This is an article worth reading if for no other reason than the quote from The Manticore, the middle volume of Robertson Davies’ Deptford Trilogy.
This is an article worth reading if for no other reason than the quote from The Manticore, the middle volume of Robertson Davies’ Deptford Trilogy.
Here’s another example of Christians (so-called) trying to find solutions through compromise and compartmentalization. Somehow, it seems better to the United Methodists if they will put Schaefer in a liberal district of the United Methodist Church. So, as long as the people he is serving agree with him it’s ok?
2 Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” 4 Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. 5 Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. 6 From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness— only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil.
See also: Failing the Smell Test . . .
Kirsten Powers, Fox News analyst and newly saved former agnostic/atheist has weighed in on the gay Christian issue (you can read about her conversion here).
Citing Michael Vines’ God and the Gay Christian, and James Brownson’s Bible, Gender, Sexuality, she thinks maybe the church should ask itself if God really intends for the church to reject homosexuality, and thus, gay Christianity.
Don’t get me wrong: I am happy that Ms. Powers has found Jesus, if indeed she has. But before Bible believing, traditional evangelical Christians go too far in their endorsement of her, they should realize that Ms. Powers is not an evangelical. Not if her article is any indication.
Her article shows no wrestling with the issue, not does it consider the traditional evangelical opinion. Instead, she offers up the usual gay Christian talking points saying,
“The Church has done this before on slavery, the solar system and divorce.”
Really? Have you studied this Ms. Powers? There is simply no meaningful parallel to be found in a comparison of the church’s stand on the four issues of slavery, the solar system, divorce, and homosexuality. Perhaps it is your liberal, Episcopalian roots that are guiding you in this case.
Powers simply takes Vines and Brownson at face value with their claims to a “high view” of Scripture. Funny, in the past a high view of Scripture, at least among evangelicals, meant that you believed it meant what it said.
Powers opens her article with a reference to,
“the emergence of conservative Christians who say orthodox believers can support life-long, monogamous gay relationships without undermining their commitment to biblical authority.”
Conservative Christians don’t support gay relationships in any form. If they did they, by definition, would not be conservative.
As I said before, I am glad for Powers’ salvation. But she is unqualified to speak for the church or to speak into this issue. You can read Powers’ article here:
You can also read here on Gay Christian Logic (surely the oxymorons abound in that title)!
Read about other so-called evangelicals that have failed the smell test recently.
Oh brother! There are times when the logic on display in some of the articles and books I read simply can’t be ignored for its eloquent subjectivism. Consider this quote from pastor/theologian Greg Boyd on the gay Christian issue:
The “gay-issue” that many of us are wrestling with these days is usually presented as an either-or issue. Christians must either accept that homosexual activity is a sin that bars people from the kingdom and the church, which is where most evangelical churches stand today. Or they must accept that there’s absolutely nothing sinful about homosexual activity, at least in a covenantal context, and that it is therefore perfectly okay with God, which his where many liberal churches today have gone.
So, then by definition, the “third way” is to accept that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin but to go ahead and endorse and affirm homosexuals because we do not want to hurt their feelings by rejecting their preferences.
Boyd falls into the same error in his article as do many others when he tries to discuss adultery in the same context as homosexuality, including the “all sins are equal” argument. The problem is that no one is advocating that adultery is ok, but people are advocating that homosexuality is ok as long as it is practiced by people who love each other!
The “peace at any cost” theology will always lead to error because world peace and human comfort are not God’s highest priorities. You can build a church based on a watered-down gospel of error but all you get is an errant, watered-down church!
So, would a same-sex baker be forced to make a cake for a Westboro Baptist “God hates fags” afterglow party or a person adamantly opposed to homosexuality? Would a black baker be ordered to make a cake for a KKK rally? Would a Christian baker be forced to make a cake for a porn-producing company? If so, would they have to conform to some sexually graphic request for the cake’s decoration? Would an American baker be forced to provide a cake for a radical Islamic rally against America? Would an Islamic baker be forced to provide a cake celebrating the American Bible Society? Would an Islamic baker be forced to provide a cake depicting a pig for a Messianic Jew who is celebrating his freedom to eat pork?
The answer is “no” and “yes.” “No” if we are being rational, understanding, fair and sane in our decision making. “Yes” if the person wanting the cake in any one of these scenarios is gay!
I’ll admit that I have never heard of Jennifer Knapp until today. Apparently she was a fairly successful Christian artist who took a seven year hiatus, recently returning with a secular album. Oh, and she’s gay.
You can read the Christianity Today interview with Knapp for yourself. I read it. She has the proper gay Christian talking points in her arsenal. When asked about her thoughts concerning what Scripture says on the topic of homosexuality, she answered:
Knapp, who admits that she is “not capable of getting into the theological argument” concerning homosexuals being allowed in the church, refers to “clobber verse” and Levitical law about shellfish and clothing made of multiple fabrics. She’s able to refute the church’s interpretation of Levitical law. She is also able to imply hypocrisy on the part of Christians who do not affirm gays. But not capable of a theological discussion on the topic!
To trivialize the dire importance of the church’s stance on homosexuality by references to shellfish and multiple fabrics betrays less than a full grasp of the situation and confirms that indeed Knapp is not capable of leading the theological conversation. And yet, she is surely making a theological, doctrinal statement.
The Comprehension Gulf is the argument that God, if He exists, is infinite, and man, being finite, cannot possibly recognize or know Him. 1
This argument is easily dismissed but let’s give the atheists and agnostics a chance to explain.
The atheist Carl Van Doren (1885-1950) wrote:
There is no trustworthy evidence as to a god’s absolute existence. . . . Nor does the thing called revelation, as I see it, carry the proof further. . . . If belief in a god has to proceed from the assumption that he exists, belief in revelation has first to proceed from the assumption that a god exists and then to go further to the assumption that he communicates his will to certain men. But both are mere assumptions. Neither is, in the present state of knowledge, at all capable of proof. Suppose a god did exist, and suppose he did communicate his will to any of his creatures. What man among them could comprehend that language? What man could take that dictation? 2
Atheist Geoffrey Berg writes:
I suppose some people might like to counter this objection by insisting that it is an essential characteristic of a monotheistic God that he can be known by us and can communicate with us. However I think, that given it is impossible for the mortal to be sure of the immortal and for the finite to be sure of the infinite, that would be asking for the impossible. Yet it is generally not supposed to be one of God’s characteristics that he accomplishes what is logically impossible. 3
Both of these writers are willing to suspend their disbelief for a little while and imagine that if God existed He would be infinite or at least be as God should be in order to qualify as God. If He existed, then He would do so as the God He would have to be in order to be God. He would be “that than which no greater thing can be thought (Anselm).”4 Or as William of Ockham put it, “that than which nothing is more noble and more perfect.”5 But, according to the Comprehension Gulf argument, man, because he is finite, would never be able to discover, recognize, or know this infinite God.
Doren and Berg prove that they are capable of imagining what God would be like if He existed. But for some reason they have trouble going one step further in their imaginations, allowing for this infinite God to be so perfect and knowledgeable that He is capable of devising a way to speak to and communicate with finite man. The question becomes, “Could an infinite, all powerful, all knowing God find a way to reveal Himself to humanity if He wanted to?” If you say “No!” then you have not imagined God big enough. In fact, if I can imagine it, He is greater still! So, if one can imagine God big enough, he should also be able to imagine a God who could cross the gulf and communicate effectively to His creation.
Let’s go a little further. If an infinite God did span the gulf and communicate to His creation, how might He do that? Through His audible voice? By making an appearance? Perhaps He would send an emissary. Maybe He would come in a disguise so as not to scare us off before we could understand the revelation. Perhaps once He established communication with someone He would ask that person to share what was revealed with others by speaking to them or even writing it down. Hmm…imagine that?!
Berg makes a curious statement (seen above) when he writes: “Yet it is generally not supposed to be one of God’s characteristics that he accomplishes what is logically impossible.”6 Of course such a characterization of God is amazingly opposite to the truth. Doing the impossible is what God specializes in! Why? Because He is God! Because He is the only One who can and because it is one of His ways of bridging the gap between finite mankind and Himself. The Apostle Paul said it well when he described God as “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17).”
When she was just a little girl (4 or 5), my daughter Katie would imagine that she was the proprietor of a candy store. Of course, then, I would be one of her customers. I remember the first time we played that game. I ordered a certain candy and she said, “Sorry, we don’t have that kind of candy.” “Hold on a minute, ” I would say, “This is an imaginary candy store, why can’t you imagine the kind of candy I want?” She wouldn’t budge! She simply refused to imagine the kind of candy I wanted!
If one wants to disqualify the idea of the existence of God through various other arguments, OK. We can talk about those ideas as well. But one should not make the mistake of disqualifying God simply because his or her imagination is not big enough. Paul knew this:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV).
1 Geoffrey Berg, The Six Ways Of Atheism, (Self-published: 2009), 50.
2 Carl Van Doren, “Why I Am an Unbeliever,” published in, The Portable Atheist, Christopher Hitchens (Da Capo Press, 2007), 139-140.
3 Berg, 56.
4 Alister McGrath, ed., The Christian Theology Reader, Third Edition (Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2007), 12.
5 Ibid., 23.
6 Berg, The Six Ways of Atheism, 56.
By Scott Fowler
It seems to me that President Obama played a key role in moving gay rights to its Juggernaut status when, on January 21, 2013, in his second inaugural address, he said the following,
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall….Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law— for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.1
With those sentiments, he officially elevated gay rights (Stonewall)2 to the level of a civil right, on par with women’s suffrage (Seneca Falls) and the fight for racial equality (Selma). From that time, homosexuality has been “a massive inexorable force, crushing everything in its path,”3 namely the institution of marriage and the authority of the Bible.
In February of that same year, 278 companies filed an amicus brief in support of the woman whose challenge of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, was to be considered by the Supreme Court later that year.4 In March, Bill Clinton expressed his regret over having signed the bill into law.5 Obama had already expressed his “evolution” on the subject in a 2012 ABC interview with Robin Roberts, indicating he no longer supported DOMA and that he was influenced by his conversations with friends and staff who were in “incredibly committed, monogamous relationships—same-sex relationships—who are raising kids together.” 6 A steady stream of public figures also stepped forward to declare their “love for love” and homosexuality.7 But perhaps Nicole Wallace (presumably a conservative operative who worked for Bush and advised the McCain/Palin campaign, but who also came out in favor of same-sex marriage in February 2013), captured the essence of the moment best when she said:
“If you are running for office and trying to court the vote of anyone under forty, you oppose marriage equality at your political peril.”8
On June 26, the Supreme Court struck down DOMA, declaring it unconstitutional, paving the way for the Federal Government to acknowledge same-sex marriages.
The April 8, 2013 issue of Time Magazine recorded that as of that date nine states and the District of Columbia had legalized same-sex marriage.9 At present that number has risen to seventeen states with seven more in the hopper, ready to fall upon appeals.10 Chronicling the surprising and rapid rise of support for same-sex marriage, David Von Drehle opined,
With stunning speed, a concept dismissed even by most gay-rights leaders just 20 years ago is now embraced by half or more of all Americans. . . . Exit polls in November showed that 83% of voters believe that same-sex marriage will be legal nationwide in the next five to 10 years. . . . Like a dam that springs a little leak that turns into a trickle and then bursts into a flood, the wall of public opinion is crumbling.11
The Inaugural itself was marked by a rejection of a well-known minister when the invitation to Lou Giglio was rescinded because of a twenty year old sermon he preached against homosexuality.12 The Inaugural Committee wanted someone inclusive, accepting of all Americans, and celebrating diversity. 13 In a letter to his church (which no longer seems to be available except through various articles that reported the incident), Giglio said,
“Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda a focal point of the inauguration. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”14
And just like, Giglio was out, Luis Leon, an inclusive Episcopalian was in, and those who trumpet inclusion had excluded a potentially diverse and dissenting voice.
In the ten months since SCOTUS struck down DOMA, what began as the fight for same-sex marriage has evolved into a full-scale discussion in the evangelical church about gay Christianity, an oxymoron to be sure. But not everybody thinks so.
Those who have found it meaningful to be identified as evangelicals are being divided by the issue of homosexuality. The discussion began to round the corner between the subject of same-sex marriage and that of gay Christianity when World Vision decided and then un-decided to hire people involved in same-sex marriages. Since then, there has been daily evidence that the Juggernaut is dividing evangelicals (see Failing the Smell Test).
While many on both sides still couch the debate in terms of same-sex marriage, it is actually a question about the Bible’s authority and its ability to speak to contemporary cultural challenges. It is about gay Christianity. Dr. Albert Mohler captured the urgency of this historical crossroads when he wrote,
Evangelical Christians in the United States now face an inevitable moment of decision. While Christians in other movements and in other nations face similar questions, the question of homosexuality now presents evangelicals in the United States with a decision that cannot be avoided. Within a very short time, we will know where everyone stands on this question. There will be no place to hide, and there will be no way to remain silent. To be silent will answer the question. 15
Mohler is right. He wrote those words in response to a book by Matthew Vines entitled, God and the Gay Christian. In it, Vines concludes that
“It isn’t gay Christians who are sinning against God by entering into monogamous, loving relationships. It is the church that is sinning against them by rejecting their intimate relationships.”16
Ah! The familiar sound of the Juggernaut as it tramples over nature, history, Scripture, and the Church!
Dr. Scott Fowler is the founder of the Christ and Culture Initiative.
2 Stonewall is a Greenwich Village gay bar in Manhattan where it is said “gay pride” began.
3 The definition of Juggernaut.
7 http://gokicker.com/2013/03/26/same-sex-marriage-where-things-stand/#!GJ80e. See also David Von Drehle, “How Gay Marriage Won: The Gay and Lesbian Community Has Gone from Stonewall to the Altar in Two Generations,” Time Magazine, April 8, 2013, 18, 22.
8 Ibid., Tweeted by Andrea Mitchell.
9 Von Drehle, “How Gay Marriage Won: The Gay And Lesbian Community Has Gone From Stonewall To The Altar In Two Generations,” Time Magazine, April 8, 2013, 16.
10 http://gaymarriage.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004857 see also http://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/church-of-christ-sues-in-pursuit-of-same-sex-marriage.html. North Carolina becomes the first state where a pro same-sex church sues the government because it is denying them their religious rights to marry same-sex couples!
11 Von Drehle, How Gay Marriage Won,” 18.
15 R. Albert Mohler, God and the Gay Christian, (Louisville, SBTS Press, 2014).
16 Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same Sex Relationships, (New York: Convergent Books, 2014), 162.
This little note is for all of those who get tired of hearing about the whole gay Christian, same-sex marriage issue. If you are one of those who is asking, “Why do we have to talk about this all the time?” let me ask you a question: If you walked out of your house on your way to dinner and you looked over and saw your next door neighbor’s house engulfed in flames, what would you do? Would you continue on to dinner? Would you call the fire department and then continue on to dinner, irritated at the interruption? Or would you call the fire department and immediately move into crisis management mode?
Obviously a four-alarm fire at the house next door is a threat to the family who lives in that house, but it is also a threat to your house and your family. Right now, the evangelical church is being threatened not by a four-alarm fire at the house next door, but a four-alarm fire in the living room! The fire is in our house! The legalization of same-sex marriage in America has proven to be a juggernaut that has immersed evangelicalism in a doctrinal, theological, social debate of historical proportions. Daily the lines of division are being clarified. The line of demarcation threatens to run straight through our jobs, our churches, and our families. It isn’t adultery, or lying, or thievery, or tax evasion, or pornography, or gambling that is dividing evangelicalism! It’s the debate over whether or not one can live righteously as a Christian and affirm and embrace a homosexual lifestyle! The question is, “Can you be a Christian and be gay?” Answer that and the other questions will solve themselves.
Every day it seems there is another big name evangelical player who does not understand what is at stake in the present debate going on within the church concerning homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and gay Christianity! Now, Dan Haseltine, the front man for Jars of Clay has tweeted that he just can’t find any reason not to allow gay marriage. He simply cannot see any downside to it (See Michael Brown’s article “The Shattering of Jars of Clay” and the Twitter feed for yourself!)!
Our present Christian culture is in a theological emergency state! Though division in the evangelical church over homosexuality has been coming for a very long time, the World Vision flap greatly accelerated the pace. Now, we are hearing almost daily about supposed evangelical Christian leaders who themselves are “coming out” in favor of homosexuality. Foolishly, some still seem to think that this is a discussion about marriage. It is not! It is a discussion about whether or not you can live righteously and affirm or remain in a homosexual lifestyle (see “It’s not about same-sex marriage! It’s about gay Christianity!”)
So many are fond of turning up their noses at theological discussions but today we are reaping the results of not caring about the theology! It matters what we believe about God! It matters what we believe about the Word of God! Haseltine Tweeted:
“I don’t particularly care about Scriptures stance on what is ‘wrong.’ I care more about how it says we should treat people.”
This kind of logic is tragically shallow, puffed up as it is with its love for mankind over its love for the Word of God. It sounds like Romans 1:25
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Haseltine also Tweeted:
Wow this escalated really quickly! 🙂 I am simply asking questions. Don’t quite know how I’ve offended so many. . . . Fascinated by the comments saying I have abandoned Christ and faith. Get off your “jump to conclusions” mat. 🙂
Well, let’s see . . . for years we in the church have trusted our children to the ministry of Jars of Clay only to discover that the group’s front man cannot understand the dangers of endorsing homosexuality and really does not care what scripture says about right or wrong! Believe me, Dan, the Christian support you have gotten over the years was almost entirely from people who assumed you could navigate through this differently than you did on Twitter!
Here’s my advice as a pastor: Don’t take all of this too harshly, just receive it as correction. Get with a genuine pastor (one who believes the Bible) and allow him to walk you through the issues at stake. Then, Tweet your insights and apologies. Lesson learned.