The title of this post is definitely incendiary but it is not meant to infer that Christians don’t believe the Bible, it’s just that when Christians actually take a firm, well thought through, consensus position on an issue that it can stir up controversy both inside and outside of what calls itself “Christianity”. First, a word on consensus.
Consensus is something that is tricky to appeal to because, just because there’s consensus that doesn’t make something necessarily true or right. Consensus can be achieved based on a number of factors, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the conclusion is true. For example, let’s say that someone ran a survey and the results of that survey revealed that 98% of the respondents of that survey believed that it was wrong to spit on the sidewalk. There’s certain questions that need to be asked, such as, what was meant by “wrong”? Did they mean “morally” wrong, or “socially” wrong? Is there really something “wrong” with spitting on the sidewalk? Personally, I think that it’s disgusting, but that’s merely personal opinion, and I’ve tried to teach my sons not to spit on the sidewalk out of deference to other people, not because there’s anything morally wrong with spitting on the sidewalk, but because a pile of mucus is not something pleasant to step in or, God forbid, fall on.
Now, let’s say that a survey was run that discovered that 98% of respondents believed that any sexual contact could be considered rape. Such conclusions would definitely raise eyebrows, because there is a generally accepted definition of what rape is, so we would wonder why the majority believed what they believed in regard to the question. It could not be said that the 2% of respondents didn’t believe that there was nothing wrong with rape, rather that they didn’t believe that any and all sexual contact constituted such an offense. Similarly, if the question was posed whether they believed that forced sexual contact was rape, doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with rape. Consensus is only meaningful when there is a large amount of evidence that can be mustered to support the conclusion. However, even that can be called into question.
Ultimately, when it comes to the matter of consensus, it’s picking a place to stand and accumulating evidence that can meaningfully support that position, but then one cannot appeal to the fact that just because there is consensus that a matter or fact is true, nor can one say that a matter or fact is true, therefore there is consensus. What we can do is look at those who are in agreement with matters and facts and then decide whether or not there is good reason to accept them.
Whew! That was a lot of build up to get the point of the post: the recently presented and adopted Nashville Statement from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It has raised a good deal of concern and criticism from those on both sides of the issue.
The Nashville Statement something of a successor to the Danvers Statement that was issued by the council some 30 years ago, in 1987. The first paragraph of the preamble to the statement is rather telling,
Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being. By and large the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God’s design for human life. Many deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences. The pathway to full and lasting joy through God’s good design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God. (Emphasis added)
This paragraph, I believe, adequately summarizes the state of the mindset of many in the modern world that have a post-modern, relativistic mindset. The very mindset that makes the rush of Islam into a thoroughly secularized Europe not only possible, but unavoidable because of the moral and spiritual vacuum created by the excising of even a nominal Christianity from the culture.
The inevitable end of the false belief that man is autonomous is totalitarianism of either the secular or religious variety, because man eventually realizes that the only way to be fulfilled is to eliminate anyone who would stand in opposition to him. Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, the Ayatollah’s Iran gives full testimony to this fact.
Well, what does the opposition say?
This article, written by Eva Kendrick over at Alabama Today, seems to sum it up relatively well, when she writes,
[A] group of more than 150 conservative Evangelical Christian leaders gathered at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission national conference – including prominent members of the Trump-Pence administration’s Evangelical Advisory Board – released a vicious, anti-LGBTQ manifesto attacking LGBTQ people as immoral and sinful, asserting their opposition to marriage equality and denying the dignity of transgender people.
She even goes so far to say that the Statement represents, “…bad theology,” even though she musters no evidence to justify the claim, merely asserting it. To which I must reply, the theology that the Statement represents is one of biblical theology, a theology derived from the text itself.
Or we could take this criticism that wants to make it a race issue rather than one of meaningful theology, to which I can only make this reply,
Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Seminary, wrote in a response published in The Washington Post, saying,
In releasing the Nashville Statement, we in fact are acting out of love and concern for people who are increasingly confused about what God has clarified in Holy Scripture.
We understand that we live in an increasingly post-Christian world, and that a vast revolution in sexual morality is now fundamentally reshaping the landscape. Churches and pastors, Christian institutions and individual Christians, are now under intense pressure to adopt this new sexual morality, along with its redefinition of marriage and gender.
The “Nashville Statement,” like many other doctrinal declarations common to Christian history, seeks to summarize, clarify, and affirm what Holy Scripture reveals. In this case, we find ourselves clarifying what no previous generation of Christians has been called upon to clarify. We must now clarify and specify what the Bible teaches about human sexuality, marriage, and what it means to be made male and female.
I signed the Nashville Statement because my conscience compels me so, because the promises of liberty on the world’s terms are false and deceptive, and because many who currently claim to have Christ’s forgiveness and salvation must be called to account for leading good people astray with false promises and filthy lies. (Emphasis added)
So, how do I conclude this post?
Better late than never.
For more see what I’ve written here on a question of scholarship, here on the fallacies of the Supreme Court decision, and here on a biblical definition of love .