REVIEW. Spring 2013 Vol. 38 No .2

Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien (InterVarsity, 2012), 240 pp;
Kent Van Til, “Singleness and Celibacy”, Perspectives, December 2012;
“Opposing the Truth-Trashers” by Joel Belz, World, November 17, 2012;
“Our Culture of Deceit” by Joel Belz, World, December 15, 2012;
“Where ‘little lies’ Lead”, by Joel Belz, World, February 23, 2013.  

(PDF version available here)

Kierkegaard’s bicentennial brings to mind these words of his: “It is not the obscure passages in Scripture that bind you but the ones you understand. With these you are to comply at once. If you understood only one passage in all of Scripture, well then, you must do that first of all. It will be this passage God asks you about.”  His wisdom warns of abusing clearly ambiguous texts while ignoring clear contexts of calls to seek for others what we want for ourselves. But, oblivious to our misunderstandings, insensitive to our insensitivities, we can do a lot of damage.  So, Richards (a dean at Palm Beach Atlantic University) and O’Brien (editor-at-large of Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal) make real hermeneutical contributions by noting blindness and bias in Western readings of the Bible that, after all, springs from ancient Middle Eastern culture.  They warn against imposing our assumptions and they point to the Bible’s own.  And they do it with good sense and wit. Read more →

REVIEW. Winter 2013 Vol. 38. No. 1.

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christian Debate by Justin Lee (Jericho Books, 2012) 259 pp.

(PDF version available here)

Since lesbian and gay youth are ridiculed, caricatured, guilt-tripped, kicked out of families, churches and Christian schools, it’s not inexplicable that they’d try to steer clear of their abusers – including the religious ringleaders of that abuse. The abuse is fueled by Bible verses that are abused by the ignorant and the self-righteous.  So, some of the abused seek safety in vague “spirituality” or in the seeming “open-mindedness” of liberal religion.  Hurt, frustrated, angry and cynical, others fall into the ever-increasing category of the “Nones”.  But, thankfully, some are finding a home in the Gay Christian Network where they can pursue, with other serious Christians, either a life of committed celibacy or life in a committed monogamous partnership with another Christian who happens to be gay or lesbian.  Justin Lee started GCN in the wake of his own struggle for a coherently faithful integration of his same-sex orientation and Christian discipleship. Read more →

REVIEW. Fall 2012 Vol. 37. No. 4.

“More Than a Legal Issue”, Christianity Today, July/August, 2012.

“The Party Line: No Such Thing as an Ex-gay” by Eric Metaxas,, June 6, 2012.
(PDF version available here)

Over the years my correspondence from CT editors has ranged from bizarre, intrusively personal, even prurient, through gracious and fully supportive. Here, editors who enjoy the right to be married assume that, had they, as kids, discovered their orientation to be homosexual they’d have lived the lifelong celibacy they’re demanding of homosexuals. “We believe gays and lesbians should not be denied fundamental rights granted to every other American.”  But their effort to deny marriage for same-sex couples does deny a fundamental right granted to themselves and all heterosexual Americans.  Unwillingness to “weep with those who weep” alone and rejoice with those who rejoice” in a cherished same-sex partner, is pathetic.  For CT to say something’s wrong by “divine laws” is CT’s right; to try to legislate from a religious opinion onto all other Americans would be like Muslims trying to impose Sharia on all Americans.  And we are dealing with “more than a legal issue”; we’re dealing with the Golden Rule!  Read more →

REVIEW. Summer 2012 Vol. 37. No. 3.

“Old Testament Law and the Charge of Inconsistency” by Tim Keller.  Redeemer Report, June 2012.
(PDF version available here)

When we’re said to “pick and choose” Bible verses, it can be frustrating.  Keller says: “I vainly hope that one day someone will access their common sense (or at least talk to an informed theological advisor) before leveling the charge of inconsistency.”  Well, we all do have canons within the canon.  Some are substantial; some, but spins on pet peeves. Read more →

REVIEW. Spring 2012 Vol. 37. No. 2.

“Alan Chambers: Change We Can Believe In” by Jamie Dean, World, December 17, 2011.
“NARTH Statement on Sexual Orientation Change”,, January 25, 2012.
“More Unmerited Mercy” by Marvin Olasky, World, February 11, 2012

The Religious Right’s World magazine named Exodus head Alan Chambers its “Daniel of the Year” for 2011, celebrating discordantly that his “homosexual desires changed, [his] same-sex attractions diminished and he stopped indulging [his homosexual] temptation.”  In his book, Leaving Homosexuality, he’d warned that same-sex temptations remain and that his testimony is not a “guide to change from gay to straight.”  He wrote that, “heterosexuality shouldn’t have been my goal – nor should it be yours.”  Read more →

REVIEW. Winter 2012 Vol. 37. No. 1.

The Gay Gospels by Keith Sharpe (O-Books, 2011), 203 pp.

A “self-help manual” from a Gscene writer claims we’ve been kept in the dark about Bible passages that “celebrate homoerotic desire and relationships”.  Sharpe “uncovers” what he calls “open and hidden affirmations of LGBT lives in the Bible” and he urges readers to “learn [his] arguments by heart.”  Sadly, whoever does so will be as ill prepared to handle refutation of this sophistry, as one who must handle refutation of Earth’s being but 10,000 years old or the experiential refutation that “ex-gay” hype is a hoax.  The misled may then throw the baby out with the bathwater – something Sharpe says he wants to prevent. Read more →

REVIEW. Fall 2011 Vol. 36. No. 4.

“Liberty’s Loss” by Tim Dalrymple, World, July 30, 2011.
“Born Homosexual? A Parent’s Guide” by Chuck Colson,, June 1, 2011.
“Evangelicals and the Gay Moral Revolution” by Albert Mohler, Jr., The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2011.

The scary teaser in the Religious Right’s World magazine is: “Same-sex marriage in New York threatens the rights of those who oppose it.”  Actually, any legal protection from discrimination more than “threatens” discriminators – it outlaws their “right” to discriminate!  Though protections for churches and clergy are written into this law, World worries that Christians may not be “comfortable” offering services to same-sex couples.  Well, are they comfortable offering services to non-Christians, the divorced and remarried, mixed-race couples?  Are they comfortable when loving their “enemies” as they love themselves?  Taking offence, Dalrymple warns that, “gay couples will take offense if they are not offered the same services traditional couples receive.”  Well, if the haves take offense when the have-nots get to have, why wouldn’t the have-nots take offense over the haves’ continuing selfishness?  He warns that, “the same well-funded activists who pushed the same-sex marriage bill into law will continue to make their case in the courts and in the statehouses.”  No doubt.  As will the well-funded Right. Read more →

REVIEW. Summer 2011 Vol. 36. No. 3.

I Corinthians by Alan F. Johnson (InterVarsity Press, 2004)

This review focuses on a Wheaton College professor’s cursory but careless comments on I Corinthians 6:9, contrasted with his nuanced work on chapter 7.  Noting the two terms in 6:9 that “have evoked considerable debate”, Johnson repeats some tired superficialities and moves on to a careful study of what he says is no less ambiguous material in 7.  On 7, he admits: “the passage is complicated by numerous translation options”, “exegetically it is a very difficult passage”, “the sense of this expression is not clear”.  Yet, such caution is missing in his dealing with the equally difficult terms in 6:9. Read more →

REVIEW. Spring 2011 Vol. 36. No. 2.

Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors and Friends by Mark Yarhouse (Bethany House, 2010), 256 pp.

In his Preface, this psych prof at Pat Robertson’s Regent University urges that we “move away” from discussing “whether orientation can change.”  Having championed the long-discredited and destructive hype for change, he now equivocates but also exaggerates on “change” while trying to change the subject from orientation to identity: “It isn’t so much about getting people into counseling so they can change; it’s about equipping them to understand their attractions with reference to a larger sense of self and purpose.”  But his mere re-branding won’t do.  Swapping one label for another changes nothing that’s relevant. Of course Christians who happen to be homosexually oriented are Christians first – as are Christians who happen to be heterosexually oriented.  Both must integrate their sexual orientation and their Christian discipleship.  But putting first things first: Discerning God’s grace over all else and not swallowing camels while straining out gnats sets the Gospel perspective for an honestly larger sense of self and purpose. Read more →

REVIEW. Winter 2011 Vol. 36. No. 1.

Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time by Sarah Ruden (Pantheon Books, 2010), 214 pp.

“What Marriage Is For” by The Editors, National Review, September 20, 2010.

A published translator of Vergil, Homer, Aristophanes and Petronius – and now of Paul – Ruden was interviewed recently in Christianity Today and its sister publication, Books & Culture.  Having recoiled at an arrogant, ill-informed put-down of Paul’s opposition to a brutality of his day (sorcery), she sought to know more of what he wrote in the original Greek and historical context.  She grants that in her many years of graduate study in the Greek and Latin classics at Harvard, “we behaved as if the New Testament had not been written in Greek … and as if the Roman Empire at its greatest period of power had not been in the early Christians’ background.”  At last, she found even her “first efforts at setting Paul’s words against the words of polytheistic authors helped explain why early Christianity was so compelling, growing as no popular movement ever had before.”  Read more →

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