Collision between the Spiritual and Civil Laws on Marriage

James Bannerman discusses the relationship between the church and the state, arguing that if they are not cooperating with each other, even if the state attempts neutrality toward religion, the result would be harmful for both institutions. A powerful example he uses is marriage. Note how profound is his case, though writing in 1868. His insight may be helpful for the church’s thinking about either the redefining of marriage stateside or the efforts to legalize no-fault divorce in the Philippines.

III. In the third place, I would refer to the law of marriage as another of those cases which illustrate the general position, that the civil and religious elements are so connected together in human society, that where they do not meet and unite in friendship and mutual co-operation, they must inevitably tend to the serious or fatal injury of one or the other.

Marriage is one of those institutions which, although not of grace but of nature, is yet adopted into the system of Christianity, and regulated by the rules which Christianity has laid down. The law of marriage has its origin in nature, and not in revelation; and yet the duties and rights connected with it, together with their exact nature and limits, are matters with which revelation deals. In so far as these involve moral or religious duties, we are to seek in the Bible for the code of law by which they are prescribed and determined. But marriage is, in another sense, a civil matter, coming under the province of the ordinary magistrate, and necessarily requiring to be dealt with in the way of civil enactment. There are civil rights intimately connected with it, in such a manner that the state cannot avoid the duty of legislating in regard to it, and regulating them by positive statutes and rules. In short, the institution of marriage is to be viewed in two lights,—either as a moral observance, falling to be regulated by the law of Scripture, or as a civil observance, falling to be regulated by the law of the state. And with this twofold character which it sustains, and this twofold legislation to which in every civilised and constituted society professing Christianity it is subjected, how, it may be asked, is a collision between the spiritual and the civil enactments on the subject—fraught, as it inevitably would be, with deadly consequence to the peace, if not the existence, of human society—to be avoided or prevented? If the state recognise the Bible as the Word of God, and the law of the Bible as the law of God, then it will take that law as the guiding principle for its own legislation, and make the enactments of the magistrate in regard to marriage coincident with the enactments of Scripture. But if the state do not recognise the Bible as the Word of God, there can be no security that its regulations shall not come into conflict with the regulations of Scripture as regards the institution of marriage, in such a manner as to put in peril not only the peace and purity of domestic life, but also through these the highest and holiest interests of human society. The ordinance of the family lies at the very foundation of civil society. It is the unit of combination around which the wider and more public relations of civil life associate themselves. Destroy or unhinge the domestic ordinances, unloose or unsettle the family bond, and no tie will be left holy enough or strong enough to bind up the broken and disjointed elements of human life. And yet, unless there be on the part of the state a distinct acknowledgment of the Word of God as the law to which its own laws must be conformed, there can be no security against the danger of the enactments of civil society on this vital point running counter to the appointment of God. The degrees of relationship or consanguinity within which marriage is valid or invalid,—the terms on which it is to be contracted or dissolved,—the rights which it confers on children, and the claims of succession,—all these are questions that fall to be determined both by the law of Scripture and the laws of the state, and any difference or conflict in regard to which must tend to unsettle the very foundation of human society. From the very nature and necessity of the case, if the state is not here at one with religion, it must be a difference deeply, if not fundamentally, injurious to the one or the other.

—James Bannerman, The Church of Christ (1868) loc. 2361-2393

Note especially that if the state does not align marriage law with the law of Scripture, there can be no security for marriage. Consequently, human life as we know it is in danger. Bannerman asserts, back in 1868, that the very foundation of human society will be destabilized. And that is exactly what we see happening before our eyes, today. The church has seen this coming, and yet it’s coming true.

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Voddie Baucham on Homosexuality and Transgenderism

First addressed are the “Jesus never talked about homosexuality” argument and the “Paul was talking about pederasty” argument.

Most of the time is spent going after the “The Pick and Choose Argument,” which he as dealt with in (and quotes) Expository Apologetics. The steps followed:

Step 1: Knock them down off their moral high-horse.

Step 2: The difference between your picking and choosing and your picking and choosing.

Step 3: Getting off our own high-horse.

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Action/Attraction Distinction

Homosexuality — Bahnsen cover

I used to employ that distinction between “attraction” and action, regarding the sin of homosexuality. I know lots of other believers who do as well. Homosexual acts are condemned, but not the homosexual desires. Sure, the lifestyle is sinful, no doubt. But the attraction?

Then I read (for freeHomosexuality: A Biblical View by Greg Bahnsen. My thinking did not survive the encounter.

Bahnsen goes directly at this view, specifically in chapter 3, “The Act/Orientation Distinction and Causes of Homosexuality

We are told that the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality pertains only to outward acts, since it does not isolate and discuss the inward orientation. However, one should draw the opposite conclusion: if Scripture does not distinguish between orientation and act, the distinction is not morally relevant. Under the category of homosexuality, Scripture is to be understood as condemning both orientation and act, for there is no need in ethics to distinguish them.

—Bahnsen, Homosexuality: A Biblical View pg. 64-65

He addresses the question of desire directly, here:

Moreover, the fact is that God’s revealed Word condemns homosexual desire itself, seeing it as sinful as well as homosexual acts.

To maintain that a person is not sinful for having homosexual attractions, feelings, or erotic orientation overlooks the clear biblical teaching that it is not only evil to do immoral acts, it is also evil to desire to do immoral acts: e.g., devising wicked plans or evil against your neighbor, 15 anger leading to violence, 16 malice, 17 envying dishonesty, 18 planning deceit, 19 loving false oaths, 20 coveting. 21 God’s Word forbids sinful activities, but it equally forbids fleshly lusts or evil desires. 22

—Ibid., pg. 67-68

Footnotes:

15. Proverbs 6:16-18; Zech. 7:10; 8:17.

16. Genesis 4:7,8; Matt. 5:21,22.

17. Eph. 4:31.

18. Psalm 37:1,7

19. Amos 8:5.

20. Zech. 8:17.

21. Exodus 20:17.

22. Romans 13:14; Col. 3:5; 1 Peter 2:11.

Bahnsen then cites Jesus saying one who lusts in the heart has already committed adultery, and Paul in Romans 1 not only talking about practices but desires (exactly what is cited in this helpful blog post). Bahnsen then concludes:

Therefore, it is plainly incorrect to hold that Scripture speaks only of homosexual acts and not of the homosexual desire and inclination. In forthright language Paul holds men and women morally responsible and under God’s wrath for burning with homosexual desires, which he ethically describes as vile affections. The act/orientation distinction, then, does nothing to mitigate the Bible’s censure of homosexuality. We cannot agree with those who claim that Scripture knows nothing of sexual inversion, nor with their baseless judgment that a homosexual disposition is morally neutral.

—Ibid., pg. 68-69

As I reflect on this common view/question, I don’t think we distinguish between desire and action with any other sin. Just this one.

Is the desire sinful? Well, is the desire to have your neighbor’s spouse sinful? Is the desire to take your neighbor’s property sinful? Is the desire to murder someone sinful?

And just because it’s so good, I’ll add Bahnsen’s concluding paragraph of chapter 3, where he is quite presuppositional. Notice how it applies to the question at hand.

In summary, scholars with a naturalistic bias are in conflict over the homosexual’s inner abnormality, cause, and cure. In the current discussion, divergent answers are guided by each scholar’s particular presuppositions (e.g., his view of man, his criterion of normality, what he takes as warranting hope). This is true for the Christian as well. He has distinctive presuppositions derived from the revealed Word of God. They are the basis and guide for his view of homosexuality. With respect to the nature of man, the Christian sees him as a creature of God, given his definition and direction by the Creator, and thus always accountable to the Lord for the use of mind and body. With respect to a criterion, the Christian is firmly committed to the ethical standards of God’s Word, and thereby sees homosexual desires and deeds as rebellion against the will of God. With respect to hope, the Christian looks to God’s grace and power as able to change sinners and release homosexuals from the guilt and power of their willful perversion. These presuppositions, over against those fostered outside of commitment to God’s Word, settle the issues pertaining to homosexuality’s abnormality, cause, and cure for the Christian.

—Ibid., pg. 84

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Massive Apologetics Track

Take up and read. A lot.
Take up and read. A lot.

A collection of books and courses to get you well on your way in developing and practicing a biblical apologetic. (Also see: How to use the Apologetics Track)

Is this all necessary, for every Christian? No. For the average believer, this length and depth of study is not required. I am in no way implying there are “levels” of Christians. Every Christian is required to be an apologist. Every believer therefore needs to undergo some preparation to ensure that they are always ready to give an answer to anyone. But, not every believer is going to make apologetics their living, or be debating apologists of other religions, or teaching apologetics at a seminary, or specially serve the church in apologetics. There’s no office of apologist. Yet, all believers are responsible, and some believers have been designed by God to have more aptitude for it. Not everyone is a Greg Bahnsen or James White, but some are. Pastors, I think, should give extra attention to it than the layperson, since ministers are specially reminded of it in Titus 1:9.

The bottom line is, all believers are responsible before the Lord Jesus to always be ready to answer anyone, and ministers especially are responsible. And since Jesus commanded that discipleship includes teaching everything, then all of us must be able to teach apologetics to others (though again, we won’t all be professors of apologetics).

If your first thought is, “Oh my… there’s so many resources,” then take my word when I say there could have been more. Much more. I have practiced restraint, in fact, and tried to narrow it down, and limit redundancy between the resources. There will be repetition, but that serves as reinforcement. But many books and resources have not made the cut simply because whatever they cover is dealt with by what has made the list.

I hope that the fruits of my study may benefit you. A primary reason why I read so much is so that others won’t have to. It takes a lot of time, and we don’t all have that kind of time. There is so much out there today, as never before, and it can be so overwhelming that some bother to even attempt to begin study. Or, we despair that we won’t know which resources are reliable, and which are not. If for nothing more, having all these links in one place should save a lot of work as far as looking for presuppositional material, which does not get as much publicity as other apologetic approaches.

That’s why I present, for your edification, this apologetics learning track. Don’t know where to begin? Here’s a proposal. And it is more than just a start.

Theology

Now, it is necessary that you build your apologetic from a sound theology. Theology determines apologetic methodology. If you need help getting started with that, read:

Your Bible! Internalize as much of it as you can. Dedicate time to reading for scope, and also dedicate time to read in detail. For help in your Bible reading, read Let the Reader Understand.

Most essentially for theology:

The Westminster Standards: The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF), The Westminster Larger Catechism (WLC), and The Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC). Available FREE in PDF and Kindle here.
The Forgotten Trinity by James White. Trinitarianism is what we are defending, so we had better know it.
Pilgrim Theology by Michael Horton. An easy-to-read systematic.
Lectures on Calvinism by Abraham Kuyper (FREE). This will show that sound theology is actually a worldview.
Institutes of the Christian Religion, by John Calvin (for a shorter reading, go for the 1541 edition published by Banner of Truth)
I would recommend nailing all, but not necessarily the Institutes, before diving into apologetics.

Now, on to apologetics.

The Apologetics Track

Perhaps it would be helpful to lay it out in stages. I know that for some, seeing a huge, unbroken list of books and classes is overwhelming (while others see a candy shop). So, I’ll break the track into sections, explaining what each will provide.

Stage One — Foundations

The point of stage one is to ingrain the biblical foundation. It may seem repetitive, but repetition is good. We need reminding. If we didn’t, then we would only need to read the Bible one time. But we don’t. There’s a thing called sin, and sin is the spoiler of understanding. Hence, we need the Gospel repeated weekly. We need to hear the teaching of God’s Word over and over and over again. As Spurgeon said, pound it into our heads. So, when learning apologetics, we need to be reminded constantly what the Bible says, until it becomes second nature.

Pushing the Antithesis: The Apologetic Methodology of Greg L. Bahnsen, edited by Gary DeMar

Simply the best and most concise introduction to apologetics that I have found. The arrangement of the book is very helpful as well, making a great teaching tool. It has the best practical applications after each chapter.

Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended, by Greg Bahnsen

The perfect pairing with Pushing the Antithesis. The positive presentation of the apologetic is excellent, strewn throughout with Scripture. However, the second part of the book is worth the price. Bahnsen evaluates others who have also been labeled as “presuppositionalists.” The most helpful critique is of Francis Schaeffer, which is spot on.

Always Ready by Greg Bahnsen

This one makes for quick reading. The appendix about Paul’s apologetic in Athens is brilliant, and clears up several common misconceptions about that engagement.

Basic Training for Defending the Faith, taught by Greg Bahnsen

Taught to high schoolers heading into college. So you can handle it. Or, you will realize how far our standards have fallen. I know I did.

Defending the Christian Worldview Against All Opposition, taught by Greg Bahnsen

Hands down the best series of lectures on apologetics.

Defending the Faith, taught by Dr. Michael J. Kruger (also here, for lecture 9).

One reason I appreciate Kruger so much is that his specialty is the New Testament canon. Knowing the current state of apologetics, you would expect someone with all that knowledge of manuscripts, history of transmission, etc. to be an evidentialist (since it’s so common). But he’s not. So he approaches the canon (as well as other issues) from a presuppositional perspective. His treatment of the problem of evil is brilliant, though simple.

Biblical Logic: In Theory & Practice, by Joel McDurmon

Logic is a necessity. Understanding logic from the Christian perspective is a necessity. This book is very approachable, with very good contemporary examples of fallacies. We need to be equipped to detect errors in reasoning always, and especially in apologetics. Conversation with an unbelieving perspective can be simplified when one has been trained to detect simple fallacies. Also, it’s best the Christian not commit those same fallacies, and thereby discredit his claims for Christianity.

Stage Two — Engagement

This is divided into two, overlapping parts. Apologetics is not merely arguments and answering every question. The “open hand” (persuasoria) is the positive side of apologetics. The “closed fist” (dissuasoria) is the negative side of apologetics. I agree with Os Guinness that the one we most need to recover is the “open hand.” So I’ve placed those helps before the others, so that character gets developed early.

The Open Hand – Persuasoria

Apologetics is not less than intellectual and philosophical, but it is also more. As you will soon here from Bill Edgar, abstract philosophy is not where people live and move and have there being. They live in a psychological and sociological context. Education, occupation, upbringing, etc. Hence, there is a cultural element in apologetics, if we are in fact to reach people as they are.

Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl
Even though Koukl’s apologetic methodology is completely different, I haven’t found as valuable a resource as this for learning how to have a conversation. There’s just nothing like it. Within a presuppositional framework, this will help you think and talk better about anything, including apologetics. A friend of mine has called this book “logic for dummies” (logically, it follows Biblical Logic). Adopt these tactics, make them second nature. I personally read this ever year. It is that good.

Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible by Vern Poythress

This is my “handout book” to people who have difficulties with the Bible. Vern Poythress has provided this book for FREE in PDF format (linked above). See my short review and recommendation.

We can begin to answer many of our difficulties in a number of areas if we make ourselves aware of the assumptions that we tend to bring along when we study the Bible. (pg. 16)

The Last Christian on Earth: Uncover the Enemy’s Plot to Undermine the Church by Os Guinness

Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion by Os Guinness

Os Guinness provides a much neglected component of apologetics. The tendency in all apologetic disciplines, I think, is to forget the sociological and cultural environment that people actually live in, so we forget about plausibility.

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller

A stellar example of how to dialogue with the postmodern person, in their language (and not Christian code language).

A Serrated Edge: A Brief Defense of Biblical Satire and Trinitarian Skylarking, by Douglas Wilson

Creativity is a characteristic of persuasoria, and this includes irony and humor. Doug Wilson uses both according to biblical example. His setting out of biblical norms for writing and speech is a helpful corrective to the “neutral” way of dialogue promoted today (which silences truth). The world doesn’t set the norms for discourse, the Bible does.

L’Abri (New Expanded Edition) by Edith Schaeffer

An example of the compassionate and hospitable manner in which apologetics should take place. We must never forget that every human being we encounter is also made in the image of God, and therefore we must listen, respect their honest questions, and give honest answers.

Cornelius Van Til: Reformed Apologist and Churchman by John Meuther

Apologetics is not isolated, and must not be practiced or even studied in isolation. Meuther is right to observe that when it comes to Van Til, we only look at his apologetic, and totally neglect the rest of him. But the rest was connected, indeed, resulted in his apologetic. And as James White has communicated, apologetics cannot be divorced from the church. Cornelius Van Til was the embodiment of that principle. Van Til lived an absolutely amazing life. This is my favorite biography.

Apologetics 101 taught by William Edgar, and read Christian Apologetics (2nd edition, edited by William Edgar) by Cornelius Van Til. Edgar’s little book Reasons of the Heart is also a textbook for the class.

Bill Edgar ties it all together in this class. He takes the intellectual rigor and biblical faithfulness of Van Til, the persuasive emphasis and sociological insights of Os Guinness, the compassionate and personal approach of Francis Schaeffer, and his own experience at L’Abri, and delivers it all as one. This is my favorite seminary course on apologetics. Christian Apologetics by Van Til is one of his assigned texts for the class, and an easy introduction to Van Til’s apologetic from the man himself.

The Closed Fist – Dissuasoria

Now, why is this section larger than the first, and in fact the largest chunk of the learning track? First, apologetic offense just gets more attention. And, there’s so many forms of unbelief. By God’s grace, we have unprecedented access to examples of faithful engagement with them. So instead of reinventing the wheel, we learn from those who have engaged before us.

Christian Theistic Evidences (2nd edition, edited by K. Scott Oliphint) by Cornelius Van Til

By now you’re able to get more Van Til, and this new edition includes explanatory notes by K. Scott Oliphint. This book is a thorough critique of the traditional apologetic approach. Van Til weighs, measures, and finds it wanting. Here you will see clearly that what distinguishes “evidential” apologetics from presuppositional apologetics is not that one uses evidence and the other does not. Look at that title: Evidences. Evidence and facts are only such within a philosophy of fact, which is what Van Til presents here. This book will put out of your mind forever the straw-man criticism that there’s no place for evidences in presuppositional apologetics. Actually, this was originally the syllabus for Van Til’s “Christian Evidences” class at Westminster Seminary. Oliphint quotes Machen saying to Van Til: “I wish I could take your course on Evidences. I need it and am sure it will benefit the Seminary.”

Five Views on Apologetics edited by Steven B. Cowan

The Bahnsen/Sproul Debate Over Apologetic Method (Full Audio) (Full Transcript)

James White – Apologetic Methodology: Part 1Part 2Part 3

These first four resources are each an apologetic for an apologetic approach, and critique of other approaches. Why the critiquing of other approaches to Christian apologetics? As Os Guinness said, “The apologist’s brief covers false teaching and false behavior wherever it is found, whether inside the church or outside in the wider culture” (Fool’s Talk, pg. 212). Wherever it is found. Unfortunately, there is much error inside the church when it comes to apologetic methodology. There is much undermining of the faith being defended by the very philosophy of defense. The very authority and teaching of Scripture, that is often the object of defense, is easily contradicted by the apologetic methodology. Therefore, it’s helpful to look at presuppositionalism compared to other apologetic approaches.

How To Answer The Fool: A Presuppositional Defense of the Faith (film of Sye Ten Bruggencate). Watch online.

Movie time! Look at this as a refreshing reward from all the reading so far. Taking presuppositional apologetics to the campus, Sye Ten deftly reduces arguments to absurdity. A fun watch. Grab a snack and enjoy the show.

Greg Bahnsen versus Gordon Stein debate, “Does God Exist?”

Yes, the great debate.

Worldview Apologetics taught by James Anderson

Helpful in teaching some basics about other worldviews. Did you know Mormonism is a materialistic worldview? I didn’t.

Classes, all FREE, taught by Timothy Tennent. This will give you material. So that we do not spout false testimony about our neighbor, we always need to be familiar with what others believe. Learn the world religions, and because of your apologetic foundations, you’ll be able to detect points of tension and begin to develop ways to approach each one. You’ll be prepared should you encounter any adherents.

World Religions,

Introduction to Islam,

Introduction to Buddhism,

Introduction to Hinduism.

Tennent’s classes are absolutely indispensable. To this day I fall back on what I learned in them.

What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions by James Anderson

A truly original apologetic book. It will help you narrow down and identify what people believe. Well paired with his class.

Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes by Nancy Pearcey

Though not presuppositional (following Schaeffer), no one quite handles worldviews like Nancy Pearcey, and I know few others who are so easy and enjoyable to read. She makes seeing the weakness of false worldviews easy.

Scripture Alone: Exploring the Bible’s Accuracy, Authority and Authenticity by James White

An excellent presuppositional approach to Scripture. We had better understand our ultimate authority. The dialogues are especially helpful.

*Justification by Faith – James White vs Mitch Pacwa (Roman Catholicism)

*The Sola Scriptura Debate – James White vs Mitch Pacwa 1999 (Roman Catholicism)

*Dr. James White Full Interview ‘NWO Bible Versions’ (King James Onlyism)

*The Roman Catholic Controversy by James White

*Mary—Another Redeemer? by James White

*James White versus Robert Wilkin debate (Anti-Lordship, no-repentance “gospel”)

*Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship by John MacArthur

“What is that doing here?” The refutation that MacArthur presents is Scriptural (he and the Master’s Seminary are presuppositional, anyway). To summarize, this book is a critique of false teaching and a defense of the biblical, orthodox doctrine of God the Holy Spirit. It just might seem odd to classify this book as “apologetic” because we are used to defending the deity of Christ, or the Trinity, not so much the 3rd Person. But he is God, and what we believe concerning him must be founded on the Word he inspired.

*A Definitive Look at Oneness Theology: In the Light of Biblical Trinitarianism, (4th Edition — Revised, Updated, and Expanded) by Edward Dalcour

Oneness theology is deadly heresy. To deny the Trinity is to deny God himself, who is Triune, one God in three distinct persons. To deny the Trinity is to deny the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son (co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit) incarnate, the only mediator between God and men. To lose the Trinity is to lose the plan of redemption revealed to us in Scripture. Oneness theology is a very present false teaching and every Christian must be prepared to engage it and refute it. This book is the place to go to help you do that. At the same time, you will be personally edified as you understand the Triune God’s self-revelation better. (Available in PDF)

*Trinity vs. Modalism Debate: James White vs. Roger Perkins (Oneness, Unitarian)

*The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message About Homosexuality by James White and Jeff Niell

The Gay Christian Movement: A Response Part 1 and Part 2 by James White

Few things are more relevant today. Learn how to deal with this issue in a way faithful to Christ’s Lordship.

*What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an by James White

*Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air by Francis Beckwith and Greg Koukl

They’re obviously not of the same apologetic methodology, but by now you’re grounded enough to see what’s lacking. However, all things are weapons in the presuppositionalist’s hands. To my knowledge, no one has written such a beautiful demolition of relativism, and it’s excellent. A delightful read.

*Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen (FREE) (and FEE audio)

Liberalism is still alive and well. That’s why this book is included, though not from a presuppositional perspective.

*Debate: Is the Bible True? (White vs Crossan) (The Jesus Seminar, Liberalism)

James White is explicitly presuppositional in this particular debate. He’s presuppositional in every debate, but doesn’t necessarily explain it every time. He states what he’s doing very clearly in this particular debate. A nice pairing with Machen’s work.

*All these with the asterisk can either be blended with Stage Three, or completed afterwards.

Stage Three — Reinforcement

“Reinforcement” is pretty self-explanatory. These resources will top off, refine, and clarify the foundations and engagement. The first three books continue to develop apologetics. Van Til’s Apologetic serves the useful purpose of systematizing Van Til’s thought. K. Scott Oliphint assigns that book for students to really “get” Van Til, in Westminster’s second required apologetics course.

The Schaeffer classes and the memoir paired with them will give a more comprehensive view of how apologetics can be done; a larger look at the human side of the apologetic enterprise.

The Defense of the Faith (4th edition, edited by K. Scott Oliphint) by Cornelius Van Til

This edition includes the complete text of the original, 1955 edition. Scott Oliphint’s footnotes help immensely.

Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics edited by K. Scott Oliphint and Lane G. Tipton

Offering more exegetical support to Van Til’s apologetic. Lane Tipton’s two essays are worth the price of the book.

The Apologetic Implications of Self-Deception by Greg Bahnsen, the last chapter (FREE)

You can read all of it if you want. It’s Bahnsen’s dissertation, so much of it is repetitive, recounting various views on self-deception through history. He offers many helpful scenarios. The last chapter is the summary, that gets down to it. Self-deception is crucial in our understanding of apologetics. The title is odd, because there’s in fact no apologetic implications drawn out.

Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis by Greg Bahnsen

I consider this work to be the capstone of apologetic study. It’s slow reading. Because you have to keep stopping to write down something great every 2 minutes.

Francis Schaeffer – The Early Years (iTunes U) and Francis Schaeffer – The Later Years (iTunes U) taught by Jerram Barrs, and read The Tapestry: The Life and Times of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, by Edith Schaeffer

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Sorry, it’s Still Sin

The topic of intersexuals (see this article) is probably the strongest place so-called “gay Christians” could go for support, in my opinion. It definitely does complicate the issue.

What do we Christians always say in response to the claim that gender is by choice or fluid? We say, “You’re born as either one or the other.” The doctor looks at you after birth, or the ultrasound even earlier, and recognizes your gender based on what organs you have.

But, what if someone is born with both? Or it is unclear at the time of birth? What then? Well, the typical “conservative” response goes out the window.

Admittedly, I had to think a bit on how to respond to this support of homosexuality not being sin. But only a bit.

We have to think, as with all objections and challenges to Christianity (which is what this is), what has God spoken? We also must detect what is being assumed by the challenger.

What Is, Ought

I noticed something about this challenge. Perhaps it will become apparent.

Think about the argument itself. We have this actual, real-life case. The gender is confused. There are other cases, where sadly it is not clear what is going on down there, at birth. These are the facts. The situation. But then, a conclusion is drawn from them. “Therefore, homosexuality and gender fluidity is okay.” See what happened there? They took the situation, what is, and drew a moral, ethical conclusion, an ought. Because this happens, because this is the case, because this is, therefore it ought to be, therefore gender fluidity ought to be accepted, therefore homosexuality ought to be okay. And for those “gay Christian” proponents, all this should not be considered sin.

So, a huge assumption underneath this argument is “what is, ought.” And this is a standard for a godless worldview (which piles on the irony for any professing “gay Christians”). Athiests, materialists, naturalists, secularists, all use this. The more consistent ones, at least. The less consistent appeal to some “higher” ethic. But, there is nothing higher. Without God, without a transcendent law-giver, where would ethics come from? Well, without the Creator, what else is there? The creation. There’s nothing else to look to but what is.

So, perhaps it is evident how this argument in support of gender fluidity and homosexuality not being sin employs this presupposition. Because this is the state of affairs, therefore we should accept it. These poor individuals born this way had no choice. It is what it is.

But that’s not all that’s going on under the hood.

The World is Normal

Perhaps a greater assumption that drives this argument is that the current state of affairs is normal. Everything is how it should be. And that is why they take the current situation, the facts before them, and work upward to ethics. They see these cases of gender (apparent) confusion, and draw ethically binding conclusions.

“It cannot be sin or wrong, because it has happened.” It’s a rhetorically powerful argument. How could we possibly condemn something that is just there, right before our eyes. Shouldn’t we consider them a victim of circumstance? I mean, what choice did they have? It seems that mindless, undirected nature (or their god) has produced this. Since it is happening, it must not be wrong. So this is in fact normal. Not normal in the sense of being the majority or the rule as opposed to the exception, but normal as in it happened on it’s own. No one intervened and switched up the chromosomes.

This goes hand in hand with “what is, ought.” Drawing ethics (ought) from the world and nature (is) is dependent on the world we know today being normal. If creation as we experience it right now is normal, if it has always been this way, and is untampered with, then we may indeed draw ethics from it. Then, gender fluidity could not be wrong, because it was seemingly produced naturally. Chromosomes, organs, hormones, and everything else. That confusions, or ambiguity, happened on it’s own. We can’t call it wrong if creation, if the current state of the world, is normal and all we have to look to.

What God has Said

Now that we have seen the assumptions behind the argument, whether the proponents themselves were conscious of them or not, we now look at the issue from the biblical standpoint. One outcome of this will be to expose what is really the authority for those who claim to be “gay Christians” and who claim believe the Bible.

What God Says, Ought

Obviously, the “what is, ought” view is out. There is more than just “is.” There’s creation, but there’s also the Creator. And he has given us revelation. Indeed, even the creation is revelation of himself. Yet, because of inability to interpret general revelation correctly (due to sin), God in his mercy has given us special revelation, the Scriptures. And the two forms of revelation do not conflict. And when we have union with Christ by faith, the Holy Spirit illumines our minds and we begin to see general revelation through the lenses of Scripture. And it is from revelation that we get our ethics. God himself, his character, is the source of ethics.

God has revealed things about himself. We know from Scripture that he is eternal. He is all knowing. And he has given us Scripture, all of it, for our instruction. God’s eternality related to his inspiration of Scripture is vital to examining the argument in favor of gender fluidity. If God is eternal, knowing all things, then Scripture is never irrelevant. If God is eternal, knowing all things, then he is not unaware of these sad situations.God is not a man that he is suddenly surprised and caught off guard, saying to himself, “well, since certain people are born a certain way, I guess gender is fluid…” He is as aware of them now as when Scripture was given. And you know what? The authoritative Word of God does not distinguish, or give exceptions, to homosexuality being sin. Neither does God give exceptions or additions to sex and gender. He divinely created two, and only two. He does not give anything beyond the physical. There is no distinction between physical gender and something else. The term “binary” is used a pejorative, condescending term. It’s assumed to be a bad thing. Something that’s narrow. But God created two, while being fully aware of what we are examining now. Evidently, to the One seated in the judge’s seat, the cases of people born with both or underdeveloped organs doesn’t change anything, and does not legitimize gender fluidity or homosexuality as not sinful.

This is devastating for any so-called “gay Christians” who would presume to use these cases to advance their view. Scripture is not so unsophisticated as to not be able to make distinctions if they were valid. And God is not surprised by these cases. He has always been fully aware of them. Yet, (surprise!) his Word stands. And God cannot lie.

The World is Not Normal

The second response is directed at the “world is normal” assumption, the presupposition that these cases are merely part of the natural world as it should be, and there’s nothing wrong with them. However, God has told us different. On the contrary, the world as we experience it now is not normal. At a certain point in history, our covenant representative disobeyed God, and sin entered the world. Not only was man affected, but creation as well. Until this day, creation groans for the revealing of the sons of God. Things are not as they should be.

Put yourself in place of the original recipients of the creation story in Genesis. God has spoken through Moses to reveal himself to you, and that created the earth, and it was very good. What? You were just delivered from 400 years of slavery. Pharaoh mass murdered your children. Even now, you are in a desert. There’s enemies. There’s disease and leprosy. If God created the world very good, describing the lush and beautiful garden of Eden, and tasked Adam with spreading God’s garden, why does that not match your current experience? The answer comes just after the creation story. Sin entered because of Adam’s failure. Creation has yet to be redeemed.

Do you see the connection? We are to understand the world according to Scripture. Therefore, these cases cannot determine our ethics (which would also override Scripture). “But they were born that way.” Yes, and things are not as they should be. This is not a perfect world. Creation is awaiting redemption. We all suffer the affects of the fall of man in some way. These cases call for ministry, not affirmation of a lifestyle or desires that contradict God’s Word. The world is not as it should be. These terrible things happen because of corruption. Does that mean we are condemning the person? I’m positive that many will take this assessment to mean that. If these people continue to believe in gender fluidity and homosexuality, and do not repent, they stand condemned already, by the ultimate Judge. We, as Christ’s ambassadors, are tasked with appealing to them to be reconciled to God. We identify homosexuality as sin, because God identifies it as sin, without qualification. No imaginary exceptions based on intersexuals, pansexuals, chromosomes, hormones, or anything else can usurp God’s authority.

Christians are also obligated to be explicit that Christ offers hope, not of some ethereal disembodied eternal existence, but the redemption of our bodies. Christianity is not Platonic or gnostic, viewing the body as inferior or even evil. Christ is the one who inaugurated his kingdom with miracles of healing, giving a foretaste of what is to come. Christ has guaranteed restoration, where all that is not as it should be will be made right. But he has also guaranteed that he will come back in judgment.

To proclaim this is not unloving. The doctor telling the cancer patient that his cancer is good would be unloving. Love is taking a knife to the cancer.

Sad Irony

For gay falsely-called-Christians, there’s a number of tragic ironies. They claim to believe in God. They claim that the Bible supports them. Yet, their ethics are situational. They don’t bring the ethics of the Creator down and apply them to their situation. They take the situation around them, and there own presuppositions, and impose them on God’s Word. This reveals their true authority is not God. Indeed, this is worshiping the creature rather than the Creator. What a clear case example of there being only two choices.

Another sad irony is that they still presume to use the category of sin. Yet, as we have seen by their argument, they in reality neglect the Fall. Functionally, whether they are conscious of it or not, they argue as if the current state of the world is normal, and therefore use it to determine their ethics. They do this in opposition to what God has said on the matter, revealing that they have made themselves the arbiter of truth. That just goes to show that philosophy not according to Christ can’t hold it’s own weight, and collapses.

To conclude, this argument in support of homosexuality and gender fluidity does complicate things, and presents a challenge for those who are used to an automatic evidential response (people are born as male or female). And it’s possible that other seemingly strong arguments will be offered to legitimize homosexuality. However, if we are firmly grounded on Scripture in our apologetics (meaning presuppositional), they won’t be a problem. The final arbiter of truth is the infallible Word.

Let God be true though every one were a liar

–Romans 3:4

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Resources for thinking about LGBT

Some resources to help Christians think better and prepare for interacting faithfully with others over LGBT issues.

James White

A Believing Response to Matthew Vines’ 40 Questions

Thoughts After the Profaning of Marriage Day

The Gay Christian Movement: A Response Part 1 and Part 2

Reviewing a Patheos Article from the UK (The Dividing Line)

Apologia Radio

The Gay Revolution — Jeff Durbin, Dr. James White, and Dr. Michael Brown

The Domain for Truth

All their blog posts on homosexuality here.

Rosaria Butterfield

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

rosariabutterfield.com/

20 quotes from Rosaria Butterfield’s new book on sexual identity

That new book is here: Openness Unhindered

R. Scott Clark

Heidelcast: The LGBT Movement and Free Speech part 1 and 2

Kevin DeYoung

Message and panel discussion, interview with Justin Taylor, and “Ask Kevin” video series all here.

His book, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?

His blog

Albert Mohler

God and the Gay Christian?: A Response to Matthew Vines (Free ebook)

Recurring discussion on his daily podcast, The Briefing

Stand to Reason

Same-Sex Marriage: Is Same-Sex Marriage a Good Policy Decision?

str.org

Stella Morabito

Her website

 

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