There's "absolutely no connection between nudity and sex..."

But first, some personal historical perspective on the Presbyterian Church (USA) apostasy being fought out today...

Back in 1991, my former denomination, the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA), was hot and heavy to adopt the report and recommendations of a task force of its national general assembly known as the Task Force on Human Sexuality. The report, broadly referred to as the Justice-Love Report, was one more in the long and monotonous line of obscene literature that has been put out by all the mainline denominations for a number of decades, now.

This body of literature's common denominator is the reassurance that the nonorgasmic life is not worth living, and that God approves of whatever perversion any particular soul finds most effective in seeking sexual release. So, for instance, this particular Justice-Love Report commended fornication for the elderly in cases where normalizing the relationship through marriage might jeopardize one or the other partner's Social Security payments.

With the Justice-Love Report coming to that summer's 1991 General Assembly for action, evangelicals were up in arms and working feverishly to oppose the adoption of the report and its recommendations.

This was the context for a presbytery meeting held in Dubuque, Iowa, of my own John Knox Presbytery in late Spring of 1991. Things were in turmoil, even in our liberal presbytery, and a careful effort was made to give some voice to evangelicals during the presbytery meeting in the hope that being heard would be sufficient for us, and that we wouldn't bolt if the denomination saw fit to approve this report.

Thus it was that the presbytery asked the most prominent evangelical among us, Rev. Dr. M. Craig Barnes, to preach the sermon. At the time, Dr. Barnes served as Senior Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wisconsin, where a large number of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship executives and staff attended...

Barnes chose Genesis 2:18-25 as his text, and his sermon had three points:

This text is not about sex.
This text is not about marriage.
This text is about intimacy.

To this day, I shake my head in wonderment at Barnes' betrayal of God and the souls gathered there under the ministry of the Word. It would be hard to imagine a more carefully wrong, and therefore decadent, handling of God's Word in that place and time.

As bad as his interpretation of the text was, his application was worse. Rather than illustrating sin against intimacy by noting the terrible promiscuity that permeates the homosexual community (The Journal of Sex Research found that the average number of sexual partners homosexual men had in a lifetime was in the hundreds while an additional 10 to 16 percent of the men studied had had between 501 and 1,000 partners in their lifetime, and more than 10 percent reported having had over 1,000 sexual partners--a violation of God's gift of intimacy if there ever was one), Dr. Barnes hammered home the courageous truth that husbands who refused to be sensitive, and to lovingly communicate with their wives are violating intimacy.

Well of course they (or rather, we) are, but the immediate context for his sermon was not a marriage enrichment seminar, but a presbytery meeting where the absolutely front and center issue was a report that called upon the church of Jesus Christ to affirm all sorts of sexual immorality, most notoriously sodomitic sexual immorality.

But Dr. Barnes had been well-chosen, so he was prophetic to insensitive husbands--not fornicators, adulterers, or sodomites; and of course, not the Justice-Love Report and its authors.

A short time later, Dr. Barnes got his reward and was promoted to Senior Pastor of National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. While he served there, I wrote him a letter expressing my deep regret over his sermon that day several years earlier. Dr. Barnes was unresponsive to my concerns. Since then, he has moved to profess at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

A few weeks after the presbytery meeting in Dubuque, the elders of my two yoked parishes, stunned by Dr. Barnes' sermon, voted to lead their congregations out of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and into the biblical Presbyterian Church in America. (If, on a Lord's Day, you're ever in the area around Portage, Wisconsin, go to the intersection of Wisconsin highways 33 and 22, take Hwy. 22 about a mile south of that intersection, towards Pardeeville, and meet the believers of Grace Presbyterian Church where the man I'd worked with back in 1991, Rev. Nathan Kline, still pastors.)

So why this story? Because today I read an account of a man claiming to be a Christian who has invested several million dollars in a Christian naturist colony. Seeking to reclaim Eden through his colony, the London Times records this howler from his lips:

There is absolutely no relationship between nudity and sex.

When I read this, I thought immediately of Dr. Barnes. When my daughter, Hannah, read it, she laughed out loud and said, "Yeah, and there's no connection between nudity and taking a shower, either."

By the way, some might be interested in several other things about Dr. Barnes: first, while completing his Ph.D. at University of Chicago, he worked on the staff of that magnificent Michigan Avenue edifice, Fourth Presbyterian Church, under its Senior Pastor, John Buchanan--best known as a strong advocate of sodomy within the PC(USA); and second, that several years ago Dr. Barnes wrote an Easter mediation for the liberal magazine, Christian Century, in which he had this to say about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:

The question that Easter asks of us is not "Do we believe in the doctrine of resurrection?" Frankly that's not particularly hard... What the Gospels ask is not, "Do you believe" but "Have you encountered a risen Christ?" ...No one is ever ready to encounter Easter until he or she has spent time in the dark place where hope cannot be seen. ("Savior at Large," Christian Century, 13 March, 2002).

Our good readers will understand that I cannot recommend any of these men posturing as Christian leaders--John Buchanan, M. Craig Barnes, or our unnamed naturist. Each of their errors is of the same cloth.

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And some years later, Barnes was the dinner speaker at a "Gathering" of Presbyterian "renewalists" in Dallas, convened to fight against the free and easy ordination of fornicators, adulterers, and sodomites. By the way, I am not sure whether he is still at Pittsburgh Seminary, but he is the pastor of Shadyside PC in Pittsubrgh--not the biggest, but just possibly the richest and best-paing church in the denomination. They bought out their last pator when they got tired of him for multi hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The thing you need to understand about PCUSA renewalists is that they don't want to win. And they don't want to walk. They want to continue to be brave in opposition. They wand to be daringly faithful within limits. They are his majesty's loyal opposition, but no one need fear the guillotine.

You know, I've never thought about that before, i.e. the possibility there are "conservatives" in the PCUSA (or the ECUSA or any other left-leaning denomination) who remain in it without any serious desire to see it improve, instead enjoying being "daringly faithful" and "brave in opposition."

Sort of a theological Munchausen Syndrome.

Dan, you're right. He's added Shadyside to his remuneration while still professing at Pittsburgh; he's published by IVP, Gospel Light, Zondervan, etc.; he's an editor-at-large of "Leadership;" he's lectured everywhere, including Calvin Theological Seminary; but speaking personally, my favorite part of his c.v. is this: http://www.ciweb.org/week4.html

Dr. Barnes was interviewed by "Christianity Today," and here are the final two questions, with Barnes' answers:

CT: I just taught a class last night. And a young guy who wants to be a pastor was vexed about the expectations of the church and its consumeristic orientation. To pursue the path of trying to direct people towards home in God is actually counter-cultural to Christian culture in America today. Is he wrong? What advice would you have for him?

BARNES: I think that when you know what you are really about, as a pastor, then you know that you don't have to play the church game of ecclesiastical consumerism. When you know that you're really about drawing people back home to God, helping them to find the freedom of that relationship, your ministry takes on a completely different form. It becomes very attractive to people who don't believe that the church is going to have anything that will make them that much happier than the new job or the new boat that they've bought. When they're coming to church they're not really looking for that.

CT: I think the next generation is looking for this kind of authenticity.

BARNES: That's exactly right. The younger the parishioners are, the more this makes sense to them. They really don't think that the next thing they buy is going to make them happy, like their parents often did.

Chatutauqua! He's found a home.
I heard him speak (preach?) at Dallas. He's in the entertainment business. Chatauqua again.

For Anne--Oh, yes, bravely opposing is a full-fledged profession. And you can change sides when need be. Years ago one of our elders in a PA church attended a meeting with a renewalist official and came away say8ng, "We shouldn't give those people another dime!" Why? Because it was all about being nice and coloring inside the lines. It was not at all about obeying Christ, no matter the cost.

"Each of their errors is of the same cloth."

Yes, the same from which the emperor's new clothes were fashioned. Fortunately, there are some astute people in the crowd who are willing to stand up and say, "He hasn't got anything on!" Not that nudity has anything to do with shame, either . . . .

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