Friday, October 28, 2011

Jesus, Joel Osteen, and Partying with Prostitutes and Homosexuals: A Response to Michael J. Kimpan

Well…if there is one thing Michael J. Kimpan and I can agree on, it’s our disdain for country music.

I just can’t get with it.

When I was in junior high school, some of my friends were listening to country music, and in an attempt to fit in, I gave it a shot…one shot. Thankfully, soon after, I discovered rock music and have never looked back.

So, see, we can agree on some things.

Actually, it appears that we can also agree on Joel Osteen, in that I also don’t foresee any of his books climbing to the top of my list of “must-reads”.

However, in agreement with Mohler, I must admit there appears to be some level of disconnect between Osteen’s answers (which, from the interviews I’ve seen, is pretty typical), namely he cannot perform a same-sex wedding ceremony because he believes homosexuality to be sin, and yet he could attend such an event, thereby giving both his acknowledgment of and approval to such an event

Based on Mohler’s response, Michael, whose post made Red Letter Christians syndication, posits the following question: “i wonder what mohler thinks of the fact that jesus frequented house parties thrown by prostitutes?”

In my opinion, there is also a disconnect within Michael’s thinking regarding attending/performing a homosexual wedding ceremony and frequenting house parties thrown by prostitutes. Michael continues:

i’m pretty sure jesus didn’t endorse men and women using and selling each other’s bodies for sex. yet there he was, sitting, eating, talking and drinking with them. and the pharisees saw that as an endorsement of their behavior. i can hear them now: ‘that’s moral and theological nonsense. ministerial malpractice.’

These statements need dissecting…

First, to be sure, Michael and I are in agreement that Jesus did not endorse men and women using and selling each other’s bodies for sex. No argument there.

Second, Michael and I are also in agreement that Jesus sat, ate, talked, and drank with sinners. We cannot get around that, whether we want to or not (Matt. 9:11; 11:19; Mark 2:16; Luke 5:30). However, we don’t know, precisely, his level of interaction with prostitutes, that is, we don’t know if he attended their “house parties” (Matt. 21:31-32). But, for the sake of argument, let’s say he did sit, eat, talk, and drink with prostitutes in their own homes. Does this necessarily equate with attending/performing a homosexual wedding ceremony? My contention is that it is not equivalent.

Here’s why…

If we are going to insist that the only true way to love a homosexual well (and, therefore, point them either overtly or covertly to Christ) is to attend/perform a homosexual wedding ceremony (even though we might consider homosexuality to be sin), then this would seem to equate that, in order to truly love sinners well, Jesus should have gone with, celebrated with, and congratulated prostitutes as they sold their bodies and publicans as they stole from people…All the while saying, “Look, I know what you are doing is sinful, but I love you, so I want to be here and support you in this”.


To me, at least, that’s a non sequitur.

Again, remember that even Michael intimates that “jesus didn’t endorse men and women using and selling each other’s bodies for sex”.

So, instead of insisting that we must attend/perform a homosexual wedding in order to truly demonstrate our love to the individual, perhaps we should be willing to stand for what we believe is biblical whilst also loving the sinner (Luke 14:26), for we do not see evidence of Jesus endorsing the behavior of prostitutes and tax collectors (and in fact, he called them sick [Matt. 9:12]) and, yet, we still see that they loved Jesus, believed Jesus, and followed Jesus.

Michael, then, offers a generalized warning, that “regardless of where our conviction lies in the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage, let us tread cautiously…”

I couldn’t agree more with this part of his statement…

But, then he states, “lest we mistake standing up for our beliefs with standing in the way of people entering into right relationship with God”.

With that statement, I think Michael has shown his hand (as long as I’m interpreting his statement correctly).

To me, he is intimating that a homosexual wedding ceremony is bringing their love and life into the covenant of godly living. But, again, this statement doesn’t follow, because what I (in theory) am standing up for is in direct disagreement to the assertion that a homosexual wedding is “people entering into right relationship with God”. In other words, if, in this specific situation, "standing up for my beliefs" affirms that homosexuality is sin, then I am most certainly not "standing in the way of people entering into right relationship with God" because what I believe they are doing is sinful. In fact, you might be able to make the opposite argument, in that standing up for my beliefs (based on my understanding of the biblical texts) is a means that God might use to actually bring them into a right relationship with him. With that said, this issue, to be sure, can only be addressed with a full discourse on the (potential) sinfulness of homosexuality.

To, perhaps, begin this conversation, I would point our readers to the following articles as an introduction:

Lastly, we should be cautious in calling people out as Pharisees (which, again, if I am interpreting Michael’s subtle thought process correctly, is precisely what he is doing). In fact, he seems to equate Osteen with Jesus and Mohler with the Pharisees. Is this equation not also harsh? Oddly enough, Michael has written another post surrounding a different Mohler post, wherein he states that we need to just “shut up and love people”…

And yet, Michael seems quick to call Mohler a self-righteous Pharisee because of his willingness to take a stand for what he believes. I think we need to employ caution here.

Do we not all have Pharisaical tendencies at times?

In conclusion, I will return to a partial agreement with Michael in declaring a desire to tread cautiously within these discussions/debates/etc. because of two reasons: Jesus Christ and people. Above all things we are called to love God, honor him, and bring him glory - even when that means potentially telling someone that they are in sin. However, we are also called to love people, and, lest we forget, on the other side of our debates are people, not just ideas and theories, but people.

Let us love, and love well, regardless of where we fall in this debate. 

I hope that I have been gracious, even in my disagreement, and that these discussions between Michael, myself, and our readers will prove beneficial for the Church and the promotion of God’s glory.

Thank you for taking the time to engage!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bridging the Gap

I was once asked to blog as part of my homework assignments for graduate school. I remember thinking something like, “Do people even read blogs?”

If I’m honest, at the time, I thought the assignment was a little silly.

But, now, approximately five years later, here I am.


I’ve come a long way…

And, in fact, it is with a sense of honor and humility with which I enter into a new series of blog posts.

Michael J. Kimpan, a fellow blogger, recently approached me about his desire (one which I share) to "bridge the gap" between people (specifically, in our case, bloggers!!) who do not see eye-to-eye on certain philosophical and theological perspectives. His desire is to promote healthy dialogue amongst fellow Christians, while not accepting the “agree to disagree” excuse.

Therefore, we are going to pursue this line of dialogue with what we might call a bit of charitable “back-and-forth” blog posts/open letters/etc. surrounding various philosophical and theological concepts.

I must also admit the feeling of trepidation when approaching something like this. Please know that it is not my intent, nor do I believe it is Michael’s intent, to earn points in a “besting of the other guy” mentality. In fact, to quote John Piper in his response to N.T. Wright:

The final judgment feels too close for me to care about scoring points in debate…the prospect of wasting my remaining life on gamesmanship or one-upmanship is increasingly unthinkable. The ego-need to be right has lost its dominion, and the quiet desire to be a faithful steward of the grace of truth increases.[1]

Piper then states that he believes Wright shares this same mentality, and so I will echo Piper when I say that, at least on this point, both Michael and I agree.

My first response will be in relation to Michael’s recent blog post entitled "al mohler, mullets and gay marriage".

Stay tuned…

[1] John Piper, The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007), 13.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Take a Moment...

Is there anything normal about pornography?

Very funny (and short) video of Matt Chandler imitating Mark Driscoll...

Thabiti Anyabwile on "celebrity" and "rock star" pastors...

Some responses to Thabiti...

Some of my thoughts on hero admiration v. hero worship...