IPFS Greg J Dixon

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Why I Cannot Sign the Manhattan Declaration

It was my privilege to sign the Chicago Declaration of 1983 and the Victory Declaration of 2006, but I cannot sign the Manhattan Declaration.  It was released on November 20, 2009 and signed by 150 distinguished evangelical, Orthodox and Catholic leaders, and has since drawn an astounding 200,000 plus and still counting into their ranks.  Chuck Colson, one of the authors of the document, said on the November 22nd Huckabee Show that it draws a “line in the sand” of the culture war, warning that Christians will resort to civil disobedience if necessary rather than retreat from three specific moral principals.  Those are: The sanctity of human life; the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
Colson continued by saying that the Declaration is a “wake-up call – a call to conscience for the church” and a “crystal clear message to civil authorities that we will not, under any circumstances, stand idly by as our religious freedom comes under assault.”  He added, “Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well being of society, they are inviolable and nonnegotiable."
As an example of the gravity of the subject, Colson said, "We're saying, 'If we're a doctor and we're told to perform an abortion or to refer someone for an abortion, we will refuse.  And if you want to put us in prison, put us in prison.'”  Huckabee pressed him with the question, "What about hate crimes?"  "Hate-crimes legislation – we're already seeing what this has done in Europe and in Canada.  Human-rights commissions are hauling pastors in," Colson said.  "If someone walks in our church and says, 'You preach a sermon on [homosexuality], we're going to arrest you as a violation of the hate crimes,' then they'll have to arrest us."
None of the signers has expressed publicly their willingness to suffer for the cause expressed by the Declaration as has Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family Ministries.  On his November 23rd radio show, referring to the "monthly abortion premium" that may be included in the health care reform legislation, he vowed he would never accept that, saying he and his wife Shirley would pay ruinous fines, go to prison, or even "leave this beloved country and spend the rest of our lives in exile." 
Before giving my reasons for not signing this historic document, I want to say that I have waited many years for Christian leaders to come forth and make such a declaration as this.  I must also say that I admire such boldness and believe no doubt that many are sincere, and do not question that some of the leaders and many signers are true believers in Christ. 
And then I must ask, where is the Declaration from the so called Fundamentalists of America that have been the first to preach sermons and write articles against many of the men who have produced and signed this Declaration?  And then do we dare ask where is the Declaration from the Southern Baptist Convention, the American Baptist Convention, the Baptist Bible Fellowship International, the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, the Southwide Baptist Fellowship and many other Independent Baptist Fellowships that we could mention?  And for that matter where is the Declaration from the American Council of Christian Churches? 
This preacher along with my wife, my son, Pastor Greg A. Dixon, our families and church family have paid the price for religious and civil liberties.  I have personally been arrested five times for standing against state tyranny.  I spent ten days in the filthy Key Road facility in Atlanta in August of 1988 with no AC with a 100 other men, mostly preachers, jammed together for the cause of the unborn.  I spent nearly 48 hours in the hole in the Federal Prison in Chicago when I refused to give up church records to the Court.  I was taken out of the Supreme Court Building in Montgomery, Alabama to jail, with approximately forty others, when they came to haul the Ten Commandments monument away.  I was bodily hauled out of our church sanctuary by federal marshals and saw the buildings bulldozed to the ground because we refused to give up our core belief that Jesus is the Head over His church when our congregation said “No” when they tried to force our church to pay for abortions, homosexuality, evolution, the financing of evil wars and a myriad of other wicked and ungodly enterprises conjured up by the mind of anti-Christ government.  We know of course, in comparison to the suffering and martyrdom of others – and certainly in comparison to our Lord -- what we have done amounts to nothing.
But as much as I would like to sign the Manhattan Declaration that mentions many things that I oppose, I cannot for the following reasons:
The Declaration is but an outgrowth of the The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium (ECT), which stands for Evangelicals and Catholics Together.  According to Christianity Today [May 16, 1994] the 25-page document, originated by Chuck Colson and Catholic social critic Fr. Richard John Neuhaus (a converted Lutheran), that was signed by 40 noted evangelical and Catholic leaders, called for Catholic and evangelical cooperation on social and cultural issues where both traditions share common goals, one example being abortion. 
A meeting to re-clarify the document, hosted by D. James Kennedy, convened at his Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church on January 19, 1995.  These statements blur the doctrine of Salvation by Faith alone to such a degree that even John MacArthur, who was one of the participants, but not a signer of these apostate documents, said that he trusts that the evangelical signers will recant.  One of them who signed was Bill Bright (deceased), and another was Pat Robertson.  To his credit, Kennedy, now deceased, did not sign it. 
In my opinion, MacArthur was being less than candid when he gave as one of the reasons for not signing the Manhattan Declaration being that "the Gospel is barely mentioned" in it.  This is patently false. The Manhattan Declaration's definition of the gospel is most clear.  It is the same as ECT I and II, the very ones that MacArthur refused to sign because he said they blurred the doctrine of Justification by Faith. 
This One World Church effort between “Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholic Christians,” as their media release reads, has five specific goals as follows:
We Affirm Together - Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the first and final affirmation that Christians make about all of reality. He is the One sent by God to be Lord and Savior of all:
We Hope Together - That all people will come to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This hope makes necessary the church's missionary zeal.
We Search Together - Together we search for a fuller and clearer understanding of God's revelation in Christ and his will for his disciples.
We Contend Together - As we are bound together by Christ and his cause, so we are bound together in contending against all that opposes Christ and his cause.
We Witness Together - The question of Christian witness unavoidably returns us to points of serious tension between Evangelicals and Catholics.
Besides the same definition of the gospel, this Declaration springs from the fourth purpose of the ECT Document that says, “We Contend Together.” 
It is one thing in the limited civic and political arena for Christian believers to cooperate with unbelievers for a common cause of mutual interest, but it is never right when it is required to recognize unbelievers as Christian believers in Christ to do so. 
Following are five Biblical reasons why I cannot sign the Manhattan Declaration.  No doubt there are more.
1.   The Manhattan Declaration as the ECT Before it Declares Catholics and Orthodox to Be Christian Believers
M.D. - “We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered,…” “We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right…”  “We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers,…”  "We together, Evangelicals and Catholics, confess our sins against the unity that Christ intends for all his disciples."
With the stroke of a pen, Catholics are recognized as true, Bible-believing Christians by these Evangelicals:
The Leading Signers Understand the Significance of Their Actions
Statement by Harry Jackson

Last Friday I was privileged to stand with Chuck Colson, Jim Daly, Robert George, Archbishop Wuerl, Tony Perkins, Alan Sears, Cardinal Rigali, and over 20 others to represent the first 150 signers of a document called The Manhattan Declaration.

Why the name? The group met a few weeks ago in Manhattan where we read a draft of the document. It was there we concluded that we had to bridge the huge historic chasms separating the major branches of the Christian faith…
The scripture is clear, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”  2 Cor 6:14
Historically Baptists, nonconformists and Protestants have never recognized Roman or Orthodox Catholics as true Christian believers.  In fact, to the contrary.  They have never accepted any branch of Catholicism as being a part of the Christian community and have always believed the Pope to be The or an anti-Christ.
The Ana-Baptists before the Reformation called the Pope the Anti-Christ because the world has never seen anything to compare to the suffering and persecution heaped upon Baptists
by the Catholic hierarchy during the Dark Ages (The Trail of Blood - J.M. Carroll 1858-1931.)
Luther walked the 500 miles from Nuremburg to Rome in 1510. What he saw there caused him to say, “If there is a hell, then Rome is built on it.”  This saying would later take on a new significance when the monk became a reformer, unmasking the pope’s alliance with the Devil. In 1518 Luther came to recognize that God’s grace was for sale in Rome.  Luther was convinced he lived in the last days. In the foreword to his translation of Daniel, he identified the Antichrist of Daniel 11 as the papacy…
John Knox preached that one Mass was more terrible to him than the landing of 10,000 armed invaders.  From his pulpit at St. Giles, the cathedral church of Edinburgh, he thundered against the restoration of the Church of Rome, which the Lords of the Congregation, following his example, had termed the "Synagogue of Satan." (History of the Reformation in Scotland – John Knox)
"An impression is extensively prevalent that the Popery of the present day is something entirely different from the Popery of the dark ages, when amidst the gloom and the superstition of the world's midnight, it reigned Despot over the World. Yet while this change for the better is charitably believed by some lukewarm protestants, who are contented to lay down their weapons and forsake their watch-tower, it is absolutely and unequivocally denied by the most celebrated champions of Rome." (John Dowling - History of Romanism, 1881).

"We hear a great deal about the desirability of church-federation at the present time...We are told that it would be a most excellent thing if the different denominations of Protestants could be united in one great body, and then join hands with the three so-called Catholic churches - Anglican, Greek and Roman.  It is pointed out that such a vast union could dominate the world...But we need to remember that such a union as this would not be the body of Christ at all...Rome alone answers to the description given...It is a lamentable fact that Babylon's principles and practices are rapidly but surely pervading the churches that escaped from Rome at the time of the Reformation." (Harry A. Ironside, "Lectures on the Book of Revelation," 1930)
Pope Benedict Reaffirms Catholic Church Only Path to Heaven
Lorenzago Di Cadore, Italy - “Pope Benedict XVI reasserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches and Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation.” (Victoria Advocate-Victoria, TX - 7/11/07)
The Roman Catholic Church would not allow these Evangelicals to even be a member of their church without renouncing their Protestant faith and receiving Catholic baptism and confession. Who is fooling whom?
2.   The Manhattan Declaration Betrays the Lord Jesus Christ 
The Catholics who signed the Declaration believe that the Pope is Christ’s vicar (literal substitute) on earth, and if they do not, then they are not good Catholics and are imposters, and therefore not good Christians.  The evangelicals who signed it have denied Christ.
"The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ Himself, hidden under the veil of flesh."  (The National Catholic, July, 1895)

Pope Leo XIII, "We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty."

Cardinal Bellarmine, “All names which in the Scriptures are applied to Christ, by virtue of which he is established that he is over the church, all of the same names are applied to the pope.”  (On the Authority of Councils. Volume 2, page 266)
The Lord Jesus said, “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” [Mt 23:9]
This alliance apparently gives Colson no problem because, from what he says, he frequently “attends mass with his Roman Catholic wife.”  (Life Sentence Pg. 39, 93).
The Lord Jesus Christ Also Says
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matt 6:24
“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Matt 10:33
3.  The Manhattan Declaration Betrays the Christian Martyrs 
Fifty million martyrs died during the 1200 years of the dark ages, which meant an average of four million every one hundred years.  The iron hand, dripping with martyr blood, fell upon Paulicians, Arnoldists, Henricians, Petro Brussians, Albigenses, Waldenses and Ana-Baptists.  (J.M. Carroll – The Trail of Blood)
All were baptizers (immersionists).  All were anti-Catholic and believed in the baptism of believers by immersion only.
The Catholic Church Has Never Apologized For this Trail of Blood Nor the Inquisitions that Saw Millions More Die Later
M.D. - "As Evangelicals and Catholics, we dare not by needless and loveless conflict between ourselves give aid and comfort to the enemies of the cause of Christ."
For centuries, Roman Catholicism has been rightly seen as an enemy to the cause of Christ. The heresy of salvation by works, the sins of idolatry, Mariolatry and many other errors, are swept under the rug by this document.
These evangelicals should consider the words that Jehu said to King Jehoshaphat when he teamed up with the wicked Ahab in fighting the enemies of God.   
“And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD. 2 Chr 19:2
4.  The Manhattan Document Distorts the True Gospel of Christ.
M.D. - “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.”
Any Christian who signs this declaration is affirming that the Catholic and Orthodox churches preach the true "Gospel" of Christ.
A careful study of ECT I & II will show that the Manhattan Declaration has adopted the Catholic doctrine of “infused” righteousness from the Council of Trent, rather than “imputed” righteousness from the Holy Scriptures. 
In light of the Biblical view of faith, and the historic contrasts between the views of Roman Catholics and the Reformers, one cannot help but notice departure from the clear principles of the saving grace of Christ to the salvation by works doctrine espoused by the Manhattan Declaration and ECT I and II Documents.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom 6:23
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph 2:8, 9
Paul the Apostle said – “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8
5.  The Manhattan Declaration Erroneously Recognizes Catholics as Defenders of Religious Liberty
M.D. - "...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."
M.D. - "...freedom of conscience and religion are foundational principles of justice..."
M.D.  - "...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."
In my opinion, uniting with Catholics in the defense of religious liberty borders on blasphemy.  The facts will show that the Catholic Church has officially been one of the chief abusers of the freedom of conscience and religious liberty down through the centuries.  We see this not only in the Dark Ages, but also during the Inquisition.  It has also been well documented throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. 
"If Papists conquered Rome, why may they not conquer America?  Is it so utterly impossible that the next generation should witness the supremacy of Romanism that we can afford to fold our arms in ease?  Possessing the balance of power between the two political parties, demanding favorable legislation as the condition of support, and wielding political power in some of our largest cities, Popery is a foe whose giant strength it is folly to underestimate...Under the banner of civil liberty Rome may possibly bind upon us the fetters of spiritual despotism."  Joseph S. Van Dyke ("Popery: The Foe of the Church and of the Republic," Peoples Publishing, 1871):
The Magna Carta has always been known as the Great Charter of English liberties and the foundation of our own Declaration of Independence and Constitutional Republic.  But the ink was barely dry after it was issued at Runnymede in June of 1215 before Pope Innocent III issued a Bull dated August 24, 1215 condemning and annulling Magna Carta.  In part he said, "And so from this rotten source of indifferentism flows that absurd and erroneous opinion, or rather insanity, that liberty of conscience must be claimed and defended for anyone."  (Pope Gregory XVI, serving from 1831 to 1846)
For full documentation of the Catholic Church's campaign against religious liberty - especially in the 20th century - see the following book:
Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church, John W. Robbins, 326 pages, indexed, 1999:
"Ecclesiastical Megalomania explains the conflict between Roman Catholicism and freedom in detail, relying on official Vatican pronouncements to demonstrate that Roman Catholicism is hostile to constitutional government, political and economic freedom, and the private property order.  The "Mother Church" is the mother of feudalism, the corporative state, liberation theology, the welfare state, and fascism."
Pope Calls for Global Economy
Papal Message Seeks “global authority” for economy
Vatican City (Reuters – July 6, 2009) – “Pope Benedict on Tuesday called for a “world political authority” to manage the global economy and for more government regulation of national economies to pull the world out of the current crisis and avoid a repeat.”
And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:  And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. -- Rev 13:11-17 
This warning has not been written with any malice on my part.  It has been written only after much thought and prayer.  Frankly, it has been the most difficult article that I have ever written.  Chuck Colson, Pat Robertson, Richard Land, Richard Mouw, J. I. Packer and the other Evangelical leaders admitted when they signed ECT I and II that there is a chasm between Protestants and Catholics -- and I would say also Baptists -- that can never be breached, among these are:
The sole authority of Scripture (sola scriptura), or Scripture as authoritatively interpreted in the church.
The Lord's Supper as a memorial meal, or as a eucharistic sacrifice.
Remembrance of Mary and the saints, or devotion to Mary and the saints.
Baptism as a testimony to regeneration, or as sacrament of regeneration. 
I trust that if anyone who reads this is thinking of signing the Manhattan Declaration that you will not sign it.  If you have already signed it, please prayerfully consider removing your name from it.
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember Therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.  Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.  He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Rev 3:1-6 
 You can also go to the website of the Unregistered Baptist Fellowship to read this article and pass it along.

3 Comments in Response to

Comment by Greg J. Dixon
Entered on:

Bro. McElroy, I have searched in vain trying to find you on the internet. Your kind words toward me are greatly appreciated. You bring up a very important subject that I would like to discuss with you more in detail in person by phone. Will you be so kind as to contact me at drgregdixon@earthlink.net so that I can set up a time for such a conversation. It was very late last night when I answered you in the last post. I didn't convey totally what was on my heart concerning this matter.

Bro. Greg



Comment by Greg J. Dixon
Entered on:

Bro. McElroy, My answer would be, why would there have ever been a Protestant Reformation in the first place. The great Reformers that caught their fire from the Ana-Baptists and at a great cost broke from the Roman Catholic Church paid a fearful price for those two great truths, Sola-Scruptura and Sola-Fide. Are we to just pitch the whole thing to the four winds today and say lets have just one big One World Church? Besides the "gospel" that the MD calls for is "another gospel" and not the Saving gospel of Christ. 

Amos said long ago,

Amos 3:3 "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"  And Paul said,   2 Cor 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.   Sincerely in Christ,
Dr. Greg Dixon

Comment by McElchap
Entered on:

 Dear Bro. Dixon,

You are one of my champions among Christian clergymen. You have stood strong and tall among those of the Baptist distinction, and paid some heavy prices.

I too, am a Christian of Baptist persuasion, and understand and sympathize with your contentions in your apprehension of the "Manhattan Declaration". I also had some reservations about this joint Protestant/Catholic/Orthodox gesture.

But I signed it. It was to support basic freedom of conscience regarding religion and supporting some basic tenets held by everyone claiming allegiance to Christ, regardless of their denomination's teaching of theology being correct or not. I signed to affirm certain principles of practice in the real world, such as opposing abortion, a pastor exercising freedom of biblical speech in the church pulpit, etc. I think I can stand for these basic principles regardless of who else might also be standing for them.

Yes, many religious institutions are either in error or wanton rebellion regarding the Word of God. But it is those individuals who look to Christ as Lord who find salvation in faith, regardless of their perhaps being misled by false teachers. It is up to us to "sharpen" one another in fellowship, to help the misguided to find the Truth, the Way, and the Life. We should support what is right and good even when we find others not of our persuasion also supporting such things. Institutions all fail, Christ will prevail. It is not good that those claiming Him as Lord be seen making war with others who also claim Him...even if they are in error. Let us agree where we can agree...and admonish on the issues where we find the Bible leading us to preach the Word boldly.

I am wary of the dangers of ecumenical efforts, the Vatican's overtures to bring the Protestant community into unity with the Roman Catholic heresies, but could this Manhattan Declaration be a tool to bring true Christians closer together...and educate those who wish to be? How might you respond, Brother Greg?

David McElroy