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Eugene Peterson and My View

Romans 2:3 – Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?

Recently, Eugene Peterson, a respected person in evangelical circles and the author of The Message translation of the Bible, was interviewed by Jonathon Merritt of the Religion News Service. Peterson said some things that are very controversial and possibly leading to Christian retailers pulling not just his books but The Message as well.

When asked about his view on homosexuality and the church Merritt said, “I wouldn’t have said this 20 years ago, but now I know a lot of people who are gay and lesbian and they seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do”

He shared a story about hiring a worship pastor for his church who was gay. He went on to say “I don’t think it’s something that you can parade, but it’s not a right or wrong thing as far as I’m concerned.” He even said that he would officiate a gay wedding.

Peterson is no stranger to controversial views, although many think he has avoided them. He has come out against megachurches and doesn’t even believe they are churches. He believes they sell church to people and neglect the relationships that church is built to have.

When asked after the interview, Eugene back tracked. He reaffirmed his view of marriage being between one man and one woman. He then went on to say that he would like to retract what he said about officiating a gay wedding. And with regard to the statement about gay people having a spiritual life seemingly as good as other Christians, he said during the follow up interview that the “goodness of a spiritual life is irrelevant” and that we are “only saved by faith through grace irrelevant of our behavior.”

I am going to go out on a limb here.

The relationship is of premier importance to Eugene Peterson, possibly even at the risk of biblical truth. His belief that megachurches aren’t churches because of the lack of relational impact and the decision to leave biblical viewpoints in preference of the bridges built with the gay community shows that his focus is on the relationship.

So, Fred, what do you think?

First, I think this is going to have long-lasting repercussions in the evangelical church. The Message is a pretty popular translation and if churches see Peterson’s views as heretical, it could mean that the Message has a limited life span left in the church.

Romans 1:27 – In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Next, I think there are a couple of pieces that need to be addressed here. Some are pretty simple for me to write about and others will be controversial in their own right.

  • My view of homosexuality.

I have a LOT of friends and acquaintances and business relationships who are LGBTQ. I would never hold back someone from a friendship or a business promotion because of their sexual orientation. But I do believe it is a sin. And, because of that and the clear expectation of the Bible on church leaders living above reproach, someone who is actively LGBTQ cannot lead in a Bible-believing church. It also means that a Bible-believing church cannot marry an LGBTQ couple. To go along with that, if a church decides to change the Bible to fit a different standard, then that church, in my eyes, is not a true church.

Again, I need to make sure you understand, being gay does not preclude you from getting a business promotion or having a friendship with me or living in my neighborhood or even having me make a cake for a gay couple’s government-allowed wedding. But it is impossible for a Bible-believing church to stay true to their Bible and marry a gay couple or ordain a gay pastor. Please note, I did not say that they cannot attend the church. But leading in a Bible-believing church and marrying in it would stand against the Bible.

And to go along with that, if a gay couple or gay person who wants to be ordained were to push the issue in a Bible-believing church, then the person who is pushing the matter would expect others to turn against their beliefs for their own advantage, which, in itself, is a sin which would preclude that person from leadership or being married in the church.

If you are offended by what I just typed, then I am going to ask you to reread it. And if you are still offended, I would be happy to discuss with you over email at coffeeguy777@hotmail.com.

  • Peterson has an issue.

I believe that he is lying to make sure that people don’t turn against him. He already shared that he ordained a gay minister. Then he back tracked and said that he was retracting what he said. If his actions did not counter what he said, then I would believe that he is honest in his retraction. But the fact that he shared examples of his going against Biblical views, then it shows a shallowness to his retraction.

I know those are strong words. But Jesus primarily focused on pointing out the issue with the religious leaders, not with those He was meeting and sharing the Kingdom of God with.

So, Eugene Peterson, I am going to ask you to post more than a retraction. I think your past examples show that you need to ask forgiveness for having an issue of the heart.

Please note that I am not coming out and calling you a heretic. Nor am I calling you unsaved.

I am simply saying that you need to search your heart and determine if you need to go further than a retraction. I believe you do. If you would like to discuss this, Eugene, please email me at coffeeguy777@hotmail.com.

Psalm 101:7 – No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.

  • Relationship versus Jesus

It is no secret that God created us for relationship. But it is possible to idolize the relationship over the one who created the concept of relationships. It is similar to choosing your family over Christ. If the focus of the church is relationship only, then the church cannot be a true church. The focus of church is to simply worship and glorify God. Relationship is an aspect of doing church, but it is not the primary motivator for church.

Based on Peterson’s views, I believe he is idolizing the relationship of people over the relationship of Christ.

So where do we go from here?

I think Peterson needs to reflect on what he truly believes and start living by it. Then, if he chooses to go back to a Biblical viewpoint of homosexuality, he needs to ask forgiveness.

At no point am I saying that he needs to change his relationships with people, he simply needs to choose whether he will follow a Biblical view or not.

In the meantime, because of the fact that he is not truly sure of his beliefs, I would challenge that The Message is not a viable Bible translation.

I’m curious to hear everyone’s thoughts and verses supporting their thoughts. If you are simply going to comment, I will discount that. But if you comment with a strong Biblical argument as to your view, I will take it with strong credence.

Aaaaaaaand go…

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Christian TMZ – Ripped from the Headlines

James 3:1 – Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment, for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body.

This past week we had a lot of news. If you are not a Christian, some of this news will seem like non-news. But for Christians, there is a lot going on that needs to be talked about and studied. Four major news stories for Christians come to mind.

First, who hasn’t heard of Robin Williams’ suicide? No one. Robin Williams was an iconic actor, philanthropist, comedian, and activist. He was an Oscar-award winning actor who was battling depression which many speculate comes from his early onset Parkinson’s. Williams joked about his Episcopalian faith which he called “Catholic lite.” He struggled with addictions throughout his life, but overcame them and was sober and drug-free at the time of his death. He gave generously to UNICEF, St. Jude’s, Amnesty International, and raised over $50 million for the homeless through Comic Relief.

I am not going to get on this blog to discuss Robin Williams’ views on Christ, Christianity, or anything else. I am simply going to say that this should prompt us as Christians to a wake-up call. How long do we truly have with those we love?

Let me ask you a question, Christian? If you knew you held the keys to kingdom of heaven and withheld them from those you loved, would you be any better than a murderer? Now, a Christian is no better than a non-Christian. The only difference is that the Christian is going to heaven. But you are basically telling all of your loved ones they can go to hell if you withhold the saving grace of Christ from them.

Robin Williams made me laugh. In some of his movies he made me cry. In others, he drove me to action (you can’t tell me that when you watched Dead Poet Society that you didn’t want to stand on your school chair and chant, “Oh Captain, my Captain.”) But Robin Williams died before his friends desired him to die. He died before his loved ones expected it. How little time do we truly have to spend with our loved ones.

Make the most of it, Christian. Tell them about Christ. Show them love. Be the hands and feet of Christ to those we love the most.

James 3:5b-6 – Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites.  And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.

Next, both Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church were removed from the Acts 29 network of churches for something that Pastor Mark wrote online many years earlier. In 2000, Pastor Mark attacked Christian men and used various vulgar terms to do so. He also went on to claim some very antagonistic statements against women, saying that his view was Biblical.

This has caused countless of his flock to protest Mars Hill with banners that say “Question Mark.”

Now I am not a perfect person. Especially in this digital age, it is very easy for something we said many years earlier to show up and destroy our character. If this was simply something that happened in 2000 and he learned from it, repented and forgot it, then this would be less of an issue. But that isn’t where the story ends. He continued to celebrate it in 2006 and then later plagiarized sections of his 2013 book A Call to Resurgence. Pastor Mark has had years of living a lie and no accountability.

I have read a lot of what Pastor Mark wrote in 2000. He speaks a lot of truth in his words. But he also speaks a lot of heresy in there. But one thing is for certain, what we say (whether through our mouths or through our hands in writing) will be with us for a very long time.

I pray for Pastor Mark. I have read a lot of his works and have even used a lot of his quotes over my years at seminary and even to this day. I pray that he gets the help needed to continue the ministry that God has set in front of him. In the meantime, Christians should be very open about how Christianity is not the invention of man, but of God. We follow God. Yes, there will be great men who come and go and provide us with great insight into the faith, but the final authority to every Christian is the Bible. That is what I stake my life on, not on what Pastor Mark said or didn’t say.

James 3:13-16 – Who is wise and has understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil.

Third is that the Gungors, who won Dove Awards for their worship hits “Beautiful Things” and “Dry Bones” came out as saying that they don’t take the Bible as literal and came out calling Christians who do “crazy.” While they did apologize for those who felt they were deceived by their belief, they did not apologize for the outburst afterward that attacked literal-minded Christians, myself as one.

Christianity is filled with people who believe slightly different things than other Christians. That is why there are so many denominations out there, some heretical, others completely acceptable. God gave us a brain and the ability to think. Because of that, many of us are going to come to conclusions about Biblical views. Certain things, such as when the rapture is going to happen, for example, are not tenets of the Christian faith that can be easily explained. But then there are those items that are very straightforward that ALL Christians should believe. These include the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and the inerrancy/infallibility of Scripture.

It is very dangerous when a person in authority is not held accountable to anyone. This is always the danger with musicians. Many musicians write their songs in a vacuum, without anyone to review it other than the producer who is hoping to make millions from the song. The same thing happens in movies or on TV or, unfortunately, in some churches. Everyone needs accountability. Without accountability, you will begin to stray your thoughts away from Biblical instruction and into your own views. My suggestion to everyone reading this is to find someone to hold you accountable. Your own personal accountability is what God will be looking at when you stand in front of Him on your final day.

James 3:17-18 – But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.

Finally, another popular Christian musician has come out with something against Scripture. Vicky Beeching came out as gay, claiming God loves her just the way she is. Now while there is some truth to that, there needs to be more clarification than a soundbite. Beeching wrote the worship song, “Glory to God Forever” told various newspapers in the UK about her views. She came out with the quote, “I feel certain God loves me just the way I am, and I have a huge sense of calling to communicate that to young people.”

Vicky is not completely incorrect in her statement, but, as with all lies, they are usually masked in some truth.

God does love every person regardless sexual preference. But just because God loves you does not give you license to call a sin in the Bible acceptable. Homosexuality is clearly a sin. It is a sin against yourself and God.

If you are gay, I am not saying that you cannot be saved. My brother lived a gay man and died a gay man. I believe he had a stronger faith than many of the professed straight Christians out there. But my brother did one thing that many do not. He took his homosexuality captive to Christ.

You see, when we become a Christian, we choose to leave behind our old ways. If you were ever addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex, work or whatever, you will know what I mean. You leave behind those addictions. But that does not mean the feelings will simply go away. You kick an addiction to alcohol, you give it up and never drink again. That is what my brother did with his homosexuality. He chose to give it up and never practice it again. He prayed incessantly for Christ to keep him pure.

That is what we need to do with every sin, whether it is large, like homosexuality or addiction, or small. Ask Christ to take your sins from you. Nail them to the cross. Take them captive to Christ. Give them completely up to Him.

James 3:11-12 – Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.

Know Why This Week is Important in History?

John 13:34 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:  just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.

Today, as I write this, the United Supreme Court has made two rulings that affect the rules of marriage in America.  The first is that married same-sex couples are now entitled to federal benefits.  The second is that they declined to decide on a case from California that effectively now allows same-sex marriages there.

Both of these rulings are historically significant because the first allows currently married couples to have the same benefit as heterosexual married couples while the second allows for Californians to engage in same-sex marriage.  This means that 30% of America lives in an area that allows same-sex marriage.

Now, let me stop right here.  I want you to know my stance on same-sex marriage and homosexuality as a whole, but, even if I really tick off my homosexual friends by my views, I want you to read to the end, because this blog post is less an argument against homosexuality and more a teaching experience for Christians.

Leviticus 18:22 – Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman.  It is a detestable act.

I believe the Biblical viewpoint that homosexuality is a sin.  Our bodies belong to God, not us.  Just as the potter makes His clay pots and determines what they should become, God has created us for a singular purpose, worship.  Our bodies are part of that worship.  We should be following what He desires for our bodies and our lives.

But we are human.

All of humanity fell when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit from the tree of knowledge.  At that point, humanity…ALL OF HUMANITY…decided from that point forward to follow our own choices rather than the simplicity of worshiping God.

So we as humans became “tolerant” of wrong.  That “tolerance” led to intolerance of absolute morality.  What is sad, is that those who are “tolerant” are just intolerant to other groups such as Christians who believe in absolute morality.

Now, Christian, I want you to understand this.  Christianity is to be tolerant of people but intolerant of sin.    But, you may ask, how can they go hand in hand?

Let’s look first at how Jesus interacted with the woman at the well in John 4 and then come up with some great applications that we can practice to show people that we believe homosexuality is a sin and sin is a bad thing BUT that Jesus is the answer to all sin.

Finally, I will come up with some practical applications for those gripped by homosexual sin so that they can live a life that honors God.

The Story of the Woman at the Well

I’ll paraphrase this story for you as I am sure you don’t want me re-printing entire chapters of the Bible in here.  Basically, Jesus we to a town in Samaria called Sychar.  He got tired and sat down by a well as a woman approached.  Jesus, who was alone, asked the woman for a drink of water.  Culturally, Samaritans and Jews did not like each other that much.  They had some differing beliefs and culturally kept apart.  It was at that time Jesus explained who He was to the woman and He explained that while she had water to prevent thirst, He could offer her living water, that which heals the soul.  He then explained to her some of her past, about having had 5 husbands and that she was living in sin with a man who is not her husband.  At that time, she called Him a prophet and while He did not deny His prophetic act, He turned the conversation around to God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit.  From there, the woman went and told other Samaritans that Jesus is the Messiah and they came out and believed.

That was a very quick paraphrase of the Bible story.  But I want to get a couple of points across of what Jesus did and turn it into a practical application for us as Christians today.

1)      Jesus approached the woman by breaking the ice with her.  He simply asked her for a drink.  He already knew her past.  He could have judged her and condemned her to hell, but He simply spoke to her as a friend.

We as Christians have the power in our words to either turn people on to Christ or turn them off.  If we take a hardcore stance to only make sure that the absolute moral view is heard, then you have made the scenario already about the view, not God and not loving the other person.  If we simply blast away our viewpoint to the other person (regardless of whether we are right or wrong) then the person will immediately turn off to listening to us.

2)      Once Jesus had made sure she was listening to Him, He explained that He had an amazing gift for her, living water.

The gift of Christ to someone who is living in sin is a beautiful gift.  He exemplified the life that He was offering her.  Once we have made contact with people, Christian, we are to simply show them Jesus and what He has to offer.  If we live a life of true love and show it in our daily walk, then simply asking someone if they want to have that same joy, that same peace about life, is natural.  This is not beating them over the head with “you must convert.”  It is simply saying to the person, “How would you like to hear my testimony of how I came to be here.”

3)      Jesus was brutally honest with her.  He knew her circumstance.

He knew how she lived.  He knew the sin in her life.  Jesus asked her to explain her own circumstance and He listened for her to tell the truth.  Once He realized that, He knew she was someone whose heart was ready for the Truth.  This is the part where most Christians get it wrong.  We immediately get into an apologetic debate when we simply need to understand where the person is coming from.  After we understand that, then we can have a heartfelt conversation with them about God the Father and turn the conversation to God.  So, for example, if the person is gay, we don’t launch in with Leviticus or 1 Kings from the Bible.  We ask them for more details so we can understand where they are coming from.  Jesus is able to see everything about us at all times.  We don’t all have that ability.  So opening a quiet, straightforward discussion with the person about who they are is imperative.  Then we can share a little about where we are and why.

4)      Jesus turned the conversation back to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

He did not tell her to turn away from her ways.  That will come in time.  He simply introduced her to God and to the Holy Spirit.  And that is all we need to do, we are not out to turn people away from being gay, we are out to turn people toward Christ.  It is not about us healing a person’s soul, it is about God healing the person’s soul.  Externally we can do nothing to change who a person is but internally God can change who a person is.

So to break it down:

1)      Break the ice

2)      Explain your testimony and the gift of Christ

3)      Be brutally honest about both where you were and where they are

4)      Turn the conversation to the Trinity.  Let the Holy Spirit do the work of changing the person’s soul

A.W. Tozer puts it best when he said in his book, The Crucified Life, as he explained the impact of Acts 2:41.  Peter had just finished preaching simply the Good News of Christ risen and afterward the people asked “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) and Peter told them to repent and believe and be baptized and on that day over 3,000 came to know Christ.  Tozer puts it this way, “Facts and reason cannot have such an effect. I could argue with a man, I could reason with him, I could preach to him, and if I were capable of doing so with the oratory of Cicero or Demosthenes, when it was all over I could only convince his mind.”

OUR CONSCIENCE IS AWAKENED BY THE PRESENCE OF JESUS CHRIST HAVING COME OUT OF THE GRAVE!

Now, if you are reading this and a consumed with homosexual sin and realize it is time for a change, then I want to come up with some practical applications to get your life off sin and get it turned toward God.

1)      Call out to Christ and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior.

John 3:16-18 –Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish…[and whosoever] believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

This life that we live here is flawed.  But we can rise to Christian perfection.  Not many push through to Christian perfection, but we can live a life that encompasses that.  The old Chinese proverb says that the journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.  That first step is to call out to God.  Ask Christ into your heart.  When you ask Christ to be your Savior, He begins to change you from the inside out.

2)      Get baptized.

Once your take that single step of asking Christ into your heart, the next logical step is to get baptized.  This is the physical symbol of that which the Holy Spirit has already done inside of you.  Baptism is symbolic of the washing away of the old man.  You go under the water, sinful and go under the water and rise up out of it washed of sin and alive again.  The close symbolism to Christ’s experience in crucifixion and resurrection is striking.  He got nailed to the cross bearing the sin of all humanity, went into the grave and rose up out of, blameless as before and holding the power to take away our sin.

3)      Change.

I know this seems like Fred is speaking in very simplistic form, but once Christ has come into your heart you are no longer owned by yourself.  You now wholly belong to God.  Once you give God TRUE control over your life, He will change it from the inside out.  If you were trapped in homosexual sin before, now you will find that homosexual thoughts and actions begin to bother your conscience.  Then, as time goes by, if you continue to stay faithful to Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, you will not even desire to be around or look at anything that reminds you of your past life.  Finally, if you stay faithful until the end, you will find that you will be blessed beyond measure, whether single or in a heterosexual relationship.  The only thing that holds people back in this, including Christians, is the lack of desire to give complete control over to God.  We all have areas in our life as humans that we like to remain in control of.  But God wants complete control.  When we give it to Him, He works in us to affect change and bring about joy and peace in our souls.

4)      Continue on in faith.

As a Christian, you will be tempted.  You will stumble.  And you will have days where your happiness is gone.  But your joy will continue and your heart will be filled with peace knowing that your heart is hidden in Christ.

Homosexuality is choice.  It is NOT a disease, but it is part of the sin disease that permeates throughout the core of humanity.  I may get in trouble with my gay friends when I say it is like a cancer that needs to be removed.  But WE cannot remove it.  All we can do is add something to the lives of all those around, whether straight or gay.  All we can do is add our testimony of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in our hearts and give that testimony as to why we serve Him and love Him.  After that, we pray and wait on the power of the Holy Spirit.  Love is what will conform this world to a crucified life.  Love is what this world needs.  Not love as the world thinks of love.  Love that can only come from the Creator of the universe, Lord of lords, and King of kings that we are asked to emulate here on earth.  It is that sacrificial love that begins with Christ.  It is THAT love that the world needs.  And, I believe, it is precisely THAT love that the world wants…they just don’t realize it yet.

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