Archive | Christianity

Is the Bible Foundational to Christianity?

Andy Stanley preached a controversial sermon a couple weeks ago arguing that the Bible should not be the basis of our Christian faith. A number of worthy responses have appeared, but I want to highlight one that appears today from Michael Kruger. Kruger sets forth a copious critique of Stanley’s argument. I highly recommend that you read all of it. Among other things, Kruger writes: Continue Reading →

“The Benedict Option” for evangelicals will likely include 9Marks

I am a Baptist by conviction. That means that I not only hold to believer’s baptism but that I also adhere to congregational polity. I believe in these not for pragmatic reasons—though I do think they “work” the best—but for biblical reasons. It marks out a way of being in the world, not of the world, for the sake of the world.

Without question, my understanding of scripture on these matters has been decisively shaped by Mark Dever and the ministry of 9Marks. For me, this influence began when I was still a seminary student in a conversation with Mark Dever in the hallway at Southern Seminary. It was actually more of a debate. But over time after doing more reading and study, I became persuaded that he was right about what the Bible teaches. Continue Reading →

Should an Evangelical Theological Society admit members who affirm gay marriage?

Stan Gundry is Senior Vice President and Publisher at Zondervan Academic and a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). On Friday, he posted a letter to the membership of ETS voicing concern about a resolution passed at our annual meeting last November in Atlanta. Before getting into this, a little background is in order.

At last year’s meeting Owen Strachan offered a resolution affirming traditional marriage and the sexual binary taught in scripture. These kinds of resolutions are unusual at ETS, but the rationale was that such a resolution might be in order given the extraordinary Obergefell decision handed down by the Supreme Court just months before the annual meeting. I made the motion that the four points of the resolution be taken together and voted up or down. Here are the four points. Continue Reading →

The child was sick so they killed him. And it’s legal.

The stakes couldn’t be any higher or more grave than they are in this report:

A terminally ill minor has become the first child to be euthanized in Belgium since age restrictions were lifted in the country two years ago, according to several sources.

A Belgian lawmaker told CNN affiliate VTM that the physician-assisted suicide happened within the past week.

The child, who was suffering from an incurable disease, had asked for euthanasia, Sen. Jean-Jacques De Gucht told VTM. The identity of the child and age are unknown.

“I think it’s very important that we, as a society, have given the opportunity to those people to decide for themselves in what manner they cope with that situation,” said Gucht, a supporter of euthanasia legislation.

According to the BBC, the child was 17-years old. Lest you think this is far removed from us, just remember that physician-assisted suicide is already legal in the states of Washington, Oregon, California, and Vermont. We are not so far behind.

What does this precedent mean? Like in the United States, a child cannot decide by himself that he wants to die. According to the report, the child must understand what euthanasia is and the parents must also give consent to let it happen.

But what does it mean for a child to know what euthanasia is? Does he really understand death and mortality? Do his parents who must give consent even understand? Do they understand that every life is sacred because it is created in the image of God? Do they understand that “consent” does not nullify the dignity that God has given to that precious life? Do they understand that if we only value lives that meet a minimum threshold of “quality,” then none of us are safe? As a society, do Belgians (and we) understand that just because consent is required today does not mean that it will be required tomorrow?

If life is only reckoned as valuable based on utility or quality of life, then when society deems such lives unworthy of living consent may no longer be required. Utilitarianism can be a conscience-crushing, life-destroying moral argument. And we must oppose it wherever it raises itself up against the image of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). This is a slippery slope that we must not go down, but it appears we are already on the move.

Lord have mercy.

Five quick points on the ESV’s rendering of Genesis 3:16

This is not the definitive post on the translation of Genesis 3:16. But in light of controversy surrounding recent changes in the ESV, I thought I’d offer some reflections on the interpretation of this text. I am particularly interested to interact with some of the items in Scot McKnight‘s post on the topic. So here we go.

But first, here is the change that was made:

Permanent Text of Gen. 3:16 Previous Text of Gen. 3:16
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.

Continue Reading →

They’ll never come after churches… until they do

The Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination issued a document last week titled “Gender Identity Guidance.” Among other things, it requires places of public accommodation to acknowledge and affirm transgender identities.

It is not difficult to see the religious liberty implications for such a policy. It means, for instance, that a Christian bookstore would have to make its sex-segregated bathrooms available to persons based on their gender identity not on their biological sex.

It also means that places of public accommodation must “Use names, pronouns, and gender-related terms appropriate to employee’s stated gender identity in communications with employee and with others.”

But here’s the kicker. The new policy even requires churches to acknowledge and affirm transgender identities in events that are open to the public. The guidelines say this:

“Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public. All persons, regardless of gender identity, shall have the right to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation” (emphasis mine).

Over at The Washington Post, Eugene Volokh notes the conflict with religious liberty that this will eventually provoke:

Now, churches hold events “open to the general public” all the time — it’s often how they seek new converts. And even church “secular events,” which I take it means events that don’t involve overt worship, are generally viewed by the church as part of its ministry, and certainly as a means of the church modeling what it believes to be religiously sound behavior.

My guess is that most churches would not turn someone away from a generally open spaghetti supper… But some religious leaders, as well as the church employees and volunteers, may refuse to use pronouns that they believe are inconsistent with God’s plan as revealed by anatomy.

Volokh offers an extended quotation from a blog I wrote a while back about transgender naming. In it, I wrote this:

Truth-telling is always necessary for the Christian (Eph. 4:15). We are not allowed speak in ways that are fundamentally dishonest and that undermine the truth of God’s word about how he made us and the world. Transgender ideology is fundamentally a revolt against God’s truth. It encourages people–sometimes very disturbed and hurting people–to deny who God made them to be. It traps them in a way of thinking and living that is harmful to them and that alienates them from God’s truth. We do not serve them or love them well by speaking as if transgender fictions are true. …

The practical upshot of this principle means that I must never encourage or accomodate transgender fictions with my words. In fact, I have an obligation to expose them. For me, that means that I may never refer to a biological male with pronouns that encourage him to think of himself as a female. Likewise, I may never refer to a biological female with pronouns that encourage her to think of herself as a male. In other words, I have to speak truthfully. And that includes the choice of pronouns that I use.

I have no idea how many evangelicals would agree with the conclusions I reached about transgender naming. For all I know, it may not be very many at all. Nevertheless–whether many or few–Christians ought not be compelled to speak in ways that violate their conscience, but that is precisely what this new law in Massachusetts requires.

What does this mean? It means that the activists are not going to leave churches alone. They are coming for churches to make them conform or risk sanction by the state. It’s already happening in Massachusetts. I expect it to will spread to other states as well.

This is where we are. It looks like Rod Dreher’s “law of merited impossibility” is unfolding right before our very eyes. In this case, it goes like this: “Stop being a Chicken Little. The sexual revolutionaries will never come after the churches, but when they do churches will deserve it!”

10 Things You Should Know about Headship and Submission

Sam Storms has written two “10 Things” posts about the Bible’s teaching on headship and submission within marriage. Even though these are well-known biblical concepts (e.g., Eph. 5:22; 1 Cor. 11:3), they are often misunderstood, and Sam does a really good job describing what headship and submission are and what they are not. Here’s a short excerpt from the post on submission:

(1) Submission (Gk., hupotasso) carries the implication of voluntary yieldedness to a recognized authority. Biblical submission is appropriate in several relational spheres: the wife to her husband (Eph. 5:22-24); children to their parents (Eph. 6:1); believers to the elders of the church (Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12); citizens to the state (Rom. 13); servants (employees) to their masters (employers) (1 Pt. 2:18); and each believer to every other believer in humble service (Eph. 5:21).

(2) Submission is not grounded in any supposed superiority of the husband or inferiority of the wife (see Gal. 3:28; 1 Pet. 3:7). The concept of the wife being the “helper” (Gen. 2:18-22) of the husband in no way implies her inferiority. In fact, the Hebrew word translated “helper” is often used in the OT to refer to God as the “helper” of mankind. Surely he is not inferior to us! Rather, this passage means that the husband, even before the fall into sin, was incomplete without his wife and that the husband will never reach his full potential apart from the input of his wife.

(3) Submission does not mean a wife is obligated to follow should her husband lead her into sin. The biblical principle that we owe obedience to God first and foremost applies to Christian wives as well. If there must be a choice between obedience to God and obedience to the state, God is to be obeyed (Acts 5:29). The same would apply in a marriage.

These two posts really are helpful explainers of controversial biblical concepts. Read them both at the following links:

“10 Things You Should Know about Male Headship”

“10 Things You Should Know about Female Submission”

How trigger warnings shut down Christian speech

Alan Levinovitz is a professor at James Madison University, and he argues in The Atlantic that “trigger warnings” in university syllabi have the effect of shutting out Christian viewpoints. He explains:

According to anonymous in-class surveys, about one-third of my students believe in the exclusive salvific truth of Christianity. But rarely do these students defend their beliefs in class. In private, they have told me that they believe doing so could be construed as hateful, hostile, intolerant, and disrespectful; after all, they’re saying that if others don’t believe what they do, they’ll go to hell…

The unpleasant truth is that historically marginalized groups, including racial minorities and members of the LGBT community, are not the only people whose beliefs and identities are marginalized on many college campuses. Those who believe in the exclusive truth of a single revealed religion or those who believe that all religions are nonsensical are silenced by the culture of trigger warnings and safe spaces. I know this is true because I know these students are in my classroom, but I rarely hear their opinions expressed in class.

Read the rest here.

The disappearing “middleground” and the coming conflict

David Gushee has written a column for Religion News Service arguing that the “middleground” is disappearing on LGBT rights. He writes:

Middle ground is disappearing on the question of whether LGBT persons should be treated as full equals, without any discrimination in society — and on the related question of whether religious institutions should be allowed to continue discriminating due to their doctrinal beliefs.

It turns out that you are either for full and unequivocal social and legal equality for LGBT people, or you are against it, and your answer will at some point be revealed. This is true both for individuals and for institutions.

Neutrality is not an option. Neither is polite half-acceptance. Nor is avoiding the subject. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.

Gushee is no doubt right about this. Those pushing for LGBT “rights” do not mean to offer any accommodation whatsoever to those of us who dissent from the moral revolution overtaking the West. All dissent must be eliminated, and those who continue to defy the revolution must be marginalized as morally retrograde bigots. There will be no hiding. No compromises. Everyone will eventually be smoked-out. And those who resist will be crushed. That is their aim. Continue Reading →

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