Mainline evangelicals and New Perspectivists: Can't we all just get along?
'Peace' is certainly a pleasing word; but cursed is the peace that is obtained at so great a cost that there is lost to us the doctrine of Christ, by which alone we grow together into a godly and holy unity. -Calvin on Acts 14:2
This may come as a shock, but evangelicals who are impressed with the piety of practicing sodomites and talk about how much those sodomites love Jesus don't seem that far removed from other evangelicals who say Martin Luther and the reformers were wrong, that Galatians is not about justification by faith alone, and that they know many Roman Catholics who are pious and love Jesus just as much as Protestants do.
Of course, fans of Bishop N. T. Wright would protest that this comparison is unfair, that those who claim Luther is wrong about Galatians are making a theological statement grounded in exegetical arguments that have gone through a careful process of peer review and are, therefore, to be taken utterly seriously.
But the same can be said by those seeking the normalization of sodomy. They also have their exegetical, hermeneutical, and theological arguments, and arguably, those arguments have as much academic respectability as the arguments Bishop Wright and his disciples have.
"But," my readers might sputter, "you can't honestly be proposing that sodomites and New Perspectivites are to be taken equally seriously? They have nothing in common other than both making their case from Scripture!"
Alright, I'm not ready to say that the only thing proponents of sodomy and the New Perspective have in common is that the foundation of their exegesis and hermeneutics is their having been bamboozled by sweet-talking guys, but I have no doubt this is the simple explanation behind some I know, and I do wonder if it isn't more broadly applicable to those holding these errors than I've thought previously?
The explanations are amazingly similar and it does seem like we ought to take these men at their word. For instance, Stephen Baker and I were at a conference recently where one of the plenary speakers who used to be a respected member of the reformed Baptist world, and is now well down the road to Roman Catholicism or (more likely) Eastern Orthodoxy, justified the sea-change in his convictions...
and his complete embracing of Good Bishop Wright with many statements such as...
I've prayed with Roman Catholics and it's clear to me that they love Jesus just as much as we do. Many of my former supporters don't' like what I'm saying, but it's become clear to me how nasty, rigid, and legalistic that community is. Ever since I've taken this new path, former supporters have attacked me and accused me in the most vile way. Standing for truth has shown up the hatefulness of my former friends and I don't think I can ever go back.
Now of course I know twenty centuries of church fathers can be wrong on the proper interpretation of Scripture. And if twenty, certainly four centuries. But speaking forthrightly, when reform leads in the direction of rapprochement with the most aggressive political lobby in America (sodomites), or the largest communion of Christians in the world (Roman Catholics); and when those advocating the rapprochement place a heavy emphasis on their personal relationships with those with whom they formerly disagreed, I smell a rat.
In our fat and rich evangelical complacency, who in his right mind wouldn't wish for a truce with the sexual anarchists we live among? And who wouldn't be relieved to learn that twenty centuries of biblical scholarship had been wrong and sexual sins including fornication, adultery, and sodomy were really no big deal? Think of how much calmer our lives would be if we no longer had to shepherd God's flock in any area of sexual sin. Speaking only for myself, I've been ready for quite a few years, now, to lay down the cudgel that I've long used to battle feminism, egalitarianism, and serial polygamy within the church.
But again, this peace with Rome that Bishop Wright and his disciples are selling us, is it really faithful to the Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians and the doctrine of justification the Holy Spirit deposited there?
Grant me a wish and here's my request: that every man who believes practicing sodomites are good Christians would honestly announce he is no longer a Christian because the name 'Christian' must be defined by Scripture and the twenty centuries of fathers in the faith who have gone before us, all of whom trembled when they read the Holy Spirit's warning:
(D)o you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9,10)
Another wish: that every man who believes Luther was wrong and Galatians does not proclaim justification by faith alone would honestly announce he is no longer a Protestant Christian, but on his way back to home sweet Rome.
And since the sodomy lobby and the Bishop Wright crowd so frequently accuse their opponents of prejudice and malice, I want to head them off at the pass by stating that our church has both men and women who were effeminate and homosexual, but now have been washed and sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ. They're neither pariahs nor second-class citizens, but dearly loved brothers and sisters in Christ who live in fellowship with our families and us. Similarly, a large proportion of my reading each week is Roman Catholic authors and publications on the ultramontane end of the Roman Catholic spectrum--men such as E. Michael Jones, Richard John Neuhaus, and Joe Sobran.
So the seedbed of my opposition to the normalization of sodomy is not homophobia, nor is my rejection of Bishop Wright's revisionist view of Galatians Angliphobia or a hatred for Rome.
Rather, in the power of the Holy Spirit I stand upon my study of Scripture and my gratitude to twenty centuries of faithful fathers who have spoken with one voice against all forms of sexual immorality; and also upon my study of Galatians and love for our Reformation fathers God used to lead us back to His Word and the truth of salvation there deposited--that the just shall live by faith alone.
Whether the error is sodomy, serial polygamy, or sacramentalism, turning a blind eye to the error because of a longing for peace is to purchase present comfort at the terrible expense of future judgment on that day when all shepherds will give an account to the Chief Shepherd Who requires faithfulness, particularly from those He has delegated the responsibility of guarding His little ones. Leading one of His little ones astray is no small thing.
And if that's not enough to lead us back to God's Word, think about what the church today would be if men such as Athanasius and Arius, Luther and Erasmus, Calvin and Servetus or Cardinal Sadoleto, Knox and Queen Mary, Machen and Harry Emerson Fosdick, Lloyd-Jones and J. I. Packer, John Stott or Billy Graham had been sitting around asking each other, "Can't we all just get along?"
...there is a certain distinction between civil magistrates and leaders of the Church. For although corrupt, yet the Lord wishes submission to it to remain unaffected. But when the spiritual rule degenerates, the consciences of the godly are released from obedience to an unjust domination, especially if impious and profane enemies of holiness make a false pretence to the title of the priesthood to destroy the doctrine of salvation, and arrogate to themselves a lordship by which God Himself is reduced to order. Thus today it is not only permissible but also necessary for the faithful to shake off the yoke of the Pope, since they can only obey his laws if they revolt from God. -John Calvin on Acts 23:5