Archive | Christianity

God loves you. We love you. Tell us what it’s like to be you.

Andrew Wilson recently preached a message at King’s Church Eastbourne on “Transgender and Intersex.” His text is Matthew 19:1-12, and he does a faithful job with it. He is a really fantastic communicator, and he clearly sets forth the teaching of scripture and how it applies to our thinking about transgender and intersex.

This message is not mainly polemical but pastoral. I like his line about how we ought to communicate with those wrestling with gender identity issues: “God loves you. We love you. Tell us what it’s like to be you.” Of course there’s more to say than that, but we certainly shouldn’t be saying less than that, right?

On a related note, Andrew also participated in a podcast discussion with Megan Defranza about her book on intersex. You can listen below.

At one point during the discussion, Andrew asks Defranza a pointed question. He presses her to explain how her views on intersex challenge a more conservative reading of scripture. I’m not sure that she ever answers his question directly. If I were to characterize the challenge her book brings, I would do it this way.

Conservative evangelicals have argued that the “givenness” of the male/female binary is the basis for the givenness of the gender role distinctions. Defranza believes that intersex persons prove that the male/female binary is not a “given.” In other words, the male/female binary of Genesis 1 and Matthew 19 is no norm at all. One implication of this view is that evangelical Christians can and should embrace transgender identities as normal and good.

As I have said before, the revision that she proposes is a theological earthquake and completely at odds with what the Bible teaches.

I am grateful for Andrew’s willingness to address these issues with clarity and pastoral concern. More pastors need to be doing the same.


What does the Bible teach about homosexual desire and identity?

Heath Lambert and I did a series of interviews with Family Life Today about our book Transforming Homosexuality. For many of you readers, the content of our book is no mystery. Still, in these recent discussions we do go into a little more depth. Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine are great interviewers, and they are pros at teasing-out the practical implications of things.

One of the things that comes out in these interviews is how much this book applies to all people. Yes, we are trying to ask and answer pressing questions about homosexuality. But in doing so, we are really just talking about the way sin and desire work inside all people—including us.

All of us—gay, straight, or otherwise—have deeply ingrained desires that are contrary to God’s will for us. In that sense, Christians have far more in common with our gay neighbors than perhaps we have previously recognized. We all stand in need of the transforming grace of God, and that is exactly what the gospel offers us.

The interview is in three parts and will be airing over the next three days on radio stations across the country. Family Life has already posted the series to its website, and you can listen or download them there. You can access them as well at the Family Life Podcast. Finally, you can listen or download below. Continue Reading →


Are you a closet annihilationist?

National Geographic has an interesting article on the doctrine of Hell. Chris Date, Preston Sprinkle, Clark Pinnock, and Edward Fudge are all quoted in the piece. The gist of it is that evangelical belief in the traditional doctrine of hell is in decline.

Over the last 20 years, the number of Americans who believe in the fiery down under has dropped from 71 percent to 58 percent. Heaven, by contrast, fares much better and, among Christians, remains an almost universally accepted concept…

Annihilationsists believe they have already made significant inroads within the evangelical community.

“My prediction is that, even within conservative evangelical circles, the annihilation view of hell will be the dominant view in 10 or 15 years,” says Preston Sprinkle, who co-authored the book Erasing Hell, which, in 2011, debuted at number three on the New York Times bestseller list. “I base that on how many well-known pastors secretly hold that view. I think that we are at a time and place when there is a growing suspicion of adopting tradition for the sake of tradition.”

Four thoughts about this: Continue Reading →


How Trump divided and conquered the religious right

Sarah Posner has an interesting read in Rolling Stone titled “The Religious Right’s Come-to-Jesus About Trump.” She argues that Trump has not united evangelicals as a voting bloc but has divided them. I think she’s right that the Republican coalition is breaking-up and say so in the article. She writes,

Trump has been bragging about his evangelical support since he began receiving favorable coverage, dating back to last summer, at the Christian Broadcasting Network — the media empire launched by Pat Robertson, whose Christian Coalition pioneered the evangelical get-out-the-vote strategy. But despite besting Ted Cruz among evangelical voters in several states, including in the Deep South, Trump faces a divided religious right. That means it will be harder for him to mobilize these otherwise reliable Republican voters in November. But it also means religious right leaders will have to clean up the detritus Trump has made of their movement.

Read the rest here. Continue Reading →


Is there a difference between male and female?

This is not intended to be funny. It’s intended to reveal that as a culture we have become completely unmoored from reality. These college students are not outliers. Many young men and women have been weaned on the idea that there is no difference between men and women.Yes, there may be biological differences, but those biological differences have no necessary relationship to one’s identity.

These students have drunk deeply from the well of propaganda flowing from the gender studies department. As a result, they don’ t know the difference between male and female, and they don’t seem too concerned about it.

This is the unraveling of a civilization. The downstream effects of this confusion will not be happy for us. What you are seeing here is a willingness to abandon reason and common sense in order to prop-up fictional identities. To put it in theological terms, it’s “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). It’s evicting God’s revelation about the way things are in order to ensconce an anthropological fiction.

But at the end of the day, water will wet you. Fire will burn. Two plus two still equals four. There are things that do not change no matter how much the sexual revolutionaries might wish them away. The only question is how long our culture will go along with their fictions.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…” -Gen. 1:27-28


Complementarianism: A quick observation about where we’ve been and where we’re going

I was just reading Joe Carter’s explainer on the Justice Department’s recent warning to North Carolina concerning their “bathroom law.” (By the way, Carter’s explainers are always excellent and helpful. Don’t miss them.) He shows that the Justice Department’s redefinition of “sex” is unprecedented and actually will do harm to real women. In his conclusion, Carter makes an observation worth noting:

This is why complementarianism is not merely about “submission” within the family. It’s also about protecting women from a culture that worships male power and disdains femininity, and has no qualms about using the LGBTQIA movement to codify advantages for men into the law.

I think Joe is right about this, and there is a smiling providence that we would do well to acknowledge. The complementarian vision was forged in an intra-evangelical conflict over the role of women in ministry. Ultimately, it involved issues of authority and leadership in both the church and the home. In the late 80’s and 90’s when evangelical theologians began to produce a body of work to articulate and defend the complementarian position, no one could have anticipated how important this work would be for the controversies we are now facing. Continue Reading →

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 →

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 →

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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