Mainline sodomites and evangelical feminists: who really loves Jesus?

[NOTE FROM TIM: This article was posted on Baylyblog back in 2006. Church of the Good Shepherd is now called Clearnote Church, Bloomington.]

The 2006 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) met a few weeks ago and approved a measure that clears the way for practicing homosexuals to be ordained and installed as pastors and elders of the church. Many news organizations covered this event, but no one commented on the most newsworthy aspect of this radical step--namely, that the measure was itself the product of a Task Force that included a number of evangelicals, and that the evangelicals were instrumental in selling this proposal to the church. How does it happen that evangelicals promote the normalization of sodomy and advocate a plan that clears the way for sodomites to shepherd God's flock? There's a lesson here--a very important lesson--particularly for evangelicals who think all that's important is that people "love Jesus" and have prayed the sinner's prayer. Please read on...

Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. (2 John 1:5-11)

The late Elizabeth Achtemeier was adjunct professor of Bible and homiletics at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and served on the board of Presbyterians Pro-Life, a reform organization within the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA). Particularly because of her courageous opposition to some of the most poisonous aspects of feminism within mainline Presbyterianism, it came as no surprise that Elizabeth was appointed to the PC(USA) General Assembly's blue ribbon Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity as a representative of those on the evangelical end of the denominational spectrum.

This so-called "PUP Task Force" was formed several years ago to try to mediate the chronic tensions over sodomy that have split the PC(USA) since the mid-seventies. The denomination made a conscious effort to balance the membership of the PUP Task Force between those who still hold to Scripture's condemnations of sodomy and those who have rejected Scripture's condemnations and demand the Church endorse sodomy by accepting practicing sodomites as members and placing them in the office of pastor and elder.

When Elizabeth died in the middle of the Task Force's work, her son Mark Achtemeier, a PC(USA) seminary professor teaching systematic theology at Dubuque Theological Seminary, was appointed to take her place and he served on the Task Force through the completion of its work this past year. The Task Force brought a number of recommendations to the (national) General Assembly this year, all of which were carefully crafted to end the divisive battle over the normalization of sodomy.

Up until this time, those seeking to normalize sodomy and to ordain sodomites to the offices of pastor and elder had to contend with PC(USA) denominational standards that forbade such ordinations. If churches defied these standards, they could be brought up on charges, although through the years a variety of technicalities were used to escape accountability. True, the denomination's definitive guidance was a roadblock to those seeking to normalize sodomy, but the practice across the country was a far cry from that definitive guidance. Lesbians and gays were active at all levels of the church as members, leaders, and officers, and there was little accountability for those who flaunted their rebellion against God's Word.

Yet even as they rebelled against Scripture's doctrine of sexuality and got away with only a few slaps on the wrist, the sodomy lobby worked feverishly to change church law so that sexual perversion would no longer be formally condemned and informally overlooked, but positively celebrated. Nothing less would do. Thus for years every level of church government found its time consumed by the battle, and people grew so weary of the controversy that the PUP Task Force was appointed and given a mandate to find a way out of the quagmire.

This year's national General Assembly was D-day, and the Task Force released its recommendations a few months before the Assembly so there would be plenty of time for commissioners to weigh its recommendations before the assembly convened. When those with biblical commitments saw the report and read through its recommendations, they were sickened to see that the Task Force had thrown in the towel and called it quits. Assuming the General Assembly adopted the Task Force recommendations (which it now has), they knew the definitive guidance would become obsolete. Rather, local rule would prevail. True, in theory this meant conservative churches and presbyteries could enforce the definitive guidance if they so chose, but only within their own jurisdiction. Meanwhile, liberal churches and presbyteries would be cut loose to do as they thought best--including ordaining and installing self-affirming active sodomites as pastors and elders. Really, the recommendations amounted to a ceding of the historic Presbyterian principle of connectionalism to the all-American ecclesiastical default of congregationalism.

But as shocking as the parameters of the surrender were, the shock turned into disbelief when the names of those who had signed on to the surrender included a number of evangelicals, including Elizabeth Achtemeier's son, Mark. People were flabbergasted. How could Elizabeth's son betray Scripture and the souls under his protection in this way? Did he care nothing for those tempted by same-sex intimacy? Was he really prepared to join the long line of self-proclaimed prophets who cry "Peace, peace" where there is no peace? As the smoke cleared, there was no denying that Mark Achtemeier had been co-opted by the sodomites...

He explained his support for the Task Force's surrender by making public statements about how close he had grown to sodomites, what good friends they were, how sincere they were in their prayers, and how clear it had become to him that the sodomites he had come to know during the course of his Task Force work loved Jesus more and were better Christians than he was. (The best way to get a sense of Achtemeier's betrayal of the Lord is to read this address he gave on November 16, 2004 to John Knox Presbytery, the presbytery in which I was ordained in 1983, and held membership for over eight years.)

Lest there be any confusion, Achtemeier was not speaking about men and women tempted by same-sex intimacy who are committed to living chaste lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, but rather men and women who constantly give themselves to the practice of sexual perversion and call it good. These are the ones Achtemeier came to believe loved Jesus more than he did. And so he voted in favor of a proposal that will give over to sodomites the shepherding of God's flock.

To those who view homosexuality as the final frontier for the work of embracing diversity within the Church, it might appear that all previous ages of Christians have been too prudish and censorious to acknowledge those among us who are tempted by same-sex intimacy. But from the founding of the Church in apostolic times, sodomy has been a well-worn path of temptation. And from love for the souls under her nurture and care, the Church has warned souls to flee from it. So it's nothing new. We read in 1Corinthians that the Corinthian church had men and women within its membership--and quite possibly serving as pastors and elders--who had been sodomites and had repented of their sin and were sodomites no more:

(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. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; emphasis added)

These dear brothers and sisters were washed and sanctified, having been saved from sins such as idolatry, adultery, thievery, effeminacy, and homosexuality. Note well the past tense of the statement "such were some of you," but also the warning this section begins with: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God." The most basic reading of the New Testament makes it clear that those who cling to their sin do not know God. They do not have faith, they have not been washed in the blood of the Lamb, and very soon they will be cast into hell where, according to Jesus, the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched. This is the inescapable meaning of another similar New Testament warning:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7, 8)

What are we to say then about the sodomy lobby within the church today?

We must not say this lobby is only in the mainline churches and has little application to evangelical, fundamentalist, or other Bible-believing Protestant churches. Such a serious misunderstanding of the attack of the Evil One upon the church of our time is inexcusable. It's the sort of willful naïveté Scripture relentlessly condemns.

The warning for evangelicals

About seven years ago, I had spent several years working closely with a seminary professor of impeccable evangelical credentials who had spent his years within evangelical churches. At the time, I was Executive Director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and this professor shared with me the work of opposing evangelical feminists in their attack upon the biblical doctrine of father-rule.

We were speaking on the phone one day and I said it was important that we not lead church members to think that the battle over father-rule was only a lover's quarrel. Instead, we needed to make it clear that feminists were unfaithful to Scripture; that they were rebels against Jesus Christ and must be disciplined by their churches. I lamented that many of CBMW's leaders (including, I should mention, the professor I was speaking with) fell all over themselves to assure their readers and audiences that they were on warm personal terms with their esteemed colleague with whom they were debating, Dr. So 'n So; that they had nothing but the highest respect for him as a Bible scholar; that they didn't question his commitment to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture; and that the friendliness of their exchange was proof of the warm personal regard they had for each other.

"This is completely wrong." I said. "These men are enemies of God who are leading His little ones astray, and it is our responsibility to warn the sheep--not cozen up to the wolves."

My friend's response led to a tidal change in our working relationship. He said, "Tim, your years in the PC(USA) are causing you to misunderstand this battle. These men are not our enemies--they are fellow believers! You're used to opposing men who aren't Christians, but you have to remember that these men are Christians. They love Jesus and we have to treat them as brothers in Christ, with love."

There are many things in this exchange that we could take time to unpack, but let's focus on my friend's claim that discipline is appropriate in doctrinal matters within mainline denominations where people aren't really Christians in the first place, but it's not appropriate within evangelical denominations, churches, and seminaries where it is our brothers in Christ who are opposing God. Surely no false shepherd should ever be exposed because we are jealous, resentful, or have personal animosity toward him. Rather, he should be exposed because he's a false shepherd, and his discipline is a protection for the sheep he's seeking to devour. This is why Paul commands Timothy:

Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. (1 Timothy 5:19-21; emphasis added)

When an elder opposes the biblical doctrine of father-rule, writing articles, giving lectures, and preaching sermons against husbands exercising authority in the home, and in favor of women serving as pastors and elders, that elder needs to be confronted gently usually in private), and led to repentance. But if he is proud and refuses the church's correction, the Apostle Paul's instructions are clear: he must be rebuked publicly, in front of the church, so that those watching and listening to his rebuke "will be fearful of sinning" themselves. And just in case the elder's reputation, wealth, position, number of published works, or academic pedigree might cause a young pastor to treat him with kid gloves, the Apostle Paul calls upon God, Christ Jesus, and His chosen angels as witnesses to his demand that Timothy do this nasty work faithfully, not giving in to "bias" or "partiality."

So, contrary to what my professor friend said, it is precisely those who claim true Christian faith and who have been given positions within the Bible-believing church who are to be disciplined in this way. To argue that discipline is an inappropriate tool to use to correct believing pastors and elders who hold office within Bible-believing churches is to turn the explicit instructions the Apostle Paul gives Timothy on their head.

How have we gotten to the place where we think of public church discipline as something that is inappropriate for use with real Christians in Bible-believing churches?

Clearly, such arguments are the "bias" and "spirit of partiality" the Apostle Paul warned Timothy against. And when we accept the discipline of liberals who oppose evangelical Christian faith, but oppose the discipline of those who profess evangelical Christian faith, we have betrayed God's flock for the sake of our own personal relationships or career advancement.

Speaking candidly, it's hard to say who is more unfaithful to the Lord--the one who opposes the biblical doctrine of male headship or the one who claims that his evangelical feminist colleagues ought not to be disciplined because they're real Christians who simply have a different take on the passages of Scripture under debate.

Now jump back with me to Mark Achtemeier and ask yourself how different he is from my professor friend? Both men believe that pastors and elders who oppose the Scriptural doctrine of sexuality should not be disciplined if, in their own judgment, these men are "real Christians" who "love Jesus" and hold to their errors "sincerely" or "in good faith." Really, what does it matter that the error is feminism among evangelicals and sodomy among mainliners? Is either error more justifiable, biblically? Is Scripture clear in its condemnation of sodomy but unclear in its condemnation of feminism?

No, both errors are condemned with great precision in God's Word and in both cases their condemnation is lodged in God's creation order in the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall. God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve; and God created Adam before Eve to the end that all men across history would know that woman is not to exercise authority over man. So whichever error is being advocated, whether the one advocating the error is a professor at Dubuque Seminary or Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; whether he reads Donald Bloesch or John Frame; whether he speaks at venues where he shares the marquee with the Rev. Dr. M. Craig Barnes, R. C. Sproul, or Mark Driscoll; whether he publishes with Westminster/John Knox or Zondervan; whether he votes Democratic or Republican; whether he speaks of the infallibility or the inerrancy of Scripture; no matter what his theological pedigree or how close our personal friendship is, he is to be warned privately, with gentleness; and if he doesn't repent, he is to be disciplined publicly so that others will see his discipline and will be "fearful of sinning."

To sew the button on with iron thread, evangelicals watching Mark Achtemeier's compromise with the sodomy lobby and listening to his explanation of that compromise need to recognize that Mark Achtemeier is only doing what we evangelicals have been doing already for many decades with a host of sins equally condemned in Scripture, including fornication, divorce, adultery, greed, and feminism. We have taught and (sometimes) preached against these sins, but been unwilling to discipline those guilty of them as long as they claimed to have a personal relationship with Jesus, they worked for an evangelical parachurch organization, they professed in a seminary where they had to sign on to a statement of faith that included the word 'inerrancy', or they held membership in an evangelical or Bible-believing church.

We're foolish if we think our compromises will stop with our own pet sins within evangelicalism, and not continue on to the point where, with Mark Achtemeier, we also are conniving at the sins we presently find so scandalous within the mainline denominations.



I offer you the Episcopal Church (USA) as a compelling case study of the very process you're describing. This communion has never (to my knowledge, and I've tried to find evidence for this) followed through with any kind of discipline.

Everyone knows Spong, of course. Before that it was Bishop Pike. The few conservatives remaining in ECUSA will point to Anglicans' dropping of their historic prohibitions of divorce, remarriage, and birth control bacl in the 1930s. The point: when confronted by the world's insistence on practicing or espousing what the Apostles and the Church for 2,000 had believed, the bishops always took a pass on discipline, most especially when it was another bishop who needed to be disciplined.

If any mainline denomination wishes a road map to its future, it need only find its current state of affairs in the history of the Episcopal Church in the past 100 years, then look what happened next in it. It's what will happen next in that modern main-line denomination. ECUSA has blazed a trail that is very, very clear.

Fr. B

Those who claim to love Jesus but disobey Him are liars:

1 John 2:3-6 (NIV) We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Whenever someone asks me what denomination I attend, and I say PCA. They just hear presbyterian and assume its the same as PC(USA)or other whacko presbyterian teachings. When I explain the difference they say, 'close enough.' I'm starting to feel the same way.

I'm VERY inclined to head back to the Baptist church, then there will be no confusion to others on where me and my family stand.


The problem you describe becomes almost intractable if one inhabits the orthodox remnants of the English Reformation. And, I'm talking about those remnants reckoned by their conformity to the Anglican formularies. Ninety-nine percent of Christians (including Anglicans!) don't even know what those formularies are or what they contain.

Leaving aside one's eschatology, ours is a time common to the end of empires and cultures, when identities of all sorts are fractured and new identities are simply rearrangements of the fragments of the broken ones. Running off to the Baptists is no help for the problem you describe, for theirs is simply one more shell-crater in which you might seek ecclesiastical refuge. You might as well remain where you are and make the best of it, which probably won't be very good no matter which shell-crater you inhabit.

If you have good and sufficient reasons to be Presbyterian (I'm assuming you do, as I do to be Anglican), then remain so and defend your choice to your brothers in Christ. Living who you are in Christ and in his Church will be far more credible than attempting to explain things to those whose eyes are blinded by the flying dust of disintegrating cultures.

Dear Bill,

What do you mean by, "I'm starting to feel the same way?" I'm just wondering because the differences between the PCA and the PC(USA) are huge and I've never run into any problems explaining them to people.

Hey Matt,

What I mean is, if I am part of a group identified by a name, in this case Presbyterian (more specifically PCA) and that same name, Presbyterian, is used by other denominations that are directly opposed to my beliefs (PCUSA), I think its better (if you cant get them to drop the Presbyterian name) to identify myself by a new name so I would in no way shape or form be associated with groups I don't agree with.

Example, there are quite a few christians I talk to at work. When they ask what denomination I'm part of they automatically assume its mainline Presbyterian. Even after I explain the differences (which they usually lose interest half way through the explanation) they still end up associating me or introducing me to others as a mainline presby.

But, when we talk to a guy here who is Baptist, everyone pretty much knows what his positions are.
And theres never any question or confusion other than if they allow bibles other than KJV.

So, in closing, I guess my thinking (which tends to be simplistic) is that my or anyone's faith should be simple and easy to explain to others without being mistaken as something else. Ex. If I don't want to be associated with guy's company called John Smith's Electric Company, I'm not going to call my company John Smith's Electric Company USA. I'm going to call it something without John Smiths name in it.

Hope that explains what I'm trying to convey a little better.

Take care.

Your brother in Christ,

Bill K.

Excellent post, Tim. Above all else, Christians must "be Biblical".

Tim, I am not quite sure that you nailed what went on in the PUP task force entirely squarely. For example, Gary Demarest, one of the evangelicals on the task force,takes the position that sodomy is sin. But then he says, in substance, and these are very nearly his words, that this is not an issue worth breaking fellowship over. He admits that this is not simply a case of some people making a mistake; it is a case of sin. But it's nonetheless tolerable within the church. As for Mark Achtemeier, he signalled a couple of years ago, in a speech he delivered in Atlanta, that he was ready to accept sodomy among Presbyterian officers. His reasoning: we already accept sin in the form of greed, as evidenced by people who own two cars when one would suffice or people who own new cars when they could have an old one, etc. There is no difference in extending our tolerance of such sin to embrace sodomy as well (or, presumably, homicide!).
The people you mention who tolerate feminism, I will guess, believe it is wrong--mistaken, doctrinally unsound, etc.--but not sinful. You think they are wrong about this. Presumably, if you convince them, they will change their willingness to tolerate what they then understand to be sin. That is different. Our folks are several steps closer to--or over--the abyss.

Dear Bill,

Let me lovingly point out a couple of things: First, leaping from being Presbyterian to Baptist is much more than a matter of title. First of all you are stepping away from a covenantal view of Scripture and in so doing rejecting infant baptism. You are also moving from one form of church government to another and unless you are going to go to a Reformed Baptist denomination you are likely to leave a Reformed view of God and salvation.

Are these tenets ones that you can easily move away from? The issue here isn't how people perceive your denomination but instead, what do you believe? Would you be rejecting what you believe to make such a change? Can such things be moved back and forth in easily?

Your experience in Baptist circles has been Independent Baptist. I hope you understand that under the umbrella of "Baptist" there are a thousand and one manifestations. I think you are making an assumption when you say that everyone pretty much understands your position when you say you are Baptist. There are many liberal Baptist denominations.

My point is, you will have a lot of explaining to do whether you are Presbyterian or Baptist, the issue is, which are you?




Thanks for clarifying. Now I can sympathize a little bit better with what you are saying. May I make a couple of suggestions?

First, don't go into so much detail when you're talking to coworkers. The important thing is to share the gospel with them and so you should keep it simple. Maybe it would be good to simply say that the PCA holds to Scripture as the ultimate authority. Instead of going into details of where the mainline Presbyterians have gone wrong, you could simply say that they abandoned any real devotion to Scripture long ago and we still believe that Scripture is God's Word. That may seem harsh, but it is simple and quickly points out the major difference. Everything else is a result of abandoning God's Word.

Secondly, maybe it would be better (if you're still running into trouble using the word Presbyterian) to simply say Reformed. They are almost certainly going to ask what that means and then you have a great opportunity to share the gospel.

Dear Bill,

I agree with my friend Gary about the theological problems you would face if you were to suddenly start attending any number of Baptist churches. (BTW, I subscribe to believer's only baptism)

However, I can sympathize with your struggle. Recently my friend, a pastor who is credentialed in the PCA, was called a 'Baptist' in an exchange with an antagonist. The label was meant to be a libel. The libel was obviously not connected to my friend's views on baptism but rather to his belief in God's word.

Why is the term 'Baptist' now used as a negative label connected to someone's belief in God's word? I am convinced that the willingness of the Southern Baptist Convention to stand up and take a few bullets has caused the term 'Baptist' to take on a new meaning. It has become synonymous with 'homophobe' or 'misogynist' because it represents an obedience to "all of the things I have commanded you". I am inclined to think that 'Baptist' is in some ways emerging as a term to describe an actual 'Christian'. Unfortunately, I am noticing that many Baptist churches that would want to avoid the persecution associated with not being ashamed of Christ or His words are taking the word Baptist off of their signs and church letterheads.

While there are serious Christians among the Presbyterians (My friend Gary is one of them), together they do not seem to be a big enough target in the culture's crosshairs to cause the name Presbyterian to be a dirty word.

I say, "Praise God for the Baptist brothers". Perhaps their resolve to give up alcohol is simply indicative of their commitment to the exercise of godliness shown in their willingness to give up their reputations.

God bless you Bill. Start referring to yourself as a 'Baptist' and see what kind of influential conversations you might start having at work and among your Presbyterian brothers.

Dan, I didn't intend to say each Task Force member caved in the same way, with the same justifications, but only that the evangelicals on the Task Force became advocates of sodomy. And really, that's all that needs to be said.

Mark Achtemeier, for instance, explained himself this way to the Assembly's commissioners: "We (members of the Task Force) discovered that the debate was not over the authority of Scripture, but about making pastoral and theological judgments... Our shared devotion to Christ and his Word drove us together."

To me, whether evangelical members of the Task Force such as Achtemeier, Demarest, or Haberer call same-sex intimacy "sin" or not is absolutely inconsequential. What matters is that they have become advocates of sodomy by their words and actions--particularly their putting forth recommendations passed by this General Assembly that intentionally bypass Scripture's prohibitions against sodomy to make way for sodomites to be ordained and installed as pastors and elders without repenting of their sin.

Call sodomy "sin" or call it "part of the beautiful diversity that makes up the continuum of gender identity," when self-affirming practicing sodomites have evangelicals paving the way for their admission into church life and leadership without repentance, those evangelicals are the same no matter what nuanced words and justifications they use for their betrayal of the Lord and the souls they are leading to hell.

The discussion reminds me of the debate over abortion, particularly the public statements made by Roman Catholic politicians in the Democratic party. They say they're "personally opposed to abortion," that abortion is "always a tragic choice," but that they also "believe in a woman's right to choose."

Such politicians are not "pro-choice" but "pro-abortion," and it doesn't matter a whit whether they call abortion "a tragic choice," "a sin," or even "murder."

As for your guess that evangelicals would not say that those advocating feminist deconstructions of Scripture are sinning, I'm not so sure. My experience is that they would call it "sin" privately, but that publicly they'd be loath to take such a controversial stand and appear divisive to the watching world.

After a decade in the PC(USA), followed by six years in leadership within CBMW and fifteen years as a pastor within the PCA, I'm struck by how many similarities there are between mainline and non-mainline evangelicals. And I'm increasingly convinced the best preparation I could have had for serving in an evangelical denomination was my prior work in the mainline world.

Matt: I agree with you to a point. I agree with you not to go into much detail if it is an initial or second conversation. However, many of my conversations at work end up being pretty lengthy and in depth (we have a lot of free time on our hands) so, at some point it gets down to the nitty gritty, and thats when the conversations really get serious and everyone is trying to fully understand what the other person believes.

Gary: For the record, I do reject infant baptism and believe believers baptism is actually biblically correct and that infant baptism is not. I know we have had this discussion at length, but I do respectfully disagree with you on this issue. I also believe the Bible is clear that the rapture will take place, so, I don't know what that makes me. Maybe some sort of liberal presbyterian Left Behind freak or something.

In closing, I just stand by my ealier point that if you or a group are going to differentiate yourselves from another, that should include an entirely different name, not necessarily to please others, but for my own sense of understanding.

Dave, I absolutely agree with you regarding how Southern Baptist are now viewed. I also realize their are differences in the Baptist 'world' but based on my research, I don't think the differences are as great apart as Presbyterians, thus, I think they can still say Baptist (regardless of independent, reformed, southern,) and still be within a reasonable boundary of doctrine where they still remain pretty similar on the important issues.

Tim, if your guys would say that the view you and they oppose is in fact "sin," buty would say it only privately, then there is no disagreement between us. I assumed that this was not the case and that this was the difference between the two groups. Mark Achtemeier, as I said, signalled his position a few years ago: greed is sin, sodomy is sin. We tolerate greed, so why not tolerate sodomy? I would think that the faithful conclusion to the premises--if you grant them--would be an attack on greed, but apparently not. That's why I said that this leaves you no logical basis for drawing a line at homicide.


Dear Tim:

You've been consistent in praising Elizabeth Achtemeier. Why? Because she was pro-life, anti-divorce and a nice woman? Wasn't she engaged in teaching the Bible to men and thereby going against the clear teaching of Scripture? Why should we be surprised if her son follows in her footsteps and even goes a bit further. Isn't that part of the point of your whole post?

Yup, again. You're right, David.

Tim --

I run a blog on church discipline. I wrote a few paragraphs on this piece of yours but had a question. You seem to be arguing on discipline being applied to pastor who disagree with you on the nature of sin. That is the the case of the PCUSA whether homosexuality is sinful and the PCA whether feminism is sinful.

Would this apply to the membership or only people who teach?

I'm not sure I understand your question. But to make a stab at it, I don't believe that those who are greedy, gossips, murderers, or sodomites should only be told "no" if they try to become officers. Any man making a claim to Christian faith is to live in obedience. Isn't this simply basic Christian discipleship--"teaching them to obey everything our Lord commanded?"

Tim. Let me rephrase the question. In the blog posting what you were essentially arguing that differences of opinion about whether certain beliefs are sinful subject one to discipline, "Instead, we needed to make it clear that feminists were unfaithful to Scripture; that they were rebels against Jesus Christ and must be disciplined by their churches", "what does it matter that the error is feminism among evangelicals and sodomy among mainliners". However the article its attention on pastors; that pastors who were not disciplined for these opinions regarding scripture presented a danger to the membership.

My question to you is whether you believe the membership should be similarly disciplined. In both cases (but particularly in the homosexual case) you weren't talking about people who did not obey the lord (that is people directly committing the sin) but rather people who essentially felt that others were obeying the lord even though they were committing acts you felt were sinful. So, for example, should a member of your church who is a heterosexual but takes a liberal christian position on translating passages related to homosexuality be excommunicated? What about a couple that are generally conservative in their views but fail to condemn people in egalitarian marriages?


Having looked at what you have written elsewhere, I note that your summary of this post is uncharitable and inaccurate. So I will simply say that those who love God obey His commands, including the commands to flee all immorality and to submit themselves to their husbands because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church. (I pick these two because there are many today who oppose these specific commands.)

Contrary to what you write, this is not a matter of people committing "acts I feel are sinful." Rather, it's immortal souls opposing the Living God and placing stumbling blocks in the path of His little ones. 1Corinthians 5 must be obeyed today, and not simply in the Galatian church two thousand years ago. How and when it's obeyed is a pastoral matter, and there's much room for faithful differences. But whether it's ever obeyed is not a question for debate: it's God's command.

Finally, yes, I believe that those who live in obedience to God's Word while doctrinally opposing the Scriptural commands they're obeying are to be corrected.

Its not my intent to mischaracterize anything you wrote on my website. Please feel free to offer any alternate phrasing to anything written there about you. The blog isn't idealogical with regards to particular points of view and scripture.

Well I've given you a few days to respond with any changes you want. I don't want to have to keep checking back. So if at some point you decide you want to let me know do so either by email or at the blog.

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