But Are We Christians? by S. M. Hutchens

But Are We Christians?

Ecumenical Bedfellows of the Manhattan Declaration

According to the website of the British organization Ekklesia, which calls itself “the religion and society think-tank at the cutting edge of culture, spirituality, and politics,” St. Matthew’s in the City, an Anglican church in Auckland, commissioned a billboard depicting a glum-looking Joseph in bed with a disappointed Mary, over the legend, “Poor Joseph. God is a hard act to follow.” The agency that designed it said it was supposed “to challenge stereo-types about the way that Jesus was conceived, and get people talking about the Christmas story.” The church’s priest, clearly pleased with this clever bit of prig-baiting, identified the defecation as an effect of “progressive Christianity . . . distinctive in that not only does it articulate a clear view, [but it] is also interested in engaging those who differ.”

I was alerted to that little bijou while I was pondering the remarks of Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox who would not sign the Manhattan Declaration because it presumes co-belligerency based on a common profession of the gospel. The protesting writers did not believe members of communions other than their own could be considered Christian, properly speaking, so cooperation based on fellowship in the gospel was impossible. While agreeing with their principles, I question their judgment of fact, finding occasion to remember what certain of their own authorities, all themselves downwind of “progressive Christianity,” have said about the ovinity of other folds’ sheep.

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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.

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