Manhattan Declaration leader encourages LCMS Lutherans

By Adriane Heins

“It’s important to know that you’re not alone.” That’s Eric Teetsel’s message to Christians and specifically to LCMS Lutherans.

With that statement, Teetsel, executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, encouraged Lutherans in an exclusive July 17 webinar sponsored by the LCMS as part of its “Free to Be Faithful” education and awareness campaign. The Manhattan Declaration is a movement supported by 545,000 Americans that promotes religious liberty, marriage and life issues.

“Each and every person can be an influencer in their own sphere,” Eric Teetsel says during a July 17 “Free to Be Faithful” webinar.

“Each and every person can be an influencer in their own sphere,” Eric Teetsel says during a July 17 “Free to Be Faithful” webinar.

“I know as a relatively young advocate [for marriage, religious liberty and life] … sometimes it can feel lonely, and you’re being pressured on all sides to conform,” Teetsel told viewers. But despite the pressure of the culture, “Each and every person can be an influencer in their own sphere.”

Teetsel is on the front-line discussions of some of the touchiest issues facing Americans — and Christians — today. In his role with the Manhattan Declaration, which he calls a “line in the sand,” Teetsel works to shed light on the fact that “human life and that marriage and that religious liberty and our rights of conscience are the central public policy issues of our time,” noted Tim Goeglein, who moderated the discussion. Goeglein is senior adviser to the president and vice-president of external relations for Focus on the Family.

Some 50 viewers — both pastors and laypeople from Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma and other parts of the country — joined the webinar conversation, asking questions about homosexuality, youth, education and the future.

“Religious liberty is paramount,” Teetsel explained to them. “There’s a real, growing push to eliminate what to-date have been fairly unanimously accepted religious-liberty exemptions from otherwise acceptable laws.”

Recognizing this, he said, makes “inspiring the next generation … incredibly important and extremely difficult.” Still, he believes, Christians are up to the long-term challenge: “We understand ourselves to be salt and light … we can really inspire a sea change in the American culture.”

“We’re talking about real people who are part of our communities, part of our families, part of our friends network, people who matter. Those of us who are compelled by the Gospel should be concerned with their souls,” he said, articulating why campaigns like the Manhattan Declaration and Free to Be Faithful matter.

Teetsel rounded out the discussion by urging LCMS members and pastors to move forward in love, presenting “ourselves as people who are desperately searching for the absolute best thing for one another, and then allow our facts, figures and arguments to buttress that position,” all with the goal of pointing fellow Americans “to the cross.”

Viewers, who seemed largely in agreement with Teetsel’s presentation, praised him for his insight on the difficult issues facing America today.

Paul Hauser of Saginaw, Mich., noted, “Thank you for your time and common-sense information to love others with God’s truth;” while Sue Emmack of Elkhart, Ind., said simply, “Excellent webinar.”

The archived webinar may be viewed here. Information about the next Free to Be Faithful webinar, scheduled for Sept. 11 on the topic of “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense,” will be available soon at that same website.

Adriane Heins is executive editor of The Lutheran Witness.

Posted July 17, 2014

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2 Responses to Manhattan Declaration leader encourages LCMS Lutherans

  1. July 17, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    As a Confessional Lutheran I fail to understand how and why this article about the Manhattan Declaration that contains teaching(s) in opposition to our doctrine is being offered to Confessional Lutherans to sign. I offer this insightful blog post by R.C. Sproul.

    Ligonier Ministries Blog
    The Manhattan Declaration: Why didn’t you sign it, R.C.? by R.C. Sproul

    • Harold July 21, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

      Among Christians, there is often a conflation of human and cultural values. The Manhattan Declaration is a prime example. You have hit the nail on the head that there are doctrinal differences and the one that leaps off the pages is the single-kingdom theologies shared by Catholics and most Protestants. It leaves them open to conflating confusing God’s gifts – those things with which are endowed (life, sustenance, abilities) but not deserved or merited – with individual rights. As Americans, we are taught to hold to self-evident truths (not revealed truths – reasoned ones) that regard the Creator as establishing rights in the individual (inalienable = inseparable) that are a fundamental components that we are entitled to assert – quite the opposite of an undeserved gift. Things like the Manhattan declaration are a desire to war for God, to stand up and be accounted, assert one’s rights and protect the rights of others.

      To be in accord with Lutheran theology, such a document would insist that God has the right to life (yours, mine, the unborn) – we do not. Body and soul, we are not ours with rights in our persons. God is the only one with a right to us. Marriage is God creating a union of two into one, male and female given by God to each other – not based on their individual desire or right to come together. We are his handiwork and so is marriage. We do not worship freely according to conscience but by the call and command of God. That call has never depended on cordiality with other faiths or allowances from the state. The Church is created by God for His purposes, not ours, and we are not in the Body of Christ by the free choice and discernment of conscience. He calls us, forges faith in us, sustains us, and prepares a path for us to follow. There is no act of will in discipleship

      This is simple Scripture as eloquently expressed in the Catechism. So, it also concerns me when people in the LCMS support such efforts as “Free to Be Faithful” – the truth is, we are nothing free from sin and slaves to Christ and no rational rights or laws made by man can affect that. We are not so much “Free to Be Faithful” as we are “Free Because God is Faithful.”


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