In the Fall issue of JBMW, Ray Van Neste has a hard-hitting review of Joel Green’s Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics (Baker, 2011). He observes that the volume is weak on biblical authority and biblical sexuality. In his conclusion, Van Neste writes,
The volume as a whole is alarming and disappointing. I’ve focused primarily on entries concerning sexual ethics since they illustrate the dictionary’s general approach to scripture and since these issues are some of the most significant ethical issues facing the church today. The value of a tool is seen in how it works at the point of greatest pressure. At such points, Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics fails.
When I asked an employee of Baker how this volume fits the mission of an evangelical publisher, he made it clear that Baker did not claim to be an evangelical publisher, that they were much broader than that. He pointed to their new Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture as an example and said their parameters were publishing books in keeping with Nicene Christianity. This was news to me, though it is still hard to see how the endorsement of homosexuality fits Nicene Christianity since the Nicene fathers are patently clear about the sinfulness of homosexuality.
Reading other reviews of this volume, one might think the affirmation of homosexuality was an interesting academic trifle- “Hmm. Baker’s new dictionary of ethics affirms homosexuality. Interesting.” However, the nominalization of Scripture and the normalization of homosexuality isn’t a mere academic curiosity; it’s a pastoral tragedy undercutting the work of faithful ministers and blunting the reception of the biblical witness. It may be chic to dismiss the normative clarity of the Scripture, but let us be clear that in this we are meddling with the claims of King Jesus over his church. This is no light step regardless of how common it may be. Furthermore Jesus promised judgment for those in Thyatira who were “teaching . . . my servants to practice sexual immorality” and strongly rebuked the church who tolerated such teaching (Rev. 2:20). As cultural pressure increases on the church to accommodate the spirit of the age rather than hold fast the truths of Scripture, we must decide where we stand. This volume has made its choice. Let us make ours.
You can read the rest of Van Neste’s review on pages 32-34 of the most recent JBMW.