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July 2004

July 28, 2004

Today I am going to carry on the discussion of baptism that I began yesterday. Or more correctly, I will begin it again. Yesterday I asked some questions that were of a rambling nature rather than being presented logically. Today I am going to try to bring a more systematic approach to the different views of baptism. Time does not allow me to do so exhaustively, but at the same time I will try to avoid painting a mere caricature of the different approaches.

One question that arose in the discussion was whether baptism is a sacrament or an ordinance. Therein lies one of the main differences between Reformed baptism and the “baptist” form of baptism that most evangelical churches practice. Reformed churches consider baptism to be a sacrament whereas Baptist churches regard it as an ordinance. The same holds true of the Lord’s Supper. I am going to present a couple of definitions for each of those terms. The first is from Miriam-Websters and the second from Dictionary.com.

Ordinance:

1 a : a Christian rite (as baptism or the Eucharist) that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality b : a religious rite or observance comparable to a Christian sacrament

  1. An authoritative command or order.
  2. A custom or practice established by long usage.
  3. A Christian rite, especially the Eucharist.
  4. A statute or regulation, especially one enacted by a city government.

Sacrament:

1 a : an authoritative decree or direction : b : a law set forth by a governmental authority; specifically : a municipal regulation
2 : something ordained or decreed by fate or a deity
3 : a prescribed usage, practice, or ceremony

Christianity. A rite believed to be a means of or visible form of grace, especially:

  • In the Eastern, Roman Catholic, and some other Western Christian churches, any of the traditional seven rites that were instituted by Jesus and recorded in the New Testament and that confer sanctifying grace.
  • In most other Western Christian churches, the two rites, Baptism and the Eucharist, that were instituted by Jesus to confer sanctifying grace.
  • A religious rite similar to a Christian sacrament, as in character or meaning.

The significant difference between the two terms is God’s role in the act. When viewed as sacramental, baptism is more than an act of man - it is a means by which God conveys grace. When viewed as an ordinance, baptism is the testimony of the person being baptized. While it points back to an act of God in the person’s life, God plays no role in the baptism - it is an act by a man (usually a pastor) performed on a man (the person being baptized).

I will look briefly at the different views of baptism, first discussing the Reformed view and then turning to the Baptist view.

Signs & Seals

We can get a Reformed perspective on the word sacrament through the Westminster Confession which reads “Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ, and his benefits; and to confirm our interest in him: as also, to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the church, and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to his Word.”

Two important things we need to notice here. First, sacraments are signs. This means that they point to something other than themselves. Think of an exit sign that points towards a door. The sign itself is not the exit - it merely points the way to the exit. Similarly a sacrament points to something greater. Sacraments are also seals which means that God signifies that the person receiving the sacrament has the quality it signifies. So the seal points back to the sign. An illustration of a seal is a diploma. I will quote from Bob Burridge:

When someone receives a diploma upon graduation, the diploma certifies that he has completed the course of instruction as recognized by the faculty and board of the institution granting the degree. If a person forges a diploma or has misrepresented himself to the institution, the certificate does not make him qualified in the field it represents. It would be a serious crime and offense to the institution to make such a false claim. Similarly, someone who wrongly receives a sacrament offends God and does not bring the blessings promised upon himself. Instead he calls down the wrath of God upon himself for his false claim. But when a child of God receives the sacrament rightly administered by God’s prescription he receives that blessing which is represented by the sign upon the authority of God who instituted it.

In this sense we say that a sacrament is a means of grace. It does not convey the grace by its outward application. But God uses the sacrament, when rightly applied and received, as a means by which he dispenses his grace to the recipient.

Big Words

Let’s turn back to the Westminster Confession.

There is, in every sacrament, a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified: whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.

The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.

I am going to introduce two words that describe two different views on the sacraments.

Sacerdotalism - This is the view that the Roman Catholic Church holds to. In this view the sacraments have the power to actually convey the blessings they signify. So the sacrament has the power to confer the grace which it signifies. This is the view the Reformers fought against.

Memorialism - This is the view of the vast majority of Protestant churches, including most Baptist and evangelical churches. In this view the sacraments have no real power, but are merely memorials, object lessons, which teach something about God. This view arose in opposition to the Catholic view.

The Reformed Position

The Reformed position stands apart from these two views. As the Confession said, there is a sacramental union (or spiritual relationship) between the sign and the thing signified. So when a sacrament is properly administered, there is a real and effectual promise attached to it. The effect that will be derived from the act will be from God alone. This is not to say that baptism removes sin or conveys salvation, but it is to say that there is some spiritual advantage to being baptized. Similarly, there is a spiritual advantage to participating in the Lord’s Supper. More than merely signifying something, baptism actually conveys something.

Because of the sacramental nature of baptism and Lord’s Supper, Reformed churches traditionally try to ensure that they are properly administered. This means that, based on the Biblical example, only church officials (pastors and elders) may administer the sacraments. They strive to ensure that only those who Biblically qualify for them are included. Improper administration of the sacraments is considered blasphemous.

The Baptist View

Having briefly examined the Reformed view of baptism, let’s take a quick look at the Baptist view. As we have stated already, Reformed theology refers to baptism as a sacrament where Baptist theology refers to it as an ordinance.

Here is a typical statement of what Baptist churches believe about baptism (as found at the Web site for the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists):

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified buried and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin the burial of the old life and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.

Baptism, then, is not a means by which God conveys grace, but is a testimony of a person who has believed. It is a sign, but not a seal. Where sacraments revolve around what God does, ordinances revolve around what man does and what God did. I am going to quote David Heddle who studied this topic just a few weeks ago: “When reduced to merely an ordinance, baptism and communion are no longer about what God does, but what man does. There is nothing supernatural occurring, as if the supernatural realm were off limits to the Creator of the universe, God merely observes as we commemorate His work. An ordinance is actor-centered.”

My View

So where do my beliefs lie? I guess since I have taken the time to write all of this I should identify what I believe. So here goes. As a Reformed believer attending a Baptist church I struggle with this on an on-going basis. I have trouble viewing baptism as a mere ordinance. It may come from the Word or even from the way I was raised, but reducing baptism to anything less than a sacrament, a means of grace, just does not seem right. But I continue to struggle with it. At this time I cannot definitively say what I believe.

July 27, 2004

Over the past few days I have been doing some thinking about baptism. I come from a Reformed/Presbyterian background and spent the first 20-some years of my life in churches that practiced infant baptism (the Protestant flavor of it). Of course these churches also practice adult baptism when an unbaptized person becomes a believer. Several years ago my wife and I moved to a new town and, because of a lack of Reformed alternatives in town, began to attend Baptist churches. Needless to say, these churches practice adult baptism. I have had exposure, then, to both of the predominant modes of Protestant baptism and feel that I have a pretty good understanding of each of them.

One thing I am not clear on is the role of repentance in baptism when it comes to baptizing adults (even in the Reformed system). Allow me to explain.

In the Reformed churches, baptism is not as easily achieved as in the Evangelical churches. This would be a typical chain of events in a Reformed church if an unbaptized person were to become a believer.

  • Person becomes a Christian.
  • Attends Catechism or Profession of Faith classes for several weeks and months.
  • Indicates an interest in being baptized and making a public profession of faith.
  • Presents himself before the elders for an interview where they can determine whether or not he is truly a believer.
  • Assuming he is approved by the elders, he then simultaneously professes his faith and is baptized.
  • At this point he is considered a member and may also partake of the Lord’s Supper.

In the evangelical churches the process is quite different. There is some variance but I believe this is typical:

  • Person becomes a Christian.
  • He is now eligible to participate in the Lord’s Supper.
  • He indicates a desire to be baptized.
  • Presents himself before the elders or pastor for a short interview where they ensure he knows what baptism means and that he professes Christ.
  • He is baptized.
  • After baptism he is eligible for membership. Some churches will allow someone who was baptized as an infant to have membership, but the majority will not.

In the Evangelical churches baptism is regarded as something one should do with almost no knowledge of what it is all about. It is a first step of obedience once one has made a profession of faith. Those who later wish to be rebaptized saying that they didn’t even know what they were doing at the time (something I have heard several times) are missing the point. While baptism is generally a prerequisite for church membership, it often is not for partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

A striking difference between the two systems is the necessity of showing true repentance and a changed life before baptism may be performed. In many Reformed churches several months may elapse between the time a person becomes a believer and his subsequent baptism while classes are completed and so on. During this time it will usually become quite obvious whether or not that person has truly become a believer. While professing to be a Christian is easy enough to do, displaying the fruits of the Spirit and showing a life of repentance is more difficult. On the other hand, in evangelical churches people are urged to be baptized almost immediately after professing Christ. There may not have been time for these people to begin to show whether they made a true conversion and whether they have begun to reform their behavior.

Let’s consider a few short examples:

1) A pastor meets someone in a restaurant one evening and their talk turns to what they believe. The pastor shares his testimony and some verses of Scripture with the other man who is convicted of his sin. He prays then and there, asking God to forgive him and placing his faith in Him. He asks to be baptized the next Sunday.

2) A pastor meets someone in a restaurant one evening and their talk turns to what they believe. The pastor shares his testimony and some verses of Scripture with the other man who is convicted of his sin. He prays then and there, asking God to forgive him and placing his faith in Him. He asks to be baptized the next Sunday. As they continue talking, the pastor finds out that this man is a practicing homosexual.

3) A pastor meets a couple in a restaurant one evening and their talk turns to what they believe. The pastor shares his testimony and some verses of Scripture with the couple who are convicted of their sin. They pray then and there, asking God to forgive them and placing their faith in Him. They ask to be baptized the next Sunday. As they continue to talk, the pastor finds out that they couple is living together, though they are not married.

In any of these cases, should the people be baptized the next Sunday?

In the Reformed churches they would generally not be baptized. The instruction they received in the time leading up to their baptism would likely either convict them of their sinful lifestyles or would harden them and drive them out of the church. Failing this, the elders would bar them from baptism until they repented of their sin.

In the evangelical churches these people may well be baptized (I have seen examples of this in evangelical churches). The church would not expect new Christians to show repentance and changed lives in so short a time and would baptize them on the basis of their confession, not on the basis of ongoing “proof” of the genuineness of their confession.

So here is the big question: are repentance and reform necessary prerequisites to baptism? Should people who live blatantly unchristian lifestyles be barred from baptism until they repent and reform?

I will have to put a lot more thought into this one, but initially I believe that the church should protect baptism. Rather than baptizing anyone who asks, it seems that the church should try to ensure that the people are genuinely Christian before performing baptisms. Repentance is as much an expression of faith as baptism is and should be treated equally (at the very least).

July 26, 2004

Yesterday I returned from a great week-long vacation at my cottage. Just about the whole family drove up from Atlanta to join us there (with the exception of my father who had to work) and we had a wonderful, fun, relaxing time together. I took quite a few photos, though not nearly as many as my brother-in-law who is hoping to gather fodder for his upcoming photoblog.

So I will give you a view of my vacation in pictures:

Here’s a view of the “big cottage” which was built about 60 years ago. My great uncle built it out of telephone poles he diverted from a stack somewhere or the other. He was Minister of Natural Resources or something like that and apparently had the clout to do that.

The “little cottage” (guest cottage) was built closer to 100 years ago and looks like this:

The cottage looks out over Indian Lake.

It is apparently called Sunset Lodge because we get to see sunsets like these over the lake.

I tend to spend my time on the porch.

That rocking chair is the most comfortable place in the world to sit and read. I spent WAY too much time there this week.

This is the view from that chair.

As I was looking through my photos I found one my sister took of herself (without my permission). As punishment I am publishing it right here for all the world to see.

I did a lot of reading and writing at the cottage and even managed to keep my blogging streak going (I must be getting close to 300 straight days without missing)! It was a great little vacation. And now I have to get back to real life. Those bills aren’t going to pay themselves!

July 25, 2004

I love to read. It is unusual for me to have fewer than three or four books on the go at any given time. The two topics I tend to read are theology and the Second World War. Strange bedfellows, I agree.

My interest in World War II began in my grandfather’s home many years ago. He was a veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force in which he had been ground crew for Lancaster Bombers. When I was a child he would often take me with him to the local Legion Hall (where veterans gather to socialize) and after a couple of drinks would begin to tell me stories of his war years - cleaning out the remains of pilots and crew who were injured or killed in their bombers and coming under fire from Stuka bombers at his airfield. I have since asked my parents what they were thinking allowing him to take me out, drink and then drive me home - they are similarly amazed at their actions but can only say that it was a different era. In his home he had the complete Time Life series on World War II - some 50 or 60 volumes of photograph-laden books that described every aspect of the war. I would spend hours reading these books and studying the pictures. As my grandparents got older and saw my love for history they began to send these books home with me, so that little-by-little the collection transferred from their home to mine. In high school I took all the history courses I could find and in college got a bachelor’s degree in history with a focus on the World Wars.

My other love is theology. This isn’t too terribly surprising as I was raised in a home in which the bookshelves were (and still are) laden with theological volumes and great works of church history. Biographies of great Christians of the past sat side-by-side with the books describing the theology these men discovered and taught. The Reformed churches I attended as a child placed great focus on the importance of theology and for many years I studied and memorized the Heidelberg and Shorter Catechisms.

As an adult I have a continued fascination with those two topics. This week (while I’m on vacation) I have read two books on World War II and two theological books.

I have found a striking difference between the two subjects and one that pulls me towards one much more than the other. World War II is an event that occured in the past. Very little new information about the war will ever come to light. Sure a new stash of photographs or historical documents may be found from time-to-time, but the war is over. We can trace the people and events that led to the war, pinpoint a day it began and pinpoint the exact day it ended. No topic in history has been more written-about than the Second World War.

On the other hand, God and the study of God is alive. The study of God will never come to an end. We can trace the time humans began to know and study God but we know that theology will never end. In that sense the study of theology is much more rewarding than the study of history. We are not chasing obscure historical facts, but a living, breathing God and are anticipating His return. Where history is over - complete - theology awaits its fulfillment.

So I am drawn ever-more towards theology - towards the study and knowledge of God. This is not to downplay the importance of history, for we know the old saying that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Yet as a field of study, I continue to love theology. I love to learn more about God and more about His ways. I spent three years studying history and dream of some day (Lord willing) heading to seminary to spend three or four studying theology.

July 24, 2004

I sent out the topic for next week’s BlogSwap. If you indicated an interest in participating you should have received it. If you did not, please let me know ASAP and I’ll send it your way. Next week we’ll have an open topic so people can write about whatever they like. I look forward to seeing what people come up with!

Matt Hall had a link to an article that appeared in the New York Times which described a woman’s decision to abort two of her triplets. The most amazing thing about the article was her cavalier attitude towards murdering her own children. “I looked at Peter and asked the doctor: ”Is it possible to get rid of one of them? Or two of them?” The obstetrician wasn’t an expert in selective reduction, but she knew that with a shot of potassium chloride you could eliminate one or more.” Her reasons for not having triplets were purely selfish: she didn’t want to have to stop flying, she didn’t want to be confined to bed, she didn’t want to suffer from morning sickness and so on. She concludes with these words: “I had a boy, and everything is fine. But thinking about becoming pregnant again is terrifying. Am I going to have quintuplets? I would do the same thing if I had triplets again, but if I had twins, I would probably have twins. Then again, I don’t know.”

Matt’s take is:

Pro-lifers, particularly Christians, need to get realistic about the opposing viewpoint. The debate is not primarily a scientific one (“When does human life begin?”), but a moral/ethical one (“Is it wrong to end innocent life?”). Christians should certainly pray that laws would be enacted protecting the unborn, but mere legislation will not make the difference in our culture. When someone can look at three heartbeats and choose to bring two of them to a stop - such depravity will only be conquered by the gospel.

If you’d like to read the article (you need to register to access the site), take a deep breath and click here. I pretty well guarantee you’ll feel your blood start to boil as you read it.

The Olympics begin soon and the Canadian Olympic Committee has chosen its flag-bearer. Naturally he is a Quebecer, and what’s more, a few years ago he voted for his province to seperate from Canada when a referendum was held several years ago. How they can justify letting this guy hold the flag is just beyond me! He’ll carry the flag and then vote to seperate again next time there is a vote on the issue.

Is it wrong to covet a Bible? The Spirit of the Reformation Bible has caught my eye and looks awfully interesting. It is an updated version of the Reformation Study Bible (previously known as the New Geneva Study Bible). It includes most of the historical Reformed documents such as Westminster Confession, Westminster Shorter Catechism, Westminster Larger Catechism, Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort. And what’s more, these documents are cross-referenced throughout the text. It sounds like it is a great Reformed reference tool. The only downside to it, it seems, is that they only have it in the NIV. Since I generally stick to the NKJV that is a bit of a problem for me, but I suppose I could learn to live with it. I may have to start saving my pennies and my dimes to get one of these.

That’s it for today. I’m heading out to enjoy the sun on this last day of vacation…

July 23, 2004

I am (finally) starting to get some people spamming the forums. Actually, I think it’s only one person, but he posts using different names and IP addresses so I can’t seem to ban him.

In order to keep him out I may have to turn off anonymous posting, meaning only people with registered accounts in the forum could post. Any thoughts on whether that is a good or bad idea? I hate to do it since it may discourage people from posting, but I also hate having to erase spam messages several times a day.

July 23, 2004

I am going to continue today with some thoughts from my Bible readings. This morning I read Revelation 6 (don’t even ask why yesterday was Corinthians but today was Revelation). In the previous chapter we read about a scroll sealed with seven seals that was in the right hand of God. A loud voice called out to inquire who was worthy to open it and only one was found. The Lamb (Jesus Christ) was the only one worth of the task. He took the scroll and was praised by every creature in heaven as they proclaimed “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

The sixth chapter describes the opening of the first six seals. My attention was grabbed by the fifth seal. Verses nine to eleven read:

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were was completed.

This passage describes those who have had the honor of suffering and dying for their faith crying out to God, asking how much longer they will have to wait until God judges those who killed them and how long before He avenges their blood. They are told that they must wait just a little while longer. I would like to make several observations about this passage.

Under the altar

The souls of the martyrs, who had been slain for believing in God’s Word and for holding fast to their testimonies, were under the altar. This seems to parallel the sacrifices of the Old Testament where blood of the sacrificial animals was poured onto the base of the altar.

Judgment and Vengeance

As I read this passage which describes the end of the world, I was reminded of a passage that occurred at the beginning of the history of the world. In Genesis 2:18 we read “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a helper comparable to him.’” The parallel between these two passages is that they both speak of imperfection in a perfect world. In Genesis we see that even in a perfect world God decreed that it was not good for man to be alone. In Revelation we see the martyrs, who are already in paradise, free from sin and corruption, asking God when He will avenge their blood. This shows that God’s justice is perfect, holy, complete. God’s justice extends beyond the petty, prideful arguments you and I tend to be embroiled in. God’s anger and justice are always holy – never swayed by circumstance or emotion. The martyrs, having been perfected in heaven, are crying out to God to ask how much longer they will have to wait for the perfect fulfillment of God’s justice. The imperfection of those waiting to be judged clashes with the perfection they experience before God’s throne. Their cries are just. They are not chastised for their request – rather they are told to wait patiently until the time God has decreed.

How long?

The current state of the world is unnatural. The world was created to be a perfect, sinless expression of God’s wisdom and majesty. Everything was created to perfectly bring glory to God. Yet man sinned and destroyed the perfection of the world. Since that time, as we read in Romans 8, “creation groans and labors with birth pangs.” As a woman groans in agony as she prepares to bring her child into this world, so the whole earth groans in anticipation of the destiny it longs to have fulfilled. The earth’s current condition is temporary. The earth cries out wondering how much longer it will be before God returns to deliver it from imperfection. In the same way the martyrs cry out to God asking how long He will allow their blood to remain unavenged.

It seems life is mostly waiting. Anything worth having or experiencing is worth waiting for. How much more will the new heaven and the new earth be worth waiting for?

White Robe

White robes are mentioned many times in Revelation as symbols of purity and blessedness. We are told that all the saints that overcome will be dressed in white; the Laodiceans are told to wear white clothes to cover their shameful nakedness; the twenty four elders wear white; and so on. In this passage we see that the martyrs are given white robes to wear. As part of their reward for enduring shame, torture and death for the sake of their faith, they are given a white robe, symbolic of their special status as martyrs.

Until the number

This sentence surprised me. “…it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were was completed.” God has ordained that the history of the world will not end until a certain number of His servants have shed their blood for their faith. In that sense, the days of the earth are measured in the faithfulness of the saints for their Lord. However strange it may seem, God requires that many of His people pay the ultimate sacrifice for what they believe. These people will receive special honor in His kingdom based on the special privilege of dying for the One who died for them.

You could almost deduce from this passage that it would be wrong to pray for the deliverance of those who undergo persecution. After all, wouldn’t praying for the deliverance of the persecuted amount to praying against the Lord’s return? When we pray for the Lord to come quickly, are we not asking for the blood of the martyrs to be poured out?

Obviously this is not the case, yet sometimes God’s will for us seems awfully confusing. Yet I trust that His infinite wisdom far surpasses my limited, sinful wisdom. For today I will leave it at that!

July 22, 2004

While I was reading the Bible last night I came across 2 Corinthians 11 which speaks about Paul’s defense against false apostles. It seems that after Paul left the church at Corinth false apostles moved in and began to oppose Paul’s message and authority. While Paul was confident about the believers he had left behind in Corinth, they were not so sure about him. Paul is forced to defend his genuine call as an apostle and speak out against the false apostles.

In verses 14 and 15 we read “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” One of Satan’s favorite tricks is to do evil while maintaining an outward appearance of good. He knows that it is easier to destroy a building from within than from without – corruption on the inside will soon undermine the whole structure. He sends people to do his evil work on his behalf, many of them purporting to be Christians. I believe that as often as not these people are unwittingly his servants – they may honestly believe that they are Christians. I am sure many of them will stand before God some day and say “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” But God will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23)

This morning I was doing some online reading and came across an interview with Phillip Yancey. He had done an email interview with Candace Chellew-Hodge, the editor of Whosoever magazine, an online publication devoted to GLBT Christians (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Christians). Chellew-Hodge had learned that Yancey was accepting of homosexuality through his book What’s So Amazing About Grace where he describes his close friendship with a homosexual. Thrilled to have found someone that might affirm her lifestyle, Chellew-Hodge asked for and was granted an interview.

As I read the article I was struck by the verses of Scripture I had read just a few hours before. In this interview Yancey discusses his compassion for homosexuality and criticizes Christians who criticize the homosexuality and the homosexual lifestyle. He speaks about gay and lesbian churches he has attended and bemoans the fact that so few evangelical churches accept homosexuals in membership and leadership. He believes that homosexuals need exposure to an inclusion in the wider body of Christ. He holds his church as an example of forward-thinking in that it at least welcomed if not affirmed homosexuals in positions of leadership.

Yancey admits to struggling with a few (a very few) Bible verses that seem to condemn the lifestyle, (or in his words “give him pause”) but he has decided that since he is a journalist and not a church official he is able to just say “I don’t know” and leave the questions unanswered.

Any conservative Christian will realize that Yancey does not understand grace. What he claims as grace and is praised for is license. He must believe that God’s grace gives us license to live however we would like to live and to do even those things that God expressly forbids (whether this be homosexuality or any other kind of sinful lifestyle).

I can’t help but think back to 2 Corinthians. “His ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” Mr. Yancey had better take a long, hard look at his heart and at his ministry, lest his end be according to his works. May we all take these words to heart and examine our areas of ministry, whether they be in the context of community, church or family to ensure that we are our Lord’s ministers of righteousness.

If you are interested in the rest of the article, you can read it here.