Dr. Rick Shrader is the editor of Aletheia a monthly publication which helps meet the need for a balanced conservative voice among Baptists.
Faith bible college & theological seminary is a local church based bible college standing on baptistic doctrin and the authorized version (kjv) with on-campus and distance-learning classes. apply now!
This is a discussion forum powered by vBulletin.
Part 01 Prolegomena
NBC is taking a poll on "In God We Trust" to stay on our American currency.
Adapted from remarks by Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, Family Research Councilto World Congress of Families – Chisinau, Moldova(Panel Discussion on “Gender Ideology—The Latest Attack on the Family and the Legal Challenges It Poses”)Friday, September 14, 2018 Good afternoon.I want to share with you today five myths about “gender identity.”These are five things that are believed and taught by transgender activists, which simply are not true.1. If the mind is in conflict with the body, the mind is right.This is the most fundamental belief of the transgender movement. If a person is biologically male, but that person feels or believes that he is a woman, then he is female. And if a biological female believes she is male, then she is male.But why should anyone believe that?Contrary to the claims of the transgender activists, this belief is not “scientific.” In fact, since science deals with an examination of the physical world, the rejection of the physical body is anti-scientific.The belief that the mind is right and the body wrong when they conflict is a philosophical—almost a religious—viewpoint. It has nothing to do with science.It is bad enough when adults are deceived in this way—but it is tragic when it happens to children. Certainly, some children, even from a very young age, engage in behaviors that do not conform to the typical expectations for their sex.However, myth number two is:2. Gender non-conforming children will always grow up to be transgender adults.Actually, there is much evidence that the vast majority of such children, if left to themselves, eventually accept their biological sex. According to the American Psychiatric Association, anywhere from 70 to 97.8 percent of gender non-conforming boys, and 50 to 88 percent of gender non-conforming girls, will not become transgender. However, if they are encouraged by adults to make a social transition, and they receive hormones that prevent normal puberty from occurring, they may be locked in to a path that leads to great suffering.3. Gender transition (hormones and surgery) is “medically necessary.” This is the claim that transgender activists make in order to justify forcing government health programs and private health insurance companies to pay for these expensive procedures.This claim has everything to do with money, and nothing to do with medicine.The vast majority of people who identify as transgender are physically normal, physically healthy people. Hormones and surgery do not help their bodies work better—instead, they destroy healthy body systems and healthy body parts.The claim is that hormones and surgery are “necessary” to improve the mental health of transgender people, not their physical health. Has evidence proven this? No.In 2016, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees two of the largest federal health care programs, refused to order routine coverage for gender reassignment surgery. They said:“[T]here is not enough high quality evidence to determine whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes.”“Overall, the quality and strength of evidence were low.”The four best studies “did not demonstrate clinically significant changes” for the better.One of the best studies, out of Sweden, showed the following about patients after they had gender reassignment surgery. Compared to the general Swedish population, they were:2.8 times as likely to have died of any causes;2.8 times as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalization;4.9 times as likely to attempt suicide;19.1 times as likely to die by suicide.This sounds medically dangerous—not “medically necessary.”4. “Gender identity” discrimination is a form of “sex discrimination.” In the United States, the majority of states have not added “gender identity” as a protected category in laws against discrimination, nor has the U.S. Congress.Therefore, transgender activists have begun urging courts to interpret laws against “sex discrimination” to include “gender identity.” Since our federal law against sex discrimination in employment and in education were passed in 1964 and in 1972, it is unlikely that legislators intended “sex” to mean anything other than being biologically male or female.A 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision included a passing comment that “gender stereotyping”—for example, telling a woman she is not feminine enough—could be a form of “sex discrimination.” But even that case does not stand for the proposition that a man can become a woman, or a woman can become a man.5. The transgender movement is a progressive movement. This may be the most surprising for me to list as a “myth.”Although we speak about the “LGBT movement,” there are many “LG”—self-identified lesbians and gays—who are concerned about the “T” (those who identify as transgender). They are not happy that masculine girls and feminine boys—who at one time might have grown up to identify as lesbians or as gay men—are now being told that they are actually the opposite sex.Meanwhile, some feminists point out that transgender activists often are not trying to overcome gender stereotypes. Instead, they are trying to conform to rigid stereotypes—but of the opposite sex.It would seem more “progressive” to simply say that there are different ways to be a boy or a man, and different ways to be a girl or a woman—and none of them require changing your gender or mutilating your body.Thank you.
by Hohn Cho was corresponding with a friend, and he suggested that it could be helpful if more people on the "priority of Gospel clarity and proclamation" side of the current "social justice" discussion were to declare clearly that they were opposed to ethnic partiality and hatred. I appreciated my friend's suggestion, although I also feel compelled to note that such declarations are clear and present and common, whether in many of the articles in John's concluded blog series on GTY, or his developing sermon series on this topic, or the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel itself, which clearly affirms "that racism is a sin rooted in pride and malice which must be condemned and renounced by all who would honor the image of God in all people" and denies "that treating people with sinful partiality or prejudice is consistent with biblical Christianity" and also denies "that the Bible can be legitimately used to foster or justify partiality, prejudice, or contempt toward other ethnicities."Even so, I appreciated the suggestion because as we know from 2 Peter 1:12, reminders of basic truths can be helpful. On that note, I greatly appreciated this recent series (starting here) on The Cripplegate by Jesse Johnson, regarding the sinfulness of American slavery. Moreover, in an intense discussion where a charitable willingness to believe and hope all things per 1 Cor. 13:7 can often be in short supply, I think it is also helpful to reiterate points like these so that it's easier for all of us to remember that we have certain genuine convictions in common. This, in turn, may lead to a discussion environment that is hopefully different from the intense partisanship of the world, where everyone who makes the complex ethical calculation associated with voting and comes down a certain way is dismissed, or even derided and condemned, as a racist, a na´ve vote wastrel, or an enabler of murderers.Indeed, just as the "social justice" advocates don't seem to appreciate being labeled as cultural or even actual Marxists—something which I take great care not to do, by the way, although I think it is fair game to point out that some of the language and rhetoric and even goals can at times sound similar—I take exception to relatively regular claims that people like me are only winking at ethnic partiality and hatred, or merely citing our opposition to those things as a talisman to ward off criticism, or don't really hold earnest biblical convictions but instead are trying to "curry favor with whites" or similar nonsense.The simple truth is that ethnic hatred and partiality—or to use a common term that I no longer prefer, racism—is sin. We see this clearly in verses such as Galatians 3:27-28, Colossians 3:11, 1 Peter 2:9, 2 Corinthians 5:16, James 2:9, and Acts 10:34-35, among others. And when we see something called out clearly as sin in the Bible, it is appropriate and righteous to hate that sin. I will go a step further and say that from my point of view, ethnic hatred and partiality is sin so major, sin that is so disruptive to the unity of the Body of Christ, that clearly established and unrepentant sin of this nature would be appropriate in many cases for steps three and four of church discipline. Certainly God took this sin very seriously when he struck Miriam with leprosy for objecting to Moses' marriage to a Cushite woman in Numbers 12:1-10!On that note, even today, we often see this sin manifest in objections to marriage or engagement to, or even dating of, a person of a different ethnicity. Having spent over 13 years in ministry primarily among and to single adults, I've seen this phenomenon quite a bit more than I'd like, and I'd sadly wager that the occurrence of it is perhaps more common in the conservative evangelical church than the world, owing in part to any conservative institution's natural suspicion of, and slowness to, change. Even more sadly, I've tended to witness objections to interethnic marriage arising out of Asian communities more often than any other, particularly among East Asian parents and grandparents (although a bit less often in second—and later—generation Japanese Americans, perhaps).With that said, we have seen very positive movement over the decades, and approval of "interracial" marriages in the US has increased from 4% in 1958 to 87% in 2013, representing "one of the largest shifts of public opinion in Gallup history." Hopefully this approval trend continues, and although the pervasive reality of sin means this number will never go to 100%, if the Lord tarries, it's entirely possible the current obsession over issues of ethnicity may fade significantly as generations pass. After all, it ought to be quite a bit more difficult to sustain bigoted views of other ethnic groups when you yourself, and most of the people around you, might well have ancestors within that very ethnicity!For those whose lingering prejudices or presuppositions cause them to lag behind both the US approval rate and the Bible, however, I've often found that asking heart questions on this topic can be far more revealing and convicting than any efforts to root out secret heart sin by either accusing entire groups of people or pressing disputed factual claims about implicit bias or socioeconomic factors. If you're single, how would you feel about marrying a person from a different or vastly different ethnicity? If you're married, how would you feel about your kids, or any younger single person you care for, marrying a person with differing types and amounts of melanin in their skin? Few questions are as viscerally helpful, I believe, in exposing people's hearts toward those of other ethnicities. And if even the thought causes revulsion to rise up within someone, that person might have to face the possibility that his or her response is something more dangerous and sinister than an innocent preference.All of the people I know personally who have been engaging in the "social justice" discussion earnestly and utterly deplore and reject the sin of ethnic partiality and hatred. And yet my perception is that many people on the "social justice" side of the discussion tend to question or doubt that fact, simply because some of us might:hold differing convictions regarding the role of the corporate church versus the role of individual Christians; orprioritize the murder of the unborn—many of whom are ethnic minorities—over socioeconomic progress in an already wealthy nation like the US; orcherish our Christian liberty and freedom of conscience to the extent that we refuse to have our consciences legalistically bound by what others think we need to be doing with our own time, money, and resources; orinsist that the sin of partiality is not unique to dominant or majority groups, as I attempted to show in my article criticizing modern affirmative action as unbiblical partiality; orobject to broad-brushed efforts to either speak for or indict entire groups of people; orreject attempted heart—and mind—and motive—reading by many "social justice" advocates which we believe is in violation of 1 Corinthians 4:5 as well as chapter 13 on love; orquestion or even dispute the implicit assumptions and assertions that are accepted as closed matters of fact by many "social justice" advocates despite the existence of studies, data, and evidence that often support contrary views; orperhaps most importantly, urgently warn against the Gospel confusion and distraction that might arise whenever "social justice" advocates attempt to raise their issues to the level of a "Gospel issue" (and see this excellent article by Kevin DeYoung on this very topic, although to be candid, I think he was being polite to the "social justice" side of the discussion by saying "it depends" . . . note that he rejects all attempts to make social justice into a Gospel issue except perhaps for one very narrow slice that constitutes a small minority of "social justice" rhetoric).My hope is that as we all process through the various aspects of this discussion, we do so in a way that honors the Lord and upholds biblical speech and conduct, even as we strive to believe the best of our brothers and sisters, and appreciate that although each of us may have earnest and genuine convictions, in the vast majority of cases, they don't suddenly turn our siblings into enemies.
by Darrell B. Harrisonhen it comes to the matter of "social justice"—a term I personally disavow but will use for the sake of this commentary—Lev. 19:15-18 is one of the most comprehensive passages in all of Scripture.It reads:You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the Lord. You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.When properly understood, particularly against the seemingly ubiquitous backdrop of the current infringement of the "social gospel" on the evangelical church we, as believers in the one true God (Jn. 17:3), realize that there is no category of person, whether believer or an unbeliever, to which the precepts established in the above-mentioned passage do not apply with regard to the universal principle of the imago Dei (Gen. 1:27).In other words, notwithstanding the ever-expanding vocabulary of hyphenated descriptors and subjective personal identifiers that permeate much of the language of social justicians today, those whose hearts and minds have been regenerated by the power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16, 12:2; 1 Thess. 2:13) understand that such aesthetic qualifiers are wholly unnecessary, as every human being—by virtue of having been created in the image of God by God Himself (Jn. 1:3)—is inherently worthy of being treated equitably without regard to ethnicity, sex, or socio-economic station." . . .have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?" (Jas. 2:4).But in observing the contemporary social gospel movement today, particularly within Protestant evangelicalism, I find it to be one that continues to evolve yet never matures.Despite the seemingly incessant string of racial reconciliation and social justice conversations, roundtables, summits, and conferences being conducted and facilitated by various evangelical churches and entities, the fact is not much has changed in terms of their core objective: that sinful human beings consistently treat one another as God has commanded us in His Word (Ps. 106:3; Prov. 21:15; Zech. 7:9). But this begs the question: what part of "sinful" do these beloved brothers and sisters not understand?Admittedly, I pose that question with just a hint of sarcasm, but only because it is believers who, more than anyone, should be ever-mindful that sin—our sin—permeates and encompasses every facet of our existence in this world, including our relationships and interactions with one another, but who seem to so quickly consign that reality to oblivion when confronted with the injustices and inequities this world presents, as if they were somehow behavioral anomalies (Jn. 16:33). Or, to state it differently, why should we, as Christians, expect anyone's behavior to change whose heart has not first been changed (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:11)?In asking that question, I am reminded of the words of the 17th-century Puritan theologian, Thomas Watson who, in The Doctrine of Repentance, asks soberingly: "Is it not strange that two should live together, and eat and drink together, yet not know each other? Such is the case of a sinner. His body and soul live together, work together, yet he is unacquainted with himself. He knows not his own heart, nor what a hell he carries about him. Under a veil a deformed face is hid. Persons are veiled over with ignorance and self-love; therefore they see not what deformed souls they have."In recent months, I have been privileged to have been asked to participate in several discussion forums on the topic of social justice. I have declined the vast majority of those invitations because, simply put, God has already spoken on the issue.So what more is there to be said?Do you want more laws enacted so sinful people can break those laws as well as the ones they're already breaking (Rom. 7:14-20)? Do you desire that unethical politicians resign or be impeached only to be replaced by other unethical politicians who will mimic their transgressions (Eccl. 5:8)? Do you want sinful police officers fired only so they can be replaced with other sinful police officers? Because we've all sinned (Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:23)?My point is there is nothing you or I can say on the matter of "social justice" that would heighten or strengthen or make more authoritative what an omniscient, almighty, and sovereign God has not already declared. As the prophet Micah declared, "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly before your God (Mic. 6:8)?An interesting thing about Micah 6:8 is that it is a favorite text of many evangelical social justicians. They particularly regard the middle portion of that passage—"to do justice"—as being especially integral to their apologetic that social justice is in fact a "gospel issue" (whatever that means). But it is in the same spirit in which God spoke to His people through Micah regarding our practicing justice, kindness, and humility that He speaks to us today in other areas of our life.Consider also that:He has told you, O husband, that you are to love your wife: Eph. 5:25-33a; 1 Pet. 3:7.He has told you, O wife, that you are to respect your husband: Eph. 5:33b; 1 Pet. 3:1-3.He has told you, O child, that you are to honor and obey your parents: Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:1-3.He has told you, O employee, how to conduct yourself on your job: Col. 3:23.He has told you, O leader, how to guide others with humility: Matt. 20:25-28.In other words, God has spoken.He has spoken not only on matters of justice and injustice, but also on marriage, parenting, leadership, work, finances, abortion, and others. Yes, God has spoken. And since He has spoken, it is our responsibility as believers, as did the prophet Micah in his day, to proclaim His word to a sin-saturated world, knowing that, in God's sovereign providence, there will be those who, upon hearing the truth of the gospel, will respond in obedience and those who will not, for such is the nature of the human heart (Matt. 13:18-23; Mk. 7:17-23)."Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances" (Ezek. 36:26-27, NASB)Humbly in Christ,
by Hohn Chohis morning, "The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel" was released. Consisting of 14 main articles of affirmations and denials (plus an addendum), the entire statement is full of biblical truth and worth reading.Thabiti Anyabwile, who has been very involved in the discussion relating to social justice and the Gospel, called it "a great statement" and said he'd be "happy to sign it" even if he doesn't believe it's a "fair statement of the issues."I'll let the actual initial signers speak more about this as they see fit, but from where I sit, I don't believe the statement is supposed to be controversial or difficult to sign. My impression is that it's simply a set of fundamental biblical truths and principles that Christians broadly and generally ought to be able to agree on. And it does not prescribe a set of overly specific applications or attempt to micromanage Christians' consciences, which is one criticism I've had of quite a few "social justice" advocates.What it does is lay out a basic and fundamental set of principles for the discussion. If a large number of "social justice" advocates are also in agreement with the statement, I would consider that a very good and healthy thing. We would then be crystal clear about the ability to have an intramural debate, so to speak, and perhaps some of the perceived threats to the actual sanctity of the Gospel itself would abate.On that note, I believe the statement could also serve to flush out both theological extremists who are a threat to the Gospel, as well as pragmatic opportunists who might be so concerned about or swayed by public opinionor perhaps being perceived as a bad "ally" to other Christian or even secular "social justice" advocatesthat they are unwilling to stand for basic biblical truth.At a bare minimum, perhaps the statement will help to do away with the Gnostic-like notion that only people of certain ethnicities (or even worse, people of certain ethnicities who agree with the "social justice" advocates' views) possess the "secret knowledge" that permits them to engage in the discussion and expound upon the Scriptures relating to these topics.I've long said that people who are concerned about the direction of the "social justice" movement are more than willing to engage in the debate, despite claims to the contrary by many on the "social justice" side. (A future post of mine may address this very issue.) Hopefully we can do so in a civil way that has as our foundation the Word of God.One final note, as many already know, my pastor John MacArthur has been publishing a series of blog articles and preaching a sermon series on this topic. A number of people on the "social justice" side have commented that although they might not agree with every single nuance, the basic concepts and principles are not in themselves controversial or subject to dispute.Social Injustice and the GospelThe Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 2Is the Controversy over "Social Justice" Really Necessary?Again, as with the statement, I think that's actually a good thing, and my hope is that after he's finished with both series, we can continue the discussion on a foundation of solid biblical truth that has been the hallmark of MacArthur's ministry for over five decades.So let's continue talking about this, and again, if the statement serves only to isolate the extremists and opportunists, that alone would be a helpful thing.
With my own suggestions about what seminarians should be readingby Phil JohnsonBefore I get into what I'm about to write, I must issue a word of apology and explanation for the paucity of fresh posts since we fired the blog back up. I did, of course, say that we won't necessarily be posting daily, but I wasn't intending to have gaps of total silence as long as we've had between the previous non-Spurgeon blogpost and this one. My travel schedule has had me out of the office more than I was there in August; I'm trying to juggle and meet other important deadlines; and I'm older and slower than I was in blogging's heyday. Which is to say the molasseslike pace of the revived PyroManiacs is entirely my fault. I have a handful of posts by other contributors already in the pipeline. I've just been too busy to format and post them. I hope to get those moving starting tomorrow. (I've had some of them since before I went to Finland. So I'm jumping the queue in order to get this post online today. Please forgive me.)aster's Seminary (TMS) alumnus Terence Jones posted (at "SBC Voices" !?) a response to John MacArthur's introductory post in what promises to be an extended discussion of the recent evangelical preoccupation with "social justice."Terence, whom I don't know, decided to take a personal slap at me, implying that I have somehow singled him out as a "black sheep." (The quotation marks are his, as if he was citing something I wrote.) For the record, I've never said a word about Terence until now. Moreover, I haven't categorized anyone as a black sheep for holding a different view from mine on "social justice." (Not only have I not written off any individuals with such a dismissal; I haven't smeared any people groups with negative generalizations—in contrast to those who casually throw out expressions like "upper middle class, Republican-leaning white men" in cracks they make about people whom they've never had a real conversation with.)Anyway, Terence seems to be saying John MacArthur is wrong about "systemic racism"; that racism is indeed a deeply-ingrained problem at The Master's Seminary; and that the stubborn proof of that charge (one of "the truths that Dr. MacArthur's social justice series won't change") is revealed in the lists of required reading students are subjected to. Why is that proof of systemic racism? Because those lists have not been organized by a quota system to ensure that all ethnicities—nay, black theologians—are properly represented. Terence says he stifled seven years of seething anger rather than share his concern publicly over this issue. The main physical injury he describes came from the biting of his own lip.I'm not making that up. Seriously, if Terence Jones is trying to portray TMS as a bastion of institutional or systemic racism, he fails miserably. He doesn't cite a single incident of anyone connected with the seminary who ever displayed so much as a hint of racial animus. He doesn't suggest anyone even remotely connected with the seminary has even a tincture of sympathy with white supremacist attitudes. I know for a fact that the truth is the opposite: racism—even subtle expressions of scorn or contempt based on skin color or ethnicity—would not be tolerated at the seminary. The school has in fact graduated dozens if not hundreds of men from a very wide variety of tongues, tribes, and nations.Now, here I have to make a disclaimer. I'm not employed by or connected with The Master's Seminary in any way. In fact, I'm sure there are faculty members there who would be happy for me to make that disclaimer as emphatically as possible. I have zero input or influence when it comes to the curriculum, class content, or assigned reading lists at TMS. I never even get to meet most of the men who study there. (My office is 22 miles away from the seminary.)Indeed, I have had my own private concerns about TMS's required reading lists over the years. Frankly, for my money, there don't seem to be enough truly classic works. Seminarians' required reading tends to be pretty thin on primary sources: works written by (not about) the Church Fathers, Augustine, Athanasius, Anselm, the magisterial Reformers, Puritan writers, Particular Baptists, and the Dutch Reformed. Many seminary graduates sound to me as if they've been completely overexposed to contemporary writers, counseling theory, books on methodology rather than theology, and books dealing with fleeting contemporary issues rather than the truly important battles against persistent heresies that they would learn about if they read more historical theology. Terence's obsession with modern notions of racial quotas is a fitting example of this.I mentioned the Dutch Reformed heritage. That category of theological literature is loaded with classic works that seminarians really need to have some familiarity with, but few do. Which is to say I think Joel Beeke probably has as much reason as Terence Jones does to have spent "many a days" weeping and ranting "behind closed doors" in a TMS professor's office. As a matter of fact, I have a Bogan friend (GTY's only employee from down under), a TMS alum named Cameron Buettel, who has spent many a day whinging in my office over the dearth of Aussie writers on the TMS required reading list. Frankly, I think Cameron's just being a sook.What Terence Jones's article actually reveals is how gossamer thin are the actual complaints of those so eager to condemn Reformed and evangelical Christians as systemically unjust. I think John MacArthur is exactly right: evangelicals who think of themselves as "gospel-centered" need to get back to the actual gospel and stop these incessant attempts to blend gospel truth with whatever happens to be popular in secular discourse at the moment.
Powered by Ekklesia-Online