I tried to ignore it. But it just kept popping up. Then I was asked by a member of the community in which I serve for a comment. So, it began to seep in and I could not remain in denial.

Most of the signatories are unknown to me. But there are a few names I recognize:

  • Denny Burk President, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
  • John Piper Founder & Teacher, Desiring God; Chancellor, Bethlehem College & Seminary
  • James Dobson Founder, Focus on the Family
  • Russell Moore President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
  • J.I. Packer Professor of Theology, Regent College
  • Wayne Grudem Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary
  • Albert Mohler, Jr. President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Tony Perkins President, Family Research Council
  • A. Carson Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
  • John MacArthur Pastor, Grace Community Church; President, The Master’s Seminary & College
  • Sam Allberry Speaker & Apologist, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
  • R.C. Sproul Founder & Chairman, Ligonier Ministries
  • Francis Chan Author & Pastor, We Are Church
  • Dick Lucas Reverend Prebendary, Rector Emeritus, St Helen’s Bishopsgate, London

These luminaries have all signed on to something called “The Nashville Statement” (https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement/) which raises, yet again, the question of the Christian response to people in same-gender intimate relationships. Even more troubling is Article 10 of the statement which denies any possibility of dissension by faithful Christians on the issue:

Article 10
WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.

In other words, if we cannot sign the “Nashville Statement” we have surrendered any right to be consider “faithful Christians.”

When I was first asked to respond in a personal email, I wrote with perhaps more feeling that nuance. But the words I wrote in a personal email, despite their heat, do accurately represent my response to this statement:

  1. I absolutely DO NOT agree that “Affirming LGBT folks is ‘an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.'” That seems to me to be a dangerously slippery slope that could slide all the way down to “Voting for Donald Trump is an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness”, which seems to me to be a much more defensible statement than the Nashville Statement Article 10. Seriously, why isn’t remarriage of divorced people “an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness”? It seems to me that throughout the Bible, turning a blind eye to the poor and oppressed is a much more grievous “essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness” than “Affirming” the essentially harmless belief that certain people feel genuinely called to express their love with a same-gender partner.
  1. Likewise, I think making ethical issues the criterion to qualify as “a faithful Christian” is another dangerously slippery slope. Let’s make a list of unethical behaviours that might be deemed to disqualify a person from being considered “a faithful Christian” – greed, injustice, gluttony, gambling, alcohol abuse, pornography (heck maybe even lust), humanly caused global climate destruction – who is going to be left in the category of “faithful”? Who gets to decide which ethical behaviours are a sign of being unfaithful? Who is qualified to throw the first ethical stone against behaviour which has no obvious victim?
  1. I am suspicious of any statement that starts out with the words “We believe that God has designed….” How could anyone actually possibly know with absolute certainty how “God has designed…” anything? What agendas lie behind such a statement? Why why why is this so important? Would it not be much more credible to issue a statement on poverty, starvation, injustice, climate change, anything that actually matters?
  1. In contentious issues, I side with Paul – “10Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10) Who is being harmed in LGBT relationships? Why would God be against two people pledging to live together in committed lifelong, faithful, monogamous loving relationship?  God has designed us to be people of love. Is it likely that LGBT people will receive the Nashville Statement as a declaration of love?
  1. I spent a lot of time many years ago working through the biblical text that people hold up as condemning homosexuality http://stphilipvictoria.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/BiblicalTextsOnHomosexuality.pdf. I came to the conclusion that, at the very least, there is room for disagreement on how to read these texts. Nothing has changed my mind on this since then. I believe that the determination to make a particular stand on human sexuality, the arbiter of Christian Orthodoxy is politically motivated and deeply damaging to Christian witness in the world.
  2. this response is much more in line with my understanding: http://www.theliturgists.com/statement/
  1. here is another more detailed counter statement: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/2017/08/the-denver-statement/
  2. other excellent statements: https://www.commons.church/jeremy/2017/8/30/the-nashville-statement
    http://auburnseminary.org/applaud-fervently-deny-nashville-statement/
    https://johnpavlovitz.com/2017/08/30/nashville-statement-plain-language-translation/
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/59a82800e4b02498834a8f3b
    https://sojo.net/articles/jim-wallis-nashville-statement-damaging-people-and-evangelical-witness

hope this helps,

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A little later I added a further note on Facebook:

in response to the question why his little statement is called the “Nashville Statement” Mr. Denny Burke, cites the Nicene Creed among others, as precedent for naming a statement after the city in which it was created. He goes on to ponder “Whether The Nashville Statement will prove to be as enduring as those others remains to be seen.” (https://cbmw.org/the-nashville-statement/why-the-nashville-statement-now-and-what-about-article-10/?utm_content=bufferb6dc7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer)  The fact that Mr. Burke could believe for one moment that the words crafted by his little fringe cadre of like-minded evangelicals might in any way share company with the great ecumenical Creeds of the church exhibits a level of hubris and arrogance that is an even greater problem than the trite theology and thinly veiled agenda that lie at the root of the “Nashville Statement.”

***************

nb: the framers of “The Nashville Statement” are an organization that calls itself the “Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” (CBMW).

According to the Washington Post

CBMW was founded in 1987 to counter the influence of feminism among evangelicals. It teaches that God created men and women equal in worth and dignity but with distinct roles in the home and church. CBMW opposes women’s ordination and teaches that men are to lead in marriage and family life.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/08/31/why-even-conservative-evangelicals-are-unhappy-with-the-anti-lgbt-nashville-statement/?tid=ss_fb&utm_term=.1105b4ccb4c6

 

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