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Revoice: Sliding into Heresy

By Dr. Peter Jones
PUBLIC STATEMENT
In attempting to define in my public article, “Revoice: Sliding Into Heresy,” [truthXchange.com] the meaning of “queer theory” and its relations to dangerous non-binary thinking associated with the justification of same-sex orientation, I misunderstood and misrepresented the thinking of Rachel Gilson, director of theological development at CRU for the Northeast. In fact, RachelGilson rejects “queer theory” and makes a beautiful orthodox confession of faith from which we all could learn. For this misunderstanding, and also for implying theological weakness on the part of CRU, I am deeply sorry.

Rev. Dr. Peter Jones, Director, truthXchange

A mixed bag of straight and gay pastors, celibate and non-celibate gays, parents and children—450 in all—have just met in a church (PCA) in St Louis. The conference attempted to integrate into the church and its ministry homosexuals who accept the biblical view of sex and marriage as limited to heterosexual people, but who see their same-sex orientation as unchangeable, even as a normative part of creation. This frees them to have a non-sexual “gay” attraction to their same-gender friends. According to the organizer, Nate Collins, this conference (one of many to come) is a time of dialogue to determine acceptable biblical and Christian practice. Can a gay man who rejects homosexual practice still be proud of his “gay identity” and his “gay” way of doing things as pleasing to God? Can he engage in deep friendship, even life-long commitment with another same-sex attracted celibate male friend—even adopt children? Can the church accept this as a valid option?

I did not attend the Revoice conference and cannot directly address the issues studied and affirmed there. I hope I am wrong in thinking that it will have serious implications for biblical orthodoxy, as the following three issues suggest.

The definition of non-sexual gayness emerging at Revoice is theologically problematic since (with a great deal of theological ignorance) it creates a third category of human sexuality, denying the biblical, ontological principle of distinctions (what I call Twoism). God is separate from his creation and has placed distinctions in his creation, one of which is the male/female distinction. Whenever we lose sight of distinctions, liberalism quickly follows.

In hyper-orthodox language, the convener, Nate Collins, says he wants to be biblical: “What we’re talking about is how to develop the historic Christian teaching about marriage, gender, and sexuality in ways that are faithful to Scripture, faithful to our only final authority.” But he wants the “evangelical perspective on marriage, gender, and sexuality…to be more filled out and rounded out.”

“Rounded out” becomes clear in his definition of the term “queer.” In an interview for Christianity Today, Collins observes that “[t]he word [queer] basically points to the experience of people who live on the margins, who don’t experience their gender or their sexuality in purely binary ways, and they don’t want to feel limited to that.” Revealing an ignorance of biblical ontology, Collins goes on to state: “Sadly, this emphasis on binary, yes/no dilemmas has produced a cultural Christian trajectory that avoids nuance, inhibits conversation, and discourages consensus.”

Others agree with this rejection of the binary. According to “evangelical” lesbian Rachel Gilson who was not a participant at Revoice but who occupies an influential position as director of theological development at CRU Northeast: “‘Queer’ means opposition to binary thinking. I never became straight. Perhaps that was never God’s goal.”

Greg Coles, who led the worship at Revoice, also rejects the binary. In his book, Single Gay, and Christian he says, “I’ve never been fluent in the language of binaries.”[1] That is a pity. The “language of the binaries,” of Twoness or Twoism, is the language of the Genesis account of creation, evoking the distinctions God placed in the creation between Himself and the creation and especially in the creation of male and female. Thus Coles must create his own imaginative addition to Scripture, based on a clearly mythological view of Genesis:

My orientation before the Fall was meant to be a gift…within God’s flawless original design there might have been eunuchs…What if God dreamed homosexuality for me, wove it into the fabric of my being as he knit me together, … I believe that God could have possibly said over me, as he did over all creation, “It is good.”[2]

The organizers at Revoice should know that native American animistic pagans speak of homosexuals as “two-spirit beings,” distinct from males or females, who merge male and female and are thus considered spiritual shamans in the community, celebrating a “non-binary” way of thinking about the divine. These animistic shamans express the fact that the divine is not a distinct other, like the God of the Bible, but the divine is within us, part of us, like all the gods of paganism. This spirituality is espoused by Fr. Richard Rohr, the Buddhist-Christian guru who, over the course of his priesthood has sought to normalize same-sex “marriage,” by denying natural law and insisting that binary genders (male and female) are an imposition of dualistic minds rather than the nature of reality, which is Oneist. Rohr argues that homosexuals are “non-binary” in their DNA.

Is it any wonder that a leading modern theorist for homosexuality calls this sexuality “the sacrament of Monism”? It is a fundamental, spiritual embodiment of Oneism.[3]

Today’s progressive ideology promotes the notion of the “non-binary,” a state in which everything is relative and fused together. It is part of the Easternization of the West, by which we accept the Hindu “Advaita” (not two) way. Everything, including our relationship with the divine, is “non-binary.”

Carl Jung, the most influential pagan psychologist of the 20th century, states that the central problem for human beings is to be able to “integrate the opposites within the unconscious,” which for him means integrating male and female, right and wrong and Satan and Christ.[4]

In other words, speculation on biological sexuality has vast spiritual repercussions that the folks at Revoice do not seem to understand. Their dependence on personal experience will lead them out of orthodoxy. Greg Coles states: “I’m convinced that in the end, God is more concerned with the depth and the recklessness of our love for him than he is with our right answers.”[5] He goes on in his book: “There are plenty of Christians who disagree with me about gay marriage…other people’s hearts are none of my business.[6] …Don’t wait to have all the right answers.”[7] Coles speaks of a lesbian friend who is “desperately in love with Jesus who married another woman.” He says he cannot judge her.[8] Apparently he has no theological criteria for such a case and is not helped by Scripture. So, regarding the Nashville Statement on Sexuality, he states: “In short, I’m not sure how helpful an impersonal statement is in a conversation that’s been so destructively impersonal. We need more conversations and authentic relationships; and we need less statements.” Apparently we need less theology. His authorities are pastors like Ken Wilson, who wrote a book[9] promoting the acceptance of homosexuality in the church under the influence of a contemplative Ignatian or Jesuit spirituality. Coles calls Wilson “a godly man,” who clearly has deeply influenced him.

It might seem like a long shot to go from “harmless” non-binary celibate homosexuality, to liberalism, but Ken Wilson has just published Solus Jesus,[10] co-authored by his co-pastor, Emily Swan, married to a woman. The book rejects the five solas of the Reformation, especially the sola scriptura, involves “a massive rethink of traditional theories of the atonement,” argues for a subjective relationship with “Jesus,” and seeks to be “post-evangelical and post-Protestant.” Needless to say, this book is enthusiastically endorsed by the Christian apostate, Brian MacLaren. This is where Coles’ “desperate love for Jesus” will surely take him—out of evangelical Protestantism, out of historic orthodoxy and into some form of progressive “Christian” liberalism.

A few years ago the liberal Phyllis Tickle put her finger on what is happening, which she favors: “Sola scriptura, as a plausible answer to the authority question, is over—and the stake in its heart is the gay issue.”[11]

The theologically naive and uninformed Coles is one of the speakers setting policy for the Church via Revoice. He seems already to have bamboozled D. A. Carson, who says in his endorsement of Coles’ book: “To say this book is important is a painful understatement. It is the candid, moving, intensely personal story of a gay young man who wants to live his life under the authority of King Jesus and who refuses to accept the comforting answers proffered by different parts of the culture.”

Coles does not want to live under the authority of King Jesus, for King Jesus defined sexuality as male or female, and Coles wants to live with his own comforting, non-binary answers, without any serious Jesus-honoring thinking.

Incidentally, the justification of the “non-sexual” gay life-style overlooks the scriptural rejection of effeminacy. If homosexuality is a perversion of maleness, then non-erotic homosexual attraction by males to other males is still a perversion of maleness. This is surely why effeminacy associated with homosexuality is condemned in Scripture: “Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind” (μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται) will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9–10, KJV).[12] Any eager Christian who reads the biblical rejection of cross-dressing (Deut 22:5) and sees the importance of maintaining sexual distinctions in dress (1 Cor 11:2–16) should surely resist and mortify same-sex attraction.

Phyllis Tickle was spot on. Biblical orthodoxy is gone if we accept homosexuality. In denying the binary, as liberalism did in the last century, we eventually lose sight of what J. Gresham Machen called the “very center and core of the Christian teaching, namely…the awful transcendence of God.”[13] That transcendence is the great binary distinction between God and the creation.

According to Scripture, the binary is the key to the cosmos and the only way to live successfully in God’s created world. We must observe the distinctions God created. The Revoice ignorance of this essential binary notion leads me to the second issue: the nature of human culture.

The Revoice view of sexuality downplays the dangers of generalized pagan homosexual culture. Nate Collins calls for a “non-discrimination,” pro-gay policy in secular culture.

Nate Collins seems to understand cultural decay. He states: “As God is increasingly marginalized in our culture, fewer and fewer people understand their life as a response to a call from God; instead, they seek to create their own subjective identity.” Yet, he carves out a special social place in society and in the church for a certain kind of subjective gay identity, what he calls “a new generation of Christian gender and sexual minorities.” He also sees himself as a spokesman for the general “gay community.” Using social justice terminology of “minority issues,” he calls for the end to “straight privilege” and a full-acceptance of gay culture. He thus makes common cause with the entire gay community:

Christian leaders need to move beyond the safety of sterile doctrine and abstract morality and teach their followers how to understand the day-to-day realities of LGBT experience, even when it’s uncomfortable.[14]

He goes on: “…we must also consider the possibility that antidiscrimination legislation might be not only inevitable but also a good idea in general.”[15]

“Fairness for All” is an initiative taken on by certain Christian organizations and colleges. It promotes housing and hiring antidiscrimination measures for LGBT people. In return it expects that religious liberty exemptions will be granted for churches and other religious institutions (assuming that evil will be fair). Collins believes that this approach “has a significant potential to succeed, so conservative Christians should strongly consider supporting it.”[16] “[I]t’s possible to show support for increased civil protections for LGBT people while maintaining a commitment to traditional views on sex and marriage.”[17]

Is such a rosy view of culture guaranteed? Will we not rather find ourselves in a culture as immoral as pagan Rome, which Paul denounces in Romans 1:26–27? All memory of God the Creator expressed through humanity in the heterosexual “image of God” (Gen 1:27–28) will be virtually expunged from human consciousness.

For a number of years Linda Harvey has been tracking the influence of the gay agenda in the schools. She notes a disturbing trend. Only a few years ago, the government-sponsored Centers for Disease Control claimed that there were only 1.7% homosexuals in the American culture. But in two recent nationwide surveys by the Centers for Disease Control, homosexual practices and identities had risen among youth. After years of sowing sexual confusion, over 15% of American high schoolers now believe they are “gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure.”[18] In school, seventh graders are explicitly urged by groups such as Gay, Lesbian Straight Educational Network (GLSEN) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC, see below) to consult pornographic gay websites, to masturbate and to try out various sexual options. Is this what Collins wants?

Christians who uphold man/woman marriage as affirmed by Christ are now treated as “haters” and sometimes suffer job-loss, law suits and other harassment. In spite of anti-discrimination “agreements,” gay control of culture will get worse. As examples:

In July 2018, at the American Library Association’s annual conference in New Orleans, the “Drag Queen Story Hour” for children was officially introduced to librarians across the country.
The historic St Patrick’s Day parade was forcibly transformed from a celebration of Irish Catholic heritage to an overtly LGBTQ event.
New Planned Parenthood guidelines for children state: “Your genitals don’t make you a boy or a girl. It doesn’t matter too much what parts someone has.”

This is just a peek into the pro-gay culture the Revoice conference will inevitably help produce.

In the meantime, in spite of the Scripture’s clear teaching against homosexual activity (which Collins says he believes), the church will be splintered, divided not so much by justification by faith or the status of Scripture but by non-binary homosexuality, which claims to be god-honoring but will lead to outright paganism.

Collins’s future culture will not be a kumbaya love-in. It will quickly lead to a culture like the one in the days of Noah, in the days of Lot, and in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, when materialism, pride, violence, and gross sexual immorality prevailed (Matt 24:12; Luke 17:26–30). How many will be saved in the day of God’s wrath?

The theological intentions of future conferences envisaged by Revoice indicate a further, troubling turn to the Left.

Revoice, says Collins, is the beginning of something new. He is tired of not being heard and, with deep emotion, describes orthodox pastors and believers as false prophets or unloving Pharisees. Like Jeremiah, Revoice is a “righteous branch” within God’s people, issuing a call to struggle against injustice (Collins lecture in session 2).

The Revoice organizers are planning a conference in October, 2018, called Devoted, for youth pastors. This one-day seminar is “designed to equip youth pastors to take practical steps towards loving the LGBTQ+ students with a new boldness. They plan to answer the question: “Is it possible to maintain a traditional biblical view on sexuality, yet remain devoted to the youth in your care who identify as LGBTQ+?” Among the speakers are Nate Collins and Gregory Coles, who, as we noted, defend “non-binary” thinking. This conference is co-sponsored by the ministry LOVEboldly, also highly recommended by Brian MacLaren. Indeed, one of the resource speakers at Devoted, Christy Messick, is a board member at LOVEboldly, as is Nate Collins. She is also joined at Devoted by Alan Chambers, once the head of Exodus International who now supports “open and affirming churches.”

Christy Messick is a key addition to the next conference. She has worked as a Fellow in the Religion and Faith Department of the Human Rights Campaign, so she brings the support of HRC, America’s largest and wealthiest civil rights organization that works to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality throughout the world. Doubtless, Messick helped formulate the HRC Foundation’s attempts to attract specifically Evangelical Christians. The Coming Home series is “designed to help LGBTQ people live fully in their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and… to help LGBTQ evangelical Christians navigate these difficult waters.” The guide says that LGBTQ Christians find it difficult to be fully themselves in their church communities. They may have been taught that sexual or romantic relationships that are not heterosexual are sinful…Yet those same LGBTQ people of faith know deep within that they were born this way.

They cite David Gushee and Matthew Vines as authorities on Bible interpretation and include heart-warming gay evangelical testimonies of life with Jesus.

Triumph through Faith, another HRC document, mobilizes faith communities—especially those in areas where marriage and non-discrimination measures are pending—to be at the forefront of pro-equality activities in ways that are culturally, spiritually and socially competent. HRC demonizes its opponents. It states: “The opposition [from classic Christian teaching] isn’t just about how we interpret the Bible or maintain Christian tradition. At the end of the day there’s just a systematic prejudice or bias.” In this text, biblical orthodoxy is simply demonized.

The Devoted website says of Christy Messick: “Christy lives in Georgetown, KY with her wife, Sarah.” Gay marriage now slips into the Revoice agenda. As noted above, Coles speaks of a lesbian friend who is “desperately in love with Jesus who married another women…whom he cannot judge.” Clearly, he will have no problem working together at the same conference with Christy Messick. In the same vein, Ray Low, one of the presenters at Revoice, is a non-practicing homosexual minister, who nevertheless serves on the staff of an “affirming” church, that is, a church that fully accepts the gay life style.

Already, in the next Revoice conference a massive breach with orthodox teaching on marriage will flower. This movement will bring great turmoil and division to the heart of orthodox Christianity. One thinks of Deborah Jian Lee’s Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism.[19] Lee writes a pro-interfaith foreword to Solus Jesus, as do two notable ex-Evangelicals David Gushee, and Brian MacLaren. Is this the destination of many Revoice followers—post Protestant, post evangelical?

Until I discovered the background of some of the Revoice leaders, I never thought I could agree with the sharp judgments made by two young orthodox blog-post junkies at CrossPolitic. A day before the conference began, they concluded their interview with Greg Johnson (PCA host pastor of the church where the conference was held) by saying:

You should cancel the conference, which will do inconceivable harm to the body of Christ. We do not think you and the others associated with this conference are healing wounds lightly. You are not healing wounds at all. You are ensuring that these wounds will never be healed. You are essentially encouraging Christians to make peace with their sin.

Johnson did not hear the call. The conference went on. We must be prepared for a massive splintering in the ranks of orthodox Christianity over the powerful issue of sexuality. The devil knows where to strike—God knit one-man/one-woman marriage into the very fabric of the universe to show us an expression of his own Trinitarian image and about the divine Son’s eternal marriage to his Bride, the Church, a marriage sealed in his blood. May God have mercy on us and teach us to love His Word and the distinctions he has placed in creation for true human flourishing.

P.S. I recommend reading Al Mohler, “Torn between Two Cultures” (August 2, 2018). Rather, based on my pre-conference reading of various speakers, I will consider the possible future implications of the event.

[1] Greg Coles, Single, Gay and Christian (IVP Books, 2017), 105.

[2] Ibid., 4, 6–7.

[3] June Singer, Androgyny: Toward a New Theory of Sexuality (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1976), 207, 267, 275.

[4] See Eric Kurlander, Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich (Yale University Press, 2017), 68.

[5] Coles, Single, Gay and Christian, 112.

[6] Coles, Single, Gay and Christian, 110.

[7] Coles, Single, Gay and Christian, 117.

[8] Coles, Single, Gay and Christian, 109.

[9] Ken Wilson, A Letter to My Congregation: An Evangelical Pastor’s Path to Embracing People who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender into the Company of Jesus (David Crumm Media, 2014).

[10] Ken Wilson and Emily Swan, Solus Jesus (Read the Spirit Books, 2018).

[11] Solus Jesus, Introduction.

[12] On this, see Tim Bayly, The Grace of Shame (WarHorn Media, 2017).

[13] J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923), 62–63.

[14] Nate Collins, All But Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender, and Sexuality, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017), 76.

[15] Collins, All But Invisible, 72, fn.

[16] Collins, All But Invisible, 72.

[17] Collins, All But Invisible, 71.

[18] Linda Harvey, “Tell Jimmy Carter about the Damage of Homosexuality,” Mission America. July 2018.

[19] Deborah Jian Lee, Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism (Beacon Press, 2016).

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