Love in the Book of Acts

heart.gifHow many times do you think the word love is mentioned in the Book of Acts?  I often use this as a warm up question when teaching about evangelism.  The answers usually range from somewhere in the teens to over 100.

Before you answer, here are a few Acts facts to consider:

  • Acts has 28 chapters (the average book in the Bible has 18 )
  • Acts chronicles the spread of the early church over nearly 30 years, from Jesus’ final words and his ascension into Heaven all the way through the Apostle Paul’s imprisonment near the end of his life.
  • Acts includes 13 presentations of the Gospel to a variety of people – crowds, individuals, Jews, Gentiles, ordinary citizens, high-ranking government officials, etc.

So how many times it the word love is mentioned in Acts?

Here’s the answer: 0.  Zero.  Z-E-R-O.  Seriously.  Do a word search in your Bible software.  It’s OK, I didn’t believe it the first time I heard it.

So what’s the point?  Does that mean love isn’t important?  Of course not.  God displays perfect love throughout his Word and his love for us is displayed in the sacrifice of Jesus the Son on the cross.  And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t mention God’s love when sharing the Gospel.

But it does tell us some important things about evangelism.  The history of the early church should certainly provide a model for how we should go about sharing the truth of the Gospel.  The primary model used in Acts was to lay out the facts of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and miracles and to highlight our need for him and his forgiveness.  There are calls for repentance.  But God’s love is never directly mentioned and there is no hint at universalism (the notion that everyone goes to Heaven). 

Preaching God’s unconditional love without the need for repentance and faith in Christ is not a Biblical model.  It can give people a false sense of security, as in, “God loves me without conditions?  Great!  No need to change anything.  I’ll get back to mocking/ignoring him now.”  That is the terrible place to be, as even those who consciously rebel are conceding that they are out of line with God.

People need to understand the bad news (they are sinners against a perfect and Holy God and rightly destined for an eternity in Hell) before they realize their need for the Good News (Jesus took the punishment for our sins and we can be completely and eternally forgiven and reconciled to God if we put our faith in Jesus).

Also note that the Gospel presentations in Acts rebut the myth that Christianity involves faith without reason.  Each time the message is given it is based on facts, logic and appeals to reason.  At no point is the message to have blind faith.

Acts 17:29–31 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

Read Acts for yourself and see what I mean, or read about Preaching God’s love in Acts.

Hat tip: Greg Koukl – Stand to Reason

Pass the popcorn: Famous atheist Richard Dawkins banned from speaking at Leftist university

Leftists are a self-parody. Richard Dawkins is perhaps the most popular and iconic hater of Jesus, yet these Leftists banned him for daring to criticize their most-favored-religion of Islam.  Via Plug Pulled on Richard Dawkins for Criticizing Islam:

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Criticizing Islam cannot be forgiven, no matter how many times you have denounced Christianity. Ever since 9/11, Islam has been sacred to liberals; it becomes more sacred with each new terrorist atrocity against the West. Muslims have achieved the coveted status of the marginalized.

Got that?  Just call anything you disagree with “abusive speech” while claiming that you still support free speech.   No need to debate any contrary ideas!

One good thing about Leftist movements is that they inevitably start to attack each other (also see radical feminists objecting to “trans” men joining them). Another good thing is that their extremism sometimes wakes people up to the reality of the movement they are in.  Hopefully some of the Dawkins fans will rethink their worldview.

 

The real reason that some “evangelicals” are switching to pro-gay theology: $$$

It obviously isn’t because of the Bible.  Only malicious wolves like Matthew Vines and/or gullible people who never read the texts in question can pretend otherwise.

Note that two of the three types of pro-gay theology* agree that the Bible describes the behavior as sinful, and the other type is easily refuted.  That’s why the “converts” never get into the scriptural details.  They just use a bunch of mealy-mouthed weasel words to gloss over their change.  But as Erick Erickson notes, it is really about the $$$.

One megachurch pastor in the Southeast I know has said his gay congregants are the best tithers and he, therefore, expressly avoids approaching any portion of the Bible that might hurt their feelings.

Yep.  Gays have lots of disposable income and love to donate to causes that further their agenda.  What better way than through a fake church?  One famous gay has dropped nearly half a billion dollars pushing his passion.  Remember, the men of Sodom persisted even after being literally blinded because of their sin.  You’d think that if God did that to you that you just might pause your sin for a few moments to think things over.  Not the LGBTQX lobby.  They are most persistent.

Eugene Peterson, author of the awful Bible paraphrase The Message, thought it was safe to take off his mask.  He had been a slippery pro-gay proponent for years but had fooled a lot of evangelicals.  He apparently figured that at age 84 and phasing into retirement that he could safely come out.  But within 24 hours he pretended to reverse course.  Here’s the short version:

Peterson: Sure, I’d perform a same-sex ceremony.

Lifeway: We’re going to stop selling your books.

Peterson: I was kidding!  When you stop selling my books, I was kidding.

Of course the “Christian” Left uses these “converts” as examples of why they are on the supposed right side of history.  “See?!  These alleged Bible-believers switched to our view!”  Yeah, the $$$ and trying to avoid being unpopular with the world had nothing to do with it.

Remember that churchgoers who support “same-sex marriage” — i.e., the “Christian” Left — have nearly identical views to the world on a host of issues such as abortion, adultery, porn, etc.. It shows who their real father is.  They should consider these passages carefully.

1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Jude 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.


*Pro-gay theology tends to fall into one of three categories.  They are all wrong, but for varying reasons.  Sometimes they overlap categories.  The point here is that the first two agree that the Bible describes homosexual behavior as sinful and the third is easily refuted.

  1. The Bible is either not the Word of God, or most parts of it aren’t. This view claims that we can ignore the prohibitions against homosexual behavior because they were written by homophobic Jews.
  2. The Bible is the Word of God and does clearly and emphatically describe gay behavior as sinful.  However, the Holy Spirit has given additional revelations such that this behavior is now acceptable. This view holds that God has changed his mind on this moral issue and not only is it now acceptable, but it is sinful if you don’t affirm this behavior and same-sex relationships.
  3. The Bible is the Word of God, but it doesn’t really say homosexual behavior is wrong. This view holds that people just aren’t reading the Bible properly, and that God’s Word is actually affirming of gay relationships.

The wickedness of affirming the “trans” movement

The Left — including the “Christian” Left — reflexively latch onto and champion the world’s latest God-mocking trends, and the “trans” movement is no different.  I saw the systematic gay/lesbian indoctrination of kids coming more than 10 years ago, but I have to admit that I thought the average person would draw the line at the “trans” thing.  After all, what decent parents would let their 5 yr. old son be told in public schools that he may not really be a boy?  But here we are.

I also figured that 99.9% of people would realize how ridiculous the core idea is.  But I forgot the mindset of countless people: If they don’t find contentment in Christ, they will search for it somewhere else: career, drugs, alcohol, clothes, sex, gambling, anything.  So many kids are confused and depressed, especially when growing up in broken homes, hooked on porn, having low self-esteem by comparing their lives to the highlight reels of others on social media, normal life challenges and more.

And the impact of “social contagion” is frightening.  These sad cases think that this is the thing that will make them happy, even though it is guaranteed to bring them more pain.  Before it was an appropriately embarrassing thing to be “trans,” but now it is considered cool.

The only good news is that these moral freaks are now pitted against a different kind of moral freaks, the radical feminists.  And the wicked “Christian” Leftists, who aren’t strong on facts, logic or Jesus, find a way to champion them both.  Stacy McCain sums it up perfectly.  Go read it all:  Crazy Is a Pre-Existing Condition : The Other McCain

Young people are becoming seriously confused by the transgender cult. Or perhaps the causation works the other way, and confused young people are magnetically attracted to the cult belief that, with the “treatment” of synthetic hormones and surgery, they can escape their adolescent woes by “transitioning” into the opposite sex. Feminists have identified the factor of social contagion in what they call “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.” Through the influence of peers, and also through online recruitment by transgender cultists, many teenagers are quite suddenly convinced that they were “born in the wrong body.” In a matter of months or even a few weeks, an otherwise healthy teenage will develop an obsession with “gender transition” and demand that parents not only accept their new transgender identity, but often threaten suicide unless parents support them in seeking hormone “treatment” immediately. This kind of emotional blackmail is part of the transgender cult’s ideology, as activists claim that anyone who opposes them is effectively sentencing teenagers to death by denying them acceptance and “health care.”

There will always be an element of craziness in society, but we shouldn’t encourage or fund it.  What a tragedy.  Satan is evil, but he isn’t stupid.  And this plan to destroy individuals, families and cultures simply by giving messed up kids a fantasy about why they are “really” messed up and that it could “fix” them is truly an evil genius move.  Of course the “Christian” Left ran to the front of the line to support this wickedness.  The question is whether those who know better will be brave enough to oppose it.

Problems with pro-gay theology

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Introduction

This post is a little long for a blog, but I think it is worthwhile and hope you read it all.  I like to run it every couple of years.

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Many churches today are being torn apart by false teachings about human sexuality, so we can’t ignore this topic.  I am continuously disappointed that so many Christians who don’t get educated on this topic and stand up for the truth.  In addition, the rapid and radical changes in public schools are a serious issue and hate speech laws and activist judges are a blatant attempt to shut down debate and curtail religious freedoms.  Barely a week goes by without hearing about a business owner forced to cater to gay couples (e.g., bed-and-breakfasts, wedding photographers), LGBTQ indoctrination in elementary schools, religious organizations forced to hire LGBTQ people, people losing jobs for saying that skin color is morally neutral but sexual behavior is not, laws being proposed that will make it a crime to criticize homosexual behavior, and so on.

Many people who hold the orthodox Christian view would love to move on to other issues, but the problem is that the pro-gay theologians aren’t giving up.  Therefore, we need to stand firm and do a better job of educating those in the middle ground.

While this issue isn’t an essential of the faith, such as Jesus’ divinity and exclusivity for salvation, those who take the pro-gay theology view typically have to deny the essential of the authority of scripture to arrive at their conclusions.  And that is a dangerous thing.

The general Biblical ignorance of many Christians on this topic isn’t helping things.  I know of people who have gone to church their whole lives and have been in multiple Bible studies but still ask questions like, “Does the New Testament say anything about homosexual behavior?”  (Short answer: Yes.)  And it goes downhill from there.

And make no mistake: The LGBTQX lobby inside and outside the church is incredibly persistent.  As Christine noted in the comments, God gave them over to a debased mind because they would not acknowledge him.  Therefore, simply reasoning with them probably won’t persuade them.

Romans 1:28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

Keep in mind how the men of Sodom were blinded by God when trying to sin, yet they still groped for the door!  You’d think that if you were literally blinded while sinning that you just might stop, at least momentarily, to think about what you were doing.  But not them.

Genesis 19:11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.

So keep speaking the truth in love, but don’t be shocked when people love the world more than God and the truth.  The “Christian” Left aggressively lobbies for taxpayer-funded, unrestricted abortions to the child’s 1st breath, so do not be surprised when they support any sexual perversion that Satan dreams up.

Before I dive in, let me state that while I firmly believe that homosexual behavior is a sin, I do not think it is something we should grandstand on.  We all have temptations and stumble and fall at times.  Romans 1 explains in no uncertain terms that homosexual behavior is an affront to God, but it also lists greed, gossip, deceit and other things as serious sins (anyone squirming yet?).

And we should act as suggested by a believer I am friends with who is tempted by same-sex attractions: Pray for them and be their friends.

Do homosexuals have a legitimate complaint when they point out how many Christians are softer on divorce, adultery and pre-marital sex than they are on homosexual behavior?  Sometimes, yes, although it should be noted that those aren’t being forced down our throats as the others are.  No one is trying to make it illegal to criticize those topics.  Grandstanding on sins that aren’t a temptation for us and downplaying or ignoring sins that are a temptation is not a Christian thing to do.  But the lesson is to hold consistent Biblical views on all sins, not to water things down more.  We need to raise the bar back up on all these sins because they have huge consequences and, more importantly, because that is in line with what the Bible says.

But we shouldn’t call evil good and good evil.  I support the Methodist position on homosexuality, which regards the behavior as sinful but the people as having worth.  (Sadly, I left the Methodist in large part due to their lack of adherence to their own positions!)  I think it should be illegal to abort babies just because they might be homosexual (Ironically, that position puts me at odds with many liberals whose support for abortion is such that they think it should be legal under any circumstances).  I mention these things simply to pre-empt any nonsensical allegations that I am homophobic, a childish and false put-down designed to stifle debate.  The real homophobes are those who are so scared of being politically incorrect that they deny God, the Bible and common sense rather than state the obvious.

I also believe that homosexual behavior is a forgivable sin and can be overcome by the power of the Gospel.  When I meet gays I don’t view it as my job to change them.  I treat them like I would anyone else, developing relationships and hoping to be able to share the Gospel with them at some point.  The real work is the job of the Holy Spirit.

I was sharing the Gospel with a young man once who happened to be gay.  He was all over the place with his religious beliefs and questions.  At one point he asked, “Doesn’t the Bible say homosexual behavior is a sin?”  I could have glossed over it and said it was a debatable matter, but that wouldn’t have been true or loving.

I also could have spent an hour explaining all the verses around this topic, but that would have been overkill.  Instead I just confirmed that yes, the Bible does say it is a sin, despite how some try to twist it.  Then I just shifted back to the basic Gospel – namely, that we are all sinners in need of a Savior and Jesus is that Savior.  It was a great back-and-forth conversation on a lot of topics and I pray that it planted a seed and that the young man kept searching.

Pro-gay theology tends to fall into one of three categories.  They are all wrong, but for varying reasons.  Sometimes they overlap categories.

  1. The Bible is either not the Word of God, or most parts of it aren’t. This view claims that we can ignore the prohibitions against homosexual behavior because they were written by homophobic Jews.
  2. The Bible is the Word of God, but it doesn’t really say homosexual behavior is wrong. This view holds that people just aren’t reading the Bible properly, and that God’s Word is actually affirming of gay relationships.
  3. The Bible is the Word of God and does clearly and emphatically describe gay behavior as sinful.  However, the Holy Spirit has given additional revelations such that this behavior is now acceptable. This view holds that God has changed his mind on this moral issue and not only is it now acceptable, but it is sinful if you don’t affirm this behavior and same-sex relationships.

Category 1: The Bible is either not the Word of God, or most parts of it aren’t.

Regarding the first view, many liberal theologians deny that part or all of the Bible is the Word of God.  Unlike those in the second view, these folks seem to understand that the Bible does describe homosexual behavior as being sinful.  They just dismiss those parts.

Some appear to believe in Leopard Theology, the false notion that the Bible is only inspired in spots and that they are inspired to spot the spots.  If God wasn’t capable of inspiring all of the original writings of the Bible to be error-free, then why should we trust him to communicate with such clarity to these people regarding what is inspired and what isn’t?

The problem is that this view is very hard to reconcile with the 2,000 year tradition of the church and, more importantly, of the clear text of the Bible itself.  People are certainly entitled to hold that view, but it doesn’t seem logical for them to refer to themselves as Christians.

The Bible claims to speak directly for God roughly 3,000 times, so if someone believes that all of those are mistakes then why on earth would he take this faith seriously?  Why would he want to be a leader in the Christian church?

Remember that Jesus validated the law and the Prophets, among other parts of the Old Testament, right down to the last little mark.  He unapologetically referred to the most controversial parts, too – Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah and Sodom and Gomorrah.  Christians should strive to view the Bible in the same way that He did.

Note that many of these church “leaders” are liars: They either lied at their ordination vows about believing the essentials of the faith, or they changed their minds later and didn’t do the honest thing and resign.  Their views are usually not just a little different than historic Christianity, they are the opposite.  I believe in religious freedom, so they are entitled to their beliefs.  I also believe in honesty: HP salesman shouldn’t endorse Dell products, and Christians shouldn’t promote non-Christian beliefs about the Bible.  If either one breaks those rules they should be quickly fired.

It is challenging to argue with those who hold the first view, because you tend to go in circles.  They claim to be Christian, which should mean we can refer to the Bible as a “final court of arbitration” of sorts.  But whenever you find a passage they don’t like they’ll claim it was written just by men, not God, or they’ll pull out the false argument that you are being a Biblical literalist.

They may say things like, “But Jesus never said anything about homosexual behavior.”  That is called arguing from silence and it is poor reasoning.  Jesus inspired all scripture, He supported the Old Testament law to the last letter, the “red letters” weren’t silent on these topics in the sense that they reiterated what marriage and murder were, He emphasized many other important issues that these liberal theologians completely ignore (Hell, his divinity, his exclusivity, etc.), He was equally “silent” on issues that these folks treat as having the utmost importance (capital punishment, war, welfare, universal health care, etc.), abortion and homosexual behavior simply weren’t hot topics for 1st century Jews, and He did mention Sodom and Gomorrah.This view is also part of the 2nd type of theological error noted above.

They may jump through hoops trying to dismiss the plain reading of verses like Leviticus 18:22 (“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable”) yet gladly take other plain passages literally.  They may claim there were “only a few verses” but are quick to make all sorts of firm statements on other topics with less verses.  And just how many times does God have to clearly say something before we believe it?

They may try to dismiss passages like that by misreading other passages, such as saying that “God said that eating shellfish was an abomination, so why aren’t you opposed to that?”

To have a rational discussion on the verses referencing homosexuality you have to convince people in this group that the Bible is reliable and authoritative first.  And that may be impossible.

Here’s a sample quote from a person in this camp:

A 21st century [Martin] Luther would surely recognize that the few biblical proscriptions against “sodomy”-shaky in themselves as condemnations of same-sex love and rooted in a worldview vastly different from our own-should not bar the loving union of two gay or lesbian persons. Equally, a 21st century Luther would affirm the ordination of such persons, as in line with his theology of the ‘priesthood of all believers.’

Mary Zeiss Stange, professor of women’s studies and religion at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, responding to the recent decsion by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to expel a minister who admitted to a physical homosexual relationship-a violation of the denominations “Visions and Expectations” statement.

She really tips her hand with the “worldview vastly different from our own” comment.  The worldview she is referring to is that of Middle East Jews and Christians a couple thousand years ago or more.  But she misses the obvious: The Biblical commands weren’t always the Jews’ worldview – they rebelled against that view over and over!  The worldview is God’s, and Ms. Stange is absolutely right that it is vastly different from hers.  She apparently doesn’t believe the Bible is the Word of God.  And if she ends up in Heaven I think Martin Luther will have a few things to clarify with her.

The verses aren’t “shaky,” and there are plenty showing God’s plan for human sexuality and his disapproval of homosexual behavior.  Some (but not all) people in this category may be predisposed to only consider verses that affirm their views, and they typically don’t have a problem drawing all sorts of conclusions from less clear passages.  Therefore, they won’t like these facts:

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referencing God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.

Category 2: The Bible is the Word of God, but it doesn’t really say homosexual behavior is wrong.

The second view is generally better than the first (“the Bible is not the Word of God”) with respect to being able to guide people towards the truth, because you have a common authority to appeal to.

The problem with this view is that it is just plain incorrect.  As hard as pro-gay theologians try, the truth is that the Bible is overwhelmingly clear.  Pro-gay theologians are good at casting doubt about certain passages but they never seem to pay attention when someone points out how their reasoning is flawed.

Even some pro-gay theologians agree that the Bible has straightforward commands, but they appeal to “experience” over Scripture.  The heretic John Shelby Spong denies the authority of the Bible at every turn, he at least admits that:

The Bible can certainly be read as condemnatory of homosexual practice. Both sides admit that.

Luke Timothy Johnson, a more orthodox theologian said:

I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good.

As noted previously, here is a summary of the Biblical view:

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referencing God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.

I find those figures to be unambiguous and very compelling based on plain readings of the text and even more so when delving further into the context and the original languages.  I think it is important to consider all those points because some people try to dismiss the traditional Biblical view because it “only” has a few passages about homosexuality.  It only takes one clear passage to make a point, but there are many more than that in the Bible.  These folks also don’t seem to mind making broad conclusions on verses that really do just have one verse behind them.

I have written on a couple specific mistakes pro-gay theologians make regarding Leviticus 18 (“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”), another article on the shellfish argument and another on Romans 1.

There are many other resources dealing with particular verses.  Here’s a terrific outline on Romans 1 that explodes the myth that the real sin is acting outside your desires (as if anyone does that!).

My favorite resource is Responding to Pro-Gay Theology by Joe Dallas.  I highly encourage everyone to read it.  It is very thorough but readable.  I don’t have time to cover all the passages here but if people have questions on specific verses we can cover them in the comments section.

There are solid answers for any question you can come up with, provided people want to really discuss the issue.  I saw this commentary on an ex-ex-gay blog (i.e., someone who tried to leave the homosexual lifestyle and returned).  She is commenting on Mel White, a leading pro-gay theologian.

Mel White is a passionate and articulate man who makes it clear from the beginning of the workshop that he has absolutely no desire whatsoever to discuss the biblical passages on homosexuality. Over the years he has suffered a barrage of debates on the issue and he is thoroughly burnt out. He refuses to engage in the discussion any longer. Instead, he passes out a booklet he has written on the subject and tells us to read it. Then, he encourages us to refrain from discussing the Bible with conservative Christians because fundamentalists have no interest in sincere dialogue. Mel also encourages us not to engage in the debate for another reason. By having the conversation, we expose ourselves over and over again to the “lie” that homosexuality is wrong, and when heard repeatedly, “deep down inside you will wonder if they are right.”

That is a clever dodge on Mel’s part.  But I’ll be glad to have a sincere dialogue even if he won’t.

If you examine all the facts, I think you’ll find that the case is overwhelming: God considers homosexual behavior to be sinful and his ideal for marriage is one man and one woman.

So why do people twist the scriptures so blatantly? I generally don’t speculate on the motives of individuals, as only God knows their hearts. But I have seen some themes and evidence in various cases.

Some believe the lies out of ignorance or laziness. They may be sincere Christians who just haven’t fully examined the issue. There are issues I haven’t fully explored and may have the wrong views on, so we should approach things with humility.  We should do the hard work to understand important issues.

Some believe them out of political correctness. It is much easier to go with the views of the culture. Have they noticed the the liberal theologians came to the conclusion that abortion, homosexual behavior, easy divorce and fornication were acceptable just after the culture did?  What a coincidence.  They should remember 1 John 2:15-16: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world.

I won’t name specifics here, but I am aware of those in the pro-gay theology camp that pretend to be otherwise-orthodox Christians.  But if you follow their own blogs, for example, you discover how thoroughly fraudulent they are.  You need to watch out for those who use a veneer of Christianity to justify their preferences.  They desparately want everyone’s approval – even though it will still leave them unfulfilled – and they especially want the church’s approval — or at least its silence.

There is also the passive-aggressive stance where some confidently claim that the Bible does or doesn’t say something about homosexual behavior, then when you go to analyze the verses they “humbly” say they don’t know that much (as if the subject were just too complicated or it is so gray we just can’t reach a conclusion).

False teachers aren’t necessarily gay themselves.  They may have other motives for spreading their lies.  Jesus warned that there would be false teachers in the church and Paul did as well.  What better way to accomplish this than to infiltrate the church and bring it down from the inside?

2 Corinthians 11:13-15  For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Of course, there are frauds at the other end of the spectrum as well, such as Ted Haggard, or hateful false teachers like Democrat Fred Phelps.  Those aren’t Biblical models, either.

Some people have a “revelation” about the lack of sinfulness of homosexuality when a loved one is involved. Perhaps this is due to new information and a fresh look at the Bible, but perhaps it is due to major league rationalization. It is similar to pro-life Christians who change their minds when their child is pregnant and encourage the destruction of their grandchildren. Did they really change their views on the morality of abortion based on new information, or did their fear of embarrassment and/or inconvenience trump their moral views?

Some people just want to believe the lies. It is a strong delusion. And Satan’s oldest trick is still used today: “Did God really say . . .?”  Hint: Yes.  Yes, He did.

Category 3 – The Bible is the Word of God and does clearly and emphatically describe gay behavior as sinful.  However, the Holy Spirit has given additional revelations such that this behavior is now acceptable.

This view holds that God has changed his mind on this moral issue and not only is it now acceptable, but it is sinful if you don’t affirm this behavior and same-sex relationships.

The third view attempts to affirm scripture but makes a major theological mistake afterwards.  Think about the premise: God is allegedly overturning a moral law and simultaneously making it immoral to quote the Bible.

One denomination has a slogan that “God is still speaking.”  This would be true provided that it meant that God still speaks through his Word.  However, liberal theologians tend to use this phrase to mean that God is changing his moral laws.

Some people appear to believe in Leopard Theology, the false notion that the Bible is only inspired in spots and that they are inspired to spot the spots.  That is the first error above.  However, those in this third category appear to hold to Advanced Leopard Theology, where God is also changing spots and adding/removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.

This category overlaps a bit with those who don’t think He communicated his laws in a discernable way in the first place (i.e., in the Bible), but they now think He is communicating with Swiss-watch precision to them.

Here’s an example: A Methodist pastor named Laurie Hays Coffman did a pro-gay theology piece that made the argument that she wants to “unfurl our corporate sails to catch today’s winds as the Spirit blows afresh.”  She said she was challenged by the vision God gave to Peter in Acts 10-11 where God makes it clear that the Gospel is for the Gentiles, too, and that the Israelites’ ceremonial dietary laws are no longer in force.

Her reasoning is that in the same way that God overturned those laws that He is now overturning the prohibitions against homosexual behavior.

The problem is her poor Biblical analysis.  There are at least nine things wrong with this view:

  1. The person with the revelation was Peter, one of Jesus’ inner circle and a key leader in the early church.  It wasn’t made to you, me or someone like Ms. Coffman.  That doesn’t mean God couldn’t reveal something important like this to us, just that it is highly unlikely.
  2. The visions were clear and emphatic.  Peter was given the vision three times.
  3. Peter was inclined to reject the meaning of the vision, whereas these pro-gay theologians have views on human sexuality that are virtually indistinguishable from the prevailing culture and they are glad to accept this “new revelation.”
  4. There was external validation for Peter from the Roman centurion.
  5. This lesson showed up in the Bible, not outside it.  I’m not saying miracles don’t happen outside the Bible.  It is just that things appear in the Bible for a reason.  God communicating that the ceremonial laws had been fulfilled was one of those “big deals.”
  6. This vision overturned a ceremonial law, not a moral law.  There are zero examples in the Bible of God reversing his moral laws.  In fact, the more Jesus talked the stricter the laws seemed to get, because He emphasized the spirit of the law and not just the letter (i.e., lust was akin to committing adultery, anger was akin to murder, etc.).  The dietary laws never applied to Gentiles.
  7. The “God has changed his mind view” is primarily being “revealed” to theologically liberal Christians in the U.S. . . . the very ones who often deny his Word to begin with!  So we can’t trust the accurate transmission of the original writings but we can trust their new revelations?  Go figure.
  8. If God is revealing a change, why is it necessarily more liberal?  Why couldn’t God make his laws more stringent?
  9. The Bible gives strong warnings not to add or take away from its teachings.

And as noted above, even some pro-gay theologians agree that the Bible has straightforward commands, but they appeal to “experience” over Scripture.  Again, Luke Timothy Johnson said:

I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good.

There are simply no good reasons to believe that God is changing his moral laws (dropping those against homosexual behavior and adding those saying not to preach against it) and only informing selected people — as opposed to the Apostles and their direct followers — through revelation or “experience.”

Summary – Pro-gay theological principles in action

I have addressed the three commons ways pro-gay theologians make errors, namely by believing that:

  1. The Bible is either not the Word of God, or most parts of it aren’t.
  2. The Bible is the Word of God, but it doesn’t really say homosexual behavior is wrong.
  3. The Bible is the Word of God and does clearly and emphatically describe gay behavior as sinful.  However, the Holy Spirit has given additional revelations such that this behavior is now acceptable and the “new” sin is saying that homosexual behavior is sinful.

Now I am taking the pro-gay theological reasoning out for a test drive, so to speak, to see how it applies to other passages.  After all, if their principles are sound they should work in other situations as well.

We’ve addressed Leviticus 18:22 (Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.) and some of the improper interpretations of it here. But I wondered how their reasoning would apply to a verse in the same passage, such as Leviticus 18:8 – Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father. After all, the context of Leviticus 18 is abundantly clear because it starts and ends with the same admonitions: Don’t be like the pagan Canaanites and do the detestable things listed in the middle of the text, or you will be vomited out of the land like they were.  These were obviously not ceremonial laws just for the Israelites.

You can use any verse from Leviticus 18 to make the same points (bestiality, child sacrifice, etc.).  I chose this one because it happened to be addressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5.  Especially note how Paul chides them for being proud and boastful about this man’s behavior.  Read it once, then read it again and replace the descriptions of incest with homosexual behavior.  That is how I view the pro-gay theology community (especially the heterosexuals): Proud and boastful for ignoring God’s Word.

1 Corinthians 5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

Now let’s apply the various lines of pro-gay theological reasoning to Leviticus 18:8 and 1 Corinthians 5 and see how well they work. I realize that not all pro-gay theologians hold all these views.  I tried to convey their reasoning as accurately as possible.  Using their logic, we could conclude that:

  • Jesus didn’t specifically say not to have sexual relations with your father’s wife, so it couldn’t have been very important and probably wasn’t even a sin (the argument from silence).  We should err on the side of saying it isn’t a sin.  We ignore the fact that Jesus, as God, authored the Old Testament and that He fully supported it.
  • The man was born that way (i.e., with the desire to have sex with females).  It was his natural desire and function.
  • He and his father’s wife love each other!  Who are you to say that is wrong?  Gene Robinson, a Bishop in the Episcopal church, left his wife and kids so he could be with his gay lover.  Pro-gay theologians usually affirm and applaud this behavior.  Living up to marriage commitments made before God isn’t nearly as important as indulging your sexual preferences.
  • How do you know he and his father’s wife didn’t pray about it?  Maybe God gave them a personal revelation permitting them to have sex and/or get married.  That would make it acceptable.
  • Maybe the couple says that Jesus told them it was OK.  Who are you to argue with Jesus?
  • Leviticus 18:8 was a ceremonial law.  It was only for the Jews.  It obviously doesn’t apply to Gentiles.  If you eat shellfish then you obviously are a hypocrite if you don’t condone incest.
  • The Bible never actually uses the word incest.
  • There are only a few verses saying not to have sexual relations with your father’s wife [probably less than there are describing homosexual behavior as sinful].Therefore, how can we be sure about it?  And they are kinda obscure as well.
  • The man or the father’s wife was a temple prostitute or this was part of some pagan temple worship, and that is what made it wrong [even though the text doesn’t even hint at that].
  • Paul was an ignorant prude.  He didn’t understand sexual behavior or have the advantage of all the knowledge we do.  [This assumes that the Holy Spirit wasn’t inspiring his writings, of course].
  • You are just using the “yuck” factor and saying “Eeewww” because a man having sex with his father’s wife seems gross to you.  There is really nothing wrong with it, though – you were just made differently.
  • Judge not, lest ye be judged.  Paul must be sinning here because he is clearly making moral judgments.  [Please ignore the fact that I’m judging Paul for judging and that I’ve taken Matthew 7:1-5 out of context].
  • You are just an incest-o-phobe.  You need therapy for your irrational hatred.  In fact, speech like that should be prohibited because it will incite violence against those who practice incest.
  • You just don’t love the man and his father’s wife!  If you did, you’d want them to be happy.  Hater!  Hate speech!
  • Other parts of the Bible portray God acting in ways that don’t appear to be in line with his moral laws, so they obviously aren’t really from him.  Therefore, Leviticus 18:8 may not be his Word either.  When in doubt, we should ignore Scripture, because God’s revelation to my heart trumps anything in the Bible.
  • Some parts of the Bible aren’t clear to us [even though this part is] so we can ignore it.

If that sounds like an unsound line of reasoning that’s because it is an unsound line of reasoning. These principles don’t work on the passages they are designed to dismiss, and they completely self-destruct when applied to other passages.  Pro-gay theology is flawed, sinful and destructive and should be abandoned by any Christians who hold those views.

—–

Once again, note that:

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referencing God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.

Remember, if homosexual behavior is a sin – and the Bible clearly identifies it as such – then affirming and encouraging that behavior is also a sin and providing the orthodox Biblical view is the loving thing to do.  God is perfectly holy, but He is also perfectly gracious and merciful and will forgive those who repent and believe in Jesus.  Hear the Good News:

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Comments are welcome, but please stick to the topic.  We aren’t debating secular views, we aren’t demonizing anyone (pro-gay or orthodox) and we don’t need straw-man arguments (“You just don’t love them,” etc.).

Love LGBTQ people, be friends with them and pray for them.  If they need to develop a friendship with you so they can see what normal relationships should look like, then do so.  But don’t encourage them to participate in sinful behavior.  If you do, then you are loving yourself, not them, and you are committing a serious sin (Romans 1:32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them).

And remember, God catches his fish and then He cleans them.  You don’t have to convert their sexuality before sharing the Good News that by his grace God adopts, completely forgives and eternally blesses everyone who repents and trusts in Jesus.

Solving Trump’s Twitter problem by mimicking www.creedthoughts.gov.www\creedthoughts

“Even for the Internet, it’s pretty shocking.”

Even if you like Trump, many of his Tweets will make you cringe.  Mrs. Eternity Matters came up with a brilliant solution for him and the rest of the country:

His staff just needs to temporarily distract him, grab his phone, then change his Twitter account to: http://www.trumpthoughts.gov.www\trumpthoughts.

Then they can dig out the sane and productive Tweets and use them on his real Twitter account.

Problem solved!

Cancer treatment update: So far, so good. Thanks for the prayers!

Some updates and random thoughts as a follow up to Plot twist: I’ve got cancer.

The treatment process is going smoothly.  I’ve finished two rounds of chemotherapy, with four more to go (one every 28 days).  Mrs. Eternity Matters calls it Chemo Day Camp, because I show up with a cooler of food, a jacket and my laptop bag.  I suppose it is the camp you settle for if you sign up too late for the basketball / volleyball / archery / etc. camps.  They just set up the IV, then I can eat, use my laptop and phone or even take a nap.  The nurses are super-friendly and great at explaining things.

After treatments I feel like I am ready for the All-Drug Olympics, as I have as many as 8-9 things flowing through my body at once: chemotherapy, immunotherapy, a steroid, Benadryl, Tylenol, anti-nausea, shingles prevention, uric acid prevention, Flintstones Chewable Vitamins, etc.

  • Me: This first round of chemotherapy wasn’t bad. I feel pretty energetic!
  • Also me: You forgot that they gave you a steroid in the chemo mix. The exhaustion will hit in a couple days.
  • Me: D’oh!

Our main prayers have been for healing (I assume the tumor is being killed, and will have a mid-treatment scan next month to confirm progress), minimal side effects (answered!) and that we not waste any of the experience (answered!).

The challenge in something like this is to:

Strive to point to and glorify Jesus  . . .

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

. . . without photobombing him

Matthew 6:1 Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

I pray often that we will stay on the right side of that.  I have had countless opportunities to live it out.  In my flesh I know I’d be deeply scared throughout this, but by focusing on Jesus I can honestly say I’ve slept well every night — even in the early days when I knew I had cancer but had no idea about the severity or treatment plans.  I’ve had friends note that the positive approach is “oozing” out of me.  It isn’t like I’m trying to do it, it is just there.  I’ve been able to share with believers and non-believers in all sorts of ways.  I know it is 100% by the grace of God that we’ve lived what we believe, and that has made this process better regardless of the eventual outcome.

Many thanks to everyone who has offered prayers and encouragement to me and my family throughout this.  You have no idea how much every comment meant.

Be blessed!

Plot twist: I’ve got cancer.

Also, Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and my Savior, and I’m more grateful for that than ever.

I didn’t see that coming.  No risk factors and no typical symptoms, other than a low-grade fever that could have been many things.

But the blessings from this have been many.

It could have gone undetected a long time, but through a series of other ailments and unusual circumstances I ended up getting scans that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The healthcare system here has been amazing, with multiple doctors who have never met collaborating quickly to get tests and results.  I am grateful for first-world medical care.  This could have been a death sentence in most parts of the world and certainly most times in history.  The doctors are so skilled at reading things like CT scans.  They look like blobs of grey to me, but they can quickly see where things are amiss.  But I do laugh when they try to point things out to me, as if I could actually follow along.  They could tell me, “Now here’s the spot where there is a unicorn inside you” and I’d say, “Uh, yeah, sure, provided that you ask me no follow-up questions, I see the horn right there . . .”

It is non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (though we didn’t know that right away), which has a high success rate in treatment.  And it will be probably be addressed via chemotherapy (we should be meeting with the oncologist next week to get a treatment plan).  I was hoping to get through life without chemo, but that is still better than chemo + surgery (the first reviews of the CT scan indicated that it might have been going from my left kidney — my favorite!! — to my stomach, which could have meant losing all of the former and some of the latter).

From a practical standpoint, it has prompted me to document our finances and such even more.  We’ve had wills, power of attorney (medical and legal) forms, etc. along with some general documentation, but I realized it would help to do even more.  After all, even aside from this I could die in an accident any day.  I read about a woman who was so grateful that her husband carefully documented all their financial information so that when he died things were so much easier for her.  It doesn’t fit the worldly definition of love and romance, but it is a great gift to leave your loved ones.  Grieving over losing you will be bad enough, but spending stressful hours sorting out your finances and such will make things harder for them.  So I’ve got a list of things to update to make it more clear about passwords, insurance, retirement accounts, bill paying, etc. I encourage you to do the same.

I am reminded of what a fantastic wife I have and how completely wise and supportive she has been through this.  And my children are amazing, and the rest of the family, friends, co-workers and church family have been tremendous as well.  What an indescribable blessing.

I am much more empathetic to many brothers-in-Christ and others who live with chronic pain.  The last couple months were rough as they included a variety of unusual ailments.  But they pale in comparison to what others deal with on a continuing basis.  Their perseverance and faith are a humbling inspiration to me in light of my far lesser issues.

This was a friendly reminder about our mortality.  Make no mistake: Whether you have 40 more minutes or 40 more years, you will directly face the one true God some day (Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom).  At the risk of being Captain Obvious, you will not sit in judgment of God or dictate the terms and conditions of life to him.   You can’t dictate the terms and conditions to parents, bosses, teachers, police, or even a McDonald’s cashier, so don’t be foolish and think you can do that with God. The rich young ruler walked away sadly when he didn’t like God’s requirements but Jesus didn’t chase after him to negotiate.  Repent and believe now while you can and accept God’s unbelievably gracious forgiveness through Jesus.

I don’t wish these experiences on anyone, but really knowing where your faith is in situations like this is a true blessing.   In the midst of all this – especially when things were less clear — I can honestly say I had contentment through Christ, just as He promised in Philippians 4* and elsewhere.  Yes, there were anxious moments wondering about different scenarios, but whenever I refocused on Jesus I was at ease.  I’ve been sleeping well and am truly trusting in his sovereignty.  Whether I live or die, I trust in what He said in Philippians 1**

Our main prayer is that we won’t waste any of this.  God has already given us many opportunities to encourage others and to share this to his glory.  I did drop the ball once — which I pray won’t happen again — when I failed to pray with a visibly nervous guy in a waiting room.  I prayed for him but should have prayed with him.  We really want to look to the interests of others and not just our own, as in Philippians 2***.  (Yes, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Philippians :-)).

All that said, I have to admit that this involves three things I’m not fond of:

  1. Medical stuff (time, $, decisions, uncertainty, pain)
  2. Things that make my wife anxious
  3. Being the center of attention

Prayers are welcomed, not just for healing and minimal side effects 🙂 but that Christ would be glorified every step of the way**** and that others could be comforted and encouraged throughout this.

It is always a good day to be a Christian, but in times like this I especially enjoy it.

P.S. If you would like a great, easy to read summary of the Bible and Christianity, I highly recommend The Story of Reality by Greg Koukl. Even if you don’t end up believing you will have a much better understanding of what you disagree with.


*Philippians 4:10–14 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.

**Philippians 1:15–26 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

***Philippians 2:3–4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

****Ephesians 6:18–20 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.