Alan Chambers Accused of Antinomian Theology

From Christianity Today‘s article, Exodus International’s Alan Chambers Accused of Antinomian Theology

Exodus International president Alan Chambers has, in the past week, explained the Orlando-based ministry’s recent U-turn on reparative therapy to everyone from The New York Times to NPR to MSNBC’s Hardball.

And while the organization’s stance remains acceptable to most evangelicals, some scholars fear that Chambers’s theological convictions—sprinkled throughout those interviews—have not.

“It’s not that he is simply not saying the warnings [against homosexual activity] in Scripture. I could live with that,” Pittsburgh Theological Seminary professor Robert Gagnon said of Chambers’s recent comments. “It’s that he is saying the exact opposite of what Scripture clearly teaches … . He’s preaching an anti-gospel.”

The theological heresy in question is antinomianism. The term was coined by Martin Luther to refer to those who believe that since faith is sufficient for salvation, Christians are not obligated to keep God’s moral law.

Gagnon, author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice and a plenary speaker at Exodus’s 2009 Freedom Conference, said that a June interview in The Atlantic shows that Chambers’s views have veered. “Some of us choose very different lives than others,” Chambers said of gay Christians in same-sex marriages. “But whatever we choose, it doesn’t remove our relationship with God.”

When asked to clarify whether or not that meant “a person living a gay lifestyle won’t go to hell, as long as he or she accepts Jesus Christ as personal savior,” he replied, “My personal belief is … while behavior matters, those things don’t interrupt someone’s relationship with Christ.” In the course of the interview, Chambers made it clear that he believes that homosexual acts are sinful.

35-page response written by Gagnon called into question not only Chambers’s soteriology, but also his ability to continue his 11-plus years of leading Exodus, which boasts some 260 affiliates domestically and internationally.

Defending his public remarks, Chambers told Christianity Today, “If someone tells me that they have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ—in the way I understand it and have experienced it—they still know Jesus regardless of what types of behavior they’ve chosen to be involved in.”

“I don’t know how anyone could call grace cheap when it cost Jesus everything,” said Chambers. “I find it disheartening that we [evangelicals] are so inconsistent and over-focused on one group of people over another. We aren’t talking about this in any other subculture of people except this one [the LGBTQ community].”

Click here to read the full article. More to come I am sure.

New York Times Reports on “Rift” Over a Gay Cure

Photo Credit: The New York Times

Please note that if it doesn’t have “quotation marks” around it then Alan didn’t actually say it the way they report he did. His actual quotes are the ones with “quotation marks” around them. Please also listen to Alan’s opening session at this year’s Exodus Freedom “Made for More” conference. His message that night is the most accurate context of his beliefs.

From The New York Times (linkage theirs):

For more than three decades, Exodus International has been the leading force in the so-called ex-gay movement, which holds that homosexuals can be “cured” through Christian prayer and psychotherapy.

Exodus leaders claimed its network of ministries had helped tens of thousands rid themselves of unwanted homosexual urges. The notion that homosexuality is not inborn but a choice was seized on by conservative Christian groups who oppose legal protections for gay men and lesbians and same-sex marriage.

But the ex-gay movement has been convulsed as the leader of Exodus, in a series of public statements and a speech to the group’s annual meeting last week, renounced some of the movement’s core beliefs. Alan Chambers, 40, the president, declared that there was no cure for homosexuality and that “reparative therapy” offered false hopes to gays and could even be harmful. His statements have led to charges of heresy and a growing schism within the network.

Relinquishing My Role As The Holy Spirit

This post appeared as a Grace Church Orlando blog post back in February. I wanted to publish it here as well. I hope you find it helpful.

Relinquishing My Role As The Holy Spirit

I had a dream last night that my wife, Leslie, and I were in a Life Group at church and a gay couple joined.  The two men were friends of mine from 20 years ago and had since adopted children.  They obviously knew me, how my story had evolved, and joined the group anyway.  During the group one of the members awkwardly blurted out, “Alan, tell the group about your ministry.”  I knew what the man was trying to do.  He was reacting in a way that most evangelicals often do.  We see a sinner and right away jump into “convert” mode with no thought of getting to know them or simply relating over common interests. Our default is to share our biblical conviction and immediately try to win them.  We allow our performance-oriented Christianity to impact the way we interact with unbelievers.  We approach them as projects to be managed and conquered instead of as people to be in relationship with.  We are uncomfortable with what appears to be messy and challenging and want to put it in some religious order as soon as possible.  We are ready for people modify their behavior before we have even introduced them to the One who died to change more than that behavior.

Sexual Healing: Evangelicals Update Their Message to Gays – The Atlantic

Many thanks to Jennie Rothenberg and The Atlantic for an incredibly fair shake with this article. Some quotes from the introduction (they provided the linking.)

Thirty years ago, Alan Chambers was a Christ-loving 10-year-old with a terrible secret. He knew he was attracted to other boys. He also knew that the Bible called homosexuality an “abomination.” After nearly a decade of hiding his feelings (and his love of shopping and decorating) from family and pastors, he discovered a ministry called Exodus International. Today, Chambers is the president of Exodus and the author of the book Leaving Homosexuality. He oversees more than 260 ministries, spearheads large annual conferences, and is married to a woman.

Christians who consider themselves “ex-gays” have become a source of ridicule in popular culture. Although the evangelical leader Ted Haggard isn’t affiliated with Exodus, it didn’t help the cause when he was outed by a male prostitute he’d been frequenting for years — and then deemed by his pastors, after just three weeks of therapy, to be “completely heterosexual.” For many, though, these stories represent something deadly serious. The American Psychological Association warns that homosexuality is not a disorder, and that trying to “cure” it can lead to “intimacy avoidance, sexual dysfunction, depression, and suicidality.”

More recently, Chambers publicly rejected reparative therapy — a school of counseling that aims to make gay people straight. At the Gay Christian Network Conference in January of this year, Chambers told the audience that “99.9 percent of [Exodus participants] have not experienced a change in their orientation.” Around the same time, he pulled all reparative therapy books from the Exodus bookstore. His actions irked a number of therapists, including one marriage counselor, improbably named David Pickup, who argued that Exodus had “failed to understand and effectively deal with the actual root causes of homosexuality.”

As mentioned, the above quotes are from the first part of the interview. The second part is a direct back and forth conversation I had with Jennie Rothenberg. We cover a wide range of topics including my testimony, Exodus’ goals, gay teens, the Bible, monogamy vs. promiscuity and even Carrie Underwood’s stand on marriage.

I enjoyed the interview and hope you find the resulting article informative.

Daily Beast Columnist Kirsten Powers Covers FRC Controversy

From The Daily Beast Kirsten Powers, also a FOX News Analyst, writes (more quotes including from yours truly after the jump):

A few weeks ago, at their annual Watchman on the Wall conference … the FRC gave a Baptist pastor named Ron Baity their highest “pro-family” award of the year. Yep, this is the person who gave a sermon to his church that compared being gay with being a murderer. He also said, “I can’t believe the perverseness of two men or two women wanting to slobber over each other … that’s worse than sick. I don’t even think maggots would do that.” He is on record longing for the days when “we had laws that would prosecute [the homosexual] lifestyle.” In a radio interview, he said accepting gay people would make society “more filthy” and said, “They cannot reproduce, so they recruit.”

Just like Jesus said. Oh, wait. Jesus actually said Christians should “love their enemies.” Baity and FRC have arrogantly overruled the Prince of Peace and attempted to pass off bigotry and hate speech about people with whom they disagree as the Lord’s work.

Made for More – Letter from Alan Chambers for May 2012

This letter is cross-posted from the Exodus Blog

Made for More

Dear Friends:

As we approach the 37th annual Freedom Conference, I am filled with great expectancy of what God is going to do in and through each one of us. Year after year, in our weakness and humility, Jesus shows up mightily in both our personal and corporate time. Who among us doesn’t leave changed?

Our theme this year is Made for More I think most people would admit that at some point in time in their lives they have wondered if there is anything more to the life they are experiencing.  For many, something seems to be missing.  Often there is a deep void in our hearts that goes unfilled and unsatisfied.

During the early days of trying to figure out my struggle with SSA I remember thinking that what I truly needed was the love and affirmation of a man to fill that need.  I was consumed by a need to heal the ache inside because the ache was all I paid attention to. The focus and direction of my desires was also in direct conflict with my biblical beliefs.  But what I perceived as my deepest and most overwhelming need suppressed those feelings of conflict and I chose to act on my SSA.

NECK DEEP!

The Jordan River

One of the ways I get to participate in my kids schooling is that I do all of their Bible homework with them. I eagerly agreed to this when they started school last year because I knew it would force me to learn with them and through their young hearts. I love going over the old familiar stories that I learned as a child but more than that I have loved the new things God has begun teaching me through these old stories and scriptures that specifically relate to the journey I am on today.

For instance, we have been reading about the Israelites “Exodus” from Egypt. Most recently we arrived in the book of Joshua at the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River under Joshua’s leadership after the death of Moses. About the time we got to that portion of the story my pastor spoke on this historic event and added a wealth of information to the story that I had never heard or considered. It’s remarkable how often I am guilty of simply reading scripture rather than studying and meditating on it! So, I have been camped out in Joshua reading and rereading that particular story, researching it online and reading up on “the rest of the story”. It’s fascinating especially as I think about how specifically it applies to our modern day struggles to persevere in Christ in the midst of sin and suffering.

Statement from Alan Chambers Regarding Exodus and Dawson McAllister

Recent events involving youth leader Dawson McAllister, Clear Channel Communications
and Exodus International have been spotlighted in numerous blogs and
publications over the past few days. While Exodus is no stranger to controversy,
we are usually reluctant to make public statements critical of other
organizations or leaders, particularly those for whom we have high personal
regard. But the very public nature of this situation leaves us no choice but to
clarify our feelings and position on the matter.

On Sunday April 11, a 22 year old gay blogger named
Greg Kimball called into McAllister’s syndicated radio talk show Dawson
McAllister Live
, posing as a 16 year
old seeking advice about his homosexuality. The show’s representative referred
him to Exodus, which was listed on McAllister’s website as a partner. (Other
partners on the site include Focus on the Family and Campus Crusade for
Christ.) Kimball, apparently outraged that a youth-oriented radio show would
refer people to Exodus, went public with his discovery, resulting in a number
of communications to Clear Channel demanding they take action.

Clear Channel subsequently informed Dawson that he
would need to remove Exodus’ name from his referral list. Citing its
non-discriminatory policy, the
company defended
what many would view as censorship, stating that because
of their commitment to diversity, they expect that “listeners who call (Dawson
McAllister Live) be treated in a manner consistent with our corporate
commitments to diversity.” Left with a choice between losing favor with Clear
Channel by maintaining a relationship with Exodus, or maintaining media
visibility by severing our ties, he chose the latter. On Thursday April 15 he
informed us personally that, while he loves and supports Exodus, our name was
now deleted from his partner’s list, and he will no longer refer to us. That
decision has been well publicized, requiring a response.

Our esteem for Dawson is not in
question here. His achievements are remarkable
<<over 1 million copies of his books and
manuals sold; a 15 year broadcasting career; a radio show boasting over 140
stations – and I’ve made no secret of his impact on me.
 In 1991 we met in Lakeland, Florida.  I was 19 at the
time, and it was through his personal referral that I found Exodus
International. Dawson McAllister was the catalyst for my journey, which eventually
led me to direct the organization he’s now unwilling to officially associate
with. (Could the irony be any more bitter?)

But respect notwithstanding, it’s
troubling to
see any Christian-led
organization allow itself to be guided by the demands of pro-gay
advocates. While Exodus is the group being marginalized in this case, it's the
freedom to express a traditional viewpoint of sexuality that's really at stake,
raising the obvious question: Who's Next? Should all on-air ministries who teach
that homosexuality falls short of God’s will expect a knock on the door,
demanding they either water it down or close shop? And if that knock comes, is
the truth about human sexuality really a negotiable item? Is the definition of
marriage and family so small a matter to Christian leaders that they’ll avoid
inconvenient truth (or inconvenient relationships) to keep their audience? If
so, we wonder what other Biblical truths are up for negotiation when on-air
visibility is at stake.

We appreciate the need one group may have to distance
itself from another. We’ve made that painful decision ourselves, when we’ve
realized that differences in belief or approach were so great that we had no
choice but to severe ties with those we could longer in good faith support. So
if an associate no longer shares our position on homosexuality, we respect his
need to break ties with us. Likewise, if someone shares our viewpoint but
objects to the way we implement it, we hope they’ll discuss their concerns with
us so we can consider them and, if no agreement can be reached, we wish them
the best as they move on.

But according to both Dawson and his CEO (who also
spoke with me by phone) this severance had nothing to do with disagreement. The
CEO, in fact, assured me they still love Exodus and
believe in what we are doing, which bothers me all the more. When
organizational relations end due to irreconcilable differences of belief or
practice, that makes sense. But when someone publicly dumps you then privately
whispers “We still believe in what you’re doing”, isn’t some kind of
double-mindedness at play? Both of them also stressed to me their desire to
stay on Clear Channel, which is understandable. But at what cost? When a
Christian leader is forced to choose between truth and market numbers, should
market numbers really be the deciding factor?

Yes, according to Dawson’s CEO, who told
me that only 1% of their callers over the past 15 months had phoned in with
this issue. "Should we forsake the 99 percent
for the 1 percent?" he asked. Had he remembered the parable of the lost
sheep, in which a good shepherd left the 99 for the 1, he might have answered
his own question. 

And there’s the rub. If Dawson McAllister was a
secular, non-Christian leader, his priorities would make sense. But if he
serves the One who warned “Woe unto you when all men speak well of you”, and
follows in the steps of the Apostle who said, “If I seek the favor of men, I
should not be a servant of Jesus Christ”, then his response to pressure from
gay activists and Clear Channel is distressing. We earnestly hope it will be
the exception, not the rule, when similar pressure is exerted on other visible
leaders.

As
for us, we’ll continue our commitment to Biblically based truth regarding
homosexuality, and to that 1% that is, to us, precious. And on a personal note,
I’ll admit that yes, I am sad, yet I am determined.  I'm not giving up or in.  You can count on me, 1%.  I'm for
you, and both I and my colleagues at Exodus will continue to tell you the truth
about God's never-ending grace and mercy.

To Contact Clear Channel:

Marc Mays, CEO, Clear Channel; Executive Assistant: Carole Adamek, 210-832-3306
Lisa Dollinger, Communications Director, Clear Channel: lisacdollinger@clearchannel.com
Ms. Dollinger's Executive Assistant: stacieiverson@clearchannel.com; 210-832-334

When you call or write (OR BOTH), do not simply accept referrals to Premiere Radio–register your concern BOTH places. 

Click here to register your concerns with Dawson, as well.