There is no way, short of a miraculous and full-scale changing of hearts and minds, for North American denominations to survive the homosexuality crisis. I'm not suggesting most of our old, mainline denominations will disappear. But I do not see how any of these once flourishing denominations will make it through the present crisis intact.
To be a Christian is to be a person who cares about words. We care about definitions and implications. Our aim is not to be contentious or obstreperous. Our aim is to be true and to speak in a way that strengthens the truth.
It has often been said that America was founded upon an idea. The country was not formed mainly for power or privilege but in adherence to a set of principles. Granted, these ideals have been, at various times in our history, less than ideally maintained. But the ideals remain. The idea persists.
The short answer is: a lot. It was an exhausting week, one from which I still have not recovered. I'm glad I don't have to go back for five years.
If there is one biblical theme we've heard a lot of in the RCA (Reformed Church in America) for the past 15 years it's the theme of unity. So what events would have to take place and what problems would have to be addressed for the RCA to experience genuine, vibrant, Christ-pleasing, Spirit-filled, God-glorifying unity?
No matter how much you like angels, or how much you pray, or how often you mediate, or how much you are into yoga, or how much you believe in miracles, if you do not understand, cherish, and embrace the cross you are not a spiritual person.
For many churches and many Christians our mission work and mission aims have become indistinguishable from that of any number of humanitarian organizations.
I want to remind of us two points that we can easily forget when a somewhat high profile evangelical converts (or seems about to convert) to Rome. Let's remember that the traffic across the Tiber is not one way, not by a long shot.
In Ephesians 6:4, God tells fathers (though I think the application is fair for both parents) to raise children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. He also warns against provoking our children to anger. So how do we do one without the other?
Of the many complexities involving the church and homosexuality, one of the most difficult is how the former should speak of the latter. So how ought we to speak about homosexuality? Should we be defiant and defensive or gentle and entreating?
Try to leave graciously. When someone voluntarily leaves a church (not because of a move or a graduation or a deployment) it is usually a painful experience. Learn how to kindly and honestly answer the question "Why did you leave?"
I want to reflect on what new people can do right in coming to a church and what is helpful from those who decide they must leave the church. Pastors understand that choosing a church is a big deal.
It is simply not true that Paul, or Jesus for that matter, never considered homosexuality an ethical matter. Paul thought the prohibition against homosexuality in the Old Testament was still relevant and the sin was still serious.
Here are ten things that distinguish between what I would call a vibrant, robust Bible-believing church and one that gets the statement of faith right but feels totally different.
It can seem like the whole world is having a gay old time, with conservative Christians the only ones refusing to party. The temptation, then, is for Christians go silent and give up the marriage fight.
There have always been men who gain a certain notoriety for their preaching of the gospel. Paul spoke of a brother "famous among all the churches for his preaching."
Why can't we say Adam was a real person and the first person to know God, but not the only human on the planet?
Can you see the attraction of idolatry? "Let's see I want a spirituality that gets me lots, costs me little, is easy to see, easy to do, has few ethical or doctrinal boundaries, guarantees me success, feels good, and doesn't offend those around me."
When it comes to racial reconciliation—and here I'm thinking primarily of blacks and whites—there are certain things I think each group wishes the other would understand.
Sometimes we picture Jesus far too serene. We imagine him in the garden praying rather stoically, "Not my will, but yours be done." But the mood at Gethsemane was anything but tranquil. Jesus was facing more than death or sadness. He was facing God-forsakeness.
If your church is primarily known as the indie rock church or the classical music church (or, for that matter, the homeschool church or the social justice church), you run the risk of building a body of believers whose faith is first of all in something other than the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God.
Reformed folks have been stereotyped as the cranky Christians on the block. I'm not interested in debating whether the stereotype is deserved or not. Sometimes it is; sometimes it isn't.
For several years the Reformed Church in America has approached the issue of homosexuality as an opportunity to have our cake and eat it too.
It may be the best known Bible verse in our culture: "Judge not, that you be not judged." As one of our society's most popular verses, it is also one of the most misunderstood.
Some Christians, especially biblical scholars, have argued that the best exegesis is completely theologically unprejudiced.