The Heart of the Difference Between Revoice Theology and Reformed Theology – the Sinfulness and Mortification of Sinful Desires

At the PCA General Assembly this week, we had several speakers (the most prominent being self-proclaimed Gay PCA pastor Greg Johnson) take issue with the Nashville Statement on the grounds that it condemns a homosexual self-identity. The speakers clearly indicated that they believe that to identify as homosexual and to admit that their lives are dominated by homosexual desires and affections is not sinful unless those desires are actually acted upon. In other words, they may constantly struggle as “Gay Christians” with sinful desires and temptations to have homosexual sex and homosexual relationships, because that is part of their nature as homosexuals, but that unless they actually act upon them, thus joining will with desire simply having those desires is not sinful. They also make it clear that they do not believe that people born with homosexual desires can ever be free of them in this life. Therefore, the life of these Gay Christians will be marked by a constant daily struggle – often described as “heroic” at the General Assembly – not to give into the desires and succumb to temptation.

The real problem is that while there may be PCA presbyters who agree with and sincerely believe in this view of the non-sinfulness of sinful desires and the inability to be free of them before glory, this is not the Reformed position expressed in the Westminster Standards regarding the sinfulness of desires or “orientation”. It is in fact much closer to the pre-Reformation, semi-Pelagian view of sinful desires, appetites and motivations summed up by what the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) calls “Concupiscence”.

Let me try to outline the difference. The Confession, and those who are opposed to Revoice and Side B Gay Christianity, view not only actual homosexual acts but desires to be properly sinful. We also regard part of the work of sanctification to consist of bringing these desires into subjection and mortifying them so they really diminish and die as the regenerate person is sanctified.

Here is how A.A. Hodge summed it up in his commentary on chapter 6 of the Westminster Confession:

“These sections speak of the corruption that remains in the regenerated, and of the guilt or just liability to punishment which attaches to all sin, and of the punishments God inflicts upon it.

I. Of the first, it is taught—

1. Original sin, or innate moral corruption, remains in the regenerate as long as they live.

2. That it is pardoned through the merits of Christ.

3. That it is gradually brought into subjection and mortified by the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification.

4. That nevertheless all that remains of it, and all the feelings and actions to which it prompts, are truly of the nature of sin.

All of these points will be more appropriately treated under the heads of Justification, Conf. Faith, ch. 11.; and of Sanctification, Conf. Faith, ch. 13.

II. Of the second, it is taught—

1. Original sin—that is, the nature corrupt tendencies and affections of the soul— is truly a violation of God’s law as actual transgression.

The Catechisms. (L. Cat., q. 24; S. Cat., q. 14) define sin to be “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.”

This corresponds exactly with what the apostle teaches (1 John 3:4): “Sin is ανουια ”—any discrepancy of the creature or his acts with God’s law. This is evident—

(1) Because from its very essence the moral law demands absolute perfection of character and disposition as well as action. Whatever is right is essentially obligatory; whatever is wrong is essentially worthy of condemnation. God requires us to be holy as well as to act rightly. God proclaims himself as “he which searcheth the reins and hearts.” (Rev. 2:23.)

(2) The native corrupt tendencies which constitute original sin are called sin in Scripture. Sin and its lusts are said to “reign” in our mortal bodies; sin is said to have “dominion”; the unregenerate are called “the servants of sin.” (Rom. 6:12–17; 7:5–17; Gal. 5:17,24; Eph. 4:18,19.)

(3) God condemns men for their corrupt natural dispositions, for their hardness of heart, spiritual blindness of mind. (Mark 16:14; Eph. 2:3.)

(4) In all genuine conviction of sin, the great burden of pollution and guilt is felt to consist not in what we have done, but in what we are—our permanent moral condition rather than our actual transgressions. The great cry is to be forgiven and delivered from “the wicked heart of unbelief,” “deadness to divine things, alienation from God as a permanent habit of soul.” “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24; Ps. 51:5,6.)”

[Hodge, A. A., & Hodge, C., The Confession of Faith: with questions for theological students and Bible classes (pp. 115–117).]

The above understanding derived from the Confession and expressed by Hodge is just not in keeping with what Revoice and the “Side B” Gay Christian movement express regarding Homosexual desires and identity. Namely they believe that the desires that flow from our fallen or “broken” nature are not sinful unless acted upon and that we cannot expect to ever be free of them on this side of glory. So the “Gay Christian” was not only born that way but always will be that way, but his inclinations and self-identity are not sinful unless acted upon.

Therefore the view is far closer to this statement of RC theology than to the historic Reformed view:

“From the explanation given, it is plain that the opposition between appetite and reason is natural in man, and that, though it be an imperfection, it is not a corruption of human nature. Nor have the inordinate desires (actual concupiscence) or the proneness to them (habitual concupiscence) the nature of sin; for sin, being the free and deliberate transgression of the law of God, can be only in the rational will; though it be true that they are temptations to sin, becoming the stronger and the more frequent the oftener they have been indulged. As thus far considered they are only sinful objects and antecedent causes of sinful transgressions; they contract the malice of sin only when consent is given by the will; not as though their nature were changed, but because they are adopted and completed by the will and so share its malice. Hence the distinction of concupiscence antecedent and concupiscence consequent to the consent of the will; the latter is sinful, the former is not.” [Catholic Encyclopedia, “Concupiscence”]

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Posted in Compromise, Homosexual Marriage, Homosexuality, PCA, Revoice, Roman Catholicism | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dear Netflix…

netflixnoDear Netflix,

We’ve been using your service virtually since it started, in fact just the other day I found one of the original DVD mailer sleeves from the 1990s that we were always losing track of. We enjoyed your service so much that we never balked at rate increases and stayed with your streaming service through the days of extremely limited selections and technical glitches. We even stayed with you as loyal customers as your company began to stream more and more movies and documentaries that ran counter to our religious, political, and moral beliefs. In more recent years, when you began to cut more and more sweetheart deals with liberal politicians and pundits to produce explicitly left-wing political content, we swallowed hard but considered that many of our friends and relatives also hold views dramatically different from our own and are active in promoting those views, and yet we don’t stop talking, associating, or doing business with them so why would we cancel you? We’ve always been strong supporters of free speech, even when we don’t agree with what’s being said, so mere political differences were never going to be sufficient reason for us to part ways.

But when, two days ago, your CEO announced that you would be donating money to the ACLU to fight Georgia’s newly passed ban on abortions after 6 weeks, it was a bridge too far for us. In essence, you announced that you would be taking the money we send to you for our subscription fees, and using it to promote the killing of babies in the womb. As Christians who believe that every child in the womb is a human being, created in the image of God, “fearfully and wonderfully made” and all equally deserving of life, we cannot support or be a party to efforts aimed directly at the murder of those children.

As you receive this letter, your first instinct may be to simply shrug it off as just one cancellation that can’t possibly have any appreciable effect on your profits. But I will share with you that I am a pastor and that together my wife and I have thousands of friends on social media, and many if not most of them believe as we do about abortion. We plan to share this letter with our friends on social media and encourage them, if they feel the way we do, to also cancel their subscriptions, to let you know why they did so, and then to take the further step of encouraging their own friends to do likewise. If every Netflix subscriber who calls themselves pro-life – and recent polls indicate that 47% of Americans do – were to cancel their Netflix subscription then the results would be impossible to ignore. It is our hope and prayer that even if your company will not listen to the pro-life message, that you will listen to your bottom line and reverse your decision to support the killing of defenseless human beings in the womb. If you do, we’ll be happy to become customers once again, but until that day, we simply cannot do business with you.

Sincerely Yours,
Posted in Abortion, Apologetics, Compromise, Liberalism, Persecution | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Let The Christchurch Mosque Shooter Win

I was sickened to hear about how two Mosques in New Zealand were attacked on Friday by a gunman describing himself as an “Eco-Fascist” and who ultimately murdered around 50 people. I am praying for the people of New Zealand today and hope that God will ultimately bring good out of this grave evil. I’m also praying that the attacker’s stated purpose, which was to provoke a race war, first in the United States, and then worldwide will come to nothing.
 
I have read the murderer, Brenton Tarrant’s, rambling so-called “Manifesto” and I want you to know about several of the things in it so that people won’t end up reacting to this incident in the ways Tarrant hoped to provoke us to react. I am also hoping that people will see that his views were utterly incompatible with what the Bible teaches, not only is Tarrant a racist and an environment worshipper, he saw having families and children as a grave problem, and praised the People’s Republic of China, which persecutes both Muslims and Christians on the basis of their religion.
 
1) The Attacker Himself Is Neither Christian Nor Conservative:
 
Tarrant writes:
 
“Were/are you a conservative?
No, conservatism is corporatism in disguise, I want no part of it.
I mostly agree with Sir Oswald Mosley’s views and consider myself an Eco-fascist by nature.
The nation with the closest political and social values to my own is the People’s Republic of China.”
 
“Were/are you a christian?
That is complicated.
When I know, I will tell you.”
 
2) He Used Guns Specifically to Provoke an Anti-Gun Backlash in the United States which he hoped would lead to civil war:
 
Tarrant writes:
 
“Won’t your attack result in calls for the removal of gun rights from Whites in the United states?
Yes, that is the plan all along, you said you would fight to protect your rights and the constitution, well soon will come the time.”
 
“Why did you choose to use firearms?
I could have chosen any weapons or means.A TATP filled rental van. Household flour, a method of dispersion and an ignition source.A ballpeen hammer and a wooden shield.Gas, fire,vehicular attacks, plane attacks, any means were available. I had the will and I had the resources.
 
I chose firearms for the affect it would have on social discourse, the extra media coverage they would provide and the affect it could have on the politics of United states and thereby the political situation of the world.
 
The US is torn into many factions by its second amendment, along state, social, cultural and, most importantly, racial lines. With enough pressure the left wing within the United states will seek to abolish the second amendment, and the right wing within the US will see this as an attack on their very freedom and liberty. This attempted abolishment of rights by the left will result in a dramatic polarization of the people in the United States and eventually a fracturing of the US along cultural and racial lines.”
 
[It should also be noted that Tarrant’s attack on one mosque was abandoned because members of the mosque were armed and fired back. The death toll was 4 times as high in the mosque where no one was armed.]
 
3) Climate change and “overpopulation” were primary motivators for Tarrant’s attack as he linked the two and blamed both on non-whites. His belief that whites are superior was based in part on their lower birth rates. 
 
Tarrant writes:
 
“Why focus on immigration and birth rates when climate change is such a huge issue?

Because they are the same issue, the environment is being destroyed by over population, we Europeans are one of the groups that are not over populating the world. The invaders are the ones over populating the world. Kill the invaders, kill the overpopulation and by doing so save the environment.”

Was the attack “racist” in origin?
Fertility rates are innately tied to race, so yes. There was a racial component to the attack.
Was the attack “xenophobic” in orgin?
Fertility rates are cultural, there is no denying that, so there was a war of cultures being fought by the invaders, and my attack was a response to this. Though I hold no great fear or distrust of other peoples.”

 


Please don’t help this wicked man to achieve his objectives by blaming groups who had nothing to do with this attack or seeking to do the very things he hoped we would.
 

You can read the whole manifesto here [***WARNING: BAD LANGUAGE AND EVIL, TWISTED THINKING***] :
 
Posted in Current Events, Islam, Race & Ethnicity | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Nashville Statement and Why Our Congregation Adopted It

Most of the great creedal and confessional formulations of the church have been composed in response to widespread error or heresy within the body of Christ and while there are many different errors and heresies that are currently dividing the church, some of the most destructive are the ones that concern human sexuality. In particular, many in the church today have embraced a form of declension that tolerates or even celebrates destructive sexual sins such as fornication, homosexuality, and transgenderism.

While this kind of error in the church is serious and extremely destructive, it is by no means new. In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul spent what would eventually become an entire chapter (1 Cor. 5) of his epistle admonishing the Corinthians for allowing a member of their church to sleep with his stepmother. Instead of rebuking the offender, and practicing church discipline, the Corinthian Christians were actually celebrating how gracious they were being towards this man in tolerating his offense. Paul warned that by adopting this practice they would simply encourage more sexual sin, and bring down the Lord’s judgement upon themselves. What was needed was not more patting themselves on the back for how tolerant they were, but discipline and excommunication. They were told that they should not have fellowship with anyone who called themselves a brother – not even eating with them – who practiced sexual immorality.

Today’s church needs the same kind of wake-up call that Paul gave to the Corinthian Christians in his letter, and it is for that reason that the session of our congregation, Providence PCA, was extremely grateful to the CBMW for publishing “The Nashville Statement” which deals biblically with the subject of human sexuality. The statement which consists of a series of 14 articles, each consisting of an affirmation and a denial, was signed by a variety of evangelical and reformed pastors, authors, and theologians including, but not limited to:

John Piper
James Dobson
J. I. Packer
Wayne Grudem
R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
John MacArthur
R. C. Sproul
Rosaria Butterfield
Francis Chan
Marvin Olasky
Ligon Duncan
Kevin DeYoung
Alistair Begg
Matt Chandler

Our session has adopted the statement as our own statement on the subject of human sexuality and over the next 15 weeks I will be preaching on each of the articles and comparing it to the teaching of scripture. As I said in my first sermon on the subject, the Nashville Statement, in common with all merely human confessions, is far from perfect, but it is also an excellent start at dealing with the flood of heretical and erroneous beliefs that will inevitably end up drowning the church in the 21st century if left unchecked.

Here then is a link to listen to our first sermon on the PREAMBLE to the Nashville Statement:

Nashville Statement: Preamble

Posted in Church Discipline, Compromise, Homosexual Marriage, Homosexuality, Liberalism, Spiritual Declension | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Does the Bible Say About the Reasons for Disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma?

Whenever there is a tragedy like the terrible hurricane that struck Houston, the question “Why did this happen?”  is inevitably asked. When Christians ask that question they are not simply asking for a scientific explanation of the weather patterns in the Gulf of Mexico, or how Hurricanes flood cities or Tornados destroy schools, they are asking why the God they serve did this, (or perhaps “allowed it to happen” if they don’t believe in the sovereignty of God or haven’t really wrestled sufficiently with verses like Amos 3:6b). It was to answer that question that I wrote the following in 2004, after Florida had just passed through a series of devastating hurricanes including the 2nd and 3rd costliest Hurricanes in history at the time. When I did so I particularly wanted to address the common notion that disasters and tragedies are a direct consequence of the sins of the people they affect.

NKJ Luke 13:1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)

Floridians must be some of the most wicked people in America mustn’t they? To be visited with three massive hurricanes in a row! We here in North Carolina, on the other hand are very virtuous people, because we haven’t really been hit by any of them. Oh sure, we’ve had a little rain, some flooding, and so on, but nothing like the level of destruction that the sinners of Florida have brought down on their heads. But oh, lest we think we are too good. I understand that the city of Las Vegas has suffered hardly any storm related damage this year. Obviously they have attained to a level of sanctification that we here in North Carolina can only continue to strive for.

Now obviously I’m being sarcastic, but the point is that the kind of thinking that says bad things happen to bad people is more common than you might think. You will hardly be able to find a pastor who hasn’t been asked at least once, “Do you think this bad thing happened to me because of my sin?” I’ve even fallen prey to the same kind of thinking myself on more than one occasion. Continue reading

Posted in Current Events, Disasters, Eschatology, God's Sovereignty, History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Open Reply to Jemar Tisby and “The Downside of Integration for Black Christians”

Dear Jemar,

I recently read your article entitled, “The Downside of Integration for Black Christians” which was posted on the RAAN Network on August 21, 2017 and I’d really like to engage you more on this particular subject. All too often there simply isn’t any “reasoning together” going on when it comes to racial issues, and as a result existing positions just become more entrenched and emotive by the day.

I believe I “get” what you’re saying about wanting to spend time alone with people from the same race and culture and I understand it to a certain degree. Everyone tends to prefer to spend time with people they have an affinity with. It’s one of the many reasons I’m happiest on a Sunday – I get to spend all day with the people I share genuine communion with, and with whom I’m looking forward to sharing eternity with. We all have a common experience of the love of Christ, shared ways of thinking about reality, a (broadly) common world and life view, and the same values and hopes. I have an even greater connection when it’s a gathering of pastors, and then an even greater connection when the pastors are like minded. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy the Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference so much, I’m sharing time there with ministers who understand what it is to pastor from a Puritan and Reformed viewpoint. For me, that’s the highest level of affinity possible. Meeting with the men from a British cultural background just adds the cherry to the top.

In hindsight, that’s one of the reasons we formed a weekly lunchtime bible study many years ago when I worked at a publishing company in Washington D.C. The experience of spending so much time with worldlings, many of whom hated Christ and Christianity and ran it down continually was grinding for the believers at the company. Those moments praying and reading the word together with my brothers and sisters in Christ were like springs in the wilderness for my soul and a weekly reminder that there was a day coming when sin, separation, and division would be over forever. As it happened, I was one of only three white people who showed up for those studies and one of only four men. The majority of the other members of the study were black and Hispanic women, but I felt closer to them than I ever felt to the people who may have looked like me and had similar ethnic and cultural backgrounds, but with whom I had no communion whatsoever. Continue reading

Posted in Ecclesiology, Liberation Theology, Pastoral Theology, PCA, Politics and The Civil Magistate, Race & Ethnicity, The Spirituality of the Church | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A Brief Introduction to Help You Study the Old Testament

1. Introduction

If you look at the bible you will notice that majority of it is made up of the Old Testament

The Old Testament did not drop from the sky as one complete book, it was also not all written at once, but over a period stretching just short of one thousand years, it had many human authors, but not many themes, and ultimately adds up to one book with only one author – God.

How was this possible? These human authors wrote down his truth under God’s inspiration.

INSPIRATION: Continue reading

Posted in The Bible, The Old Testament | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment