Even though Brian McLaren rejects some of the basic tenets of biblical Christianity and clings to mystical beliefs of other religions, the Manhattan Declaration recommends him (p. 16).
Other troublesome names that the Manhattan Declaration is calling “excellent resources” and “like-minded worldview organizations and leaders working together for cultural transformation” (p. 7) are Catholic convert Peter Kreeft, emerging church figure, Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz), the contemplative-promoting Teen Mania, and Ken Boa. The book the Declaration recommends by Boa, Conformed to His Image, is a primer in contemplative spirituality. In his book, Boa favorably references practices like lectio divina and figures like Richard Foster (Renovare), Thomas Merton, and Thomas Keating (Merton and Keating are two of the primary pioneers of the current contemplative prayer movement). Boa also references mystic Jean Pierre de Caussade’s bookAbandonment to Divine Providence, referring to the “sacrament of the present moment“, a concept often used to encourage people to enter the silence.
And here is an interesting note: Boa tells readers: “The spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola incorporate these and other meditative techniques.” Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Jesuits (an order in the Catholic church), whose purpose was mainly to bring “rebelling” Protestants back to the mother church. The barbarity and cruelness of the Jesuits was unspeakable.
Another Jesuit priest, one who has indirect connections to the evangelical church today and one who is in line with the Aquarian Conspiracy [New Age christ-consciousness], is the late Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. In Chardin’s book, Christianity and Evolution, he makes these comments:
[T]he Cross still stands … But this on one condition, and one only: that it expand itself to the dimensions of a New Age, and cease to present itself to us as primarily (or even exclusively) the sign of a victory over sin. (p. 219-220).
I believe that the Messiah whom we await, whom we all without any doubt await, is the universal Christ; that is to say, the Christ of evolution (p. 95).
What I am proposing to do is to narrow that gap between pantheism and Christianity by bringing out what one might call the Christian soul of Pantheism of the pantheist aspect of Christianity (p. 56).
In Warren B. Smith’s book, A “Wonderful” Deception, Smith reveals that Rick Warren colleague Leonard Sweet calls Chardin “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice” (AWD, p. 111 ). But Chardin does not represent biblical Christianity–on the contrary, he falls in a spiritual camp that embraces the “cosmic Christ,” which is the I AM (God) in every creature. Even though this christ-consciousness-in-all-people belief rejects the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, Sweet has openly aligned himself with Chardin. In Sweet’s book, Aqua Church, he favorably quotes Chardin saying: “Christ is in the Church in the same way as the sun is before our eyes. We see the same sun as our fathers saw, and yet we understand it in a much more magnificent way” (p. 39, Aqua Church).
While it is true that Leonard Sweet is not a signer of the Manhattan Declaration, this IS the direction that evangelical Christianity is heading. Please understand that this “vintage” Christianity (i.e. contemplative and/or emerging) is moving relentlessly toward the Catholic mystical tradition. So for Christian leaders, who already are nearly void of understanding the dangers of the contemplative/emerging movement, to stand together in solidarity with leaders of the Catholic church is only going to further remove the barriers in people’s minds that these two approaches to God are radically different, and even actually oppose each other (see Council of Trent anathemas).
Finally, we want to point out one more resource that the Manhattan Declaration is recommending: Renovare, which is the organization founded by contemplative pioneer Richard Foster. An entire book could be written on Foster alone, but in this article we are going to draw your attention to just one aspect. Those who understand the dynamics of the New Age/New Spirituality (i.e., contemplative) can research the Renovare website to gain further insight. One of the people whom Foster has used extensively for both his Spiritual Formation Study “Bible” and his Life With God “Bible” is Walter Brueggemann. Brueggemann helped to edit these Renovare “Bibles.” Yet, Brueggemann, who could actually be considered a pioneer of the emerging church movement, resonates with atonement denier Alan Jones and actually endorsed the back cover of Jones’ book, Reimagining Christianity. In that book, Jones says that the doctrine of the Cross is a “vile” doctrine and that: The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it” (p. 132). It is THIS spirituality that the Manhattan Declaration is handing over to potentially millions of conservative Christians. And it is THIS spirituality of which we are compelled to warn against.
What is puzzling is that if these Evangelical leaders want to raise up morality in America, why have so many of them openly endorsed the emerging/contemplative spirituality in one aspect or another, which overall ignores or downplays a stand against homosexual marriage, abortion, and other moral issues that the Manhattan Declaration speaks of? Are they repenting? No mention of that. Many of them STILL are promoting the contemplative/emerging spirituality that will continue to remove traditional morality from our society. It seems rather distorted when these leaders are being seen as taking a stand for morality when all along they are promoting a spirituality that ultimately undermines it. We could give you example after example of the New Spirituality’s move away from morality (and we have in many articles these past seven years), and we could give you example after example of Christian leaders’ promotion of the New Spirituality and its cohorts (and we have also done that over and over again). Are these signers of the Manhattan Declaration truly concerned about the present moral condition of the United States? Probably most of them are. But it’s going to take a lot more than their signatures on a document–God will require much more. For one, he is going to want them to renounce the heretical teachings of the New Age/New Spirituality.
Some media reports on the Declaration have suggested that these evangelical leaders are risking their very ministries by signing this document. This is hardly enough to be called a martyr for the faith. Those martyred in the past were often those believers who would not stand with the papacy and false gospel of Rome–hundreds of thousands of them were murdered for this.
For those who have any doubts as to the deceptive all-out efforts by Satan to destroy God’s truth by introducing “another gospel” (II Corinthians 11:4), especially in today’s world where the last days birth pangs are increasing (Matthew 24), we recommend you view a new film documentary titled A Lamp in the Dark (see link below). If you think there hasn’t been an ongoing move to destroy God’s Word and the true Gospel message, then this is a must-see film. Before signing the ecumenical Manhattan Declaration, thinking that this kind of joint declaration is going to “save” America, get all the facts and ask the Lord for His wisdom (James 1:5-6), not the dubious “wisdom” of Christian leaders today.
Lighthouse Trails is certainly not against standing up for morality. On the contrary. But one must look at the spiritual undertones that have found their way into Christianity today, including the endeavor addressed in this article. We must always keep in mind what Roman Catholic theologian Karl Rahner said, that the Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will be nothing at all. His vision is becoming more and more a reality.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. James 1:5-6
“Evangelicals and New Agers Together” by Warren B. Smith
Should Christians Sign The Manhattan Declaration? by Pastor Adam Gislason
The Manhattan Declaration: Why faithful Christians SHOULD NOT sign it.–Cecil Andrews, Take Heed Ministries, Northern Ireland
Audio Clip: A Rebuke to the Manhattan Declaration Signatories by Pastor Ralph Ovadal
**Note: In the event that you cannot access the Resource Directory from the Manhattan Declaration website (if for some reason it is removed or becomes disabled), you may view the exact same Resource Directory on Chuck Colson’s website. Click here.