Answers to Lonnie’s Questions

This dialogue began at Mike Bird’s blog with a post titled “Would you bake a cake for a gay wedding? The Perspective from Aussie Christians!”  Specifically, this is in answer to Lonnie’s request in this comment.

I’ve put Lonnie’s comments (including questions) in italics, and my answers to his questions follow in bold.

My own experience in homosexuality is all I ever needed to agree with the Bible, that homosexuality is a sin. However, having said that, I am absolutely convinced that Jesus can utterly put an end to homosexuality in the lives of broken people. I also believe that God absolutely created marriage for one male and one female, until death do them part.

You ask: “Do you really think that Paul would make a tent for the express purpose of use in a homosexual “wedding” ceremony?”

I can’t speak to whether Paul would or would not make a tent. I can take a look at what Jesus did at a wedding he attended.

“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

4 “Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[b]

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

John 2:1-8

Did Jesus attend the wedding to show his approval of marriage between one man and one woman or did he attend the wedding for the reasons Jesus gives in Luke 4:18-19?  The Scripture does not tell us why Jesus attended the wedding.

Did Jesus attend the wedding at Cana because there were the poor there and he’d been anointed to preach good news to the poor, or was he standing in solidarity with hetero marriage?  I see no reason why He couldn’t have attended for both reasons.  And perhaps for others as well.  Since the Scripture doesn’t explicitly say, however, we probably ought to be restrained in our speculations.

Did Jesus attend the wedding at Cana because he was sent to proclaim freedom for prisoners and for recovery of the sight of the blind, and to set the oppressed free? Or was Jesus making a public service announcement about the right way to do relationships?  This is now a third time you have stated the same question in a slightly different form.  As I’ve been saying, though the Scripture does not tell us why Jesus attended, there is no basis on which we can reject either of the two possibilities you raise.  Nevertheless, there’s no record that He did or didn’t preach while there.

Are there poor people in need of the good news at a gay wedding?  Yes.

Are there prisoners in need of freedom at a gay wedding?  Yes.

Are there the blind, who need their sight restored at a gay wedding?  Yes.

Are there oppressed people needing to be set free at a gay wedding?  Yes.

None of this, however, means that this is the best time and place to reach these people with the good news of Christ.  Is the Westboro Baptist Church winning anyone to Christ when they show up at events to tell everyone how wrong they are?

Did Jesus actually try to avoid the appearance of supporting evil? If Jesus was worried about looking guilty for hanging out with sinners, then he absolutely and utterly failed.

Jesus was more interested in being right and doing right than in appearing right.  Thus He died by crucifixion – which made Him look wrong to a lot of people.

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:1-2

Jesus knew he could and would overcome the world, so he had no need to worry about being contaminated by anything the world threw at him. The perception of his enemies (Luke 15) was that Jesus, far from avoiding the appearance of sin, actually courted sinners.

In 1 John 5:4, we are taught: “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” So if you believe Jesus overcomes the world then you must also believe that you, a born again Christian, are conformed to the image and likeness of the overcoming savior. If you believe God’s word, and I believe you do then the Holy Spirit indwells you, and you too are called as Christ is called:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Luke 4:18-19

Once again I ask you:

Are there prisoners in need of freedom at a gay wedding?  
Are there the blind and oppressed at a gay wedding?  
Are there poor people at a gay wedding who need to hear the good news preached?  
Are there those at a gay wedding who need to hear the proclamation of the year of the Lord’s favor?
I answered all these questions above.  Note also that Nicodemus came to the Lord by night; Jesus did not call him to repentance in the middle of a Sanhedrin meeting.

And I also ask you: Does Jesus overcome the world and does that include homosexuality?  Yes.   If you are born of God then do you not also overcome the world?  Yes.  But neither answer means that we must participate in celebrations of homosexuality.

If you were dragged before a court of law today would there be enough evidence to convict you of, “…receiving sinners and eating with them,” as the Pharisees accused Jesus of doing in Luke 15:2??  You speak as if Jesus went out looking for sinners to court; the reality is that Jesus went out to preach repentance, and the “sinners” who repented were the ones who hung out with Him.

My reason for not attending a homosexual meeting can be best understood by recognizing that when the minister asks “If anyone here knows of just cause why these two should not be joined together let him speak now or else hereafter hold his peace,” I would be conscience-bound to speak up.  I don’t think the hosts would be pleased.  And while I think that such a “wedding” is wrong, I don’t think making a scene at their ceremony is the best way for me to make that point.  Therefore, I think the best way for me to speak the truth in love is to say it with the silence of my absence rather than vocalizing the point with my presence and thereby alienate everyone present.

List of Blogs on Which I No Longer Comment

I like to engage with others about the gospel of Christ.  However, not all bloggers are receptive to challenge.  This includes their followers as well.

No matter how respectful I have been, my presence has caused consternation on a number of blogs.  What follows is a list of blogs on which I no longer comment.  In some cases, it’s because I have literally been banned.  That is, in a few cases the bloggers have set their blogs to reject any comment that comes from me.  In other cases, I have left by mutual agreement with the blogger.  And in most other cases, I have decided to leave on my own before thing got too heated and because no good was being accomplished by my continued participation.  The Lord doesn’t like strife or quarreling.

This is an incomplete list, to which I will add over time.  They are in chronological order (i.e., most recent disengagement last).

Debunking Christianity (John Loftus)  –  John is a former Christian who became an atheist.  He was the first blogger to delete my comments, which was a good lesson for me not to invest too much time in writing on the blogs of others.  I wrote an open letter to John around that time.

Pyromaniacs (Phil Johnson, Dan Phillips, and Frank Turk)  – I don’t recall the specific issue here.

Zwinglius Redivivus (Jim West)  –  Jim moderates his comments, ones he doesn’t like never see the light of day.

Unsettled Christianity (Joel Watts)  –  The issue here was the authority of the Bible – that is, whether or not it is circular reasoning to say that the Bible is the word of God.

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (Nick Norelli)  –  The issue here was Christ versus the Trinity.

Near Emmaus (Brian LePort)  – I don’t recall the issue in dispute here.

Challies.com  (Tim Challies)  –  This is one of blogs that won’t allow me to comment.  No explanation or warning was given.  One day the comment system starting saying I wasn’t approved to comment.  I think the issue here was my belief that everyone is going to heaven.

Slacktivist (Fred Clark)  –  The issue here was homosexuality and marriage.  Fred never participated in the comments but those who did were vehemently supportive of homosexuality and homosexual marriage.  They were quite upset with my point of view.

Jesus Creed (Scot McKnight)  – The comment mechanism will no longer accept comments from me.  The issue here was my questions about evolution.

Formerly Fundie (Benjamin Corey)  –  Like Exploring Our Matrix below and Slacktivist above, this is a progressive Christian blog.  I think issues here were two: evolution and “gay marriage.”

Rethinking Biblical Christianity (Peter Enns)  –  I think Peter still identifies as an Evangelical Christian.  I sought to understand his biblical support for believing in evolution, but he did not want to talk about it.  As with James McGrath’s blog, commenters seemed to be uniformly sold on evolution and suspicious or hostile to anyone who isn’t.

Exploring Our Matrix (James McGrath)  –  [left Jan 2014] James self-identifies as a Progressive Christian.  I tried to engage James and others on the subject of evolution.  It was very hard to get fruitful interaction.  Other commenters generally regarded anyone who did not accept evolution as willfully obtuse.

God of Evolution and TylerJFrancke.com (Tyler Francke) – [left Feb 2014] Tyler is a Christian who writes in favor of evolution.  Like James McGrath, he seemed to spend most of his time mocking Ken Ham and YEC’s.  I asked him for biblical and logical arguments to support his position…but didn’t get very far.

Dominic’s Arguments

On his blog, Dominic Bnonn Tennant has posted “Is Jesus Really God?”  I have commented on this post.  In the comment thread, Dominic complains that I have not addressed his arguments offered in rebuttal to me:

Dominic:  I’d like to point out to anyone reading how Mike conspicuously avoids my arguments while weaseling with the text of Scripture.

Therefore, I will give answers to his specific arguments here, where I have a little more elbow room (i.e. ability to do text editing that makes the dialogue easier for a reader to follow).

Dominic:  Mike, obedience to Christ is only possible if you know who Christ is. Dale does not worship the same Christ I worship. I worship the Christ who is God. Dale does not. That’s a categorical difference.

A person who knows Christ is Lord is able to obey His commands, even if he might not yet fully appreciate all that is meant by the word “Lord.”  Jesus did not say, “Why call ye Me ‘Lord, Lord, and do not confess Me as the second person of a trinity.”  Rather He said, “Why call ye Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say.”  He who obeys Christ is treating Him as Lord – and that’s what pleases God.

Dominic:  I assume that the person who knows best what God is like is God himself. And I assume that if anything is going to be beyond my ability to understand properly, it will be ultimate reality—God himself. So when God reveals what he is like and I can’t understand it, I assume the problem is with me; not with God.

Agreed.  Therefore, if you think God is revealing something to you that is unscriptural and illogical then you know that it is you who are wrong.

Dominic:  Dale, by contrast, despite being infinitely inferior to God both ontologically and epistemically, sets up his own understanding as the authority for who God can be. Then, when God reveals something different, he rejects that because it doesn’t meet his little standard. That is the basic definition of faithlessness and idolatry.

I don’t know enough about Dale to know what has and hasn’t been revealed to him.  I do know, however, that the trinity concept is a man-made intellectual idol.  If you are saying that he has rejected that idea, then he has done well.

Dominic:  As to whether Dale is sincere, I’m not sure how that is relevant. A sincere false teacher is still a false teacher. A deluded wolf who thinks it’s a sheep is still a wolf. The Jews who killed early Christians strike me as having done their best to serve God. Jihadist Muslims certainly seem sincere. Or to take tamer examples, open theists certainly claim to serve God, despite denying most of his attributes. Same for Catholics, who worship Mary and the saints along with God, while proclaiming a false works-based gospel—surely many of them are doing their best to serve God? The question isn’t whether they are sincerely trying to serve God, but whether theyknow God. Because if they do not know God through faith, then all they are sincerely serving is their own idols.

Sincerity counts with God, but I agree with you that it cannot make one right when he is wrong.  My point in raising it was that while both of you are wrong (you in thinking that God is trinitarian and Dale in thinking that Jesus is not God) you both strike me as equally sincere.  You and Sam seemed to be speaking to Dale contemptuously, and I thought tha tone was preventing constructive dialogue.  I was hoping you’d address Dale as a Nicodemus or Gamaliel and not as an Annas or Caiaphas, because ostensibly the dialogue was for a worthy purpose – that is, to learn more about Jesus our Lord.

The following interactions are Dominic first quoting something I had written, then providing his response.  After each, I respond to his response.

Mike: I will leave aside the question of behavior for the moment and ask you how faith in Christ as divine differs from faith in Christ as the most exalted agent of God?

Dominic:  Your question answers itself. Imagine a Jew looking at the Old Testament and asking how faith in Yahweh as divine differs from faith in Yahweh as the most exalted angel of El.

Jews in the Old Testament routinely interacted with, trusted, and obeyed angels sent from God as if they were God Himself.  Faithful obedience rather than ontologically precise parsing of the moment was what God valued.  “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” and “He who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”

Mike:  And if you deem faith in the latter [i.e. “Christ as the most exalted agent of God”] to be deficient are you claiming that every believer in the New Testament at the moment of belief saw Him as fully divine?

Dominic:  Probably not. But what would separate true believers from false ones would be their response to discovering Jesus’s divinity. Do they accept it in faith and worship him as God, or do they reject it and set up an idol in his place?

You should have stopped after your first sentence.  You were doing so well!

The New Testament does not catalog the faith journeys of believers such that we can track for each of them the sort of two-phase faith process (1-believe in Christ as Lord, 2-believe in Christ as God) you are trying to impose.

Mike:  I believe that we find the quickest path to understanding His nature by faith and obedience.

Dominic:  You seem to be making my point for me. Dale disbelieves God’s revelation of himself, and refuses to submit himself to it. The very definition of faithless disobedience.

If you mean that Dale denies the trinity, then he is right…for the trinitarian concept is an intellectual idol born of disbelief in the promise of the Second Coming.  You do well to believe that Christ is part of God; you’ll do better when you realize that He’s all of God.

Mike:  Therefore, when someone tells me that he trusts and obeys Christ, I know we are on the same path.

Dominic:  So when a Mormon tells you that, you know you’re on the same path? That’s unfortunate, since the path the Mormon is on leads to a gate labeled “Destruction”.

I don’t determine people’s identities by denominational or theological labels.  I just preach Christ and watch to see whether they rejoice or fight me.

So, there you have it, Dominic: a specific response to every argument you raised to me in that post.

And, by the way, thanks again for the post.  Jesus is God!  To Him be the glory for what He has done!

Dialogue with Father Barron on the Second Coming of Christ

  • Mike Gantt

    Mike Gantt 23 hours ago

    As I’ve said, [the Lord’s Supper] was an activity to last until the coming of the kingdom. You don’t keep tying yellow ribbons around the ole’ oak tree after the soldier has returned. You embrace the soldier, for “when the perfect is come, the partial is done away.”

    in reply to mZaoa
  • wordonfirevideo

    wordonfirevideo 19 hours ago

    Yes indeed, the church will fade away when Christ comes again. Last time I checked, friend, that hasn’t happened yet!

    in reply to Mike Gantt
  • Mike Gantt

    Mike Gantt 17 hours ago

    You should check again.

    in reply to wordonfirevideo
  • wordonfirevideo

    wordonfirevideo 13 hours ago

    Okay, I give up: where is he hiding?

    in reply to Mike Gantt
  • Mike Gantt

    Mike Gantt 11 hours ago

    In the hearts of those who love Him (2 Thess 1:9-10).

    in reply to wordonfirevideo
  • wordonfirevideo

    wordonfirevideo 6 hours ago

    But friend, that is decidedly not what the Bible means by the Second Coming! It means the definitive return of Jesus and the consummation of all things, and the complete reconciliation of heaven and earth. Like it or not, that has not happened. Until it does, the vehicle of the Spirit’s presence to the world is precisely what Paul called the body of Jesus, the Church.

    in reply to Mike Gantt
    • Mike Gantt

      Mike Gantt 1 second ago

      By this same logic, the Jews reject His first coming, and appeal to Moses for Jewry’s status as you appeal to Paul for the church’s status. Thus, “recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath,” (Acts 13:27) both rabbinic Judaism and organized Christianity reject the presence of the very One they proclaim.

      Nevertheless, “the Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19), and Brother Lawrence was one who surely got it right. The Lord sees our hearts.

Related post:  My Last Post on Father Barron’s WordOnFire.org YouTube Channel

[Editorial note, October 15, 2016:  This post used to include links back to this exchange on Father Barron’s YouTube site so that you could see our dialogue in that context if you wanted.  However, those links no longer work, and I don’t know why.  Something changed on his end.  It appears that he, or someone else there, has removed the entire dialogue.]

Roman Catholic Priest Father Robert Barron Acknowledges That the Church Fades Away When Christ Comes

Yes indeed, the church will fade away when Christ comes again. Last time I checked, friend, that hasn’t happened yet!  –  Father Barron

(Here’s his comment in its original context.)  My response to him was “You should check again.”

In the meantime, let the significance of what the good father has acknowledged sink in.  He is admitting that the place of the church gives way to the Christ who comes.

You can thus understand why the church does not want to say along with John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  (John 3:30)

Instead, the church (i.e. all of them – Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant) says along with the Pharisees, “This is the heir; come, let us kil him and seize his inheritance.”  (Matthew 21:38).