Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mad Hatter

A few days ago I just noticed a request (last month) by E. Calvin Beisner for me to comment on this post:

So here's my belated reply. Although World Vision reversed itself, the issues haven't gone away.

Before commenting on the specifics, I'll make some general observations. 

i) I don't read Jen Hatmaker. I'm guessing she has a following among some religous women.

ii) Throughout the piece she appeals to relativism. Funny how people who resort to relativism are oblivious to the obvious fact that that's a double-edged sword. Relativism is self-refuting. 

The same goes for her false intellectual modesty. For people like her, intellectual modesty is a virtue they only urge on their opponents, whereas they themselves are intellectually immodest. She's clearly taking sides. She's siding with "gay Christians." But in that event, her appeal to relativism undercuts her own position as well. 

iii) Presumably, she doesn't relativize everything in Scripture. Take those going-to-heaven-when-you-die promises in Scripture. I assume she values those. 

I will attempt a measured response that might help us through yet another damaging fallout surrounding the single most polarizing issue in our generation. I aim to be a peacemaker, because someone has to be.

She appoints herself the voice of reason. How humble. 

But with employees from over 50 denominations, some of which sanction same-sex marriages (United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), as well as staff in the 17 states plus the District of Columbia where same-sex marriages are legal and binding, World Vision has chosen not to make this issue a condition of employment. 

Why not? For instance, there are conservative Christian colleges and seminaries with an interdenominational faculty. But these institutions have their own statement of faith, to which faculty must subscribe as a condition of employment. 

Rather, they are leaving the theological sorting to the local church of which WV considers their organization an “operational arm,” not a “theological arm.”

Like distinguishing the political wing of Hamas from its military wing. 

First of all, the Christian community is not going to reach consensus on gay marriage. 

Consensus already exists. The Christian community is solidly opposed homosexual marriage. Those who support homosexual marriage signal their defection from the Christian community. By supporting homosexual marriage, they define themselves out of the Christian community. Their support places them out of bounds. 

Every article, regardless of its position for or against, is the same. The support arguments; same. The rebuttals; same. The circular thinking; same. The responses are fully predictable, the language identical, the interpretations immovable, and after all the energy expended, we discover we are at the same impasse.

That's largely true. But that doesn't make every argument and counterargument equally meritorious. She can only take that position on pain of instantly invalidating her own claims. 

This is a fact: Thousands of churches and millions of Christ-followers faithfully read the Scriptures and with thoughtful and academic work come to different conclusions on homosexuality (and countless others). Godly, respectable leaders have exegeted the Bible and there is absolutely not unanimity on its interpretation. 

Of course, that's just a question-begging assertion. She acts as if everyone must submit to her personal diktat. 

There never has been. 

Historic Christianity has been united against homosexuality. 

Reason and humility occupies too small a place in the analysis of the historical church and the progressive interpretation of Scripture. We just get ANGRY and DEFEND and say WELL I GUESS YOUR BIBLE IS MISSING A SECTION. It’s immature and myopic and a watching world is dumbfounded by our refusal to critically self-evaluate and invite nuance into an ancient text that was written across several cultures, 40+ writers, 1500 years, 8 genres, and an entire worldview shift once Jesus hit the scene.

If anything, the Majority World (i.e. the Global South) is dumbfounded by the way radical chic religionists in the West are moral, political, and theological weathercocks. 

Reactionary, emotional attacks are not helpful. Denny Burk decrying the “collapse of Christianity at World Vision” under a “false prophet who comes to you in sheep’s clothing…but inside is a ravenous wolf” is exactly the sort of emotional jargon that whips Christians into a frenzy and incites us to crucify one another. Burk declared that we would know false teachers by their fruits.

As any Biblical literate reader can see, Burk's "emotional jargon" is the jargon of Jesus. 

We do not need any more inflammatory soldiers in the culture wars; we need more thought leaders who are slower to publicly condemn their faithful brothers and sisters.

Which assumes that supporters of homosexual marriage are "their faithful brothers and sisters." Notice how she careens between relativism and absolutism. 

Perhaps you don’t agree with gay marriage, but this policy change at WV doesn’t affect your support of their mission. This is not a deal breaker for you. Great. It doesn’t have to be. You do not need to defend your continued sponsorship. Without question, WV is a high-ranking international charity that has transformed millions of lives. It has a solid, established history and employing married gay people has no bearing on their infrastructure or unambiguous mission to serve the poor in the name of Christ.
She compartmentalized homosexuality from charity for poor and needy children. But homosexuals prey on poor and needy children. Poverty is a source of child prostitution in the Third World. That includes child prostitutes who service homosexual Johns. 
Brothers and sisters, I am starving for reasonable, measured Christ-followers to become the dominant voices in the ongoing culture wars.
Having disqualified herself from that role. 


  1. Poor Apostle Paul, his jargon was so myopic and emotional...

  2. Thank you Steve, this was a great post. I'm a bit befuddled about this, though:

    "If anything, the Majority World (i.e. the Global South) is dumbfounded by the way radical chic religionists in the West are moral, political, and theological weathercocks."

    What do you mean by Majority World/Global South? Also, by referring to them as "moral, political, and theological weathercocks," do you mean that they're carried about by every gust of wind?

    1. What? The Global sputh, predominantly Africa is vehemently against homosexuality coming into the church and see the North and west (Europe, North America) as following every gust of fashionable wind.