Alistair Begg and Cancel Culture

Serious Public Error Requires Public Correction

In my last column, I wrote about how Alistair Begg’s comments urging a Christian to attend a transgender “wedding” (though only if those at the ceremony understood one’s moral opposition to transgenderism and homosexuality) were not only wrong, but rightly met with public censure. Many have since come to Begg’s defense. Peter Heck, writing at Not the Bee, insists that the episode is “cancel culture come to Christendom.” Russell Moore agrees, claiming in an article at Christianity Today that the response to Begg shows conservative evangelical Christians to have succumbed to political correctness. Others have argued similarly.

Cancel culture is indeed an evil thing. I would define it as the attempt to hurt, humiliate, and destroy someone who voices an opinion outside of what is culturally acceptable. It usually includes attempts to get people fired and to prevent them from finding future employment; it is an endeavor to cast them out of civilized society forever. In theory, nothing prevents conservatives and Christians from participating in their own version of cancel culture, but for the most part they don’t, and rightly so. Christians will have enemies in this life, but they don’t treat their enemies the way the world does, even when they legitimately resist the evil attacks of those enemies (self-defense, just war, etc.).

I am sure that social media users can find examples of people trying to humiliate and sinfully harm Begg, rather than simply correct his erroneous support for attending gay or trans “weddings,” but for the most part, I have only seen forthright, yet biblically proportionate responses. Ligonier Ministries, for example, responded like this:

Ligonier has paused airing Truth for Life on RefNet in light of recent comments from Dr. Alistair Begg advising a Christian to attend the “wedding” of a transgender person. What has been stated publicly is erroneous and harmful to the Christian witness. While Christians are called to love their neighbors (including transgender persons), we are to do so without compromising what God has commanded. Attendance at such an event celebrates and affirms sin (Rom. 1:26–27; Eph. 5:3–21).

Such statements are not giving in to cancel culture. Far from it. This kind of response is absolutely necessary. What Begg said is not the mere opinion of a private Christian, not even the opinion of an unknown pastor within the confines of his own church (which itself would be bad enough). They are the words of a leader in Christ’s church who has millions of listeners and followers the world over. Serious public error like this must be met with public confrontation.

Galatians 2:11–14 provides a biblical example of why such public confrontation is necessary:

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

The context of this passage is Paul’s ministry in the city of Antioch in the Roman province of Syria. Peter (Cephas) also came to minister in Antioch and it seems that nearly upon his arrival Paul was compelled to “oppose him face to face, because he stood condemned.” Not only this, but Paul had to rebuke Peter “before them all,” that is, publicly, before the entire church. In short, Peter knew that, in light of Christ’s redemptive work, the food laws of the Old Testament were no longer binding on Christians because Christ had fulfilled them (see Mark 7:14–23; Acts 10). Nonetheless, Peter acted as if this was not the case by withdrawing from table fellowship with Gentile Christians. The message—without a word being spoken—was loud and clear: faith in Jesus Christ is not sufficient to save these Gentiles. They must take the yoke of the law upon themselves as well.

What Peter did was not merely a private error. He was leading many to fall into the same sin, even men like Barnabas. Paul had no choice. It would not be sufficient to rebuke Peter in private. To do so would be to abandon the rest of the church to the pernicious effects of Peter’s hypocrisy.

In 1 Timothy 5:19–20 Paul teaches why some sins, especially those of leaders in Christ’s church, must be corrected in public:

Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

The situation with Pastor Begg is not identical, in that 1 Timothy 5 is describing the formal process of church discipline against elders, but the same principle as in Galatians 2 is still evident: public error by leaders in the church, the kind of error that will lead the rest of the church to follow suit, must be rebuked “in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” The goal, again, is not (as in cancel culture) to hurt, humiliate, or destroy, but first and foremost, to prevent error from spreading and hurting many others.

I have encountered a good number of faithful Christians who think the response to Begg has been too harsh. Some of this stems from the fact that many Christians today equate argument and correction with unbiblical unkindness. But I think another factor is causing this reaction as well. It is the notion that the issue of whether to attend a so-called LGBT wedding is merely a minor cultural-war squabble, rather than a gospel issue, and should therefore not be treated as an issue for Christians to divide over. It seems that many do not think it touches on the grand themes of Christian theology, and therefore does not deserve biblical censure.

This, however, is a grave mistake. Anthropology, the doctrine of the human person, is thoroughly theological. The Bible defines what it means to be a human, what human nature in the image of God is, and how and why humans must therefore live in a certain way, a way that is in accord with the nature God has given us. As Joe Rigney put it recently at American Reformer: “Beneath our battles over manhood, womanhood, the family, and sexuality is the fundamental question: who is God?”

Anthropology is no minor issue in Christian theology. It is also the main pressure point for Christian churches today. In the early church, the most disputed points of theology had to do with the Trinity and the divine and human natures of Christ. In the sixteenth century, the battle was centered on the nature of salvation. Today the fight is about the human person. Attacks on faithful Christian anthropology may be somewhat unique in Christian history in that they initially came primarily from outside the church, though the heresies of the culture are quickly spreading in the church as well.

Christians cannot allow unbiblical notions of kindness to prevent them from standing firm in public against the spread of false and harmful views of the human person. I have no doubt Begg meant well. He was trying to figure out how to avoid turning non-Christians away from Christ through self-righteous moral posturing. But, unfortunately, his attempt to do so led him to undermine the very means God uses to draw sinners to himself: a confrontation with their sin. “Through the law,” the apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:20, “comes knowledge of sin.” “If it had not been for the law,” he writes in Romans 7:7, “I would not have known sin.” What sinners need most is to be shown their true condition before God. Repentance comes in no other way. How much more is this the case when those being thus confronted know that the person confronting them loves them. We must trust God enough to use his means to accomplish his ends, and not turn to our own vain reasoning to reach the lost.

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Ben C. Dunson is Founding and Contributing Editor of American Reformer. He is also Visiting Professor of New Testament at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Greenville, SC), having previously taught at Reformed Theological Seminary (Dallas, TX), Reformation Bible College (Sanford, FL), and Redeemer University (Ontario, Canada). He lives in the northern suburbs of Dallas with his wife and four boys.

26 thoughts on “Alistair Begg and Cancel Culture

  1. IMO, behind the calls to punish Begg for the private advice he gave to an individual is the war that many religiously conservative Christians wish to wage on the LGBT community. One only has to ask if those Christian critics want full equality for the LGBT community in society to see why my opinion is at least understandable if not true. To determine if one of my fellow religiously conservative Christians wants full equality for the LGBT community one only needs to ask that person if they oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage.

    Many fellow believers believe that they must oppose full equality for the LGBT community in society in order to take a Biblical stand against that community’s behaviors and beliefs. As some have said, no one has a right to do what is wrong. But to be consistent with such an approach, one has to also oppose the Establishment Clause from the First Amendment. For if no one has a right to do what is wrong, then no one has a. right to worship another deity than Jesus Christ. And indeed, some fellow believers who want a the return of Christendom oppose the Establishment Clause at least to some significant degree.

    And so the question I have for those fellow believers who believe that Begg must be punished in some way, shape, or form is this, is it wrong for a believer in Christ to attend the worship service of another religion if they are going only as an observer? If the answer to that question is a ‘no,’ then why condemn Begg unless one wants to return the LGBT community to the margins of society? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then who else would that person want to move to the margins of society? Here we should remember that society is a space we share with unbelievers. And the 21st Century’s key question for all religiously conservative Christians is this, how should we share society with unbelievers? Should we share society with them as equals or as either their masters or parental figures? For those who do not believe that we should share society with unbelievers as their equals, the next question is this, what did Jesus and the Apostles teach us about how we should share society with unbelievers?

    1. Thank you Curt for your cogent defense of the Gospel. Let us pray that God will open our eyes and the eyes of those who follow false gods (in the name of Christendom) in order to know Him better.

      1. David,
        First thank you for the kind words about my comment, It is much appreciated.

        Second, one of the points I’ve been trying to make is that because, as James wrote, we all stumble in many ways, we need to point out the faults of those who favor Christendom in ways that recognize that they are our peers as fellow believers. That they have strengths where we have weaknesses just as we are right about Christendom and they are wrong about it.

      2. Effeminate, lame take. If you’re happy to get conquered by the perverts who want to groom our children and rape our wives, keep it up. At least you won’t have any opinions that upset your female pastor. Just stay out of the way of those of us who actually love God’s righteousness.

        Curt, keep cashing those Soros checks, buddy. It’s quite a hustle you’ve got going on there.

        1. Psalm 2_12,
          Who says that the LGBT community wants to conquer us? It is the same person who claims, without evidence, that I am paid by Soros. Doesn’t the commandment that prohibits the bearing of false witness against another person mean anything to you? It’s not that you really believe that I am paid by Soros; you just don’t want other readers to read and consider the details of what I have written.

          In the meantime, too many of us religiously conservative Christians want to return a group of fellow citizens to the margins. And that is evidence of opposing equality. Then again, so is wanting to reestablish Christendom or wanting a Christian Nation. Such desires want Christians to form a shadow nation within their own nation. A shadow nation is one where the nation belongs more to those in the shadow nation than it does to anyone else in the nation. And so which is the group that is looking to dominate others?

        2. You just proved his point that the conservative side of Christianity really hopes to push the LGBTQ+ community to the outskirts. You just don’t have a college degree to hide your prejudice as well as the reformers writing this article.

        1. He discussed the advice while being interviewed, on camera, for a video he knew was intended for distribution on the internet.
          You can call that “private advice” if you want. I mean, I can’t stop you. But neither can you stop me from calling you “dishonest” for doing so.

          1. Ryan,
            But the advice was given privately. It was given to an individual person within certain circumstances. So I call that private advice. That he publicly disclosed that advice doesn’t negate the fact that it was given privately to an individual person within certain circumstances.

          2. Ryan,
            That it was advice given privately makes a difference. It was advice for an individual person for a specific situation.

            But your insistence on making personal accusations shows hostility. Why? Because an alternative explanation is that we simply have difference of opinions. And you are reacting to disagreement with a negative personal accusation. Again, what does the passage in Galatians that compares the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh say about your accusation.

            Since all you want to is to make negative personal accusations about me, I will no longer respond to your comments. I’m sure that you think you’re being righteous because you are doing to me what you think I am doing to the articles on this blog. But again, from what I see, many of the articles on this blog do not rely on the Scriptures as their canon. And since they refer to Reformed traditions rather than the Scriptures to prove their arguments, how I perceive those articles is very understandable if not correct.

            Too much loyalty can make us incapable of being objective and fair.

    2. Curt, please don’t miss the irony in referring to yourself as a “religiously conservative” Christian while in the same breath advocating for the godless values and ideology of the LGBTQ+ community and the secular Left. The intellectual categories and values their liberalism prizes are built upon the ideological shoulders of notorious atheists such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Marx, Nietsche, Freud and others. We ought not mix secular liberal ideology with biblical teaching lest we turn syncretist and leaven the pure lump of Christ’s teaching with the devil’s lies.

      “Full equality” and “marriage” as the Left defines them are lies. Marriage was instituted by God between one man and one woman. Any other definition of marriage is a lie that needs to be fought. We ought not celebrate the “homosexual union” for, “Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor 13). When we see sin (whether in our Christian or non-Christian neighbors), we should say with righteous Lot (to his pagan neighbors), “Brothers, do not do this wickedness”.

      I have observed harsh criticism and ridicule directed at you by others in the comments on this site. In fairness, I appreciate that your responses are fleshed out and you take the time to address issues and respond to criticisms point by point. I also appreciate your tenacity in speaking for what you believe is true and I respect your right to say what you believe. However, you bring much of this conflict upon your own head when you falsely accuse and attribute wicked motives to your Christian brothers.

      You claim, ““IMO… you wish to wage war on LGBT folks”. This is a flaming half-truth which projects malice and ill will in the hearts of your Christian brothers. We do not wish to wage war on the people, but rather we seek to, “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (1 Cor 10).

      You frequently complain and rail here against the straw man of “authoritarianism” and insinuate that your Christian brothers want to “lord it over others.” 2 Peter 2 says, God will punish and judge the ungodly and those who “follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.” There is a right use of authority which Christians ought to seek after. Authority is God’s gift to preserve law, order and flourishing in civil society (Rom 13) and we all ought to humbly submit to our earthly authorities. Second, “lording” means domineering or ruling over others with arrogance. I seriously doubt any of the authors here would advocate or promote such a style of leadership. After all, God tells Christian masters to be kind and fair to their slaves (Eph 6). How much more ought Christian leaders in government and the church uphold God’s law to preserve the good of all and not show favoritism in society. Spoiler alert: identity politics (aka. favoritism) and authoritarianism (weaponizing laws, the courts and the justice system against political opponents) are actually favorite tactics of the LGBTQ+ community and the Left.

      Your last paragraph is another example of attributing false motives/slander. You claim the author and other Christians want to “punish Begg”, quite the misleading statement. Dunson’s whole point is that Begg ought to be publicly rebuked by pointing out his error and correcting it for the sake of the church and her testimony. Nathan rebuked David for his adultery, but David’s punishment came afterwards from God’s hand. To conflate a desire to rebuke with a desire to punish is either ignorance or intellectual dishonesty. God’s servant is called to “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Tit 1).
      Finally, I daresay the question that most concerns Christians in the 21st century differs vastly from the question the godless seek to answer. The question(s) that most concerns us should reflect what God tells us we ought to care about… How can we be and make faithful disciples who obey the gospel (Matt 28)? How can we “do justice, love mercy, walk humbly” (Micah 6) before the Lord?

      I pray you will forsake the world’s way of thinking and take up the mind of Christ. “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human (worldly/secular – emphasis mine) tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority” (Col 2).

      1. Jordan,
        Thank you for your comment. I’ll address some of your concerns.

        If I was voicing the views of the LGBT community and the godless left, then I would have said that same-sex marriage should be not only accepted, but passionately embraced by the Church too. But I haven’t said that, nor would I. From almost the beginning of Liberal Theology, there has been pressure put on the Church to change and to read the Scriptures as if they contained little, if any, accurate history. The reason for that pressure is because during Christendom, Liberal Theologians have believed that society can’t change unless the Church does first.

        But I made a distinction. That there should be significant differences between what is acceptable in society from what should be acceptable in the Church. Thus I broke with the LGBT community and the leftists on that issue. But because of the corruptible influence that society can have on the Church, many fellow religiously conservative Christians believe that for the Church to be saved from this current wicked age, society must change. That society must become under the control of the Church and its teachings. And thus laws were passed to criminalize adultery, blasphemy, and Sabbath breaking. That Christians should have a place of supremacy over unbelievers in society by giving Christians almost exclusive control over the laws passed. That is the beginning of oppressive domination by the Church. And therefore they believed that there should be fewer differences between what is acceptable in society from what should be acceptable in the Church.

        The key issue then is how are we to share society with unbelievers. I’ve maintained that despite the risks that a very sinful society can pose to the Church, the biblical approach should be based on what Jesus and the Apostles taught as well as the examples set by the Apostles. And because of the scriptures that contain what Jesus and the Apostles taught as well as the examples set by the Apostles, that neither Christendom nor Church Nationalism are supported in the New Testament. In addition, the documentation used to support Christendom and Church Nationalism was mostly based on Reformed traditions and then somewhat based on the Old Testament, the latter of which was without consideration between the significant changes in context between Old and New Testament times.

        And so because I believe that there should be full equality for the LGBT community in society as well as legalizing same-sex marriage, I’ve implied nothing about their practices being celebrated. Coexistence is not mutual celebration. But because I support full equality for the LGBT community in society as well as legalizing same-sex marriage, I believe because of the New Testament Scriptures that instead of trying to marginalize that community in society or trying to make same-sex marriage illegal, we should evangelize with the Gospel. That means that we must preach and teach those who voluntarily listen that homosexuality and transgenderism is sinful and that they must repent and believe in Christ. But we should coexist and share society with those from the LGBT community as equals including supporting same-sex marriage. We already do that with people from other faiths regardless of how wrong or sinful the worship of idols is. So why can’t we take the same approach to sharing society with the LGBT community?

        The associating of following the Scriptures with trying to marginalize the LGBT community is causing significant conflict in Christians of all ages, especially in our Post Modern age. For many, young and old, rightfully understand that marginalizing groups of people as was done in the past is horribly wrong. And because of the association we have been making between following the Scriptures and marginalizing the LGBT community, many fellow religiously conservative Christians have experienced a great tension with the end effect of some compromising what the Scriptures teach on homosexuality and transgenderism. And some young people are not the only ones who have compromised on what the Scriptures say. Nicholas Wolterstorf is a well-esteemed Christian philosopher who has made that compromise because he has seen the pain inflicted on the LGBT community by overly zealous fellow religiously conservative Christians.

        As for Marx, was everything he said false? When he observed the oppression of the Bourgeoisie on the proletariat of his day, was he wrong in everything he pointed out? To prove that, the rules of logic require that you have to go through everything said, point by point, and show each statement to be false. BTW, one of the things that Marx observed was the denial of freedom for liberal theologians to speak freely in society. He saw the state setting the standard for what could be said and taught and how some whom he admired suffer from the state’s actions. And not that he was ever a Christian, but that turned him into an opponent of religion and spurred his infamous statement against religion. Lenin said the same thing about religion in general and Christianity in particular, but from a different context and based on observation. And, btw, Lenin never ruled as a Marxist. In fact, he called his left-wing Marxism an ‘infantile disorder.’

        And we should note that not everyone on the Left opposed Christianity. For example, in 1905, the same year that Lenin wrote against Christianity, Rosa Luxemburg, a socialist contemporary of Lenin was imploring Christians to join the cause of the workers.

        Also, authoritarianism is no straw man. It was originally studied and described by those from the Frankfurt School. Their study of the subject was inspired by the growing fascism in pre WW II Germany and other places and by the loyalty that the German people showed to Hitler despite the suffering it brought to the people. And so what those from the Frankfurt School tried to do was to describe the dynamics involved in the authoritarian personality, which was penned by Erich Fromm, and observe the personality traits of those who followed strong authoritarian leaders. At first, their writings were skewed toward describing authoritarianism in conservatives. But later, upon recognizing the authoritarianism that was involved in the Soviet Union, they expanded their view of authoritarianism to include non-conservatives who followed “leftist” authoritarian leaders such as Stalin.

        As for Begg, he has been punished by the actions of some Christian groups like Ligonier–punishment isn’t always dealt by the state. The public shaming of Begg, when examined closely, has shown itself to be nothing more than a fear response. That fear is a fear of giving any appearance of approving homosexuality. What Begg advised did not do that. Again, would it be wrong for a Christian to attend a worship service of another religion as an observer? The issues involved in the situation Begg advised on were complex and mixed because of the relationships between the people involved.

        Society is not the Church. But the more we impose Church laws on society, the more we are lording it over them. Do you mean to say that only Christians can determine what laws are needed in a civil society? Do you realize the kind of relationship that puts us in with unbelievers? It makes us their masters while they see us as their equals. What could go wrong there?

        BTW, what you said was in I Cor 10 is actually in II Cor 10. And the audience is the Church, not society. Paul was writing about how he was going to speak with Christians, not those outside the Church. Paul was writing about speaking forcefully to those in the Church, not unbelievers in society even though he wanted unbelievers to change and join the Church.

        1. Again, Curt, you keep citing the thinking of unbelievers (Marx, Lenin, Frankfurt School/Fromm, etc.) and elevating their ideas above the thinking of our Christian forebears. None of the arguments you mention above repudiate my arguments, they just prove my point from Colossians 2: You have been taken captive “by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human (worldly/secular – emphasis mine) tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

          Sorry for the typo… yes, I meant to cite II Cor 10, not 1 Cor 10. Paul’s whole ministry was the ministry to the gentiles. His entire ministry was devoted to tearing down false arguments against the Christian God to bring about the obedience of faith. That always started in the public square of pagan nations (e.g., the Areopagus), calling them to repent and believe the gospel and then was later built upon in the church. The immediate audience in II Cor 10 is the church, but the principle is to be put in practice beyond the walls of the church in society at large.

          1. Jordan,
            I do cite some unbelievers. Why? Because they have things to teach us. It is arrogant to think that we have everything to teach unbelievers and nothing to learn from them. A similar message was given in Romans 2 only in terms of doing what is right.

            The issue is not whether one is citing an unbeliever, the issue is whether or not what one is citing is either unbiblical or is not observable. Unbelievers can observe things about the world and about us. And in the case of the latter, what they can observe provides a conflict of interest for us because of how we want to think of ourselves.

            Have I shown anything you said was false? First, I showed that I was not echoing the views of the LGBT community. Again, if I was, I would be insisting that the Church would accept the practice of homosexuality within its ranks. I don’t do that.

            I already discussed how when we Christians want society to punish the LGBT community, we are waging war on them by punishing them. Your quote from II Cor addresses the Christian community, not society. So I have addressed that concern. In addition, Paul, again from I Cor 5, is not concerned the sexual purity in society. So even if we were to destroy the arguments of unbelievers and make every thought captive to Christ, that is not talking about using laws to impose our values. The only way our thoughts can become more captive to obey Christ is through believing the Gospel. And we can’t force people to believe the Gospel for no one can believe without God having chosen them. For without faith, no one can please God. Again, Cor 10 is about Paul addressing the church on Corinth and making sure that the thoughts of every believer is captive to Christ. In fact, I said something to that effect in my last response which repudiates your implementation of II Cor 10.

            In my comments about authoritarianism, I implicitly distinguished respect for the authority figures and structures that we are to obey from authoritarianism. For authoritarianism is about how we discern the truth and how we respond to the dissent of others. I described the historical context on the studies of authoritarianism. That context alone shows that my description of authoritarianism is not about a biblical submission to authority figures and structures mentioned in the Bible. You go on to define arrogance as dominating over others with arrogance, which I agree with. But what could be more arrogant than to believe that we Christians have everything to teach unbelievers and nothing to learn from them? What could be more arrogant than to believe that we believers have a monopoly on what is needed to maintain a civil society? Have you not read Church history? And what could be more dominating than to use the government laws to impose one’s religiously based personal moral standards on those who are atheists or hold to another religion? Here, we need to read Luke 18:9-14 and ask ourselves this question, when is it safe for us to pray the prayer of the Pharisee while looking down on the failures and sins of the unbeliever?

            Again, there is no New Testament justification for you views regarding imposing Christian personal morals on unbelievers in society. When Romas 13 discusses good and evil, it is obvious that what is good and evil is understood. And when we look at the government Paul was talking about, he was not talking about a government that was imposing Christian personal moral standards on others. For it is apparent that the government was already at least partially doing what Paul said it should. Paul uses the same evil deserving punishment in one of his defenses to a Roman official. What does that defense consist of? And does Paul the make a counter claim that those who sought to prosecute him should be punished? Certainly, those who sought to kill him should have been prosecuted.

            So in this comment has, again, repudiated some of your ideas and has answered your concerns about relying on the ideas of unbelievers. Again, to believe that a person has nothing to teach us because they are an unbeliever is arrogant. Think about Martin Luther King Jr, a believer in God. He rejected Christian Fundamentalism liberal theology because of their assessments of people. Because of his own personal morals, some would classify him as an unbeliever. And so he had nothing to teach us? And he learned some of what he promoted and practiced from Gandhi? So Gandhi has nothing to teach us? Marx and Lenin observed the economic exploitation of people. They have nothing to teach us? Remember that because unbelievers have some things to teach us doesn’t mean that they have everything to teach us. To believe that unbelievers either have nothing or everything to teach us employs the kind of black-white thinking that is part of authoritarianism.

      2. Jordan,

        Good try with your comment. It’s thoughtful, well-written, and articulates the position of the actual Christians on this site.

        This may be harsh, but I believe this is foolish:

        “In fairness, I appreciate that your responses are fleshed out and you take the time to address issues and respond to criticisms point by point. I also appreciate your tenacity in speaking for what you believe is true and I respect your right to say what you believe. ”

        You are patting the back of a prolific servant of Satan. He will be pedantically lecturing you on the reputation of the gospel and how Christians are the real oppressors, as your children are taken away at gunpoint by CPS to be chemically castrated and mutilated. Look at what happened with that 14-year old girl in Montana. Wake up and know what time it is. Curt is the enemy plant telling you that you’re overreacting by picking up your rifle, when the bullets are already flying and the ground is littered with corpses. The man is to be regarded with utter contempt. Your tone, which imputes good faith to Curt, will lead weaker Christians to not see how wicked he and his fellow liberals are. Make all the reasonable concessions you want – he will make none. He will not extend the slightest charity toward the simple, obedient Christian. Lose your aversion to the coming bloodshed and help others recognize these enemies that are seeking our destruction in plain sight.

        1. Psalm,
          Note how you accuse but you never logically engage with a single point I make. BTW, calling out the crimes committed under Christendom is not making Christians the real oppressors. Christendom ≠ Christianity. Rather, it is placing the blame on authoritarianism, the kind that you show with your accusations and insults. Authoritarianism substitutes accusations and insults for rational discussions because authoritarians want to discredit those with whom they disagree rather than to try to logically prove them wrong.

          Under Christendom, there were periods of brutal anti-Semitism, religious wars, imperial wars including WW I and II, the official inquisition by the Roman Church, and the Protestant inquisition that put to death people like Servetus and witches. And that was just in Europe. I could also include European imperialism and colonialism throughout the world. There there is the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans in what is now the U.S., a “Christian” nation based on white supremacy evidenced by the Naturalization laws of 1790 and 1795, slavery, and Jim Crow along with the exploitation of foreign labor, the violent state-corporate suppression of labor activists, and the subjugation of women also in America. If I was blaming Christianity for those atrocities, I would show where in the Bible those atrocities were justified and supported. But there are no places in the Bible where those actions are supported. And yet, there were many, but not all, Christians, both rulers and citizens, who supported those actions.

          And so it is like the promotion of Christendom and Christian Nationalism here. That promotion is based on authoritarian mindsets rather than Biblical concerns and so were the atrocities committed under Christendom. And it is only tribalism, which is extreme loyalty to a group or ideology, not Christianity as it is defined by the Scriptures, that compels some Christians to deny the atrocities committed under Christendom and Christian Nationalism.

    3. Great take! There are other controversial marriages in the Bible that these same reformers would be calling sinful. I’m sure a modern day Hosea would be asked to leave conferences and dropped from his radio station for marrying a sex worker and then when she goes back to public prostitution, he buys her back.

      I’m sure that they would remove Samson from leadership for his first marriage, even though it was a desire placed by the Lord. In fact, the Israelites did give him up to the Philistines.

      Begg is as godly a man out there. He’s not some bad boy pastor like a Driscoll, but a sound doctrine faithful pastor. Instead of canceling him, maybe the reformed groups should have second thought their take.

      1. TMA,
        Thank you for your comment. IMO, it is fear that is driving many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians to take such a hardline stand against the LGBT community in society. Fear, and perhaps panic, has a way of clouding our thinking, of robbing our ability to make distinctions because we are thinking too much in black-white terms. I know that it has clouded my thinking in other situations.

        As Christians, we can no more condone the beliefs and practices of the LBGT community than we can the worship of other dieties than Christ. And yet we have no problems with tolerating the practice of other religions in our midst, in society. We, rightfully, treat those from other religions as equals. Why can’t we do the same with the LGBT community? It is at least partially because of fear.

    4. I have tried to find hypotheticals to the “Alistair Controversy,” but I’ve not been satisfied with any of them. Nor have I seen any satisfying hypotheticals—including those on this page—that shed any light on the controversy. I also “get” all the “in the world, but not of the world” arguments; but those arguments, like the equivocating hypotheticals, do not satisfy me. The only thing that has come close to satisfying me is the search for an answer to this question: “What did Jesus do, and is there biblical proof of Him doing something principally the same as attending the wedding of two homosexuals?” The closest I can come is that he “dined with publicans and sinners,” thereby begging the questions “why” and “in what context?” We also know that he hung out with tax collectors, certainly individuals seen as grave sinners in the eyes of most. Again, “why,” and “what was the context?” In answering those questions, additional questions are raised inevitably, some of them speculative, but not to be dismissed summarily. “Are there any types of sinners with whom Christ would not be among under any circumstances?” And if the answer is “no,” then what are the circumstances in which he would not be involved? Certainly, He would not have presided over a gay marriage. But, if invited, would he have attended? If not, how might he have turned down the invitation? It is at this point in this recurring mental and spiritual challenge that I ask myself what is different about dining with publicans and sinners, as opposed to attending a gay wedding? I think the answer lies in this: Jesus most likely was not in the midst of pagans and sinners who had invited him to dine with them while they engaged in some pagan ceremony. If someone had said to him “Hey, Jesus, we’re having a little get-together next Saturday, and I know you personally don’t believe like us or follow our moral code, why don’t you join us for dinner? We’re going to have a human sacrifice and a hedonistic display of human sexuality while we dine, but, again, we won’t expect that you necessarily approve of what we are doing. Still, you’re invited to join us.” So the core argument, both in my hypothetical and in Alistair’s advice, is this: “If, by attending, there is even one other person who attends who does not know you or your purpose, and that person might assume that by your attendance that you approve of all that is going on, should you attend?” At least, that’s how I have boiled it down. And the answer is “No!” One final word, if I might be allowed. Ligonier Ministries, which I greatly admire still, and which I patronize frequently, did suspend “Truth for Life.” But they did not pull any of Alistair’s books from their online store. I don’t think the latter was an oversight; I think it was part of a measured, Christian response to an error. Let he who is without this or a similar error throw the first stone, and for those of you who have never made a similar error I rejoice with you, while warning you to watch out; often, no sooner do we condemn, than we find ourselves doing something just as condemnable.

  2. So, how would you have responded to Naaman (2Kings5: 18) when he asked Elisha about worshipping publicly in the Temple of Rimmon with his master? Elisha replied “Go in Peace”. Was Elisha wrong?

  3. I appreciate this more thoughtful approach. I largely agree. I do think you’re exaggerating the degree to which sexuality is important. The link between anthropology and the gospel is weak to me.

    But still, the contrast between evangelical reproach of Begg and the lack of any discussion at all around MacArthur speaks volumes. At worst, Begg made an important doctrinal error in public.

    MacArthur *certainly* made a moral error in improperly using church discipline which intentionally directly affected someone’s life. He’s refused to repent. This reveals a massive sin issue of pride at best – and legalism at worst. Why are we so quick to condemn Begg when nothing was said about MacArthur? It’s all on video & in court documents but it got so little attention.

  4. I’ve been trying to find the official statement by Ligonier, and I can’t find it anywhere. Do you know where I can find that?

  5. I ask everyone what would Jesus do? Jesus never turned down an invitation to sit down with the sinners. Jesus never differentiated any specific sin. I believe if we never go where the sinners are gathered that we cannot spread the word of Jesus to those who need it most…being a righteous Christian means taking the word with you into the fight. Stay home if you like, some will be called to bare the light.

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