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I am really enjoying God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth Here’s a sample quote in which they reflect on what it means to glorify God:

What does it mean to glorify God? The Westminster Catechism reminds us that “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” If we are created to glorify God, then we should know what that means. We glorify God by multiplying images of him who are crowned with his glory; we glorify God by making disciples. Jesus himself glorified God in this way. Near the end of his life, he declared:

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do . . . I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. (Jn 17:4, 6).

Jesus glorified God by making disciples who kept God’s word. The mark of these disciples was obedience. Similarly, we glorify God by our mission in making disciples who keep God’s word.

(Page 35)

See also:

Towards Understanding More About the Glory of God

Notes for “glory” on Romans Study

How Would You Define Glory?

The Apostles’ Creed is the most well known summary statement of what orthodox Christians hold to be true.[1] It reminds of us central points about which all Christians must agree, serves as a defense against heresies or false teachings which deny any element, summarizes the faith, and provides an important resource for either private or corporate worship.[2]

The Apostles Creed reflects that the historical church saw the need from very early times to confess important doctrines in creedal or doctrinal statements. This is not surprising because the New Testament explicitly references the importance of sound doctrine. In the Pastoral Epistles, Paul stresses that Timothy should counter the false teachers in Ephesus by means of sound doctrine. Likewise, Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders who could encourage God’s people by means of sound doctrine. In the Pastoral Epistles, Paul refers to sound doctrine with various labels:[3]

the faith: 1 Tim 1:3, 19; 3:9; 4:1, 6:10, 12, 21; 2 Tim 3:8; 4:7; Titus 3:15[4]

the truth: 1 Tim 2:4, 7; 3:15; 4:3; 6:3, 5; 2 Tim 2:18, 25; 3:7-8; 4:4; Tit 1:1, 14

the sound doctrine: 1 Tim 1:10; 6:3; 2 Tim 1:13; 4:3; Titus 1:9, 2:1

the teaching: Titus 1:9; 1 Tim 6:1

the good deposit: 1 Tim 6:20, 2 Tim 1:4 (literally)

Stott points out that, “In nearly every one of these expressions, the noun is preceded by the definite article, indicating that already a body of doctrine existed which was an agreed standard by which all teaching could be tested and judged. It was the teaching of Christ and his apostles.”[5]

The Apostles’ Creed dates back to 700. But far earlier fragments of it exist. The most well known influence would be what is known as the “Old Roman Creed” which comes from the second half of the second century.[6]

Every phrase of the Apostles’ Creed is important and worth studying. We should notice:

  • The Trinitarian organization of the Creed.
  • The affirmation that our heavenly Father created all things and is all-powerful (omnipotent).
  • The miraculous conception of Christ that was denied by liberal theology in the 19th and 20th
  • The reference to Pontius Pilate that insists on the historicity of the death, burial, and resurrection of our King.
  • The certainty of the impending resurrection and final judgment.

The Heidleberg Catechism acknowledges the central importance of the Apostles’ Creed in questions 22-23:

Question 22. What is then necessary for a christian to believe?

Answer: All things promised us in the gospel, (a) which the articles of our catholic undoubted christian faith briefly teach us.

(a) John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. Matt.28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Question 23. What are these articles?

Answer: 1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: 2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord: 3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary: 4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell: 5. The third day he rose again from the dead: 6. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: 7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead: 8. I believe in the Holy Ghost: 9. I believe a holy catholic church: the communion of saints: 10. The forgiveness of sins: 11. The resurrection of the body: 12. And the life everlasting.

The version of the Apostles’ Creed our church uses features three translation/interpretive decisions.

  1. First, it reads, “he descended to the dead,” rather than, “he descended into hell.” This serves to avoid confusing people by implying that Christ spent the time between his death and the resurrection in hell.[7]
  2. Second, we have substituted “living” for the word “quick.” In our use of language “quick” references physical ability to respond rather than merely the idea of being alive.
  3. Third, we prefer “the holy universal Church” rather than “the holy catholic Church” so as to not confuse people that this is a reference to the Roman Catholic religion.

To those who object that no updates should be made to the Apostles’ Creed, we would remind them that this is not Scripture nor does it date to the apostles themselves. Like the Bereans, we eagerly receive the historic teaching of the Church. But we also examine it to for ourselves to make sure that we are being consistent with the clear and plain teaching of Scripture (Acts 17:11). Further, these decisions make no change to the consensus of understanding regarding the meaning of the creed.[8]

These considerations in mind, the version of the Apostles’ Creed we use reads as follows:

I believe in God the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord;

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, dead, and buried.

He descended to the dead[9]

The third day he rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven,

and sitteth on the right hand of God

the Father Almighty.

From thence He shall come to judge the living

and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy universal Church,

the communion of the saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting.


[1] On the importance of confessions and creeds see Carl R. Trueman, The Creedal Imperative (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012).

[2] O.G. Oliver, Jr., “The Apostles Creed,” in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 73.

[3] The list is based on Stott’s summary, though there are several errors in the references. John R.W. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, ed. John R.W. Stott, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2001), 42.

[4] The “faith” group of words is very important in the Pastoral Epistles and the major commentaries usually have extended sections on Paul’s varied use of faith. See especially, Jerome D. Quinn, The Letter to Titus: A New Translation with Notes and Commentary and an Introduction to Titus, I and II Timothy, the Pastoral Epistles, vol. 1st (New York: Doubleday, 1990); I. Howard Marshall and Philip Towner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1999); William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson, 2000).

For more on “the faith” see, Ibid., cxxxi–cxxxii. See also Mounce’s point that Paul’s emphasis is as on doctrine as a whole and not with a particular issue as in Galatians. Ibid., lxxvi.

On the theological activity of the New Testament church, see Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), xxx. On the necessity and centrality of doctrine to Christianity, see J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 18.

[5] Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, 42–43.

[6] Oliver, Jr., “The Apostles Creed,” 72.

[7] See Trueman, The Creedal Imperative, 90; Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 586–590.

[8] Trueman argues that we should not change the phrase, “he descended into hell.” But even he admits that it does not mean what it appears to mean. He writes, “Given the near universal presence of the Apostles’ Creed across the Christian spectrum, it is ironic that it also contains one of the most controversial and disputed statements in creedal and confessional history: the clause which states that ‘Christ descended into hell.’ This seems to be a statement with minimal biblical foundation and unfortunate soteriological implications, as if Christ’s death on the cross was somehow an insufficient act in itself to fulfill the mandate of the Suffering Servant. In fact, as is often the case in the history of theology, the creed’s offense at this point is based more on a surface reading of the words from a later context than upon their original intent. Thus, a careful exploration of the words reveals that the creed is not claiming anything particularly objectionable at this point.” Trueman, The Creedal Imperative, 90. Grudem’s response is far more balanced and does not treat a creedal statement as though it is the Bible itself. After a careful consideration of the phrase, he concludes, “At this point, people on all sides of the question of whether Christ actually descended into hell should be able to agree that at least that the idea of Christ’s ‘descent into hell’ is not taught clearly or explicitly in any passage of Scripture . . . Does the phrase ‘he descended into hell’ deserve to be retained in the Apostles’ Creed alongside the great doctrines of the faith on which all can agree? The single argument in its favor seems to be the fact that it has been around so long. But an old mistake is still a mistake—and as long as it has been around there has been confusion and disagreement over its meaning.” Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 593, 594.

[9] This change suggested by Cranfield, Apostles Creed: A Faith to Live By, Grand Rapids (Eerdmans, 1993), page 3. The change was first suggested by the International Consultation on English Texts and published in 1970. C.E.B. Cranfield, The Apostles Creed: A Faith to Live By (Grand Rapds: Eerdmans, 1993), 3.

The Story of the Nicene Creed

Chris —  April 28, 2015 — 1 Comment

Athanasius of Alexandria

Elsewhere I have summarized the doctrine of the trinity. Below is a synopsis of the story of the Nicene Creed: a short creedal statement that gives an overview of the doctrine of the Trinity.

The story of the Nicene Creed comes complete with a theological villain (Arius) and a hero (Athanasius). This is not just an interesting tale. You will far better appreciate the doctrine of the trinity if you know a little of how it developed in church history.[1]

First, consider reading the Nicene Creed aloud. It has been ours since May of 325! It gives the Church of Christ one of the most important doctrinal summaries every written. Notice how Jesus is described. Phrases like “begotten, not made” and “of one Being with the Father” are very important.

The Nicene Creed, ELLC Translation[2]

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Most who have been around the Christian faith know that the doctrine of the trinity is a central part of our faith. Interestingly, the word “trinity” does not appear in the Bible.[3] This does not mean, of course, that the doctrine of the trinity isn’t Biblical as we shall see.

The church father Tertullian (155-220) first coined the word “trinity” in the second century.[4] Tertullian used it to summarize what the Bible teaches about the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.[5]

Tertullian was quite a story himself.[6] He was from Carthage in North Africa and he came from a non-Christian background. Tertullian was so gifted linguistically that he went to Rome to study law and planned to use his linguistic gifts in a legal profession. But God had other plans. In Rome, Tertullian was converted and when he returned to Carthage his central goal was to passionately study and proclaim the gospel.[7]

This is not to say that Tertullian was the only one who made orthodox contributions to the doctrine of the trinity. Origen and many others contributed to the understanding of the trinity so that much of the doctrine was in place by circa 300.[8] (You can read more about Tertullian in a series of posts by Mike Wittmer).

Yet, a battle loomed. In 318 doctrinal complications arose regarding Christology when a church leader in Africa named Arius arrived on the scene. Arius was a gifted thinker and philosopher. In addition to his intellect, Arius had a great deal of charisma and was gifted musically. He sang little jingles that seemed to answer the questions of newer Christians.[9] Arius’s combination of musical gifts and charisma made him more popular than his doctrine deserved.

Arius argued that the doctrine of the trinity needed a correction. He said that Jesus was not only functionally subordinate to God the Father, but also “essentially” so. Arius insisted that Christ was less in his being than the Father. He further argued that this point was crucial to protecting the unity of God that had rightly been a great emphasis in the Church.[10]

Christianity was young and vulnerable to heresy. When Arius began to question the doctrine of the trinity, people were not used to the whole idea of the mysterious trinity like we are now. The masses wanted a doctrine they could comprehensively understand and Arius gave them answers that seemed to work.

Many were swayed by Arius and began to believe that Jesus was not fully God. Everything was at stake. If Christ is not fully God, then he cannot grant forgiveness of sins in any meaningful way.[11]

By, God’s grace orthodox theologians opposed Arius and a full-scale dispute broke forth in the Church. The relationship of God the Son to God the Father became a huge topic of discussion. Regarding how embroiled people were in the debate, Shelley writes:

One bishop described Constantinople as seething with discussion. He said, “if in this city you ask someone for change, he will discuss with you whether God the Son is begotten or unbegotten. If you ask about the quality of the bread, you will receive the answer that ‘God the Father is greater, God the Son is less. . .”[12]

Eventually, on May 20, 325 A.D., Constantine called a council of the Church to meet in Nicea in what is now modern day Turkey. This calling of the council was in itself amazing. It was the first time such a council was ever convened. It would be a little like the United Nations determining that we need to work through some doctrinal issues and, not surprisingly, it was later to have negative implications.

About 230 different leaders met to agree upon a statement regarding the relationship of God the Father and God the Son. One of these came from Alexandria and he brought with him a brilliant and godly young assistant named Athanasius who was to later become the bishop of Alexandria and a great hero of the church.

Arius was his charismatic self at the Council of Nicea. At one point, he burst into a musical version of his heresy:

The uncreated God has made the Son . . .

The Son’s substance is

Removed from the substance of the Father:

The Son is not equal to the Father,

Nor does he share the same substance. . .

The members of the Holy Trinity

Share unequal glories.[13]

Arius’s jingle doesn’t flow that well in English. But it apparently it was catchy at the time. We can be thankful Arius didn’t have an electric guitar! But we are most thankful that once the Church leaders began to study the issues they determined in a relatively short period of time that Arius was teaching heresy. Today, Arianism is known as the heresy that teaches that Jesus is entirely distinct from and subordinate to God the Father.

To clarify the theological understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity, the Nicene council formulated a summary of their position: the Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed includes this statement about Jesus that today is reflected in nearly all doctrinal statements.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.

Regarding the Nicene Creed, Mark Noll wrote:

Not only does it succinctly summarize the facts of biblical revelation, but it also stands as a bulwark against the persistent human tendency to prefer logical deductions concerning what God must be like and how he must act to the lived realities of God’s self-disclosure.[14]

The debate over the relationship of God the Father to God the Son was far from over. It continued over many years and at times it looked as though Arius would prevail. At some points there seemed so little support for Athanasius, the champion of orthodox doctrine, that he entitled one defense, “Athanasius against the World.”[15]

Athanasius was a true theological hero. Five times Athanasius (by this time Bishop of Alexandria) was exiled. But, he stood firm and would not waver.[16] He wrote a famous statement in which he said, my paraphrase, “If Jesus is less than God we have no true hope of salvation.”[17]

C.S. Lewis said of Athanasius. “He stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, ‘whole and undefiled,’ when it looked as if all the civilized world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius – – into one of those ‘sensible’ synthetic religions.[18]

So you see that the Nicene Creed and the doctrine of the trinity rose out of necessity. Herman Bavinck, in his magisterial book on the doctrine of God wrote, “The development of the truth of the trinity. . . arose from . . . practical and religious need. The church was not interested in a mere philosophical speculation or in metaphysical problem, but it was concerned about the very core and essence of the Christian religion.[19]

An overview of the story of the Nicene Creed should motivate us to endure even when there are conflicts. This is God that we are reading about. What we believe about this relates directly to our salvation and how we believe that we can spend eternity in the presence of the King. It’s worth stretching our minds to consider. This doctrine wasn’t ironed out by stuffy professors who had no clue about life. It was achieved by men of courage and resolve who risked everything to achieve it.

God promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church (Matthew 16). Leaders like Athanasius were God’s gift to the Church to protect her from heresy. Five times Athanasius was exiled. Five times it looked to be the end for him. Yet, God used him that we might be here today. Let us sing with the reverence and passion of Athanasius, “God in three persons, blessed Trinity.”


[1] My source for much of this information is chapter 2 of Mark A. Noll , Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity (Wheaton: InterVarsity, 1997), 47–64. It is an excellent introductory book. A much more thorough and technical discussion is found in J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 2nd ed. (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960).

[2] This reflects the expanded version from 381.

[3] R.C. Sproul responds to objections that the word “trinity” does not appear in the Scriptures in his book on the Holy Spirit. R.C. Sproul, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1990), 37–46.

[4] Noll, Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, 49.

[5] Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 113.

[6] R.C. Kroeger and C.C. Kroeger, “Tertullian,” in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 1078–1079.

[7] Ibid., 1079.

[8] For a fascinating series of posts on Tertullian’s apologetics, see Mike Wittmer, “Tertullian for Today,” Don’t Stop Believing, April 6, 2015,

[9] Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language (Dallas: Word, 1982), 115.

[10] Prior to the third century there was a great emphasis on maintaining the unity of God. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 109.

[11] Noll, Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, 55.

[12] Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, 113.

[13] Noll, Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, 53.

[14] Ibid., 59.

[15] Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, 118.

[16] J.F. Johnson and C.C. Kroeger, “Athanasius,” in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 95.

[17] Noll, Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, 49.

[18] Athanasius, The Incarnation of the Word of God with Introduction by C.S. Lewis (Macmillan, 1947), 7.

[19] Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991), 333.

Pastor Chris Brauns speaking at the Christ and Culture Conference in Wisconsin.Audio recordings for the Church and Culture conference on Homosexuality are available online.

Powerpoint slides, other notes, and an abbreviated bibliography are available here.

Commenting on the second question of the New City Catechism, D.A. Carson answers the question, “What is God?” and issues a caution of what we must not do.

What is God?

God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will.

Allie High School GraduationEvery May, since I became a pastor over 20 years ago, I review what I want to say to graduating students on one page. I prayerfully refine it every year. This year I have consolidated points that were previously separate and I have added points #5 and #6. I welcome your interaction . . . you may talk me into changing what I say before I pass this out to graduating seniors in May.*   

Dear Graduate:

Congratulations on your accomplishment! We are so thankful for you.

For over 20 years I have thought about what I would tell graduates on one page.  Each year it is my goal to prayerfully refine this letter even as I refine our philosophy of youth ministry. Here is the 2015 version.

  1. Know that following Christ is both right and best. Believing in Jesus is right because Jesus is the One true God. He deserves all glory. Putting our faith and trust in Jesus is best because Jesus came that we might have life more abundantly (John 10:9-10). If you have not done so already, give your life to the King. On the Cross, he paid the penalty for His people so that we could spend eternity together on the New Earth in his presence. This is the Gospel (or the Good News of Christ) and it should shape every area of life. The alternative to believing in Jesus is unthinkable (John 3:36).
  2. Be warned and be sure. First, be warned: the way of the sinner is hard. As someone has said, “choose to sin, choose to suffer.” Don’t buy the lie that you can make wrong choices and not reap the consequences (Galatians 6:7-8). Do not choose to suffer by dating unbelievers! Hate, hate, hate pornography and other potentially addictive behaviors. Second, be sure. Be sure you really are a Christian (2 Cor 13:5, James 2:17). Many think they are Christians and they are not. The worst words that will ever be heard will be when many stand before Christ thinking they are Christians and find out that they will spend eternity in hell (Matt 7:21-23). The thought that some in our flock may be in that group is what scares me most as a pastor. Talk to someone soon if you have any questions!
  3. Remember that God makes bricks with a building in mind. The Apostle Peter compared individual Christians to living stones so that he could make the point that Christians should be mortared together in local churches (1 Peter 2:5). Gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve together, local churches are called to be salt –subtly seasoning and preserving every bit of our communities – – and light – – boldly proclaiming the truth to light the darkness. Be baptized and join. You need a church as much as Noah needed the ark. Don’t put church on hold for the next few years. During that time, you will make decisions that affect the trajectory of your life. Be aimed in the right direction. If you move, or go to college, make it your first priority to find a church and Christian fellowship. This is especially critical the first three weeks of college.
  4. Sharpen your wisdom saw with the Word (Philippians 1:9-11, Romans 12:1-2). Wisdom is skill for living.  It is the saw we use to cut our way through life. We need a sharp saw to make quality decisions. We sharpen our wisdom saws by memorizing and reading the Word and by hearing it preached. Be Word-centered! Rinse in Scripture. It is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey (Psalm 19:7-11).
  5. Envision a beautiful bride walking down the aisle in a Christ-centered wedding. Most of you will marry. God’s plan for sex and marriage is breathtakingly beautiful. All of us, even those who remain single, must remember that the Church is the bride of Christ. Marriage and the gospel explain one another (Ephesians 5:29-32). We cannot allow unbelieving culture to corrupt our vision for Christ-centered weddings and homes. Both marriage and the gospel are at stake.
  6. Think deeply about true answers. Don’t stumble through life as an unconscious zombie. Too many in our day never think about life’s big questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Why do we love? Why is there pain? How can we know God? Don’t be a zombie! Insist on answers (1 Peter 3:15). Let’s welcome discussion about what we believe so that we can point others to our King.
  7. Be assured: the people of the Red Brick Church love you. Love didn’t evolve. Love wasn’t invented. Love is eternal because our triune God is eternally love: ever giving and self-giving. He loves us and tells us to love one another. And we do. We love you. When we get to the Heavenly City, we want to know you will be at our meeting spot: 5th tree, right side of the river, facing the throne. We will be there soon. In the mean time, I am a pastoral resource available to you!

In Him,


Pastor Chris Brauns , @chrisbrauns

*This is a working document so I am revising it over time. I have already revised point #5 after an excellent comment. More revisions are probably coming. Proverbs 27:17

Anderson_staver_0061426856588The Washington Post has profiled Ryan Anderson, a leading conservative defender of the traditional view of marriage. Anderson summarizes the heart of his argument:

“We argue that marriage really exists to unite a man and a woman as husband and wife to then be mother and father to any children that that union creates,” Anderson says to the voice on the other end of the line.

“This is based on anthropological truths that men and women are distinct and complementary. It’s based on a biological fact that reproduction requires both a man and a woman. It’s based on a social reality that children deserve a mom and a dad.”

He barely needs a breath. “Our argument is that this is what gets the government in the marriage business,” he says. “It’s not because the state cares about consenting adult romance.”

Read the article here.

I recently spoke on how our local churches should engage the discussion of homosexuality and the definition of marriage. Below are a selection of my sources.

This is not an exhaustive list. It includes those sources I have come across in my studies. By listing a source here, I do not mean to imply that I am in complete agreement. Far from it! “But test everything; hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).”

*Indicates those resources that are either most helpful or most relevant to the discussion. Again, I reiterate that my intent is not to say that I agree with them completely.

*“A Church Statement on Human Sexuality: Homosexuality and Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ A Resource for EFCA Churches.” The Evangelical Church of America, May 1, 2013.

*Allberry, Sam. “A Review: God and the Gay Christian – A Review.” The Gospel Coalition, May 21, 2014.

*———. Is God Anti-Gay? And Other Questions About Homosexuality, the Bible and Same-Sex Attraction. The Good Book Company Ltd, 2013.

Andersen, Kirsten. “Adult Children of Gay Parents Unite in Court to Testify Against Same-Sex Marriage.” Breaking Christian News, January 16, 2015.

“Attracted To Men, Pastor Feels Called To Marriage With A Woman.” National Public Radio: The Sunday Conversation, January 4, 2015.

Barwick, Heather. “Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting.” The Federalist, March 17, 2015. – .VQhB_1qpgM9.facebook.

Bauckham, Richard. The Bible and Mission: Christian Witness in a Postmodern World. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003.

Boorstein, Michelle. “Gay Christians Choosing Celibacy Emerge from the Shadows.” The Washington Post, December 13, 2014.

Brauns, Chris. “Christian Smith Helps Us Understand Our Teens and Young Adults.” A Brick in the Valley: The Web Site of Pastor and Author Chris Brauns, June 3, 2010.

———. “C.S. Lewis and His Last Hurdle to Belief.” A Brick in the Valley: The Web Site of Pastor and Author Chris Brauns, April 21, 2013.

———. “John Frame: The Great Question Confronting Modern Humanity.” A Brick in the Valley: The Web Site of Pastor and Author Chris Brauns, November 13, 2014.

———. “On the Rise of Individualism and the Decline of Morality.” A Brick in the Valley: The Web Site of Pastor and Author Chris Brauns, May 29, 2013.

*Brooks, David. “The Cost of Relativism.” The New York Times, March 10, 2015.

Burk, Denny. “10 Ways to Love Your Transgender Neighbor.” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, June 12, 2014.

———. “An Exercise Club Allows Men into Women’s Locker Rooms, and Vice Versa | Denny Burk.” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, March 12, 2015.

———. “How to Think and Pray about the Suicide of a Transgender Teen | Denny Burk.” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, January 2, 2015.

———. “Mozilla CEO Pressured to Resign for Supporting Traditional Marriage | Denny Burk.” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, April 3, 2014.

———. “My Husband’s Not Gay.” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, January 6, 2015.

———. “The Firing of Atlanta Fire Chief Is an Intolerable Precedent.” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, January 9, 2015.

———. “Will Christians Be Allowed to Serve as Judges in California?” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, January 24, 2015.

*Butterfield, Rosaria. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. Crown & Covenant Publications, 2012.

*Carson, D.A. The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

*Chandler, Matt. “A Beautiful Design: In His Image.” presented at the The Village Church, Dallas, September 14, 2014.

*DeYoung, Kevin. “Not That Kind of Homosexuality?” The Gospel Coalition, November 13, 2014.

*———. What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality. Wheaton: Crossway, 2015.

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Dreher, Rod. “Christian and Countercultural.” First Things, February 1, 2015.

*Eberstadt, Mary. How the West Really Lost God. Conschohocken, PA: Templeton Press, 2013.

*———. “Is Food the New Sex? A Curious Reversal in Moralizing.” Hoover Institution: Policy Review, March 2009.

———. “Is Pornography the New Tobacco: Another Curious Reversal in Moralizing.” Hoover Institution: Public Policy, April 1, 2009.

*———. “The New Intolerance by Mary Eberstadt.” First Things, March 2015.

———. “What Does Woman Want? The War Between the Sexless.” First Things, October 1, 2009.

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*Gagnon, Robert A.J. “Why San Francisco’s Biggest Megachurch Is Wrong About Sex.” First Things, March 7, 2015.

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*Gushee, David P., Matthew Vines, and Brian D. McLaren. Changing Our Mind. Canton, MI: David Crumm Media, LLC, 2014. The author argues that same sex marriage can be biblical.

*Guthrie, George. “A Review: Changing Our Mind.” The Gospel Coalition, January 9, 2015.

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*Hill-Perry, Jackie. “From Lesbianism to Complementarianism.” 9 Marks, March 11, 2015.

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———. “The Girl in the Tuxedo: Two Variations on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity | Public Discourse.” The Witherspoon Institute: Public Discourse, February 5, 2015.

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———. “Why I’m Going to the Vatican.” Moore to the Point, November 3, 2014.

*———. “Women, Stop Submitting to Men.” Moore to the Point, December 5, 2011.

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The Old Testament law prescribed the death penalty for some sexual sins. How are Christians to interpret Old Testament commandments to execute people for sexual sin? My upcoming sermon at the Red Brick Church will address this question.

Short of hiding in a cave – – and a cave without Internet at that – – no one has been able to escape the heated debates taking place over the definition of marriage. Dr. Albert Mohler recently noted that we know an issue is in the news when Time Magazine features the story on its cover.

There is a part of pastors that would choose to sit this controversy out. We have friends and family who will disagree with our position – – whatever our view – – and no wise person looks forward to disagreement. Picture taking a walk in a hailstorm.

Yet, for pastors, remaining silent on this issue is not an option. When the Bible speaks clearly on a matter- – and it speaks clearly on this one – – pastors do not have the luxury of avoiding controversy. To do so would be to commit the sin of some Old Testament prophets who remained silent about difficult matters (Lamentations 2:14).

So, in God’s providence,  this is my week to grasp the nettle. D.V. On Saturday I will preach on homosexuality at a conference. (Below you can watch a video in which I give some orientation to my thought going into the conference).

Sunday, we will continue our series on the Sermon on the Mount at the Red Brick Church and the question of how New Testament Christians view the Old Testament Law with its harsh statements about sexual sin. It is easy to quickly dismiss Old Testament passages that call for executions. But given that Jesus stressed that he did not come to abolish the law (Matt 5:17-18), we need to consider how we are to interpret the Law. That is to say, “How should we understand the combination of the below verses?”

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22

If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 20:10

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. Leviticus 20:13

[17] “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. [18] For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. [19] Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [20] For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20

You might expect for me to wade into the thicket regarding my position on this post – – but I’ll hold off until Sunday. As always, it is our plan for the sermon to be available online.

JT shares:

The highlights of this conversation for me were the last two exchanges: Kevin DeYoung’s answer on gay marriage (41:30-46:12) and Jackie Hill’s answer on what is the gospel (46:14-51:15):

Panel Discussion: Kevin DeYoung, Justin Taylor, Jackie Hill Perry, and Josh Moody from Crossway on Vimeo.