Archive | Christianity

Pursue God, Not Pornography

Pornography is such a pervasive evil. It is eviscerating our civilization and even our churches. I continue to be burdened that this ubiquitous evil in our culture has become such a ubiquitous evil in our pews. That was the occasion for my message yesterday in the chapel of Southern Seminary and Boyce College. View it above or listen below.

Pursue God, Not Pornography

Pornography is such a pervasive evil. It is eviscerating our civilization and even our churches. I continue to be burdened that this ubiquitous evil in our culture has become such a ubiquitous evil in our pews. That was the occasion for my message yesterday in the chapel of Southern Seminary and Boyce College. View it above or listen below.

Yes, let’s remember who’s watching this conversation

Last week I noted Jen Hatmaker’s sad departure from the Christian faith. In an interview for RNS, she revealed that she believes sexual immorality to be compatible with following Christ. As you can imagine, the response to this announcement has been mixed. I am happy to see that many Christians have expressed dismay at Hatmaker’s stance and have said that where she is going they cannot follow.

Yesterday, Hatmaker posted some additional thoughts on Facebook. I had hoped and prayed that she might return to the fold, but that is not what she did. Instead, she admonished her detractors to remember that the LGBT community is watching this controversy. She writes:

All around you, the LGBTQ community is watching. They are listening. They are watching how we respond, how we talk about them, how we actually feel about them in our churches. They are your neighbors, your colleagues, they are in your churches already, some of them are in your homes, some of them are your children and you don’t know it. Most of them are quiet because they are scared. With good and obvious reason. But they are beautiful people loved by Jesus and no matter what, we should speak in a way befitting the way of grace, the same way that found and saved and redeemed and healed us too. Please don’t mistakenly take me to the mat in public or private and imagine it doesn’t carry weight with tender, beloved people who are bearing witness to all this.

I couldn’t agree more with this, and it is precisely why faithful Christians need to bear witness right now. The LGBT community is watching. And there are some within that community who have heard the gospel. They have been confronted with the message that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–including them.

They have also confronted the fact that while the grace of the Lord Jesus is free, it will cost them everything (Matt. 16:24; Gal. 2:20). To have Christ, they will have to renounce their sin–including sexual immorality–and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

And now these dear souls–precious in the sight of God–are hearing from Jen that they don’t really need to turn from sexual immorality. Jen tells them that their sexual immorality is “holy” in God’s sight. I would simply encourage Jen to remember that they are indeed watching and listening to her. And she is leading them away from mercy, away from life, and away from everything that matters in this life and the next. Her public departure from the faith is not helping these dear people. It’s harming them.

I would also encourage Jen to remember that same-sex attracted people are not “those people” out there. I have same-sex attracted friends and loved ones who have not only been a part of my life but who are also faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. God has already brought them into my church, and it is my joy and privilege to encourage them to love and good deeds and for them to do the same for me (Heb. 3:13). They are very much a part of us already, and they are watching this conversation too. And instead of being cheered on to greater faithfulness, they are hearing a siren call back into slavery to sexual immorality (Gal. 5:1). They too face genuine harm by this public departure from the Christian faith.

Yes, let us remember who is watching this conversation. We want every sinner–gay or straight–to know that the grace of the gospel is available to them. Our arms are wide open to them. And we desperately want them to hear the gospel and to be saved. But we are heralds of a kindgom that is not of this world (John 18:36). And people come into it on the King’s terms, not on their own terms. This King demands our all. And it does great, everlasting harm to our LGBT friends to tell them otherwise. By all means, let us remember who is watching this conversation.

The Darkness of Porn and the Hope of the Gospel

TIME magazine has published one of the saddest, most horrifying cover stories I have ever read. It is not horrifying like the carnage of war. It’s horrifying like the carnage of a culture that is committing slow-motion suicide. The essay documents a civilization-wide calamity on a scale that we have not seen before.

The title of the article is “Porn and the Threat to Virility” by Belinda Luscombe. I am not linking to the article here simply because the cover art for the magazine and at least one of the images within the article are too explicit to share. Indeed, the article is itself fairly explicit and definitely NSFW. Having said that, the article reads as a coolly rational look at modern porn use among males, even though it seems unaware that it is narrating a civilizational crisis.

At the heart of the article is the contention that there is a backlash against internet pornography among young men who have been heavy users throughout adolescence and adulthood. Luscombe writes:

A growing number of young men are convinced that their sexual responses have been sabotaged because their brains were virtually marinated in porn when they were adolescents. Their generation has consumed explicit content in quantities and varieties never before possible, on devices designed to deliver content swiftly and privately, all at an age when their brains were more plastic—more prone to permanent change—than in later life. These young men feel like unwitting guinea pigs in a largely unmonitored decade-long experiment in sexual conditioning.

The rest of the Luscombe’s article recounts what these young men have been consuming for the last decade and what the results have been in their adult relationships with real women. Many of them are simply unable to experience a sexual response with a real live woman. They are only able to respond to pornography. In fact, they prefer pornography.

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Speaking the truth about the “Dragon Lady” and sex-reassignment surgery

This strange story has to be seen to be believed. Here is the report from The Daily Mail:

A transgender former banker claims to be the first and only person to have both ears cosmetically removed as part of her ongoing quest to become a ‘dragon’.

Born Richard Hernandez in Maricopa County, Arizona, the 55-year-old has undergone a number of painful procedures over the past few years including nose modification, tooth extraction and eye colouring.

She also has a forked tongue and a full-face tattoo as part of her transformation into a ‘mythical beast’.

Most people reading this would probably agree that something has gone deeply awry with any person who would do this to themselves. Many people would probably also agree that something is deeply wrong with a medical profession that would allow surgeons to take part in this. Continue Reading →

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“Gay Christian” explains why she now accepts same-sex marriage

I just read another public account of someone who is walking away from what the Bible teaches about marriage. Former Wheaton employee and self-identified “gay Christian” Julie Rodgers explains why she has embraced gay marriage. She has written about this previously, and I have responded previously. Nevertheless, this latest account is also worth some reflection. She writes:

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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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Panel Discussion on the Gospel and Race

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Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Seminary, recently hosted a panel discussion on “The Gospel and Race.” Dr. Dan DeWitt, Dean of Boyce and Associate Professor of Worldview and Culture, led a diverse panel in a candid and wide-ranging conversation about how the gospel of Christ informs, confronts, and reconciles ethnic division. Topics included definitions of race and racism, various forms of prejudice, race in American culture and beyond, and dynamics of multiethnic families and churches, all in biblical and theological context. The six-member panel included:

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Does the Bible Endorse American Capitalism or Favor Communist Central Planning?

The Bible does not endorse American-style Capitalism, nor did the early church practice Communist central planning in the early chapters of Acts. You will not find Adam Smith prophetically foretold in the Scriptures, nor any allusion to Karl Marx. Republican Party economics is not a required part of Christianity.

Yet, the Bible contains clear economic principles and the early church grew in an environment of buying, selling, borrowing, and hiring. In essence, an economy of free markets and entrepreneurship follows from the commands given by God, though sin has marred the business practices that we experience today. Free markets only require recognition of property rights and the freedom to trade with other people. Further, comparative advantage (people are gifted in different ways) and subjective valuation (people prefer different things) mean that both parties can profit from any voluntary transaction. This mutual benefit from trading is at the heart of free markets and over the past two centuries has lifted the vast majority of people in the world out of abject poverty.

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