“Middle Church”: Dr. Albert Mohler Responds

Excerpted from The Road to Nowhere? Middle Church, by Dr. Albert Mohler, published Oct 3, 2006, by Crosswalk:

dr-r-albert-mohler.jpgBob Edgar wants to rescue America from the religious right. In his new book, Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right, Edgar intends to reset the nation’s agenda when it comes to matters of Christian concern.

…Edgar could have offered a careful, exegetical, historical, and theological engagement with moral issues. Instead he offers irresponsible generalizations such as this: “The Bible mentions abortion not once, homosexuality only twice, and poverty or peace more than two thousand times. Yet somehow abortion and homosexuality have become the litmus test of faith in public life today.”

How can an intelligent reader, armed with even the slightest knowledge of the Bible and the Christian tradition, take such a statement seriously? The Bible does not mention abortion only in the sense that it does not make direct reference to the practice of surgical abortion as is common today. The Bible speaks clearly to the sanctity of human life and to the priority of protecting unborn life. Furthermore, to state that the Bible mentions homosexuality “only twice” indicates that Edgar has redefined homosexuality as something other than that which the Bible addresses in numerous passages.

There can be no doubt that the Bible’s consistent judgment is that homosexual acts are inherently immoral and sinful. The Christian church in all of its major branches has understood this for two thousand years. This has been a true ecumenical consensus until recent years when some more liberal churches in the West have abandoned the Christian tradition in order to endorse homosexual practice.

Thus, it is an act of intellectual dishonesty for Edgar to claim to speak for “classic historical Christianity.”

Just in case we might miss his point, Edgar offers this assessment of Scripture: “The far religious right is fond of condemning homosexuality because they say the Scripture is immutable and its words are literal.” Again, Edgar identifies the scriptural consensus that homosexuality is sinful as an example of the radical nature of the “far religious right” [italics his]. Once again, one need not be very conservative to end up in Edgar’s category of the far religious right…

In an amazing passage, Edgar asserts: “People of faith must be able to conduct a respectful and open conversation about all aspects of sexuality including homosexuality. God has a lot to say on all these topics, and if we skip the listening and rush straight to the judging–an enterprise in which we’re not supposed to be involved anyway–we can’t hope to make serious progress in our discussion.”

Statements like this must leave us wondering if this author actually means to be taken seriously. His book is filled with moral judgments–judgments about ecology, justice, racism, and a host of other issues. But when it comes to sexuality, Edgar offers the facile suggestion that moral judgment is “an enterprise in which we’re not supposed to be involved anyway.”

In other words, when Edgar makes moral judgments, he’s not being judgmental. But when others moral judgments, they are being judgmental. The Bible does not say that we are not to make moral judgments, or that we are not to judge moral behavior. Indeed, the Bible makes absolutely no sense if that is the case. The Bible–in both Old and New Testaments–is filled with moral judgment and with advisement on how we are to make such judgments. Of course, the judgments we are to make concern behavior, not the heart. We are expressly forbidden to judge another’s heart. That distinction is missing from Edgar’s analysis.

…What separates Bob Edgar and biblical Christianity is the fact that God has told us how He is going to judge humanity–and the crucial issue in that judgment is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

When it comes to matters of public policy, evangelicals surely do not have all the answers. Furthermore, evangelicals are well served by a reminder that our moral agenda needs to be broader than the issues of the daily headlines.

Nevertheless, conservative Christians did not decide to make abortion, homosexuality, and stem cell research front-line issues. It is nothing less than intellectual dishonesty to suggest that evangelicals prompted the national debate on those issues. On all of these fronts, evangelicals are simply calling on the Christian church to stand by its historic convictions and moral wisdom.

Continue reading at Crosswalk…

This article was posted on Wednesday, October 4th, 2006 at 11:28 pm and is filed under A - What does the Bible say about homosexuality?, Baptist, Candidates & Elected Officials, The Bible, Churches, & Homosexuality. You can follow any updates to this article through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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