Archive | Theology/Bible

A great little book on transgenderism

People often ask me for recommended reading on transgenderism. I always have trouble answering that question, not because there are no Christian books on the subject but because there isn’t very much written that is both pastorally and biblically faithful. I am happy to report, however, that my inability to make a recommendation has now ended.

Vaughan Roberts has written a really helpful little book titled Transgender. It is published by The Good Book Company, which also published Sam Allberry’s popular work on homosexuality Is God Anti-Gay? Just as Allberry’s book has been a must-read resource on homosexuality, so also now is Roberts book on transgenderism. This book will be the one I recommend when folks ask me for help with this issue.

This book is not intended to be a comprehensive treatment of the issue. Nor is it a clinical account of gender dysphoria. On the contrary, it is brief by design with a biblically-oriented, pastoral focus.

Roberts explains that the transgender experience is a feature of living in a fallen world. His basic contention is that that God created us with sexed bodies, and God’s intentions for us are revealed in part by the bodies he has given to us. Male and female bodies are not accidents but define our identity as created by God. Our bodily identity discloses God’s intention for our gender identity. To this end, Roberts writes:

Identity is not something we’ve somehow got to create for ourselves. Our identity is a given. We’re human beings, made in the image of God; we are creatures, not machines (p. 38).

Our bodies are an essential part of our true selves. So what I feel about myself can never be the whole picture, because God made us embodied souls. Our bodies are essential in determining and revealing who we truly are (p. 39).

We are created men and women, and our sex, in the Bible’s understanding, is fundamental to who we are (p. 41).

Because our bodies disclose God’s intention for us, there is an enormous practical implication for those who perceive a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity. It is not the body that needs to change but the mind. Roberts writes,

Each person’s biologically-determined sex is a good gift of God’s creation. We should accept it and live within it (p. 43).

Those who experience gender dysphoria should resist feelings that encourage them to see themselves as anything other than the sex of their birth (p. 61).

This means that attempts to “transition” to another gender through cross-dressing, renaming, hormone therapy, or surgery would be out step with following Christ. Following Christ means embracing what God made us to be even when fallen desires and impressions may be pulling in the opposite direction. Our identity is defined by God, not by us.

This book is not for specialists or scholars. It is introductory and written at a level that any person can read and comprehend. Nor is it designed to answer every question one might have about this transgenderism. Nevertheless, the book does cover all of the basics. Highly recommended.

Albert Mohler talks about Trump candidacy on CNN

Can we put up with someone and can we offer them our vote and support when we know that person not only sounds like what he presumes and presents as a playboy, but as a sexual predator? This is so far over the line that I think we have to recognize we wouldn’t want this person as our next door neighbor, much less as the inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And long term I’m afraid people are going to remember evangelicals in this election for supporting the unsupportable and defending the absolutely indefensible.

[Sources: SBTS, Twitter]

The self-authenticating power of the Bible

In case you missed it, Andy Stanley posted a lengthy rejoinder to criticism he has received since telling his church that the Bible is not the foundation of the Christian faith. I responded to this last week. Just tonight, both Jared Wilson and David Prince  have posted thoughtful responses. For my part, I would reiterate what I said last week. I really appreciate Stanley’s clear affirmation of biblical inerrancy. He writes:

I believe the Bible is without error in everything it affirms. I believe what the Bible says is true, is true… So for anyone out there who is still a bit suspicious, I affirm The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

This affirmation is strong and unambiguous. So far so good. But Stanley goes on to argue that the real issue is not his doctrine of scripture but outdated ways of preaching the Bible. Because millennials don’t believe in the authority of scripture, Stanley argues that we cannot appeal to them with “the Bible told me so” arguments. He writes: Continue Reading →

Should “headship” determine who we vote for in the presidential election?

I taught 1 Corinthians 11:3 this morning in my New Testament Survey class at Boyce College. One student asked what implications a text like this one has on our thinking about the presidential election. If the Bible teaches male headship, should a Christian vote for a female running for president? I want to share how I answered that question, but before doing that I should stipulate that what follows should not be construed as an endorsement or non-endorsement vis a vis the current candidates for president. I should also stipulate that the Bible has much more to say on this question than is contained in a single verse. Still, it is instructive to think through what this text means and how it might relate to our thinking about our democratic stewardship. Here’s the text:

But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. –1 Corinthians 11:3

One thing that is clear in this text is that “head” refers to a relation of authority (cf. Eph. 1:22; 5:23; Col. 2:10, also see BDAG). Thus to say that “Christ is the head of every man” is the same as saying that Christ is the authority over every man. Likewise, to say that the man is the “head” of the woman is to say that man is the authority over the woman. Continue Reading →


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 →

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 →

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 →

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”

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