What about Derek?

The following question appeared under my last blog entry.

“Has anyone noticed that Derek Webb has been touring with JNAPP? Or that she has been touring with him… Maybe you could provide a blog post about Derek. I’ve been wondering for about a year now where he stands on some things.”

The short answer is that, yes, I have noticed. But, no, I don’t know where he stands on the big question asked by Larry King—Can you be gay and Christian?

I used to be a big fan of Derek’s music, but I’ve had a tough time listening to his work ever since his “Mockingbird” album (which I wrote about here). I wrote a blog post last year about the controversial song “What Matters More” from his latest album because I thought the song wasn’t straightforward about the gospel. This song was a bridge too far for me. In short, I haven’t been following Derek or his music anymore.

Until all the publicity surrounding Jennifer Knapp last week, I didn’t even know that Webb had been touring with her. But when I heard about it, I decided to do some poking around to see what Derek has been up to since the release of his album last year. As the video above confirms, he is in fact touring with Knapp. That being said, I don’t think his touring with her tells us anything definitive about the big question.

While surfing around, I also discovered that Derek played at a conference of “The Gay Christian Network” (GCN) early this year. According to the GCN website, the GCN is “a nonprofit ministry supporting Christians worldwide who happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).” The GCN’s mission is “sharing Christ’s light and love for all.” The GCN’s statement of faith says that “We believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians are full participants in God’s kingdom.” Despite this statement of faith, the GCN has members on both sides of the big question (read about it here).

I read all of that, and I was naturally curious to know if Derek was sympathetic to the views of the GCN. I found two items that spoke to this question. The first item is a podcast interview that Derek gave to the leaders of the GCN. You can listen to it below.

[audio:http://www.gaychristian.net/gcnradio/gcn112709.mp3]

The second item is an interview with TheChristianManifesto.com. Here’s the relevant exchange:

What is your stance on the Gay Christian Network in Nashville, Tenn. and the work they’re doing?

Yea, I played an acoustic show as a part of their conference in Nashville. I’ll tell you the truth as an organization, I really like the idea. First of all the GCN wouldn’t have to exist if churches were doing their jobs. If Christ followers were actually following Jesus, then an organization like that wouldn’t have to exist where gay people who are on a spiritual journey, a uniquely Christian spiritual journey, would have to band together because there is no other safe place for them to go and worship and learn and study. So now it’s unfortunate that it should have to exist, and it shouldn’t. That said I like the fact that in their official documentation they leave it very open for people in their community to have very, very different opinions about the particular morality of the issue. I like that they weren’t setting themselves up to say “here’s what we are.” Instead they’re a catch-all for any disenfranchised Christians or people who are spiritually curious, who have been alienated because of their sexuality. That I was really encouraged by and being there with them I was really encouraged by that.

So what do we make of all of this? It’s difficult to say. I think most Christians will see red flags in remarks like the ones above. Nevertheless, I can’t find any instance in which Derek has stated unambiguously what his views are on the moral status of homosexuality. It looks like he’s trying not to speak definitively either way. I suppose the best case scenario is that Derek takes a traditional view on the question though his iconoclastic approach sometimes makes it appear otherwise.

I’m puzzled that Derek feels the need to rebuke the “church” for not doing its job, but then has no rebukes at all for a para-church group that does not promote the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality. The GCN says that it wishes to “educate and encourage the church.” Yet it does not affirm the church’s 2,000-year-old teaching on human sexuality. How does this serve the church? And given GCN’s refusal to support the church’s teaching, how can Derek be thankful that a group like this exists? Even saying that it’s necessary for it to exist? At the very least, Derek’s remarks about the GCN need clarifying.

The most loving way to relate to any kind of sinner—including homosexual ones—is to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). That means being forthright about their spiritual destitution apart from Christ and about the grace of God available in the gospel. It means calling sinners to repentance and telling them that Christ Jesus came to save sinners—including homosexual ones (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:15). My hope is that Derek is at least speaking more clearly about these things in private. His public statements are anything but clear.

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Trevin Wax on Knapp Interview

Trevin Wax has some great reflections on Jennifer Knapp’s appearance on “Larry King Live” last week. He writes:

After viewing Friday night’s Larry King Live with Jennifer Knapp, pastor Bob Botsford, and Ted Haggard, I was struck with the question: Why is it that whenever a proponent of Christianity’s historical view of sexuality goes head to head with an advocate for gay rights, the traditional Christian almost always loses the argument?

Read the rest here.

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Can You Be Christian and Gay?

Here is the video of Jennifer Knapp’s appearance on “Larry King Live” last night. The video above is a short excerpt. The video below (which may take some time to load) is a longer version available on the “Larry King Live” podcast. Unfortunately, neither of these has the entire program, and both are missing Ted Haggard’s remarks. A transcript of the entire show can be found here.

King wanted to discuss the question, “Can you be Christian and gay?”  King asked Knapp if she was still a Christian, and she said that she was a “person of faith.” She also said that there’s no contradiction with being a Christian and homosexual. At one point, Knapp appealed to the Greek New Testament to justify homosexual behavior (malakos and arsenokoit?s in 1 Corinthians 6:9), but it was clear that her understanding of this was  a bit muddled. In any case, she doesn’t think that homosexual acts are a sin.

Pastor Bob Botsford was trying to speak biblical truth into the conversation, though King was able to corner him a couple of times on some important points. Ted Haggard’s contribution was patently unhelpful. He couldn’t sound a clear note on any salient point. Instead, he tried to affirm both Knapp and Botsford’s positions. It was a poor showing on Haggard’s part. He did not represent the faith well at all.

I’ll be interested to hear what you all think.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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NFL Draft

I love it that Tebow went in the first round. He’s a winner, and the Broncos won’t look back on this decision. Here’s an excerpt of the report from the Palm Beach Post:

ESPN’s Mel Kiper trashed Tim Tebow at the Senior Bowl, calling him a fourth-round pick who will have to switch to tight end in the NFL. Former quarterback Joe Theismann suggested that Tebow retire in January to save himself from embarrassment as a professional.

Few people thought Tebow would be a first-round pick.

Instead, the quarterback with the strong faith and growing endorsement list proved them all wrong Thursday night when the Denver Broncos selected Tebow with the 25th pick of the first round of the NFL Draft. Tebow was the second quarterback taken, behind Sam Bradford (No. 1 overall) but ahead of Colt McCoy and Jimmy Claussen, who many expected to be selected ahead of Tebow but who were not drafted in the first round.

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Tom Schreiner and N. T. Wright at ETS

As many of you have read, John Piper is taking an eight-month leave of absence from his ministry beginning in May. His leave will take him away from most of his scheduled appearances for the rest of the year, and that includes the debate with N.T. Wright scheduled to take place at ETS in November in Atlanta.

I just got confirmation, however, that Tom Schreiner will be stepping-in to take Piper’s place at the ETS meeting with Wright. This is happy news, and I will be praying for a fruitful dialogue this November.

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President Obama’s Litmus Test

There’s a scene in the movie “Three Amigos” in which a leader of Mexican bandits chastises one of his minions for using the word “plethora” while not knowing what the word means (watch it here). I thought about that scene again yesterday when I read about President Obama’s promise not to apply a “litmus test” to judicial appointments. It sounds like the President doesn’t know what a “litmus test” is. Here’s how the New York Times reports it: Continue Reading →

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Should I Tell My Child He Was Conceived in Rape?

This advice is wise and biblical, and I can’t help but think that it might be helpful to some of you. Russell Moore answers the question, “Should I Tell My Child He Was Conceived in Rape?” His short answer is “yes,” but a short answer won’t do. You have to read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

‘Yes, you must be honest. God honestly speaks to his children about the circumstances of their backgrounds, whether back there in Ur or back there in Egypt or back there in the “power of the air.” You must not hide this from your son. Imagine what it would be like if he were to find this information out from someone other than you. He would then wonder whether everything in his life is fraudulent and illusory.

‘Having said that, you must not “exasperate your son” (Eph. 6:4) with knowledge he can’t handle. A nine year-old lacks the maturity to understand this horror in its fullness.’

Read the rest here.

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Kevin DeYoung at Boyce College

Kevin DeYoung preached to the students of Boyce College last week, and it was outstanding. His text was Mark 3:7-19, and his topic was “Defining Discipleship Down.” The title is a riff on Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1993 article “Defining Deviancy Down.” This is a must-listen. You can download or listen by clicking below.

Defining Discipleship Down
[audio:http://www.sbts.edu/media/audio/BoycePodcast/20100412-boyce-podcast-deyoung.mp3]

[Download Here]

Thank you, Kevin, for your faithful ministry and for serving our students so well. Continue Reading →

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