God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Chapter 1

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The traditional Christian understanding of homosexuality is wrong. Dead wrong. Cruel, even. Why, you ask? Simple. It’s wrong, Matthew Vines argues, because it makes homosexuals feel bad about themselves.

Vines’ argument

Vines argues that experience has a critical role to play in interpreting Scripture. “While Scripture tells us not to rely solely on our experience, it also cautions us not to ignore our experience altogether.”1 Vines points to Matthew 7:15-20, which is his anchor for all of Chapter 1:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matt 7:15-20)

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Grace Toward the Godly of the Past — Aphorisms for Thinking About Separation

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Aphorism 7: Our patterns of application of separation today must include the grace we allow the godly of the past.

Gurnall’s work is peerless and priceless; every line is full of wisdom; every sentence suggestive. This “Complete Armour” is beyond all others a preacher’s book: I should think that more discourses have been suggested by it than by any other uninspired volume. I have often resorted to it when my own fire has been burning low, and I have seldom failed to find a glowing coal upon Gurnall’s hearth. (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-1892, quoted in The Christian in Complete Armour abridgment and modernization printed by The Banner of Truth Trust)

I am in full agreement with Spurgeon. The Christian in Complete Armour is a spiritual delight and treasure trove. Much of my preaching and illustrating from Scripture relies heavily on Grunall’s example and even remembering his sermons warms my heart to Christ.

Let’s consider a little background on William Gurnall (1616-1679). He signed the Act of Uniformity in 1662, which imposed The Book of Common Prayer, required episcopal ordination, and made the crypto-Catholic Charles II the “only supreme governor” of the Anglican Church. At least 2,000 ministers refused to sign the act and lost their churches. Men like Bunyan, Owen, Howe, and Baxter were persecuted because of the act.

So if we understand the commands to separate to go beyond disbelief and apostasy, when did it stop being a sin to obey these commands in the case of Gurnall?  Does anyone believe Paul would have signed off on the Book of Common Prayer as a burden to the conscience of pastors and congregations or accepted Charles II as the “supreme governor” of the church? Read more about Grace Toward the Godly of the Past — Aphorisms for Thinking About Separation

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Defending Diversity in Our Unity

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E pluribus unum! The seal of the United States bears this Latin motto meaning “out of many one.” It expresses our heritage as a free society. We form a unified nation comprised of citizens representing diverse ethnicities, languages, customs, values, and religious convictions. Our union is not achieved despite our diversity; our diversity strengthens our union, much as a compound of chemicals forms a stronger substance.

Achieving and maintaining unity amidst diversity is a delicate undertaking, particularly in the realm of religious belief. I offer here a few reflections on that project.

Since 1791, our government has assumed the role of protecting freedom of conscience in religious matters. The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights restricts governing authorities from enacting laws or wielding influence that necessitates or encourages religious conformity, and/or prohibits citizens from freely exercising any religious belief not employed as a cover for illegal activity. The government is to remain neutral on religion, while securing and protecting the freedom of all citizens to embrace any religion their conscience approves, or none at all.

In the history of nations, such liberty is a fresh concept. In ages past, nations viewed religious belief similarly to the way free societies view taxation today; namely, it was the duty of governing authorities to dictate terms to their subjects. When our government imposes taxes upon us, most of us dutifully comply without asking a lot of questions. Innocuous grumbling abounds, but we accept the necessity of taxation and the reality that nonconformity leads to prosecution. Read more about Defending Diversity in Our Unity

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God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Introduction

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Shifting tides

Homosexuality is a big issue in American culture today. Like a stack of dominoes, the moral floodgates of our culture, already dangerously weak, have collapsed. There have been a veritable flood of victories by triumphant homosexual activists on every conceivable front. In the election of 2008, both then-Senator(s) Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton stood against so-called “gay marriage.” This position seems hopelessly naïve to political sophisticates today. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, considered a likely GOP candidate for President in the upcoming 2016 election, recently remarked, “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”1

Faced with a near instant backlash of public opinion, some of it from fellow Republicans, Perry hastened to set the record straight:

I got asked about an issue, and instead of saying, ‘You know what, we need to be a really respectful and tolerant country, to everybody, and get back to talking about — whether you’re gay or straight — you need to be having a job and those are the focuses I want to be involved with,’ instead … I readily admit, I stepped right in it.2

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Book Review - Here is Our God

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Ours is an age of conferences. Dozens of conferences vie for our attention, from a variety of ministries. For those who cannot attend, livestreaming is a way to experience the thrill from afar. Another common way to expand the reach of a conference is to turn the series of messages into a book. The success of such books is usually limited, but in this book we have an exception. 

Here is Our God: God’s Revelation of Himself in Scripture (Crossway, 2014), is the latest book from The Gospel Coalition. This book is actually a compilation of the messages from the women’s 2012 TGC conference. Reading the book, however, I am not transported to the scene of thousands of women meeting together in a conference. Instead the message of each plenary session is powerfully communicated in this book, and the entire theme of the conference—suitable for men and women—comes together in this one short volume. Read more about Book Review - Here is Our God

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The Sanctification Paradox: Can It Be Solved?

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The NT seems to teach that believers must obey in order to be transformed, yet must be transformed in order to obey. The language of responsibility and action abounds, but so does the language of sovereignty, humility, and dependence. Students of the doctrine of sanctification have long struggled to understand how both can be true and how faithful believers should think and act in response.

I’ve recently suggested that many have embraced what amounts to a theology of giving up when it comes to Christian growth—and that they have done so because what they see in themselves and others seems to fall so far short of “read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” But even this sense of frustration with self and others tends to arise from—or perhaps fuel—a view of the sanctification paradox.

My aim here is to survey four solutions to the paradox and briefly evaluate their merits. Read more about The Sanctification Paradox: Can It Be Solved?

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The Book of Revelation is Not Apocalyptic Literature

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It may seem odd to suggest that the book entitled Apocalupsis in Greek does not belong to the genre of literature commonly referred to as apocalyptic; nonetheless that is my suggestion here. The term employed in the title of the book denotes a revelation or disclosure.1 While this particular revealing or disclosing describes a broad swathe of eschatological events, it is not its own literary genre.

Apocalyptic as a genre is described as “characteristically pseudonymous; it takes narrative form, employs esoteric language, expresses a pessimistic view of the present, and treats the final events as imminent.”2 Henry Barclay Swete (Cambridge), even while arguing that Revelation is apocalyptic literature, admits that the book differs from that genre in that the book of Revelation (1) is not pseudepigraphic, (2) it engages a specific audience (seven churches), (3) has a significant church focus, rather than a purely Israel nation-centered focus, and (4) includes notes of insight and foresight that are more indicative of inspiration than is found in earlier extra-biblical apocalyptic literature.3 Read more about The Book of Revelation is Not Apocalyptic Literature

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The Atonement

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(About this series)

CHAPTER IV: THE ATONEMENT*

BY PROFESSOR FRANKLIN JOHNSON, D. D., LL. D., AUTHOR OF “OLD-TESTAMENT QUOTATIONS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT” ETC., CHICAGO, ILL.

The Christian world as a whole believes in a substitutionary atonement. This has been its belief ever since it began to think. The doctrine was stated by Athanasius as clearly and fully as by any later writer. All the great historic creeds which set forth the atonement at any length set forth a substitutionary atonement. All the great historic systems of theology enshrine it as the very Ark of the Covenant, the central object of the Holy of Holies.

While the Christian world in general believes in a substitutionary atonement, it is less inclined than it once was to regard any existing theory of substitution as entirely adequate. It accepts the substitution of Christ as a fact, and it tends to esteem the theories concerning it only as glimpses of a truth larger than all of them. It observes that an early theory found the necessity of the atonement in the veracity of God, that a later one found it in the honor of God, and that a still later one found it in the government of God, and it deems all these speculations helpful, while it yearns for further light.

GROUNDS OF BELIEF IN SUBSTITUTION

If we should ask those who hold this doctrine on what grounds they believe that Christ is the substitute for sinners, there would be many answers, but, perhaps, in only two of them would all voices agree. The first of these grounds Read more about The Atonement

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