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April 26, 2010

Where Does Webb Stand on the Gay/Christian Issue?

Theologian Denny Burk says Webb's public comments 'anything but clear'


Denny Burk, a New Testament prof and dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently answered a blog reader's question about Derek Webb, who has been touring with Jennifer Knapp. Knapp recently came out as being gay -- she talked about it on Larry King Live last week -- and Burk's reader wondered where Webb stood on the issue.

In a blog post titled, "What About Derek?", Burk says he did a little bit of research and concluded that "it's difficult to say" where Webb might stand on the question, "Can one be Christian and gay?" He said that Christians would likely find some "red flags" in some of Webb's comments on the matter, but adds, "I can’t find any instance in which Derek has stated unambiguously what his views are on the moral status of homosexuality. It looks like he’s trying not to speak definitively either way. I suppose the best case scenario is that Derek takes a traditional view on the question though his iconoclastic approach sometimes makes it appear otherwise."

Burk concludes, "My hope is that Derek is at least speaking more clearly about these things in private. His public statements are anything but clear."

Read Burk's full post and leave your own comments on the topic below.

Related Tags: Derek Webb, Jennifer Knapp


"Where Does Webb Stand on the Gay/Christian Issue?" I don't care and I don't think anyone else does either.

On the contrary, I think Derek Webb has been quite clear on the matter. He believes there are many other issues that are a great deal more pressing than this one, and when Christians focus too much attention on debating theology, we entirely miss our responsibility to love one another, as mandated by Christ himself.

If you'd like to prove him right, just go back and read that blog entry again.

Bart thinks people care. In fact, they care too much about what people in the public eye think about what they care about. Bart admires Derek for following Jesus. He does not admire all those people who insist that Derek (and others) state explicitly what they believe on every minor detail so that they can either declare them a "real Christian" or "a heretic" who is going to hell. Bart mistakenly read some of the comments on that website. Egads, Bride, how your Groom weeps at your arrogance, hatred and ignorance...

PS The CAPTCHA below reads "its errant". Ha!

Patrick agrees with Bart and Amanda. Patrick also admires Bart's use of third person.

This is not a theological issue.
This is an allegiance issue. Does Derek still hate sin, or does he think he can have people like him on both sides of the war?
If he loves Knapp and Jesus, he will mourn for her rebellion, whether or not he agrees with how other Christians would deal with the issue of touring with her.

Isaac, maybe you have defined it as "an allegiance issue" for you but Bart has no indication that Jesus sees it that way. Your statement appears arrogant and condemnatory, which are sinful. Do you no longer "hate sin"? What "war" are you talking about? Christ-followers do not battle flesh and blood people but the powers behind the scenes that hurt people. You need to stop telling other people (including Jesus) how they should think and live. You live your life with Jesus and allow Jesus to engage with others how he sees fit.

PS Kudos to Patrick.

Jesus has declared how He lives and expects all people to live in His Word. The Word is very clear on the issue of sin, because sin hurts God! Isaac is simply stating what the bible states, and anyone who thinks Isaac is being arrogant and condemnatory is themselves very arrogant toward Isaac, the bible, and Jesus, and condemnatory of them. Shoo Shoo.

Yes, Chaz, Jesus has shown how he expects his followers (not 'all people' as you have suggested) to live. They are to live his "Word", which Scripture actually uses to mean his "message" as opposed to the 'words' in the Bible. What is his message for his followers? Matthew 5.

Isaac is, as you noted, "simply stating what the Bible states," referencing words that are written in the Bible. But we are not called to read words but live the message. Galatians tells us to live in and by the Spirit, who is active and teaches us and molds us into the image of Jesus.

To just reverse Bart's statement about arrogance and condemnation is an invalid argument. First, the Wang said that Isaac's statements appear arrogant and condemnatory. He did not say that Isaac was but that his words appeared that way. That was an intentional wording. Second, Bart could just do the same thing back. "Anyone who thinks that anyone who thinks that Isaac's comments are arrogant or condemnatory are arrogant and condemnatory of Isaac, the Bible and Jesus." If you want to explain why you think Bart was wrong, do so. But don't try to reverse an argument because that's empty and meaningless.

Bart contends that simply claiming Bible passages (read out of context) support one's perspective is arrogant and condemnatory. It is not the Spirit of God, who is always calling people to see the unending love of Jesus and be reconciled to him. Christians often get so wrapped up in their focus on sin (a view which excludes Jesus in most cases) and DOING whatever people define as earning salvation that they miss God's grace. You get Jesus' forgiveness even when you sin. That's the Bible (Romans 5; 6:23; 8:1). Since all people sin while they live, all who are in Christ are forgiven. No exceptions. Thank you, Jesus.

Every believer should agree that it is neither condemnatory nor judgmental to let the Bible say what it says. So, what does the Bible say regarding homosexuality? Romans 1:18-32 makes it plain that homosexuality not only results (future tense) in God's judgment, but is also a result (present tense) of God's judgment. In other words, the Bible teaches that homosexuality not only leads to God's judgment, but is also evidence that someone has all ready been judged by God. That being said, disobedience to one's parents and a host of other sins fit in the same category. So, to view homosexuality as more alienating from God than disobedience to one's parents is a failure to embrace the clear teaching of Romans 1.

Further, to view homosexuality as more alienating from God than disobedience to one's parents is to fall into the trap of hypocrisy mentioned in Romans 2. The Jews looked with a condemning eye on the Gentiles, while they themselves committed the very same sins.

In addition, to view homosexuality as more alienating from God than disobedience to one's parents is a failure to see the broader theme woven through Romans 1-5, in particular. This theme is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is entirely opposed to legalism, which seeks to be right with God on the basis of one's own morality, often as compared to someone you view as less moral than you in a particular category. In American Christianity, homosexuality has often been the sin by which people have tried to justify themselves by appealing to God, saying, "Well, at least I'm not as bad as the homosexual!" This is entirely opposed to the Gospel of grace, which is, in essence, that Jesus Christ lived the life sinners should've lived, thereby meeting God's righteous requirements on their behalf, so that sinners are treated by God as if they lived the life Jesus lived. Conversely, Jesus also died the death required of sinners because of their sin, thereby satisfying God's wrath on their behalf. People are not made right with God by avoiding sin and improving themselves. People are made right with God by echoing the words of the great song, Depth of Mercy, which says, "Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling."

So, how should Christians view homosexuality? We certainly don't condone it. To condone any behavior that God has all ready declared sinful, as has the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America regarding homosexuality, is plainly and undoubtedly wicked. In fact, if the ELCA has adopted the correct position, then God is a liar and, as such, is Himself in need of a Savior! So, how do we love people who do things we don't condone? It depends. If the person is an unbeliever, then we no more avoid them than Jesus avoided eating dinner with Gentiles and tax collectors. Christians must love unbelievers, which takes on several forms like eating dinner with them, praying for God to show them the same mercy He has shown us, and preaching the Gospel of Jesus to them. We must, however, be careful not to soft-peddle sin as if they are pretty good people in need of a spiritual band-aid or as if the gift of repentance doesn't accompany salvation. People aren't saved by thinking much of themselves, but in recognizing their own spiritual poverty before the God who is mighty to save.

Dealing with homosexual believers, however, is a different issue. To the person who says, "I'm trusting in Jesus alone for salvation and am constantly seeking to turn from and hate sin and to turn to and love God, but the sin of homosexuality is a constant battle for me," I would say, "Welcome." This person believes the Gospel, calls sin sin, and is seeking to repent. There is no issue here unless we demand that Christians be entirely perfect, which would result in 100% vacant churches. On the other hand, to the person who says, "I'm trusting in Jesus alone for salvation, but I'm also currently living my homosexual partner and am planning to continue in that behavior," I would say, "While I love you and am praying for you, 1 John 3:7-10 should cause you to see that you really do not believe the Gospel. Scripture is crystal clear in its assertion that a person who plans to continue sinning with neither plans nor even the desire to repent has not been legitimately saved. As such, I cannot in clean conscience, welcome you into our fellowship as anything more than an attendee (i.e., not a member)."

As an addition, I would say that to welcome the unrepentant homosexual as a church member is on par with welcoming the man who says, "I'm trusting Jesus for salvation, but I'm perpetually unfaithful to my wife and have every intention of continuing in that behavior," or to the man who says, "I'm trusting Jesus for salvation, but I gossip constantly because it's fun, and I have no plans of ever stopping that wonderful activity!"

Oh, and I need to correct myself. The song isn't "Depth of Mercy" (although that is one of my favorites). It's Rock of Ages (another one of my favorites).