In a series of articles posted over at Alpha & Omega Ministries, Pastor Tom Buck tackles the troubling details he discovered at Sam Allberry’s ministry Living Out. Allberry is an Anglican priest who is same-sex attracted and has become one of the leading authorities on the issue of homosexuality. In his series, Buck shares with us the bad theology and the perverted counsel offered by two of the websites leaders. You can find those articles here: part 2, part 3, part 4.
Following is an excerpt from part 3:
Just because individuals agree with us on certain orthodox teaching does not mean that we should avoid careful discernment when they disagree on other fundamental issues. When Paul had his final meeting with the elders at Ephesus, he gave this warning: “and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30).
To be clear, I am not claiming that any of those involved with Living Out are definitely men of which Paul speaks. But I am saying we would be foolish to excuse the twisted things that are being spoken at Living Out by simply pointing to other things they say which are consistent with sound doctrine.
Paul tells the Ephesian elders that the men of which he warns will rise up from among themselves. If so, these men became elders in the first place because they were orthodox in their theology. However, they eventually began to speak twisted things that led disciples away from sound doctrine. How many disciples among us are being led away even now because they trust those who are pointing them to Sam Allberry and Living Out?
Now to part 1 of Tom Buck’s series:
The Church’s Shift in Addressing Homosexuality
In my seminary days, Dr. Howard Hendricks warned us that the church tends to drift from one extreme to another. He declared that the church tends to be balanced only for a brief moment when it is swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other. I am reminded of this assessment as we see a major shift taking place in the way the church is addressing homosexuality. Some has been for the good and some for the worse.
Shifting for the Good
Sadly, I grew up in a time when it was common for Christians to bash homosexuals rather than to lovingly call them to repentance and faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I often heard preachers stand in the pulpit and ridicule homosexuals to the laughter of the audience. Even as a teenager, I was appalled to hear many Christians openly belittle homosexuals. No one struggling with that sin would openly admit their sinful condition before a church that would treat them as nothing more than an object of derision.
When I became a pastor, I was committed to our church being a safe place to confess any sin without fear of ridicule. Churches who commit to making their congregations safe places, while remaining committed to a clear call to repentance, have seen individuals set free from homosexuality by the power of the Gospel. As a church, we were able to say with Paul, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 6:11).
Furthermore, we gave opportunity for every person to serve in the church who had turned from sin and had been transformed by the Gospel. In my first pastorate, we even hired a man who struggled with same-sex attraction to work for our church on our support staff. He was walking in repentance and faith as well as seeking God to mortify that desire. This was twenty years ago, when such a thing would have likely been frowned upon by many who are now championing it.
First, I share these things because I am broken over how the church has treated homosexuals in the past. I am thankful to see the shift that has taken place in churches to demonstrate love towards those struggling with homosexuality. A voice calling for a more biblical attitude is Sam Allberry who is the founding editor of Living Out and works with the ministries of TGC, ERLC, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries et al. As a Christian minister who is same-sex attracted, Allberry has quickly become the leading authority among evangelicals on the issue of homosexuality.
I read his book, Is God Anti-Gay?, several years ago and found it biblically sound. For example, he argues that someone who struggles with same-sex attraction should not be shunned by the church because the same Gospel that saved me has the power to save them. I heartily agree. He also declares that one’s identity is not rooted in his sin struggle and no Christian should label himself as “gay.” I give an enthusiastic, “Amen!” This is a good and biblical shift in thinking that needs to come to many in the evangelical world.
The second reason why I share my experience is because I also find some of the shifts taking place in the church regarding this issue to be for the worse and deeply troubling. I fear the pendulum has swung past the point of biblical balance. Some seem to be moving from maliciously condemning people struggling with homosexuality to shrinking from their responsibility to call them to full repentance from their sin. When it comes to the issue of homosexuality in our culture, we must not bash, but we dare not blush at calling them to authentic biblical repentance.