"For Christians, the issue of marriage is not merely a legal or constitutional issue. The Bible reveals marriage to be the sacred union of a man and a woman for a lifetime. The goods of marriage are revealed to be intimacy, union, companionship, friendship, procreation, children, and a host of related gifts. Christians must see marriage as essential for human flourishing and not open for human negotiation.
The very fact that the march for same-sex marriage has reached this point is telling. It reveals a fundamental confusion at the very heart of our society. The ideological support for same-sex marriage is deeply embedded in a host of ideas that are driving our society to the point of moral breakdown.
The U.S. Supreme Court may well decide the future of marriage as a legal institution, but the church must hold to marriage as far more, but not less than, a legal reality. Marriage is one of God’s most gracious gifts to humanity. It will be the Church’s responsibility to honor marriage, no matter what the Court may decide....."
"Rob Bell is back in the news lately. He has a new book (CaPC review forthcoming!), in which he teaches that there are ways of speaking about by Coupon Companion Plugin">God that are going to go the way of the Oldsmobile. Apparently, one of the things that is going to fall by the wayside is the church’s opposition to homosexual marriage. “That ship has sailed,” says Rob Bell recently.
Bell may be correct. At least, he is correct that the evangelical conservative political machine is a sputtering mess right now. If conservative evangelicals are going to have any political clout moving forward, they are going to have to learn how to live in a democracy where everyone gets a voice, not as if they are living in a great big church where appeals to the Bible are able to end the discussion. If they are going to win votes, they are going to have to persuade, not demand, what they want. That means that we have to get better at thinking and articulating our arguments.
"We don’t care about false teaching and heresy because we don’t see what it does. We don’t see that “A lie about God becomes a lie about life.” Jesus is intensely opposed heresy because he doesn’t miss the connection between what we believe about God and every inch of our lives. Paul opposes it with every fiber of his being because he is passionately for the church. John is not simply out to control his “beloved”, but rather make sure that they remain free, truly free to live the life God has called his children to.
Good theology is not just an academic exercise for “theologians” in seminaries. It’s not just for pastors in their studies. It’s for everyday Christians for everyday living. This is why we care about these things. This is why we preach, teach, and correct in light of the Word of God.
So again, “Why does Jesus hate heresy?” He loves you too much to have you believe lies about God.
Bell's new book explores the overarching question "can God keep up with the modern world?"
Derek's review, titled What Rob Bell Talks About At the Areopagus looks at some key words that Rob Bell explores in his book.
“Open” (Or, How Do You Know?)
“Both” (A Word About God-Language)
“With” (How Near is God?)
“For” (How Does He Really Feel?)
“So…” (A God of Ciphers)
Here's an exerpt of Derek's review:
"So does God keep up with the modern world? Bell thinks so, and I’m inclined to agree. The question remains how does God do so? Is it by trading in our rusty old concept of God, and wheeling out the new, shiny one, finely-tuned to fit postmodern sensibilities, that Bell presents us with?
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s by dusting off the broad tradition of reflection about God’s self-revelation we find in the Fathers, the Medieval Doctors, and Reformation scholars who gave us a God both “with” and “above,” both “for” and, yes, complexly “against,” both “ahead” and yet “before.” Just a thought.
Some might feel I haven’t given Bell the benefit of the doubt in critiquing what he didn’t say. You can’t say everything in every sermon, and I suppose the same holds true with books. We are given the impression that Paul’s original Areopagus address was cut short as well. Perhaps that’s what’s happened here. I’m not so sure, though; those pieces left out seem absent, not due to lack of space, but as an exercise in theological judgment that follows either explicitly from, or as a natural trajectory plotted by, Bell’s last offering. In any case, the absences are real.
Intentional or not, hopefully those who read the book and come away saying, “We will hear you again about this,” (Acts 17:32) manage to find churches who engage them just as well as Bell does, while pushing them towards even deeper, richer, more complex ways of talking about God."
Matthew Vines, the youtube sensation who claims there is no incompatibility with being a Christian and being homosexual. To do this he deconstructs a few key verses of scripture and tries to argue that conservative, orthodox Christianity has been getting the interpretations of these verses completely wrong for, well, basically ever. Click here to see his presentation at a liberal church in America.
Now Vines is back with a charity that he calls The Reformation Project. While the name sounds appealing the intention is not. Vines hopes to “end homophobia in the church” which basically means he wants to train and influence others to redefine Scripture. Here's a short promo video made for this project:
For the most part Vines is not proposing new arguments for a Scriptural endorsement of homosexuality. This type of revisionism has been prevalent for many years. At best Vines has merely put a thoroughly human tone and flavour to the argument. For some this is particularly compelling. I regularly hear people say that their opinions have been changed on this topic because they had friends or family who had revealed they were homosexual. It is particularly prevalent to hear of parents who have started reading Scripture in a different light because their child has “come out” to them.
The emotional aspects of this discussion should not be undersold. We are relational beings who are deeply influenced by our peers opinions and lifestyles. Yet if the Bible is clear on a topic then we really shouldn't be reinterpreting it because of the actions or revelations of our friends and family. However, this is not the intention of Vines (though I'm sure he'd be happy to have homosexuals influence their “bigoted” friends/family). He hopes to challenge the very heart of the debate for Christians, what the Bible says about homosexuality. Kudos to him for stepping past all the other emotive attempts to influence or secondary arguments and tackling the discussion head on. We need more activists on the other side acknowledging that Scripture is at the center of this debate.
Vines concentrates his presentation on five key passages:
Genesis 18-19: the destruction of Sodom.
Leviticus 18:22/20:13: the sexual purity laws.
Romans 1:26-27: Paul's condemnation of the practice.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10: who will not inherit the kingdom of God?
1 Timothy 1:8-10: who are the lawless?
Now I am not going to discuss all these verses here. Suffice to say there has been plenty of discussion on these verses already. None of Matthew Vines' arguments are new. So here are some resources to help you counter the assertion that these verses shouldn't be taken on face value.
Strained Relations – local Bill Muehlenberg spends half his book looking at the verses above. Great as an Australian resource in the flavour of Michael Brown's book.
Let's say you can't afford to grab these books or don't have the time to read them (though The Same Sex Controversy or Strained Relations aren't intense books to read) here are a list of online resources for your use:
“Gay Christianity” Refuted! - James White spends 5hrs on Matthew Vines original youtube video. That's right he discusses a 1hr presentation over 5hrs. Comprehensive, much?
Robert Gagnon archives – Gagnon has a long list of articles that will cover many of the misinterpretations of the five key verses.