Archive | Theology/Bible

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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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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Death, Be Not Proud


Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

———-
Poem: “Death, Be Not Proud” (Holy Sonnet 10), by John Donne
Music Credit: Audrey Assad, “Death, Be Not Proud”

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Transgender: When Psychological Identity Trumps Bodily Identity

Earlier this week, I spoke at the ERLC National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I was asked to address the topic of transgender. An adapted excerpt from my manuscript is below. The full video is below.

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Now that the gay marriage cause is all but won, sexual revolutionaries are turning their attention to the “T” in LGBT. Both Newsweek and Time have written cover stories in the last two years arguing that the transgender cause is the next phase of the LGBT revolution. There seems to be evidence confirming this in headlines across the country. From the city ordinance in Houston that led to the subpoena of pastors’ sermons to children being allowed into the opposite sex bathrooms in public schools, there is no question that significant cultural changes are afoot. Continue Reading →

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What David Gushee’s change of heart really means

Jonathan Merritt reports for Religion News Service that David Gushee no longer believes homosexual, bisexual, or transgender behavior to be sinful. Who is David Gushee? He is an ethicist that has been a part of the evangelical movement for many years—which is why Merritt has splashed his story. Merritt puts forth Gushee’s change of heart as a decision of great consequence for the evangelical movement saying, “It is difficult to overstate the potential impact of Gushee’s defection.”

Several thoughts come to mind in response to this report: Continue Reading →

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When Popes and councils contradict each other

Andrew Sullivan calls the news out of the Vatican yesterday a “pastoral revolution.” That point is being vigorously contested right now by the likes of Robbie George, George Weigel and R. R. Reno, who point out that the statement in question has no official status. Some reports say that the report reflects the sentiments of a plurality of bishops participating in the synod. Still, it is significant that a synod of Bishops has even released an interim report affirming the church’s traditional teaching on marriage and sexuality while calling for “courageous pastoral choices” that include valuing gay “sexual orientation.”

At least some of these bishops wish to maintain the language of the catechism but to adopt pastoral practices that contradict it. This enables them to say that the church’s teaching on homosexuality has remained constant and that the only change is in how it is applied in people’s lives. But in this case, that distinction doesn’t work. One cannot value something and at the same time repent of it, and yet that is what these bishops appear to be calling for. Most people (I think) can see the contradiction. Continue Reading →

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Did the Roman Catholic Church just change its position on divorce and gay marriage?

The headlines coming out of the Vatican yesterday are nothing less than eye-popping. Here’s just a handful:

What is going on here? Did the Roman Catholic Church really just nullify its 2,000-year old teaching on the nature of marriage and sexual ethics? If all you had were these headlines, you might think so. Continue Reading →

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The argument from irony against close communion

Well, I suppose I would be better off letting Mark Jones’ essay attacking close communion go by without comment. I am reminded of the Proverb, “Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own” (Proverbs 26:17). Jones’s post wasn’t addressed to me specifically. Still, I do feel like this is as much my quarrel as anyone’s. I am a Baptist pastor who holds to close communion. That is the position of my denomination, and it is the position of my church. I happen to believe that it is the position of scripture as well. Continue Reading →

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How to read the New Testament in Greek

Dr. Rob Plummer has put together an outstanding resource to help beginning Greek students read the Greek New Testament. It’s a website called “Daily Dose of Greek,” and it provides a schedule for reading and daily explanations of Greek syntax and grammar on the day’s reading. If you want help from a Southern Seminary master-teacher on the elements of Greek, you really should check out this site: Daily Dose of Greek.

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Why I Am a Baptist — Two Key Resources for Me

The main reason that I am a Baptist Christian is because that is what my parents raised me to be. The faith that they passed on to me involved (among other things) a conviction that baptism is for believers alone and that the church’s polity is congregational. The Bible honors this kind of inheritance, and I am happy to own it (2 Tim. 3:14).

It was only after I entered seminary that I really began to press into other ecclesiological perspectives and to wrestle with their interpretations of scripture. Elder-rule polity and paedobaptist paradigms were particularly challenging to my congregational and credobaptist upbringing. More than anything, I wanted to be faithful to scripture. But I had to face the possibility that maybe I had understood the Bible’s teaching incorrectly on these issues.

Continue Reading →

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