By Rev Thomas Littleton
The highly controversial Revoice conference is about a month away. We broke the story over six weeks ago, exposing Revoice and its stated goal of “Promoting LGBT+ Flourishing in historic Christian tradition.” Today the machinery of The Gospel Coalition and the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission is in full swing attempting to “cover” the story in a way any trained media savvy believer would find disturbing. What IS NOW being said by TGC and ERLC is coordinated and calculated. What is NOT being said is intentional and dishonest.
First, little, if anything, was said in the weeks after our initial exposure of the conference on May 10. The first major outlet promoting Revoice was Living Out, the ministry of TGC editor and ERLC writer and speaker, Sam Allberry. His ministry is a collective of Same-Sex Attracted gay priests from the UK / Church of England. Sam Allberry’s endorsement of Revoice was a massive red flag that signaled a broadening of the message of “SSA/ Gay Christianity” to the radical “LGBT+, Sexual Minority, Queer Christian” language of Revoice.
You can get full details of the disturbing connections in the original articles below:
Efforts to ignore the Revoice story have failed, despite a media circus of the ERLC/TGC-driven takedown of Conservative Resurgence hero, Paige Patterson. Outlets within network began to “report” on the Conference. The article below provides links to all such responses from within TGC/ERLC network. What none of these responders do, including Albert Mohler, is ADMIT that the reason REVOICE was and remains controversial is that it is in CLOSE PROXIMITY to the heart of their own camp! Do not miss that fact, of which they are attempting feverishly to keep you ignorant in the “comprehensive article” published by Colin Smothers.
PROBLEMATIC RESPONSES TO REVOICE
Denny Burk works at Boyce College and is a ERLC/TGC speaker on issues related to sexuality and LGBT as head of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Collin Smothers, who compiles the articles and provides the critique above, also works for CBMW. Both are disciples of Dr. Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Theologica Seminary
Burk’s article was among the first responses posted on May 30th –almost 3 weeks after the story broke. It recommends a “wait and see” attitude regarding the Revoice Conference despite its radical language of “Queer Christianity” and “LGBT+ Christian.” In the Burk piece, he has the screen shot of a workshop titled “Redeeming Queer Culture an Adventure” which he inserted 24 hours BEFORE it appeared on the official Revoice website. During a Twitter exchange, Burk was asked about the timing – how he had the new workshop screen shot in advance – after which he blocked the author of the question. In the days following, in Twitter streams among Revoice leaders and Burk, Denny messaged to one of the Revoice leaders that they should talk but not in the open Twitter stream. However, this issue should not have back room communications given its goal of changing the conversation (and teaching) of the Church and all conservative denominations impacted by it. Denny Burk echoes what Dr. Mohler has said on the topic of homosexuality in years past, as if sexual orientation is the topic of Revoice. However, the language of Revoice – LGBT+ (sexual minorities) Christians / Queer Christianity – is radical, unheard of in the Church and represents uncharted waters for the Church.
Burk then turns attention toward speakers from past ERLC/TGC blogs and conferences, such as Rosaria Butterfield and Sam Allberry, but PASSES OVER the fact that Allberry was PROMOTING Revoice in early May. Burk also points to Kevin DeYoung (who we will consider next) and references the work of CBMW in the Nashville Statement, which fails to denounce Gay Christianity and does not defend ministries that help people wanting out of the LGBT lifestyle. The Nashville Statement does, however, provide a safe MARKER for those who signed it as a “bold stand for Biblical MARRIAGE, sexuality and gender” when needed.
LOOK TO THE SOURCE – MARK YARHOUSE, THE MISSING LINK
Denny Burk NEVER mentions the ideological source of the Sexuality and Gender rhetoric and terminology for TGC and ERLC, which is Dr. Mark Yarhouse and his Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity. He does not mention that, way back in 2010, Dr. Yarhouse was commissioned by D.A. Carson to write a White Paper on the Sexual Identity for TGC and their Christ on Campus Initiative. Nor does Burk ever mention that virtually all of TGC /ERLC/ SBTS camp subscribe to Yarhouse’s promotion of Sexual Orientation which then led to establishing the concept of Sexual Identity. Given Yarhouse’s collaboration with the American Psychological Association and working with both Christian and Gay Psychologists, he then asserted the best path forward is merging a person’s “Sexual Identity” with their “Faith Identity” to establish a “Gay Christian Identity” along with its assorted self-identifiers like “Sexual Minorites,” “Same Sex-Attracted” and now “LGBT+” and “Queer Christianity.” Sam Allberry and Living Out are also subscribers to the Yarhouse-crafted Sexuality and Gender standards for The Gospel Coalition, and BOTH organizations promote Revoice.
Kevin DeYoung is a favorite of The Gospel Coalition and a recent convert from the Reformed Church in America to the Presbyterian Church of America. Since joining the PCA, he has become a go to representative of TGC. One June 1, just days after the Burk article, DeYoung published his Revoice piece. DeYoung focused much of his article on the issue of terms and labels and chose to do a five-point highlight of the term “Sexual Minorities.” He does a 360° around it as being the most problematic for Revoice. Two issues are glaring here. DeYoung ignores ugly terms like “Queer Christian” and “LGBT+ Christian” and chooses to highlight “Sexual Minority.” WHY? He, in fact, has actually used the FAVORITE term of Dr. Yarhouse in the White Paper. How is it possible that DeYoung, being fully in step with and a member of TGC leadership, chose to focus on the less alarming terms and then failed to point out that the term he DOES find problematic is from The Gospel Coalition’s own 2010 standard?
GETTING COZY WITH THE CORE OF REVOICE MESSENGERS
Michael Lee Anderson was part of the Revoice Pre-Conference hosted by Spiritual Friendship and he is a contributor and partner with Mere Orthodoxy, so its article linked by CBMW and Collin Smothers IRONICALLY brings THOSE RESPONDING even further INSIDE the network of Revoice. Does this networking provide “objective critique” of Revoice? Mere Orthodoxy leadership is also very close to TGC editor and ERLC head messenger, Joe Carter, and provided a parody article of The Evangelical Deep State thereby giving cover to the Catholic Priest SJW, Father Robert Sirico, boss of Carter at Acton Institute. Acton’s man, Anthony Bradley, has been a vocal defender of Revoice. Linking to a Mere Orthodoxy article does not in the least help the effort of CBMW or Smothers to appear credible.
Richard Phillips’ article links to DeYoung’s problematic article, so the circular motion may by now be causing vertigo.
Tim Challies, who is a member of The Gospel Coalition, is promoting DeYoung and Burk’s articles on Revoice. This is all now clearly in-network, circular in-house, looking like DAMAGE CONTROL rather than honest assessment of Revoice.
On May 31, Owen Strachan of the Center for Public Theology at Midwestern Seminary provided perhaps the beefiest response to Revoice at that time from an inhouse source. Albert Mohler tweeted it out with the short offering of “Interesting Article.”
On June 11, the author of this article obtained an interview with Dr. Albert Mohler at the SBC annual meetings in Dallas Texas. You can listen to it here. The interview is at @minute 9 in this expanded discussion with Brannon Howse on the response of Dr. Mohler to Revoice.
NATE COLLINS OF DR. MOHLER’S SOUTHEASTERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IS THE FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF REVOCIE AND A SPEAKER.
Many eyes and ears have been focused on Dr. Albert Mohler of SBTS expecting a response to Revoice for the primary reason that a long-time student, New Testament and online Instructor / Garrett Fellow, grading papers and counseling students, is both the FOUNDER and PRESIDENT of Revoice and a Keynote speaker. Nate Collins is his name.
Nate who was, according to his bio, at SBTS for over 14 years also spent time traveling to the Evangelical Theological Society to present his many academic papers on the topics which feed into and have developed Revoice. Collins also cites Mark Yarhouse in his academic works and his book “All but Invisible.”
YET IN NONE OF HIS INTERVIEWS AND ARTICLES HAS DR. MOHLER EVER SPOKEN TO THE FACT THAT NATHAN COLLINS IS AN SBTS GRADUATE AND SCHOLAR!
Not even once! Neither Dr. Mohler nor any of the articles linked above or the Smothers article go anywhere near this disturbing fact. Collins is also the son of Boyce College, former associate Dean Chip Collins. As a father and son team they worked together in a ministry called Aligned Grace for parents of “SSA/ Gay/ Homosexual but Christian” celibates. It is not possible that Collins, with this background at SBTS (14 years on campus) plus being the son of faculty in a high-profile ministry to parents of gays, is unknown to Dr. Mohler as a self-identified homosexual. Why did not even one of the other writers cited above mention this fact? Why did they not make mention of Dr. Mark Yarhouse’s influence on TGC/ ERLC and Revoice? Can it be that the REAL controversy is the close ties which the Revoice Conference has to SBTS, Mohler, ERLC, Moore TGC, PCA, Covenant Seminary, Tim Keller, and D.A. Carson? The more this herd of writers ignore the obvious, the more obvious it becomes!
ERLC put out an article by Andrew Walker on June 22. It is an emotional little piece about the confusion of and concern for teens over LGBT issues and speaks somewhat to problems with the terminology of Revoice but never mentions ERLC’s connections with an ERLC Fellow, Karen Swallow Prior, endorsing it and an ERLC contractor, Brandon Polk, speaking at it. No mention of ERLC involvement is a vintage case of EXTREME SELF DELUSION. Neither Nate Collins nor Yarhouse are mentioned nor is Revoice mentor and ERLC contributor, Scott Sauls, whose involvement also brings with it the influence of Tim Keller of TGC and Sauls was also a speaker at Sam Allberry’s June 21 Living Out Conference while Allberry promotes Revoice.
THE SILENCED VOICE AT DALLAS SBC 2018: REFUSAL TO ENDORSE HETEROSEXUALITY AS NORMAL
All of these discussions of Revoice appear to be missing the reality that the issues of LGBT in the church could have been addressed in a truly Biblical framework at the 2018 Dallas SBC Convention. A resolution about how the church ministers to the LGBT community and aids those who want an exit strategy through the Gospel and the Church was ignored and along with it the hopes for restoration to a real Biblical sexuality i.e. heterosexuality and male /female gender norms. Therefore, “once LGBT always LGBT” is the SBC stance. The resolution never made it to the floor in Dallas and hopes of preventing the loss of religious freedoms and preserving a truly Biblical pastoral approach for ministry to those wanting out of LGBT remains very much at risk.
DR. MOHLER, SAY WHAT YOU MEAN – CONDEMN OR CONDONE LGBT+ “CHRISTIANITY”
So, late in the game – six weeks later – on June 23, Dr. Albert Mohler finally penned a piece on Revoice for his Briefing radio broadcast, for the first time since the disturbing facts surfaced on May 10. See section 3 “Such Were Some of You.” In the broadcast, Mohler never goes any where near the source of the Revoice language and the author of TGC/ERLC gold standard on sexuality – Dr. Mark Yarhouse. Nor do ANY of these writers /researches/ apologist/ preachers in Mohler’s circles. We should all find the avoidance of Yarhouse disturbing, especially by Dr. Mohler after this writer asked him about Yarhouse and Mohler admitted to knowledge of him. Mohler then expressed concern that Yarhouse’s assertion, “for some who experience Gender Dysphoria, gender re-assignment is a viable option,” is problematic. Mohler asserted, “that could NEVER be seen as a Christian Worldview” in the interview. Then why follow ANY of the Yarhouse APA-based sexuality and gender standards? If he has it wrong on Gender Reassignment why not stick with the Word of God as the Gold Standard on sexuality and gender, marriage and conversion?
Again, Mohler was also asked by this writer about Revoice Founder Nate Collins extended stay and work at SBTS and his ties to the ERLC. There was no comment then and Mohler never mentions them in this June 22 broadcast. AGAIN, these issues are part of the controversial nature of Revoice and the VERY REASON they are now collectively talking/ writing about it. YET they never mention ANY of it. NEVER. WHY?
WHAT IS SAID IS EVEN LESS COMFORTING
In the June 22 Briefing: “Such Were Some of You Language Matters and Always Matters,” by Dr. Mohler, he does make some interesting observations that fall far short of providing clarity.
• Mohler admits that the “Revoice” name indicates that its organizers want to “change the voice” of Evangelicalism on matters of LGBT.
• Mohler points out that so much conversation has taken place about a conference that has not yet been held, but never points out the source of the controversy, which is the SBTS/ ERLC/ and PCA/ Covenant ties to it.
• Mohler says it is important to take the organizers at their word and he quotes the revamped longer and extended version of their mission, however, does not, nor do any of the writers above, bring out the original mission statement prior to the controversy which is: “Revoice is Promoting LGBT+ Flourishing in historic Christian tradition.” This earlier vision statement came with the broader explanation that the Church needed to welcome the LGBT+ community and had a great deal to learn from it. This error on Dr. Mohler’s part may come from being 6 weeks late into the conversation. Like Denny Burk, Mohler may be operating off the altered version of Revoice. Given they are changing the language, must we really take them at their word? Which one? The earlier version or the post controversy revamp?
• Dr. Mohler attempts to say that the organizers adhere to a “Historic Christian Sexual Ethic” by professing “Celibacy” or a “Mixed Orientation Marriage” but this supposed “ethic “is from the Yarhouse camp of thought, NOT a Biblical one.
• Dr. Mohler’s response approximates THE word for word defense which Nate Collins gave this writer when asked about his conclusions on Biblical Gender, based on the focus of his research papers. Collin’s answer was not directed at all to the question and he refused to talk further during efforts to reach out to him for answers. Dr. Mohler says, as did Collins, that “the Bible restricts sexual activity to marriage between a man and a woman.” Mohler also echoes the assertion of Revoice organizers that the Bible honors those with an extended commitment to Celibacy and that these two constitute a Biblical Sexual ethic. AGAIN, this comes from Dr. Yarhouse and similar psychologists who also work with the APA and gay psychologists. The Bible does not propose Celibacy as an answer to homosexual desires. The Biblical framework of celibacy is to provide undistracted attention to the kingdom of God by those who value their calling above the right to marry, and choose rather to be wholly dedicated to minding the things of God’s kingdom. Jesus and Paul both confirm this context for celibacy. The Catholic Church has made celibacy and ordination to the priesthood to be a haven for homosexual desires. It is NOT SO in the Bible. It seldom ends well.
“Mixed Orientation Marriage” is the other solution asserted by Yarhouse as a Biblical option or ethic for those who identify as Homosexual and Christian, like some in Revoice. Historically, such marriages do not END WELL either. This concept is not of Biblical origin but is part of the framework provided by the APA compliant White Paper of TGC.
What is LOST here is the failure of everyone involved to embrace the normal nature of Heterosexual love and relationships, while they embrace an ever stranger narrative normalizing suppressed same sex lustfulness as both normal and admirable. Heterosexuality is under the bus and so is the Gospel’s ability to restore souls to GOD’S design. What is wrong with holding forth Biblical hope or total deliverance and transformation and restoration? Why trash the Gospel to embrace APA/Yarhouse?
• Mohler again asserted the faithfulness of the Revoice organizers to Biblical sexual ethic and asked, then why the controversy. He admits to the source of the controversy being the pervasive language yet ignored the fact that most of that language came from the Yarhouse/TGC White Paper and APA studies and that Mark Yarhouse endorses and promotes Revoice. Again, Mohler appears to be in avoidance mode.
• Mohler’s conclusion for those Christians who would think biblically about this language is that “we must think clearly and compassionately.” He does not say how much of the radical language that he confirmed as intended to “change the voice of evangelicalism” on LGBT issues must be accepted as redeemable or useful.
• On the topic of LGBT+, Gay Christian and the history of the use of terms like Sexual Minority, Mohler entered what one former homosexual minister called a “word salad” of confusing language of his own. He then bails out of the points and the confusion he has made by dropping back to the less offensive term of Sexual Minority (which carries with it the tone of Cultural Marxist victimhood and activist status but never mentions that fact). Mohler then defers back to Kevin DeYoung inhouse research that, again, avoids Yarhouse input.
• Mohler then admits that the inclusion of “Queer Theory” and “Queer Culture” have brought us into “a new conversation.” Mohler only offers a clarification of the questions these terms raise and the importance of how we engage them. He offers no clarity toward answers.
THIS IS WHERE IT GETS REALLY WEIRD
• Once Dr. Mohler quoted the reference to “the treasures Queer Theory and Culture will bring into the New Jerusalem,” he then asserted that we “must look from the end of the Biblical story back to the story of creation and we have to understand that at least some of the speakers at the conference are arguing that in the garden, that is before the fall, there was some form of same sex sexual attraction, something that bears some kind of meaningful connection with what it now claimed to be LGBT identity.”
WHAT is He saying? Why even go here? What other Same-Sex person existed in the Garden for Adam or Eve to be attracted to? We teeter HERE on the ugly verge of “Queer Theology” which asserts that God Himself is some kind dual sexuality being. Why give voice to such heretical discussion in the name of giving clarity? This just got so CREEPY, that those Christians who think Biblically, per Dr. Mohler, likely all want to leave the room. Does he then resolve this bizarre idea he just introduced?
Mohler quotes from Gregory Coles’ (worship leaders for Revoice) Book, “Single Gay Christian,” which is heartily endorsed by D.A. Carson, and then tosses in the statement “That is an astounding question.”
“One of the individuals involved in the conference and a book published just last year asked the question: ‘Is it too dangerous, too unorthodox, to believe that I am uniquely designed to reflect the glory of God? That my orientation, before the fall, was meant to be a gift in appreciating the beauty of my own sex as I celebrated the friendship of the opposite sex?’ That’s an astounding question.”
Is it really, Dr. Mohler? Coles’ academic specialty is Minority Rhetoric and racial, feminist and gender theory. Either you just got played by Coles or you are using Coles’ quote to PLAY US!
• The lingering discussion points of “biblical theology, sanctification, holiness, and the Gospel” do little to relieve the intellectual corner in which Dr. Mohler appears to have painted himself. You cannot apologize for all Christians for being wrong about sexual orientation in 2014 and dump conversion (therapy) overboard and then speak about sanctification to the LGBTs. Real people are being harmed in this adventure and foray into confused thinking out loud. Who got us here if it was NOT the endless muddled conversations of TGC/ERLC?
• Mohler then appears lost in the maze of road blocks and dead-end trails from the Biblical and Gospel truth on Salvation, sanctification, redemption and transformation against the ever expanding and radical boundary pushing language of the sexual minority activists he appears to have played a part in training.
I am reminded of Jesus warnings to all of us about divided loyalties. Matthew 6:24: ″No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Dr. Mohler, Moore, Keller, Carson:
You cannot serve the Lord and the goals of those whose money you are taking.
You cannot serve the Gospel and the American Psychological Association sexual ethic.
You cannot serve the Word of God and Mark Yarhouse’s marriage of identities and faith.
You cannot serve our seminaries and the distorted cultural perversions of normal.
You cannot serve the Church and flood our landscape with half truths and compelling questions while giving no real answers.
Choose today who you will serve. And, Hey Preacher, “LEAVE OUR KIDS ALONE.” THEY ARE NOT JUST ANOTHER BRICK IN YOUR WALLS!