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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Friday, May 07, 2010

The New Evangelical Left (XXVI)

Change is in the Wind

Throughout America, change is in the wind, often without the promised hope that was supposed to work in tandem with the promised change. World financial speculators are edgy about the world economy and solid economists at home share the concern of their fellow-economists abroad. There is some unfounded optimism among the people, however, and every time the DOW or NASDAQ increase, people say, “See! The economy is coming back!” Not really. The market will vacillate, posting both gains and loses. Those peaks and valleys are no true signs of economic recovery.

There are mega-shifts or changes occurring in our legislative branch as well, where bill after bill is passed without being read, and where if you have participated in a Tea Party rally, you might be considered a terrorist, or at least dangerous, and if you’re a law abiding citizen in favor of Arizona’s new illegal alien law, you’re a racist. By the way, if you take the time to read the Arizona law, it reads very much like the federal law that is not being enforced. As far as having to produce “papers,” U.S. citizens are required to do that all the time. Every time I fly, I have to produce my driver’s license as a form of valid I.D. If I travel abroad, I am required to have my “papers” on me at all times. Usually, that means my passport.

Well, that’s the world and what do you expect from a pagan society? Should we expect the same thing from a Christian society, however? I would answer, “Definitely not.” And yet there are paradigm shifts taking place within the walls of the Church with blinding rapidity. Of course, these are not new issues or doctrines; they are rather the old, old ones, restacked and warmed up again. For example, Jennifer Knapp, four-time Dove Award “Christian” singer was interviewed recently on Larry King Dead. She let the world know that she has been in a lesbian relationship for eight years and that she’s determined that it’s okay, because, well, she’s in love and, moreover, Christians have simply misread the texts in the Old and New Testaments that ostensibly speak to this ethical issue. I see.

Over at The Christian Post, you’ll find that during her CNN interview Ms. Knapp “pointed out that believers rely on a text that is not in the original language.” Huh? Ms. Knapp went on to say that “scholars have questioned the interpretation of the original Greek words that have been translated to homosexuality.” I see. Which scholars are we talking about? Jim Wallis? Brian McLaren? Rob Bell? The long and short of Ms. Knapp’s excursion into Bible translation and interpretation is that she is convinced that homosexuality is not a sin. Did I mention she’s a homosexual? We might put Ms. Knapp into that corpus of individuals who call themselves Christians, but who are also crass relativists. She quipped, “In the long run I don’t have the greatest deal of problems with it because I’m not the only person in the universe that has ever looked at a different interpretation. We have advocates on both sides. It doesn’t make the truth any less truth or love less love.” Profound. Truly profound. Just like so many others in modern evangelism, it really is all about Ms. Knapp. It probably never crossed Ms. Knapp’s partially sanctified mind (if, in fact, she is a true believer, which, given her attitude is in dubio) that both sides cannot be right. And, yes, it does make the truth less truth if people like Knapp try to turn God’s Word into a wax nose to suit her sexual predilections. Her reference to love reminds one of Joseph Fletcher’s Situation Ethics, where he, like Ms. Knapp, failed to give a definition of biblical love that was workable and did justice to the biblical texts. Knapp attempted an end run around the issue when she opined that she was not there to justify homosexuality, but to talk about her personal choice and path.

Without being certain what an impersonal choice and path might look like, her implication is clear, is it not? This is something that works for Ms. Knapp. It might not be right for you, but it is right for her. Got it? Clear? Ironically, Knapp was on with King and Ted Haggard. Remember him? Apparently, he too has a wide stance. The journalist of the article writes, “Throughout the show, Haggard took a vague middle ground and refused to answer questions directly. He refused to give a clear answer when asked if homosexuality is a sin and whether it is a choice or not. The disgraced former megachurch pastor said both sides have valid points and that the most important thing is for people to have a personal relationship with God.” Right. What a surprise!

This approach passes for clarity in the modern Church, especially among those who want to call themselves Christians, while living like pagans. The results of the homosexuality question among Christians are just in: Knapp is in favor of homosexuality and Ted Haggard cannot make up his mind. One might think that if God were opposed to homosexual relationships that his Word might convict someone, somewhere along the line, of sin, but that’s a bad word. So this is where modern Christianity finds itself in the 21st century. In a quasi-cyclical fashion, the issue of male and female homosexuality, once thought dead, settled, laid to rest, is making a comeback in the midst of evangelical circles. Both good ole Bri and Jim Wallis have had their fingers in the pie in resurrecting this ethical dilemma. Let me say this: There are no new texts to look at on this matter. In both testaments there are specific words that mean specific things and whose meanings are clear. Scholars and pastors have examined the texts and the words.

One such scholar, the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen, writes concerning what God has revealed in Scripture, “The commandments of God revealed in Scripture are necessary to Christian morality, unquestionable in their requirement, relevant to every age, allowing no extrascriptural exceptions, and perpetually binding.”[1] If Ms. Knapp wants to disregard the clear and unequivocal teachings of the Old Testament, like so many in evangelism today, that is too bad. But to accommodate her hermeneutic, I’d ask her to examine Jude 7.[2] Note that is it precisely—precisely—the “unnaturalness” of the sins practiced by both young and old in those cities (cf. Gen. 19:4) that is emphasized as the reason and cause of divine wrath. The words “sexual immorality” actually mean that they indulged in “gross immorality” (ekporneuein), which “is an intensive, denoting extravagant lust.”[3] Can you discern the word “porn” in the Greek word?

Will or does this make any difference to Ms. Knapp and to those who think like her? Probably not. In fact, I’m convinced that I could cite scholar after scholar and it would not make one whit of difference to Ms. Knapp. During the show, another of her interlocutors was Pastor Bob Botsford of Horizon Christian Fellowship in San Diego, CA. At one point in the show, Knapp said to Botsford, “I have spiritual leadership in my life. The pastoral counsel of those who are dear to me, who understand the Scripture as sacred text and you are not that man in my life.” I see. It must be nice to be sequestered and cloistered to such an extent that no one who is a Christian can come to you with the Word of God open in their hand and talk to you about God’s absolute truth. It is revealing that the article ends with these words: “Knapp will release her new album in May. The album will not be marketed to a strictly Christian audience as her past works had been.” Interesting. I’ll bet it won’t be. She’s branching out into the secular market and given her popularity and people like Rob Bell’s and Brian McLaren’s insouciant attitude towards what Scripture clearly says about this ethical issue, soon the modern evangelical Church will first thoughtfully consider and then condone this sin too.

[1] Greg L. Bahnsen, Homosexuality. A Biblical View, (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1978), p. 27.

[2] …just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

[3] Bahnsen, Homosexuality, 35.



Blogger Solameanie said...

Some days it's enough to almost cause me to have a stroke. How dare we actually quote and correctly interpret Scripture! And you're right about the modern evangellyfish church. They'll no doubt fall in line and say it's all okay in time. Sad.

11:46 AM  
Blogger randy buist said...

Just couldn't stay away forever Ron!

While you make your biblical case regarding homosexuality, the biblical text is also abundantly clear on how we are to treat the foreigner and the strangers within our gates.

The marginalized were always recognized as people made in the image of the living God within the biblical text...

Oops. Perhaps all marginalized people are loved by God as much as those of us who claim to be justified?

When the prophet Micah tells us to do justice and love mercy, he's telling us how followers of the living God are to live. He isn't declaring some liberal social gospel; he's telling us the ways of Yahweh are radically different than the ways of the world.

If we continually trod upon the marginalized, we trod upon the biblical text and the Son of Man who brings us salvation.

May the Spirit save us from such actions.
Grace & Peace In Christ Jesus.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

Randy, please explain what your comment has to do with Ron's post? Are you trying to suggest that people with sin issues are marginalized? If so, we're all marginalized because we are all sinners. The same God of mercy and grace also demands repentance, and will also execute judgment on those who do not repent and trust in Christ.

If that wasn't your meaning and you are harping on illegal immigration again, you are wildly off topic.

9:47 AM  

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