Archive | Theology/Bible

God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines

Matthew Vines is a young author who has just released a new book trying to disprove that the Bible condemns homosexuality, God and the Gay Christian. Against a 2,000-year old consensus within the Christian church, Vines contends that key biblical texts do not mean what they appear to mean—that homosexuality is fallen and sinful and completely incompatible with following Christ.

Vines argues that if the Bible were properly understood, everyone would see that there’s nothing inherently sinful about homosexual orientation or behavior. Thus there is no biblical reason to prevent gay “Christians” from entering into the covenant of marriage with a same-sex partner. Gay couples can fulfill the marital norms of Ephesians 5 just like their heterosexual counterparts. Continue Reading →

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The Bible is the Dividing Line

Kevin DeYoung has just delivered what may be the touchstone message of the 2014 Together for the Gospel conference. As usual, he was both witty and insightful. But that’s not why the message was so powerful. The message was weighty because he spoke from God’s word about God’s word. In doing so, he clearly and plainly addressed the touchstone issue of our time–the authority of scripture.

In recent days, there has been a lot of division among “evangelicals” over the issue of homosexuality. But those with eyes to see and ears to hear know that homosexuality is not really the fundamental issue. The issue that “evangelicals” are facing is whether or not we will look to scripture as the supreme and infallible authority.

Continue Reading →

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How to deal with false teachers

In my last post, we looked at six characteristics that help us to identify false teachers. In this post, we will consider what pastors and congregations are supposed to do in response to such persons who emerge in their midst.

1. Correct false teachers.

The apostle Paul tells us that we ought to correct false teachers in the hope that God might change their mind about their error. Continue Reading →

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How to identify false teachers

The apostle Paul wrote to Titus that pastors must not only preach faithfully but also “refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). The idea is very simple. Pastoral ministry is not merely a building up, but also a tearing down. As Paul would say elsewhere, it involves tearing down every speculation and lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). To fail to do this is ministerial malpractice and harmful to God’s people.

Given this obligation, it becomes all the more imperative to be able to identify false teachers when they emerge. Sometimes false teaching originates from outside of the church. Sometimes such teaching originates from within. The New Testament teaches that a more rigorous response is required when it arises within. Thus faithful pastors must learn how to identify and deal with false teachers. But how do we do that? Continue Reading →

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The Contributions and Revisions of N. T. Wright

Jason Byassee has written a fascinating profile of N. T. Wright for the most recent issue of Christianity Today. In it he argues that Wright has surpassed Rudolf Bultmann as the most influential biblical scholar of a generation. The article is gushing in many ways and highlights the many achievements of Wright over his long career—a career that has buttressed the historical claims of Christianity more than any scholar in recent history. Nevertheless, Byassee says that Wright’s work also offers a massive revision to traditional Protestant faith,

Wright’s goal in his teaching and writing is to massively revise the way Christianity has been articulated for generations. Christian faith, for Wright, is not about going to heaven when you die. It is not about the triumph of grace over the law of the Old Testament. He says its key doctrine is not justification by grace alone, the cornerstone for the Protestant Reformers. The church has misread Paul so severely, it seems, that no one fully understood the gospel from the time of the apostle to the time a certain British scholar started reading Paul in Greek in graduate school (p. 38).

Byassee says that Wright offers a “newer tradition” in which the New Perspective on Paul offers a “corrective to the ruling Protestant one” (p. 43). Continue Reading →

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Robbie George: “It’s not just Mozilla…”

Robbie George of Princeton University comments on Brendan Eich’s forced resignation from Mozilla. He writes:

You can bet its not just Mozilla. Now that the bullies have Eich’s head as a trophy on their wall, they will put the heat on every other corporation and major employer. They will pressure them to refuse employment to those who decline to conform their views to the new orthodoxy. And you can also bet that it won’t end with same-sex marriage. Next, it will be support for the pro-life cause that will be treated as moral turpitude in the same way that support for marriage is treated. Do you believe in protecting unborn babies from being slain in the womb? Why, then: “You are a misogynist. You are a hater of women. You are a bigot. We can’t have a person like you working for our company.” And there will be other political and moral issues, too, that will be treated as litmus tests for eligibility for employment. The defenestration of Eich by people at Mozilla for dissenting from the new orthodoxy on marriage is just the beginning.

Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox Christians, Mormons, observant Jews, Muslims, and others had better stand together and face down the bullies, and they had better do it now, or else they will be resigning themselves and their families to a very unhappy status in this society. A very unhappy status indeed. When tactics of intimidation succeed, their success ensures that they will be used more and more often in more and more contexts to serve more and more causes. And standing up to intimidation will become more and more difficult. And more and more costly. And more and more dangerous.

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The Accidental Complementarian

I really appreciate this testimonial from Jen Pollock Michel, who calls herself “The Accidental Complementarian.” Writing for Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog, she writes:

Misunderstandings about complementarians abound. At a recent women’s conference, I heard a speaker describe her egalitarian upbringing, saying it wasn’t until college that she recognized the breadth of theological difference on this issue.

“I was shocked. And to be honest, I was heartbroken. It had never occurred to me that in this day and age, so many people just like me were being sidelined,” she said. Her implication? Complementarianism was theology that should have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Like me, the closet complementarians in the room may have sensed the muting of their voices in a circle designed to celebrate them…

Being a complementarian woman in an egalitarian world is wildly unpopular; it can also be perceived as decidedly ignorant. Some readers may sympathize with my hope for reprieve. And while the word has fallen out of favor with some, I know no other way to decide the contentions of my own heart than biblically. That verse [1 Cor. 11:3] continues to hold me in its grasp…

But if disagreeing with Paul is the leap I must make to egalitarian theology, I remain reluctantly caught, even in this day and age.

Hear, hear. As always, this is an issue that comes down to biblical authority. Read the rest of this thoughtful article here.

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The New Calvinism Considered

Jeremy Walker, New Calvinism Considered: A Personal and Pastoral Assessment (EP Books, 2014). 126pp. $10.99.

If you are wondering what the so-called “New Calvinism” is, Jeremy Walker has just written a short book trying to explain it. In The New Calvinism Considered: A Personal and Pastoral Assessment, Walker explains what the theological hubbub is all about. Walker identifies four characteristics of this movement. First, and most obviously, it is Calvinistic. But its Calvinism tends to be limited to soteriology as there is a good bit of diversity on other aspects of Reformed faith. Continue Reading →

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