Shalom or ‘Shatter’ ?
I was drawn in to this story and commentary.
David Gonzalez, reporter for the New York Times wrote,
The Rev. James Martin knew his latest book—which urges a dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics who feel estranged from it—would be provocative. Even though the book was approved by his Jesuit superior as in line with church teachings and was endorsed by several cardinals, he did not expect everyone to agree.
“That’s fine . . . . That’s why dialogue was needed.” Martin is reported to have responded.
Dr. Albert Mohler, in his “cultural commentary from a biblical perspective” focused on the significance of this story to Christendom, including evangelical Christians.
However, before sharing some of the significance as set forth by Dr. Mohler, it may be noted that numerous Christ followers ponder the origins of the moral/sexual revolution that has swept Western societies in the past few years.
What agenda has been and continues to be in the making? From where has it come?
Consider . . .
What are this agenda’s purposes and objectives? What is the significance for the societies where it has gained prominence? What are current ramifications for these cultures? And what are those to come in the next decade and for coming generations?
From the biblical worldview perspective, we affirm that our Creator loves all peoples. The Scriptures display the depth of His love for all. Authentic believers composing His Church seek to be the extension of His heart and His service into our world. The Church that is truly His has always welcomed all people as it invites them to His shalom Kingdom and nurtures and disciples all who enter that door. Christ’s transforming power brings healing for all sin. As disciples walk forward, grace empowers amazing growth in Christ.
It is interesting to note in the Scriptures how Christ related to persons caught in the web of sin who were receptive to His Good News (e.g. Zacchaeus, also the woman caught in adultery, Luke 19:1-10; Jn 8:1-11); versus how Christ related to those who knew the truth, and incorrigibly chose to press their own way in place of God’s (see Matt 23). I expect I may have more to contemplate on this thought in a coming post. But for now . . .
Back to the James Martin story, with Dr. Mohler’s commentary.
Dr. Mohler, noted that Martin is a consultant to the Vatican (interestingly, not welcomed by the two previous popes), a liberal in American Catholicism, and a journalist with association to America Magazine. The title of Martin’s book is Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.
In “The Briefing” of 19 September 2017, Mohler shared of the controversy in Catholicism as particularly brought into focus when the theological College of the Catholic University of America, an official Vatican institution of higher education, rescinded an invitation for Martin to speak. For Catholics, Martin’s proposal for bridge building brought the issues clearly and unavoidably into focus.
Mohler zeroed in on one of the biggest issues raised by Martin—the issue of the ‘sensitivity’ of the language used by the Catholic Church.
Martin wrote of Catholic bishops who have called for the church to set aside the phrase ‘objectively disordered’. Further Martin stated,
The phrase relates to the orientation, not the person, but it is still needlessly hurtful. Our sexuality, in a sense, touches everything that we do, including the way that we love, even when sexual expression of that love is neither involved or even contemplated. So to call a person’s sexuality ‘objectively disordered’ is to tell a person that all of his or her love, even the most chaste, is disordered. That seems unnecessarily cruel.”
Martin also wrote of an Australian Bishop Long Van Nguyen who said in a lecture,
. . . we cannot talk about the integrity of creation, the universal and inclusive love of God, while at the same time colluding with the forces of oppression and the ill-treatment of racial minorities, women and homosexual persons. . . . It won’t wash with young people, especially when we purport to treat gay people with love and compassion and yet define their sexuality as ‘intrinsically disordered.’
Martin further wrote, “A few weeks ago I met an Italian theologian who suggested the phrase ‘differently ordered’ might convey that idea more pastorally.”
In his commentary, Dr. Mohler wrote of this proposal of Catholic theologians that the catechism, the official teaching, of the Roman Catholic Church be changed from setting forth “homosexual orientation as intrinsically disordered.” Mohler went on, “And by the way, that is deeply rooted not only in Catholic teaching, but also in the historic understanding of Christians of every major branch of Christianity. It’s because it’s consistent with Scripture.”
Pondering significance . . .
The theological significance of this change, as expressed by Mohler, means the overthrow of
the entire tradition of the Christian church over 2000 years in understanding how sexual orientation is to be rightly ordered. If you say that LGBT sexual orientation is merely differently ordered, you have actually not only changed the catechism in this specific case of the Roman Catholic Church, you have changed the Catholic Church’s understanding of the doctrines of creation of humanity, of sin, of redemption, of the church. It is an entire re-orientation of the Catholic faith.
Mohler further wrote of some liberal Catholics who understand the significance of this proposal, they, affirming the change of the Roman Catholic Church from its top and that this “issue will lead to a total transformation of the entire Catholic faith,” and he (Mohler) noted that the same argument is being made in some Protestant churches and even in some who characterize themselves as evangelical. He wrote, “The most important thing for us to realize is that when you are looking at this radical a proposal, which is at least to be given credit for candor and honesty, you’re looking at a straightforward call for the entire faith to be reconceived.”
Mohler emphasized in his discussion that it is not LGBT persons, but “a pattern of sin and a pattern of orientation, if that is then normalized and meant to be merely a different aspect of God’s intention in creation, then we’re looking at having to revise . . . everything we know about creation from Genesis 1 onward, revising what we understand sin to be . . . . how we know what sin is.” This, he said, “inevitably means a collision with the doctrine of Scripture with its authority . . . its trustworthiness.” And he pointed up that when we have redefined what sin is, then how are we to understand salvation?
May I add this question:
When theologically we are confused on the issue of salvation, for the church corporately as well as for individuals, how may we clearly fulfill Christ’s Great Commission to go and proclaim the Good News? If the Word of God is redefined on one point to mean what we (that is, the “new morality”) want it to mean, then why not on all other points? The doctrine of sin is thus obliterated; thus also the doctrine of redemption.
Since God’s Word is forever settled in heaven (Ps. 119:89), however, the reality of both are unchanged. As to which side of this issue we will believe in the here and now is no small consideration!
It is no understatement to assert—the stakes could not be higher!
So . . . where does it go from here?
Mohler tracks the next obvious issue in pursuit of Martin’s progressive argument. “What do you say to persons who are not merely speaking about a same-sex orientation, but they’re demanding that what they describe as their form of love—that’s the very language that . . . Martin uses in the book—that their form of love is to be celebrated within the church?”
This Mohler notes is the “shifting landscape of this debate and conversation . . . first, we need to be inclusive of those who are indicated by a same-sex orientation; [then comes] the entire umbrella LGBTQI, and it goes on.”
Dr. Mohler carefully distinguished that he was not framing the argument to say that anyone who is biblically wrong on this issue is casting away “the entirety of the Christian faith.” He rather is giving focus to “any theological position that compromises Scripture and subverts clear Christian biblical authority on this issue.”
Does the authority of Scripture determine theology (beliefs) and lifestyle?
Or does lifestyle determine theology and authority?
The moral/sexual revolution underway in Western cultures has taken us in deep, particularly as before our Creator. The stakes are far higher than we may understand in these new chilling breezes. If our Master tarries His coming, fuller ramifications in these cultures will be understood far more clearly in the not-too-distant future.
In Eden, shalom was experienced as the created family acknowledged, walked and communed with, and obeyed the Creator.
Enter there: another ideology, one opposing Him.
It set “lifestyle” over Creator.
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 This post is a consideration, with comment, of one component of Dr. Albert Mohler’s “The Briefing” of 19 September 2017. Dr. Mohler is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. For his CV see www.albertmohler.com/about.