Wednesday, November 07, 2007

CBF Church Double Speak Over "Gays" in Church Directory

One more Baptist Press article caught my eye yesterday. This one is titled, "Gay Couples in Church Directory Kindles Flap." It involves controversy at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth a prominent Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Church in Texas once pastored by former CBF Moderator and BTSR Professor Cecil Sherman.
The church apparently has "gay" members but some of the traditionalist members are bucking at the notion of allowing them to be pictured in their church directory along with their partners.
One could discuss the whole issue of this church's lack of Biblical discipline or its hypocrisy. What I find interesting is the description of classic moderate Baptist double-speak expressed by Pastor Brett Younger in the following quotes:
"For decades Broadway has had gay members as part of our membership, but no couple had been pictured as a couple in a church directory," pastor Brett Younger said in a statement to the membership of the church. The possibility of including homosexual couples in the directory "was troubling to many,” Younger acknowledged, “as they saw it as a change of direction and it is understandable that they would feel that way."
Or this:
"Broadway has for years had an amazing policy on including gay people. It's not a policy that a committee came up with, or the staff or the deacons. It's an unwritten policy that came out of the shared life of this congregation, a policy I believe was inspired by the Spirit," he said. "This church has for a long time included both gay people who are committed to Christ and members who aren't affirming and who have serious questions, but who are willing to share the church. This has allowed us to be a congregation where the conversation can take place about being gay and being Christians."
Note Younger's suggestion that their confusing situation is "inspired by the Spirit." Sadly it has little to do with Scripture and is not inspired by the Spirit of God which never contradicts Scipture. In truth I have more admiration for a truly liberal church than the typical moderate attempt to dance around issues and take no firm stand in the name of false charity and diversity.
JTR

4 comments:

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Sir,

In your blog post above,you write the following:
"Note Younger's suggestion that their confusing situation is 'inspired by the Spirit.' Sadly it has little to do with Scripture and is not inspired by the Spirit of God which never contradicts Scipture."

Let's see here....

Couldn't an outsider make an excellent case that Scripture also justifies slavery? The Old Testament reeks of it, The New Testament condones it, and Paul can only state that if one is a slave, hey, try to make the best of a bad situation.
Let's tie that to another post on your site, one from your visit to The Union Seminary Cemetary at Hampden - Sydney....Here's the inscription from one of the tombstones:

Isaac Armstrong (1842-62) "A believer in Jesus Christ, Sacrificed his Life defending Virginia against a Ruthless Invasion, July 27, 1862."

I'm betting that Isaac Armstrong knew his pro-slavery Bible verses better than either of us. Can we safely hypothesize that Isaac went to his grave thinking he was inspired by The Spirit of God, which never contradicts scripture? Even if that meant keeping a substantial percentage of humanity in bondage?

I guess my question is this: Are you, like Isaac Armstrong, willing to sacrifice the happiness and fellowship of a significant percentage of humanity, people that the Creator made diffently than you, just to preserve a misguided loyalty to the superstitions of some nomadic tribesmen?

If there is a Creator, someone who created everything that we see around us, then he/she/it just MIGHT be bigger than the Stone Age concepts that some preachers (much like Isaac Armstrong) go to their graves defending.

One other thing....I know that two wrongs don't make a right. But I'm assuming those are pictures of you on the STYLOS website. Are those blended fabrics you're wearing? How do you deal with the guilt? Did you read somewhere in scripture that the Old Testament prohibitions against blended fabrics had been repealed? (That would kinda do away with the 10 commandments, wouldn't it?) Or are you justified in wearing blended fabrics by The Spirit of God Which Never Contradicts Scripture ?

Pastor Jeff said...

W.S.,

Thanks for your post.

You appeal to two of the most common objections posed against Christians who reject homosexual practice on Biblical grounds.

First, you draw a parallel between slavery and homosexuality. Second, you ask why Christians can disregard rules like wearing two types of fabric and not disregard Biblical prohibitions against homosexual practice.

Responses:

First, on slavery. No. The apostles did not advocate a revolution against the first century practice of slavery. BTW, first century, Greco-Roman slavery (instituted by pagans) was not the same as antebellum slavery in the South. The Bible, however, is hardly pro-slavery. Indeed, its focus on human rights and the value of life contained the seeds for the ending of slavery in the West (it still happens in parts of the world, especially in areas influenced by Islam). See my previous posts on Rodney Stark's book "For the Glory of God: How monotheism led to reformations, science, witch-hunts, and the end of slavery" (Princeton University Press, 2003) which argues that Biblical Christianity, not humanism, brought an end to the slave trade in the Western world.

In addition, slavery is a post-fall phenomenon. It only happens after Genesis 3 and is not part of the pre-fall design. Marriage between one man and one woman, however, is a part of the original good, creation design. Both slavery and homosexual practice are examples of sinful rebellion against God's good order.

As for Mr. Pancake, I do not know what his views were on slavery. If he was pro-slavery, I think he was wrong. For the record, I am both against slavery and homosexual practice, based on the same Scriptural principles.

Second, on the interpretation of Old Testament law. Christians do not advocate the acceptance of OT Law without reference to the New Testament. Christian theology, based on the New Testament witness, typically differentiates between the moral law (true for all ages, as in the Ten Commandments) and the civil and ceremonial aspects of the law (temporary for Israel) that ceased in the new covenant era. So, Christians are not obligated to keep the non-moral aspects of the law (like OT diet and dress codes, etc) but are obligated to keep the moral aspects. The New Testament never asks Christians to continue not to wear two kinds of fabric, but it does explicitly denounce homosexual practice (see Romans 1). Christians who accept Scripture's authority cannot condone homosexual practice.

Now, does this mean that those who are tempted with homosexuality are worse sinners than those who are not tempted with this? No. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23). The standard is the same for all of us. No sexual activity outside the boundaries of a one man, one woman marriage covenant. This is God's rule for our good.

JTR

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Stylos,

Thanks for your civil reply. I agree with you that the Greco-Roman form of slavery (instituted by Pagans) was a different form of slavery than the form that was found in the Antebellum South. The Pagan form of slavery was the result of a "Might Makes Right" mindset and tradition.

The form of slavery practiced in the Antebellum South was propped up by Christianity. African slaves were destined for the fires of hell, but could be redeemed through education, Christian preaching, Getting Out There and Picking My Cotton.

So, yes, there was a difference. Had the American South won the civil war, that would still be the dominant American Christian interpretation of the Biblical Pro-Slavery scriptures.

The way Mainstream Media Under-reports the Muslim slave trade is an abomination. I'm with you there. However, I will argue that it only occurs because their religion is stronger than their government, or their desire for an economy that links with the rest of the world.

I'm disappointed that you claim Christianity ended the American Slave trade. There were many Christians who opposed it, but they did so in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Christian Abolitionists were primarily Jeffersonian Deists, as opposed to the Southern Protestants. See "The Arrogance of Faith" by Forest Wood. (If I remember correctly, he quotes the Rodney Stark book in a few places.)

Ok, back to the Spirit of God never contradicting scripture....in your argument above, you divide time into 3 periods: "a pre-fall design", "after the fall", and finally, "the New Testament era". Please let me know if I'm misinterpreting something here....

Are you saying that The Creator of heaven and earth wanted things one way before the Original Sin, another way afterwards, and yet another way when Jesus was born? Wouldn't it be easier to admit that we have a lot of interesting writings from different periods in humanity's evolution, and that they don't hang together very well? It hurts me to see someone force himself into Mental Gymnastics like the ones you're going through.
Like the Moral Law vs. Civil and Ceremonial Law problem....Is going to a church on Sunday a New Testament Moral decree, or an Old Testament Ceremonial ritual? There are Orthodox Jews who believe that eating/not eating shrimp is a moral issue, not civil or ceremonial. Ditto Muslims and pork. Ditto Catholics and the fish on friday business.
Who is helped or hurt (Moral or Civil sense) by any of that insanity?

Is it really that difficult to admit that we just don't know? Can you not see that our interpretation of scripture evolves (in your three stages) as we outgrow it, or become embarrased by it?

Nor'easter said...

Whited Sepulchre, I can't quote from any authors, and I won't get into a tit for tat over Bible Scripture, be it New Testament or the Tanakh, but I DO believe I'm safe in saying that antebellum slavery was on the wane before the first shot was fired in the Civil War- which wasn't about slavery, but about economic separation, the south being largely agricultural, the north industrial, which, at that time, produced more wealth, and a repressive attitude toward the south. Oh, and lest you think I'm a proud son of the south, I am not. I am a proud son of New England. And a born again Christian who believes that Stylos probably has his facts much more clearly than you do your opinions. He WAS courteous in his reply to you, though, wasn't he. Gotta give him props there, don't you?