Towards Peace & Conversation

 

The world is fraught with bad news. It has been since the beginning and will be until the end. Ironically, after however many thousands or millions of years (depending on your theology, or lack thereof) humans are still surprised wars continue to happen, that people die, and senselessly bad things happen to really good people. We don’t expect this reality. Maybe because God didn’t create the world or its inhabitants to experience the decay that has been unstoppable since Adam and Eve fell in the garden. Our expectations match what was to be our original perfect reality and not what became our actual reality post fall.

Andy Crouch, prolific author, speaker, and Executive Editor of Christianity Today, says it like this,

“We live in a bad news to bad news reality in the church. We start in Genesis 3 (the fall) and end with Revelations 20 (the lake of fire).”

Andy’s point is that even the Church, the entity Pastor Bill Hybels calls the hope of the world, has succumbed to this grim, joyless, and visionless existence. As Believers we live like the rest of humanity, in shame and defeat, with a poor image of God the Father, Redeemer, Creator, Author, and Finisher. And, we become a poor reflection of Him.

An Overview of Alan Chambers’ Summer Media Appearances

Click Image to see the three part video interview with Anderson Cooper 360

Click the above image to see the three part video interview with Anderson Cooper 360

This has been a busy summer for Alan in many ways, including media. Here is a list of some of the highlights over the past few months:

Special Report: God & Gays – Lisa Ling, Our America

‘Ex-gay’ group Exodus International shuts downBBC World News

Exclusive: ‘Gay cure’ advocate apologizes - Anderson Cooper 360 (Three part video interview available online at link)

Some Christians shift on gays: Column – by Tom Krattenmaker, USA Today

Exodus International: Let the Recycling Begin! - by Brandan Robertson, Revangelical Blog

Homosexuality & The Question of Christian Unity - by Brandan Robertson, Revangelical Blog

Why I’ll Accept Your Imperfect Apology – by Laura Ortberg Turner, Christianity Today

Exodus international: bending history’s arc - by Christian Piatt, Red Letter Christians

My Response to the Closing of Exodus International - by Tony Campolo, Red Letter Christians

Can Christianity Learn to Say, “I’m Sorry”? - by Stephen Mattson, Red Letter Christians

Watermark interviews former Exodus figurehead Alan Chambers - by Susan Clary, Watermark

Alan Chambers, Exodus International’s Former President, On Sexual Labels, ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy – by Michelangelo Signorile (Includes audio of Alan’s interview on Signorile’s Sirius OutQ Radio program The Gist.)

Exodus to Speak Love – article by Erik Guzman and audio is included of Alan’s interview on Steve Brown Etc.

This is definitely not a comprehensive list and two more important interviews are coming soon to Buzzfeed and Relevant Magazine. Stay tuned!

World Magazine Asks, “Alan Astray?”

Photo Credit: World Magazine and photographed by Tom Mills/Genesis

From World Magazine and the introduction to “Alan astray?” (will Appear in the August 11th issue):

Alan Chambers still believes that change is possible for homosexuals, but he says he’s realistic about the process: It’s usually a lifelong struggle.

The president of Exodus International—a Christian ministry that helps people grappling with homosexuality—surprised many in June by announcing a change in the organization: The group would no longer endorse reparative therapy—a form of counseling that aims to help a person change his sexual orientation.

Chambers says reparative therapy has some helpful elements but he’s wary of claims that the approach could “cure” a person of same-sex attraction, and worries such claims could set up unrealistic expectations for those seeking help. He says a person could battle homosexual temptation the rest of his life, and sees Christian discipleship in a local church as the key to confronting sin and pursuing holiness over a lifetime.

At least 12 affiliated organizations have left the Exodus network since the announcement. More than 200 remain.

For some, the biggest controversy hasn’t been over Exodus’ break with reparative therapy but over recent comments that Chambers has made about homosexuality and Christianity.

Click here to read the rest of the article. I think it is a well done, balanced article that shows quite clearly where Exodus currently stands on the two biggest controversies of late.

Life Orientation: An Open Letter to Alan Chambers

From Jenell Paris over at Patheos:

Dear Alan,

I’m writing to express personal support for you as you extend yourself in the public sphere, defending Exodus’ change of position, and explaining your personal journey. I watched you on MSNBC and read The Atlantic interview, expecting ignorant inquiries delivered with a mocking tone. I was pleased to see secular journalists engaged you with intelligent preparation and a tone of respect, at times tinged with incredulity.

The onslaught is coming, instead, from your fellow Christians. ChristianityTodaypublished four articles, all of which slam your point of view. These critiques deserve to be heard, but they should have been balanced with words from an Exodus board member, describing why Exodus keeps you in leadership, or perhaps a story from a same-sex attracted Christian who has found hope and spiritual growth from your teachings. Thankfully, they’ve printed your response, which is a simple and lovely reminder of God’s abundant grace.

Thoughts From a Simple-Minded Jesus Lover

Brilliantly simple Op-Ed in Christianity Today by Alan. Here is a quote from the introduction of the two page article:

Everyone is clamoring for the No. 1 spot in the great gay Christian debate. For some, it isn’t enough that people hold to a traditional, conservative, and biblical sexual ethic; they also want to emphasize that homosexual sexual expression is more egregious than other sexual sins and deserves greater judgment and eternal consequence.

Others demand that there are no scriptural mandates limiting homosexual sexual expression for believers. While most of us would never even question heterosexual sexual ethics, some seem fine with making special exceptions for the gay or lesbian person.

I find the arguments above exhausting. They are never-ending, one-dimensional, and somewhat pointless in the grand scheme of things. In the words of my 7-year-old, “That argument is so last year.” Out of the mouths of babes.

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.

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.