Denny Burk Responds to Jonathan Merritt’s Criticism of Jen Hatmaker’s ‘Cowardly Critics’: It Is Not ‘Character Assassination’ for the Church to Be the Church
“Hatmaker’s original sin is that she broke ranks with the evangelical powers-that-be on same-sex relationships,” Merritt wrote, describing an interview he did with her last Ocober. “Hatmaker did not deny a line in the Apostles Creed. She did not promote a historical heresy. She merely claimed that after a careful study of the scriptures, she had arrived at a different understanding of same-sex relationships.”
Merritt says Hatmaker has not only been “blacklisted” by conservative Christians but that her detractors have engaged in “the nastiest character assassination.” In sum, Merritt believes Hatmaker’s views should be treated as within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy and that evangelical churches and ministries are mistreating her by excluding her because of her views on sexuality.
There are more problems in Merritt’s article than I can address in a single essay, but it is worth pointing out some of the more significant mischaracterizations. The entire 2,000-year history of the Christian church has spoken univocally about homosexuality. Faithful Christians have always believed what the scriptures teach about this. Homosexuality is sexual immorality and is therefore sinful (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:10). Bible-believing Christians understand that this is an unpopular point of view today, but it is nevertheless what the church has always believed and confessed.
No doubt there are many voices within the North American evangelical movement that are turning away from what the church has always believed and confessed. Hatmaker is now among them. They are trying to tell people that sexual immorality is compatible with following Jesus. And they are asking the rest of the church to accept their point of view as within the orthodox stream.
The problem is that their teaching never has been, is not and never will be within the orthodox stream. It will always be a mark of those who have fallen away from the faith. Theirs is an ancient error — one that can be found within the pages of the New Testament itself:
“Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 3-4)
What is this departure from “the faith once for all delivered to the saints”? What is this teaching that amounts to a denial of “our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” and that puts adherents under “condemnation”? It is the teaching that distorts the grace of God into a permission slip for sexual immorality. It is the errant notion that somehow God is OK with sexual immorality after all.
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SOURCE: Christian Headlines
Denny Burk, Religion News Service