I’ve been arguing (not on-line) that the lines of distinction between Christians, and between Christians and the rest of the world are going to be dramatically re-drawn within the next two decades. Modernity, Postmodernity, and Decadence in the West (yes, I mean that geographically) have dealt Christianity a series of troublesome blows. These blows have the Roman Catholic church off-balance and reeling, and have broken to splinters the already fractured Protestant churches. Oprah-Winfrey-spiritualism, church scandals, inventive readings of Scripture, and hot-button issues like homosexuality and female clergy have not just divided Christians from each other, but also made strange bed-fellows of Christians across denominations and traditions.
A couple years ago the Russian bishop Hilarion Alfeyev raised a call among the clergy in Western Europe to unite against the rising tide of Postmodernism. We need to be aware that we have one of the most important things in common; a common enemy.
With this in mind, I think we all need to take The Manhattan Declaration seriously. We’re all very used pointless and vacuous ecumenical statements and joint declarations. The fact of the matter is that the parties that makes such declarations are never really any closer to unity after their declarations than before. The Manhattan Declaration is different, largely because the goal isn’t ecumenical reconciliation. It is survival.
It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see the threatening future that awaits us Christians. Lawsuits about the use of “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and on our money, while disheartening, are in themselves rather innocuous. It is very likely that soon local, state, and federal government will be leveraged against Christians committed to staying faithful to Holy Scriptures and Apostolic teaching.
Metropolitan Jonah and Bishop Basil, two of our most sensible and uncompromising Orthodox hierarchs, have signed the Declaration; reason enough to take it seriously.
The harrowing fact is that society sees traditional Christianity as a tyrant that has done nothing but start wars and stall progress. (For a rebuttal to this, check out DBH’s new book.) Like the villagers in Beauty and the Beast they are incited against something true for reasons that are false. They are not yet at the gates, but they’re reaching for their pitchforks.