Posted on Friday, June 29, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

Thabiti Anyabwile has stirred up a bit of controversy with an op ed published by the Washington Post. In it he makes some rather serious statements concerning fellow evangelicals who differ with him on certain political issues.

 

In the interest of full disclosure, in the 2016 presidential election I voted third party for the first time in my life. I do not like Mr. Trump. I find his boasting, his personal life, and his Twitter wars to be highly troubling. I am also exceedingly thankful that Hillary Clinton is not the President of the United States. I am also thankful that Justice Kennedy is retiring during the term of the President who selected Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Scalia.

 

Dr. Robert Gagnon has written a clear and thorough reply to Pastor Anyabwile which I believe deserves greater exposure. Gagnon is a graduate of Harvard and Princeton Universities. He taught New Testament for years at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary where he stood courageously for the biblical standards for marriage and human sexuality. It is fair to say that Dr. Gagnon has paid a price for holding to these convictions. He is also the author of THE definitive study of homosexuality in the Bible - The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics

 

Dr. Gagnon writes:

 

"

A Faustian Bargain Indeed
 

What a delusional and ill-informed op-ed piece this is by an Evangelical who claims to care a lot for the life of the unborn and for the male-female foundation of marriage ordained by God and self-evident in the material structures of nature. Not shy about criticizing fellow Evangelicals, he accuses those of us who voted for Trump to avoid the cataclysm of a Clinton presidency of being in league with the Devil (!), having “made a Faustian bargain for the mere price of a Supreme Court nominee," a bargain in which “the Devil gets the better end of that deal!” This injudicious language deserves the reprimand of every fair-minded Christian, not just Evangelical.
 

Thabiti Anyabwile "(MS, North Carolina State University) is a pastor at Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC, and a Council member of The Gospel Coalition" (TGC). He even misses that this is not just "a Supreme Court nominee" but a chance to finally get a solid majority of SCOTUS justices who won't legislate from the bench left-wing positions on abortion and "LGBTQ" coercion of religious consciences (Kennedy was typically a swing vote for the Left on abortion and all matters "gay") This is arguably the single most important judicial pick in more than a century. Moreover, Rev. Anyabwile ignores the fact that this is Trump's second appointment of a SCOTUS judge (Gorsuch was a solid pick) and that Trump might get one or two more before his first term ends, and certainly 1-3 more if he gets reelected, thereby putting in place a potentially solid majority for a generation. In addition to this, Trump has appointed 41 other federal judges and has taken a number of presidential actions of his own against abortion, transgenderism, and "gay" indoctrination, and for religious liberty and free speech, as well as other issues congenial to most Evangelicals. So Rev. Anyabwile completely understates what is at stake.
 

It is bad enough that Rev. Anyabwile dismisses not as inconsequential but as relatively so the damage that can be done on the abortion front (i.e., relative to the issues that he cites), not only by keeping Roe intact and unchallenged but also by expanding the powers of abortionists into sectors of speech, mandatory indoctrination, and compulsory funding.
 

Worse still is that he completely ignores the even greater destruction of freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion through “LGBTQ” coercion. The great “sea change” issue in the country is the requirement that all bow down to the idol of homosexuality and transgenderism. And what does that idolatry entail? Oh, it entails a great many things that apparently has escaped Rev. Anyabwile's attention.
 

That agenda entails that children be coercively indoctrinated into the belief that anyone who does not support that agenda is a bigot akin to the most virulent racist; that children be confused as to their own sexuality with the increased risk of harm that attends “LGBTQ” identification; that colleges and universities become places for punishing free discourse about the subject on the claim that anything other makes pro-“LGBTQ” fanatics “unsafe”; and that schools lose their accreditation if they do not foster such ungodliness.
 

And that's not all, not by a long stretch. It also entails that people lose their employment if on social media (let alone in the workplace) they speak critically of “gay marriage” or fail to use the “preferred pronoun” and name of a “transgender” person who denies his or her biological sex; that males who have deluded themselves and others into thinking that they are females, but many of whom remain sexually attracted to women, be allowed complete access to the private spaces of women (restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, showers, women's shelters) and to female sporting events (regardless of the mismatch) and that anyone who attempts to stop them from doing so be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law as a "civil rights" violation; and that the workplace, like schools, must be turned into places of heavy-handed indoctrination (brainwashing) into the ideology of homosexualism and transgenderism, instituting affirmative-action policies for immorality or otherwise be denied contracts or grants from the federal government.
 

And still we are not done. It entails that people with businesses at all connected with weddings (photographers, bakers, caterers, florists) and even some that are not (like T-shirt designers) be forced to use their artistic talents and write messages that express approval for intrinsically immoral “gay" agenda or else be fined tens of thousands of dollars (or more) and lose their businesses and even life savings; that businesses have to accommodate male employees who want to come to work dressed up as women, with a female hair-style and make-up; that bed-and-breakfast places in a private residence must accept persons having "gay" sex under their roof irrespective of personal religious beliefs; and that churches be forced to let their facilities be used for "gay weddings" or any "gay" or "transgender" celebration if they allow their facilities to be rented by anyone else.
 

Is Rev. Anyabwile even aware of the bill about to be passed in California that would make it a violation of the law to talk in an approving manner about changing not just one's orientation but one's behavior from "gay" to straight or from "transgender" to conformity to one's biological sex, so long as there is an exchange of funds, possibly including even the sale of books? And that this violation is not limited to professional therapists but includes pastors and other Christian leaders? Is Rev. Anyabwile this uninformed about the dangers Christians and other people of faith face?
 

I make no pretense to having created an exhaustive list of all the ways in which the "LGBTQ" coercion can affect our lives and the lives of our children, from cradle to grave. The possibilities are limited only by our imaginations. You can rest assured that "LGBTQ" zealots have unbounded imaginations for ways in which they can compel us all to serve their interests and ideology, against our religion and against our conscience. Their primary instruments for enslaving us are the executive and judicial branches of government. At the federal level it is the President who has the greatest influence on the shape of the judicial branch.
 

On what basis does Rev. Anyabwile deny these paramount concerns? For sea-change issues elsewhere? No, but only because he is upset with Trump’s travel ban for select (not all) Muslim countries that don’t properly vet for potential terrorists. Now, one can agree or disagree with whether Trump should exercise his power in this way. But the majority of justices, including Kennedy, were quite right that Trump was within his power as President to take such action and, moreover, that the ban was not strictly an attack on Muslim religion insofar as the ban took in only a small percentage of Muslims around the world as well as some countries that were not Muslim. That Muslim countries were hit hardest by the ban is hardly surprising in view of the fact that nearly all of the international terrorism is inspired by Muslim fanatics.
 

Rev. Anyabwile is also upset by Trump’s attitude toward “Dreamers,” seemingly unaware that there are about 150 million people around the world (per a recent Gallup poll) that want to become US citizens. The US simply can't accommodate everyone who wants to be here, which means that it must rigorously safeguard its borders. The Bible provides no support for the view that countries should do little or nothing to protect their borders against illegal immigration. Like many, Rev. Anyabwile misappropriates Jesus’ parable about the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46, which is really more of a missionary text than a social justice text. Compare the parallels with the Mission Discourse in Matthew 10 (esp. vv. 13-15, 40) and the earlier part of the Eschatological Discourse of which the sheep-and-the-goats text is part (esp. 24:9-14). Jesus is referring to a judgment on the nations for how well or badly they treat itinerant Christian missionaries that proclaim the gospel in their midst.
 

This isn’t just my understanding. Among those over the centuries who viewed "the least of these" as Christians or Christian missionaries are Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli; among scholars of Matthew in the last half century, Ulrich Luz, Donald Hagner, Graham Stanton, Robert Gundry, R. T. France, and David Garland. Jesus' advocacy for inviting "strangers" (xenoi) into one's home in Matt 25:35, 38, 43 provides absolutely no support for illegal immigration. As an itinerant messenger of God in Galilee and Judea (and occasionally Samaria) Jesus himself was a "stranger" everywhere he went outside of Nazareth but not an illegal alien. Paul traveled throughout the Roman Empire, himself a "stranger" but not an illegal alien.
 

The Bible does indeed encourage Christians to obey the laws of governing authorities (Rom 13:1-7). Neither this text nor the texts about resident aliens (the ger) in the OT (referring to non-Israelites who have permission to be in the land) sanctions illegal immigration. There are very limited grounds given in Scripture for violating a country’s laws. Cheating a country’s relatively generous immigration laws is not among them. However one feels about the travel ban or the so-called “Dreamers,” this is manifestly not a “sea change” issue. The US already has a generous immigration policy, providing a pathway for citizenship for 1.1 million people each year. There are immigration opportunities for legitimate claims to asylum (which do not include wanting a higher standard of living because everyone in the world wants that). Everyone else needs to get in line rather than cut in line. It’s not as if legal immigration is going to be cancelled anytime soon.
 

Other than immigration issues, which hardly rival the moral weight or significance of abortion and the coercive “LGBTQ” assault on marriage, Rev. Anyabwile can come up with only the “Russian collusion” claim (which appears to many observers to amount to very little) and Anyabwile’s concern for the Trump administration’s rigorous drug enforcement policy, because he feels that this accelerates the imprisonment of “black and brown” drug offenders. Yet the offenders are doing their greatest damage in African-American and poor-white communities. Again, one can argue for greater or lesser sentences for criminal offenses but this is hardly a “sea change” issue affecting the basic human rights of law-abiding citizens. The Trump administration hasn't changed any drug laws; it is just enforcing the laws on the books. And here's the real kicker: According to a WashPost article from Jan. 5 of this year, "The number of people in federal prisons is falling, even under Trump."
 

Is Rev. Anyabwile blind to the fact that he is doing the bidding of the Washington Post, the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party whose main interests lie in the promotion of the coercive “LGBTQ” and abortion agendas and in assaulting with every state mechanism at their disposal Evangelical “bigots” who don’t treat homosexual orientation and transgenderism as the moral equivalent of racial diversity? He is allowing himself to become a pawn of an agenda intensely hostile to orthodox Christian faith. And yet groups like the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptists and The Gospel Coalition regularly give him a platform? It seems that the WashPost keeps going to the "well" of the ERLC (Russell Moore, "If Donald Trump has done anything, he has snuffed out the Religious Right," Oct. 9, 2016) and the Gospel Coalition (Collin Hansen, "This is the last spastic breath from the Religious Right before its overdue death," Oct. 8, 2016) to depress Evangelical support for the Republican candidate so that the radical anti-Evangelical left-wing Democratic candidate for President can win.
 

If I were an Evangelical with Rev. Anyabwile's political views, I wouldn't be accusing other Christians of being in league with the Devil because they preferred Trump to the Clinton cataclysm. The argument is much stronger that Rev. Anyabwile's preference for Clinton (he wrote an article espousing this back in 2016, which was published on the Gospel Coalition website) and similarly minded, hard-left Democrats (he preferred the socialist Bernie Sanders!) is both unwise and immoral. There's not much to commend supporting Democratic candidates hostile to Evangelical Christians (“deplorables” in Clinton’s terms), hostile to any protections for the life of the unborn, hostile to a biological basis for gender and to the notion of divinely ordained sexual complementarity between “male and female,” hostile to a judicial philosophy that respects the process of amending the Constitution and disallows treating that founding document as so many tea leaves into which left-wing ideology can be regularly imputed by unelected jurists, and hostile to every form of free speech and free exercise of religion that calls into question left-wing tyranny...
 

"
 

* Read the remainder of Dr. Gagnon's post on his FACEBOOK PAGE.

 

Posted on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

It remains to be seen whether the unity displayed at this year's General Assembly represents an ecouraging trend or something fleeting. There are times when I wonder whether our differences are largely pragmatic or whether they represent something more fundamental. If our differences are more pragmatic then a greater unity is quite possible. However, if our differences are deep and fundamental in nature then such unity may well be beyond our reach. I am praying for the former.
 

I chose to not attend General Assembly this year since my beloved congregation graciously gave me a sabbatical. But I did watch rather closely through some of the means made available to the various debates and votes.
 

For the most part I was left encouraged by the reports coming from GA. Of particular interest were the votes on overtures 13 and 24. I am thankful that a version of overture 24 was approved overwhelmingly by the assembly and that overture 13 was not sustained. These are good signs. In my previous post some of the details concerning the approval of overture 24 were either incomplete or not accurate. So, let me offer an insider’s view of the process…
 

These Are My Recollections from inside the committee for the curious, A more general account of the whole process I am sharing elsewhere, but this is for the procedural-minded (I hope this can help inform on questions some have asked):
 

After the Assembly sent the Overtures Committee back, the debate was started by a motion that the Minority Report become the majority recommendation of the committee. (Later RE Howie Donohoe would insist we also must "vote to reconsider," though some of us believed the action of the assembly did this, we voted on that to make sure we were doing everything according to procedure.) Debate ensued with a few people formerly in opposition voicing support to Overture 24 if it was cut down to 59-1, 59-2, and 59-3. But a few men voiced continued opposition due to the content of 59-1 and 59-2. One elder objected that the language of 59-1 was perhaps not sufficient for civil disobedience. Another elder objected to 59-2 for its assumption that Reformed ministers would necessarily be performing marriages (as in our tradition some have said the church should not perform weddings, the civil government only should). It seemed like they would be in the minority to vote against it, but still a significant minority.
 

At this juncture, TE James Kessler introduced a substitute limiting the constitutional status just to 59-3, and retaining all the old language of the rest of the Chapter. This was attractive to many who had wanted to retain the old language because it was historic and had been useful to them. RE Melton L. Duncan and TE Guy Waters spoke in favor of it.
 

A few members, including myself, still had opposition. I voiced opposition to making just 59-3 constitutional because 59-1 as binding had use for religious liberty and civil disobedience reasons. 59-2 was also useful as binding due to the instructions on not marrying those unequally yoked. And finally, those instructions in the BCO would be important even if these are in the Westminster Confession of Faith, because the BCO gives us our PRACTICE, and 59-3 at the time only concerns belief (59-3 was merely a restatement of the WCF).
 

A final motion was made to amend 59-3 by TE Daniel Schrock, adding the line about restricting the practice of ministers who marry. (he deftly worded it as “minister who solemnize marriage” so as to allow that we may have ministers who refuse to perform weddings)
 

A short time of discussion followed, but soon TE David Hall called all questions before the house. We voted. The amendment about the practice of ministers passed. Then the vote to make the substitute the main motion passed. (at this point I voted yes, with the addition of the sentence of practice and having been convinced by the speech of TE Sam DeSocio that this was not only what could pass on the floor, but also presbyteries, and could be our overwhelming recommendation to the Assembly). The Substitute of the now revised 59-3 became the main motion and the vote was 104-1-1. One other note: without revealing identities, I knew the man voting against it, and he formerly supported the Minority Report, so I assume voted against the final because he did not believe 59-3 was enough.
 

To close the session, it was suggested and agreed we should sing the doxology. Another note, there exists a man on Overtures with perfect harmony to the doxology that is indeed goose-bump producing. This is not exhaustive, but as well as I can remember.

 

The overwhelming vote on overture 24 is something for which we should be encouraged. Now, why so many of the commissioners chose not to vote I cannot say. But that is disconcerting. Commissioners to GA need to be present for votes. Period. But I rejoice that we can say as a denomination that there is no move to create a path toward the solemnization of homosexual marriage.
 

This is worth giving thanks for. And I thank everyone of the brothers who labored in Overtures to give us something that is truly helpful and unifying.
 

I would encourage you to read Rick Phillips’ reflections on this year’s General Assembly.

 

Posted on Friday, June 15, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America has concluded and there is good news to report.

 

In my last post I lamented the decision of the Overtures Committee of the General Assembly to answer in the negative the overtures presented to make constitutionally binding the solemnization of marriage (Book of Church Order, 59).

 

You can read my previous post if you'd like to know why this effort to make BCO 59 binding was so important.

 

Some of the brothers on the Overtures Committee drafted a minority report which was then presented on the floor of the Assembly.

 

After discussion it was decided that the minority report should be recommitted to the Overtures Committee for further discussion. What appears to have happened is that after some careful crafting the minority report gained acceptance from a larger number on the committee. Long story short - after working out the details and without in any way compromising on the issue, the minority report became the majority report and was overwhelming approved by the Assembly.

 

Praise the Lord for his kindness to us. Also, thanks to those men who labored long to bring about a solution that honors the Lord, upholds or public witness, and helps guard our ministers and churches.

Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

Bad news from PCA General Assembly.

 

The overtures seeking to make Book of Church Order 59 (the solemnization of marriage) constitutional were all defeated by the Overtures Committee.
 

It is a sad, sad day for the PCA.
 

There will be a minority report from the OC which will give the assembly the opportunity to answer the Overtures Committee in the negative which means the overture passes. Given the way PCA progressives have rallied against these overtures it may well be that the minority report will fail on the assembly floor. However, I am hoping and praying for a good outcome.
 

The two rationales I have seen given by our progressives for opposing the overtures are:
1) It’s redundant. The Westminster Confession of Faith already states that marriage is between a man and a woman. We don't need to make BCO 59 constitutional.

2) Making BCO 59 constitutionally binding will be like hanging a “No sinners welcome sign” on the front doors of our churches. I have seen this rationale expressed by a pastor affiliated with the National Partnership (the political organization of PCA progressives).
 

Two problems with those rationales:

 

First of all – WCF only addresses the belief that marriage is between a man and woman. The BCO speaks to performing (solemnizing) weddings. Right now that part of BCO has no binding constitutional authority. That means, among other things that we are legally vulnerable. It is also naive. There are presbyterian and reformed denominations which claim to hold to the Westminster Standards but now bless homosexual unions.
 

Secondly, since some PCA pastors are stating that making BCO 59 is unkind to sinners then do they feel the same way about what WCF states about marriage between a man and woman?
 

The rationale for making BCO 59 constitutional is at least fourfold:
1) To honor God by upholding the truth.
2) To give public witness to God’s truth at a moment when that truth is under attack.
3) To give further clarity to our churches regarding this much maligned truth.
4) To protect our churches and clergy from legal attacks. Since the PCA practices good faith subscription to the Westminster Standards and allows its pastors to take exceptions (but NOT to the BCO) we are vulnerable to a legal attack. Any smart attorney can argue that since the PCA allows its minsters to take exceptions to the Westminster Standards and since the Book of Church Order on the subject is non-binding, any refusal to perform and/or host homosexual weddings is arbitrary and discriminatory.

 

Posted on Thursday, June 07, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

There is a great deal of discussion going on among Christians these days about the moral status of homosexuality and homosexual desires.
 

In my own denomination, the PCA, the latest dustup is swirling around the Revoice conference being held in St. Louis at Memorial Presbyterian Church (PCA).
 

The stated purpose of Revoice is: “Supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can experience the life-giving character of the historic Christian tradition.”
 

Not surprisingly, this is causing a great deal of division and confusion within the PCA. The confusion is quite understandable. People inside and outside the PCA are wondering if the historically conservative denomination is now embracing homosexuality. However, the organizers and speakers of Revoice profess fidelity to the biblical position on sexual intimacy – that sexual intimacy is a gift of God legitimately experienced in marriage between a man and woman.
 

So, to those wondering if the PCA is in the process of embracing homosexuality let me say that to my knowledge there are no pastors within our denomination promoting the acceptance of homosexual acts or homosexual marriage. May the Lord be merciful in granting us perseverance and courage to remain faithful.
 

Rather, the debate in the PCA is over the moral status of homosexual desires. The debate extends to the legitimacy of sexual orientation as a category and whether homosexuality is a fixed albeit broken marker of human identity. There are some in the PCA who are comfortable with using terms like Gay Christian to describe Christians who have homosexual desires but choose in obedience to Scripture to remain celibate. However, there are others who believe it is vital that terms like Gay Christian or Queer Christian must not be used in the PCA; that we must not adopt the world’s understanding of sexual orientation and identity.
 

I have no reason to believe that the organizers of Revoice are anything other than brothers in Christ who are sincerely seeking to reach those struggling to remain chaste. My quarrel is not with their hearts or their motives. I am not in a position to judge either and I am happy to take them at their word.
 

But I am deeply dismayed at their insistence on using worldly and ungodly categories and language to describe human identity and sexuality. For instance, the category of sexual orientation is deceptive. It is the fruit of 19th century radicalism. It suggests that people are possessed of various sexual proclivities none more valid than any other. The church cannot retrofit the gospel or biblical Christianity onto the notion of sexual orientation because it is fundamentally out of accord with biblical anthropology.
 

Then of course there is the language of Gay Christian, LGBTQ Christian, Queer Christian, and sexual minority. Is it possible that the PCA hosts, organizers, and speakers of Revoice were unaware that such language would vex and confuse a great number of their brothers and sisters in Christ? It stretches credulity to believe the present controversy surprised them.
 

Eve Tushnet, one of the speakers at Revoice, stated the following on her Twitter account: “What’s better than St. Louis in July? St Louis in July but SUPER GAY.” On the site Patheos, Ms. Tushnet promoted Revoice by writing, “This July, Come to the Big Gay Christian Extravaganza!”
 

One of the teachers at Revoice who is also a candidate under care in the PCA states of himself:
“I believe my same-sex attractions are broken, but I do not believe they are sinful. It is not a sin for me to be attracted to another man, in the same way it is not sinful for you to be attracted to a woman.”
 

In fairness to this brother I want to be clear that he maintains that sexual intimacy must be confined to marriage between a man and woman. I am grateful for that. I have corresponded with him briefly and I believe he is sincere in his desire to get the gospel to homosexuals. But I do believe that his understanding of sexual identity and homosexual desire (an understanding embraced by an alarmingly high number of pastors in the PCA) is fundamentally flawed. In fact, I believe that once a church adopts the notion that homosexual desire is a fixed category of human identity, that is not inherently sinful; once the church grants ontological status to homosexuality it is only a short leap to finally blessing homosexual behavior.
 

This is the way it seems to happen with pastors and churches who abandon the truth:
1) Belief that homosexuality is a fixed identity.
2) Belief that homosexual desires can be pure so long as the homosexual remains chaste.
3) Adoption of the language of Gay Christian, Queer Christian, and sexual minority.
4) The realization that it is pastorally cruel to tell homosexuals that their sexual orientation is basic to their identity and not inherently sinful but that they must not ever act upon it.
5) Blessing of homosexual marriage and relations.  
 

This trajectory has been followed by former PCA churches which are now aligned with denominations who embrace homosexuality.
 

This ought to concern every pastor, elder, and layperson in the PCA: The philosophical and linguistic foundation for ultimately approving of homosexuality is already being laid in the PCA.
 

The following are 3 examples of sessions taken directly from the Revoice site:
 

Possibility Models in Queer Theory and Literature: An Adventure
Presenter: Grant Hartley

For the sexual minority seeking to submit his or her life fully to Christ and to the historic Christian sexual ethic, queer culture presents a bit of a dilemma; rather than combing through and analyzing to find which parts are to be rejected, to be redeemed, or to be received with joy (Acts 17:16-34), Christians have often discarded the virtues of queer culture along with the vices, which leaves culturally connected Christian sexual minorities torn between two cultures, two histories, and two communities. So questions that have until now been largely unanswered remain: what does queer culture (and specifically, queer literature and theory) have to offer us who follow Christ? What queer treasure, honor, and glory will be brought into the New Jerusalem at the end of time (Revelation 21:24-26)?

 

How To Be A Straight Ally
Presenter: Preston Sprinkle, PhD

What does it mean to be a straight ally for gender and sexual minorities? Join speaker, author, and New Testament scholar Preston Sprinkle as he shares about his journey of learning from LGBT people and the way they experience the world around them. Topics covered will include learning how to own the weight of the straight white evangelical tradition and its sins against gender and sexual minorities, how to show genuine compassion to LGBT people, and how to advocate for them so that they are empowered to thrive in their local faith communities.
 

Coming Out in the Shadow of the Cross: Queer Visibility as Redemptive Suffering
Presenter: Jack Bates

The LGBTQ culture at large tends to stress the personal nature of coming out: it’s up to you to determine how and when and whether you come out. The queer Christian, however, can derive some of the contours of her or his coming out from Scripture and tradition. The particular manner of one’s coming out should be determined according to practical wisdom and oriented toward preservation and reconciliation of Christian fellowship, insofar as that is possible. Further, there is a presumption in favor of coming out for the Christian, in light of the possibilities for suffering on behalf of the other that being out in a Christian context provides. The prospect of coming out can be particularly difficult for the Side-B Christian, but the sufferings of visibility offer redemptive possibilities that the closet cannot offer.
 

In response to the many concerns and complaints being expressed about Revoice the pastor of the host church who will also be speaking wrote a thoughtful piece affirming his commitment to biblical sexual ethics and the intention of the organizers to reach people for Christ.
 

His response was clearly heart-felt, and I believe, sincere. But in many ways he was responding to a complaint that is not being made. The debate is not whether the church should be committed to reaching homosexuals for Christ. I do not know of one pastor in the PCA who does not share that goal.
 

The pastors I know, myself included, minister weekly to former homosexuals and those who fight daily against homosexual desires. We love these precious souls. Each Lord’s Day we labor over them through preaching and prayer. Like all those struggling against sin we seek to help them walk in holiness in this sin-sick world. Calling them Gay Christians, Queer Christians, or sexual minorities undermines not only their ability to fight for holiness but the very way they are to understand themselves as new creations in Christ who have been washed clean.
 

What the organizers and speakers of Revoice do not seem to understand is that those of us raising concerns are not doing so because we are opposed to reaching out to homosexuals with the good news of the gospel. We are doing that with heart and soul every week. Rather, we firmly believe that their approach and the language they are using are counter-productive to that goal. Indeed, many us of believe that by adopting worldly and ungodly categories for human identity the promoters of Revoice and all those embracing Gay Christian lingo are failing to love those fighting against homosexuality.
 

So for the love of God, for the love of his truth, and for the love of those fighting against homosexuality let us reject the world’s twisted notions of human identity and sexuality. Let us reject their language. And let us fight for the souls of those precious men and women whom the enemy is seeking to devour.
 

Related:

 

Thinking They Are More Merciful Than God

I Am Not Homo-sexual, Hetero-sexual, Bi-sesxual, or Any Other Kind of Sexual

Should We Equate Homosexual and Heterosexual Sin?

 

 

Posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

There is a new and exciting initiative from Scott Swain and Michael Allen of Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando. It is called the Paideia Center for Theological Discipleship.

 

The Paideia Center will offer regional reading groups of classic Christian texts, monthly gatherings, and an annual conference.

 

From the Paideia website:

  • Do you desire a rich theological diet so you can develop whole and mature in Christ?
  • Do you want to read Christian classics but don't know where to start?
  • Would you like to grow with people who share your love for theology?
  • Are you eager to connect biblical teaching with everyday moral discernment?
  • Do you need greater biblical wisdom to lead in your church?
  • Are you eager to stand on the shoulders of men and women who have gone before you?

 

Be looking out for the Mortification of Spin interview with Michael Allen about the vision and work of The Paideia Center.

 

Posted on Monday, May 21, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

I am not sure if it is possible for me to find anything I care about less than the royal wedding. I care more about how liver is cooked and I don’t eat liver. So I have no interest in the festivities that took place last weekend at Windsor Castle. At least I did not care until brothers in my own denomination including pastors began publicly praising Rev. Michael Curry and the sermon he delivered.

 

I won’t get into the details of Curry’s sermon. David Robertson of St. Peter’s Free Church in Dundee has done that in a clear and convincing critique HERE.

 

It must be pointetd out that the Rev. Curry is one of the leading forces in the continued apostasy of the Episcopal Church. He is not a friend of biblical orthodoxy. He is no friend to the truth concerning human identity and sexuality. Ironically, he is no friend to marriage. Reverend Curry is actively seeking to change his church's marriage liturgy to include homosexual couples thus vandalizing the biblical vision for marriage.

 

His conception of Jesus and what it means for him to have died on the cross are very different from the witness of Scripture. Likewise, his conception of what it means to love our neighbor and love God would depart in many ways from what we understand from Scripture not least of all in terms of getting the gospel right and speaking the truth about human identity and sexuality.

 

Reverend Curry’s sermon was a rather typical paean to “the power of love.” I think John Lennon would have been pleased. No wonder the secular media, various celebrities, and theological liberals were so enamored with it. But one would expect more wisdom and discernment from Reformed evangelicals. To say the name of Jesus is not the same as proclaiming Christ. Rascals throughout the history of the church have used the name of Jesus from Arius to Pope Leo to Fosdick to Kenneth Copeland.
 

Yet there it was on my social media feeds: fawning praise for “brother Curry” and his beautiful proclamation of the gospel from some of my brothers in the PCA. I could not decide whether to be surprised or not. Regardless, it was a sad thing to see.
 

In addition to the lack of discernment think of the unkindness it is to those faithful Anglicans who are hanging on or who have had to flee the ever-apostasizing Episcopal Church for reformed evangelicals to heap praise upon Rev. Curry and his sermon. These faithful brothers and sisters have been harassed in court by the denomination which Michael Curry leads. They have been sued and the property they occupied confiscated under the leadership of Curry. So much for the power of love I suppose.
 

This event served as something of a canary in a coal mine experience for me. It has revealed the presence of a dangerous leak. PCA pastors publicly praise an apostate for a moralistic sermon and call it gospel proclamation from a brother. And yet when some of us express concern about the doctrinal trajectory of the PCA we are met with anger, incredulity, or demands to prove such a trajectory exists.

 

From David Robertson’s piece:

When Curry spoke of the cross, [he] spoke of it as sacrificial, as exemplary, not as THE atoning sacrifice.  We too can be sacrificial and it is that sacrificial love that is redemptive and changes the world.   Can you see what he is doing? He is turning the cross from being THE redemptive work, to it being an example of redemptive love that we can all show. He is teaching us that we can save ourselves and indeed save the world by just having the kind of love that Christ had and following his example. That is not the Gospel. It is the antithesis of the Gospel.

 

UPDATE:

It seems that some of my PCA brothers who had praised Reverend Curry and his sermon have removed those posts. Perhaps upon further reflection they saw that such praise was inappropriate. I hope that is the case. If so, a follow-up to their readers/congregants would probably be appropriate. This issue matters. Again, I would never expect the leader of the EC in the USA to preach a sermon faithful to the gospel. But that it was being praised by Reformed evangelicals left me grieving. I hope those initial words of praise were nothing more than an understandible enthusiasm to hearing Jesus' name in such a well-broadcast event. I hope the praise was not the result of such things as the influence of N.T. Wright. Wright's view of the gospel, atonement, and imputation are, as many know, incompatible with the doctrinal standards of the PCA and other Reformed denominations. Sadly, Wright has had a rather strong influence among some pastors in the Reformed community. For them, I fear, a moralistic sermon on the love of God would indeed sound like the gospel. I hope that pastors will be open and honest about their theological commitments. The unity of our churches requires such honesty.

 

Posted on Friday, May 11, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

When was the last time you read a book on Patristic exegesis that was a genuine page-turner?

If you have not yet had that experience then you must add Craig Carter’s outstanding new book Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition to your reading. The subtitle of Dr. Carter’s book is “Recovering the Genius of Premodern Exegesis.” You will find this book to be both intellectually stimulating and spiritually refreshing. Carter is not shy about challenging some of the presuppositions many of us were trained to accept in exegeting the biblical text. Some of these exegetical assumptions and methods depart from the Patristic tradition and, in Carter’s estimation, threaten to undermine the biblical doctrine of God and the basis for accepting Jesus Christ as Messiah. He demonstrates how aspects of the modern approach to biblical interpretation, even among many conservatives, has more in common with enlightenment skepticism than with the believing presuppositions of the fathers.

 

Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition stands tall among the new books which are, thankfully, recovering the riches of Nicene Christianity for the modern church.
 

Here is just a taste from the preface:

The purpose of exegesis is to understand what God is saying to us today through the inspired text. The text may have one or several meanings because of the complexity of God the Holy Spirit inspiring the text through a human author. The authority of the Bible is God’s self-authenticating Word speaking through it, and in order to hear God’s Word, it is crucial that we interpret it as a unified book with Jesus Christ at its center. The interdisciplinary practice of biblical studies as found in academic settings today is an agent of secularization in the church and needs to be reformed so that it becomes the servant of Christian theology and spirituality rather than a confusing amalgam of history, philology, archaeology, literary theory, sociological theory, and philosophy operating with unacknowledged metaphysical assumptions and without any material center. The meaning of the text for today is what we seek to hear as we study the text carefully, intensively, and reverently. Biblical exegesis is a spiritual discipline by which we are gradually made into the kind of readers who can receive with gladness the Word of God. Ancient reading practices, which have never died out completely in the church, can help us hear God’s Word in less subjective and more ruled ways than modern hermeneutics makes available to us…

The Enlightenment has exercised more influence on scholars who wish to make an impression on the secular academy than it has on faithful pastors who wish to cultivate a love of the Bible in their congregations. Many books seek to bring church practices into line with academic theory; this one seeks to do the opposite. It is my conviction that academic theory needs to be reformed according to church practice when it comes to biblical interpretation.

This book has grown out of a decade of reading, research, and reflection on the Christian doctrine of God. I have become increasingly disillusioned with modern theology in general and with the twentieth century’s so-called revival of Trinitarian theology in particular. The post-Kantian, Hegelian, Trinitarian theology that has dominated the twentieth century is actually not a revival of the Trinitarian classical theism of the fourth-century pro-Nicene fathers or of creedal orthodoxy as it has been understood throughout church history. It represents instead a massive revision of the Christian doctrine of God. The Great Tradition of Christian orthodoxy begins with the Old and New Testaments, crystalizes in the fourth-century Trinitarian debates, and then continues through Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, the leading Protestant Reformers, post-Reformation scholasticism, and contemporary conservative Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant confessional theology. The locus classicus of the Christian doctrine of God is qq. 1-43 of Part I of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica, which sums up and carefully sets forth in a clear and coherent form the wisdom of Athanasius, the Cappadocian fathers, and Augustine – that is, the Trinitarian classical theism that is expressed in the Nicene Creed. The same doctrine of God is also embodied in the seventeenth-century Westminster Confession of Faith and in the twentieth-century Catechism of the Catholic Church. It has a timeless character that stands in contrast to the shifting winds of doctrinal innovation and cultural fads.
 

Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

Recently Carl delivered two lectures at Reformed Theological Seminary (D.C.). They are entitled The Road to Nowhere and are well worth your time. Broadly speaking, the subject is how we have become a people for whom the statement "I am a man trapped in a woman's body" makes sense. Or perhaps, how we became a people fascinated by the wife of Kanye West. This is public theology done well and a great alternative to the shallow thinking that often accompanies Protestant interaction with the spirit of the age.

 

 

 

Posted on Monday, March 05, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

Like many, I was troubled by the response from Sovereign Grace Ministries to Rachael Denhollander's stated concerns about their handling of sexual abuse allegations. I was equally troubled by the number of men who forwarded SGM's response along as "thoughtful" and "helpful." I found it to be neither.

 

Mrs. Denhollander has written a thorough response to the SGM statement. It is carefully worded and free of rancor. It would be well worth your time to read it. And I do hope that those who forwarded SGM's statement will read and carefully consider Denhollander's assesssment.

 

Pastors, we must be vigilant in these matters. The impulse to protect our reputation or that of our church must never be considered when abuse is revealed. We have an obligation to the vulnerable. We also have an obligation to the civil authorities. We have an obligation to our Lord to act in defense of those who have been abused. If we mess up in the process then let us give full disclosure and offer full repentance.