My reflection on the “Nashville Statement” and its backlash

September 5, 2017

As always, when I write about the issue that will likely divide my denomination in 2019—homosexuality, marriage, and related questions—I do so as a sinner in need of God’s mercy and grace at every moment. I may not be, as Paul says, “the chief of sinners” (1 Tim 1:15), but God knows I’m close enough! I stand in solidarity with my fellow sinners.

When I consider my own sin, Paul’s words from Romans 7 resonate with me: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” My only hope in life and death rests not on my faltering attempts at making “progress” in the Christian life, but on my ability to “fall on Christ,” as I heard one pastor say recently. Even the most crippled person—and I am crippled, emotionally and spiritually—knows how to fall.

So to all sinners everywhere, I urge you: fall on Christ alongside me. He will save us if we repent of our sin and trust in him for salvation.

Repentance represents our desire to turn from sin. We bring to God this desire—daily, hourly—and we trust him with the power to change us. Yes, it involves our will and effort, however weak and vacillating, but ultimately it happens by God’s sanctifying grace. Do we still sin? Absolutely. But since Jesus counsels us to forgive our brother or sister “seventy times seven,” we can assume that he himself isn’t less forgiving: and that as we sin and turn to him in repentance, he will keep on forgiving us—without limit.

Indeed, on the cross, Christ’s blood was powerful enough to atone for every sin we commit—past, present, and future. As the song says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” This is also why the doctrine of Christ’s imputed righteousness ought to bring us great comfort: we are not made righteous through anything that we do, but on account of what Christ has done. Because we are united with him through faith (as a bride is united to a bridegroom, the Bible says), what belongs to Christ now belongs to us—including his righteousness. Praise God!

Please receive what follows in this spirit. My occasion for discussing issues pertaining to sexuality is the Nashville Statement, a manifesto produced primarily by an evangelical organization called the CBMW, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I am not a member, nor could I be, since I believe that women should be eligible for ordained ministry—and I believe this (I hope) for good exegetical reasons. As I’ve said before, N.T. Wright, an Anglican scholar, makes a strong case with which I agree.

Nevertheless, the issues over which I disagree with the CBMW are secondary. Issues pertaining to human sexuality, I believe, are not. I’ve read the Nashville Statement. Alongside a diverse group of evangelicals, I affirm it. I think I even signed it, although I never received feedback that my signature went through. Not that the world waits with bated breath to see if some small-town Methodist minister signs it or not!

I’ve read that the statement could be more “pastoral.” Maybe so, but it isn’t meant as therapeutic advice for pastors and counselors. I’ve read (from some of my fellow UMC clergy) that they can’t sign it because they disagree with the CBMW on issues pertaining to women in ministry. I sympathize, but this is a classic case of “guilt by association”: nothing in the statement itself prescribes “roles” for women in our world—it affirms only the God-givenness of differences between male and female. What Christian would disagree with that principle, even if we disagree over how those differences are to be lived out?

No ecumenical statement says everything that needs to be said on a topic, almost by design: you want more agreement rather than less.

Still, I’m surprised and disappointed by the way some of my fellow orthodox evangelicals have responded to it, especially Scot McKnight over on his blog, Jesus Creed. He’s responded twice—once with glibness and a second time with more thoughtfulness. Either way, I strongly disagree, as I said in the following exchange with Dr. McKnight:

Way too much to respond to today, but your objections regarding Article X seem incomprehensible to me. You ask, “If this were ‘essential,’ why don’t any of the creeds and confessions make reference to homosexuality?” But you know that none of the framers of these creeds and confessions denied the historic, unanimously held Christian conviction that homosexual practice, per se, is sinful. Had they anticipated that in late modernity, somewhere around 1980 and in response to the sexual revolution, a small handful of Bible scholars would begin making a revisionist case (which even many otherwise “affirming” Christian scholars would dispute), perhaps they should have said something. But that’s a lot to ask!

It’s like arguing (spuriously) that Jesus had “nothing to say” about homosexuality, so it must not be very important. Even if that were true, in what possible context would he have brought it up—especially if everyone with whom he ministered already understood that homosexual practice was sinful? The same applies to framers of creeds and confessions.

Besides, scripture itself records the first church council, at which the church ruled that avoiding porneia [often translated “sexual immorality”] was, in fact, an “essential” that Gentile believers would have to observe, even as ceremonial aspects of Jewish law no longer applied. There’s no question that “porneia,” in the minds of the apostles, pointed back to the sexual sins listed in Leviticus 18 and 20.

Finally, what would Paul say about whether or not homosexual practice, like other sexual sins, was less than essential? In 1 Corinthians 5, the issue of incest (which is listed alongside homosexual practice in Leviticus 18 and 20) was important enough for Paul to urge the church to disfellowship this Christian who engaged in it. And notice Paul’s tone! He’s shocked that the church would consider tolerating such sin.

More importantly, what about Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:9. I know the revisionist argument that somehow Paul says nothing whatsoever about homosexual practice as understood and practiced by Christians today, but you don’t believe those revisionist arguments. Therefore, you accept, I’m sure, that Paul is at least saying that, apart from repentance, this sin, like other serious sins he mentions, risks excluding someone from God’s kingdom. If that’s true, then potentially heaven and hell hang in the balance. If so, how can the questions addressed in the Nashville Statement be anything less than “essential”?

Dr. McKnight responded:

I think we’re coming at the word “essential” from two angles: I see the gospel statement in 1 Cor 15 and the creedal type statements about Christ in Phil 2 and Col 1 to be the foundation of creeds, and then they come to fuller form at Nicea and Constantinople and Chalcedon. I see those as “essentials” of the faith. That’s what I was saying. For me “essential” refers to the church’s own official creeds and what they saw as vitally important, and that was a Trinitarian formed statement that did not include specific moral statements.

I do not dispute the clarity of the Bible on same sex sexual relations, but pulling in 1 Cor 6 puts one in the position of making “greed” also an essential. Do you believe that? If one wants to include moral claims on our life in the Bible as essentials, I think we’d be talking about a different list.

In response, I wrote:

The difference is, irrespective of how consistently one lives out or applies Paul’s warning about the sinfulness of greed, no Christian disputes that greed is seriously sinful. In fact, it would be bizarre to imagine that the sinfulness of greed would ever be disputed. It’s unthinkable.

And yet here we are, encouraging a behavior that, as we’re told in the exact same context as greed, risks excluding someone from God’s kingdom.

Call it whatever you want—just so long as the word you use means something like “deadly serious.”

No response. Earlier this morning, he wrote in passing that he agrees 100 percent that redefining marriage and endorsing homosexual practice is a “departure from the church’s tradition and practice. No one should question that.”

I couldn’t let that pass without the following response:

Scot, I can only speak for myself. I pastor in a denomination (the UMC) that will likely split in 2019 because of issues that the Nashville Statement addresses. Many clergy in my denomination identify as “moderates” or “centrists” or the “Methodist middle” and say, in so many words, “Can’t we just agree to disagree?” And the whole approach of your blog seems to affirm the same thing: issues pertaining to homosexuality and marriage are strictly secondary; they are matters of adiaphora [inessential to orthodox Christian faith]. Am I wrong?

Because when you say that the revisionist side represents (merely) a “departure from the church’s tradition and practice,” you’re ceding way too much ground, at least for someone like yourself who believes in the church’s traditional doctrine on sexuality. Why do you do this?

From my perspective, as a theologically conservative evangelical, this is not merely a departure from tradition and practice. In a sense, people on “my side” don’t care about tradition and practice: we are Sola Scriptura, right? God’s Word, we believe, has these serious warnings about the sinfulness of homosexual behavior, per se. In the spirit of love, for the sake of people’s souls, we can’t condone or affirm homosexual behavior and any sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage, which is by definition between a man and woman.

Why not say that? This issue, whether or not it’s “essential” as you define it, is far more serious than a matter of church practice or tradition. I get why my mainline brothers and sisters are confused about this (I went to Candler, for heaven’s sake!). But why are you? I hope you at least sympathize with those of us who share my convictions.

I don’t expect a response. I’m sure he’s a busy man. But I hope this post has been helpful. I would like for my fellow UMC clergy who disagree with me to at least appreciate why people like me stand where we stand, and why compromise can’t be on the table for us. I believe that my fellow clergy who oppose the traditional stance of our Book of Discipline are gravely mistaken, and far from being loving, risk doing great harm to people who struggle with same-sex attraction.

I urge these clergy—my fellow sinners—to repent, to believe God’s Word, and to heed Jesus’ warning that to whom much is given, much will be expected.

27 Responses to “My reflection on the “Nashville Statement” and its backlash”

  1. Tom Harkins Says:

    Keep up the good work, Brent! Keep the faith! Keep insisting on scripture! “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Regardless whether Jesus used the terminology of “homosexual” [and, as you say, why should he when everyone in his audience agreed on that point], he clearly affirmed that marriage was between a man and a woman who “cleave to each other,” quoting from the creation of human kind in Genesis.)] “We must obey God rather than man.”

    • brentwhite Says:

      Thanks, Tom! The complementarity of male and female in marriage even lies at the heart of Paul’s beautiful analogy of Christ’s relationship with his Church in Ephesians 5. The only way “two become one flesh,” according to Genesis 1-2, Jesus in Matthew 19/Mark 10, and Paul in 1 Cor. 6, is through a male and female coming together sexually. Indeed, revisionists often invent other prerequisites—loving, covenantal, monogamous, life-long—but notice Paul’s warning about Christians having sex with prostitutes: even this cheap and seemingly meaningless relationship creates the one-flesh bond that is, biblically speaking, the sine qua non of marriage. That’s the main problem with it! It’s the main problem with premarital sex.

  2. Grant Essex Says:

    Well said Brent, as usual.

    I would add that on the question of “sin”, Christians have long understood that everyone sins. We do it before being saved, and we do it after being saved.

    The question is, “What do we do with sin?” Do we ignore it, because it’s so common? Do we forgive it without any necessity of repentance, or without any condemnation?

    Of course not! We still maintain that greed, adultery, envy, murder, etc. are sinful. They are common, but they are wrong. They must be repented of to be forgiven. And, repentance should include turning away from the sinful behavior.

    What’s going on with the issue of homosexuality is nothing less than a demand that it be removed from the list of sins. “How can love be a sin?”, they ask. The Church must admit that it has been wrong on this issue and accept this “form of love” as normal.

    Remember that all sin is sin against God. What we do here is a statement of how the church believes God feels about the issue. Does God condone the behavior?

    So, I wait to see just how the UMC handles this. If they go all the way to saying it’s not sin, which is where I see it headed, then they have lost me.

    • Tom Harkins Says:

      I agree, Grant. The biggest problem to me is not that homosexuals fall prey to that particular temptation, but that they refuse to admit it is a “temptation” (urge to sin) in the first place. Similarly, were someone to argue that “greed” is not a sin, then I would have a serious problem with him as well. I just hope that Southern Baptists will stand strong here!

      • brentwhite Says:

        Tom, I grew up Southern Baptist in a church that, by the mid-’80s, self-consciously identified as “moderate” in the so-called “Southern Baptist Holy War” of the ’80s, in which the conservative evangelicals reclaimed the seminaries and other church institutions. One of our pastors, a former prof at New Orleans Seminary (before the takeover), told us, “There aren’t any theological liberals in the denomination. This is much ado about nothing.”

        He later became an Episcopal priest. He’s retired now, but I googled his name. Several years ago he wrote in a church newsletter, “I’m so glad to finally be in a church that’s as theologically liberal as I am!” I wanted to say, “But you told us thirty years ago that you weren’t liberal, and there weren’t any liberals!” I’ll bet this happened a lot—wolves in sheep’s clothing!

        I felt betrayed, I’ll be honest. I love him, but I can now see that his influence on my spiritual life was mostly harmful. I’m serious! The LGBTQ issue wasn’t discussed back then, but he definitely sowed seeds that caused me to doubt the inspiration of scripture. And I really struggled with it in college. And I had no one to help me through it. My Christian faith took a nosedive. And I didn’t fully recover—which is to say, repent—until 2009. Isn’t that terrible?

        On a related note, I was driving through Atlanta last week and noticed a few former in-town SBC churches (now part of the CBF or whatever they call themselves) and they had rainbow flags and various political banners. One church has an interim pastor, David Gushee, who is an outspoken Baptist leader for the LGBTQ-affirming crowd.

        My point is, all of these churches used to be SBC, and they used to be orthodox. I’ll bet they became apostate in less than two generations—after decades of faithful witness.

        The change can happen very quickly. We need to be vigilant.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        You are correct. I am certainly glad that the “Southern Baptist Convention proper” as now constituted switched back to “conservative”! My hope is that it will stay that way!

      • brentwhite Says:

        It seems like any SBC church that goes liberal will simply leave the convention. They are not as tightly bound to the denomination as Methodists are. For instance in our church polity, the deeds of all local church property are held by a larger governing body, which reports directly to the denomination at large. This is supposed to ensure greater accountability, except now some of those larger governing bodies are “looking the other way” as churches and pastors break church law.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Let those SBC liberals leave! “They went out from us to show that they were not of us,” as 1 John puts it.

  3. brendt Says:

    One could have such a view of sexuality that Fred Phelps rises from the grave to say, “Dude, you’re taking it way too far” and still have problems with the Nashville Statement.

    Brent, from what I know of you and what I know of Skye Jethani, the two of you have similar viewpoints on the basic *content* of the statement. And yet he (rightly) had problems with the *nature* of the statement, and some of Burk’s “clarifying” statements that followed the statement. https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSkyeJethani/posts/867877026700071

    The phrase “the wrong side of history” is often used as a cop-out to condemn someone who holds an older view that once was common, but that general society has since rejected. But I think another use of the phrase is to condemn someone whose priorities are that of a time long ago (usually due to the ignoring of the issues of the day). With all that our country is facing these days, this statement shows that CBMW is on the wrong side of history.

    • Tom Harkins Says:

      Maybe on the “wrong side of history” under some definitions, but on the “right side of scripture,” which is what counts.

    • brentwhite Says:

      I’m not sure I follow. I couldn’t care less about what Burk or anyone associated with the CBMW said about the statement. I’m referring only to the statement itself. Otherwise, as many others have pointed out, we’re guilty of the genetic fallacy.

      Brendt, if we apply Article X to some other serious sin that we as a culture happen to agree is sinful, would anyone object to the language of Article X? Of course not. So what’s different here?
      As for the timing of the statement in light of “all that our country is facing,” Christian revisionists are undermining faith in the authority of God’s Word and leading many people astray, perhaps even with eternal consequences. That’s at least as serious as any other problem our country is facing. I understand that the culture at large can’t see it that way, but shouldn’t we?

      I’m unsympathetic with Jethani’s point of view. Tell me why I’m wrong. For the life of me, I don’t know why I stand to the theological right of Christians who, I’m sure, used to stand to the right of me.

    • brentwhite Says:

      Brendt, I had a chance to read Jethani’s statement more closely. He’s very sarcastic, isn’t he? For someone who implies that he’s interested in serious conversation on the matter, why does he regard this serious document so flippantly?

      He says that the statement has the effect of “shutting down all conversation,” but given the reaction to it over the past week, that’s self-evidently false. It’s fostered a great deal of conversation, hasn’t it?

      He says that Article X condemns anyone who disagrees with the statement as a “heretic.” Obviously, it does no such thing. Read the article. Again with the sarcasm!

      Paragraph three relates to a quote by Denny Burk that has nothing to do with the statement. Paragraph four is a completely irrelevant, not to mention deeply uncharitable, inference about things that I suspect the CBMW would deny, or at least clarify with far greater nuance and sensitivity.

      (Is Jethani friends with Rachel Held Evans? Their writing style is identical!)

      But what does that matter, because we’re still engaging in, yes, genetic and/or ad hominem and/or straw man fallacies.

      • brendt Says:

        Random thoughts, not cogently put together right now:

        * You said, “I couldn’t care less about what Burk or anyone associated with the CBMW said about the statement.” Burk was a chief architect. I’m not ascribing his attitudes to every signer, but the statement and Burk cannot be so easily disconnected.

        * You said, “Christian revisionists are undermining faith in the authority of God’s Word and leading many people astray” and you do well to say this. But here’s the thing: these days, the theological right is just as guilty of that sin as the theological left. I’m not sure if this is a fairly new thing, or if I’ve just been seeing it recently. Either way, this is most of my point when I talk about “all that’s going on in this country”.

        * Re: Jethani’s claim that Burk, et al, are calling those who disagree a heretic. How is “an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness” *not* just a long-winded way of saying “heresy”? Yeah, they didn’t use the word, but it gets thrown around so readily, that they would have been fools to say it directly. But they screamed it indirectly.

        * I think Jethani is a bit clumsy in combining the statement with Burk’s “clarifications”. I don’t think the statement in and of itself is a conversation shut-down, but when you add Burk’s follow-ons, that’s where we land. This isn’t a mere refusal to “agree to disagree” — that, I could understand. This isn’t even a “You aren’t going to change my view.” It’s “lalalala, I can’t hear you.”

        * One last question. Who benefits? And in what way? (OK, that’s two questions.)

      • brentwhite Says:

        Paragraph 1; The truth or falsity of ideas is independent of the person presenting them. We can judge them for ourselves. Look at some of the people who’ve signed it. Does Jethani believe these people aren’t smart enough to reason through these articles and decide whether they’re true?

        Paragraph 2: John Piper is doing this? Andrew Wilson? Rosaria Butterfield? Rob Gagnon? Thomas Schreiner? No way! Are you confusing the political right with the theological right? Regardless, one is independent of the other.

        Paragraph 3: He said “condemned heretic,” as if to suggest that people who disagree are bound for hell. Christians argue all day over the meaning of heresy. I agree with the article. I don’t care whether it’s heresy. I don’t think that people who disagree are bound for hell as a result. If I saw that in the statement I wouldn’t have signed it.

        Paragraph 4: But my point is that it clearly hasn’t stopped conversation. Burk’s is one voice among many.

        Paragraph 5: The very fact that we and many others are talking about it is beneficial. Let evangelicals figure out where they stand—get on the bus, get off it, whatever. But it’s for evangelicals, not for the outside world. It’s not pastoral, therapeutic, or evangelistic (obviously).

      • brendt Says:

        P1: I agree with your overall assessment, but I still think the words and their author can’t be so easily disconnected. I know of one signer who is significantly bothered by Burk’s follow-up statements and quickly distanced themselves from them. They did this partly because rational people were ascribing to them the same chutzpah that Burk shows. If rational people with a deep understanding of Scripture are conflating the statement and its architect, what do you think the odds are that the average person will properly keep the two separate? (Hint: Slim just left town.)

        P2: I am not familiar enough with all of the folks that you cited, but of those I am, the answer is “no” (and I’m willing to bet that the answer would be “no” for the others that you listed too). That said, here’s a brief list of people for whom the answer is definitely “yes”: James Dobson, Wayne Grudem, Tony Perkins, John MacArthur, Jack Graham, Richard Land. (Note: This list just comes off the first page or two of signers. That was just because it was a handy starting point. I’m sure that an exhaustive list would also include many non-signers.)

        And, no, I’m not confusing the political right with the theological right. That said, admittedly, all of those listed above are both, and their abandonment of Scriptural authority is largely (completely?) tied to their over-allegiance to their political views.

        P3: I did not interpret “condemned heretic” as meaning condemned to hell. Maybe my interpretation is wrong. But this boosts my contention that one cannot always simply take words at face value.

        P4: I think you’re conflating “conversation” with “people talking about it”.

        P5: Crap. It’s for evangelicals? Ya mean I could have saved myself all this time and effort? 🙂 Seriously, I re-iterate my contention from P4.

        P6 (new): The early part of Al Mohler’s WaPo article sets the stage well: “We signers know ourselves, like all humanity, to be broken by sin. We have no right to face the world from a claim of moral superiority. We know and confess that Christians have often failed to speak the truth in love.” The preamble to your OP speaks of similar things. You both do well to couch your statements thusly, and I don’t doubt the sincerity of either of you for one second.

        But there’s not a single word of this in the NS. Even Steve Camp, in his 1998 bloviating, my-way-or-the-highway rant (“Now with 12 more theses than even Martin Luther!!!”) had time to confess his own sin.

        Let us assume that the NS is for the Church (slight variation on your statement). The Church needs to hear this confession, not to cover the butts of the signers, but to recognize the sin in their own lives. With its complete omission of anything even approaching this, the NS reduces *all* of God’s salvation (not just one’s legal standing with God) to a single event — meaning that either one has arrived or not. I’m not saying that the signers ascribe to such ludicrousness, but folks who *do* believe that way — and there are LOTS — will only be further entrenched in their error after reading the NS.

        Mohler continues: “In releasing the Nashville Statement, we in fact are acting out of love and concern ….” This is where he is wrong. His *personal* motivation for signing may have been out of love (in fact, knowing him, I’d say with a high degree of confidence that it probably was). But, given the content of the NS (in and of itself, divorced from extra-curricular commentary), what he is implying is that the truth is *inherently* loving. And that’s simply not the case. If it was, then Paul involved himself in a redundancy (Eph 4:15) that borders on stupidity.

        I expanded on this thought several years ago: http://csaproductions.com/blog/?p=1928

      • brentwhite Says:

        Brendt, I don’t disagree with much of what you say. But we’re still talking about things outside of the statement itself. Is the statement itself truthful or isn’t it? If it is, everything else is secondary. I think the statement can be a helpful guide for Christians to explore what it means to affirm the biblical stance on marriage and sex. I like the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, for instance. For years, I thought I knew what evangelicals meant by the concept (In part because I had listened to its opponents define it). When I actually read the statement, I was surprised at how much nuance it had. I could sign off on that.

        Our culture has gone insane when it comes to sex and sexuality. The need for clarity for those who are seeking to be faithful in this area is urgent. If you don’t think so, read the popular alternative put forth by Nadia Bolz-Weber, the “Denver Statement.” She’s representing what many prospective pastors and church leaders are learning in seminary right now. If one result of the Nashville Statement is that it rescues a few of them from going over the cliff with her, I’m all for it.

        Do you listen to the Unbelievable podcast with Justin Brierley? (You should.) Go back and listen to the episode with Robert Gagnon. He debates an Anglican minister over the issue of homosexuality. He puts forth a well-reasoned, exegetically sound, incisive biblical case for affirming the traditional doctrine on sex and marriage. Then notice his interlocutor’s ad hominem attacks and emotional appeals. She says, in so many words, “You’re a meanie! What’s wrong with you?”

        That’s often what “conversation” on this issue boils down to. Say what you will about the Nashville Statement, there’s no statement that any traditionalist can make on this subject that won’t be met with a fierce counterattack, usually not on the merits of the argument but on emotional appeals. Let’s face it: If I said I liked to drown kittens in my bathtub (and I say this as a “cat person”), that would be better received today than saying I believe that homosexual behavior, per se, is sinful and requires repentance.

        I don’t blame laypeople for being deeply confused on the subject because people who ought to know better aren’t providing leadership and educating their people. This statement can help with that. I hope it does so.

      • brendt Says:

        OK, let’s stick with the NS, then. The message of the NS is, in a nutshell, that if you get the facts straight, everything else is of little or no consequence. This isn’t merely unwise or unwieldy. It’s completely antithetical to Christ’s message when He spoke over and over about the Pharisees getting all the details 100% right, but missing the plot entirely.

        I don’t think it’s an over-simplification to say that one’s salvific condition hinges on (and solely on) what one does with Christ. The flip-side of this statement is that I believe that no one goes to hell *solely* because they have the wrong views on sexuality.

        You state that “[o]ur culture has gone insane when it comes to sex and sexuality.” You may very well be right. But large swaths of the Church have gone insane-r with a lust for political power — at any cost whatsoever. This lust has the *direct* consequence of turning people away from Christ. It may not be their sole reason for rejecting him, but it’s an undeniable — and yuge — factor. Heck, I nearly abandoned a faith that I’ve been fully immersed in for the better part of a half century. I cannot begin to imagine why an unbeliever would want in on this (without the eye-opening that God does upon salvation).

        To decry this lust would’ve ticked off (possibly irreparably) many on the theological right who happen to also be on the political right. I’d bet the farm that at least 1/3 of the signers of the NS wouldn’t sign such a statement. And yet the architects of the NS have clearly stated that they have no problem drawing a line in the sand and articulating an unpopular opinion for the betterment of the Kingdom. (Good on them. Genuinely.) I am hard-pressed, therefore, to come to any conclusion other than that they view the eternal destination of others to be of lesser import than who puts what appendage where.

        I tried listening to Brierley some time ago. My experience with the first 2 episodes that I listened to was the exact opposite of what you describe. The person holding the more conservative view was the one who was nasty, petty and engaging in ad hominem. I’ve been in many situations where I had to remind myself that a concept is not false simply because many of its proponents are stupid. But I decided that I wasn’t going to purposefully inject myself into yet another scenario like that.

      • brentwhite Says:

        “…if you get the facts straight, everything else is of little or no consequence.”

        Why don’t I see that? What am I missing? Cite the document itself. I simply don’t read it that way. Churches everywhere are abandoning scripture’s clear teaching when it comes to sex and sexuality. Even if no one lives consistently when it comes to other sins—like greed, for instance—no one is denying that greed is a serious sin. (Again, even if we’re all hypocrites on the issue, hypocrisy is compliment vice pays to virtue.)

        “… but missing the plot entirely.”

        I couldn’t disagree more. Getting this issue right is a gospel issue. I’ve argued this repeatedly, including in this blog post. Read 1 Corinthians 5 and 6. Paul says that people who engage in these sins without repentance risk excluding themselves from God’s kingdom. Am I misinterpreting? Tell me how. The man committing incest in chapter 5 might go to hell, Paul believes, apart from repentance. Removing him from the church might save his soul, even though it will be personally painful for him. The same with people who have homosexual sex in chapter 6.

        “… the Pharisees getting all the details 100% right, but missing the plot entirely.”

        But what is the plot? Jesus says they were breaking God’s law, for example, when it comes to lust, adultery, and divorce. Jesus only amplifies the importance of sexual purity. Right?

        “…they view the eternal destination of others to be of lesser import than who puts what appendage where.”

        Again, as I’ve argued often, these are one and the same. If you don’t believe me, offer me a better interpretation of 1 Corinthians 5 and 6. Sexual sin is hardly the only sin, but it’s the only sin that large swaths of the American church are saying isn’t a sin. For the sake of people’s souls, this is a crisis.

        As for Unbelievable, I haven’t noticed that, but I was only directing you to the episode with Robert Gagnon.

  4. Grant Essex Says:

    If you can’t refute the message, attack the messenger(s).

    John MacArthur is probably one of the leading authorities on Holy Scripture in the world today. He can hold his own without attacking you. Ditto for the rest of those folks, but that’s not really the point.

    The point is; is the statement a correct position for the the Church?

    • brendt Says:

      My last comment alone was 640 words, and yet you focus on one item. OK, I’ll play along.

      MacArthur claims that every non-cessationist is committing “the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”. This is very specific wording, cited only once, by Christ, as a one way, do-not-pass-go-do-not-collect-$200 irrevocable ticket straight to hell. This is either a claim to divinity or a textbook example of Jesus-plus theology. Or to use the vernacular of Scripture, “another gospel”. Paul wished that those who preached another gospel would go to hell. Fortunately for John, he’s not the arbiter of that.

  5. Grant Essex Says:

    That’s a whole new bag of worms. Charismatics and false charismatics.
    I’d have to see JM’s argument to comment, and I’m not really interested in getting into a duel with you over everything he’s ever said or preached.

    The signers are not the main issue. The statement is.

    • brendt Says:

      You’re the one who specifically brought up J-Mac, but you don’t want to talk about him. Gotcha.

      For the record, I said nothing about “everything he’s ever said or preached”. Also, for the record, JM draws no distinction between charismatics and false charismatics. In fact, he’d decry you for implying that there is such a distinction.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Brendt, as far as MacAuthur, who knows, maybe he is on to something with the charismatics? But you are evading the issue of the post by sidetracking onto some somewhat arcane position of a signer to detract from the Statement itself. I again come back to you with–is the Statement itself correct or incorrect as to its position on homosexuality?

      • brendt Says:

        Tom, your request for my view of the NS’s content was the first that I received. 19 minutes later, you declared that I was evading the issue. Really?

        As to my “sidetracking” on one signer, I levied a charge that many on the theological right were guilty of the undermining Scriptural authority. Brent (correctly) listed several signers who aren’t. I replied with several who are. Then Grant honed in one on name, and ignored everything else that I said. But I’m the one who’s sidetracking?

        Despite the false accusation of evasion, I fully plan to answer your original question. Stay tuned.

      • brentwhite Says:

        Be sure to read my latest comment on the previous thread while your’e at it!

      • brendt Says:

        Brent, I read your previous comment and fully intend to reply to it. However, some of my reply overlaps with answering Tom’s question, and I think things will flow better if I answer him first, then reference that reply in my reply to you.

        So, as I said before, stay tuned. 🙂

  6. Tom Harkins Says:

    Brendt, you are certainly a good arguer, and apparently well-read. However, it seems to me you are glossing over the main point. Is homosexual practice consistent with scripture, or is it not? The “Statement” says it is not. Is that correct, or incorrect?


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