On Denny Burk’s Article: Why Evangelicals Should Ignore Brian McLaren
This is an historic moment—at least for me. My first blog, on my own website! I can hear the groans from all you wired technophiles.
I propose a very long moratorium on Brian McLaren’s approach to homosexuality and the Bible. In support of this consult an excellent article, “Why Evangelicals Should Ignore Brian McLaren: How the New Testament Requires Evangelicals to Render a Judgment on the Moral Status of Homosexuality,” by Denny Burk, Themelios, Volume 35, Issue 2 (July 2010). Burk’s point is that:
- During McLaren’s proposed five-year moratorium on speech about homosexuality, the homosexual agenda was not silent and has made massive strides, and we have been absent, and
- McLaren is wrong when he claims that the Bible is not clear about the moral status of homosexuality so Christians need not press this divisive issue since it drives away potential converts. (This latter opinion of McLaren gives us the real reason for his moratorium—he either does not know how to think biblically or he does not want to.)
Burk grants that a number of liberal scholars in recent years have attempted to demonstrate the confusing nature of the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality, but in the long history of interpretation this is a completely novel approach. What is more, the serious mainline modern commentators maintain the traditional approach.
Burk shows that the issue is not peripheral but goes to the heart of our faith. I have to cite him for two reasons. His explanation is powerful, and just last week I independently came to a very similar conclusion (See my “The Gospel for Twenty-first Century Sodom: Inside/Out 70)
The apostle Paul says that the great mystery of the Gen 2 norm of marriage (one man and one woman in covenanted union) is that God intended it all along to be a shadow of a greater reality. From the Garden of Eden forward, God intended marriage and the marriage act to enact a parable of another marriage: Christ’s marriage to his church (Eph 5:31–32). Thus, marriage and sex are not defined by the culture, but by the gospel itself. Jesus loves his bride exclusively and self-sacrificially; and Jesus’ bride must respect and submit to her husband. In this way, God designed marriage to portray a gospel-archetype rooted in his eternal purposes. The gospel that shapes this archetype is also the hope for humanity and the context in which human happiness reaches its fullest potential.
With this notion of “archetype” Burk suggests not merely a moral but a cosmological defense of heterosexual monogamy. The advantage of cosmological argumentation is that many leading homosexuals agree that this is place where the debate should be engaged. For them, sodomy is a perfect expression of a “non-dual” world of spiritual One-ism. For the Christian, the ultimate biblical reason for opposing homosexuality is not those “six pesky verses,” as Tony Jones dismissively calls the biblical data, but a cosmos based on difference not sameness, a hetero-cosmology, not a homo-cosmology.
Peter Jones, PhD
Scholar-in-Residence and Adjunct Professor, Westminster Seminary California
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