This week, Joe Carter of the Gospel Coalition published an article on their website entitled “When did idolatry become compatible with Christianity?” In his article he wonders when it became acceptable for Christians to “embrace and endorse homosexual behavior.” His answer is that there is no specific date, but it is part of a wider idolatrous movement in the church. He characterizes the issue like this:
At its root, the issue has more to do with idolatry than marriage, since same-sex marriage could not have advanced in America if believers had not exchanged the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for the God of faux-love, cultural acceptance, and open theism.
This idolatry, he says, takes two forms. The first is essentially libertarian. Some Christians believe that because we live in a pluralistic society, and we do not have anything but a religious objection to marriage equality, we can’t really say it should be illegal. Carter says to do so is to replace
Jesus’ commandment—”You shall love your neighbor as yourself”—with the guiding motto of the neopagan religion of Wicca, “Do what you will, so long as it harms none.”
The second form of idolatry is essentially just liberal theology he doesn’t care for. He says that they have “completely rejected the authority of Scripture and embraced the idol of open theism, a god who changes his mind over time.” He proceeds to use Rob Bell as a punching bag, which is becoming a pastime for Reformed theologians, I think.
He concludes that Christians who agree with him (as opposed to the idolatrous Christians who don’t) need to speak up. He concludes:
We fear that if we point out too clearly or forcefully that you can’t both serve God and endorse sin that they may leave our congregations. We seem more concerned with losing the volunteer for the Sunday morning nursery or the regular check in the offering plate than we do with the souls of those in open and unrepentant rebellion against God. We seem more worried about the judgment of the kids in the youth ministry than we do with the judgment of a wrathful and holy God. We are so troubled by the thought that same-sex advocates will fall away from the faith that we fail to see that they’ve already rejected the faith of historic, orthodox Christianity and replaced it with an idolatrous heresy—one that is as destructive and hateful as any that has come before.
I don’t need to tell you that I have problems with this article, but let me outline them.
[[This is an article I wrote for the Samford Crimson, the student newspaper of Samford University.]]
The latest book to cause a stir in the often echo chamber-like Christian blogosphere (of which I am, for better or worse, a part) is Rachel Held Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood. In it, Evans spends a year trying to live up to the supposed imperatives and models the Bible has for women. She tries to become the fabled Proverbs 31 woman, she learns to cook and sew, she covers her head when she prays, and she even praises her husband Dan at the city gate (i.e. holds up a sign that says “Dan is AWESOME“ just outside Dayton, TN). However, at the end of the day, Evans’ point is not just about womanhood. It is about the Bible.
Evans has received no shortage of criticism since the publication of her book. Kathy Keller, wife of pastor Tim Keller, wrote a scathing review of it. Trillia Newbell, writing for John Piper’s blog, said Evans undermined the truth of Scripture. LifeWay ostensibly dropped the book for its use of “vagina,” but I think it probably had more to do with Evans’ thoughts on gender. Needless to say, plenty of people in evangelical circles call Evans a heretic, but I am increasingly finding that to be an admirable quality in people. Read the rest of this entry
[[I wrote this column for the Samford Crimson last week and thought I'd share.]]
My least favorite word in the English language is not too hard to spell, difficult to pronounce or obscure to reference. Rather, we hear this word more often on our campus and in our “Christian” culture than perhaps any other adjective—at least when it comes to anything “important.”
How often do you hear about biblical lifestyles, biblical marriage, biblical economics, biblical education and biblical manhood (or womanhood for that matter)?
I hate the word “biblical.” Strictly speaking, the word “biblical” should only refer to the text of the Bible. However, people often use “biblical” to justify their own position regardless of whether it has anything to do with the Bible at all. Even if their opinion (note: opinion) has something to do with the Bible, using the word “biblical” to describe their position automatically shuts down discussion. “Biblical” suggests that one opinion is final, absolute, infallible, and unquestionable. There is not room for dialogue when someone plays the biblical card. The game is over.
Using the word at all also suggests that Christians all agree on what they think about certain issues. The biblical position on gay marriage, for example, seems to be that we should be against it. However, in October 2011, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 46 percent of American Christians favored it, while 44 percent opposed it.
What about the death penalty? 64 percent favor it and 29 percent oppose it. What about evolution? The official positions of the Roman Catholic Church, Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church do not see evolution and the Bible as incompatible. However, the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church and Southern Baptist Convention clearly do not agree. On almost every controversial issue, there is no Christian consensus.
Just as Christians do not agree with each other on everything, the Bible itself does not agree with itself on everything either. James’s letter contends with some points Paul makes in his letters. Martin Luther found this disagreement so problematic that he wanted to remove James from the canon.
The Gospels tell different stories about Jesus. That is unsurprising, but in some cases, the Gospel accounts disagree with each other over particular details or perspectives. However, the Church rejected early attempts to harmonize the Gospels into one book. Instead, the early Christians chose to canonize Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as well as the Pauline letters and James. From the beginning, the Bible has been a canon of difference.
Christians should disagree with each other, and that should be acceptable. There should be dialogue, discussion and argument. These exchanges sharpen our perspectives, or worldviews. They either strengthen our own opinions or turn us to better ones. Disagreement is good and we should condone it—nothing, after all, is more biblical.