Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Say What?

As anyone who has read this blog has noticed, I love the Bible. This website is dedicated to helping people hear God speak clearly through the exposition of scripture. I have posted a few links to other blog posts that I found particularly encouraging but primarily I post verse-by-verse exposition of God’s word. However, I do have some extra time on my hands here at work. I am between audits. I won’t actually start a new audit until next week and have nothing to do here but sit and read. Therefore, I brought some material to work with me to read. I’ve started a series on Psalm 23. This post is a review of an article written by a Catholic theologian about homosexuality and the Bible (bold added by me in the quotations). You can read his entire article here. I think it’s important as students of God’s word for us to take time to remind ourselves that there are those who name the name of Christ but reject His clear, divinely inspired word. The best way for Christians to refute garbage like this is to teach the Bible as meaning what it means and saying what it says.

Luke Timothy Johnson, in his article, claims that homosexuals are singled out by the church as immoral. He says:

“In my view, this scapegoating of homosexuality has less to do with sex than with perceived threats to the authority of Scripture and the teaching authority of the church. For those opposed to the ordination of women priests and bishops, or of married people, deviation from the uniform and steady practice of the church (glossing over the fact that it has rarely been steady or uniform) means starting down the slippery slope toward rejecting church authority altogether.”

I would deduce that Mr. Johnson equates the authority of the church with the authority of scripture which would make sense for a Catholic theologian. However, not only does he put the authority of the church on par with the authority of divinely-inspired scripture, he suggests that scripture itself is not the final authority. If, in fact, scripture (or in his case, scripture and the church) was the final authority, why would anyone perceive any threat to its authority? As we examine his essay further, we find out why he feels that way.

Mr. Johnson gives us a bit of refreshing honesty as he concludes on his view of scriptural prohibitions against homosexuality.

“I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality-namely, that it is a vice freely chosen, a symptom of human corruption, and disobedience to God’s created order. “

Now that is the height of hubris. I mean, he doesn’t try to explain away scripture or reason his way around it. He flat out says that he rejects it. You would ask, I’m sure, “Well, if he rejects scriptural authority, what does he view as being the authority.” Rather than summarize or paraphrase, I’ll let him answer that question himself.

We are fully aware of the weight of scriptural evidence pointing away from our position, yet place our trust in the power of the living God to reveal as powerfully through personal experience and testimony as through written texts. To justify this trust, we invoke the basic Pauline principle that the Spirit gives life but the letter kills (2 Corinthians 3:6). And if the letter of Scripture cannot find room for the activity of the living God in the transformation of human lives, then trust and obedience must be paid to the living God rather than to the words of Scripture. The church cannot say “yes” to what the New Testament calls porneia (“sexual immorality”); but the church must say yes to the witness of lives that build the holiness of the church. The challenge, therefore, is to discern what constitutes the positive and negative in sexual behavior. A start would be to adapt Galatians 3:28 and state that “in Christ there is neither gay nor straight””

I couldn’t make this stuff up. He actually says that if our experience contradicts scripture, we should ignore scripture. Then, to top it all off, re-write the bible. “In Christ there is neither gay nor straight” indeed. As disgusting as this outlandish view of scripture is, it is also sad. We should have compassion for all people who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and we should pray to God for Him to do the work that only He can do—draw them to Himself. Only He can grant repentance from this or any sin. We should remember that, if it were not for His mercy, we too would be bound for eternal torment in Hell.

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