If you didn’t get the SNL joke, this post is for you.


SNL’s opening sketch has been making the rounds over the weekend (see above). It lampoons the President’s executive order granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. It occurred to me that there are probably countless viewers who don’t get the joke because they are too young to remember the source material for this skit. For those of you who fall in that category, this post is for you. Continue Reading →

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The Owlings: A Worldview Adventure Story

It’s holiday season and time to think about gift ideas. I just came across this new little book written and illustrated by Dan Dewitt. It’s titled The Owlings: A Worldview Novella. The book focuses on four talking owls: Gilbert, Clive, Dorothy, and Reuel. You likely recognize the names: G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, and J.R.R. Tolkien. From the publisher’s description:

The Owlings is a worldview adventure for readers young and old alike about a young boy named Josiah who discovered an important lesson from some unlikely visitors. Get ready to meet Gilbert, a talking owl, who is joined by three of his friends to explain the greatest truth in all of the world—that the world is not all there is, or ever was, or ever will be.

You can get a copy here.

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What’s wrong with reparative therapy?

I have expressed my own concerns about reparative therapy on this blog in the past. But Heath Lambert has perhaps the most thoroughgoing critique from an evangelical perspective that I have yet seen. He focuses his attention on the work of Joseph Nicolosi and writes,

I am convinced that one of those unbiblical approaches to change is reparative therapy. Reparative therapy (RT) is infamous in the current cultural context. It has received scorn in the media, politics, and psychology. Many people, including Christians, have embraced it because of the promise of change it holds out to homosexual men and women.

Because of the controversial nature of the therapy it is crucial for Christians to think through it with care. I want to try and begin that thoughtfulness in this blog by evaluating RT as articulated by Joseph Nicolosi in Shame and Attachment Loss: The Practical Work of Reparative Therapy. Many other articulations and modifications of RT are out there, but Nicolosi is the leading practitioner and Shame and Attachment Loss is his most recent—and most thorough—articulation of the therapy.

I will argue here, that in spite of some positive elements, RT is an unbiblical and ultimately unhelpful approach to change for same-sex attraction.

Lambert does not mince any words here. Near the conclusion, he explains why he does not even regard reparative therapy as a Christian approach to counseling:

Any method of change will fall short if it fails to understand the central importance of repentance in the change process. God has ordained that our sinful desires and behaviors are changed as we humbly name our sin, and plead with God for his grace to turn from sin to Him (Prov. 28:13).

This is a crucial matter. If the core problem of homosexuality is something other than sin, the solution will be something other than the grace of Jesus Christ. This is an unacceptable concession for Christians. The gospel is truly at stake in this issue.

Any counseling approach that ignores the importance of repentance and the consequent centrality of Jesus Christ, as RT does, is not worthy to be called Christian.

This conversation will no doubt be explosive, but it is a conversation that evangelicals need to have. Read the rest of Lambert’s essay here.

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The Pope affirms the “Complementarity” of Marriage

Six videos have been released in conjunction with the Vatican’s colloquium on complementarity—an event being held now in Rome. I have not yet seen all six, but I have viewed the first one (see above). It is really well done. In fact, I would say that this is a must-watch video. It bears an international, timeless perspective on the fundamental “complementarity” of marriage—that is, that marriage is fundamentally a heterosexual union. It includes testimonials from N. T. Wright, Peter Kreeft, and many others.

I think that this video is expressing what Pope Francis himself declared today in his opening remarks to the colloquium. In a translation provided by the Vatican News website, the Pope affirms that marriage is irreducibly heterosexual in its nature. You can read his remarks here.

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Evangelicals meet to discuss sexual orientation in San Diego this week

This week the 66th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) will be held in San Diego, California. I will be there to participate in a special session on sexual orientation. As I have said elsewhere, I think that we evangelicals have not yet thought our way through to biblical clarity on this issue. Among evangelicals who are otherwise close to one another confessionally, there is still a range of opinions about how to think biblically about sexual orientation. There are some who recognize same-sex orientation as an identity category that is beyond moral scrutiny. There are others who deny that Christians can even make faithful use of the category. There are some who view same-sex attraction as morally benign, and others who do not.

So for our special session we’ve gathered together three New Testament professors who are publishing in this area and who are coming at this question from different perspectives: Wesley Hill, Preston Sprinkle, and yours truly. The three of us will present papers and then sit for a panel discussion moderated by Owen Strachan. These are good brothers, and I am looking forward to be sharpened by them. If you are in or near San Diego during this year’s ETS meeting, I would love to see you there. Here’s the info on our session:

Session: “Issues in Sexuality & Gender”
When: 2:00-5:10pm, Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Where: Hampton, Town and Country Resort & Convention Center, San Diego, CA

Presentations:
DENNY BURK, “Is Same-Sex Orientation Sinful?”
PRESTON SPRINKLE, “Sexual Orientation in Paul’s World: It’s Not What You Think”
WESLEY HILL, “Is Being Gay Sanctifiable? Scripture and the Great Tradition on Same-Sex Love and Christian Friendship”
OWEN STRACHAN, moderator of panel discussion

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Albert Mohler comments on KBC decision to oust church

Yesterday, the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) voted to sever ties with the historic Louisville congregation Crescent Hill Baptist Church. The KBC moved to disfellowship because the church has recently announced that it no longer believes homosexuality to be a sin. Albert Mohler commented on the move yesterday to a reporter from our local NBC affiliate. See above.

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Russell Moore explains why couples shouldn’t write their own wedding vows

Russell Moore explains why he declines to marry couples who write their own wedding vows. To get the full rationale, you should read or listen to all of it. But here’s a snippet of his argument:

And when a couple writes his or her own vows, or when a couple together writes their own vows, what’s happening is that couple is suggesting somehow that their vows are unique. The vows are not unique; as a matter of fact, as a friend of mine who is a pastor puts it often, what makes the wedding, any particular wedding, significant is not what makes it different from every other wedding but what makes it the same.

A couple starting out a wedding frankly don’t know the vows that they need to make without the rest of the body of Christ, with those who’ve gone before them. A twenty-five-year-old couple, they are not thinking about Alzheimer’s disease. They are not thinking about what happens when we find out that our small child is dying with cancer. They don’t think about what happens if one of us commits adultery and we have to work through the aftermath of that. The rest of the body of Christ is speaking of the fact that the vows you are making to one another aren’t simply when things are in conditions as they are right now, and it’s not simply when things are in conditions that you can imagine right now, but it’s in sickness and in health; for richer, for poorer; till death do us part. Those are the sorts of vows that ought to be made.

You can listen to the entire answer below or read the rest here.

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Gushee is no martyr

Matthew Franck excoriates David Gushee’s coming-out in favor of gay marriage. In particular, Franck criticizes the suggestion that Gushee is some kind of a martyr. He writes:

Gushee gives us bad anthropology, shallow theology, and uncharitable ethics, but impeccable social fashion for today’s world. He also—and this is not central to his argument, but appears to be essential to his opinion of himself—makes a repeated comparison of himself and his like-minded Christian friends to the brave leaders of the American civil rights movement a half century ago, and even to the martyred hero of Christian resistance to Nazism, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. That is simply appalling, coming from a man who is now only in danger of being lionized, not fed to the lions, tortured and executed like Bonhoeffer, or attacked with dogs and firehoses…

But Gushee is certainly full of high self-love. In his own eyes he is a brave heir to Bonhoeffer’s legacy, prepared to lose friendships among the hopelessly retrogade, the bitter clingers to the teachings of Jesus and his apostles as the church has always understood them. The dark fate that awaits the courageous David Gushee consists of major newspaper features, interviews with celebrity journalists, acclaim from his academic peers, and book-signing parties in our best progressive bookstores across the country. My, what a martyrdom.

Ouch. Read the rest here.

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My thoughts on “Interstellar”: It asks all the right questions but gives all the wrong answers.

I saw the movie Interstellar a couple nights ago, and I’m still thinking about it now. It’s a mind-bending meditation on the meaning of life set within an epic intergalactic journey to save humanity. Superficially, it’s a sci-fi flick. But most fundamentally, it’s about metaphysics and theology.

Here’s the plot in a nutshell. At some point in the not too distant future, the world becomes increasingly uninhabitable to humans. The food supply is afflicted by blight, and the world becomes a giant dustbowl. America no longer has a military and has ceased to lead the world in innovation and technology. In this dystopian future, the decline of American greatness seals the fate of the planet. It is only a matter of time before human beings on earth will all die of asphyxiation and lung disease. Continue Reading →

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Federal Appeals Court upholds laws banning gay marriage

From Robert Barnes at The Washington Post:

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld same-sex marriage bans in four states Thursday afternoon, creating a split among the nation’s appeals courts that almost surely means the Supreme Court must take up the issue of whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

The panel ruled 2 to 1 that while gay marriage is almost inevitable, in the words of U.S. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, it should be settled through the democratic process and not the judiciary. The decision overturned rulings in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky, and makes it the first appeals court to uphold state bans since the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

I expect Barnes’s report to be updating here. Here’s is a link to the 6th Circuit’s decision.

This is big news. This is the kind of conflict among federal courts that the Supreme Court has to step in and resolve. If SCOTUS stays on their current trajectory, they could issue a decision that would make gay marriage legal in all 50 states. Stay tuned.

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