Archive for the ‘controversy’ Category

William Edgar, writing for Reformation21:

One of the most important [issues for Christians to work through] is social justice for all people, regardless of their background, or, indeed, sexual orientation. If marriage is not, strictly speaking, a right, nor a civil right, but a creation ordinance, what of the civil rights of gay people? We ought to be just as zealous to safeguard the rights of gay people as we are to safeguard marriage for monogamous heterosexuals. Not because they are gay, but because they are people, citizens, image-bearers. So legislators need to figure out the most equitable way to ensure that every citizen be given the proper access to social benefits, retirement, inheritance rules, etc.

And, surely, there is much repenting to be done over attitudes toward gay people that are hateful and prejudiced. I went to a boarding school many years ago, where the only view of gay people was “yuck!” Yet surely there were young men there struggling with their sexual identity and in need of compassionate counseling. Furthermore, those of us who are married (heterosexually) have a good deal of homework to do in our own families. It won’t do to criticize gays as unhappy, guilty, etc., if our own marriages are flagging. And then, the church needs to think through what it means to be celibate. Certainly this legitimate calling has also been maligned by sub-Christian attitudes.
 
At the end of the day, however, we do not recommend heterosexual marriage because it works best, because children may be born, or because it is the traditional view. We recommend it because God as [sic] ordained it, and it is a good thing: “Let marriage be held in honor among all” (Heb. 13:1).
 
Read the rest of the article here.
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When Christians Become a ‘Hated Minority‘” (CNN):

Edward Johnson, a communication professor at Campbell University in North Carolina, says we are now living in a “postmodern” era where everything is relative and there is no universally accepted truth. It’s an environment in which anyone who says “this is right” and “that is wrong” is labeled intolerant, he says.

There was a time when a person could publicly say homosexuality was wrong and people could consider the statement without anger, he says. Today, people have reverted to an intellectual tribalism where they are only willing to consider the perspective of their own tribe.

“They are incapable of comprehending that someone may have a view different than theirs,” Johnson says. “For them anyone who dares to question the dogma of the tribe can only be doing so out of hatred.”

The One, the Three and the ManyColin Gunton offers some penetrating analysis of this “intellectual tribalism” in his book The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity:

The characteristic peril of the modern is to be found in the tendency to homogeneity, to the intellectual and social pressures by which the distinctive individuality of people and things is endangered. … [T]he death of rhetoric is the reason why much modern political dispute takes the form of aggressive confrontation rather than rational engagement: the demonstration rather than the disputatio. Given the loss of confidence in argument, the noisy and potentially violent demonstration is all that remains. … [Alasdair] MacIntyre has argued that there is in the modern world a complete breakdown of a common language in which to argue and decide moral disputes. Listen, he says, to any argument about abortion or nuclear arms, and you will find that opponents speak past each other’s shoulders because they lack a common language in which to communicate. The reason is to be found in emotivism. …

A diagnosis of American conditions similar to that of [Wayne C.] Booth’s underlies Allan Bloom’s much discussed The Closing of the American Mind. … The problem is the cult of openness:

Openness used to be the virtue that permitted us to seek the good by using reason. It now means accepting everything and denying reason’s power. The unrestrained and thoughtless pursuit of openness, without recognizing the inherent political, social or cultural problem of openness as the goal of nature, has rendered openness meaningless … Openness to closedness is what we teach. (101-103)

UPDATE: Justin Taylor has posted a related article entitled “The Gay Marriage Campaign and the Despotism of Conformity.”  Check it out—it’s worth the read.

Russel Moore on the state of the America:

As Christians, we ought to recognize that the old majoritarian understanding of church/state relations is outmoded. Our situation today is not to hold on to some form of American civil religion. Our situation today is more akin to the minority religions of America’s past: colonial Baptists, nineteenth-century Baptists, early twentieth-century Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are appealing simply for the right to exist at all, in the face of an established religion armed with popular support and, in the fullness of time, state power.

It turns out we’re circling around to where we should have been all along: with the understanding that religious liberty isn’t “toleration” and separation of church and state isn’t secularism.

Indeed, Tim Chester and Steve Timmis note that we are already living in a “post-Christendom” context, and therefore should not be surprised when we are marginalized by society:

Christendom, however, is increasingly a spent force in the West.  Some of the symbolism remains.  The British monarch is still the head of an established church, and bishops still sit in the upper chamber of the United Kingdom Parliament.  But the reality of Christendom is fading fast, overtaken by secularism and pluralism.  The Bible no longer has authority in public discourse.  The church no longer has a privileged voice.  Church leaders still get invited to state occasions, but on matters of ethics they are ignored.  When the Pope visited the United Kingdom in 2010 he was greeted with all due pomp ad ceremony as a head of state.  But when it comes to his views on abortion and homosexuality, he is ignored by politicians and ridiculed by the media.  Lyndon Bowring, the Executive Chairman of CARE, said in an interview, “The greatest challenge … is the growing secularization of society, where Christianity is being increasingly squeezed out of our national life.  The ultimate result of this tendency will be a society that is hostile to Christian truth and practice.

Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 19-20

Sobering words, but a timely reminder nonetheless.  Praise God our hope does not rest in the continuation of Christendom.  Rather, we trust in our sovereign Lord, who reigns from heaven and in whose hands the hearts of kings are but streams of water (Prov. 21:1).

Be sure to read the rest of Moore’s excellent article, “Louie Giglio and the New State Church.”

I find myself appreciative of N.T. Wright’s rebuke and in agreement with Doug Wilson’s exegesis.  Andrew Wilson sums things up wonderfully when he writes,

The church should not take its marching orders from the contemporary zeitgeist, or David Cameron, or the outraged twitterati, but from King Jesus, who has spoken. The fact that Wilson (and I) disagree with Wright about what God has said [about women’s ordination] does not mean we are on different teams; we are all insisting on the authority of divine revelation, rather than human preferences, as the standard to which we appeal when we make decisions. One day, Doug Wilson, Tom Wright, Justin Welby, Paul, Phoebe and Junia will be sitting at the same table, sharing war stories and comparing notes.

Christians on both sides of the divide would do well to remember this fact, rejoicing in our shared commitment to Scripture and the Gospel without diminishing the importance of the debate.

To Jerusalem offers some helpful reflections on the infamous “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”:

  1. Karen King has dubbed the fragment a portion of the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” Where this may sound logical (considering the content of the fragment), it is rather presumptuous. There is no evidence that the fragment is a portion of a larger, complete text—or ever that the text from which it came was intended to be read as a Gospel (as was the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Judas.
  1. Even if the fragment is verified as dating to the fourth century A.D., it should not be considered a reliable source of historical information about Jesus. King herself has commented on this saying that she never considered the text to speak of the historical Jesus. It is part of a larger body of texts that come out of the Coptic Gnostic tradition that developed its own doctrine concerning the life and teaching of Jesus. The Gnostic writings have never been considered historical, canonical, or biblical. It is these writings that provided the foundation for the fictional story The Da Vinci Code.

Be sure to read the whole post.

In this panel discussion from Ligonier’s 2012 National Conference, R.C. Sproul and friends discuss the Christian’s approach to Scripture and the natural world, offering wise words regarding the importance of embracing both as infallible revelation from God.  In my opinion, R.C. Sproul (in the clip below) and Michael Horton (in the full recording, timestamp 69:30) offer the most helpful insights into how Christians should think about and discuss these controversial issues.  Sproul’s main point is that we must embrace all of God’s revelation, not setting one part against another.  Horton clearly agrees, noting: “All truth is God’s truth, but not all truth is in the Bible.”

In my opinion, this fascinating discussion should serve as (yet another) call for a little more light and a little less heat in discussions related to faith and science.

The King James is better than most, translating one particular word here [in Philippians 3:8] as dung.  The word is skubalon, and means in the first place some kind of animal excrement.  And this verse helps show the problem we are in- Paul does teach elsewhere that we are to avoid filthiness in our speech, coarse jesting, and so on (Eph. 5:4).  But we have taken this and over-refined it, absolutizing it in terms of latent-Victorian sensibilities.  As a result we simply cannot imagine the lofty sentiment of this wonderful passage (e.g., the “excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord”) functioning in the same sentence with dog shit.  But there it is-Paul has scraped all self-important, prim and proper, fussy-tidy religion off the bottom of his shoe.  Why?  That he might win Christ. …

And depend upon it- modern evangelicals will be far more upset with my use of a certain phrase in the passage above than they are by the fact that many of our popular religious practices, customs, and superstitions smell like that phrase.

– Doug Wilson, A Serrated Edge: A Brief Defense of Biblical Satire and Trinitarian Skylarking, 64-65