Author Archive | Denny Burk

Trump is an extinction-level event

It is not often that you will see me agreeing with Andrew Sullivan. So take note when I do. He has a long-form piece at New York Magazine ominously titled “Democracies end when they are too democratic. And right now, America is a breeding ground for tyranny.” The whole thing is about the threat of Trumpism and the very real prospect of Trump assuming the presidency. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, you should at least read the conclusion (see below). Read it and shudder. Continue Reading →

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Is disagreement about homosexuality an “intra-evangelical” discussion?

Zondervan will be releasing later this year a new book on homosexuality in their Counterpoints series—a series I appreciate and have recently contributed to. This new volume features two writers who believe homosexuality is not sinful and two writers who do. I have not read this book yet, but I am eager to see it as soon as it is available. Having said that, here are a few things to be watching for:

1. Framing Sexual Immorality as an Evangelical Option – The publisher’s description has a section that caught my eye:

Until recently most books fit neatly into two camps: non-affirming books were written by evangelicals and affirming books by non-evangelicals. Today, this divide no longer exists. Recent books written by evangelicals appeal to the authority and inspiration of Scripture as they argue for an affirming view. The question of what the Bible says about homosexuality is now an intra-evangelical discussion.

Again, I have not read this book yet. But the publisher says this book frames the discussion as an intra-evangelical dialog. This seems to suggest that one can be an evangelical Christian while affirming sexual immorality as a moral good. It seems to suggest that homosexuality is an issue over which faithful evangelicals can have disagreement and nevertheless still be considered evangelical. If the publisher’s copy is indeed borne-out in the book, that would be a whole new departure in evangelical works on this topic. It would not be a middle-of-the-road view. Framing the issue that way would give the “affirming” side what they always wanted. If not total agreement, it at least acknowledges that their views are within the pale. Such an impression would be quite misleading, but it is the impression left by the publisher’s description.

2. Are there enough views represented? – In the book Heath Lambert and I recently wrote, we identify at least four different “views” on the question of homosexuality: liberal, revisionist, neo-traditional, and traditional. This classification is important in our view because the Bible’s teaching is the central issue, not whether one is construed as “affirming” or “non-affirming” according to some non-biblical standard. Differences on this issue revolve around biblical authority and willingness to adopt revisionist readings. Additionally, the Bible’s teaching on sexual orientation is also at the center of this conflict. Both sides of the “intra-evangelical” debate affirm the Bible’s authority and its prohibition on homosexual behavior. The “intra-evangelical” debate between neo-traditionalists and traditionalists concerns the ethics of sexual orientation. Neither the liberal nor the revisionist approach can be in any way labelled as faithfully Christian, much less evangelical. The former denies the authority of scripture outright, and the latter denies it by distorting its message beyond recognition. In any case, these are meaningful distinctions, and as far as I can tell there is no one representing the “traditional” view in this volume.

3. “Affirming” vs. “Non-Affirming” – Related to the above, I am persuaded that the labels “affirming” and “non-affirming” frame the issue in a way that is already biased against what the church has always believed about homosexuality. When the labels are applied to questions of human identity, they sound as if one group likes gay people and the other doesn’t. The label “non-affirming” seems to imply animus against same-sex attracted people, while “affirming” seems to suggest openness and grace. This is an unfair and misleading way to frame this discussion, and it certainly is not a framing that originates with this book. Maybe this book will make better use of the terms than I have seen elsewhere, but I am obviously skeptical about that.

In any case, the book releases in November. Stay tuned.

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Eugene Peterson and Bono talk about the Psalms

From the YouTube description:

This short film documents the friendship between Bono (lead musician of the band U2) and Eugene Peterson (author of contemporary-language Bible translation The Message) revolving around their common interest in the Psalms. Based on interviews conducted by Fuller Seminary faculty member David Taylor and produced in association with Fourth Line Films, the film highlights in particular a conversation on the Psalms that took place between Bono, Peterson, and Taylor at Peterson’s Montana home. Continue Reading →

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Prince: “Don’t die without knowing the cross.”

I’m still absorbing the news that Prince has died. I confess that this was like a punch in the gut for me. Little known fact: I’m a huge fan of the artist formerly known as “the artist formerly known as Prince.” His music was the soundtrack of about a decade of my young life. In some ways, that is a sad commentary because so much of what he sang about was foul and salacious. But that is not why I was listening. I was listening because he was a musical genius—a kind of post-modern cross between James Brown and Jimi Hendrix, but better than both of them. Continue Reading →

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Some reflections on a church that has recently embraced egalitarianism

Last night I watched Pastor Pete Briscoe give his rationale for leading his church to welcome female elders to their leadership structure (see above). Briscoe pastors Bent Tree Bible Fellowship, a large congregation in the metro area of Dallas, Texas. His sermon amounts to a recitation of long-standing egalitarian readings of scripture. I admire that Briscoe and the elders made a public presentation of the decision and their justification for it. They have laid their cards on the table, and that is a good thing. But I still think their reasoning is flawed on many points. I am not going to give a point-by-point rebuttal. That would go beyond what is feasible in a single blog post. I would simply highlight three concerns that I think are salient in this particular case. Continue Reading →

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This is not the right side of history… University of Washington edition

The video above came out last week from The Family Policy Institute of Washington. It began making the rounds over the weekend after David French posted it at National Review. It is a stunning look at the way college kids think (or don’t think) about the moral revolution that is upon us. I offered brief remarks on Twitter, which you can read below. Continue Reading →

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Secretary Clinton defends the greatest human rights crisis of our time


At last night’s Democratic debate, Secretary Clinton went on a tear about abortion. She insisted that she would do everything in her power to make sure that it remains legal to kill unborn humans at any time and for any reason–even at or during the ninth month of pregnancy. In short, both she and Senator Bernie Sanders will not accept any limitation on legal abortion. They want it to be a legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy. No compromise. In her own words: Continue Reading →

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Bono and Eugene Peterson Team-up in Short Film

Apparently, Bono is a big fan of The Message, Eugene Peterson’s idiomatic English translation of the Bible. Bono has been known to quote from it during his concerts. He has even read to his dying father from Peterson’s rendering of the New Testament.

Now Bono and Peterson have teamed up for a conversation about the Psalms. The teaser trailer is above. It is produced by Fuller Seminary, and here’s the description from the teaser’s YouTube page:

What happens when the lead singer of U2 and the writer of The Message meet to discuss the Psalms?

Find out in a new short film on Bono and Eugene Peterson premiering exclusively on FULLER studio, Fuller’s new online resource for a deeply informed spiritual life: Our stories. Our theology. Our voice: launching April 26.

Worlds collide. Who’s not going to watch this one?

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