Do Nations Owe God Anything?: An Example
When I posted my short article “Do Nations Owe God Anything?” on Friday I wasn’t expecting to have an example of what I was discussing show up come Monday morning. At The Reformed Pastor blog, David Fischler quotes from the Manhattan Declaration, which is an ecumenical statement released by 125 Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant evangelical leaders which speaks to some of the hot button moral issues of today. His post also quotes from a response to the ecumenical statement by Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU).
While I will not personally take part in any ecumenical organizations or statements, I do find the Manhattan Declaration to be interesting. A lot of the rationale in the declaration is in line with what I have written about in the Divine Institutions. I particularly agreed with this quote from the declaration:
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.
The response from the Rev. Barry Lynn of the AU is bothersome.:
Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “This declaration is certain to be deeply divisive. These religious leaders want to see their doctrines imposed by force of law, and that goes against everything America stands for.
As I said in my earlier post, every law and regulation is a moral statement. To seek laws that force Roman Catholic hospitals to perform abortions or pastors to perform same sex marriages is evil (yes, it is e-v-i-l).
It is always strange to me that those that accuse “right wing” Christians of being doctrinnaire have a lot of non-negotiable doctrines themselves.
It appears that the Manhattan Declaration is stirring up a lot of folks on the internet. Tom Gilson at his Thinking Chritian blog is having quite the debate. He makes some good points in his “The Basis for Moral Realism” post.
I am seeing other conversations regarding what nations owe God. Bob Godwin at his One Cʘsmos blog has been reading what sounds like and interesting book titled “We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future” by Matthew Spalding. The founding fathers of the United States had a very solid hold of what nations were allowed to do before God. This quote really caught my eye:
It is no coincidence whatsoever that the left must eradicate any trace of religion in order to eliminate the principle barrier (along with the sanctity of private property and the family, and the chrome to back them up) to the intrusive and acquisitive reach of the state.
For to affirm God is to sharply limit the state; indeed, it is to affirm that the state and its laws have no legitimacy to the extent that they contravene the transpolitical Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God (as the Declaration expresses it). We have no obligation to obey laws that are fundamentally immoral.
I recommend reading the whole thing here.