(First Thoughts Blog) R.R. Reno–The Antinomian Gospel

…There are arguments for why traditional views of sexual morality should be rejected ”” utilitarian arguments, phenomenological arguments, arguments from cultural progress, and so forth. But decades ago I discovered that the theological arguments in favor of a complete reversal of Christian condemnations of homosexual acts involve eviscerating the Christian faith.

Consider this: Unbelievers have been marginalized by the Church. But wait, Jesus reaches out to the marginalized. Therefore, so should we, not to transform them, but to affirm them in their unbelief. To do so will require some changes, not the least of which is any requirement of belief for membership in the church.

You might think this is absurd, but beginning in the 1990s, the argument for inclusion precipitated a movement among Episcopal Church progressives to reject the requirement of baptism for participation in the Eucharist. After all, such a requirement “excludes,” while Jesus’ love “includes.”

Closely related are invidious contrasts between Jewish “legalism” and Jesus’ universal embrace, contrasts Campolo hints at in his posting. By this way of thinking, any principle, any rule, any judgment (or at least the ones a progressive does not like) are categorized as Pharisaical. End game: authoritative doctrine, even the canon of scripture, must be condemned as “legalistic.”

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

9 comments on “(First Thoughts Blog) R.R. Reno–The Antinomian Gospel

  1. New Reformation Advocate says:

    I used to be a big Tony Campolo fan. He’s still a passionate preacher that I enjoy listening to very much, usually. Except when his liberal political views get in the way and lead him astray.

    Rusty Reno is absolutely right in his devastating critique of the absurd antinomian character of much of Protestantism. It’s not surprising when so-called “mainline” Protestant leaders fall into that culturally acceptable trap, i.e., the popular “gospel of inclusivity” that’s actually a deadly false gospel. But it’s really sad when a great evangelical leader similarly succombs to the same gross distortion of the gospel. Talk about a “strong delusion” (2 Thess. 2:11), the Father of Lies has fooled all too many with this kind of perversion of the authentic gospel into lawlessness (antinomianism).

    David Handy+

  2. Lutheran-MS says:

    You have to remember that error Creeps into the Church in three stages. First, error ask for toleration, in the second stage, error ASK for equality, and finally, error says that it is dominant and truth better fall into line.

  3. A Senior Priest says:

    This is a historic heresy. In the Middle Ages it was called the heresy of the Free Spirit. The modern TEC version is a bit more bourgeois and sanitized.

  4. eugen says:

    All of your theological splitting of hairs seems to presume that being homosexual is a choice. The overwhelming scientific evidence debunks that presumption. If one accepts that it is not a choice, I do not see how one can condemn it as a sin. As far as I know Jesus is never reported to have said a word about homosexuality. One might just as well condemn someone as a sinner because he had red hair or blue eyes.

  5. Larry Morse says:

    #4, first of all, you are at least half wrong about the lack of choice. cultural homosexuality and situational homosexuality have been commonplace and still are – in prisons now,e.g. as once in the Navy and in Islamic countries where women were devalued. Second, if it is genetic this does not make it “sin-free.” Why should it? The acts, not the genes, are what counts. Do we sin in the mind? Jesus says so, and so homosexuals, like heterosexuals, sin there all the time. This is our nature. And this is why Jesus appeared, isn’t it? But in the undoubted act, there is a refusal to admit that the mind’s weaknesses are to be encouraged and admitted. This is rather different. It is worth observing that God is the author of evolution, and if you have a grievance with his genetic design, the you should complain to him about it.
    As to Jesus not mentioning homosexuality, why should he? He made it clear that sexual relations, like marriage, were heterosexual relationships. Are you telling me that, since he does not openly derogate sado-masochism, then it has the gospel sanction? Larry

  6. eugen says:

    I will grant you that there is situational or culture-based homosexuality but that simply verifies the scientific theory that humans cannot be neatly categorized by their sexual orientation. In fact, most scientfic evidence points to a continuum of sexual orientation with some people totally homosexual and some people totally heterosexual and many people in between. Homosexuality is found throughout the animal world as well. Pathological sexual conduct is another matter which I think is irrelevant for this discussion.
    I think it would be useful for orthodox Christians to dwell on the real threat to the sanctity of marriage and the real violation of Christ’s teachings, namely divorce. This is a human activity that is clearly a choice. I am cheered by the recent discussion of divorce by Mohler and others who note that the divorce rate for evangelical Christians is much higher than the national average. I have not seen calls for the removal of divorced ministers or consternation because divorced people are being ordained or being put in positions of church leadership.

  7. Charming Billy says:

    #6, Christian ethics has never condemned anyone for their orientation. It recognizes that many aspects of our personality, upbringing, and human nature are given, not chosen. They just are. But Christianity is too realistic to offer simple mitigation or excuses for these givens. It recognizes that while we find ourselves in a world that we didn’t choose, the fact that we are both in and of that world means that this world limits our ability to choose otherwise. We aren’t just victims. Our victimhood forces us to implicate ourselves. We can’t extricate ourselves from the givens of the world or from our own limited and self limiting choices. Rather than excusing or overcoming our limitations, Christianity offers us the chance to be “more than conquerors” through the forgiveness provided by Christ.

    So although the givens of our sexual orientation are not irrelevant for understanding sexual sin, they don’t provide simple excuses or simple approbation. A homosexual and homosexual before God on equal terms. Both are challenged to know and do God’s will for sexuality and both cannot meet that challenge without God’s help. A heterosexual may find some aspects of Christian marriage easier than a heterosexual , but he can’t take any credit for that: he didn’t choose his heterosexual orientation. Nor will a heterosexual orientation, by itself, make it any easier to fulfill God’s purpose for marriage, to manifest the image of God in a male and female union. This is the work of Holy Spirit, not of two eager heterosexuals armed with a James Dobson marriage manual.

  8. Larry Morse says:

    Divorce is indeed a choice. But then, so is sexual activity. Some people choose to have sex with animals. Christ did not take a stand against it. Is it therefore permitted? And I might add that a homosexual and a heterosexual do NOT stand before God on equal terms because homosexual acts are inherently sinful, and this is not true of heterosexual acts. These latter may be sinful, but they are, in the right context, encouraged and approved as both good and necessary. Larry

  9. Sarah says:

    RE: “others who note that the divorce rate for evangelical Christians is much higher than the national average.”

    Of course, there has been no such thing noted at all. Might want to check the actual T19 discussion on that.

    RE: “I have not seen calls for the removal of divorced ministers or consternation because divorced people are being ordained or being put in positions of church leadership.”

    Well then, you have not been “listening” and in “dialogue.” See Beisner consent process at GC 2006.

    Charming Billy — great comment!