Saturday, November 1st, 2014
The Layman Online > Carmen's Writings > Commentary on a comment: ‘People are going to hell while you’re playing at Presbyterianism’

Commentary on a comment: ‘People are going to hell while you’re playing at Presbyterianism’

153825327Commentary

The headline is a quote from a Presbyterian frustrated with what feels like an interminable elitist obsession with sex and an equally grievous lack of passion for the proclamation of the saving Gospel to a lost and dying world.

I spent three days in Memphis last week at an event where Presbyterians were mobilizing to join the movement of God to unreached people groups. It was spiritually refreshing and a good reset following coverage of a Presbyterian gay marriage advocacy event just two week before.

The spirit is genuinely different in these two “Presbyterian” worlds.

Both have a laser-beam like focus, but they are aimed in opposite directions. Both are “evangelical” by their own definitions of that word, but the “good news” they are proclaiming is markedly distinct.

One group of Presbyterians is preparing political strategies to achieve an anti-holy goal in redefining marriage. They seek to convert the existing church to their worldview. The other group of Presbyterians is preparing missional strategies to achieve the Great Commission. They seek the conversion of the lost to faith in Jesus that the Church might be planted in hearts and places where it does not yet exist.

My experience of these two Presbyterian events  could not have been more different.  Both groups not only operate under the description “Presbyterian,” they also both perceive themselves to be doing “God’s will.”

So, who’s right? Who’s on the mission of God and who’s off the mark?

Ask yourself:

  • Whose message aligns with God’s revealed Word?
  • Whose lifestyle aligns with God’s revealed will?
  • Whose ministry aligns with the Great Commission?

As one friend observed, “Carmen, people are going to hell while you’re playing around in ivory-tower Presbyterian politics.”

The accusation betrays the worldview of the accuser: He believes there is a hell, he believes that some are currently headed to hell, and he believes that eternal destination can yet be influenced by Christians going into the world to share the hope of a different destiny.

The very notion of an eternal destination apart from God may well be the primary dividing line between the two groups of Presbyterians with whom I have spent the last couple of weeks.

If you do not genuinely believe in the reality of a holy, sovereign, eternal God before whom you will one day stand and who alone determines your eternal destiny, then introducing others to His Son, the only Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, is not your first concern. Nor do you have great concern for the Spirit’s active work of aligning your life with God’s perfect will as revealed in His Word if your actions in this life are not subject to holy judgment.

 

Different emphasis or different faith?

It has been suggested that it’s merely a difference of emphasis, not a difference in the faith being practiced. But it’s an over-simplification to say that one group takes the Great Commandment to love God and love neighbor seriously while the other group takes the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations seriously.  We are called to both/and not either/or.

You cannot reach people with a love you have not experienced and you cannot invite people into a relationship with a God you do not really know.

Therein lies the crux of the matter.

 

Judgment call

Yes, I know some will hear these observations as judgmental. But is it not a spiritual judgment to observe that some are saved and some are lost? And is that not a judgment that Jesus makes clear (Matthew 24)?

Is it not then a reasonable judgment call to say that there is a discernible difference between a life lived in Christ, with God, and a life lived in sin, apart from God?  And even as the first order calling of each Christian is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, is not the first order calling of the Church the proclamation of the Gospel for the salvation of humankind?  Does that calling not imply that some are yet in need of salvation? Is that not a judgment?

We know all this because we have been told by someone whom God sent.

Romans 10:13-15 (ESV) reads,

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?

And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?

And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 

And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”

These are the questions being asked and answered by Presbyterians who are going to the places where no expression of the Church yet exists and where the existing Church isn’t going. Are they also the questions being asked and answered by other Presbyterians?

I do not doubt that both groups of Presbyterians perceive themselves to have a heart for the unchurched. Both believe they are opening doors so people can encounter Jesus. The difference may be captured in how people interpret John 8:2-11 and what they take away from verse 11.

At dawn He (Jesus) appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around Him, and He sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger. When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

What does it mean to deal with the person and not just “such women?”

What does it mean to deal with the reality that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and so no one but Jesus stands in a position to “condemn” sin?

What does it mean to be forgiven and then to “leave your life of sin” as the Lord instructs?

The challenge it seems is that some Presbyterians are calling people out of sin, and some are denying that sin is sin at all. No wonder the world is confused by our witness.

About the author: Carmen Fowler LaBerge

Carmen Fowler LaBerge heads the ministry of the Presbyterian Lay Committee as its President and Executive Editor of its publications, including The Layman.

30 comments

  1. john says:

    lets start out by saying that all Christians today are in deep trouble. The door will be shut and you wont know what happened. The bible is close to being true but if you want the whole truth study Hebrew and learn the bible. The first part of the bible called the old testament is part 1 of the bible. All of it is true to today.
    so lets start out looking at the first question do we have a wishy washy god. does he change his mind all the time. like ok Adam the next time you eat from that tree i will punish you do you understand . no he didn’t do that he said don’t do it or you will die. he did not change then or now we are still under that curse.
    what about food oh yea that he did change his mind its OK to eat anything you want just pray.
    eat all the poison ivy you want just bless it. Second the Sabbath come on now that’s one of the ten commandments. and last of all Christians are now pagan worshipers all the holidays are pagan do you realize this disgust god over and over again we do this and say its ok. God hates pagan and anthing to do with it but now we have mixed it up like scramble eggs and say its ok God likes it now.
    The ark door shut so will the door shut on you if you are not careful. dont listen to your preacher dont listen to me read the bible if Jesus (yeshua did it you are ok then) Even the name Jesus is wrong but we heal and cast out demons in the name of Jesus because its ok God like it. Yeshua is his name and Yahweh is his fathers.
    we have let our own church tell us what is right and what is wrong for so many years we don’t listen to god anymore.
    we will go straight with our preachers and our friends and all the rest who follow this made up religion.
    God gave us feast days to be with him he gave us the Sabbath he told us what to eat what to do when to do it.

  2. Loren Golden says:

    Mr. Phoenix,

    This is the Bible’s definition of what constitutes homosexuality: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Lev. 18.22) And again, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Rom. 1.24-27) These are acts and behaviors, not some “sexual orientation”, that God is here prohibiting.

    As for the motive, the Lord Jesus said, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These defile a person.” (Mt. 15.19-20) And this is by no means original to the Lord Jesus, for the Lord said through the Prophet Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jer. 17.9-10) Likewise, He said to Noah, “The intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” (Gen. 8.21) So then, to again court your ire and quote James, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (Jas. 1.13-15)

    So then, God prohibits homosexual acts and behaviors (Gen. 19.4-9 [cf. Jude 7], Lev. 18.22, 20.13, Dt. 23.17, Judg. 19.22-25, Rom. 1.24-27, I Cor. 6.9-11, I Tim. 1.9-10), which means that to engage in these acts and behaviors is sin. To be sure, those who engage in them do so because they desire to do so; they are not coerced into doing so; indeed, they find pleasure in doing so. Thus, their desire has conceived and given birth to sin. This is the Bible’s explanation for how this happens, and it is as true today as it was when the prophets and apostles wrote the Scriptures, as they were so directed by God’s Holy Spirit (II Pet. 1.19-21).

    Now, you say that this is my definition, not God’s. But I did not write the Bible—God did, by His servants, the prophets and apostles (II Tim. 3.16-17, II Pet. 1.19-21). Therefore, it is His definition, not mine. You have accused me of “imposing … (my) narrow judgment” and substituting my definitions, not God’s. This is not so.

    Furthermore, you say that the Bible “has no concept of” homosexuality, by which you mean that the Bible “has no concept of” homosexuality as the world understands it as interpreted through the lens of “sexual orientation”, which claims that the desires of those who are sexually attracted to members of the same gender as themselves are the result of an “orientation” that is unchangeably fixed by nature and genetics, and this, therefore, justifies homosexual behaviors and acts that the Bible condemns. Therefore, to follow your logic, because this is commonly accepted by the world today, it therefore overrules and cancels the Biblical proscriptions as outmoded and outdated, supplanting them as God’s will. It is, therefore according to your twisted and sophomoric logic, immoral and arrogant to continue to hold to the Bible’s definitions and proscriptions when the world’s definition is much more accepted and, in your opinion, just toward those who are so “oriented” toward homosexual behaviors and acts, giving them the sanction they desire.

    Again, this is the world’s definition of homosexuality, not God’s. “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (Jas. 4.4) Again, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possession—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (I Jn. 2.15-17) And again, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (Jas. 1.27) And as far as the world’s definition goes, “In the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did (and still does) not know God;” and, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men.” (I Cor. 1.21,25)

    Therefore, I reject the world’s wisdom on the matter of homosexuality, including its belief in the rightness of “sexual orientation” as justification for homosexual acts and behaviors.

    • James Phoenix says:

      You can proof text until the cows come home, Loren, but the bottom line is that you claim — on very scanty evidence — that your opinion is God’s opinion, and my opinion is “the world’s opinion.” I maintain that your opinion is the world’s longtime misunderstanding — that through grace we are growing to see the world through the loving eyes of our Creator — and that only those hardened of heart will not at the very least consider the testimony of their fellow Christians that Creation is more diverse than they realize. But you must see through the eyes of love. Can you not at least try to do that, my brother?

      • Loren Golden says:

        In his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, p. 201, C.S. Lewis defined “Chronological Snobbery” as “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.” Your arguments, Mr. Phoenix, exemplify this concept. In your argument against Boris, you stated, “the prevailing understanding (in Scripture) was that human beings were all by nature heterosexual. It is only a recent understanding that sexual orientation varies among human beings, and some are by nature homosexual. Thus homosexual behavior might be heterosexual people acting out — which is surely how Paul judged it. … (O)nce a faithful Christian understands the nature of sexual orientation, surely he or she must reconsider whether the judgment and proscription of an ancient culture still applies to our own.” That the world in the 21st century has come to this “understanding” does not mean that it has come to a correct understanding. And make no mistake, this is the world’s understanding, and on the basis of the testimony of the Word of God (not to mention the moral repugnance of the logical conclusion that necessarily follows “sexual orientation”), I reject it.

        According to this “understanding”, having sexual desires for someone who is the same gender as oneself is conclusive evidence that this person is “sexually oriented” toward homosexuality (or bisexuality), and this “sexual orientation”, therefore, justifies homosexual behaviors and acts committed by such individuals. Based on this logic, someone who has sexual desires for children would be conclusive evidence that this person is “sexually oriented” toward pedophilia, and thus, this “sexual orientation” would justify pedophiliac behavior and acts. Presumably, you find this latter rationalization to be morally repugnant, but if you are truly committed to this notion of “sexual orientation”, you must logically draw this conclusion.

        Now above, you were quite dismissive of the “proof texts”, and elsewhere, you told Sherry, “I know all of those passages (in Scripture that condemn homosexuality), probably better than you do.” However, you’ve given no indication that you appreciate the context in which they were written. Consider the context of the first express prohibition, given in Leviticus 18.22. In the first seven chapters, God through Moses specified five sacrifices that He required, giving explicit instructions on how they were to be performed. In Leviticus 8-10, God initiated the Aaronic priesthood, fulfilling the requirements He specified in Exodus 28-30, 39.

        In Leviticus 10, God executed Nadab and Abihu for offering “unauthorized (or strange) fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them” (v. 1). To be sure, in Exodus 30.34-38, the Lord gave express instructions on how the incense that was to be burned on the altar of incense was to be prepared, and in Leviticus 16.12, the Lord instructed that the fire on the altar of incense was to be lit using a censer full of coals of fire taken from the altar of burnt offering. It is not clear in what manner Nadab and Abihu violated the Law, but the proscription against drunkenness among the priesthood given in Chapter 10, Verses 8-11, strongly suggests that the two men were drunk when they performed the task of lighting a fire on the altar of incense, which probably led to an inattentiveness to the details that the Lord required. When Aaron complained, the Lord said through Moses, “Among those who are near Me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.” (v. 3)

        Leviticus 10 marks a turning point in the book from an emphasis on the details of what the Lord required in the Old Testament Sacrifice and in the ordination of the priests of the Aaronic Order to an emphasis on what He required of the Israelites in terms of personal holiness. Leviticus 11-15 covers a list of requirements for ceremonial cleanness for the people coming to offer sacrifices at the Tabernacle before the Lord, dealing with what constituted clean and unclean animals and dietary restrictions based thereupon (ch. 11), uncleanness in childbirth (ch. 12), unclean leprous diseases (chs. 13-14), and unclean bodily discharges (ch. 15).

        And then, after giving instructions on what the Israelites were to do on the Day of Atonement (ch. 16), requirements that all cattle, sheep, and goats intended for consumption as food must first be offered as sacrifices to the Lord at the Tabernacle (ch. 17, vv. 1-9), and proscriptions against eating blood (ch. 17, vv. 10-16), the Lord in Chapter 18 expanded the concept of uncleanness given in Chapters 11-15 to include moral uncleanness. To begin with, Verses 1-2 clearly state that this chapter was dictated by the Lord to Moses, who was to proclaim it to the people of Israel. The words of this chapter are the words of God Himself, not of Moses speaking or writing on his own authority, or worse, conflating his will with God’s.

        Secondly, this chapter is bracketed by statements (vv. 1-5,24-30) that the Lord makes, requiring that the Israelites “shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived,” and they “shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you” (v. 3). He stated, “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of (the offenses that I list in this chapter), for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants” (vv. 24-25). These offenses include:
        * Incest, including 12 specific forms (vv. 6-18)
        * Engaging in sexual intercourse with a woman while she is in the midst of her menstrual period (v. 19; this is a moral sin, distinct from the ceremonial uncleanness that resulted if a man was already engaged in sexual intercourse with his wife when her menstrual period began [Lev. 15.24])
        * Adultery (v. 20)
        * Child sacrifice (v. 21; this is the only non-sexual sin listed in this chapter)
        * Homosexual intercourse between two men (v. 22)
        * Bestiality (v. 23)
        It is noteworthy that it was for these moral offenses that the Lord was driving out the Canaanites from the Promised Land, not because they had eaten unclean foods or “worn garments of cloth made of two kinds of material” (Lev. 19.19).

        Again, the proscriptions given in Leviticus 18 were not given by Moses, speaking on his own authority, but by God speaking through him. These are not “judgment(s) and proscription(s) of an ancient culture” but judgments and proscriptions given by God Himself. This is significant in that you, Mr. Phoenix, are claiming that we in the 21st Century have a new understanding of homosexuality based upon “sexual orientation” that the human authors of Scripture knew nothing about. If this understanding of yours was truly genuine, then God Himself would have known this and excused those who are “sexually oriented” toward homosexuality. Are you suggesting that Moses misunderstood what the Lord was saying, or are you perhaps suggesting that we have a new understanding of human sexuality that even God Himself knew nothing about when His servants, the prophets and apostles, wrote the Scriptures under the inspiration of His Holy Spirit (II Tim. 3.16-17, II Pet. 1.19-21)?

        So then, based upon what you have been saying in your posts, it seems to me that you believe that it is God’s will to excuse homosexual acts and behaviors on account of “sexual orientation”. If I have misunderstood you on this point, I apologize. But if not, then it seems to me to be extremely hypocritical of you to accuse me of conflating my will with God’s when that is exactly what you are doing.

        Finally, as far as “see(ing) (homosexuals) through the eyes of love,” this by no means requires me to compromise the teachings of Scripture on homosexuality. Indeed, the reverse is true, for if I were to tell a homosexual that engaging in homosexual acts and behaviors is not a sin against God, then I would be lying through my teeth, giving that homosexual a false sense of security, for it is clear from the context of Scripture that homosexuality is a form of sexual immorality, and “God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Heb. 13.4). But the love of God compels me to tell homosexuals that hope and healing and forgiveness for the sins that they have committed, including sins of homosexuality, in Jesus Christ, who calls all us sinners to repentance and who promises to forgive all who repent of their sins and call upon His name.

        • James Phoenix says:

          Loren, all of the context you offer surrounding the Leviticus texts is interesting and completely beside the point. The point, again, is that an ancient culture did not understand sexual orientation as we understand it today. Yes, it is “the world’s” definition. It is always the world’s definition, reflecting the evolution of knowledge and insight in all areas of inquiry. The fact that you claim to know God’s own perspective, based on ancient texts written in an ancient cultural context, is what I find so repugnant. You have your own aversion to homosexuality, fine. But you have no right to claim that God is on your side.

          As for the pedophilia “argument,” spare me. It’s clear you do not understand or appreciate the science of human sexuality. There are important distinctions between sexual orientation and pedophilia — which is not a sexual orientation — but I doubt you care to know them. And no, an orientation does not justify behavior, though it may explain it. Sexuality is far more complex than we have ever understood. This is what God, I believe, is revealing to us.

          But you are too convinced, aren’t you? Too restricted by your own biases, too ready to confine the infinite knowledge and love of God to the pages of ancient texts, wholly unwilling to consider that God may be trying to teach you a new thing.

          • Loren Golden says:

            Mr. Phoenix,
            I will take the God revealed in the “ancient texts” of Scripture over the cheap imitation that you’re trying to peddle any day. It is very clear that you have hardened your heart against Him and are unwilling to consider that on this very contentious issue that perhaps Scripture is correct and the post-modern world wrong. I think that all possibilities of dialogue with you are ended.

  3. Boris says:

    To James Phoenix

    Given your expertise at knowing Bible passages “probably better than you do:” please guides us to a Holy Scripture verse that specifically condones homosexual sexual relations.

    • James Phoenix says:

      *sigh* There are none, because (again), the Biblical writers knew nothing of homosexuality as a sexual orientation — and so would not be commenting on a faithful framework for same-sex sexuality (such as marriage). I could quote many passages, however, as I am sure you could as well, about love and marriage and faithful commitment, which speak just as clearly to same-sex couples as to heterosexual couples.

      • Boris says:

        Thank you James for your response. (sigh) So, just to make sure I understand; you quote no Holy Scripture to support your position. And according to you, the “Biblical writers knew nothing of homosexuality as a sexual orientation.” Yet, again you have no support; simply your statement. Your position is a dichotomy of the ancient Roman, Greek and even Israeli cultural. History supports this i.e. prostitution, murder, adultery and every other sin is well documented and accounted for. Yet, no one knew of homosexuality as a sexual orientation? You are making a very weak attempt to advance a very obvious sophistry.

        • James Phoenix says:

          Boris, you won’t find “support” for nuclear fission in the Bible, either. It existed, but people had no concept of it. That is the point I am making. Yes, of course, homosexuality existed in ancient cultures, as it always has. But the prevailing understanding was that human beings were all by nature heterosexual. It is only a recent understanding that sexual orientation varies among human beings, and some are by nature homosexual. Thus homosexual behavior might be heterosexual people acting out — which is surely how Paul judged it. You yourself seem not to understand the difference between homosexuality as an inherent quality of the individual and as a behavior. What I am saying is that, once a faithful Christian understands the nature of sexual orientation, surely he or she must reconsider whether the judgment and proscription of an ancient culture still applies to our own.

          • Boris says:

            Mr. Phoenix. You have provided such an illogical and tangent infused diatribe; that I have no desire to invest the required time and energy to unravel your vexed assumptions. You have demonstrated affection to emotional volition and show no interest in genuine polemic. Mr. Golden has presented sound Biblical principles and beyond sufficient evidence to counter your heresy. I yield to his discernment. Goodbye.

  4. Bob Battenfield says:

    A comment to James Phoenix: You read about a quarter of Carmen’s commentary and judge she is filled with hate. Read it all, brother. You missed the point. It’s like you walked a quarter of the way to Calvary. Go to the foot of the cross and you’ll find love.

    • James Phoenix says:

      Oh I’ve read her before. I know what she’s about, and I didn’t miss the point. See you at the foot of the cross.

  5. James Phoenix says:

    Why did I bother to read this? (Actually I quit about a quarter of the way down.)

    You are so filled with hate. Yet you call yourself a Christian.

    • Todd S. says:

      The “hate” excuse is getting old. You either believe GOD’s word or you don’t. GOD will not be mocked and he clearly defines what is sin and what is not. Homosexuality is clearly on that list of sins and anyone trying to change that is preaching another gospel. The LORD is returning sooner than you think and I suggest you decide who is your savior. Jesus or the false GOD the world is trying so hard to convince you of. Remember who is the prince of this world right now.

      • James Phoenix says:

        Actually homosexuality is *not* “clearly on that list,” considering the Bible says not one word about it. Next?

        • Sherry A. says:

          Genesis 19:4-9
          Leviticus 18:22, 20:13
          Deuteronomy 23:17
          Judges 19:22-25
          Romans 1:24-27
          I Corinthians 6:9-11
          I Timothy 1:9-10

          • Loren Golden says:

            You neglected to mention Jude 7, which has reference back to Genesis 19.

          • James Phoenix says:

            Yeah I know all of those passages, probably better than you do. Not one is about homosexuality as a sexual orientation, which neither Paul nor any other writers of the Scripture knew anything about. They were describing certain behaviors and judging them in the context of their own cultures. To call this a judgment on homosexuality is to read 19th- 21st century concepts into the text, which is both ignorant of history and disrespectful of Scripture.

          • Maunalani says:

            Also Revelation 22:15 (Jesus’ words), referring back to Deuteronomy 23:17-18.

        • Loren Golden says:

          In point of fact, all of the referenced passages are against homosexuality as a behavior. The definition of homosexuality as the condition of having same-gender sexual attraction is the world’s definition, not God’s. The Bible’s (and hence God’s) definition of homosexuality is engaging in homosexual behavior. Thus, when one engages in homosexual behavior, one is a homosexual and guilty of homosexuality, and when one repents of it, one is no longer a homosexual and no longer guilty of homosexuality. To be sure, all sin begins as desire in the heart (Mt. 15.18-20), and “sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (Jas. 1.15) To be sure, to desire to engage in homosexual behavior is tantamount to being tempted to sin, but it is not itself sin, for temptation to sin is not sin (Heb. 4.15).

          At the end of the day, when one stands before God’s judgment throne, it will not be against the world’s definitions and standards that He will execute judgment, but His Word’s.

          • James Phoenix says:

            “The Bible’s (and hence God’s) definition of homosexuality is engaging in homosexual behavior.” Where to begin? The Bible doesn’t define a term it has no concept of. That is not God’s definition — that is yours. That is the judgment you choose to impose. To assert that your narrow judgment is God’s own is reprehensible. Where is your humility?

        • Maunalani says:

          Ho hum, here we go again. Next he’ll trot out the Shellfish Fallacy.

          • James Phoenix says:

            Actually, no. I never found that argument to be on point. Hope you enjoyed your snark, though.

    • Mike Zorn says:

      It’s all too easy to call “hate”. Evident;y it’s harder for you to point to some – any – specific example of “hate”.

      I use that word in quotes because far too many people don’t know what real hate is.

  6. When a denomination (that I once revered but was only a part of but for less than a year – PCUS at the time) states (in the hymnal debate) that God’s wrath against sinners is not an aspect of the atonement, it is guaranteed that the denomination will lose it’s zeal for Gospel driven, evangelistic ministry as well as the need to proclaim the message of personal salvation of the individual (“You must be born again.”). Ironically, as “conservatives” (Bible believers) mention such verses as John 3 and the Scriptures mentioned in the article above, those on the opposing side express anger (or wrath) toward the “judging” party. Contending for the faith once delivered to the saints will bring conflict and persecution. If only such energies were used to call others to repentance toward God and faith in Christ Jesus, as the Apostle Paul passionately demonstrated!

  7. Jim Murphy says:

    Thanks for this, Carmen. It was a pleasure to have you in our midst in Memphis. I pray God’s protection and grace on you in your ministry.

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