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Is Same-Sex Attraction a Plausible Option for Christian Living?

What is same-sex attraction? According to the urban dictionary, same sex attraction is a term employed by conservative Christians in order to avoid using the term “gay” to describe men who desire to have sex with other men.We live in an age when terms and expressions are changed in order to avoid the stigma attached to them. Conservative Christians do not wish to be viewed as accepting homosexuals as genuine believers into the faith community. So, in order to avoid the stigma that attaches to such a practice, Conservative Christians replace gay or homosexual with the term “same-sex attraction” and like waving a magic wand, all is right with the world once again. The stigma is no more. I make no apologies for painting that narrative in this way. It is exactly what denominations like the PCA and the SBC are doing when they employ SSA language.

Now, if you are reading this post, I want you to pay close attention to what I am saying. If you care about the faith, about your church, about the testimony of Christ before the world, then you need to pay attention. Your pastors and elders are doing one of three things with this SSA and other social gospel elements sweeping the churches today. First, they are taking a direct stand in opposition to the error and in many cases, outright heresy that is being propagated by the proponents of this movement. If so, you are in good hands. Encourage your pastors and elders as often as you can. Tell them you appreciate their courage and boldness. They are true example of what loving Christ and loving the church looks like. Second, your pastors and elders are absolutely silent on the SSA and social gospel issues. They are saying nothing whatsoever. If so, you are in questionable hands. You can rest assured that not all is well in your house. You have reason for grave concern. Talk to your pastors directly about these issues. Ask them pointedly what they position is on the issues. They have an ethical obligation to be transparent with you on these matters. That is what feed and clothe them to do. That’s right! You put food in their mouths and clothes on their backs and a roof over their heads in exchange for their spiritual leadership. And you deserve ethical spiritual leadership. You deserve transparent spiritual leadership. What you don’t need or want is a spiritual politician. Spiritual politicians are useless.

Third, your pastors and elders are imperceptibly and shrewdly turning the boiling pot up on your house. They find subtle ways to talk about these issues in a way that ever-so-slightly promotes them. Take note of this behavior. They have increased their criticism of racism, but other sins are not called out nearly as much as they used to be. Their focus seems to have shifted. They talk a lot more about adoption and fostering children, even to the point that they are tying these practices to one’s faith. They may even imply that one’s faith is not true faith if they are not fostering children or adopting children or actively involved in stopping things like human and sex trafficking. But they do this in a most subtle way. They use the expression “same-sex attraction” in place of gay or homosexual. They aggressively and openly push for you to befriend certain groups of people. But again, they do so ever so subtly. The rhetoric around these social issues is still in its early stages for these pastors and elders. But you can rest assured that it will be turned up quickly. It will hit you like a tidal-wave and when it does, it will be too late to do much about it.

The most susceptible churches are those where there is little to no transparency in leadership. These leaders have a sense of entitlement to lead the congregation without the consent of the congregation. Decisions are made behind closed doors without any true representation of the congregation. Elders and deacons are in place who simply are ill-equipped and lacking the backbone to stand up to the stronger and more charismatic personalities of the lead or leading pastors. If this describes your church, you have a recipe for disaster. You can either stay and fight or you can take flight. What you should do is beyond the scope of this post. Leaving a church is no small matter.

Same-sex attraction put directly and simply is the desire to have sex with someone of the same sex. It is used most often with men who want to sexually take or be taken sexually by, another man. The question regarding this desire is really not that complicated. Is it wrong to want to have sex with someone of the same sex? Is it wrong to desire to penetrate or be penetrated by, another man? I apologize if framing it this way offends you. It should offend you. It should repulse you. You should be disgusted, and I pray you will always be disgusted by this thought. That is a good thing. It is good and right and proper to find the thought of man on man sex and woman on woman sex, disgusting. It is inappropriate and improper to view homosexual sex or homosexual desires for such sex in the same way that we view heterosexual intercourse.

The argument for same-sex attraction trades off the idea of heterosexual temptation. But is that comparison legitimate? I don’t think it is. The sexual urge is biological. It is not something we have any control over. But how that urge is directed is something we have control over. To date, there is no scientific evidence that traces same-sex attraction or homosexual desire to chemical activity in the brain. And it seems to me that there will never be a way for scientists to conclusively link brain activity with causality. The reliability of cognitive neuroscience is an extremely controversial field at this time and it seems as though it will be for the foreseeable future. My point is that there is absolutely no proof that a person cannot learn to control the object of their sexual desire and affection. In fact, there is proof that points in the opposite direction. While the urge for sex is a biological fact, the truth is that the object of that urge is more psychological than biological. So, when I hear someone say that they are the passive victim of the so-called SSA condition, my sense is that this is not really the case.

However, let’s pretend for a moment that I am wrong and that SSA is a condition of the sinful heart. Let’s pretend that the person is in fact a victim of a sexual urge for man on man sexual intercourse. As one who believes in the power of the gospel, I have to ask if the gospel is actually powerful enough to change this person’s heart and to replace their sinful desires with desires that are godly. If the gospel is powerful enough to change this person’s heart, and we actually believe that when the gospel is believed it does supernaturally change a person’s heart, then what does it say about the person who is still SSA and who wants to hang on to their SSA? Is the gospel a fraud? Does it change hearts or not? Can it replace these wicked desires? What did Paul mean when he wrote to the church at Corinth and said “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”This participation in the new creation is reflected in the changed outlook of which v. 16 spoke and in a new holiness of life (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9–11), and will culminate in the renewal of the whole person by resurrection to immortality in the new created order at the Parousia.[1]

I believe the SSA issue is subterfuge. Just like I believe that the racial reconciliation movement was subterfuge to move evangelicals away from the conservative vote, I believe the SSA issue is subterfuge to cut the final resistance against homosexuality off at the knees: the Church of Jesus Christ. I do not believe that gay men are interested in being celibate. Let’s take a look at what is already being proposed or suggested by those who are pushing for SSA members within our churches. The website livingout.org recently published this article. It is a sobering article that advocates celibate same-sex couples. It advocates non-sexual physical intimacy. The article is pie-in-the-sky nonsense that no honest person would take seriously for even a moment. But that is not my point. My point is the direction this is all taking.

When homosexuals argued for marriage, they did so under the ruse of property and inheritance rights. And the secular culture bought it. Now, as it turns out, it wasn’t about marriage at all. It was about the normalization of sexually deviant behavior. And it worked better than anyone could have hoped. I suspect the same strategy is at play in our churches. Instead of property rights, the homosexual movement is taking a much subtler approach. And some of our pastors and elders are such sloppy thinkers and so biblically inept that they are buying it. The reasoning at this point is that SSA is just a temptation to have homosexual sex. And if a person resists that urge, then they are doing the same thing that a man who has a sexual urge for a woman who is not his wife does. So, if that is really the case, then the floodgates open to all sorts of nonsense. For example, there is no reason why two homosexual men cannot live together as long as they promise not to have sex. They can hold hands, hug, kiss, etc., but they cannot have sex. And as long as they don’t have sex, they are not sinning, right? There is nothing wrong with a man and a woman who are courting, holding hands at church. Now, imagine gay men in your church, holding hands and singing how much they love Jesus. Imagine them living together. Imagine them adopting children. If it is the case that homosexual sex is what makes one a practicing homosexual and that only practicing homosexuals are sinning, then all of these other behaviors are perfectly moral.

Sound right? Seem right? Feel right? Read the Scriptures and observe God’s creation. Does this seem right to you? Nope! Not for a nanosecond. That’s because it isn’t right. You know innately that something is very wrong with this narrative. Are your pastors and elders a haven for truth, equipping the body to stand for truth or are they hiding in their closets or worse, are they promoting in ever so subtle ways the SSA and social gospel movement? Examine them. Hold them accountable. And if necessary, fire them. Find truth lovers with courage and boldness to lead your house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1]Colin G. Kruse, 2 Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 8, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 124.

The Chaos of Failed Leadership

It was Peter, to whom the Lord Himself had given the keys of the kingdom of heaven who wrote, “Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.”(1 Peter 5:1-3) John Calvin, commenting on this verse writes, “In exhorting pastors to their duty, he points out especially three vices which are found to prevail much, even sloth, desire of gain, and lust for power. Calvin goes on to emphasize the importance of disinterested labor in pastors and how such an attitude is a ready protection against being a slave to his own stomach and purse. Contemporary evangelicalism is in the middle of a colossal collapse and much of the blame, in fact, most of the blame can be place square on the shoulders of her pastors, elders, and even deacons, not to mention her seminaries.

At the very core of the postmodern, post-Christian crises is a man-centered, society-driven, culturally-relevant gospel as opposed to the one that was delivered once for all to the saints by Christ and his Apostles some 2,000 years ago. Fallen man is infected with himself. He is infected, contaminated, suffers from the disease of, his own self. James explains to us that sin is located in self. Every man is tempted when he is pays too much attention to his own lust and as a result is seduced by it. It was the philosophies of the enlightenment period that challenged tradition and authority. At the time, the supposed reason that tradition was eclipsed by the human ‘self’ was due to the discoveries of science, so called. Man successfully deluded himself into thinking that he was neutral and merely in pursuit of truth and that he would follow the facts wherever they may lead. Man failed to grasp or understand the ancient teachings of the apostle: For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.(Rom. 1:21) What happened in the enlightenment was not the destruction of authority and tradition. It was the replacement of one authority for another, of one tradition for a new one. And today, we are witnessing the replacement of that tradition and authority with yet another new tradition and authority. But it is not a new one after all. It is man, who is infected with the disease of self, dead in his own trespasses and sins, being the measure of all things, reason, science, and the revelation of God in Scripture be damned. And as the self-infected culture collapses around us, it takes with it all those institutions that follow it. And apparently, the evangelical church in general seems to be one among many of those institutions.

The disease of ‘self’ locates the source of all truth in man. This includes morality. Once morality is no longer transcendent, moral propositions no longer contain truth value. Moral skepticism or arbitrariness are the only remaining options. Since moral skepticism is impractical and impossible, morality becomes arbitrary, fixed by the man who is hopelessly diseased with ‘self’. Man becomes the measure of truth, all truth, to include moral truth and his traditions will change based on the whims of himself in majority. The problem in this state of affairs is that 1,000 blind men are just as blind as one blind man. But this is indeed the state of affairs we see in American culture. Out of one side of her mouth, American culture brags about science and reason while out of the other side of her mouth she affirms sexual practices, attitudes, and philosophies that are not only unscientific top to bottom, but ones that are diametrically opposed to the most obvious facts of human biology. I would say that self-affirmation is the be-all-end-all goal of this pagan culture, but that isn’t entirely true. Men who act on their natural innate desire for female companionship are often depicted as chauvinistic pigs while other men who want to have the most unnatural and perverted sex with other men are embraced and celebrated. Men who self-identify as women are encouraged, affirmed, extolled. Men who act like men in how they view women, and many other activities like hunting, fishing, and just being men are mostly portrayed as backwards, unsophisticated, cavemen to be scorned and vilified and shunned. The current state of affairs in American society is indeed confused and chaotic at best. One of the primary reasons for the confusion is the denial of transcendent absolute moral standards. The reason is due to the fact that American society has replaced a tradition that was based on principles built off a transcendent absolute morality with one that is based off the whims of the self-diseased man himself. And the chaos we now see infecting the churches is the very chaos that has led to the collapse of genuine morality in American society.

Homosexuality and liberation theologies and philosophies have been smuggled into the churches under the guise of same-sex attraction and social justice or Marixism. Certain men have attained the highest levels of credibility within the churches and have either brought damaging views with them or they have begun to embrace views that are threatening and contradicting to Christian belief. For example, Tim Keller’s soft views on homosexuality, not to mention his Marxist ideologies; John Piper’s soft views on feminism; Russell Moore’s extreme views of a social gospel; David Platt and Matt Chandler’s unbalanced views on race and racial reconciliation. These are men with massive influence and credibility in the churches. They influence our pastors who then wish to turn around and impress those men by influencing and infecting their local congregations with these same ideologies. Most of these pastors are weak-minded men whose conviction of biblical truth has been diluted by the unconscious acceptance of pagan philosophies bred by a god-hating culture. In short, remaining culturally relevant, maintaining their own credibility in the eyes of the culture, and being loved, liked, and even worshipped is more important to most evangelical pastors than standing on the simple, hated, unpopular, absolute, exclusive, narrow truth of Scripture.

There are pastors within evangelical churches who have embraced the idea that the power of the gospel cannot change homosexual desire. It just doesn’t work. The language of Scripture that draws on metaphors like new heart, new mind, born again don’t seem to mean much more than sheer will power of the individual. To desire sexual relations with a man is itself prohibited by Scripture and described as unnatural. The culture doesn’t think so. In fact, the pressure from the culture on this issue is immense. This is where we find out just how strong our convictions are on the teachings of Scripture. The culture tested our convictions on Genesis 1-3 and we backed down. The culture tested our convictions on a literal Adam and Eve and many evangelicals are backing down. The culture tested our convictions on a virgin birth and many evangelicals are backing down. The culture tested our convictions on male leadership and many evangelicals backed down. Now the culture is testing our convictions on the power of the gospel using homosexuality as the vehicle and many evangelicals are backing down.

Another philosophy that has steam-rolled many churches is critical-race theory. This theory has been coupled with black liberation theology and as of late, it has run amuck in evangelical churches. It is man-centered at bottom. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the gospel or the mission of the church. Worse than that, it has been used as a tool to divide the church. Melanin has become a criterion for choosing leaders. Men have been brought on staff in evangelical churches and hired into seminary faculties based primarily on the content of melanin in their DNA. Students who would have other wise been dismissed from flagship seminaries, like Southern Seminary for instance, and men like Kyle Howard for example, would have been dismissed from the school were it not for the amount of Melanin in his DNA and were it not for the lack of leadership presently on display in evangelical churches in general and the SBC in particular. Our pastors and leaders have become men-pleasers in the sense that they seek NOT to please all men. They seek to please the men who are in possession of the gold. And for them, the majority opinion of the pagan culture is the gold.

Jesus Christ is the founder of Christianity. What was Jesus’ focus? What was his mission? Why did Jesus come into our world? An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him without ambiguity that Christ was coming to save his people from their sin. Jesus came to deliver men, not from human oppression, not from their temporal plight, but to save them from their sin. Jesus never lifted a finger to end slavery in his day. He did not even talk about ending slavery in his day. Jesus never lifted a finger to change the status of women in his day. He chose twelve messengers whom he personally empowered with his authority and message. He didn’t include a woman among them. What do you suppose American society would say about Jesus today? If Jesus showed up and practice today what he practiced and preached then, what would American society say about him? Worse, what do you suppose the churches would say about him?

Weak leadership is failed leadership. And failed leadership always leads to chaos. The reason for this is because the individualwill always find itself in the position to compete with the other individual. Rejection of the transcendent leads ultimately and unavoidably to unresolvable conflict. Alistair McIntyre observes: “When the distinctively modern self was invented, its invention required not only a largely new social setting, but one defined by a variety of not always coherent beliefs and concepts.”Incoherence seems to be the order of the day. We see it on display every day! We live in a culture that praises science while at the same time attempting to justify gender self-identification. In the church, we see it in the affirmation of both the power of the gospel to produce supernatural and radical change while denying that same-sex attraction can be fixed by the gospel or by anything at all.

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)

The Gospel and Epistemic Dilemma

In John 7:17 Jesus made an incredibly controversial claim that is directly related to both the gospel and one’s ability to possess true knowledge of it. He said, If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The context of Jesus’ claim came on the heels of his assertiveness to stand up in the Temple and teach others. The Jews were astonished and asked a very logical question: How is it that this man has an education when he has never been formally or even informally trained? Good question. Where does Jesus’ knowledge come from? This brings us to what would prove to be controversial in Jesus’ day and no less controversial in our own. Jesus claimed that his teaching was not his own. It belonged to the one who sent him. Who sent him? In John 3:17 Jesus claims that God sent him. So, the ‘him’ in this context must refer to God the Father. Now, let’s follow the argument. The Jews are evaluating Jesus’ teaching. Is it true, or is it false? Should a rational person believe the claims of Christ or should they reject them?

Jesus answered the Jews’ question with a simple but deeply provocative claim: The condition that must be met, the criterion for knowing whether or not Jesus’ teaching was from God is having a will that is aligned with God’s will. The necessary condition for knowing the truth about Jesus’ claim is having a will, or desire, to carry out God’s will and desires. In other words, a heart for God is necessary if one wants to know the truth about Jesus’ claim. The only way to possess true knowledge about Christ is to have a regenerated heart. For, you see, the condition of the natural man is hostile to the things of God. Paul said that those who are in the flesh are hostile to the law of God (Rom 8:6-8). He said that the natural man cannot understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14). He also said that Satan has blinded the minds of those who do not believe the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4). Jesus himself said that the reason the Jews did not receive his words is because they are not able to do so (John 8:43). This raises a serious epistemic problem for Christians where the gospel, evangelism, and apologetics are concerned. If you must believe the gospel in order to be saved, shouldn’t you at least know what it is? And isn’t it the case that men should evaluate claims to determine if they are true before accepting them? Shouldn’t the Christian gospel be submitted to the bar of human reason like any other claim to truth if we are to determine whether or not it is worth believing? Isn’t this the point of Christian apologetics? In short, no, God’s word is never subjected to creaturely evaluation where it’s integrity or authority is concerned. Asking the question, “Has God said” where God has spoken is always a very hazardous practice.

When one examines the word euangelion in the lexicons they discover that it means “God’s good news to humans.” The word gospel appears 101x in the NASB. Of those 101x, 81x it is used with the verb preached. Another 8x it is used with the word proclaim. Finally, it is used with the word believe in 6 of those cases. The gospel then is something that is preached, proclaimed, and believed according to the overwhelming evidence of the New Testament. The gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, it is proclaimed, and it is believed. To contend that the gospel is more than this is to introduce a definition of the gospel that is foreign to the teachings of the New Testament. This raises the question of content. What is the content of the gospel that is to be preached, proclaimed, and believed?

It is worth mentioning that the word euangelion also appears in the LXX at 2 Samuel 4:10 where one of the warriors thought he was bringing Saul’s death as a report of good news. The LXX translates the Hebrew bĕśōrâ to euangelion. The Hebrew word bĕśōrâ appears only 6x in the Hebrew text. It means to bring news, glad tidings, to announce, to receive good news. Hence, the sense of bĕśōrâ and euangelion is the publishing of news or good news, an announcement or proclamation of some event or some occurrence. The idea of doing something is bound up in the words euangelion or bĕśōrâ is without any warrant whatsoever. The gospel is statement of fact that something has happened. The gospel is a claim. It is a claim that one asserts and one that must either be believed or rejected.

One of the most concise statements on the content of the gospel is found in 1 Cor. 15:1-4. The Apostle Paul says, For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. The content of the gospel that was preached by the Apostles then is simply this: that Jesus is the Christ who died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised from the dead on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures. This is the gospel of the kingdom that shall be preached and proclaimed until Christ returns. This is the message that shaped classic evangelicalism and that sets classic evangelicals apart from every other branch of Protestantism. Indeed, this is the good news that is the gospel. The good news is the Jesus is the Christ, he died for our sins, was buried, and raised again on the third day. That is the content of the gospel that is to be believed or rejected.

If the gospel is a claim or an assertion to be believed, the question that one will naturally ask is whether or not belief in this claim or assertion is justified or warranted. What is our epistemic warrant for our belief that the claim made by the gospel is actually true? What evidence can be brought forth that will convince the unbeliever that the gospel is actually true and should be believed? The theory of justification is a part of epistemology that attempts to understand the justification of propositions and beliefs. Epistemologists are concerned with various epistemic features of belief, which include the ideas of justification, warrant, rationality, and probability. Loosely speaking, justification is the reason that someone holds a belief. (Theory of justification, n.d.) The idea is that one should only continue to hold to a belief if they have grounds or evidence or good reason for doing so. Usually, the criteria for what qualifies as grounds, evidence, or good reason are employed using methodological naturalism. The notion that such criteria would be insufficient to evaluate Christian belief is usually met with intense opposition and ruled out as extreme subjectivism from the start. What is a Christian to do?

For starters, I think William J. Abraham is onto something when he says that our epistemic obligations are person-relative. Whether or not an individual is warranted in believing a claim is dependent, to a large degree, on the reasons the individual might have for holding the belief. This brings us to the question of warrant. Alvin Plantinga, professor emeritus at the University of Notre Dame focuses on the issue of warrant rather than justification. In Warrant and Proper Function, Plantinga explains it this way: A belief B has warrant for S if and only if the relevant segments are functioning properly in a cognitive environment sufficiently similar to that for which S’s faculties are designed; and the modules of the design plan governing the production of B are (1) aimed at truth, and (2) such that here is a high objective probability that a belief formed in according with those modules is true; and the more firmly S believes B the more warrant B has for S.

According to Jesus and Paul, unbelievers have a serious problem where warrant and the gospel is concerned. According to Christianity’s own teachings, teachings that are derived from Scripture, an unbeliever is incapable of understanding, knowing, and believing the gospel in his or her unregenerate state. If we take Plantinga’s idea of warrant and couple that with the Scripture’s teaching on the noetic effects of sin, we have an epistemic dilemma where the gospel is concerned or, so it would appear. The specific issue is that the unbeliever’s cognitive faculties are not functioning as designed. Jesus said that one must desire what God desires if they are to understand his teachings. Paul said the natural man cannot understand the things of God. Since this is a necessary condition of warrant, it follows that the unbeliever is unable to possess warrant for believing the gospel. Something has to happen to the cognitive faculties before true belief and true warrant is possible.

The believer is seized by divine truth. The Word of God is not evaluated and embraced by the Christian. The Christian believes the gospel and knows the gospel because of the internal testimony or instigation of the Holy Spirit. The Christian’s knowledge of the gospel is not borne out of methodological naturalism. Instead, John states it clearly: But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. And then again, But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. The gospel is a supernatural message from top to bottom. Understanding and believing the gospel takes the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. God writes his law on the hearts of those who embrace the gospel.

A Defense of MacArthur’s Defense of the Gospel

This post is really not a specific defense of John MacArthur’s recent alarm-sounding posts regarding the encroachment of liberation theology (as I call it) into evangelical churches, especially, Southern Baptist churches. It is a direct response to Terrance Jones’ criticism of John MacArthur’s concerns.

To begin with, Jones engages in the unethical tactic of poisoning the from the very start of his criticism. He writes; However, the presence of true and real blessings does not mean the absence of some alarming realities. Unfortunately, people who can’t wrap their mind around the previous statement will struggle with the criticisms I levy in this post. They will only see the “heads” side of the coin, unable to comprehend that “tails” even exists. First, I am interested to understand what Jones classifies as alarming realities at TMUS. However, the fallacy exists in how he follows up his claim. If you end up disagreeing with Jones’ criticism, then that can only mean that you can’t wrap your mind around it. You are somehow defective unless you agree. This is a very questionable tactic and what makes it disturbing is that it seems to be universally employed by those on Jones’ side of the argument.

As one reads Jones article, it seems clear that he is a lot of pent-up anger. He has held his views on this subject for at least 11 years. And finally, for whatever reason, he feels like now is the time to speak the truth. I must confess that I find it difficult to respect men who know the truth, but find reasons for holding it in, not speaking it, not teaching it, for any reason. To be clear, there is no good reason for not telling people the truth in love. The primary reason we do not do this is the fear of man and a lack of the fear of God. To know God’s truth and not speak it is a practice no pastor or elder or teacher should ever engage in.

Jones levels a criticism against MacArthur that few men would dare to do; To hear Dr. MacArthur and Grace To You say/write narrow-minded, inconsiderate, and frankly unbiblical things about the intersection of the gospel and racism has had a profound effect on me. Now, as you read Jones’ article and this blog, you should be asking for specific examples. Will Jones quote MacArthur’s post and provide a specific example of why and how it is narrow-minded, inconsiderate, and unbiblical? Jones’ goes on to describe Phil Johnson and John MacArthur as having a cavalier attitude. He then says; Their comments/writings do nothing to consider the circumstances of anyone other than upper middle class, Republican-leaning white men (I’m neither republican nor democrat), and minorities who are accustomed to that culture. It seems pretty clear that Jones’ is a bitter young man whose rage is finally coming out. The problem is that Jones’ is a pastor. He is supposed to be a theologian. And when a theologian criticizes someone’s point of view, he should state the facts as fairly and plainly as he can and provide an argument rebutting the view. Up to this point in Jones’ post, all I see is anger and bitterness. I see no argument. I see no rebuttal. What I see is a man who is angry and who has decided to use his blog as a tool to vent. Jones’ post isn’t reinforcing the social justice claims and it certainly isn’t moving others to change their mind. It isn’t even helping John MacArthur or Phil Johnson see the error of their ways (if they were in fact in error to begin with and I don’t think they are).

Jones’ then moves to what he thinks is “proof” that something is terribly wrong at GTY. He points us to the academic probation recently enforced on TMUS. This is a red herring and a very unethical tactic on Jones’ part. Whatever the issues are at TMUS around their academic review, they have little to do with MacArthur’s post regarding liberation theology, the social justice movement, and the gospel. One thing that Jones’ fails to acknowledge is that worldly people who want to pretend to live in the Christian community will very frequently classify basic accountability as intimidation and bullying. So when that language shows up in a report such as this one, we would be wise not to jump to conclusions about what that language is actually describing. Not only that, but the entire model of not having a seminary that is responsible for training pastors to be run solely by the church is questionable on biblical principles. A strong case against the current seminary model can easily be made. The entire idea of accreditation in our system seems to fly in the face of sound biblical teaching regarding training men for ministry. But that is beside the point. Nevertheless, it does help one understand that Jones’ introduction of this situation doesn’t have the sting he thinks it does. To be sure, it seems like an attempt to discredit MacArthur so that the social justice, liberation theology folks can continue their advance with as little resistance as possible.

Jones then criticizes the TMUS curriculum for not having a single book authored by a black man. He then talks about the history of theology class not exploring any African theologians other than Athanasius, and that was briefly. One should note that Jones’ is operating from memory here and not actual documented facts. Why would Jones remember something like that? Is that an indication that he is proactively looking for melanin levels in others? Why can’t people see that the real problem here is that people should NOT be raising their children in such a way as to make things like melanin a basic cultural identifier to begin with? Why not teach the Irish Christians not to make so much out of being Irish and the Germans, the Indian, the Chinese, the Africans? It is okay to hang on to certain cultural traditions and practices. We do it this way or that way is the beauty of diversity. But to elevate our identity based on this kind of criteria in the Christian community is contrary to Christian unity. Not only that, but I am pretty sure that TMUS would have spent a good deal of time talking about that obscure theologian, Augustine, in a class on historical theology. Still, the bigger question is why does it matter if Augustine was African, or European, or Asian? If I read the New Testament correctly, it doesn’t. Not even a little. Any mention of the nations in the NT is to demonstrate that God was fulfilling his promise from the beginning that in Abraham, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. And the emphasis there is on the fidelity of God, not the secondary issue of diversity. God does what he says he is going to do. That is the point.

Jones admits that he ranted many times to Dr. Paul Felix about his frustrations. And in this section of his post, he talks about his passionate desire to impact the African American community. Since when is a minister called to focus on a group of people based on melanin? As a minister of the gospel, shouldn’t you be interested in reaching everyone you can with the gospel without regard for their physical features or even their ethnicity? Why do we focus on specific people groups? The Apostles didn’t take that approach. They went everywhere preaching as they went. They had no regard for ethnicity or melanin or eye color or ear size. They broadcast the good news and trusted God to bring his own to Christ! So should we.

Jones then ends his post with the most amazing contradiction. He writes; It is hypocritical for Dr. MacArthur or anyone to say “just preach the gospel” thinking that will solve all issues. It doesn’t even work in his own church and the institutions he leads. It certainly will not work in your communities and churches. Hear me well. The true gospel is sufficient. This is like saying, ~A and then in the next breath saying, A. Jones says preaching the gospel won’t solve the issues and then he says the gospel is sufficient. I find this is all brands of movements that sneak into the church. The movement that wants to deny inspiration will say they affirm it. The inerrantists will use inerrancy language positively as if they really believe it. The language of conservative Christianity is used to import just the opposite ideas. It is typically a tactic employed to get people to lower their guard. I am not sure if Jones is actually doing that here or if his argument is just that sloppy.

Jones ends is post by returning to the lack of textbooks written by African theologians. Jones talks about MacArthur and Johnson being unbiblical and partial in this area. But Jones doesn’t bother to offer a biblical demonstration of why melanin or ethnicity ought to be a consideration for textbook selection in a seminary setting. What I want is the best thinkers textbooks in the classroom so that men can be trained with excellence. How prevalent is black liberation theology among black theologians? How many black theologians condemn MLK for his heresy and hypocrisy rather than give him a pass because of his civil rights accomplishments? How many black theologians are staunchly reformed in their theology? Someone recently asked Candice Owens why there were so many white people at her event. Her response was classic; only 13% of the population is black. What do you expect?

Terrence Jones has written an article about John MacArthur and Phil Johnson that failed to interact with a single thing MacArthur has written recently on the issue of social justice and the gospel. Worse than that, he has interacted with anything either man has written on the subject. Moreover, he treats both men as if they have never spoken out against the sin of racism. That is preposterous and slanderous. Jones made the decision to use the situation with TMUS to his advantage in an attempt to disparage the reputation of good men who have done more good for the kingdom than most in our generation. Why? Because TMUS doesn’t have any textbooks written by black theologians? Because MacArthur has refused to take his eyes off the true gospel and resist cultural trends to chase social causes that are not gospel issues? This isn’t about racism. Grace To You, John MacArthur, and Phil Johnson are all on record condemning racism as a sin and urging repentance. But for Terrence Jones and men of this ilk, that simply isn’t enough. The Apostle Paul wrote: For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Cor. 2:2)

 

 

 

Enemies Among Us: Hermeneutics of the New Social Justice Movement

Military battles are all about strategy and execution. One of the most common military strategies is known as the flank. If a fighting unit can flank its enemy in battle, it’s chances of winning that battle increase exponentially. This is because the opponent will face fire on its front as well as from its side. This is known as a crossfire. The maneuver, if executed correctly, can end a battle in short order. Another strategy that is vitally important to successful military campaigns is the gathering of information about the enemy’s strategy. This is usually accomplished through intelligence and in most cases involves spies. Being able to speak the language of the enemy and understanding a something about the cultural practices of the enemy go a long way in making for an effective spy. These two military analogies will serve as good illustrations for what is presently taking place in the American Evangelical Churches, most of which are SBC, many of which are PCA. We not only have spies in the communities, we are a good way into being flanked by the enemy.

Recently, The Gospel Coalition sent out an announcement by way of Twitter entitled, “Derrida, Foucault, and the Bible.” The course seeks to provide an overview of the work of these two philosophers as well as “Establish a way of thinking about the Bible that helps you bring it into conversation with philosophical ideas in an authentic and rigorous way.” In addition to this, a new book will be released later this year with the title, “Can White People Be Saved?” The first couple of sentences in the description of this book read as follows: “No one is born white. But while there is no biological basis for a white race, whiteness is real. What’s more, whiteness as a way of being in the world has been parasitically joined to Christianity, and this is the ground of many of our problems today. It is time to redouble the efforts of the church and its institutions to muster well-informed, gospel-based initiatives to fight racialized injustice and overcome the heresy of whiteness.” I should point out that a review of the contributors to this book uncovers a relationship with Derrida’s philosophy as well. Having studied philosophy as part of my apologetics training, I have to admit that I find it extremely fascinating that any evangelical leader or organization would consider the philosophies of Foucault or Derrida valuable Christian reading. I had to think more deeply about what was going on here. After months of conflating social justice with biblical justice, and of creating ungodly division through the racial reconciliation movement, and then the #MeToo overthrow of Complementarianism, the gay Christian Revoice conference of the PCA, and finally the over-stepping of boundaries by the churches on immigration policy, we now shift gears as this movement introduces these old pagan philosophers as new heroes and their philosophies as if they are epiphanies. Please know that I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am not saying all the men leading this movement are behind the curtain cooking up this strategy with pain-staking deliberateness. That said, I am also not saying they are not, either. But to say confidently that no such strategy is in anyway in place, to me, seems implausible. I don’t believe in coincidence. One this is sure, Satan has a strategy even if those who are carrying it out are unaware of their role in it. Paul told the Ephesian believers: Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. (Eph. 6:11) There is certainly a strategy at play. What exactly is going on? The purpose of the rest of this post is to try and help you connect the dots between the old hermeneutic of Liberal Protestantism and the hermeneutic of those modern evangelicals, so-called, who are to one degree or another, pushing the above agenda. It is a package deal and there is an underlying hermeneutic that serves as a basis for current challenges to age-old doctrines (complementarianism) and the introduction of new ones (racial reconciliation and gay Christianity).

The best weapon the church has at her disposal for defending the truth is the truth itself. The Scriptures are self-attesting, sufficient, our final authority for faith and practice. But those Scriptures are also self-interpreting. The frontal assault against the Scriptures aimed at evangelicals over the years has proven to be ineffective with only small successes here and there. A second attack has been aimed at the sufficiency of Scripture. This has produced more fruit but still has not delivered the desired results. There is a bottom line for the enemy and I will get to that soon enough. The old enemy of liberalism is back to attacking the Scripture in the area of hermeneutics. The act of communicating comes with intentionality. God intended something very specific when he communicated to us by way of the divine revelation that is Scripture. In short, when God spoke, he intended that we understand what he had to say. It is here that Satan spends most of his time strategizing against the people of God. And it is here that Christian leaders must spend energy and effort ensuring that God’s people are equipped with an accurate understanding of the truth that sets us free. And it is here that a theme has emerged among some evangelical leaders and that them is hermeneutical at its core. This brings me to Derrida and Foucault and their role in this strategy.

Who is Jacques Derrida?

Derrida is the French philosopher who brought us the philosophy known as deconstructionism. Deconstructive postmodernism finds its seedlings in the soil of phenomenology, structuralism, Heidegger, and Nietzsche. It is not my intention to get into the technical aspects of deconstructionism. My aim is to give you the big rocks of this philosophy so that you might gain some understanding of Derrida’s role in this new strategy. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as neutrality and this is especially the case where human philosophies are concerned, and this is even more pronounced where philosophy of language is the subject. In other words, there were numerous contributing beliefs that led Derrida to the place where he landed and none of those beliefs were neutral where Christian belief is concerned.

With Derrida’s deconstructive postmodernism comes the collapse of all dogmatic theological claims. A communicated message (to include all of Scripture) like a letter, never simply arrives at the address to which it was posted. Derrida says that Criticism traditionally seeks to establish the authorized meaning of the text, the original meaning placed in the text by the author. Deconstruction consists in putting this authority ‘out of joint’. Deconstruction stands over again the idea of an authoritative, fixed meaning in the text. There is no such thing as an authorized authorially intended meaning in the text, in the sign or the thing signified. Everything is always in flux. What Derrida’s project seeks to do is to undo metaphysical versions of theology that seek to think God as supreme “Being.” Kevin Vanhoozer is helpful; What Derrida denies is that there is any presence, any kind of being or determinate reality outside the play of signs. There is no original ground or “home” of meaning, nothing beyond particular and contingent language systems, and therefore nothing to keep meaning centered, stable, and determinate. The Christian has to ask what the consequences for Derrida’s deconstructionism are for the sacred Scripture. What hope can God have for establishing a text that preserves his truth to all nations throughout every generation? The consequences that Derrida’s deconstructive postmodernism are indeed fatal for Christian doctrine. This is why any suggestion of bringing Derrida’s views into the Church should be met with stern opposition. Hopefully, you are beginning to see how incorporating Derrida into any strategy designed to bring the historic position crashing down might make sense. But this is only one tactic among many others.

Who is Michael Foucault?

Foucault is another philosopher being mentioned by these so-called evangelical leaders. Perhaps it would be good to signify them as the liberal-Marxist evangelicals, or LME for short. Foucault is a French philosopher also prominent in the area of philosophy of language. Foucault’s theories are concerned with the relationship between power and knowledge. He is interested in influence, manipulation, and control.

Foucault argues that interpreters may want to believe in a rational presence who controls textual meaning, but such a belief is dishonest if not idolatrous. The author is a stopgap figure invented by interpreters frightened by the prospect of endless meaning. The author is, therefore, the ideological figure by which one masks the manner in which we fear the proliferation of meaning. The author is an idea whose use is no longer required.

Foucault’s earliest writings focused on psychology and developed within the frameworks of Marxism and existential phenomenology. He thought that bodies of knowledge are tied to systems of social control. Foucault’s work carried with it an explicit ethical component displayed in his works, “The Use of Pleasure” and. “The Care of the Self” which aimed at the liberation of human beings from contingent conceptual constraints masked as unsurpassable a priori limits and the adumbration of alternative forms of existence. One does not have to read far before realizing that Foucault was not only interested in the relationship between knowledge and power, but more to the point, he was interested in the kind of power that freed men from the bondage of restraint, sexual restraint being only one of many. In other words, Foucault was after a power of his own. He wanted the kind of power that pulled human beings out of the dungeon of sexual restraint that he blamed on the Victorian age. Foucault was an open sadomasochist who was notorious for his sexual deviance. In fact, on June 25th, 1984, it Foucault’s sexual deviance caught up with him and he died from complications due to the HIV virus. Christians would be well-served to start paying closer attention to the direction that some leaders in the evangelical churches desire to take them. How can an evangelical pastor, theologian, or scholar be taken seriously after positing the idea that a man like Foucault has something valuable to add to Christian thought?

What is the Hermeneutic of Liberation Theology?

For several months now the Liberal-Marxist Evangelical movement has pushed an agenda that has focused on themes that have much in common with a hermeneutic of liberation. As the man who is credited with this hermeneutic, Gustavo Guierrez said in his own words: The theology of liberation offers us not so much a new theme for reflection as a new way to do theology. Theology as critical reflection on historical praxis. The hermeneutic of liberation theology reads the Scripture from the underside as its proponents call it. In other words, it reads the Scripture while standing in the shoes of the various oppressed and marginalized groups. It begins with the poor, the outcast, the female, the black, the homosexual and it looks at Scripture as if Scripture was written specifically from their personal vantage point. In other words, rather than beginning with the doxological purpose of Scripture at the highest level, and rather than examining each text through a doxological-redemptive lens, placing the text in his historical, cultural setting, examining the linguistics, grammar, language, and theological frame, the hermeneutic of liberation begins with the man, the individual, and works from there. To put it simply, Liberation Theology drives the hermeneutic rather than allowing the hermeneutic to inform and correct the theology. As Grant Osborne observes, “By the very nature of language the Bible’s univocal truths are couched in analogical language, that is, the absolute truths of Scripture were encased in the human languages and cultures of the ancient Hebrews and Greeks, and we must understand those cultures in order to interpret texts properly.”

Bridging the gap between the foundational meaning of the ancient author and its contemporary relevance can be challenging and at a minimum it demands effort. Too often we confuse clarity with simplicity or worse, easy. To say that Scripture is clear is not the same thing as saying that it is easy to interpret.

So, where does this all leave us? How do we connect the dots? The efforts to convince white Christians that they have guilty of being racists, over-privileged Americans who are not doing enough to help the marginalized have been relentless. This applies as well to the idea that there is an epidemic of abuse toward women in the churches, that the church must insist on the most liberal immigration laws, that gay Christianity is now a thing, and that women must be permitted positions of leadership within the church. Can you see the theme? The oppressed and marginalized as defined by Liberation Theologies are pounding on the evangelical church: black liberation theology; feminist liberation theology; gay liberation theology; poor liberation theology.

In order for the Liberal-Evangelical Movement to effect change, it is now calling on others for help. Jacques Derrida will provide the tools necessary to question, challenge, and deconstruct whatever traditional, historical, dogmatic doctrines of Scripture there is that stands in the way. Michael Foucault will help them on two fronts: first, he will blame the oppression of homosexuals on man-made Victorian age philosophies. He will claim that whatever doctrines and practices these folks do not like are actually the products of a religious will to power by the majority of Christians, white Christians who happen to be privileged. These tyrants have whitewashed Christianity with their white supremacy and have made Christianity a “white-man” religion. Second, he will use knowledge, so-called to throw off these shackles and assist the movement as it seeks to take control on mainstream evangelicalism. With the help of Derrida and Foucault as well as the spies who have espoused a form of liberation theology secretly, the flank of mainstream evangelicalism is well underway.  All is not lost, however. There are a number of men who are on the front lines and who, with the help of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God will not allow the flank to see completion.

If you are attracted to these ideas being put forth by the Liberal-Evangelical Movement, I would encourage you to hit the pause button.

The racial reconciliation movement ignores the work of the cross, the power of the gospel, and requires that you harbor grudges and hatred in your heart. It focuses on man and uses the illegitimate criterion of melanin to do so.

The #MeToo movement ignores the order of creation from the very beginning and dares to challenge the historic interpretation of Scripture on the role of women in the home and in the church. It focuses on the demands of women who want to impose cultural attitudes on the church.

There can be no such thing as a gay Christian. There can only be Christians who used to be gay or gay people who are not Christians.

At last check, the United States had one of the most liberal immigration policies in the world, allowing over one million people to enter the country legally. For Christians to criticize the civil authorities for doing what is within their right to do brings shame, reproach, and blasphemy on the name of Christ.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Heb 4:12–13.

 

 

 

Does Ephesians Five Really Tell Wives to Submit to their Husbands? Responding to DTS Professor, Darrell Bock and Sandra Gahn

With all the rage over feminist issues going on as a result of the #MeToo movement, it isn’t shocking that pastors and professors holding to a more culturally friendly position on the issue of male-female roles in the family and the church should start to come out of the shadows into the light. After all, it seems a bit safer these days to do so. In an article over at The Christian Post, Michael Gryboski reports that Darrell Bock and Sandra Gahn are two professors who are inching their way out of the shadows. Gryboski reports the following:

Sandra Glahn, associate professor in Media Arts and Worship at Dallas Theological Seminary who teaches a gender studies course, and Darrell Bock, senior research professor of New Testament at DTS, disagree with those who interpret the passage as meaning that wives must be subservient to their husbands.

The text does not mean that wives are to be “subservient to their husbands.” Bock says that the countercultural text has been misused. Bock says that it’s the word submission that is the problem. To some people, the idea of submission is a four-letter word. Gahn chimes in to tell us that people reading this passage need to pay attention to the verbs used in Scripture, especially for the husband. I wonder why we only have to pay attention to the verbs used “especially for the husband.” That seems a bit out of place to me. “Often, when we look at the verbs, the wife gets to submit, and it gets taught that the husband gets to lead. But that’s not his verb. That verb is not there. His verb is love, and it’s not phileo love, it’s agape love, which looks a whole lot like submission,” said Glahn. Glahn goes on to say that submission is not a woman word, it’s a human word. And then she brings out the old argument that husbands and wives are to submit to one another. And now we get to the idea of mutual submission which really isn’t submission at all. Think about that for a second. If two people are supposed to submit to one another, then no one is really submitting to anyone. There is no leader to whom the other person must submit.

Now, let’s take a quick look at the passage in question and see if we can ascertain the meaning of the passage so that we can apply it to how we live as Christians in the current environment. Let’s begin with the first verb in this pericope: Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. The verb is actually in the previous verse and it is a participle. Verse 21 is a transitional verse and the participle likely carries an imperatival sense being supplied by the imperative “be filled” with the Spirit. The wife’s submission hearkens back to Gen. 3:16 where God recognizes that Eve will desire to rule her husband but he shall rule over her. The hoti clause points clearly in this direction. This subordinate clause is a causal clause. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. In other words, because the husband is the head of the wife, the wife should submit to the husband. What does being the head of something mean? Well, look into the next clause, “as Christ is the head of the church.” Just as Christ is the head of the church, the husband is the head of his wife. Because of this, wives are to submit to their husbands.

Now, if this isn’t clear enough, it gets even clearer: Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Just as the church is subordinate to Christ, the wife is to be subordinate to her husband. So far, it seems farfetched that one could read this text without understanding it to simply mean that wives are to submit to their husbands just as the church submits to Christ. This clearly places the husband in a leadership position. How could it not? I do not have to say to the husband, now, you must lead. If I have said to the wife, you must submit to your husband, implicit in that statement is a corresponding statement to the husband to lead those who are submitting to him. That goes without saying. For a professor at DTS to miss that strikes me as odd. I am having a hard time deciding if these professors are as inept as they seem sometimes or if they are just trying to save their necks from a culture that is increasingly calling for their heads.

So far, the only significant verb at this point occurs in v. 24 and it is, hypotassō. It is the word translated “submit.” Paul now turns his attention to the husbands. The wife has her instructions: submit, be subordinate to your husband. Paul issues the command: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. The Greek imperative is used for love and it means in this context, to have a warm regard for someone, to cherish and have affection for another. Paul repeats this command in v. 28 and 33. As Christ loves the church, each husband is to love his own wife.

There is nothing in the meaning or use of the word agape here that should lead any reasonable exegete to see submission in its meaning. It just isn’t there. But Gahn says clearly that agape love looks a lot like submission. Maybe this is the problem. Those who work with the languages as a matter of routine have come to realize that there isn’t a neat category for phileo love and then another one for agape love, etc. The fact is that these words are used with overlapping meaning on numerous occasions. The best way to determine the meaning of a word is to read it in its context. Gahn is apparently ignoring that exegetical principle.

Not only does agape love in this case not carry any hint of the notion of submission, the model for the husband-wife relationship is parallel to Christ and the church. Christ loves the church. That is agape love as well. Does that mean that Christ submits to the church? We are in the immediate context of this pericope. If not, why not? How can we say that this kind of love that the husband owes to the wife sounds a lot like submission but not so with Christ and the church especially when they are within spitting distance of one another?

So, are Sandra Gahn and Darrell Bock correct when they say that this pericope has been widely misused? Is it the case that this text is pointing us to the concept of mutual submission between the husband and the wife? I cannot see how such an interpretation could be considered feasible for even a second. The word translated submit is pretty straightforward. The model for that submission is Christ and the church. That seems pretty easy to understand to me. Moreover, there isn’t a hint of submission in the word “agape.” And if there is, then this would mean that Christ should love (submit to) the church the same way that Gahn and Bock say that a husband should submit to his wife. Mutual submission is nothing more than a concept invented by scholars are who either inept in their ability to handle the text or dishonest and motivated by the fear of losing their credibility among a pagan culture who, as the professors themselves put it, think of wifely submission to their husbands as if it were a four-letter-word. Well, it’s not a four-letter-word. What it is, is the commandment of our sovereign Lord whom we are obligated to fear and obey and acknowledge in all we say and do. That is what it is.

So the answer to the question is, yes, it does. Ephesians 5 really does tell wives that they must submit to their husbands. And if you are telling them something different, then you are contradicting God. That is an undesirable position to be in for certain.