An Empowered Gospel: Day 27
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
‘Along with most Christians, I have come to the conviction that the gospel message exists in its purest form in the Bible (particularly in the Gospels and in the authentic Paul), for all its warts and problems. For me, the Bible is the normative “playing field” for grappling with matters of faith and practice. Experience is also important, but no experience is self-interpreting or self-validating. I know of no better interpretive lens than the gospel as proclaimed in the New Testament. My own view is that the burden of proof is on those who would reject a biblical position, particularly a strong and consistently held New Testament position on a moral issue with strong support from the Old Testament and subsequent church tradition. I believe this to be the case with respect to homosexuality.
To overturn such a clear biblical mandate requires strong and unambiguous counter-arguments. Furthermore, one must demonstrate that the new information being brought to bear addresses directly the reason for the Bible’s position…
In addition, a strong case for homosexual conduct needs to be made, one that goes beyond misleading platitudes such as “God loves all people” or “Jesus embraced everyone” or “God made me this way.” God loves all people and Jesus did embrace outcasts but both call people to repentance and to a transformed life. Many, if not most, innate feelings (including a plethora of sexual desires) stand in direct opposition to God’s will for redeemed humanity and are to be brought under the control of the Spirit’s power.’ (The Bible and Homosexual Practice, p. 346)
Here Gagnon give us a glimpse of his hermeneutic, the interpretive key that guides his decision-making regarding the ethics of homosexuality. It is of course Scripture but particularly the Gospel. I love that. Gagnon loves Jesus and took His invitation to ‘hand over’ his life to the Savior. Look what He raised up!
Though bearing no trace of homosexual confusion, Gagnon can trace the ways that he died and still dies to a host of sins. I recall a meal with Gagnon and the newly configured ‘design’ team that Anne Paulk assembled for the Restored Hope Network. I discovered how costly it has been for him to be the standard-bearer amid a culture that, unable to refute the standard, still demonized him for it. I also learned something of his roots; if I recall correctly, Gagnon rode a wave of evangelical renewal at Dartmouth College and intersected with several same-sex strugglers there. He grasped their conflict, as well as the one raging in his own Presbyterian denomination.
Having joined his fine mind with a merciful heart, Jesus invited Gagnon to examine what Scripture says and does not say about homosexuality. His work is anchored in the good news--'whosoever will’--as well as an immunity to platitudes and the hermeneutic of ‘Jim is a nice “gay” dude thus Scripture must be wrong on the topic.’ Gagnon would respond: ‘Jim can repent like we all must; come to the water.’ He is a hard thinking, soft-hearted guy. Glorious.
‘No experience is self-validating.’ We need to distinguish between a host of sexual feelings and histories and the truth that that directs our feelings constructively and leads to happiness. I love how Gagnon places the onus on the opposition, who, usually through ‘gay-affirming’ experiences seeks to nullify biblical views. Gagnon insists that one cannot just decry what the Bible says. They must also show us how an LGBTQ+ agenda is actually apparent in the Bible.
Impossible. To those conflicted by disordered desires, Gagnon invites them to discover this merciful Jesus. He does us a profound service by showing us how fallen love and its limits points beyond itself to the Source of unfailing love.
‘Jesus, remind us that Your statutes preserve our dignity. Love us into Your ways; make Yourself known as the trustworthy guide for any who doubt life beyond familiar sins. Thank You that Your ways are not ours, yet You reveal both Yourself and Your statutes to us. You are good, You are God, and we surrender afresh.’
‘Jesus, show us Your way through the uneven, deeply divided ground of our nation. Please compose and restrain explosive hearts. Use us as instruments of Your peace. “O blood and water which gushed forth from the heart of Savior Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, we trust in You.”’