Heresy and Orthodoxy: Separating Sheep and Goats in the Nashville Statement

The Nashville Statement not only reaffirms moral objections to sexual perversions, such as homosexuality and transgenderism, but it also reaffirms the Church’s obligation to love those who practice such perversions.

I would say in praise of the Nashville Statement, is they got it right when they defined the root cause of transgression as our “self-conception.” Our self-conception is an existential – and ultimately meaningless – conception, especially to those who affirm the existence of a sovereign God. What really matters – ontologically – in our relationship as the creation to our creator is not our self-conception, but the conception of our maker given our current objective condition. May we always remember our condition is sinful and deserving of wrathful judgment, but for the grace of Christ.

 

Godly men and women from across the nation have put their signature to a document recently affirming orthodox Christian morality that has been held since the advent of the New Testament Christian Church. If you haven’t heard of “The Nashville Statement,” you probably found this article by means other than Twitter or Facebook.

While not nearly as big a news story as Hurricane Harvey, its impact has done more to stratify Christians who affirm the sovereignty, goodness, and justice of an objective God, and professing Christians who cling only to the “lovingness” of God (so long as that lovingness conforms with their predisposed subjective ideals of love).

The statement is, for the most part, absolutely redundant – although it is a needed redundancy. It not only reaffirms moral objections to sexual perversions (such as homosexuality and transgenderism), but it also (perhaps more incisively) reaffirms the Church’s obligation to love those who practice such perversions.

Here’s what it’s not: It’s not a homophobic, transphobic, or x-phobic document that summarily condemns those involved in an “alternative lifestyle” as never capable of receiving the grace of Christ.

But to see the objections from the more liberal wings of Christianity, you would think the statement is outright total warfare against anyone practicing homosexuality and/or transgenderism, as well as against any who wish to tolerate validate those practices as sanctioned by the Almighty God.

I’ll list some common objections I’ve seen (and rather than link to them, just search Twitter for #NashvilleStatement, or Facebook for the same). But before I do, I think it is worth noting that the objectors to the statement are much louder and much more active than the millions of orthodox Christians who would affirm such statement. I note it because an appeal ad populum does NOT negate the truth of an opponent’s argument. If one were to say that “more professing Christians in America reject the Nashville than affirm it, therefore it is worth rejecting,” they would not be making any claims as to the validity of their argument or their opponents’. Their only claim would be to the subjectivity of the people’s opinions.

I will earnestly try to be faithful to the objections made, and not deliberately set up men of straw for me to tackle.

Number 1: God loves all people, including LGBT people, and therefore we should not judge their lifestyle.

Response: This is true, insofar as the love God extends benevolently and beneficently toward his creation; but it is not the case – nor can scripture support the case – that the complacent love of God extends to all people. “Complacent” is a theological distinction that defies modern primary connotations of the word; rather it has its roots in the Latin verb compleceo, complecere, which is “to please exceedingly.” The complacent love of God is active when we have been given the righteousness of Christ and our sins are cloaked by His perfection. Without the atonement of Christ, we cannot ever hope to “please exceedingly” the God who is perfectly just. When we deny His moral law based on contemporary social mores in order to “fit in,” we are in sin. When we affirm a social more that is contrary to the law of God as righteous, sanctioned, and in conformity with His will, we are not just in sin – we are in blasphemy. The complacent love of God – that love which is extended to His elect in salvation – is not the same as a benevolent love for creation, or a beneficent love in divine providence. We can surely understand the distinction, as our own extended love is distinguished in very similar ways. Remember, just because the incarnate Christ associated with tax collectors and prostitutes did not mean he was affirming their sin as righteous.

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