Bringing up God’s sovereignty is the ultimate cop out

God was sovereign in Nazi Germany. God was sovereign in Khmer Rouge Cambodia. God was sovereign in Mao’s China and Stalin’s Russia. God’s sovereignty does not absolve the Evangelical church of electing a man as president who promised to deport our Mexican brothers and sisters, who promised to lock up our Muslim neighbors, who chose as a vice president a man who wants to subject me and my LGBT friends to electroshock to electrocute the queer out of us. It’s crying peace, peace, when there is no peace. I finally understand why the German church stayed silent. Because of a theology of complicity with tyranny.

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Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is my favorite service of Holy Week, I think because it serves as a kind of centering point in the story. There’s an inevitability about Good Friday. The wheels are in motion, the point of no return has passed. After Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, the story unfolds inexorably towards the Cross.  Maundy Thursday is the tipping point. Jesus could have bailed, scurried out of Jerusalem under the cover of darkness after Judas left the Passover meal, but he didn’t. Instead he went willingly to the garden, to the point of no return, to sacrifice and to die so that we might live. Jesus didn’t have to die, but he chose to be rejected and forsaken so that we didn’t have to be.  This is the day when we remember that choice, remember that it wasn’t an inevitability, but Jesus loved us so much that he took the path that led to the cross and our salvation. We’ve been in the middle of a culture war skirmish this week, and what better time than this to be reminded of what is at the heart of the gospel. The willing sacrifice so that we could live. Everything else flows from that sacrifice. Psalm 22  1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. 3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. 4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. 5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. 6 But I am[…]

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How many more dead kids?

Leelah Alcorn was 17 years old when she concluded that life was never going to get better for her. Before she reached the point that she ended her life, Leelah endured years of spiritual abuse from her parents and from Christian counselors. Her parents eventually pulled her out of school to homeschool, keeping her isolated from her friends and support system by taking away her phone and laptop for months on end. Here are some of her own words describing what she endured: “When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me. My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help. When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going[…]

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What in the name of all that is good and right is John Piper tweeting about?

Tweeted tonight. Whatever he was trying to say, all I can picture is young John Piper hiding behind a tree staring at the cool kids, silently fuming with jealousy. Or current John Piper peering out of an attic window, wishing for the freshness of youth that he can never reattain.  Either way, it reads like the birth of a super villain. Or maybe I need to stop binge-watching Buffy.  So creepy.

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Why can’t the Southern Baptists just go back to hating Dungeons and Dragons and metal?

Yesterday I was so busy being appalled over the SBC’s anti-trans resolution that I missed that their new president, Ronnie Floyd, is quite the anti-gay bigot. GLAAD points out that Floyd has written a book with the particularly uncreative title, The Gay Agenda. “Gay agenda,” which is always in caps as “Gay Agenda,” all the more to scare the reader. Here’s an excerpt from the first page, to give you an idea of what we’re dealing with. Subtlety is not the man’s strong suit. The paranoia, however, is strong with him.  See also, this 2003 sermon, also dug up by GLAAD, in which he laments the Lawrence v. Texas decision, because hey, throwing gay people in jail is just spiffy to Ronnie Floyd.  He also uses some of the harshest culture war language that I’ve heard, and growing up in the religious right, I’ve heard far more than my fair share of culture war talk. “It appears now that everywhere you look, everything you read and everything you hear is about the gay lifestyle. Satan has taken his tool of homosexuality, a gross and evil sin, and done a con job on the American culture, making it seem like all is okay when you are gay. I hope you are aware that what was once subtle has now turned into the rage of a lion as brazen and threatening as anything in our culture. I must sound the trumpet loud and clear, praying that we do not run in retreat, but march in the truth of God valiantly. This is not a skirmish or a conflict or a disagreement, but it is a war. The war they have declared against our culture has an agenda and we need to be aware of it.” –emphasis added The worst part is where he empathizes with parents[…]

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Breaking down the SBC14 Resolution on Transgender Identity

I figured that while I was at it on blogging about the Southern Baptist Convention, I might as well do a section by section dissection of the SBC’s resolution condemning trans people. One of the talking points attacking critics of the resolution is to claim that we mustn’t have read the whole thing, well, here’s the proof that I have read it all and found it wanting. The text I break down below is taken from the website of Denny Burk, author of the resolution and associate professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College. The tl:dr version: This is all about reinforcing patriarchy at the expense of our trans siblings. — ON TRANSGENDER IDENTITY WHEREAS, All persons are created in God’s image and are made to glorify Him (Genesis 1:27; Isaiah 43:7); and I won’t argue with you there. The answer to question one of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Actually, scratch that, I am going to argue with this one. The “enjoy Him forever” part of the Westminster Catechism is important, when you only talk about glorifying God and leave out the enjoying bit, you forget that God didn’t create us to be miserable automatons that exist just to make Him look good. WHEREAS, God’s design was the creation of two distinct and complementary sexes, male and female (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6) which designate the fundamental distinction that God has embedded in the very biology of the human race; and WHEREAS, Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles as ordained by God are part of the created order and should find expression in every human heart (Genesis 2:18, 21–24; 1 Corinthians 11:7–9; Ephesians 5:22–33; 1 Timothy 2:12–14); and First, isn’t it funny how biological[…]

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Dark day: The Southern Baptist Convention officially condemns trans people

The Southern Baptist Convention managed to double down on their awfulness. The anti-trans resolution they passed today is in direct contradiction with scripture. The word “eunuch” as used in the near east did not just refer to people who were castrated, but also to what Jesus referred to as “born eunuchs,” those who occupied a space outside of the gender binary. Many of those individuals were what we would understand today to be transgender. The SBC today has condemned that which Jesus specifically mentioned approvingly. Not only that, the very first Gentile convert was the Ethiopian eunuch, and while scripture does not distinguish what category he fell into, it cannot be overemphasized that scripture makes it clear that this person, who existed outside the gender binary that the SBC has chosen to so rigidly enforce, was blessed by God to be the first Gentile ushered into the kingdom. While I will acknowledge that the gay thing is open to theological debate, the trans issue is quite clear when you have a basic knowledge of the historical context. The SBC has put their own bigotry ahead of the very words of Christ himself. I weep for our trans brothers and sisters who have been rejected today. 

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Has Tim Keller’s theology always been this terrible?

Have I not been paying enough attention to Tim Keller or is this kind of judgmental neo-Calvinism a new thing for him? In what I’ve read from him, I’ve never agreed with him fully (I think he has a tendency to be sloppy and to take leaps not supported by the text or the historical context), but this isn’t sloppy exegesis or logical leaps. It’s a theology of suffering that equates emotional pain with idolatry. Ignoring the extraordinarily judgmental nature of this post towards those who suffer from anxiety and depression, Keller has created a world where feeling too deeply is idolatry. Emotions are only okay if they are not felt too strongly. Don’t feel too much, don’t hurt too much, don’t weep too much, if you’re a godly Christian you’ll get your emotions under control.  No.  This is beyond wrong. Job expressed deep anguish at his losses. Jesus wept with Martha and empathized with her anguish over the death of Lazarus. The Old Testament is filled with examples of godly men and women feeling deep anger, discouragement, and pain because of what they have experienced. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Many of the Psalms are David pouring out his innermost anxieties, anger, and discouragement, his utter devastation over the trials, the pain, the loss he lived through. We are created to feel, and to feel deeply. It’s part of what makes us human. Tim Keller is not asking us to avoid idolatry, he’s asking us to erase our humanity.

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