Cultural Madness, Atonement Issues, Textual Traditionalism

A morning DL for us here today, the only program for this week. We started with some commentary on current cultural madness and rapid decline, including a grandmother bearing a child for her homosexual son. Then we looked at issues relating to the atonement, first in comments from Taylor Marshall and Timothy Gordon on the Mass, and then from William Lane Craig on the extent of the atonement.  Finally we transitioned into a review of an article by Dr. Riddle ostensibly criticizing me for inconsistency in citing Jan Krans’ work, Beyond What is Written.  We demonstrated the errors in Riddle’s thinking and verified the consistent value of historical works for documenting the history of the Greek New Testament.

Here is the YouTube link:
Live Video Stream
The Dividing Line is on YouTube video. Our YouTube channel also provides videos of most of the debates that Dr. White has done over the years. Take some time and browse it to see if there is something there of interest to you. If you are looking for the next upcoming show be sure to subscribe to the blog as we post show announcements the morning of the show.

“Those Who Hate Me Love Death.” —Godly Wisdom

The news is filled with stories of the world expressing its hatred toward the faith and its express intention to take away the liberties and freedoms of anyone who will not bow the knee to Caesar (in our day, celebrate homosexuality, profane marriage, admit that women are men and men are women, abuse children, and, of course, murder children in the womb). This is our culture’s way of demanding that pinch of incense upon the altar. This is our “mark of the beast,” to be sure: obsequious obedience to Caesar’s moral rebellion against God’s law.

It is easy to become angry, and bitter. But we must remember: the world’s hatred of God’s law, resulting in their hatred toward we who represent that law (as we live in submission to the Lordship of Christ), is truly nothing more than the hatred of the rebel creature against the sovereign Creator. The wisdom writer said it long ago:

Whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from Yahweh;
But the one who fails to find me destroys himself;
All who hate me love death.
(Proverbs 8:35-36)

Were it not for the grace of God, we too would be vomiting forth our hatred of His ways to our own destruction. Always remember you have been graciously rescued before your righteous indignation carries you across the line into sin.

Upcoming Debates, Tom Buck and Sam Allberry, Steven Anderson and Textual Traditionalism

Started off with some exciting news about possible upcoming major debates and pointing folks to the Travel Fund as the most important way of helping us to make this happen.  Then we looked at the fall out from the posting of the four-part series of articles by Pastor Tom Buck interacting with materials found on the Living Out website before turning back to textual issues in finishing up our response to Steven Anderson’s video on chapter three of the King James Only Controversy.  Next week we only have one program at an unusual time: noon EDT on Wednesday!  Join us then!

Here is the YouTube link:
Live Video Stream
The Dividing Line is on YouTube video. Our YouTube channel also provides videos of most of the debates that Dr. White has done over the years. Take some time and browse it to see if there is something there of interest to you. If you are looking for the next upcoming show be sure to subscribe to the blog as we post show announcements the morning of the show.

Living Out Part 4 – A Call to Immediate Action

Living Out and a Call to Immediate Action

When Paul wrote young pastor Timothy in the church at Ephesus, he reminded him of this sobering reality of ministry: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).

As pastors, we must keep a close watch upon our lives to be sure that we are walking in godly ways lest we fall and disqualify ourselves from ministry and shame the cause of Christ. Furthermore, we must be careful to make sure that what we are teaching is biblically sound. This is no small thing that we are called to do as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must live by the power of the gospel and clearly guard the gospel because our own salvation and the salvation at others hangs in the balance.

This has been my concern in addressing the troubling details I discovered at Living Out. For the past three days I have shared the bad theology and even perverted counsel offered by two of the websites leaders. You can find those articles here: part 1, part 2, part 3.

My heart in this has been that of  a concerned pastor. Throughout my ministry, I have sought to love those struggling with same-sex attraction and extend a gospel message that offers them a hope of real transformation. My aim has been to expose, but not be a sensational exposé.

People need to be saved and set free from the power of sin. Eternal lives are at stake and the gospel is the only thing that can bring transformation. This means that we must be biblically precise in defining sin and repentance. The gospel calls for a lifestyle of repentance and faith, so we dare not offer any other path in redemption, which will ultimately be a path of self-indulgence and false hope.

I take seriously this responsibility as a pastor and I believe most of those who are currently directing people to Living Out do as well. Therefore, surely we would not point anyone to a website that is filled with spiritual landmines that could lead to the destruction of her soul.

Consider another article at Living Out where Sean Doherty offers advice to a heterosexual married couple where “one or both spouses experience same-sex attraction.” Even in this situation he does not call upon either person to mortify their “evil desire” (Col 3:5). Rather, regarding their same-sex attraction, he shockingly tells them to “choose not to repress your desires.” While he does tell them not to “gratify the desires,” he offers this advice: “Christian psychologist William Kraft argues that whilst it is of course right to avoid situations which place us in temptation, that is not the same as seeking to ignore or deny your feelings, which is dangerous.”

The real danger Jesus sees is not the potential of denying your feelings, but the potential of giving oneself over to sin and ending up in hell. Therefore, he commands us to radically remove everything that would potentially lead us toward indulging our sinful desires (Matt 5:29-30). Paul tells the believers at Colossae that they have been fundamentally transformed by their union with Christ in his death and resurrection. This reality demands that we “put to death” not only the outward expressions of our sin, but the inward “impurity, passion, evil desire” that lurks in our heart (Col 3:5-11). However, rather than give this clear teaching of Scripture as counsel to believers struggling with same-sex attraction in a heterosexual marriage, Doherty gives his readers the advice of a psychologist that tells them “not to repress your desires.”

I must stop and ask those who support Sam Allberry’s ministry, does this reflect the gospel’s message of faith and repentance that you believe? We can choose the teaching of Jesus and Paul or the counsel of Living Out, but what we cannot choose is both.

Living Out is giving real counsel to real people. Some of them are in our churches and are turning there for counsel because they trust those who are pointing them in that direction. If lives are at stake, we cannot take the answers offered by Living Out lightly. This is not a debate class exercise where we can afford to defend the wrong position in a sterilized classroom setting. Real people are going to follow our lead and many will end up shipwrecking their lives on the unbiblical counsel and bad theology offered at Living Out.

With the documented evidence that I have presented, I am issuing a call for immediate action to be taken. I am asking pastors to join me in calling upon our fellow evangelical leaders who are connecting themselves with Living Out to immediately take notice of what it is they are actually supporting. If they endorsed without doing due diligence, they should confess that they failed to “keep a close watch on the teaching,” repent, and publicly renounce these dangerous teachings.

Proposals for Action

1. While there is much I have appreciated about Sam Allberry, Living Out is his ministry and he should take responsibility for the content of the website that is unsound and twisted doctrine. Allberry knows about these articles and has chosen to not immediately remove them, even though he previously promised he would.1

He asks for time to give a thoughtful response, and that time should be afforded.2  However, what we cannot afford is another person to be deceived with the unbiblical counsel given at the Living Out website. Nothing is stopping Allberry from taking the troublesome articles down as he prepares a response. If his voice is to be trusted in the future, these articles need to be removed, unequivocally renounced, and a promise to provide greater oversight of the counsel given at Living Out. These are not issues of “misunderstandings” on the part of the readers, but a clear lack of understanding of Scripture’s teaching of sanctification on the part of the writers at Living Out.

Allberry must not address this with private revisions in the shadows of the night, but with public renunciations in the light of day.

2. As a pastor of a SBC church, I am asking Russell Moore to renounce the teaching of Living Out and immediately withdraw his endorsement as publicly as he has given it. In addition, I do not see how the ERLC can continue to partner with Allberry unless he, too, publicly renounces these teachings and removes anyone from Living Out who would persist in teaching such things. No pastor should be pointing his people to men who have offered such unsound teaching – neither should any denominational leader.

Until these issues are adequately resolved, the ERLC should not be partnering with Allberry in any capacity. Therefore, I ask the ERLC to remove Allberry from their April 2nd lineup at the TGC event in Indianapolis.3

3. Unless Allberry gives an adequate response before April 1, I request Midwestern Seminary and 9Marks to ask Allberry to step aside from their upcoming event in Indianapolis.4 These matters are far too serious to not take immediate action. Allberry, himself, has said he needs time to answer these things because he has a “hectic schedule.”5

To be clear, this is not a “guilt by association” fallacy. When you promote Sam Allberry, you might be doing more, but you are certainly not doing any less than promoting his public ministry in its entirety, which includes Living Out. Allberry should get his own “house in order” before another person is pointed to his leadership.

4. I also ask for The Gospel Coalition look into these issues and hold Allberry accountable. Many evangelicals look to you for biblical wisdom and counsel. Those who you embrace and elevate will be followed. Those who follow Allberry will eventually make their way to Living Out.

5. I call upon all evangelical leaders to research carefully the ministries they consider endorsing or recommending, taking seriously the pastoral responsibility we have in ministering to God’s people. People trust us to watch over their souls, and they trust our recommendations. If people fall into error it should be in spite of our carefully researched recommendations, not facilitated by our uniformed endorsements.

These actions, for which I call, should not be interpreted as a lack of care for those who struggle with same-sex attraction, but a clear sign of the greatest of care for them. We are all sinners and what we ultimately need is to be confronted with biblical truth that points us to a lifestyle that is characterized by authentic, biblical repentance and faith.

In matters of repentance and faith, we dare not speak in pale pastels but in bold colors.

We must never forget that eternal lives are at stake. The only hope we all have is a pure and unadulterated gospel message – not only for our justification, but also for our sanctification. If we truly care about the souls of those who are battling against same-sex attraction, we must also care about the fidelity of biblical truth that is their only hope of deliverance and salvation – as it is for all of us no matter what our sin-struggle.

If we really believe this, we will take action and we will take it now.

 

Living Out Part 3 – Unbiblical Counsel

The Unbiblical Counsel of Living Out

Paul tells the Colossians that they have been saved for the purpose of being presented “holy and blameless and above reproach” before Christ (Col 1:22). This requires, he says, that they “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Col 1:23). Therefore, Paul’s goal is to proclaim Christ by “warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col 1:28).

Following Paul’s example, the greatest love and compassion that we can have for Christians struggling with same-sex attraction is to give them wise and faithful teaching that is rooted in the hope of the gospel. Our goal should be to present them “mature in Christ,” which will require us to follow Paul’s pattern of “warning and teaching” that is based in biblical truth. Any counsel we give them should be clear warning of the dangers of sin and solid teaching that will assist them in the battle to mortify their evil desires (Col 3:5).

However, in my examination of the teaching at Living Out, I found it woefully lacking in wisdom and faithful teaching, along with little to no warning like we find in Scripture. I presented some of that evidence in yesterday’s article. Sadly, I discovered teaching and counsel that was even more deeply disturbing.

Distortion and Perversion

In an article written by Ed Shaw (pastor, ministry partner at Living Out, and instructor at Living Out conferences that help churches be more LGBTQ+ inclusive), he describes how he “copes” in his personal battle with same-sex attraction. His aim is to help men who experience this same struggle to respond to the temptation they face when attracted to another man.

He writes, “There are many beautiful men on TV, in magazines and, every so often, they step into real life too. And so I have sat in a church meeting feeling like a sitting target because of the ‘comely’ man sitting straight ahead of me. My instinctive sexual attraction to his beauty has produced such horrific fear of falling into sin.”1

At this point, Shaw does not direct attention to Scripture to mortify the evil desire in his heart, he takes his readers down a philosophical path of absurdity by declaring that he simply needs to “understand how beauty works a little better.” Here is his complete argument:

“Part of this is, I think, a growing realisation that my response to male beauty is, at one level, very natural. In desiring a beautiful man, in wanting to become one with him, I am responding to real beauty as all human beings tend to whenever, wherever, they discover it in any overwhelming form. C. S. Lewis articulates this well: ‘We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.’ Is that not always the human response to incredible beauty – in a sunset, a painting, some music? You want somehow to stay and enjoy it, experience it, become part of it, forever. That’s the natural effect of beauty on you. That’s just how it works. I think that will help me next time I see a beautiful man and find myself wanting to be united to him. I am, at one level, just responding to beauty as I am created to respond to it. There is little I can do to avoid this natural response. We are all wired to appreciate beauty. That’s just how we work.”

Shaw confesses that his desire when he looks at this beautiful man is to “become one with” him and to “be united to him.” However, he does not write of his need to repent or to seek God’s help to mortify these thoughts. Instead, he attempts to co-opt C. S. Lewis’ philosophy of objective beauty that all can see in God’s creation to his own subjective unnatural and sinful desire to be sexually united with another man. This teaching is in no way consistent with the “steadfast and stable” faith that comes “from the hope of the gospel.” The simple and straightforward counsel from Jesus is far clearer: “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29).

What is needed to fight against sin is not the philosophical musing of C.S. Lewis, but the biblical mandate of Jesus.

From a biblical perspective, Shaw’s “instinctive sexual reaction” to be “united” with a man that he finds beautiful is not how he has been “created to respond.” That is a result of an earthly, evil desire that dwells in his heart and needs to be put to death (Colossians 3:2). This is the warning and teaching he needs. This is not accomplished by philosophically claiming that he can enjoy the man’s beauty like someone enjoys the beauty of a sunset, but by obeying the biblical command to seek God’s help to mortify that wicked desire. God designed for sunsets to be beautiful, but he did not design one man to bask in the beauty of another man.

Once again, no faithful pastor would give this counsel to a heterosexual man that is dealing with his lusts. Think of a single man telling his pastor that he finds a particular woman in the church beautiful, is sexually attracted to her, and desires to be “united to her.” I could never imagine any pastor saying, “This is simply your natural response to beauty as you were created to respond. You should appreciate the beauty, but do not let it drift into a sexual fantasy.” But, apparently, this is the pastoral advice Ed Shaw would give a same-sex attracted man in the church he pastors,2 and I wonder if this is the counsel he gives when teaching the Living Out conferences to help churches be more “LGBTQ+ inclusive.” (These conferences are being held at various SBC churches and Sam Allberry promoted one of these conferences publicly on Twitter yesterday, March 26, 2019.)

This caused me to wonder what kind of advice Ed Shaw and Living Out would give to a random person who struggled with same-sex attraction and reached out to them. Therefore, I contacted them through their “enquiry form,” 3 using a pseudonym, and asked what counsel they would give to a young teenager struggling with same-sex attraction. (I was told by a pastor who supports Living Out that the target audience of their website was a “15-year-old teenager who struggles with same-sex attraction.”) In a few days, I received the following reply:

“Thank you for taking the time to contact Living Out… If you are seeking someone to talk to, please do approach a leader at your local church and ask them to help you in the light of the advice given through Living Out. You might also benefit from visiting the website of the True Freedom Trust – another organisation supporting Christians who experience same-sex attraction that we heartily recommend. The Living Out Editorial Team (Ed, Sam, & Sean).”

At first, I was thankful that they pointed me to my church leaders, but then I clicked on the link to True Freedom Trust, 4 which they “heartily recommend.” The first article that caught my attention was one that dealt with loneliness and physical isolation for those experiencing same-sex attraction but still desired to remain celibate. Here is what I found when I read that article:

“Over many years of providing pastoral support at TFT, we’ve heard same-sex attracted Christians suggest a number of ways of meeting their longings for intimacy:

  • Hugs with a same-sex friend
  • Visiting naturist beaches5
  • Visiting gay bars or nightclubs without the intention of sexual intimacy
  • Using an online chatroom or a dating website/app to meet other same-sex attracted people just for friendship
  • Sharing a house or going on holiday with another person of the same sex
  • Solemnising a particular same-sex friendship

There is no ‘one size fits all’ biblical answer to many of these suggestions, although some of them (eg the dating app or visiting gay bars) ring more alarm bells than others.
What seems relatively safe behaviour for one person might be ‘playing with fire’ (Prov 6:27) for another person. We are all wired differently and at different levels of maturity in our Christian walk. For example, one person might find going on holiday with a same-sex friend provides great companionship and helps to deepen friendship. But another person, particularly where there is sexual attraction towards the friend, might discern that there would be too many temptations and not enough accountability. What is important is that each person seeks to be utterly honest about his/her own heart desires and vulnerabilities, whilst recognising that it is so easy to deceive ourselves (Jeremiah 17:9), and also reviews the impact on others involved.” 6

I was shocked by the author’s statement that there is “no ‘one size fits all’ biblical answer to many of these suggestions.” Other than hugging a same-sex friend, none of them are biblically sound wisdom at best and most are clear violations of Scripture regarding purity. I cannot fathom how a gay dating app and visiting a gay bar does little more than “ring alarm bells,” and visiting a nude beach 7 does not even make the list of “alarm bell” examples. Remember that I wrote them asking help for a teenage boy, who is supposedly their target audience. Just imagine the destructive path this could set a young man down. Where is the “hope of the gospel” in this?

The rest of the article goes on to give basic biblical principles that would help a Christian who is thinking through decisions that involve matters of conscience. But the seductive nature of the list cited above is inconsistent with the principles outlined. This is a dangerous contradiction to put before those struggling with same-sex attraction, implying that the suggestions in the list might pass the test. There is a “one size fits all biblical answer” for the Christian regarding these matters–“flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18).

Men Who Rise Up and Speak Twisted Things

Just because individuals agree with us on certain orthodox teaching does not mean that we should avoid careful discernment when they disagree on other fundamental issues. When Paul had his final meeting with the elders at Ephesus, he gave this warning: “and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30).

To be clear, I am not claiming that any of those involved with Living Out are definitely men of which Paul speaks. But I am saying we would be foolish to excuse the twisted things that are being spoken at Living Out by simply pointing to other things they say which are consistent with sound doctrine.

Paul tells the Ephesian elders that the men of which he warns will rise up from among themselves. If so, these men became elders in the first place because they were orthodox in their theology. However, they eventually began to speak twisted things that led disciples away from sound doctrine. How many disciples among us are being led away even now because they trust those who are pointing them to Sam Allberry and Living Out? (At the time of the publication of this article, Dr. Russell Moore, who heartily commends the resources at Living Out, continues to stand behind his endorsement.)

Therefore, while it would be uncharitable to immediately place these men in the group warned about in Acts 20:30, it would be completely unwise to simply dismiss this possibility. If we are to take the warning of Paul seriously, when men among us start speaking twisted things, we need to take serious action.

Tomorrow, I will address that final critical issue.

1 https://www.livingout.org/how-do-you-cope-with-sexual-attraction-as-a-christian-with-same-sex-attraction (All articles were live at the time of the publication of this post)

2 https://www.livingout.org/who-we-are

3 https://www.livingout.org/get-in-touch

4 Apparently, this is their common response. On their website, Living Out recommends that parents point their children, who “come out” as gay, to True Freedom Trust. https://www.livingout.org/resources/how-should-i-respond-if-my-child-comes-out-to-me

If you perform a search at the Living Out site, you will find they have a close partnership with True Freedom Trust.

5 https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/naturist

6 https://truefreedomtrust.co.uk/am-i-kidding-myself

7 https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/naturist