“There is no doubt that we are living in a brave new world with cultural foundations shifting almost daily. Christians have been disoriented not only by the pace of the change but also by the ways that such changes appear to be moving some Christian leaders and organizations off of their biblical foundations. In such times, the need to reaffirm those foundations is critical and cannot be assumed.”
(Tom Ascol – Founders Ministries) Last week Tom Buck wrote a series of four articles expressing concerns about the teaching of Living Out and, specifically, articles on their website & recommendations they make to people who have sexual desires for members of the same sex. Those articles, shall we say, created quite a stir. The light that Buck helped shine on this issue and the dissipating mist that is following reveal what I fear are unavoidable fractures within evangelical circles.
Living Out is an organization that describes itself this way:
We are a group of Christians who experience same-sex attraction bringing out into the open the questions and dilemmas that gay Christians can often face.
If you accept the premise of “gay Christianity” it is not likely that you will even frame the questions properly, much less offer hopeful, biblical guidance to those who need it. After all, he who asks the questions, controls the conversations.
That principle was put on display in Jonathan Leeman’s (Editorial Director of 9Marks and a personal friend) interview with Sam Allberry (one of the founders of Living Out, whom I have never met) at the recent TGC event sponsored by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and 9Marks. The interview was added to an already-planned panel as a result of Tom’s articles. The interview was marked by gentleness, respect and a level of openness to talk about some uncomfortable issues. It encouraged humility and love (virtues that are too often missing in the current debate surrounding social justice issues) and modeled pastoral sensitivity.
What it missed, however, was really getting to the root of the concerns that have been publicly raised about Living Out’s views and counsel. The organization exists to provide biblical counsel on issues related to homosexuality. It and its leaders have been “platformed” by long-respected, trustworthy Christian entities like 9Marks, TGC, Ravi Zacharias Ministries, and the ERLC of the Southern Baptist Convention (to name but a few). That is why I wished Leeman’s interview with Allberry had addressed root issues and tried to clarify what may be serious doctrinal differences between Living Out’s approach to Christianity and the approach that historic, orthodox, confessional, and Protestant (to say nothing of Reformed) Christians take.
H/T The Aquila Report