Response to the Columbus Dispatch Article Titled:
"Minister says literalism hurts Bible's impact"
In order to avoid possible copyright infringements, we do not quote the entire Columbus Dispatch article in our response. To obtain a copy of original Dispatch article, click here.
excerpts from original article = green
our responses = black
Resources for helping homosexuals, their families and friends
While this article is not directly about the evolution/creationism debate, it is an attack against young Earth creationists so we're going to respond to it. The first thing to remember when reading anything about religion in the Columbus Dispatch is that it's usually anti-Christian (conservative Christian) propaganda. It is not serious journalism. It's usually very one-sided, as this article was. The reporters and editors at the Dispatch who print stories like this seem to have it in their agenda to a) stamp out any notion that God created the universe and b) discredit and attack conservative Christians at every chance. One way they do this is to find liberal pastors who have twisted interpretations of scriptures and hold them up as examples of "Christians" agreeing with their positions. This is especially common for the reporters who write for the Faith and Values section of the Dispatch. The "Rev." Peter Gomes from Harvard University is quoted several times in this Dispatch article, and is a good example of this. He is an openly homosexual "pastor" who also appeared recently on ABC News Nightline lecturing us all about the morality of going to war with Iraq (he was against it). Imagine having someone who's living in the depths of immorality lecture the rest of the nation about any moral issue. Of course ABC News never bothered to tell their viewers that Rev. Gomes was openly homosexual.
CLEVELAND -- Some people are just too reverent when it comes to the Bible, the Rev. Peter Gomes thinks.
"Too reverent"? How is it even possible to be "too reverent" when reading and interpreting God's Holy Word? We're not talking about the author of the week here. We're talking about Almighty God's revealed truth. This statement cheapens His Word and minimizes it's importance in our lives. We suspect that the real motive behind comments like this is that he doesn't like the idea that the Bible speaks so strongly against his homosexuality, so he's going to do some creative interpretation of the scriptures to make it fit his misguided paradigm that being homosexual is acceptable to God. Complaints about "literal interpretation" are quite common from those who are trying to justify their sinful behavior (whatever it may be).
If they're going to enjoy it, he says, clergy members need to help them lighten up.
The Bible is not a book you read to "enjoy" as if it were being read for entertainment purposes. Nor should we "lighten up" to read its hallowed words. You've got to drag the glory and awesomeness of God down pretty far to approach the reading of his Word with this kind of an attitude. It is a book to be revered (but not worshipped), and we should approach our Bible study with the intent to give a maximum effort to correctly interpret its precious words. While the Holy Spirit often does move people while they're reading the profound words within its pages, its certainly nothing like the giddy kind of "happiness" one might experience when reading a book for entertainment purposes.
"You can't pick it up and plow all the way through.''
Unfortunately, that's how a lot of Christians do read it today. They have very little understanding of why hermeneutics are so important. And like the misguided liberal pastor quoted in this article, they go astray by engaging in Bible interpretation from an approach of eisegesis instead of exegesis.
The 57-year-old Gomes, an American Baptist minister who has taught at Harvard since 1970,
Perhaps the Dispatch thought we should be impressed by the fact that Pastor Gomes teaches as such a "prestigious" institution. That is a line of thinking one would expect from someone far removed from the realities that exist at universities like Harvard. For Christians who are more informed on this issue, the fact that he teaches at Harvard should make him highly suspect. Harvard is a Mecca for liberalism. No self-respecting conservative Christian would ever point to Harvard as a school we should be impressed with, at least from a spiritual perspective.
does not fit a standard mold: He is a black Republican, who helped write inauguration prayers for presidents Reagan and Bush
Here is another example where the reporter shows profound ignorance about God's Holy Word. Again, we are apparently supposed to be impressed because he worked for some presidents. Look at what God Himself had to say about this in Proverbs 29:26. What we should look for in a pastor are things this particular pastor is failing miserably in. He is a gay pastor who has significantly minimized the authority of God's Word. He does this in two ways. First, he justifies the sin of homosexuality instead of repenting of it. Worse yet, he holds himself up as a model for others by assuming the role of a pastor. According to God, this will bring him a harsher judgment. And finally, he sets a very bad example with his highly-liberal approach towards Bible interpretation.
and he is gay.
It is our intention to eventually add an entire section to our web page that deals with the issue of homosexuality, because the Columbus Dispatch and other liberal media outlets are blatantly pro-gay, and their propaganda needs to be opposed much more vigorously. We don't have time to delve into that issue right now in great depth, but here are a few quick points about this.
The author of this article totally destroyed his credibility with well-informed Christians with this one statement alone. There is a movement in the liberal news media and liberal education circles to have homosexuality "accepted" as just another lifestyle choice. Keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of the people pushing this agenda are either not Christians, or are claiming to be "Christians" while at the same time not accepting the authority and accuracy of God's Holy Word on this issue. They have their own personal agenda's, and in their rebelliousness they don't want to accept the clear statements God has made on this issue. They complain that anyone who disagrees with them are "hate mongers", "bigots" or "intolerant".
As Christians who believe that God has the first and last word on all matters, we must turn to his Word and see what he has to say about this. It is clear from verses like 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 how we are to respond to people like pastor Gomes (this Bible verse applies to those who have voluntarily submitted themselves to the authority of their pastors, and to their church's discipline, when needed, by becoming members of their churches). We are not to appease them or turn a blind eye to their blatant sins. Rather, God has made it clear that we are to distance ourselves from them. We are not to keep company with them. This is not cruelty, it is an act of love. The ultimate goal of such a reaction is to shame them into facing their sinful behavior and repenting before God to avoid his judgment. Here's what John MacArthur, Jr. had to say about morally corrupt pastors in his book titled, "Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry":
"For the most part, evangelical Christianity during this century has focused on the battle for doctrinal purity - and it should - but we are losing the battle for moral purity. We have people with the right theology who are living impure lives. God's standards cannot be lowered for the sake of sympathy. It does not need to be, because we can be loving, forgiving, gracious, merciful, and kind without compromising what God says about the character of the men He wants leading His church. All battles for the integrity of Scripture are ultimately in vain if the church's preachers are corrupt and the sheep no longer follow their shepherds as models of holiness. The church must have leaders who are above reproach. Anything less is an abomination to God and spells disaster for the life of the church. The first character qualification in Titus that spells out what it means for a pastor to be above reproach is that he be "the husband of one wife" (Titus 1:6)".
Gomes has the view that for each individual who picks up the Bible, "to read is to interpret.''
Mr. Gomes has apparently chosen to ignore this clear verse in the Bible concerning this issue:
Where no counsel [is], the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors [there is] safety. - Proverbs 11:14
We simply cannot read the Bible ourselves and correctly interpret it all the time. We need others who are more well-studied to help us with this. This can come in the form of commentaries, lexicons, pastors, authors of books on topics of interest, etc.
He said literalism bestows a degree of teaching authority on those who hold that view, and many are reluctant to give it up. "The appeal of that authority is seductive,'' he said. "It's like strict constructionists of the Constitution. There's no ambiguity here: It means what it says; it says what it means. And we just sort of plot it out, when we know life is much more ambiguous than that.
A favorite tactic of those who are trying to justify their sinful behavior is to put a question mark where God has placed a period. Rather than to accept the obvious meaning of God's Word, in rebellion to it they intentionally try to muddy the water by calling into question that which God has made abundantly clear. They may be quite successful at deceiving themselves, but in the end it's not going to matter. This is sort of like holding a loaded gun to your head and convincing yourself that nothing will happen when you pull the trigger. Those who practice this kind of Bible interpretation are in for a very ugly surprise when they meet face-to-face with the God who's Holy Word they chose to ignore.
Despite the continuance of literal translation, he said, gays will continue to gain acceptance within denominations. "I think they're on the margins moving in.
Perhaps pastor Gomes has conveniently forgotten the lessons of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is probably a true statement that the gay lifestyle will continue to gain acceptance in certain liberal denominations. When one considers all the pro-gay brainwashing that occurs in secular educational institutions and the liberal news media, it's no wonder that homosexuals are gaining sympathy for their misguided cause inside and outside the church. In fact, this kind of apostasy within the church was predicted in the Bible hundreds of years ago. The more successful homosexuals are at winning sympathy for their cause, the closer we as a society move towards judgment from God for our rebelliousness. Consider these verses as an example:
¶ I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
2 Timothy 4:1-4:
What pastor Gomes needs is a good dose of reality. Those who know him are doing him no favors by coddling him, and dismissing his blatantly sinful behavior. Holding him up as a representative for what a good Christian should be is like holding up a heterosexual pastor who openly admits he's having an affair with the wife of another church member. And the fact that the Columbus Dispatch holds Pastor Gomes up as an example to be admired tells us a lot about how wide the gap is between what the Bible defines as morally good and what the Dispatch thinks it is. We need to pray for these misguided reporters and editors in the hopes that one day, God will deliver at least some of them from their self-destructive ignorance concerning His truths.
We also need to pray for those in the homosexuality community who are gripped by this lifestyle that they may one day see what God really has to say about this issue, and humble themselves before Him and repent of this sin. As Christians, we should hate the sin, not the sinner. If you are a Christian and know persons who are gay, keep them in your prayers and be a good ambassador for Christ by treating them with dignity and respect. If the Lord opens up an opportunity for you to lovingly witness to them about this issue, pray for guidance and move forward with it. If He does not, pray that He will bring someone else into their lives who will. Remember, we have all sinned against God. Show them the same patience and love that God showed you before you finally abandoned your rebelliousness towards Him and surrendered your heart unconditionally to Him, on His terms.
See also: Homosexuality statistics and agenda
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