Why Homosexuality is a Big Deal

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post (“I am a Sodomite”), here is an insightful piece from Dr. Timothy Tennent, President of Asbury Theological Seminary, on why we should make a big deal about homosexuality.  While I agree with Dr. Tennett, my concerns about institutionalized covetousness in the Church still stand.  Do we really need all the huge buildings!???

I am a Sodomite …

… and so are you.  Now that I’ve got your attention, what arcane point am I trying to make?  I’ve been ruminating on the use of “sodomite” in certain conservative Christian circles.  The motive seems to be Christians not wanting to compromise on this important issue and wanting to call a spade a spade.  Since so many Christians have prevaricated and danced around the issue of same-sex attraction, we want to boldly call a sin a sin, and so some men that I respect deeply have taken to using the term “sodomy” and “sodomite.”  I believe the main target of this epithet is militant, politically-aggressive homosexuals.  In reaction, some Christians adopt the visage and manner of a desert prophet in order to meet this challenge head on.  I agree with my brothers in their concerns to be bold and courageous in these perilous times.  I believe Christianity and Biblical morality is under severe attack, and I support their desire to fight the good fight.  However, if they want to talk like Ezekiel-the-sexually-explicit, I hope they can also talk more like Ezekiel in chapter 16 of his magnificent book.

In Ezekiel 16, God pronounces judgment on Jerusalem through Ezekiel, and connections between sexual sin and idolatry are rampant.  But, in the midst of this grim sermon, God compares Jerusalem to Sodom.  Ezekiel says that Jerusalem has become “more corrupt than they [the Sodomites] in all your ways.  As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done” (Ezek. 16:47-48).  What did Jerusalem do that was so wicked?  “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.  They were haughty and did an abomination before me.  So I removed them, when I saw it” (Ezek. 16:49-50).

What is interesting is the almost total silence on the issue of homosexuality.

Continue reading “I am a Sodomite …”

Those Manly, Racy Puritans!

Authors like Anne Douglas (The Feminization of American Culture) and Leon Podles (The Church Impotent:  The Feminization of Christianity) have documented what might be called the “feminization of the church.”  More recent offerings like Why Men Hate Going to Church bring statistical data and anecdotal evidence that men just don’t seem to like, or fit in, at most  churches.  While I think these authors all make good points, I was recently struck at how “feminine” certain Puritan theologians were.  For many in my conservative Reformed circles, the Puritans are the standard against which we measure our own orthodoxy and our spiritual fervor.  Many Puritans are revered for their “manly” courage and heroic gospel deeds.  I don’t want to belittle any of that–I simply want suggest that some of the these “manly” Puritans spoke, wrote, and preached in quite “feminine” terms.

Continue reading “Those Manly, Racy Puritans!”

“The Nihilistic Eros of the Consumer Society …”

Michael Horton’s People and Place:  A Covenant Ecclesiology continues to intrigue and inspire me on almost every page.  I love his description of modern idolatry:

“[Idolatry] requires its gods to make themselves available, fully present, visible, which means capable of being possessed and, if need be, manipulated to produce whatever the individual’s or group’s felt needs are determined to be at any moment.

“The nihilistic eros of the consumer society, which seems to have drawn much of American Christianity into its wake, creates a desire that can never be satisfied.  Ads and show windows offer us a perpetual stream of icons promising to fulfill our ambitions to have the life that they represent:  a fully realized eschatology.  Handing our credit card to the salesperson can be a sacrament of this transaction between sign and signified.  Yet this anonymous space of endless consumption is the parody of the place of promise:  true shalom.  Consuming images, living on the surface of immanence, we refuse to be called out of ourselves by an external word that would truly unite us to God and our neighbor.  Silently and alone, we surf channels and Web sites, window-shopping for identities (p. 59).”

“From Modernity to Auschwitz”

Thus begins Joe Keysor’s provoking article in the March/April 2012 issue of Touchstone magazine.  (Yes, I’m behind in my Touchstone reading …)  Although this article is sadly not available on-line at the Touchstone web-site, it worth buying the entire issue just for this article.

Keysor subtitles his article, “The Secular and Anti-Christian Origins of the Holocaust.”  What follows is a  convincing case that Hitler was more influenced by Enlightenment philosophers than by orthodox Christianity.  Why probe the pre-history of Nazism?  Because some historians persist in maintaining the opposite–that Christianity prepared German soil for the flourishing of Nazi ideology.  Keysor writes:  “In his lengthy book The Holocaust in Historical Context, Steven Katz of Boston University links biblical Christianity to the crimes of the Nazis.”

Continue reading ““From Modernity to Auschwitz””

Review – For the City

For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel (Exponential Series)For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel by Matt Carter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fantastic book. It is practical, readable, and honest. Matt and Darrin have made plenty of mistakes in their respective ministry journeys, and they share these frankly, as well as the lessons they’ve learned. The stories of their lives, and of the two churches they now lead, is very encouraging. Matt and Darrin are well-grounded, in the Reformed Baptist tradition, but they know how to make the never-changing Gospel relevant to the people in the cities they serve. Another must-read on practical ministry in a growing line of helpful publications from Zondervan!

(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Zondervan book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.)

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King Jesus Gospel – Review

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News RevisitedThe King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited by Scot McKnight

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Scot McKnight’s new book, The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited, is a keeper. In fact, I would say it’s one of the best theological books I’ve ever read. Part of what makes it exciting is that McKnight is excited himself! You can sense his energy and his joy in his subject, as he leads us step-by-step through his own theological development. It takes some work to read Jesus in his own context, and McKnight is patient with us.

I used this book in my classes at a Christian school, to help bolster my case that Christians should read the Old Testament more. My students were honest in their admission that they don’t read the Old Testament much, and don’t see the point. McKnight argues that, unless we understand the story of Israel, we cannot really understand Jesus.

I appreciated his critique of the Reformation, his insistence that we learn about the early church, and his endorsement of prayer-books and creeds. If you don’t see how those are connected with Jesus in first-century context, you’ll just have to buy the book and find out for yourself!

My only real question concerns the “contextualization” question. McKnight presents a solid case that Apostolic preaching looked like thus-and-such. Basically, the preaching of Peter and Paul was dramatically different than our “four spiritual laws” presentations and arm-twisting methods of “gospel” persuasion. Granted. But, Peter and Paul were preaching to a largely Jewish culture. Even when Paul is writing to sort out problems between Jews and Gentiles, he’s still working within Jewish categories. When we take the Gospel to Africa, do we still stress every aspect of Old Testament history as much as the Apostles did? Stephen’s speech in Acts wouldn’t seem to work so well in remote jungles. I hope McKnight will take this up in another book.

Overall, this is a splendid book, and I hope it will help to shake up the anemic and shallow American church!

(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Zondervan book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.)

View all my reviews