Author Archive | Dennis Burk

Boycotting gay weddings? A distorted take on an important book

Albert Mohler appeared on the front page of The Louisville Courier Journal yesterday next to the headline “Mohler: Christians should boycott gay weddings.” The story was later picked up by USA Today which ran a similar headline Baptist leader: Christians should boycott gay weddings. Since then, it has been featured in news outlets across the country.

It turns out that the report is about Mohler’s new book We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong. This book tells the story of our particular moment in American life in the aftermath of the sexual revolution. And yet if all you had were the headlines, you might conclude that he just wrote a book-length treatise on how to boycott gay weddings. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change

I am happy to announce that my new book that I co-wrote with Heath Lambert has just been released. The book deals with issues that readers of this blog have seen me discussing for a long time—sexual orientation and change. In fact, the title of the book says as much: Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change (P&R, 2015).

This book is different from other Christian books about homosexuality. First, the book isn’t focused on the ethics of homosexual behavior but on the ethics of homosexual desire. Some people believe that homosexual behavior is sinful but that homosexual desire is not. For that reason, they believe and teach that homosexual orientation and same-sex attraction are morally neutral concepts. We argue from scripture against that perspective.

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Planned Parenthood’s problems have to do with facts that are not in dispute

I watched a good bit of the testimony that Cecile Richards offered to Congress yesterday, but I suspect that most Americans did not. Most Americans will view news reports about the hearings if they hear anything at all. That means that most Americans are going to be woefully under-informed about what happened yesterday. So let me give you the bottom line about what came out in the hearings.

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John Piper delivers a little Hermeneutics 101

Many readers give very little thought to what they are aiming to do when they read a text. Most want to understand the meaning of the text, but very few could tell you what they mean by meaning. And that is a problem for a couple of reasons.

1. Some people define meaning as a reader’s response to what he is reading. Because there can be as many responses as there are readers, this theory implies that there can be as many different meanings of text as there are readers.

2. Some people define meaning as a property of the text without respect to the author who wrote it. This view believes that we can only learn the meaning of a text after we have learned the rules of the game–the norms of the language.

Neither one of these approaches is very helpful at the end of the day. To define meaning, we need to recognize that meaning is not a property of the text independently conceived. Nor is reading a property of the reader’s interaction with the text. Rather, meaning is defined as the message that the author intended to communicate at the time that he wrote.

That basic hermeneutical lesson is the one that John Piper explains so well in the video above. It’s Hermeneutics 101, and I commend it to you.

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I am a Christian, but I don’t follow Christ

By now many of you have no doubt seen the viral video “I’m a Christian, but…” (click the image above to view it). Not only has the video been making the rounds, but the hashtag #IAmAChristianBut is ubiquitous on social media right now.

After you watch the video, it’s obvious that this is a propaganda piece for a version of Christianity that is Christian in name only–a progressivist vision of the faith that has more to do with maintaining street-cred with Christianity’s cultured despisers than with the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). It is what the apostle Paul called a “form of godliness” while “denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). It is gutless–literally, a hollowing out of everything essential to the faith.

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Why I went to Planned Parenthood on Saturday

Yesterday, I took part in a nationwide protest against Planned Parenthood. At over 300 Planned Parenthood clinics across the country, people turned out by the thousands to protest the nation’s leading abortion provider. Planned Parenthood performs over 300,000 abortions every year, and we now know that they are also selling the body parts of the babies that they kill. It is a macabre business that the United States government subsidizes to the tune of nearly a half billion dollars per year. We turned out yesterday to say enough is enough. It is time to end federal funding for this travesty, and it is time to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for any laws they have broken.

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Some fatherly advice for young men contemplating an affair

1 My son, give attention to my wisdom,
Incline your ear to my understanding;
2 That you may observe discretion,
And your lips may reserve knowledge.
3 For the lips of an adulteress drip honey,
And smoother than oil is her speech;
4 But in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
Sharp as a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death,
Her steps lay hold of the grave.
6 She does not ponder the path of life;
Her ways are unstable, she does not know it.

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Evangelicalism Today: “How do you define ‘Evangelical’?”

Eight years ago, I contributed to a forum in Touchstone magazine on the state of American evangelicalism. Other contributors include Russell Moore, Michael Horton, Darryl Hart, John Franke, and David Lyle Jeffrey. A lot has changed in evangelical life since the forum was published—not the least of which is the complete collapse of the so-called emerging church.

I recently read back over my answers to the questions and began wondering how I might answer them differently now. Over the next several weeks, I am going to take a fresh look at each of the questions we were asked in 2007 and offer answers that I would offer for 2015. Here are the questions that we will be looking at:

Question #1: How do you define “Evangelical” in a way that distinguishes Evangelicals from other believing Christians? And has this definition changed over the last several years?

Question #2: Has Evangelicalism matured since the 1950s, and if so in what ways?

Question #3: Has Evangelicalism lost anything in the process of maturing (if it did)?

Question #4: Are there any fundamental differences within the Evangelical movement today, and do you think they will deepen into permanent divisions, or even have already? How might they be healed?

Question #5: What does your movement, speaking generally, fail to see that it ought to see?

Question #6: What would you say to an Evangelical tempted to become Catholic or Orthodox?

Question #7: What has Evangelicalism to offer the wider world that it will find nowhere else?

Question #8: What else would you like to say?

Here’s the 2007 answer to question one followed by my 2015 answer:

Question #1: How do you define “Evangelical” in a way that distinguishes Evangelicals from other believing Christians? And has this definition changed over the last several years?

2007: Evangelicals believe and proclaim the evangel (i.e., the gospel) of Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners. At first blush, it would seem that this kind of commitment to the gospel could describe almost every “believing Christian,” but several notable features distinguish Evangelical Christians from the liberal mainlines on the one hand and Roman Catholics on the other.

Evangelicals trace all of their beliefs to the inspired Scriptures, which they believe to be the sole authority for faith and practice. American Evangelicals have stressed the inerrancy of Scripture as a necessary condition of its authority (see the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy).

In addition, Evangelicals recognize the decrepit condition of humanity because of sin and the inability of any person to contribute anything to his own salvation from sin’s effects and punishment. Evangelicals therefore rely on Christ’s substitutionary atonement as God’s only way of salvation for sinners who have been alienated from their Maker.

In the Evangelical way, the benefits of Christ’s redemptive work are communicated to the sinner by grace alone through faith alone in the person of Christ alone. Thus, Evangelicals typically stress the need for conversion: that a sinner would repent of his sin and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. Evangelicals also believe in the necessity and urgency of evangelism.

2015: I would double-down on the substance of this answer. Even though many would disagree, I contend that evangelicalism has a fundamentally theological center, and that is what this definition represents.

For evangelicals, the authority of and inerrant scripture is foundational. Sinners are in desperate need of a salvation that they cannot conjure for themselves but that can only come to them through the death and resurrection of Christ. We cannot earn this salvation by works. We receive it by grace and experience a conversion that involves repentance from sin and faith in Christ alone. That conversion issues forth in a transformed life that is then set on a mission to reach the world for Christ.

That is what I believed the essence of evangelicalism was then, and that is what I affirm now. As we will see in the posts that follow, that informs how we explain the meaning of evangelicals who jettison these defining features of evangelical faith. And many have fallen away since I first answered this question in 2007.

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Sam Allberry on Ministry and Homosexuality

The Center for Gospel and Culture at Boyce College is very grateful to have hosted Sam Allberry on campus a few weeks ago. His messages on “Ministry and Homosexuality” were insightful and timely. The first message above is Sam’s testimony along with some biblical exhortation. The three below are:

  • “What the Bible Teaches about Homosexuality”
  • “Gospel-Ministry to the Same-Sex Attracted”
  • “Q & A with Sam Allbery”

If you haven’t yet read Sam’s book, you need to. It’s Is God Anti-Gay (Question Christians Ask). See the rest of the videos below. Continue Reading →

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