God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Chapter 4

Tags: 

Read the series so far.

In chapter four, Vines addresses the first of six biblical texts dealing with homosexuality. The remaining five are considered in subsequent chapters. Vines’ aim is to demonstrate that none of these passages prohibit committed same-sex relationships.

Chapter four analyzes God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as recorded in Genesis 19. That Christians have traditionally understood this event to indicate God’s strong disapproval of same-sex relationships is both mistaken and unfortunate according to Vines. He believes that a more careful study demonstrates that the sins of Sodom were inhospitality and violence, not homosexuality.

Vines begins by examining a list of Old Testament texts that mention Sodom, pointing out that none of these explicitly cite same-sex relations as the reason for destruction. He follows with evidence from extra-biblical Jewish literature, drawing the same conclusion. He believes that Sodom’s offenses were lack of hospitality and attempted gang rape. Next, he briefly examines and explains all negative New Testament references to Sodom, continuing to muster evidence for his premise. Vines claims that no one linked Sodom’s destruction to homosexual behavior until Philo, the first century Jewish historian. He asserts that Philo inaugurated a gradual shift in perceptions, until the destruction of Sodom became linked to homosexuality in the minds of most Christians from about the tenth century onward. But from the beginning, he assures us, it was not so. Read more about God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Chapter 4

Login or register to post comments.

The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 3)

Tags: 

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read the series so far.

Chapter Three

Organizational Requirements

The Synagogue

For the organization and operation of a synagogue, it was anciently specified that there be in a given locality at least ten adult Jewish men of leisure who could devote themselves to the study of the Torah. In the Mishnah, Aboth 3:6 records: “Rabbi Nehunya ben Ha-Kanah said: If ten men sit together and occupy themselves in the Law, the Divine Presence rests among them.”1 Sanhedrin 1:6 in the Mishnah states, “And whence do we learn that a congregation is made up of ten? It is written, ‘How long shall I bear with this evil congregation?’ but Joshua and Caleb were not included.”2 The proof-text is Numbers 14:27, which is understood to be a reference to the spies who had returned from scouting out the land of Canaan rather than the whole congregation of Israel. Of course only ten of the spies were evil—those who discouraged the people with their pessimistic report—and therefore, Joshua and Caleb are excluded from their number, which leaves ten, and ten are here called “a congregation.” This, in rabbinic thinking, is sufficient proof that a congregation (synagogue) must consist of ten men. Other OT proof-texts are also employed to support this notion.3 Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 3)

Login or register to post comments.

The Education of a Parent

Tags: 

A few days ago my daughter turned 10.

It’s quite a milestone for both of us. For her, it means finally passing into “double digits”—that mysterious world that few of us ever pass out of. For me, it signals a decade of motherhood. When my Phoebe came into the world a little after 3:30 on a rainy South Carolina Thursday, it wasn’t simply the beginning of her life; it was the fundamental altering of mine.

Looking back, I can see how much motherhood has changed me, how much it has forced me to grow beyond myself. I realize now that when folks spoke of me as a “young mother,” they weren’t talking about the age of my daughter so much as about the fact that I myself was new to the game. I had a lot to learn.

Those first few years were spent learning to make the “right” choices; choices about…feeding and sleeping habits, immunizations, potty training, and pacifiers. And once I’d figured how to actually keep her alive (and not alienate all my friends and family in the process), it was time to learn how to “train her up in the way she should go.” Suddenly the questions were about when to let her to use electronics and where to send her to school. Read more about The Education of a Parent

Login or register to post comments.

The Person and Work of Jesus Christ

Tags: 

(About this series)

CHAPTER VII THE PERSON AND WORK OF JESUS CHRIST

FROM “SOME RECENT PHASES OF GERMAN THEOLOGY,”*

BY BISHOP JOHN L. NUELSEN, D. D., M. E. CHURCH, OMAHA, NEB.

Every Old Testament problem becomes in course of time a New Testament question. Every Biblical question places us after a while face to face with Him who is the center of the whole Bible, with Jesus Christ. In the present discussion over the person and Gospel of Jesus Christ, I shall confine myself to pointing out briefly some of the most interesting and important features of this subject.

WAS JESUS A REAL, HISTORICAL PERSON?

In the closing years of the eighteenth century the thought was advanced by a number of rationalistic theologians that the doctrines held by the Church and formulated in her creeds were the joint product of New Testament religion and Greek philosophy. This thought was taken up by Professor Harnack of Berlin, and in his great work, “History of the Christian Doctrine,” he disclosed the complicated process by which the Church in developing her doctrines became Hellenized; thus it was made incumbent upon the student of Church history to extricate, by a process of careful analysis and comparison, the genuinely Christian elements from the meshes of foreign thought. Harnack, it is true, applied this principle only to post-apostolic times, but since the appearance of his book investigation has proceeded along the same lines and is now covering the Biblical writings as well. Read more about The Person and Work of Jesus Christ

Login or register to post comments.

Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (Part 2)

Tags: 

Read part 1.

The subject of this article is how covenants clarify and underline specific terms about certain important (indeed, central) theological topics. If we all spoke the truth and we all could hear it unimpeded by sin’s effects, there would be no need of covenants. Covenants presuppose subjects (at least one) who have a propensity to diverge from an important truth. (It is for this reason that any pre-fall covenants, which are exegetically weak and empty in the first place, seem superfluous).

Covenants also assume the parties to the covenant (at the bare minimum) understand and acknowledge the terms of the covenant. Read more about Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (Part 2)

Login or register to post comments.

God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Chapter 3

Tags: 

Vines’ third chapter aims to show that those holding to traditional Christian sexual ethics have a major dilemma on their hands. Allegedly, the traditional view of celibacy is not compatible with the traditional view of homosexuality. One or the other must go.

The claim is part of Vines’ overall strategy in the book—to frame the homosexuality debate as a matter of human suffering and doctrinal progress vs. uncaring and rigid traditionalism. To Vines, the view that homosexual conduct is wrong even within “committed, monogamous same-sex relationships” (41) causes great suffering for homosexuals and depends on a faulty understanding of Scripture. (Kindle location numbers appear here rather than page numbers.)

The basic argument

Specifically, chapter 3 argues that the non-affirming view (Vines’ term for the view that all homosexual conduct is sin) forces celibacy on homosexuals and that this forcing is contrary to the traditional view that celibacy is voluntary and a gift from God.

He writes: Read more about God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Chapter 3

Login or register to post comments.

Why Be a Faithful Member of a Local Church?

Tags: 

From Voice, May/June 2014. Used by permission. Related: “De-Churching” Trends.

It is my conviction that every Christian should be an active member of a Bible-teaching local church. As believers in Christ, we are members of His body and must discipline ourselves to be actively involved in ministry as a way of life. Here are some specific reasons why you should be a committed member of a solid, Bible-teaching local church.

You follow the pattern set forth in the New Testament. Although the word “membership” itself is not used in the New Testament, the principle is present nonetheless. For example, most of our New Testament books are letters that were written to specific groups of people who had chosen to identify themselves with Christ and each other. The word “church” is almost always used to refer to a specific group of people who in some way had committed themselves to serving the Lord and one another in the same ministry location. Numbers were known (Acts 1:15, 2:41, 4:4), rolls were kept (1 Timothy 5:9), servants were selected (Acts 6:2-5), discipline was practiced (1 Corinthians 5:12-13), worship was corporate (1 Corinthians 14:23), and shepherds knew for whom they were responsible (Hebrews 13:17). If you are a part of the body of Christ by virtue of repentant faith in Jesus Christ then you should want to make that association visibly known through church membership.

You have a greater opportunity to use your spiritual gifts. At the moment of your conversion the Holy Spirit came to live inside of your body (1 Corinthians 6:19). When He did this, He brought along the spiritual gift(s) that He sovereignly chose for you to possess for the blessing of the church (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11). As we use our gifts, we are being good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10). Can you use your spiritual gift without joining a church? Yes, but in most churches many ministry opportunities are limited to church members only. This is as it should be. Unity in doctrine, purity of life, and submissive accountability to one another and leaders are necessary for a healthy Christian life. The process of becoming a member also gives the existing leadership the opportunity to discern one’s agreement in doctrine, ministry purpose, and goals; thus enabling them to know where best you may serve. Read more about Why Be a Faithful Member of a Local Church?

Login or register to post comments.

"De-Churching" Trends

Tags: 

From Voice, May/June 2014. Used by permission.

One of the least obvious—and yet most tragic—changes that American Evangelicalism has experienced in the past fifty years is the diminishment of the centrality of the local church in the life of many Christians. The Lord’s Day, once considered a special day dedicated to the worship and service of God, is now treated like any other day by many professing believers. And local church life, once considered the center of indispensable relationships within our spiritual family whom we love, encourage, and to whom we remain accountable, is now treated like an extra-curricular activity rather than an essential ingredient of the Christian life.

The signs of the diminishing priority of the church are many. However, I will only mention the six trends that Kent Hughes highlights in his book Set Apart: Calling a Worldly Church to a Godly Life (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2003).

Hitchhiker Christians

Hughes writes:

The hitchhiker’s thumb says, “You buy the car, pay for repairs and upkeep and insurance, fill the car with gas—and I’ll ride with you. But if you have an accident, you are on your own! And I’ll probably sue.” So it is with the credo of many of today’s church attendees: “You go to the meetings and serve on the boards and committees, you grapple with the issues and do the work of the church and pay the bills—and I’ll come along for the ride. But if things do not suit me, I’ll criticize and complain and probably bail out. My thumb is always out for a better ride.” (128)

Read more about "De-Churching" Trends
Login or register to post comments.

Pages