No compromise


It didn't take long after yesterday's public announcement of the Manhattan Declaration for the criticism and questions to start rolling in.

Doesn't it compromise you as part of the news media to take a position on some of the very issues you are called on to cover?

Of course. That has always been a challenge for the media. But for generations it's been taken for granted that it was appropriate for newspapers to lead the way in encouraging citizen support for providing food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, etc. The issues to which the Manhattan Declaration speaks are similarly so basic, so fundamental, and so historically agreed upon that only a pedantic and overly purist nitpicker would pursue such an objection.

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Those of us who represent WORLD magazine are called on frequently to sign our names to a variety of causes. Almost all of the time, we say no. There is danger in our getting so closely identified with ideological campaigns that our ability to retain our credibility is jeopardized. Besides, we don't have the time or opportunity at every such occasion to check in with our board of directors. So even in this case, editor in chief Marvin Olasky and I aren't formally representing our organization. On the other hand, some issues are so obvious and so foundational to a biblical sense of human culture that we simply must identify unambiguously with them.

Doesn't it compromise you to stand shoulder to shoulder with people with whom you have serious theological disagreement?

Not unless we pretend that our disagreements no longer exist. The Manhattan Declaration explicitly acknowledges that such disagreements continue. We even disagree to some extent on how we've reached our conclusions on these issues. Some of us have come to this point primarily because of the teaching of the Bible; others rely more heavily on what they call "natural law" or the "light of nature." So long as we don't cover up those important distinctions, it is altogether right for us to lock arms and identify the sense in which we have found we do so passionately and urgently agree.

Doesn't it compromise you to appear on the same platform with some who are outspoken members of the political right and others who are identified with the political left?

To the contrary, the very presence of such people may persuade some onlookers that we do not ultimately mean this as a political statement. The statement includes profound political ramifications, to be sure. But the Manhattan Declaration is not first and foremost a call to join a particular political movement. Readers will have to make those decisions on their own after thinking through the affirmations of the Declaration itself.

Joel Belz
Joel Belz

Joel, WORLD's founder, writes a regular column for the magazine and contributes commentaries for The World and Everything in It. He is also the author of Consider These Things.


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