Archive | Christianity

Mystic Patriotism

About a year ago, I read G. K. Chesterton’s reflections on what it means to be a Christian patriot. If you have never read it, I encourage you to read “The Flag of the World” in his classic work Orthodoxy. Chesterton contends that love of one’s homeland is not like house-hunting—an experience in which you weigh the pros and cons of a place and choose accordingly. He writes:

A man belongs to this world before he begins to ask if it is nice to belong to it. He has fought for the flag, and often won heroic victories for the flag long before he has ever enlisted. To put shortly what seems the essential matter, he has a loyalty long before he has any admiration.

We do not choose our homeland. It is something that we are born into. Thus our acceptance of our home is not like a house that we can leave when we tire of it. It is like the love we have for our family: Continue Reading →

Why “same-sex attraction” may be more confusing than clarifying in our debates about sexuality

One of the besetting difficulties surrounding discussions of sexuality is terminology. Many of us are simply not on the same page when it comes to the meaning of the terms we use to frame the discussion. Also, many of the terms we use are loaded with baggage from secular theory that does more to confuse than to illuminate.

I’ve been thinking recently about one of these terms and how its current usage does indeed confuse rather than clarify. That term is attraction. Many people who write about sexuality tend to use “attraction” and “desire” as synonyms. Thus to say that someone experiences “same-sex attraction” is just another way of saying that they experience “same-sex desire.” I think this usage is a demonstrable fact in both theological and non-theological literature. I give a number of examples in my book, but I will provide one here to illustrate the point. In their book Sexuality and Sex Therapy (InterVarsity, 2014), Mark Yarhouse and Erica Tan write this (p. 296): Continue Reading →

Are Southern Baptists turning into feminists?

Margaret Bendroth has a provocative op-ed in the New York Times today titled “Could Southern Baptists Actually Become Feminists?” In short, she is reflecting on recent events in SBC life and what they might mean for Southern Baptists going forward. She focuses on what happened at the SBC annual meeting last week with the passage of a resolution on abuse and the election of J. D. Greear to the presidency of the SBC.

Her observations lead her to wonder aloud whether the SBC might be moving in a feminist direction. I think the answer to that questions is a resounding “no,” especially based on what I observed at the meeting last week.

It is true that J. D. Greear represents a younger generation of SBC leadership, but he is not a feminist. In fact, he has stated in no uncertain terms that he is a complementarian and fully affirms CBMW’s Danvers Statement. Greear writes, “The Summit Church is unashamedly and uncompromisingly complementarian. We affirm without qualification the Danvers Statement on gender roles in the kingdom of God.” Elsewhere, he has written: “Women are not to occupy that special, authoritative role of teacher in the church, either formally or functionally. That’s why Paul’s distinction of ‘teaching’ and ‘authority’ as two distinct things in 1 Tim 2:12 is significant.” Whatever one wants to call this, I don’t think it can be called feminism.

It is also true that the SBC passed a really strong statement against abuse, but this resolution can in no way be construed as a move toward feminism. As Bendroth notes, the resolution affirms “biblical headship.” But it is also important to note that the resolution affirms headship as that which “blesses, honors, and protects wives and children and does not require them to submit to sin or to abuse.” What does this mean? It means that complementarianism is not to blame for abuse. It’s the failure of complementarianism that is to blame for abuse. There’s no question that some people have tried to use good theology as a cover for abuse. But make no mistake. Abuse is a perversion and betrayal of biblical headship, not an expression of it. That’s what Southern Baptists affirmed last week.

Complementarianism is written into the confessional statement of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Baptist Faith & Message 2000. And that commitment was reaffirmed by messengers in a spontaneous way during Albert Mohler’s report on Southern Seminary. Dr. Mohler was asked about women teaching men in seminaries, and Dr. Mohler reaffirmed Southern’s complementarian commitments and explained that only men who are qualified to be pastors are allowed to teach in the school of theology. The response from the messengers in the hall was a rousing applause of affirmation (watch it here at 1:27:56). Again, there was no sign of some underlying feminist disapproval. The messengers liked what Mohler had to say on these points.

Is there diversity of opinion in the SBC about how complemenarian principles should be applied? Certainly there is. But the fundamental commitment to complementarian principle as outlined in the Baptist Faith & Message is not in question. On the contrary, the leadership and messengers reaffirmed it at every opportunity. And as long as Southern Baptists remain steadfast in their commitment to the authority of scripture, that is not going to change.

If same-sex attraction is sinful, then what?

Recently, there has been much debate about sexuality and human identity. A great deal of it has been related to the upcoming “Revoice” conference in St. Louis. That controversy is ongoing. As I have mentioned previously, evangelicals have not come to a consensus whether same-sex attraction is sinful and whether it is the proper basis for constructing an “identity.”

Heath Lambert and I wrote a book back in 2015 arguing that SSA is sinful as it is a part of our fallen Adamic nature (see Transforming Homosexuality, P&R 2015). Our argument goes against some celibate gay identity proponents who argue that SSA may be a part of the brokenness of creation but is not itself sinful. They would say that SSA is fallen, but it’s fallen like cancer not like pride. Our argument also goes against those like Gregory Coles who suggest that SSA may have roots in God’s good creation design. Continue Reading →

The SBC’s Resolution on Abuse

Andrew Walker, Katie McCoy, and I co-authored a resolution “On Abuse” that was approved overwhelmingly by the Southern Baptist Convention yesterday. Much of the language that we submitted was based on CBMW’s statement on abuse, which was published last March. The final text of the resolution is below. Many thanks to the SBC’s resolutions committee for reporting this out to messengers for a vote. Read below: Continue Reading →

The End of BibleWorks

If you walk into my study at any given time of the day, you will find that there is one program that is almost always open on my computer—BibleWorks. I use this software not only in my private study but also in nearly all of my college courses. For me, losing this software would be like losing a limb.

That is why I was so sad to read the news today that BibleWorks has decided to cease operations as a provider of Bible software tools. When I say sad, I mean really grieved. I have used this tool so much and for so long, I can hardly believe that it is about to be no longer available. That is why I urge you serious students of scripture to purchase a copy before it becomes unavailable on June 15. Why am I so high on this software? There are several reasons: Continue Reading →

What about the Revoice conference?

I’ve had a number of readers ask me about my thoughts on the upcoming Revoice conference. For those of you who haven’t heard, this is a conference featuring celibate gay identity proponents such as Wesley Hill and Gregory Coles. For those asking, I have heard about the conference, but I haven’t written about it for two reasons:

1. I’ve already written extensively about the celibate gay identity movement. For starters, you can check-out the book that Heath Lambert and I co-authored Transforming Homosexuality in which we argue that same-sex attraction and sexual orientation are morally implicated in scripture. I make a similar case in an article I wrote for The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society titled “Is Homosexual Orientation Sinful?” More recently, I wrote a review of Gregory Coles’s book that takes a critical look at his version of celibate gay identity. There are many more items I could point to, but that’s a start. The point of view I’ve argued for is the one you’ll find in The Nashville Statement and in the work of Sam Allberry, Rosaria Butterfield, and Kevin DeYoung among others. Continue Reading →

What was lacking in Bishop Michael Curry’s royal wedding sermon

After the royal wedding this past weekend, there was a lot of celebratory discussion about Bishop Michael Curry, who delivered the sermon during the ceremony. It was a sermon on the love of God, and Bishop Curry even referred to Christ as the exemplar of this kind of love.

Nevertheless, there are many bible-believing Christians who are less than enthusiastic about this message. I am one of them, and here’s why. The way I see it, there were at least two major problems with Bishop Curry’s address. Continue Reading →

A word about criticism from anonymous sources

Over the weekend, Ivan Mesa posted a quotation from Charles Spurgeon that seems particularly apt in our social media age:

Truer words have never been spoken. I can remember as a young man hearing my pastor talk about what he does with anonymous letters. He ignores them. And now I get it. They are acts of cowardice written by someone who doesn’t wish to be accountable for his own criticism (and such letters typically are critical). Such communiques are not written from love but from self-preservation. Their anonymity seems to be a mark against the character of the sender. How can they be trusted? Indeed, they are contemptible. Continue Reading →

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