Is Gay Marriage Destroying the United Methodist Church?

That’s the title of an article in Christianity Today. Here is an excerpt from that article:

“Irreconcilable” disagreement over same-sex unions is once again prompting debate over splitting the historic United Methodist Church (UMC), one of America’s largest denominations.

“If we are one church, we cannot act as if we are two. If, in reality, we are two churches, it may not be wise to pretend any longer that we are one,” concludes a statement last month from 80 traditionalists from across the UMC, which has 7.7 million U.S. members. (An additional 4.4 million members are overseas.)

The statement says the UMC is facing a crisis in four areas because:

* Pastors have violated or said they are willing to violate the Book of Discipline ban on same-sex marriages. (The Book of Discipline is the church’s most authoritative guide.)

* Pastors and other leaders realize that there are no “meaningful consequences” for violating the Book of Discipline by officiating at a same-sex union. (In one instance, two clergy were given a “24-hour suspension without pay” for marrying gay couples.)

* More church leaders believe “significant parts of the Scriptures do not provide an accurate understanding of God’s heart and mind and may be discarded as uninspired and in error.”

* Among top leaders, “there are dramatic differences in how personal and social holiness is lived out and taught.”

Questions that come to mind:

  • Shouldn’t some differences be irreconcilable?
  • When does a ‘church’ cease being a true church of the living God?
  • Since when does what ‘more and more church leaders believe’ have any standing when what more of them believe clearly violates God’s design and plan for marriage?

The article didn’t leave out an opinion from the “grassroots” level (regular folks).

“At the grassroots, schism is unpopular. A June poll, commissioned by a UMC agency, indicates that rank and file UMC members are opposed to a church schism over homosexuality. “We found that regardless of a person’s position on homosexuality, members felt strongly that the church could offer a positive and different voice to the broader conversation occurring in society today,” said John Deuterman, president of Corporate Research, which conducted the survey for the UMC Communications agency.” (Emphasis mine)

I really don’t know what that is trying to say. The only ‘positive’ and ‘different’ (than society) voice ought to be the voice of Almighty God, who has spoken rather clearly in this matter.

 

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Fuzzy Thinking?

Premise 1 The Old Testament Law prohibited eating certain foods and declared some ‘unclean’.

Premise 2. Jesus declared all foods ‘clean’

Conclusion: Therefore Jesus contradicted/abolished/dismissed OT Law.

The above syllogism is used by many to affirm certain behavior/activity prohibited by OT Law. What behavior/activity is currently being defended is immaterial to the REAL question at hand.

1. “Did Jesus abolish OT Law?” Using the term ‘abolish’ by definition includes contradicting and/or dismissing the Law.

At this point, a rather lengthy discussion can be had concerning what is meant by ‘abolish’, as well as an even longer dissertation concerning the ‘types’ of Law in the OT. To answer out question however, we need only look to the words of Jesus himself:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18).

There you have it. Jesus did not come abolish the Law, but to fulfill not only the Law, but also the Prophets. Whatever that means, the above conclusion is false.

I’m not going to get into the meaning of it all, but there are some good answers from an excellent source to specific questions like “Did Jesus abolish OT law?” at www.gotQuestions.org. Just Google the question and read to your heart’s content.

___________________________________

The above post is dedicated to “Bones”, a fellow who stated that Jesus did contradict and/or dismiss OT Law, over at a ‘Progressive’ Christian are of the blogosphere. I could not address him there, as I have been blocked from doing so. That’s probably a good thing (being blocked) since there are even more really foolish arguments being made over there and I have a tendency to want to address them all and perhaps become a poor steward of God’s time.

The ‘Imago Dei Campaign’–A Noble Undertaking, or Spiritual Compromise?

There’s a new campaign afoot, called ‘Imago Dei’. The Web page says the campaign is:

“Committed to shining the light of Christ by Reconciling Billy Graham’s message of salvation through Christ with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s march for justice.”

To join the movement all you have to do is affirm the following:

“I recognize that every human being, in and out of the womb, carries the image of God; without exception. Therefore, I will treat everyone with love and respect.”

The site also offers further explains and encourages:

Who We Are

Imago Dei is a global movement committed to shining the light of Christ. A type social media/ digital platform component with the metric of committing millions to the cause.

Join Us

By signing up for the Imago Dei Campaign, you are committed to changing the world by recognizing that we are all made in the image of God, without exception.

Question: Do we who call ourselves Christians need a ‘campaign’ to treat others with love and respect when the Bible already provides the very same guidance, and more concerning how we are to treat others?

Answer: Only if we are lacking in Biblical literacy – and I mean LACKING, or if the power of God working in the hearts of his children is insufficient to the task. (See Phil 2:13).

Question: How can anything that sounds so noble be bad?

Answer: There are at least two possibilities to consider.

1. If it fosters a false form of ecumenism. This movement does just that, as have other interesting developments in recent months and years.

One must consider the fact that this ‘movement’ has as its leaders both Protestants and Catholics. The protestant leaders. The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, along with James and Betty Robison affirm Roman Catholicism (salvation = faith plus works) as genuine Christianity. It must be added that although there was a group of liberal Lutheran and Catholic leaders who seem to have come to a meeting of the minds, complete with a declaration that appears to equate salvation by faith alone, The Council of Trent, with its pronouncements of ‘anathema’ against those who maintain salvation by grace alone, has NEVER been abrogated.

The Catholic leadership consists of Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett, producers of the doctrinally “The Bible’ miniseries and ‘Son of God’ big screen production. Both of those never presented the true gospel that is about the issue of sin, repentance, and belief, but rather asserted that Jesus came to ‘change the world’ World change is a product of Christ’s death for the sins of men, not the main reason he came. I won’t get into all of the connections Roma Downey has with New Age spirituality, Contemplative mysticism, and Eastern religions’ panentheism.

2. If it can be used by other ‘movements’, steeped in practices the Bible calls sinful, to demand that their ‘sin’ be accepted or ‘affirmed by Christians. That is exactly what the LGBT community has been after for years, and this gives them another opportunity/tool to use for making their demands. It goes like this: “I’m made in the image of God just like you and I’m ‘gay’, and if you say anything against my sexuality, you are not treating me with love and respect. People have already been prosecuted for ‘hate’ crimes for agreeing with the Bible on certain issues. Isn’t this just a ‘logical’ outcome? Is this ‘campaign’ just a convenient way for professing Christians to be silent concerning ‘sin’ without feeling guilty for being spiritual cowards?

The “Son of God” Movie – Faithful Adaptation?

A recent Newsweek magazine special edition  titled ‘Jesus’ there was an article at the back called:

FAITHFUL ADAPTATION : Two of the church’s most influential voices explain why Son of God is a meaningful benchmark for Christianity’s future..

Here is the article. I have underlined the interviewer questions/statements for clarity :

FAITHFUL ADAPTATION

Two of the church’s most influential voices explain why Son of God is a meaningful benchmark for Christianity’s future.

REV. JOEL OSTEEN

 

Pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest church in America, and the author of several books, including the recent Break Out!

 

What was it like for you to work with Mark Burnett and Roma Downey on Son of God?

 

I was technically a consultant, but I didn’t do much. That’s not my expertise. I felt they could get theologians or experts, so for me it was more about being a friend. . I was just there to support them as part of the Christian community. When I heard what they were doing . . . I was there to be supportive in any way I could.

What kinds of conversations did the three of you have about the way the story was going to be presented? Did you ever debate Scripture versus a good script?

 

I was on board the whole way. I never saw anything that was off base. . . . At one point in Son of God, Jesus walks out to Peter’s little fishing boat, and Jesus says, “We’re going to change the world.” I loved that. Some people might say, “But that’s not in the Bible,” but I said, “Look, guys, you’re making the Bible contemporary.”

Does that attitude also inform the way you minister to your community at Lakewood?

 

I get criticized for it, but people already know what they’re doing wrong. When I look at the congregation, I don’t have the heart to tell these people they’re crewing up. They already came in here and spent their time and energy. I want to tell them God is there for them, that they can overcome addictions, that they can make good decisions. I want to empower them. I don’t think Jesus came to condemn. He lifted people up. People are tired of being told what to do and tired of being talked down to. Of course, there are two sides of it.

 

Because other ministers feel they have a different calling?

 

Exactly. I can see the other side. Some people need to have somebody in their face saying, “You have to straighten up.” But that’s not my job. My role is to celebrate anyone who is doing something good. They don’t have to be like me. I don’t have to agree with them I00 percent. None of us agree 100 percent on everything. We’re in this together. We’re going to see the good in each other, and I think that’s one of the beauties of what Mark and Roma are doing. It’s a tool for us to celebrate who we are.

Lakewood is one of the largest churches in the country. Is it helpful for you to have a film like Son of God, which gives your congregation a common vocabulary or experience?

 

It is harder to have community in a church like ours. The church is very diverse, not only racially but economically. You could have a CEO sitting by somebody who took the bus. But the pros outweigh the cons for me. There are services that have 15,000 people, and it’s very empowering. It’s like a concert. It’s about bringing people together. So we see a movie like Son Of God as a tool; we see it as a way to get together. It’s easy to say, “Let’s go sec a movie.” People think, “I don’t want to go to church, but you know what, I’ll go see a movie.” And that can create a spark on the inside that says, ‘Tm not religious, but maybe I need a relationship with God,” and that’s who we’re trying to reach- not just the church people. Plus, the film is so well done .What I love about Mark and Roma is that they know how to do it right, with that added production value. Son of God is on par with anything you would go to see in the movies.

 

Do you feel Son of God is finally giving the Greatest Story Ever Told the treatment it deserves?

 

It really is. I say this all the time, but Mark and Roma could be doing anything. They have the opportunities, they have the fame, they have the money. These guys have chosen to use their gift, their power and their celebrity to do something great for faith and to bring the Bible to life. That’s why it’s easy to get behind it.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ

 

Leader of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council l and author of Path of Miracles

 

Tell me briefly how you got involved with The Bible series and. ultimately, the Son of God film.

 

Roma Downey, Mark Burnett and their team engaged Christian leaders for the sake of The Bible series. The primary purpose was to advise and consent: We said, “Let’s look at the series, some of the segments, the trailer, the script. Is there anything that will cause great angst or consternation within the Bible-believing community?” So I was engaged at the initial stages, and it became a wonderful journey. The Christian worldview via the conduit of popular culture appears marginalized and ridiculed. But now there’s this redemptive opportunity to offer the Bible to a new generation n. It became a visual presentation of the wonderful life-changing narrative that’s stems out of God’s word.

How much course correcting did you do as an adviser?

 

None. Mark and Roma did their due diligence beforehand. For me, as long as the core message and core themes were, without compromise, about love and grace and redemption and taking care of those in need :and changing the world for good, I was covered .And they not only adhered to that, they actually elevated that message through the Bible series and now the Son of God movie.

What does Son of God do differently than The Bible?

 

By focusing on the Jesus narrative exclusively, Son of God takes The Bible and raises and amplifies it on a very powerful scale. There’s a difference between seeing the story through your television and seeing this radical journey of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ on the big screen. And because it’s being released in theaters, it offers an opportunity for fellowship and fraternity ty. It’s a convocation. It invites us to have a conversation about faith, religion and God.

Why do you feel that’s paramount at this point in our history?

 

We have so much confrontation and so many debates taking place in America on a plethora of issues every single day. I ‘m only 44 years of age, but I’ve never seen my nation as divided as I see it now. Son of God says, “Let’s come together and let’s have a conversation. Let’s experience something different, something that’s conciliatory, something that’s redemptive.” And that’s why it’s more than a film to me. It really is a call for gathering.

How significant is it that the film is being released nationally in English and Spanish on the same day?

 

I can’t find the words to describe the significance. It speaks to the hearts of Mark and Roma. The Hispanic-American community is not just a segment or a demographic. It’s the fastest-growing segment of the Christian community. By mid-century, the majority of Christians in America, in both the Catholic and in the Evangelical – Protestant world, will be of Hispanic-American descent, according to Pew research. Mark and Roma picked up on that, they acted proactively, and they’re releasing it in Spanish on the very same day. I commend and applaud them for that.

© 2014 Newsweek LLC

I could probably add a lot of personal comment, but I will only ask a question:

If “Son of God is a meaningful benchmark for Christianity’s future.”, and it just might be, what does that  really mean?

Writing Checks to Mel Gibson – Tim challies

February 18, 2014

In late 2003 and early 2004, we were told that Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was going to change the world. We saw breathless slogans like, “perhaps the best outreach opportunity in 2,000 years.” Rick Warren, whose book The Purpose Driven Life had made him a household name, predicted “a spiritual tsunami” would hit when the film released. When he saw this tsunami coming, he planned a two-week preaching series leading up to the movie’s release, booked 47 theatre screens so members of his church could attend with their lost friends, invited a long list of celebrities and billionaires to a premier showing, and prepared a three-week small group curriculum for follow-up. He claimed that his church rode this tsunami to incredible results: “Over 600 unchurched community leaders attended our VIP showing; 892 friends of members were saved during the two-week sermon series. Over 600 new small groups were formed, and our average attendance increased by 3,000.”

It is hard to overestimate the buzz, the excitement, and the anticipation prior to The Passion. Do you remember it? I do.

Back in 2004, I was a member of a Southern Baptist church that tried to ride the Passion wave by mimicking just about everything Rick Warren did. The pastors raised tens of thousands of dollars from the congregation, then bought movie passes, booked theaters, distributed tickets, formed small groups, bought Warren’s follow-up curriculum, and waited to transform the city. Giving away the tickets was the easy part—people gladly accepted free movie passes to the film everyone was talking about. All the tickets went, but as far as I know, not a single person—not even one—came to any of the follow-up studies. No one was saved. Nothing happened. All the time, energy and resources gained nothing.

In the film’s aftermath George Barna got to work and found that the results we saw were far more typical than what Warren reported. “Among the most startling outcomes is the apparent absence of a direct evangelistic impact by the movie. Less than one-tenth of one percent of those who saw the film stated that they made a profession of faith or accepted Jesus Christ as their savior in reaction to the film’s content.” Either The Passion was not actually a great opportunity for evangelism, or most churches botched it.

Ten years later it is indisputable that all the talk of The Passion of the Christ being a powerful tool for evangelism was far more hype than reality. The marketing slogans earned Mel Gibson hundreds of millions of dollars, and brought lots of money to marketers and merchandisers. But the claim that it was the best outreach opportunity since Pentecost is downright embarrassing. For all the good the movie did, we may as well have just written checks to Mel Gibson and skipped the movie. 

Yet here we go again. We are just a couple of weeks away from the next The Passion of the Christ: Mark Burnett’s Son of God. Based on the 2013 miniseries The Bible, it is being marketed much like The Passion before it. B&H has just announced a new small-group Bible study from Rick Warren titled Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You. The press release quotes Warren as saying, Son of God is “the best movie I’ve seen on the life of Jesus in years.” The release also says, “The film has made headlines in the build-up to its Feb. 28 nationwide release as churches and organizations across the country have been renting out cinema multiplexes to show the film on every screen the night before its official release.”

 As far as I can tell, and measuring two weeks prior to release, there is far less enthusiasm for Son of God than there was for The Passion of the Christ. I expect the reason is largely attributable to the old phrase, “once bitten, twice shy.” There’s a feeling of deja vu about this film. Still, I see marketers applying pressure and I see some churches buying in.

I want to urge caution, and I can draw these cautions directly from lessons we learned—or should have learned—from The Passion of the Christ.

The first caution is that The Passion caused us to look away from Scripture. This is ironic, of course, since The Passion was based on Scripture (plus a bit of imagination and a dash of Roman Catholic tradition). The fact is, though, that God saw fit to give us the Bible written, not displayed. He chose to give us a book, not a film. Those who pushed churches to embrace The Passion as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity made all kinds of promises, and many of those promises were based on the media. They claimed that by putting the old message into a new media it would come alive to a whole new generation and would do what preaching would not or could not. Many churches looked away from Scripture, even if only for a few weeks, and put their hope in a film.

The second caution is that The Passion took us off-mission. There is nothing more central to the church than the preaching of God’s Word. There is nothing that cuts deeper or builds stronger than the Bible faithfully taught. There is nothing we should expect God to use more powerfully than the preaching of his Word. Every revival in days past—every true revival, at least—has been a revival sparked by and carried on through preaching. We should have no expectation that God will accomplish through a film what he has only promised to accomplish through preaching. Too many churches veered off-mission when faced with the opportunity of The Passion of the Christ.

I have not seen Son of God. It may be a powerful film that is faithful to Scripture. I hope that is the case. It is entirely possible that God may choose to use Son of God to call people to faith. He may use it to generate interest in himself. He has used stranger means than this to work his will. Rick Warren’s follow-up Bible study may be excellent and may drive people from the screen to the Book. Lots of good may come. But still, both of these cautions apply to Son of God just as they did to The Passion. Don’t look away from Scripture and don’t get off-mission. 

As you consider this new film, remember that we have been here before. Remember that there are a lot of people hoping to make a lot of money from this film. Remember that God promises to bless the preaching of his Word, not the display of that Word on the silver screen. Don’t expect a movie to do the Word’s work.

Pray for Cindy

 

Recently, American Family Radio (www.AFA.net) conducted an Interview with a post-abortive Mom (Cindy) about the assault of abortion ‘abolitionist’ Toby Harmon, outside of an abortion clinic, by her boyfriend.

 

During the interview Cindy talked about the assault on Toby Harmon, which occurred outside an abortion clinic she and her boyfriend had just exited. She claimed her boyfriend was ‘provoked’ by what the abortion protestors were saying and the signs they were holding communicating that abortion was murdering babies. Apparently Cindy had not yet taken place. When asked by the AFR interviewer why she had not had the abortion yet, she answered that ”it wasn’t the right time” and “it would be unfair to the baby”. She clearly referred to the person growing in her womb as a “baby”. That indicates that there was a moral issue at stake, at some level, in Cindy’s heart and mind.  

 

The fact that she used the term ‘baby’ has been picked up by a couple of news entities, but the response that ”the timing wasn’t right”, “I wasn’t ready yet”  and “it wasn’t fair to the baby” really caught my attention! Is there a ‘time’ when execution would be ‘fair’ to the baby? So it’s ‘fair’ to the baby if you’ve thought about it, and ‘felt’ ready to  kill your ‘baby’?

 

Apparently, in this case, the ‘right time’ arrived, and Cindy felt ‘ready’, because she did have the abortion.

 

It was a really sad interview. Cindy was reminded at the close of the interview that there was forgiveness at the foot of the Cross. It was probably the last thing she wanted to hear, ut she needed to hear it. We need to pray for Cindy and her boyfriend, that they indeed meet Christ…at the foot of the Cross.

 

Has evangelicalism become preoccupied with ‘self’?

“Redefining evangelicalism in terms of the self, in terms of the self having spiritual experiences, finding itself, satisfying, fulfilling itself, has everything to do with culture and nothing to do with Christ.” – David Wells

The above quote is from the book, The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World, by David Wells. It is the author’s position that evangelicalism has indeed been co-opted by the self movement. The book takes you on a journey through the evangelical landscape from just after World War II to our own day, presenting his case.

While I already have an opinion in answer to the question in the title of this post, I am interested in what the few readers of this blog have to say.

And by the way, have a blessed new year!

Yes, Virginia, There IS an Agenda!

When the latest ruling by a Colorado judge ordered a baker with Christian values to serve same sex couples with wedding cakes, I was saddened, but not surprised. I was saddened because homosexual behavior is sin and God did designed marriage to be a union between a man and a woman. One cannot read the Bible with even an ounce of intellectual integrity and come away with a different opinion. I am not surprised, because there is a devilish agenda afoot (no pun intended) to force acceptance of what is an abomination to God on everyone else.

And yes, Virgina, that is an agenda, no matter how much denial of that fact fills every form of media imaginable. This latest incident I think proves my point, as have other similar incidents, and here’s why.

There is absolutely no reason for homosexuals to be unable to find bakers who would be more than willing to bake their wedding cakes. And even if they could not, they could walk into the bakery and order a wedding cake without mentioning it was for a homosexual wedding and mount their own little Jane & Judy, or Bruce and Bob figures themselves. Think about it.

Yes, Virginia, there is an agenda.

Of course the issue about a wedding cake has been eclipsed by the Duck Dynasty brouhaha. If the wedding cake issue didn’t convince you there is an agenda, this one should cause the deaf to hear and the blind to see.

Phil Robertson clearly, in my opinion, walked into an ambush, which is on him. He also could have merely said he agrees with what the Bible calls sin and pulled out a Bible and read the passage of scripture he paraphrased. But he didn’t and it’s water under the bridge. So are the comments he made about what life picking cotton alongside black sharecroppers was like.

What’s not under the bridge is the agenda of those who engage in what God calls sin to force acceptance of their sin upon all of us who disagree with them and choose to agree with God concerning a series of sins delineated in a short passage of scripture. What is also clear is that the agenda of a small segment of our society seems to have worked, at least to some degree. As one article has stated:

“Macho television executives are now more afraid of gay guys armed with hairdryers and laptops than they are of men garbed in camo armed with loaded shotguns.”

I have news for those with the agenda. In the end, they are not fighting against Phil Robetson, the A&E network, or bakers of wedding cakes. They are fighting against God – the God whom they know exists (See Romans 1)

What will we see in the days, weeks and months that follow? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we who claim Christ as Lord and Savior can use the ‘conversation’ as a segue to sharing the Good News that Christ came to earth to die for our sins, no matter what they might be.

Yes, Virginia there is an agenda. However, instead of fighting the ‘agenda’ or joining ‘defend free speech’ campaigns, may we seize the opportunity to share the gospel of Christ, the ‘reason for the season”!

Food for thought on a Monday morning. . .

You Have Been Warned—The “Duck Dynasty” Controversy

You Have Been Warned—The “Duck Dynasty” Controversy

Al Mohler, Thursday • December 19, 2013

philrobertson

An interview can get you into big trouble. Remember General Stanley McChrystal? He was the commander of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan until he gave an interview to Rolling Stone magazine in 2010 and criticized his Commander in Chief. Soon thereafter, he was sacked. This time the interview controversy surrounds Phil Robertson, founder of the Duck Commander company and star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty. Robertson gave an interview to GQ (formerly known as Gentlemen’s Quarterly), and now he has been put on “indefinite suspension” from the program.

Why? Because of controversy over his comments on homosexuality.

Phil Robertson is the plainspoken patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan. In the GQ interview, published in the January 2014 issue of the magazine, Robertson makes clear that his Christian faith is central to his identity and his life. He speaks of his life before Christ and actively seeks to convert the interviewer, Drew Magary, to faith in Christ. He tells Magary of the need for repentance from sin. Magary then asks Robertson to define sin. He responded:

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Christians will recognize that Robertson was offering a rather accurate paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

To be fair, Robertson also offered some comments that were rather crude and graphically anatomical in making the same point. As Magary explained, “Out here in these woods, without any cameras around, Phil is free to say what he wants. Maybe a little too free. He’s got lots of thoughts on modern immorality, and there’s no stopping them from rushing out.”

Phil Robertson would have served the cause of Christ more faithfully if some of those comments had not rushed out. This is not because what he said was wrong; he was making the argument that homosexual acts are against nature. The Apostle Paul makes the very same argument in Romans 1:26. The problem is the graphic nature of Robertson’s language and the context of his statements.

The Apostle Paul made the same arguments, but worshipers in the congregations of Rome and Corinth did not have to put hands over the ears of their children when Paul’s letter was read to their church.

The entire Duck Dynasty enterprise is a giant publicity operation, and a very lucrative enterprise at that. Entertainment and marketing machines run on publicity, and the Robertsons have used that publicity to offer winsome witness to their Christian faith. But GQ magazine? Seriously?

Not all publicity is good publicity, and Christians had better think long and hard about the publicity we seek or allow by our cooperation.

Just ask Gen. McChrystal. In the aftermath of his embarrassing debacle, the obvious question was this: why would a gifted and tested military commander allow a reporter for Rolling Stone such access and then speak so carelessly? Rolling Stone is a magazine of the cultural left. It was insanity for Gen. McChrystal to speak so carelessly to a reporter who should have been expected to present whatever the general said in the most unfavorable light.

Similarly, Phil Robertson would have served himself and his mission far better by declining to cooperate with GQ for a major interview. GQ is a “lifestyle” magazine for men, a rather sophisticated and worldly platform for the kind of writing Drew Magary produced in this interview. GQ is not looking for Sunday School material. Given the publicity the interview has now attracted, the magazine must be thrilled. Phil Robertson is likely less thrilled.

Another interesting parallel emerges with the timing of this controversy. The current issue of TIME magazine features Pope Francis I as “Person of the Year.” Within days of TIME’s declaration, Phil Robertson had been suspended from Duck Dynasty. Robertson’s suspension was caused by his statements that homosexual acts are sinful. But Pope Francis is riding a wave of glowing publicity, even as he has stated in public his agreement with all that the Roman Catholic Church teaches, including its teachings on homosexual acts.

Francis has declared himself to be a “son of the church,” and his church teaches that all homosexual acts are inherently sinful and must be seen as “acts of grave depravity” that are “intrinsically disordered.”

But Pope Francis is on the cover of TIME magazine and Phil Robertson is on indefinite suspension. Such are the inconsistencies, confusions, and hypocrisies of our cultural moment.

Writing for TIME, television critic James Poniewozik argued that Robertson’s error was to speak so explicitly and openly, “to make the subtext text.” He wrote:

Now, you’ve got an issue with those of us who maybe just want to watch a family comedy about people outside a major city, but please without supporting somebody thumping gay people with their Bible. Or a problem with people with gay friends, or family, or, you know, actual gay A&E viewers.

By speaking so openly, Robertson crossed the line, Poniewozik explains.

A&E was running for cover. The network released a statement that attempted to put as much distance as possible between what the network described as Robertson’s personal beliefs and their own advocacy for gay rights:

We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.

So, even as most evangelical Christians will likely have concerns about the way Phil Robertson expressed himself in some of his comments and where he made the comments, the fact remains that it is the moral judgment he asserted, not the manner of his assertion, that caused such an uproar. A quick look at the protests from gay activist groups like GLAAD will confirm that judgment. They have protested the words Robertson drew from the Bible and labeled them as “far outside of the mainstream understanding of LGBT people.”

So the controversy over Duck Dynasty sends a clear signal to anyone who has anything to risk in public life: Say nothing about the sinfulness of homosexual acts or risk sure and certain destruction by the revolutionaries of the new morality. You have been warned.

In a statement released before his suspension, Phil Robertson told of his own sinful past and of his experience of salvation in Christ and said:

My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.

Those are fighting words, Phil. They are also the gospel truth.

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I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at mail@albertmohler.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/albertmohler.

Drew Magary, “What the Duck?,” GQ, January 2014. http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson [WARNING: explicit language used. Citation is here for the purpose of documentation.]

James Poniewozik, “Why Phil Robertson Got Suspended from Duck Dynasty,” TIME, Wednesday, December 18, 2014. http://entertainment.time.com/2013/12/18/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson-suspended/

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 2357. http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm#2357

Megan Townsend, “A&E Network Places Star on Indefinite Filming Hiatus Following Anti-Gay Remarks,” GLAAD, Wednesday, December 18, 2013. http://www.glaad.org/blog/ae-network-places-star-indefinite-filming-hiatus-following-anti-gay-remarks

AJ Marechal, “Duck Dynasty: Phil Robertson Suspended Indefinitely Following Anti-Gay Remarks,” Variety, Wednesday, December 18, 2013. http://variety.com/2013/tv/news/duck-dynasty-ae-suspends-phil-robertson-following-gay-remarks-1200974473/

Photo credit: A&E Network

Brazilian ‘Evangelical’ Model Under Fire for Deciding to Appear on Playboy Cover

By Jessica Martinez, Christian Post

The Brazilian edition of Playboy magazine recently announced that a model who claims to be evangelical will be on the cover of its September issue.

Aline Franzoi, who belongs to National Mission Evangelical Church in Brazil, was already under fire for being a ring girl for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) competitions, which some consider to be a violent sport.  But now news of her upcoming Playboy cover adds additional oil to the heat she has received over her career choices.

According to her Facebook page, Franzoi responded in Portuguese yesterday to the recent backlash she has received over her decision to appear on Playboy.

"About the issue regarding my religion that came out in headlines saying I am ‘Evangelical,’ this will be the first and only time I will speak about it. I never wanted to link information about my religion and work since they are different areas," she wrote. "Journalists are the ones who link me with the title of ‘Evangelical, not Aline Franzoi’ but I’m sure everybody can differentiate it."

A Hispanic news site, Noticia Cristiana, reported that Franzoi told VIP, a Brazilian magazine, that she would not pose nude because she is evangelical. And prior to her most recent career controversy, Franzoi also told another Brazilian outlet, UOL, that she publicly displays her Christian faith in a bold manner.

"I’m evangelical and use my Facebook to tell how much God was and is powerful in my life. And, anyway, what’s wrong with being ring girl? It is very concerning to know what is right and wrong, but in my view, God looks at our heart and our intention."

But her recent Facebook statement makes it unclear whether she considers herself an evangelical or not, and whether her opinion of appearing nude has changed.

The founder of Actors, Models and Talent for Christ, a talent agency based in Georgia, finds Franzoi’s decision to appear in the men’s magazine disheartening.

"Because media covers our world, today’s Christian stars have an unprecedented opportunity to be positive role models. The Bible tells us to be imitators of Christ. We can’t be perfect, but if we’re truly following Jesus, He will perfect us," said Carey Lewis.

"I am saddened at the massive loss of innocence among our children, as well as the dramatic increase in human trafficking. Overt sexuality contributes to these tragedies. Actors, models and talent for Christ have a responsibility to set a better example," he added.

Although it is not clear whether Franzoi will pose nude or not for Playboy, her credibility as a Christian continues to be questioned.

"It’s difficult to be a model while practicing a legalistic religion like Evangelicals do. She should either leave her religion or leave her career," commented Artemio Degas, a reader on Noticia Cristiana.

"God does see your heart, he sees that it’s perverted," added another reader, Eliseo Flamenco.

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Sadly, I’ve run across professing Christians who would see nothing amiss here. Here’s a comment that reflects their mindset:

David danced before the Lord naked. Many prophets paraded around in loin clothes. We are all on our own personal journey to God. Who am I to question the mystery of God? Who knows but that her being in Playboy as a Christian witness will not reach a lost soul? No one can please everyone all of the time and the only one they need to focus on pleasing is God. She says she will not pose nude but even if she ends up being duped into it, I still believe that God can make all things work to the good for those who are called according to his purpose. My prayer is for Aline Franzoi to trust in the Lord with all her heart and to lean not upon her own understanding but in all her ways to acknowledge Him and He will direct her paths. In Jesus name, Amen.

The article itself is troubling enough, but above comment from someone named Karen, is too sad for words at the moment, although the young woman probably feels like she is somehow being ‘Christ like’ and loving. I cannot help but wonder from who/where she is receiving her teaching.