Phil Johnson just shared this: https://mobile.twitter.com/pastorkenrp/status/1090293655766585344
So… the president of the SBC is telling us we need to whisper about sexual sin? The mind boggles.
He can’t have it both ways. On the one hand he’s saying that all these sins are equal, but on the other hand he’s saying that some sins are a bigger deal. It doesn’t even make sense.
But so many men today are teaching that all sins are equal in order to downplay God’s condemnation of homosexuality that it’s just boring at this point.
On the flip side, as a pastor, I know how this happens. It’s a sad truth that I could easily see myself doing it. May God give us boldness.
This is an article I wrote about J.D. Greear’s recent sermon on Romans 1.
Thank you for writing this, Joseph. Love,
I listened to about the whole sermon.
To be as generous as I can be, taken as a whole, I believe he did successfully articulate the truth that at all specific sin is symptomatic of the core sin, which is our elevation of ourselves above the authority of God.
But this point was completely obscured by the fact that he did everything he possibly could to downplay the seriousness of specific sins in the process. This is smoke and mirrors capitulation preaching. Nothing more. And given his leadership role in the SBC, I think this sermon will come to be marked as one of the prophetic milestones foreshadowing the total destruction of the American church’s witness to the culture concerning sexual sin.
This was one comment among several that really gave away the farm:
“When you fully understand the gospel . . . you will stand up and be among the fiercest advocates for the dignity and rights of LGBT.”
Amazing. I expect we would agree that Christians should advocate for the dignity of all men, for all are made in the image of God. But to advocate for the rights of men to commit abomination? Really? These are actually two contradictory notions. If we really want to advocate for the dignity of persons made in the image of God, we must call them to submit to what God has made them to be. In fact, it may not be an overstatement to say that one of the surest ways to strip a person of the dignity of the Imago Dei is to assist them in rebelling against God’s essential design for their personhood.
Interestingly, while JD states we should advocate for the rights of LGBT, he argued that the specific sins of covetousness and envy (other sins listed in Romans 1, which JD labors to point out are just as bad as sexual sin) gave rise to tremendous societal ills in our country, such as slavery. And yet he refuses to draw the same straight line of logic concerning homosexuality. Does JD not see that sexual sin also leads to the corruption of society, just like envy and greed do? If we are to advocate for the rights of sexual sin, should we not be advocates for the rights of the greedy and the slave master?
When we try to lessen the gravity of one sin, all we really manage to do is bring down the gravity of all of them. If we say the Bible whispers about one sin, there’s no way to avoid the conclusion that it’s whispering about all of them.
Additional thought. When I say we shouldn’t advocate for the rights to commit abomination, I think it’s important to maintain that this isn’t to say we should advocate for the legal prohibition of all forms of sin either. There’s an important distinction there.
For example, we hold that deceiving and disobeying ones parents is wrong. But I don’t believe we should advocate for the passing of laws that would prescribe the state to come and take away my and imprison my child because they lied about taking a cookie from the cookie jar.
But would I campaign for the fundamental acceptance of affirmation of the practices of deceit and disrepecting parental authority in society? Absolutely not.
It’s incredible how often the rationale boils down to this:
“People have spoken too strongly on this issue in the past, so I need to speak too softly now in order to balance it out. It’s not enough to just speak with an appropriate level of strength, since that would imply we agree with those who spoke too strongly.”
Thanks for sharing the article. There are so many things to break down here and you go into much of it. I wanted to elaborate on the idea of homosexuality as a choice. The straw man argument is that no one chooses it. Its just part of who they are. Its an ‘orientation.’ You write: "Now Greear is making a move towards adoption of sexual orientation language and of making a victim out of those who practice homosexuality. They are born this way. They didn’t choose it. This removes their moral agency from them. " I agree but expand with a metaphor that I think is useful for understanding - to me at least.
I like football. There’s a big game coming up in a couple days and tickets are steep. A few thousand dollars on up to 6 figures. Now, no one wakes up in the morning and decides he wants to shell out ten thousand dollars to watch a football game. That’s not how it works.
He starts out watching his dad and his dad’s friends enjoy football. Then he enjoys it too. He probably even plays it in junior high and high school. If he’s good he may play in college. It happens. By this time he really likes football. And he pays close attention to football played at the highest level - the NFL. And he asks - who does my dad like? The Patriots. What team is close by? The Patriots. Who’s pretty good? Again, the Patriots. OK, so he decides to be a Patriots fan. He starts reading about them and catching all their games on TV. Then one year he goes to a game - a home game early in the season against - say - the Dolphins. The next year, he goes to two games. The next year he goes to a big important game. By now he has a job and he can afford to spend some good money to see the Super Bowl, so he does.
In short, the desire starts small and grows. Because he waters it and tends it and lets it flower. Its the same with sodomy. Just as no one wakes up one morning - out of the blue and with no previous sexual sin or lust or thoughts before - just decides he’s going to lead a life of homosexuality, no one wakes up in the morning having never heard of football and drops $10,000 on a ticket. But its still a choice, or the culmination of million little choices. This - it isnt a choice - thing drives me crazy. Its disingenuous; its a lie. It adds to confusion already present.
Yes. IMO the EvanjellyGahspillReformdish SmartSet has spent all the benefit-of-the-doubt they should be granted. If you’ve been watching the ERLC/TGC/A29/DGM/T4G conglomerate very long you know they’re real proud of imago Dei as the reason for all their opinions and the panacea for everything they dislike.
“Dignity!” is the wand they wave over all, as men are debasing themselves with manifestly undignified acts.
Finally, as I said elsewhere:
Has any prophet or preacher across the ages ever accused man of this sin? Maybe once or twice? I don’t know. But how awful this stuff is, and Tim Keller is the master of it. Every sin is psychological rather than theological. As a wise friend who had been in Redeemer/Manhattan under Tim Keller for ten years and was a sophisticated attorney in a Manhattan firm once said to me: “All the sins Tim preaches against are psychological. He has no doctrine of God!” Said this twelve or so years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. I still believe it’s the most profound critique of Tim and the destruction of preaching he’s caused in Reformed churches across the world. Elevating ourselves above God is another way of saying disobedience. Rebellion. Idolatry. Sacrilege. Blasphemy, and so on. But no, we have no sin or repentance today; only selfish priorities needing adjustment in a godward direction. I loathe this sort of rhetoric. It heals the wounds of the sheep falsely, leaving their souls ripe for seven more demons. Love,
Thanks Tim. I appreciate your comment, and agree with your point. That is a really great summary of Keller.
But since you have taken aim at my particular verbiage, and ascribed it be Keller-esque, please allow me to attempt to acquit myself of association.
I suppose not. I can’t think of any prophet that spoke this way. Yet I do believe that the prophets do manifestly testify that the nature of sin is such that man has such a lofty view of himself that he thinks he is at liberty to cast aside the commandments of God at will. This is why the prophets often connect pride with rebellion in their indictments:
“… yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear.” - Nehemiah 9:29
“So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and went presumptuously up into the hill.” - Deuteronomy 1:43
To think we are at liberty to cast the commandments of God aside is the same as to say that we believe ourselves to be above his rule. For if we are free to cast aside the commandments of God, then it is not God, but we, who are in authority. So I do think it’s a fair and accurate summarizing statement to describe the nature of sin as elevating of ourselves above the authority of God. And I’m not trying to be wiser or more clever than Scripture when I say that. Nor am I attempting to assuage the use of the terms rebellion, idolatry, sin, etc.
Nevertheless, I believe I understand your exhortation, and I receive it. I want to be cognizant to avoid using any language that would seem to infer – like Keller – that sin is merely an intellectual problem that calls for reorienting the mind.
An excellent and important article brother. I plan to print off copies of it and read it with our pastoral staff and interns. I especially appreciated this: “If we are truly going to respect the dignity of these people as image-bearers, we are going to speak truthfully about how shameful and wicked this sin is. We will not give them excuses or call them victims. Instead, we will point them to the only medicine for their soul, the grace of God through Jesus Christ. We will give them the hope of victory over this sin that is found in him. When we do not speak the truth on sodomy, we are not only attacking God’s glory and hurting those tempted to these sins. We are harming our neighbors who are not attempted to these sins. We harm them by helping them give hearty approval to this wickedness. We are encouraging them in their rebellion. And when we do not deal faithfully with God’s word, we are putting entire communities, states, and nations at the danger of God’s wrath.”
Well said and amen. May many more read it!
Praise God you and the Crosspolitic guys called this out. This kind of mix between just enough biblical truth to cover my ass and blatant falsehood that confuses is utterly at odds with faithful/biblical shepherding. It is far more insidious and poisons good-hearted but simple-minded people’s thinking. I can’t tell you how many lay leaders, seminary interns and even paid ministerial staff have quoted Tim Keller’s cutesy (and illogical and dodgy) lines about how (paraphrase) “I know homosexuality doesn’t send anyone to hell because heterosexuality never sent anyone to heaven” or “the goal isn’t to make someone heterosexual but holy.” These are utterly incoherent, irresponsible and unhelpful but too often those Keller phrases (and now no doubt very soon lines from J.D. sermon) are met with a room full of collective adoration. You know what I mean: the head nods and long sighs (“mmmmmm”) as if pondering something profoundly earth shattering and wise. All of it is such an effort to win the world’s approval. It’s cowardice and covetousness. As I heard parts of this sermon, I was reminded of the fake exchange that actually goes down all the time (I forget the source sorry): evangelical scholar to liberal scholar: “I’ll call you a Christian if you call me a scholar.” Today on matters related to sodomy and sexual perversion one could easily imagine the following exchange:
Evangelical pastor to the worldly pop culture: “I’ll read and recommend your books and ideas from my pulpit and somehow fit them in line with a sermon I am supposed to give on the Bible if you call me relevant, nuanced and anything complimentary really–even like my tweets please (but know with certainty I am not a narrow minded irrelevant fundamentalist)!”
A mega problem we are having here is the several decade influence of Keller through his books, sermons, and TGC. So many of the pastors I know in WI use Keller as their go-to source. I think what they love about him is how soft he speaks. They love him for being just faithful enough to the Bible to make them feel good about their compromises. Anyways, his influence is pretty big, and sadly it extends across my denominations. It really is a problem.
Addendum: watch it before he deletes it. Pastor Grrrrrr shakes his booty to Whitney’s Houston lip sync, dances with his bros.
Watched it. This is the sort of thing I don’t think it makes sense to criticize, though I can see your point in connecting it to the bigger picture.
The thing is that it’s so obviously just supposed to be silly. Poor taste? Perhaps. Poor taste that connects to bad judgment related to sexual sin? Perhaps.
I’m less concerned about the fact that he did it than that he did it in public, if that makes sense. But even so, I don’t think it’s the kind of thing to share around given the things that are so much worse and dangerous for the sheep. It’s drawing attention to light things in a way that just distracts.
No, that’s not what I intended; so sorry.
In lighthearted moments we reveal what we think is funny which reveals sin, like frat boys cross dressing, or a cruel father tripping his son in front of his buddies. Greear apparently thinks it’s funny for dudes to sing Whitney Houston (a superstar particularly beloved by the homosexual culture, I know, I knew them in college) and grind on each other. I think it’s relevant to his flattening of the relative debasedness of sexual sins.
Valid point here, Joe.
Off topic a bit, but this is so helpful. I just read a book called Idols of a Mother’s Heart and this really helped me put my finger on what didn’t sit well with me. Incidentally, there were a bunch of Tim Keller quotes in it.