Posts Tagged ‘CBMW’

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! Read the rest of this entry »