Around the Web – April 2014

Christians are facing more questions than ever about our beliefs and some of us are questioning with them. In the course of the public debates, I found the links below most useful. First, Trevin Wax explains the factions we are choosing/falling into and shares a well informed opinion on where this will lead. The Fault Lines Before the Evangelical Earthquake by Trevin Wax At the heart of the World Vision/Homosexual Marriage debate is "the meaning of evangelical."
Can an institution with an historic evangelical identity be divided on an issue as central as marriage and family and still be evangelical? Related to this discussion are questions about the authority and interpretation of Scripture, cultural engagement, and institutional power. All sides of the debate recognize that the definition of evangelical is at stake, which is why some are now publicly casting off the term altogether.
He admits openly that the church has not been the best at showing love to those whom they don't understand.
How can we be simultaneously committed to upholding biblical marriage and loving our gay and lesbian neighbors?
Jen Hatmaker has wrestled with this issue and I particularly like her answer World Vision Controversy & Where I Stand by Jen Hatmaker First, her analysis on the World Vision controversy itself:
We need intellectually honest Christians capable of critical self-evaluation. The church has never, not for one millisecond of its entire history, been right about everything. This sobering fact should give us pause and inject some much needed humility into our ethos. It should at least produce Christians who are swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. Better to treasure our beloved gospel with humble hands than mar it with arrogant hearts, because as often as we consider ourselves its gatekeepers, we are really only its unworthy recipients, usually blind to our own defects while remaining crystal clear on everyone else’s.

World Vision, Gay Marriage, and a Different Way Through

And most importantly, her thoughts on the hearts being debated in the middle
We need more neighbors. We need more outliers willing to pick up the bloodied and beaten gay community and bind up their wounds with oil and wine, religious approval aside. We need generous and faithful neighbors who stop and say I see you and I see your pain and I care. We need agents of healing over agents of judgment, because if God’s kindness leads us to repentance, who are we to offer anything less? This will come at a personal cost, just like it did the Good Samaritan, but it is the right thing to do. The hard, right thing to do. It is what neighbors do. They show mercy. They bind up wounds and trust God to heal.

Where I Stand

Yes, her heart lies with what the Bible says. She also knows we Christians have handled SOOOOOO much of this gay/straight debate thing very very wrong. As someone who lives in South Florida where this lifestyle is open and prevalent, I can tell you my heart breaks for the deep hurt of my gay and lesbie friends. I understand the smallest taste of their temptation. How are you so confident in your righteous straightness to judge the struggles of another? I love them the same as a boyfriend-girlfriend living in sin: let the kindness of God bring them to repentance (Romans 2:3-5). And yet it would not be love to say active homosexuality is acceptable to God. If we do so we invite theological-false-doctrine danger. How a Too-Friendly Jesus Can Lead to Universalism by Joe Carter Joe Carter uses really big words. The two paragraphs below are the important gems:
There is an even more concerning implication, however, and that is for the unrepentant unbeliever. If it is true that "Christ offers fellowship to all indiscriminately without condition, no strings attached" then the logical implication is that universalism is true.
Then further on:
That is one of the problems with arguments. Other people will eventually come along and follow an argument to its logical end point—even when the logical conclusion is far past where we may be willing to go. Even if we are not willing to be consistent in our theology, those who hear us will. That is why we should be careful about claiming that the unrepentant can have unconditional fellowship with non-judgmental Jesus: some people might start to believe it's a universal truth without an expiration date.
With this reminder on why finding our truth in scripture is important, here is a post on truth-telling from Denny Burk Can we avoid the consequences of speaking truth in love? by Denny Burk
There is a lesson for Christians here. Yes, we must be winsome. We must be kind. We should not be pugnacious. It matters how we say what we say. It is our joy to love our neighbors and even our enemies. When we walk in this kind of generous spirit, it will open up bridges of opportunity that wouldn’t otherwise be open. All of that is true. Having said that, Eich and Giglio also force us to come to grips with a hard truth. No amount of winsomeness will exempt us from the reproach that comes when we speak plainly about what the Bible teaches. If you speak plainly about sin, there will always be some who will vilify you as angry, bigoted, hateful or worse. Jesus told us that it would be this way (John 15:18-21).
This post summarized very well what I try to write in "Truth in Love." Denny Burk is an avid truth-teller who's clear logical conclusions challenged my emotional interpretations this month. Thinking with my heart first can be a strength however on these topics I need the clarity of logic. I am very grateful for diverse members within the body of Christ, including all the writers above. My conclusion is that we need to take our questions to scripture, bring our understanding graciously to the public dialogue, then return to scripture as we walk in love. I hope this summary is useful. Here's to the month of May. Blessings, ~ Meg
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