November 04, 2004

(warning: this post may contain philosophical and/or theological dialogue. may not be appropriate for readers who run out of the room screaming when Kuyper or CRC politics comes up. reader discretion is advised. but you should really read it, especially if you're CRC)

Tonight I went to Kuyper's Cafe at Prof. Bartholomew's house for the first time. I was expecting an interesting discussion on the assigned reading, an N.T. Wright article about the new heavens and the new earth. I didn't expect to end the evening quite so... furious. But I am.

After the discussion of the reading, which was pretty uncontroversial in our heavily neo-calvinist, anti-dualist group, Albert Postma reported on a seminar he'd attended over the weekend at the Institute for Christian Studies (ICS) in Toronto, a post-graduate school which is at least partially funded by individual CRCs. Apparently this was a pretty alarming experience because there were a lot of vocal liberals who called on the ICS to stay on "the cutting edge of relevance", but no one was willing to stand up for the Gospel. Albert related how he was frustrated that there were no orthodox neo-cals going up to the (open) mike to defend our tradition, but that he hadn't felt confident enough in his knowledge of theology and philosophy to speak there.

Professor Bartholomew backed up Albert's testimony; he spent a year at the ICS and was similarly disturbed by the liberalism at the ICS and the lacklustre orthodox response to it. He told us about the senior philosopher who was given an award by the gay-friendly MCC denomination and who then preached a sermon looking forward to the day when gays would be accepted as gays in his church (that is, OUR church, the Christian Reformed Church!); about the conservative students like himself who were forced to stand up to the liberal profs at school meetings because the conservative profs wouldn't for some reason; about the fact that two liberal profs who have retired were replaced by new profs with exactly the same liberal views. As an Anglican, he wondered why conservative neo-cals in the CRC are so reluctant to stand and fight for the Gospel, for Christ and His Church.

I wonder the same thing.

We talked about Redeemer as well. Redeemer was founded along the same Canadian neo-cal, Dooyeweerdian lines as the ICS, though it has retained much more of the Tradition. The question now, raised also in an article by Daniel Silliman in the latest Comment magazine (edited by Gideon Strauss), is how to pass the Tradition on to our generation and from the intellectuals to those who really want to confront and critique our culture but who are not philosophically and theologically minded. Neo-calvinism is a dead movement walking unless the average-joe CRC member in the pew becomes passionate about re-ordering every inch of this sin-broken world around Jesus Christ, who is the Word made flesh, the Redeemer of the whole creation, the Lord over the whole universe.

In the next year, I think Redeemer will become a major spiritual skirmish in the larger battle for the Christian Reformed Church. Our denomination is being called by God to point the way forward for the remnants of the Kingdom of God in North America, to show the Church how to engage our post-modern culture with the Gospel. As a result the evil one is trying to dilute our proclamation of the Bible both at Calvin College and the ICS, and even in the CRC Home Office itself. The Banner can also be quite worrying. Redeemer is the stronghold of orthodox neo-Calvinism in the English-speaking world, and it is definitely beginning to come under fire. We are the next generation of leaders in our church. If we do not stand up for her, there will be no Christian Reformed Church in fifty years: well, there might be a CRC, but it will be neither a Reformed nor a Christian church.

This year, Kuyper's Cafe is getting into full swing and there are worship nights in the Rec Centre every Wednesday. But I think the real battles are going to be fought over Church in the Box. At least three people involved in CITB, including me, felt darkness at the last CITB, especially during the offering. We weren't together and expressed these feelings to others independently of each other (in fact, I didn't find out that other people were getting these feelings until tonight). This is the real thing.

Next CITB is on, that's right, spiritual warfare. This is going to be a crucial moment. Keep it in your prayers.

I would be pretty frustrated by now, except for one thing--we will not be fighting this battle alone:

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amidst the flood of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing.
Doth ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his name, from age to age the same;
And he must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
we shall not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure, for lo! his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

That Word above all earthly powers--no thanks to them abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
the body they may kill: God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever!

Posted by Tim at November 4, 2004 01:07 AM | TrackBack

Well this post disturbs me. I am of the neo-calvinist tradition and I attend a CRC church, and you want to know what I'm sick of? The divisive "us against them" attitude that I hear preached from the pulpit and from fellow Christians ALL the time. I think it was Dr. Goheen who said that labels like "fundamentalist" (or in this case "liberal") make it easy for people to dismiss someone. When you hear or use a label like that, the reaction is, "I don't have to take what this person has to say seriously." Instead of referring to a professor or scholar or entire church body as "too liberal" why can't we look at WHY they believe what they do, and dialogue with them instead of aiming to "defeat" them. In most cases, Liberal Christians are NOT "the prince of darkness" himself! An institution such as ICS faces a struggle that we all do--how to remain faithful and relevant in society. Does that mean you shouldn't speak up when you think they're swinging too far in one direction? No, of course not. By all means, speak up, discuss, but LISTEN too. A divide and conquer mentality can be just as damaging as a "wishy washy liberal" one.
For instance, the homosexuality issue of First CRC in Toronto. I do not agree with their decision, but I also do not agree with people who seem to be of the attitude that the church is doing this in order to be "cool" and "accessible" in today's world, or that they are "watering down" the gospel for their own selfish purposes. The people of this opinion are not LISTENING to First CRC's struggle. I believe this church has struggled with what the Gospel has to say to homosexuals because they are a downtown Toronto church, and they confronted with this issue on a regular basis, more than most of the rest of us are. I don't think they made the decision to accept homosexuals because they thought it would just be easier. I think they made the decision out of love for their surrounding community and out of sincere prayer. If we want to tell them that we disagree with what they are doing, we have to approach them in that same way, with love and prayer, not by saying that they are being unfaithful and have succumbed to our evil, postmodern culture, and dismissing them from the denomination. If that's the way we go about it, then, you're right, in 50 years there will be no CRC church, because we'll have divided ourselves into a million pieces.

Posted by: cordelia at November 4, 2004 08:42 AM

I actually find myself mostly agreeing with this post and others i've read like it. While it is important to sometimes reach compromises (for example, it was dumb for the CRC and RCA to split over whether to continue using the hymnal or to sing songs that weren't in the hymnal) i think it is even more important to make sure our church follows the Bible first. I think one of the biggest problems now is that we are too afraid to stand up for what we believe. It's really sad that Christians now days are losing so many of their rights like praying in public or speaking of their faith in public schools; teachers are not even allowed to silently read their Bible during lunch hour.

If we were more brave about standing up for what we believe in, imagine what an impact we could have. We are called to stand out, and be a light for everyone, not blend in with our culture.

Posted by: Kimber at November 5, 2004 02:21 PM

The only 'light' that is shining from this post is the 'light' of intolerance and a completely ignorant homophobia. There is no compromise to be reached here, Biblically based homophobia is a perversion of the Bible and it's message.

Peace will not come when homosexuals and the church come to a watered down 'compromise,' it will come when bigots such as yourself stop using the bible to promote hatred and intolerance.

"there were a lot of vocal liberals who called on the ICS to stay on "the cutting edge of relevance", but no one was willing to stand up for the Gospel."

As you can see, kimber, the post you are defending actually criticizes the ICS for it's attempt to remain "relevent." Apparently the writer wants the church to remain irrelevant. What the ICS is doing is "standing up" and "being a light for everyone," the very things you pretend to support.

What you actually want is for Christians that agree with you to stand up, and Christians that don't agree with you to sit down. Why do Christians allow themselves to be split over the politics of the left and the right?

Posted by: Matthew Maaskant at November 5, 2004 03:51 PM

I would have to agree with Cordelia as well. If there is one thing that all CRCers can agree on, it's that other CRCers are the "real" enemy. Perhaps that is why you can so effortlessly proclaim that Calvin College and the ICS are in collusion with "the Evil One", while Redeemer remains our last vestage of hope in North America. This sounds more like "Star Wars" than credible commentary...

As a Redeemer alumnus, and a current ICS student, I find your comments inflammatory and cowardly. If you are going to wage your spiritual war, at least have the courage to name your enemies, or at least demonstrate some knowledge of your enemies to back up your innane slander. Prove you are attempting a university education, and leave the uninformed drivel to others with less educational opportunity than yourself.

Demonstrate that Lambert Zuidervaart, current senior member in systematic philosophy, is a carbon copy of Henk Hart, senior member emeritus. Let's see the research. If I am going to join your spiritual crusade, I am going to need more information.

Demonstrate that Ronald Kuipers, current senior member in Philosophy of Religion, is a carbon copy of Jim Olthuis, senior member emeritus. Show me that your opinions come from a better place than some gossip you overheard at a student gathering.

Or better yet, why don't you talk to these servants of the Evil One yourself. Toronto is only an hour away. I am sure Prof. Zuidervaart or Prof. Kuipers would be happy to address some of your concerns, and answer your questions. Than you at least will have some substance to your attack on the body of Christ.

Or better yet, maybe you will stop biting the sheep around you, and start worrying about the wolf who watches and laughs...

Posted by: jonathan weverink. at November 5, 2004 06:00 PM


Have you read Sylvia Keesmaat's article regarding Acts 15 and homosexuality? Does this not sound anything like Hart and Olthuis? How does the ICS react to such an article or viewpoint, or does it react at all?

I recently attended the ICS worldview conference and found no reason to believe that a view of homosexuality as something to be blessed was being challenged at all. This was a general observation, and so I ask...was my observation correct?

I do not want to start a discussion about whether or not homosexuality is right or wrong! We all know that there is enough of these discussions going on already. What I want to know is simply: what is the ICS's position on homosexuality?
And perhaps if you are feeling inclined you can also share if you agree with this position or not.

Posted by: albert at November 5, 2004 07:01 PM

I have not read Sylvia Keesmaat's article on homosexuality. Whether this article was similar to those views by Olthuis or Hart is neither here nor there. Many Christians have positive views on homosexuality. This is not to say that they acquire such views from Olthuis or Hart. They are only two of many thousands of Christians who feel this way.

The I.C.S. has no formal "view" on homosexuality, although I will say that there are senior members at the I.C.S. who do have positive views on homosexuality. There are also senior members who do not have positive views on homosexuality. As if by miracle, they manage to get along without cheaply slandering each other.

As for my own views, I am gay and lesbian positive. believe it or not, i was not taught or instructed, at the I.C.S. to hold this view, but I will say that having such a view, and attending the I.C.S., means that I will never have to endure thoughtless ridicule because of my beliefs, while i am a student there.

Posted by: jonathan weverink at November 5, 2004 08:07 PM

albert, i wouldn't mind starting a discussion about whether homosexuality is right or wrong.

i'm a 'vocal liberal' and i would love the chance to stand up for the Gospel.

when a call is going out for a witchhunt (sorry, i meant 'major spiritual skirmish') against christians who associate with homosexuals (by accepting awards from them), maybe it's time for a discussion about whether homosexuality is wrong.

you'd rather go to war than have a discussion?

is that why God is a mighty fortress?

Posted by: matthew at November 5, 2004 08:35 PM

Thanks for taking what I say and having some fun with interpretation. I have been in discussions about homosexuality and continue to be.
However, this forum is not about homosexuality, it is about the church, institutions, and faithfulness as it relates to issues such as homosexuality. I thought I was clear in just wanting to keep the discussion on track. I know what happens, though, when people have an agenda...they turn every discussion into an argument about the point they want to make. Please refrain from trying to turn this into a war and let's have a discussion.

A couple more questions for Jonathan: do you think that a Christian institution such as the ICS or Redeemer should have an official stance on homosexuality?
Also, please qualify your term "positive" as you refer to a stance on homosexuality. Do you mean scriptural? Further, do you think that all Christian churches and institutions should hold this view? Lastly, what is the practical way Christians should respond in service in holding this view.

Posted by: albert at November 6, 2004 02:36 AM

i do not think Christian institutions like ICS or Redeemer should have official stances on homosexuality.

When I say that I am "positive" about homosexuality, I am saying that I am positive and celebratory about adult, loving, same-sex relationships to the same degree that I am positive about adult, loving, different-sex relationships. In a sense I do mean scriptural, because I believe the bible only talks -- in relation to homosexuality -- about the dangers of homosexual lust, homosexual r-pe, and homosexual prostitution, just as the bible warns against the dangers of heterosexual lust, heterosexual r-pe, and heterosexual prostitution. Adult, loving, same-sex relationships are not described in the bible negatively, and as a person who has been blessed by the company and friendship of fellow adults in loving, same-sex relationships, I can really see why their love finds no negative description in the bible.

Should all churches and christians hold this view? I wish!! I think it is important that every church and christian continue to discuss and wrestle with definitions of homosexuality, with homosexual brothers and sisters, but always with hearts of compassion and service. The question must always be: As we serve the widow, the orphan, and the stranger, how too ought we to serve the homosexual in our midst? I think making official policies about homosexuality would end the discussion, and would function as a final word -- like putting a "no gays allowed" on the front lawn.

Posted by: jonathan at November 6, 2004 02:24 PM

Matthew, I rather resent you calling me an ignorant homophobic and intolerant bigot when you do not even know me. I actually have a number of friends who are homosexuals, and while I am still friends with them, I cannot condone this way of living as being creationally normative.

God gave Adam Eve, I see this as the creational norm that we are to follow. I have found no biblical references that show homosexuality as being acceptable. Leviticus 18:22 says "do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, that is detestable" and Romans 1:26ff says "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for thier perversion.

Because of references like these, I believe that the church should take the stance that homosexuality is wrong. This does not mean that we should shun gays or lesbians, we should allow them to come to church, but should not see their practices as acceptable.

Back to the origonal topic of discussion, I think it is important that we make the church relevant for today, but I believe that we should look to the Bible for its foundational truths, and not try to become so relevant that we lose a part of what it means to be Christian.

This does not mean that I am only willing to listen to those with the same beliefs as me. I think discussion is an important part of any church's growth. However, I think it is also important to stand up for what we believe and not compromise based on society's values.

Posted by: Kimber at November 6, 2004 04:24 PM


you're welcome for taking what you say and having some fun with interpretation. when given a paragraph of text i'm not sure what else i'm supposed to do besides 'interpret.'


so you have a number of homosexual freinds, but you "cannot condone their way of living as being creationally normative."

bigot: One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.

so you are strongly partial to your religous group, and you express that 'partiality' towards them to the point where you are intolerant, or you 'cannot condone' the sexuality of people you call 'friends.'

intolerant means unable or unwilling to support (you 'cannot condone').

i stand by my original comments about you.

if you want to demonstrate that you are not ignorant, maybe you you describe to me why you find in the sexuality of your friends that makes it 'uncondoneable.' you treat them as if they are alchoholics or drug addicts, accepting them, but not their illness.

what do they do that's so horrible?

as for leviticus 18 (and 20 for that matter), that verse is also translated as 'do not lie with a boy as one lies with a woman.' also, the reason a man wasn't supposed to lie with a boy was because they considered that to be treating a male like a female. females where lower than men, so it was an insult to any male to be treated like a female.

leviticus is an awful book to follow, which is exactly why no christian today does. we do not stone people to death anymore.

you can't just pick and choose when you feel you need to support your 'creational normative' religion, whatever religion that is. the idea of a creational norm is definitely not biblical. have you "exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man?"

the verses in romans are talking about lust, which happens independant of homosexual and heterosexual relationships.

upholding the bible does not mean punishing people who lived in antiquity. or, rather, punishing people today who in some tangential way resemble people from antiquity.

you want me to believe your friends are like the lustful people spoken about it romans. you want me to believe your friends:

"have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, & ruthless."

is this really what you think of your "friends?" is this how they behave? do they really disobey their parents? are they actually that ruthless and heartless?

by 'not condoning' their sexuality because of what it says in romans, you are asking me to think of the sinners in romans the same way i think of your friends. you want me to believe that homosexuality leads to those behaviors, so i can only conclude that your friends must be very awful people.

and if they do not resemble the sinners in romans, is the bible then wrong?

so tell me about your homosexual friends. what are they like?

as far as the original topic goes, since there is nothing wrong with homosexualiy, i am extremely interested in "losing part of what it means to be Christian."

considering the crimes against humanity committed in the name of christianity (the inquisition, the genocide of native americans, slavery in america, sexism, etc.) i think even the christianity we have now has gone through many healthy periods of re-evaluation before it ever got to us.

when it comes to the topic of homosexuality, i don't find it at all suprising that 'society' dropped the idea of 'creational norms' before christians. getting rid of ignorant homophobia and bigotry is not a comprimise - it's a goal. i am ashamed that 'society' reached that goal before christians, but the lord works in mysterious ways.

Posted by: Matthew at November 6, 2004 05:43 PM think that "leviticus is an awful book to follow." That is ridiculous. You are using certain texts yourself to prove your point and then ignoring others which are clearly in the Bible for a purpose! And your whole deal on creational norms is also absurd.
Recall that interpretation is inevitable and you should not be looking down on Kimber's interpretation of certain texts and then explaining yours as correct.

Posted by: S at November 6, 2004 06:42 PM

i didn't say leviticus is an awful book, i said it's an awful book to follow. there's a difference. no christian today follows anything in leviticus, in fact it is illegal to do so (eg i can't stone my children, or a neighbour, to death).

why don't christians get freaked out that part of the bible is against the law? that's religious descrimination, i should be allowed to stone to death whoever i want, as long as they break a levitical law.

the reason christians don't care about this 'problem' is that large parts of leviticus are no longer part of our practiced religion. that's just a fact.

i don't follow parts of the bible, & neither does every other christian (or they would be in prison).

we all "use certain text to prove a point and then ignore others which are clearly in the bible for a purpose." when people who have long neglected levitical law start dragging out verses about homosexuality found in the same neglected book, they make appeals to a time that they themselves do not want back (the time when these were laws that were actually followed, when people were actually stoned to death). it's dishonest.

religion is a leap of faith. we don't know what God wants, and we will die not knowing. there are no rules or laws that last forever, the very idea is a false idol. if it was true then why is the church, and biblical interpretation, constantly changing? why don't we believe in pergatory anymore?

until the 12th and 13th centuries practicing homosexuals were openly accepted in the church, now they are not. maybe someday they will be again, and in some churches they already are.

interpretation is indeed inevitable, but that also means bad interpretation is inevitable. i think kimber's interpretation is bad, and i haven't been evasive about exactly why i think that. i'm also very clear about why i believe i'm right. not looking down on a bad interpretation is a betrayal of what i believe. if i am wrong, then be my brother or sister and show me where. calling my "deal" ridiculous isn't an actual argument.

Posted by: Matthew at November 6, 2004 09:12 PM

Matthew, you have turned what should have been a great discussion on how the church should be relevant to culture but not become relativistic into a debate once again on homosexuality. On your site you linked to this board as a discussion on the fate of the crc, but in your posts you continually ignore this topic all together. The conversation on homosexuality is an important one to have, but dont label this comment board as "the fate of the crc" if it really isn't what is being discussed. I would love to go back to a discussion about that, for I believe that it is of the utmost importance! The discussion on homosexuality can and should involved in the discussion, but it should not just become an out and out debate. On that note, I must add that after reading some of your treads on other sites that the debate looks rather useless. You are unwilling to listen to others opinions and views and put others down for liberal interpritation of the Bible. Even if I did really want to debate the topic with you, I would find the fact that you refuse to listen very aggrivating. So I implore all the people on this tread... let's discuss the crc and the problems facing it. Are we turning against ourselves in an us against them formate? Are we irrelevant? Are we to relevant? Is there a way to be relevant to culture and challenging to culture at the same time? How do we live lives that draw people to God? Have we strayed from a correct interpritation of the Bible ?(should we be more liberal, more conservative) The are so many grander questions out there. Questions that are both important and vital to the crc as a whole, to the church as a whole.

Posted by: annoyed at November 7, 2004 06:22 PM

note... liberal was supposed to be literal, sorry!

Posted by: annoyed at November 7, 2004 06:27 PM

annoyed, we have never dialogued before, when have i not listened to you?

so you've decided to dialogue in order to inform me that, upon our first meeting, you are already sick of me (and my topic of discussion).

annoyed: "Are we turning against ourselves in an us against them format?"

tim: "redeemer will become a major spiritual skirmish in the larger battle for the Christian Reformed Church."

yes, the crc is turning against itself. i might add that the enemy in this battle has been identified as people who associate with homosexuals. the enemy has also been identified as "The Institute for Christian Studies." this war is internal, the enemy is within the church.

annoyed: "Are we irrelevant?"

tim: "there were a lot of vocal liberals who called on the ICS to stay on "the cutting edge of relevance", but no one was willing to stand up for the Gospel."

you are not only irrelevant, this blog has actually declared spiritual war on those who desire to be relevant.

annoyed: "Are we to relevant?"

the only time the church comes under fire for being too powerful (or 'relevant') is when they become intolerant bigots for undefendable reasons.

annoyed: "Is there a way to be relevant to culture and challenging to culture at the same time?"

the crc is not somehow separate from 'culture.' this idea emerges from the same 'us vs them' mentality that has Tim calling for 'spiritual warfare' against 'vocal liberals' within the crc.

annoyed: "How do we live lives that draw people to God?"

the crc could start by not excluding people because of their sexuality, and declaring war on christians who support them.

annoyed: "Have we strayed from a correct interpretation of the Bible?"

yes. this thread we are in now covers that topic with several specifics.

annoyed: "The are so many grander questions out there."

i know it's 'annoying' for me to distract you from your grander questions, but how can i continue to practice my sexuality in an open way while my homosexual brothers and sisters cannot? how can i focus on 'grander' issues while fellow christians face intolerance?

you want to know if biblical interpretation is too liberal or conservative. does this 'grand' question even matter? does God call us to be liberal or conservative, or does he call us to love our neighbours?

a policy that rejects fellow christians based on their sexuality is in place in the crc, for right or for wrong. i know it would be 'grand' to decide once and for all whether the crc should be liberal or conservative, but maybe we should first deal with the neighbours in our midst.

Posted by: Matthew at November 7, 2004 09:16 PM

Matthew, I, like Albert, would like to thank you for taking what I have to say and having a little fun with the interpretation. In my post, I never said that you didn't listen to me but I said that in reading other conversations you were a part of you have the tendency to not listen and you do tend to twist people's words around a bit.

You also proved that you are single minded once again (is homosexuality the only thing that you are willing to discuss!) I would love to discuss the matters of the CRC, homosexuality included, but it seems, from your entry, that everything else I raised doesn’t matter. I respect that you want to discuss the issue of homosexuality in the church, I do. But I also think that you can’t assume to have all the answers about all the other things going on in the CRC. You also never address the issue of your blog linking to this site as the fate of the CRC. I would ask again, if this comment board is to be about the future of the CRC then make it that, can we talk about that and not make everything about homosexuality? In the case of homosexuality, many denominations(not just the CRC) have dealt with the issue in a terrible way. I agree wholeheartedly with that. The witness of the gospel has been horribly portrayed in our dealings with homosexuals. Jesus hung out with the worst of the worst in his day (those deemed socially unacceptable). Now, I must explain myself a bit further on this point. By what I wrote I mean that in many churches homosexuality has been elevated to the “worst of the sins” they are today’s “tax collectors”. So I agree with you that the way the church deals with homosexuals should be changed, but after that point we part ways a bit. I am a conservative, surprise J but I that does not mean that I am not trying to be relevant to today’s world. That is why I am asking the questions I am. I am trying to be relevant without becoming a prey to the relativism present in today’s culture.

You are right, God does not call us to be conservative or liberal, he calls us to love. Love God, love you neighbor, the rest is just commentary on how to this. But when did love become letting your neighbor do whatever they want (and I am not just talking about the homosexual issue here, so please I request that you do not once again turn it solely back to that again). There has to be a matter of tough love in the church. Does this mean kick sinners out right away, of course not! If that was the case none of us would be in the church. Paul talks about feeding people where they are at, you don’t give newborns whole food and you don’t give grown-ups milk. So how does the church do this? How do we correct our wrongs and start loving the sinner but hating the sin? How? And I am not asking these questions just to you to be answered… although your thoughts would be appreciated. I am trying to get the discussion going on the matters of the church (that was also by the way the purpose of the questions that I was asking at the end of my last post. They were intended to get people thinking.)

I would also like to ask, to you and others, the whole matter of liberal verses conservative interpretation, because how we answer the questions above will depend on our interpretations of the scriptures. For example, how far does your interpretation on sexuality go? Is insest ok? And if not, how do you make the differentiation between that and homosexuality? For in many of the passages dealing with sexuality, both are there together. How do you condone one and not the other, is it because our culture has become more accepting of the gay community with insest is still considered wrong? How far do we go to accommodate to the culture that we are find ourselves submerged in?

Posted by: same person who was called annoyed before at November 7, 2004 11:58 PM

Jonathan (and others),
I'm sure you realize that I disagree with you on some points. I have more questions for you, but I only think it fair that I answer some of my own first.
First, the whole issue is dependant on a normative/distorted view of sexuality and a view of structure. I am concerned that you have a very small view of structure, and rebel against any type of anthropological norm--along side of other norms. If marriage is simply a contract between two individuals, then it makes sense that we can ammend the contract whenever we, autonomous human beings we are, feel like society shifts. However, I view marriage as something that two people step into. God created marriage as a structure in His creation, and when two people get married they are not simply drafting an agreement between them. Please do alert me if I am misrepresenting you!
So I believe there are creational norms, and there was some finality when God created the world.
Homosexuality is a sinful distortion of God's good intention for sexuality. It doesn't mean that all homosexuals simply choose to live their life like that. Sin has affected all areas of life to the very core, including our sexuality. Just because some people struggle with this distortion of sexuality does not make it homosexuality right, though. You have no problem talking about how structurally evil lust, sexual consumption, and r-pe are. That is because these things are a distortion of God's intention for sexuality. I am saying that whether or not homosexuals live their lives in non-lustful, etc. ways, homosexuality itself is a distortion.
Many people struggle with lust. When they come to church, though, are they told that it is all right, as long as they are not acting out on it? No...they are told it is wrong because it is a sin.
I am convinced that with my view of homosexuality, I am no more an intolerant homophobe full of hate than one who teaches against lust or theft would be hateful of the one who lusts or steals.

Parenthetically, I do mention that scripture never talks about an adult homosexual relationship in a negative way. Are you sure about that? Further, is there a verse that specifically talks about it in a positive way?

Lastly, it is important for a Christian institution to have a stance on issues in society, one of which being sexuality--especially at an undergrad institution like Redeemer where so many people live in residence (some of which are under the age of majority). We could discuss this more if you are interested but that is all I'm going to say at this point.

If you are interested also in reading Sylvia Keesmaat's article that I referred to, click HERE

Posted by: albert at November 8, 2004 01:01 AM

albert and "annoyed",

now i'm confused. after reprimanding matthew for leaning the conversation towards a discussion on homosexuality, and not the fate of the crc, you then launch into your own theories on homosexuality, and why your views are justified.

is this to say that, indeed, you do wish to talk about homosexuality? should I comment on the questions you asked that specifically address this area ( ie. homosexuality-positive bible verses, acceptance of in-cest, whether homosexuality is a distortion, etc.)?

Either way, the beginning of this discussion was marked by a reference to a story originating out of the ics -- a story about gay acceptance -- and this story was used as an illustration of the distorted liberal direction of a christian institution. discussing homosexuality, in this regard, is completely in fitting with the original thoughts posted by tim. apparently, accepting homosexuality is a dangerous thing, especially when done by a christian institution. as a member of the accused institution, i would debate that point.

so, just to be clear. should i answer your questions? or do you just want you to talk about homosexuality?

Posted by: jonathan at November 8, 2004 01:23 AM


ha! i will comment anyway...

I agree that marriage is normative, but I also affirm the changefulness of that norm. For instance, not even one hundred years ago, women were not recognized as citizens of a country, until they were married, when their citizenship was acknowledged through the husband. This is something the church accepted -- that a woman finds her identity in her marriage, while this does not remain true for a man. Single men were still citizens. In fact, there are still churches that teach this "marriage of inequality".

Fortunately, Marriage is always being redeemed. It is always changing as an institution. For instance, the kind of marriage that the bible talks about is between adult men and twelve year old girls. A girl was ready to be married as soon as she had her first period. today, we call this sexual abuse. it is illegal. fortunately, we do not practise the kinds of marriages that the bible talked about. unfortunately, we still attempt mental jumping-jacks to conform biblical descriptions to current realities. it is twelve-year old girls that require headship -- not adult women who are literate and are recognized as voting citizens with rights. the fact that headship discussions only apply to women in marriages, and do not exist, in relation to women, in every other facet of created reality is evidence of the profound legalism that surrounds such discussions.

You only claim that homosexuality is a distortion, and provide no reasons for it being so. It is not too difficult to see why lust, r-pe, or in-cest is evil. we only have to ask women and men who are cat-called, women and men who have been r-ped, or children who have been sexually abused, to know that evil lurks in such activities. their stories are enough. lust is an inherently negative term. its meaning is only negative. it should not be confused with sexual attraction, which is positive (although it can lead to lust -- a distortion) stories of loving, committed relationships abound in homosexual communities. such relationships are not characterised by lust, r-pe, or prostitution. thus, such relationships do not apply to scripture. just like sexual attraction should not be confused with lust. if you would like to hear these stories, i would encourage you to attend a gay and lesbian positive church community. you will have the opportunity to speak to a great number of gay and lesbian couples, and can learn about how they experience a deep, committed relationship in Christ. One, fairly close to where you live, would be the (infamous) Metropolitan community church, here in toronto. MCC Toronto is in the Riverdale district of Toronto near Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street. The church is located at the corner of Simpson and Howland Avenues. This intersection is one block west of Logan and one block north of Gerrard. You could visit their website at, or the website of the denomination at to learn more about what this church is about.

sin causes pain and suffering. r-pe and in-cest only cause pain and suffering. this is also true of theft, although we have the story of David stealing from the temple. not all theft is a sin. there can be pain and suffering in a homosexual relationship. this is also true of a heterosexual relationship. homosexual relationships are not characterised by pain and suffering -- in a homosexual relationship, pain and suffering is a distortion of the love and committment that two people yearn for. you will have to explain to me how homosexual relationships are necessarily characterized by pain and suffering, so that I can understand why you think such relationships are creationally distorted.

there are no bible verses that speak of adult, loving, same-sex relationships in a positive way. this is because they didn't exist, or at least didn't exist to the degree that biblical authors were aware of them. biblical writers were not aware of alot of things, like day-care, education, political parties, marriages between adults, anti-slavery, or masturbation. this does not mean that christians cannot talk about christian ways of exploring these kinds of things. it also means that, because they are not given explicit commentary, we are to assume such things are sinful or distorted.

Posted by: jonathan at November 8, 2004 02:37 AM


I am discussing homosexuality within the framework of how it relates to the issue in general. It appeared to me that Matthew was simply attempting to steer the conversation in that sole direction. You will notice I am not simply talking about homosexuality, but your framework for believing what you do...In many ways we are discussing our basic biblical hermeneutical apparatus.

I think you misunderstand what I mean when I say talk about the norm of marriage (and thus also of other parts of creation). You claim that there is a normative structure to marriage, but that norm can change. When I was discussing this point, I was trying to say that the very essense of the structural norm is that it is built into creation permanently. Thus, marriage can and does take many different forms, but it is dependant on the structure. It is built into creation just as much as gravity is, only through our human freedom we are able to (though not supposed to) stray from the structure.

God grieves as His world is entangled by sin. Just because a sin 'doesn't cause people harm' doesn't make it any less a sin. There are many non-Christians who live happy lives in their religions...virtually void of pain...yet this is against creational order. We were created to worship God alone, nothing else.
We as humans were not created to be Hindu, Pantheistic, or Islamic. Nor were we created to be homosexual. However, all of these types of people exist. Do I hate--am I intolerant--of the Hindu because I disagree with his belief? No! Nor am I these things to homosexuals.

It is difficult to have a 'statement of beliefs' for an institution, especially when there are varying ideas within that group of people. It is not unreasonable, though, for a Christian school or institution to have a statement that it works out of the framework of scripturally directed scholarship.

Posted by: albert at November 8, 2004 03:27 PM


you claim to be sharing with me a basic biblical hermeneutical apparatus, but it sounds alot like you are just using naive dooyeweerd-isms to justify a qualified intolerance of homosexuality, amongst other things.

you can claim all you want that a "structural norm is built into the creation permanently", but it remains only that -- a claim. try all you want, but you simply do not have the power to lift the veils of our human experience, and witness "permanent norms" at work. you are not privy to the structures of reality. you do not have a priviledged access to those norms given to you by God, just because you are a christian with passing familiarity of neo-dooyeweerdist ontology.

you act as if you know a permanent norm, know that certain forms follow that norm, and also know that same-sex marriage is not one of those forms, but is instead an abberation. personally, i would rather my son marry a same-sex partner instead of a twelve-year old girl. what do you think?

your "armchair christianity" allows you to condemn the entire human race, with the exception of (heterosexual) christians, based on a collection of strange, philosophical terms that are themselves not found in the bible. how silly of me, you don't need to visit a gay and lesbian positive church to discern the difference between good and evil -- you don't need to talk to a soul. you found all the answers in early twentieth century neo-kantian reformational philosophy! and have full access to these tomes within arm's reach of your chair!

if a sin is a sin, then you will have to explain to me why you are intolerant of murder, but tolerant of hindus. or why you tolerate hindu marriages, but not same-sex marriages. if sin cuts right through the center of everything, how does heterosexuality manage to escape relatively unscathed, whereas homosexuality remains in sin's clutches, no matter how loving and committed a homosexual relationship might be? or better yet, maybe you can show me how i can get this priviledged access to permanent creational norms myself, so that i can see them too. then maybe i will see that, despite "appearances", homosexuality is a vile sin that makes God cry...

The framework you shared with me has us christians waging war against most of the human race. i have the feeling we christians aren't going to get very far patting ourselves on the back for not committing the sin of being a non-christian. if you are a christian, your job is to serve the non-christian with every ounce of your being. you are not a judge of them. You are not qualified to be the judge of anybody, sinful as you are...

so why are you acting like one?

Posted by: jonathan at November 8, 2004 04:21 PM

Wow, I leave for the weekend and return to twenty-two comments... :)

Thanks for all the comments, I hope they continue... but I'm going to have to ask you to restrict the discussion to one of how the North American church (specifically the denomination I'm most familiar with, the CRC) can remain relevant without yielding to the modern and post-modern culture we stand in. That is to say, I'm not very interested in a discussion of homosexuality. There are a thousand arguments going on across the Internet on that issue and I'm not really expecting that the thousand and first will provide any new or fruitful lines of thought. Agree to disagree there, okay?

Jonathan, let me clarify a few points you seem to have misunderstood from my post. Firstly, I'm not trying to draw any sort of Good/Evil line between Redeemer and Calvin/the ICS. In fact, I don't know too much about the ICS, and I'm sure there are excellent profs there who are earnestly trying to apply the Gospel message to all areas of life. The last thing I want to do is to canonize one institution and demonize another. Nor did I ever "proclaim that Calvin College and the ICS are in collusion with 'the Evil One', while Redeemer remains our last vestige of hope in North America." What I said was that "As a result the evil one is trying to dilute our proclamation of the Bible both at Calvin College and the ICS, and even in the CRC Home Office itself. The Banner can also be quite worrying. Redeemer is the stronghold of orthodox neo-Calvinism in the English-speaking world..." The point I was trying to make is that Calvin and the ICS have gone further down a path toward relevancy so nuanced it's irrelevant than Redeemer, the more conservative institution, has. Nor did I intend you to understand that the CRC is the only hope for our church... our hope is in Christ alone, our defender and teacher. But I think the CRC is going to be used by Christ in a powerful way to effect that renewal and revival.

Possibly the language I used was too militaristic. If I have erred, it was out of a sincere and passionate love for the Christian Reformed Church. I think our denomination needs to lead the way through, as Mr. Maaskant aptly puts it, "[the] split over the politics of the left and the right", and that we're in a unique position to follow the voice of our Lord, ignoring the modern and postmodern idols of our time.

Personally, I think that we need to regain the idea of tradition as a living thing. That is, we should not be rash to embrace new positions on issues (like for instance, homosexualism; to my knowledge, the idea that homosexual relationships are acceptable to God has never been embraced in the church, and that ought to really make us suspicious that the idea comes not from a greater understanding of God's will and creational norms but from the secular culture). On the other hand, the church should be semper reformanda, always reforming. We must continue to examine our tradition and build upon it. We Reformed stand on the shoulders of such giants as St. Paul, the Church Fathers, Aquinas, the Reformers, and Kuyper. From this vantage point we may be able to see more clearly than they do; we may be able to critique the blindnesses and prejudices of their ages. (For example, I think that the Church has negated the role of women in the church for a long time, and that we need to develop a new understanding of the way men and women work together in the institutional church). Nevertheless, we shouldn't ever forget that we are standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.

I hope I've thoroughly confused you. :)

On a slightly different tack: I think there are general trends in American religious life wherein denominations, para-church organizations or schools either move further and further to the left until they have identified so closely with the prevailing culture that they are unable to bring a christian critique to it, or move further and further right until they have separated themselves so far away from the culture that they are no longer willing to interact with it. The trend I see in the CRC is the former, toward liberalism. And my question in this post really is, how do we continue to be salt and light without losing our saltiness and shiningness?

Posted by: Tim at November 8, 2004 08:49 PM

One more point: I think another thing that bothers me about the ICS, if anecdotes like that of this prof who received some sort of award from the MCC for advancing gay rights is correct, is the fact that the ICS is then going to (presumably more conservative) Christian Reformed congregations asking for funding. It seems pretty disingenuous for a school to do this. This is not to say that schools ought to have no academic freedom, but I suspect that the school is pretty secretive about that sort of thing when it comes time to raise money for the yearly budget... I think it's unfair to be deceptive about such a huge issue as this.

Posted by: Tim at November 8, 2004 09:05 PM


The idea of embracing homosexuals and same-sex partners in our christian communities is only a new-fangled idea to those orthodox christian institutions that have aggressively avoided this discussion. There are many christians, christian institutions, and denominations, that have felt the pull of compassion, justice, and redemption as regards homosexual persons in their midst, and for a very, very long time. Such a pull does not stem from "secular culture", but stems precisely from a 'living out' of the gospel.

For such institutions, denominations, and individuals, living in community with homosexual persons means more than a surface reading of Romans 1, or the revamping of questionable verses from Leviticus. If this is the best answer a Christian community can offer homosexuals in their midst, than they are not trying very hard.

For instance, as i have already pointed out, verses from the bible that talk about homosexuality are talking about r-pe, lust, or prostitution. This deepened reading of the text does not condemn adult, loving, same-sex relationships. What perplexes me is that this deepened reading should trump a surface reading, and yet the deeper reading is typically greeted by suspicion or derision. "You're just twisting the bible so it says what you want it to say!" Is one typical reaction.

In terms of relevance: Who cares!! I will not act in the name of compassion, justice, and the furthering of redemption in order to be relevant! I will act in the name of Christ until all are free -- including homosexuals -- from condemnation under the law. Any so-called "creational norm" that causes people to suffer (like women, like non-christians, like homosexual persons) is not of God.

As North American CRCers, what will our response be to the flurry of same-sex marriage inclusions that have swept through the provinces? Will we stubbornly maintain our right to be intolerant. Will we value our traditions over and above those we are called to serve (like the despised homosexual community)? What will we value, in the end?

My lament is that the church will never be relevant, and is so resistant to the call for redemption, that other elements of our society (so called "secular culture") have to do the redeeming for us. That, after living with verses like "neither male nor female" for almost two thousand years, we christians still could not acknowledge women as equals in our christian communities, and that, even after one hundred years of women being able to vote, and having citizenship, there are still churches that treat women as second-class citizens, is just one piece of evidence that suggests our unwillingness to redeem the creation. Christians are simply not on the forefront when they should be. And when they should be, suddenly the preservation of "tradition" and "orthodoxy" become the more "important" questions of the day...

Christ is not going to wait until we get the courage to do the work of redemption. Redemption will find its way, and from the most surprising of places (isn't this always how christ works, in the least suspected way?). Attending a gay and lesbian positive church has made me witness to the "living out" of verses like 2 Corinthians Chapter 3. To attend a church where the ministry of condemnation is nowhere to be found, but only the ministry of justification abounds. This is the work of redemption. What is so unbelievable is the fact that such a church receives nothing but condemnation from the surrounding christian community! To echo the infamous, and much maligned Henk Hart, I see this spirit as the future of the christian church -- the ministry of justification trumping the ministry of condemnation, the *deeper* living out of scripture trumping the *shallow* living out of scripture.

Posted by: jonathan at November 9, 2004 01:03 PM

tim: "I'm not trying to draw any sort of Good/Evil line between Redeemer and Calvin/the ICS"

this is a blatant lie. why are you back pedalling from your original stance?

tim: "he wondered why conservative neo-cals in the CRC are so reluctant to stand and fight for the Gospel, for Christ and His Church. I wonder the same thing."

so conservatives have to stand up against "liberals" for the Gospel, Christ, and the church. what you are saying is only conservatives believe in the gospel, christ, & the church. you are saying christian liberals are not actually christians, that they are the enemy in the coming "major spiritual skirmish."

first you make a call to war, and now you're playing dumb. who do you think you're kidding?

tim: "I don't know too much about the ICS, and I'm sure there are excellent profs there who are earnestly trying to apply the Gospel message to all areas of life."

again, a blatant lie.

tim: "He told us about the senior philosopher who was given an award by the gay-friendly MCC denomination and who then preached a sermon looking forward to the day when gays would be accepted as gays in his church (that is, OUR church, the Christian Reformed Church!)"

tim: "he fact that two liberal profs who have retired were replaced by new profs with exactly the same liberal views"

you seem to know plenty about ICS profs. why would tell such an obvious lie? why don't you start answering for your original post instead of this pathetic attempt to soften the blow.

apparently conservative christians at redeemer are supposed to go to war with the ICS because you "suspect that the school is pretty secretive about that sort of thing [their evil liberal views] when it comes time to raise money for the yearly budget."

you "suspect?" we're going to war because you "suspect?"

Jonathan is an ICS student, does he seem "secretive" about his anti-christian (liberal) views?

Posted by: Matthew at November 9, 2004 01:05 PM

And in terms of your point about the ICS and how it acquires the donations that allow it to continue, if you yourself confess that you know very little of this institution, then why, why, why, are you making baseless accusations about this institution's honesty, sincerity, or transparency?

if you know nothing about something, than say nothing about that something for which you know nothing. here's a tip: do not base baseless slander on anecdotes, gossip, second-hand whisperings. I'm sure there's a bible verse somewhere that talks about this...

All I am saying is, inappropriate comments about a sister institution only make you look bad, and the school that you currently represent look bad. I am an alumnus of redeemer -- stop making my school look bad!

Posted by: jonathan at November 9, 2004 01:09 PM

annoyed, according to your post the reason you won't accept homosexuality is you are afraid of "becoming a prey to the relativisim present in today's culture."

you agree we should associate with homosexuals the same way jesus associated with tax collectors, but the reason you will not let homosexuals "do whatever they want" in terms of their own personal sexuality is because that would be relativistic and 'cultural.'

so the problem is not homosexuality, it's relativism.

so what is relativism? what does it have to do with homosexuality? you want christians to be different from "culture", and now homosexuals have gotten caught in the crossfire. if they are accepted by "culture" then they must be rejected by you.

"How far do we go to accommodate to the culture that we are find ourselves submerged in?"

you don't care about homosexuals as human beings, you don't care if they suffer at the hands of CRC policies. human beings are irrelevant when it comes to the all important question of "cultural" influences on the alleged purity of CRC doctrine.

of course you can't tell a CRC member from an atheist when it comes to their lifestyle. christians buy the same cars or SUV's, they watch the same tv, shop in the same places, buy the same products, live for their 'retirement savings' like everyone else. in the middle of desperate attempts by christians otherwise indistiguishable from "culture" comes the question of homosexuality.

this is who will have to pay the real price in order to create the illusion of purity, homosexuals will have to be labelled 'sinners' so that the CRC acheive it's true goal:

differentiation from secular culture norms at any cost (except the tv, we gotta keep the tv's).

if "culture" acts in accordance with the teachings of jesus (who never once mentions homosexuality), then the CRC must do the opposite. even if differentiation involves homophobia and intolerance, it must be maintained as a token to alleged purity.

status in the CRC doesn't make anyone separate from 'culture.' we already embody the 'cultural relativism' that we make a big show of pretending to struggle against. annoyed, you talk of 'accomodating to the culture' in regards to issues (homosexuality) that you don't agree with.

CRC members do not 'accommodate' television sets in their homes, one of the most pervasive cultural influences in the west, they actually work hard to make money so they can bring that little black box back home to the family.

it seems awfully convenient that when it comes to homosexuality this readily accepted 'culture' is suddenly questioned. when it comes to homosexuals the talk of 'accomodating' other humans beings begins. the only people who deserve to talk about 'accomodating' others are those who are persecuted by the CRC.

and who is that? why, it's those people i'm not supposed to talk about.

annoyed: "is inc-st ok? And if not, how do you make the differentiation between that and homosexuality?"

are you serious? homosexuals are consenting adults. inc-st happens between a parent and a child too young to give consent. there is absolutely no connection between these two things, except in your hateful mind. can you imagine if someone compared your sexuality to that of inc-st? how would that make you feel?

if you believe that the bible endorses this hateful comparison, then at least quote the verse so we can go through it together.

Posted by: Matthew at November 9, 2004 03:12 PM

to Jonathan: Look, I don't want to be dragged into the argument over homosexuality here. It's an issue that has divided the church for decades and is not going to be resolved on the website of a second-year Redeemer student.

I stand by what I've said in my original post. I tried to clarify what I meant in the above comment; if you're going to call me a back-pedaller, fine.

to Matthew: I admit I don't know much about the ICS, but I trust the judgment of those I've heard talking about it. I readily accept that my criticisms may be ill-informed. And again, I don't want to indict the whole of the ICS, but merely to speak my concerns about the things I've heard it has been teaching.

Look, I don't stand whole-heartedly with conservatives in the NA Church (like fundamentalists), nor even in the CRC... I could care less about the young vs. old earth debate, I accept the ordination of women, &c.

And the reason I don't want to get into the homosexuality issue here is precisely the point you (Matthew) bring up:

you don't care about homosexuals as human beings, you don't care if they suffer at the hands of CRC policies. human beings are irrelevant when it comes to the all important question of "cultural" influences on the alleged purity of CRC doctrine.

I do care about homosexuals. I care as much about them as I do about anyone else trapped in sin. In the same way as I would plead with a heterosexual friend caught in patterns of sexual sin or with an alcoholic friend in bondage to alcohol or (a little closer to home perhaps) a friend who is enslaved to the idols of the shopping mall and the slender idol... as a person made in the image of God who is, as we all are, desperately in need of the grace Christ gives.

of course you can't tell a CRC member from an atheist when it comes to their lifestyle. christians buy the same cars or SUV's, they watch the same tv, shop in the same places, buy the same products, live for their 'retirement savings' like everyone else. in the middle of desperate attempts by christians otherwise indistiguishable from "culture" comes the question of homosexuality.

I agree. It's shameful and sinful that so many of us sit in our living rooms hour after hour, uncritically absorbing the materialist, nihilist and hedonist spirit of our day. And this is the issue we need to be talking about.

Let me remind you, it was not we more conservative-minded commenters who started arguing about homosexuality.

So my question stands, What must the Church do to remain relevant and also remain followers of Christ in a world which is running the other way?

This question will, however, only make sense if one assumes that Christ, through his Church, stands offering the grace that this world so desperately needs. If anyone here honestly believes that Christians ought to be learning from the world and following the world's lead instead, then you can stop wasting your energy and time on me, thanks. If that's what passes for intolerant bigotry today, so be it. But I hope I've misunderstood you.

Posted by: Tim at November 9, 2004 06:02 PM

tim: "I readily accept that my criticisms may be ill-informed."

i just want to clarify this in a public forum, you are you saying that a teacher at redeemer, "Professor Bartholomew," is giving you "ill-informed" judgements about the ICS.

you compare homosexuality to "an alcoholic friend in bondage to alcohol."

so maybe there should be a twelve-step program for homosexuals, like Alchoholics Anonymous. and in the final step when the homosexual goes around and apologizes to everyone his sexuality has hurt, what do you think he will apogizing for?

how is anyone hurt by homosexuality, excluding problems that arise from intolerance?

tim: "Let me remind you, it was not we more conservative-minded commenters who started arguing about homosexuality."

actually it started with a reference you made to a gay-positive church (and the ICS prof seen accepting an award there).

if that's not enough, the very first commentor (cordelia) on this thread specifically posted about 1st CRC and homosexuals. if you scroll up to the top of the comments, you may notice she is not only 'conservative-minded,' she also disagrees with you.

why do you continue to lie so blatantly? why are you so passionately disinterested in the topic of homosexuality?

tim: "What must the Church do to remain relevant and also remain followers of Christ in a world which is running the other way?"

homosexuality is not a sin. the CRC must accept this, it's fate is determined by this decision. it's fate is determined with every decision.

steadfast but simplistic 'CRC=good Culture=evil' reductions won't make the problems of the church go away. you arrogantly claim the desire to 'challenge culture,' and at the same time demand silence from those topics that challenge the CRC itself. you call on us to battle with the world, but distance yourself from any challenges inward. this is the fatal weakness of the CRC.

tim: "This question will, however, only make sense if one assumes that Christ, through his Church, stands offering the grace that this world so desperately needs."

i believe this question will only make sense if one assumes that Christ stands offering the grace that this world so desperately needs. as in the past, the church both helps and hinders in this, depending on their decisions.

and no, you have not misunderstood me. bigotry and intolerance are not redeemed by making them subtle and two-faced.

but enough talk, don't we all have a 'spiritual skirmish' to attend to?

Posted by: Matthew at November 9, 2004 08:20 PM

If you would reconsider my last post, I hope that you can see that, far from wanting to discuss homosexuality per se, I would rather -- in the spirit of your guiding question -- discuss the relevance of the CRC in our (more specific) Canadian context, especially in terms of recent pivotal and un-ignoreable supreme court decisions that have landed the issue of same-sex marriage directly on our laps. this is not an issue for american CRC churches. their country has spoken. this is a canadian issue and, I believe, an issue that -- although utterly unsolveable on your little 2nd year blog -- is worth talking about.

Not only this, but your original distinction between Christian communities that "follow the world's lead" (ICS, Calvin, CRC home office, the Banner) and those that follow Christ in spite of the world (only Redeemer so far) was originally framed in respect to the issue of homosexuality. You claim to not stand whole-heartedly with conservatives on alot of issues. the one issue you insist on being conservative about is homosexuality. in fact, this is the only issue you are willing to discuss at length.

it is difficult not to conclude that this is precisely the issue that you feel presents a divide between "liberals" and "orthodoxy" in North America today. this is a better contender than "the world" (whatever that is) or "secular culture" (whatever that is). i think this is why you feel justified about your condemnation of ICS professors -- some of them teach "something" you object to, and i wonder if that "something" has to do with homosexuality. also, the only thing you bother mentioning in relation to the ICS, Calvin, the Banner, and the CRC home office, is some story about a professor who received an award for his work *outside* of the ICS, and that in his own free time.

perhaps this explains why, in your most recent post, you begin by explaining that you do not want to argue about homosexuality, but then continue with yet another explanation of how, given your condemnation of adult loving same-sex relationships, your hands somehow remain clean.

you claim to want to talk about the church and its relevance, but end up sharing your wet-noodle stance on homosexuality. given your luke-warm stance on homosexuality that no homosexual would ever take seriously, how do you think the church could remain relevant in a culture that simply doesn't believe that same-sex attraction compares in the slightest with the very real, dangerous, family destroying, wife-abusing, job-losing, homelessness causing, friendship betraying, welfare-taxing symptoms of alcoholism.

do you really think the church will remain relevant in our world today, via your analogy between alcohol and same-sex fidelity?

Do you think your analogy between alcoholism and same-sex fidelity "stands offering the grace that this world so desperately needs"?

Or do you just prefer to "wash your hands" of this whole issue?

Posted by: jonathan at November 9, 2004 11:06 PM

I'm not going to argue this anymore. You've consistently misrepresented and belittled my position. I'm not wasting any more of my time and energy on this.

I'm closing comments on this post. Complain all you want. I'm afraid we're operating out of worldviews that are too different to discuss this in a way that will glorify God, and this conversation is over.

Posted by: Tim at November 10, 2004 11:40 AM