Carl Trueman, Ecclesiastical Celebrity

A discussion broke out yesterday over The Nashville Statement Fortified, and that discussion promptly headed straight back to the doctrine of the Trinity—the same debate that broke out a year or so ago. In the course of an extended back and forth yesterday, Tim Bayly said this:

“Until these guys and gal publicly affirm the eternal asymmetry of the Godhead flowing from God’s Archetypal Fatherhood, they have no standing to say anything about sexuality. Everything they’ve said would indicate their prior commitment to authority being a broken thing which somehow escapes being broken when Christ our Lord is in His incarnate state.” 

I think we need to take these words at face value, and not lump them in with admittedly confused and confusing statements made by Wayne Grudem or Bruce Ware. There is nothing unorthodox about “eternal asymmetry.” Fathers and sons are certainly asymmetrical, and the Father and the Son are eternally Father and Son. Asymmetrical is not synonymous with unequal.

For those just joining us, I would refer you to my previous comments and qualifications on this debate found here, here, and here. Remember that this is a complex debate, and there are more than two positions in it.

Talking with some colleagues yesterday, one objected to Boyer’s statement that “authority and obedience” could possibly be an ad intra Trinitarian reality. How is authority/obedience consistent with one divine will? In this world, I have never seen an exercise of authority and an obedient response that was the result of “one will.” Granted. This is quite true, but neither have I ever seen a father and son with one will, a begetter and a begotten with one will, a covenant of redemption struck by parties with just one will, or a lover and a beloved with one will. And yet this is how the Bible teaches us to talk about God.

We know less about the trajectories of language than we think we do.

If I might, let me take an example from the other side of the fence, from Mark Jones’ (outstanding) book Knowing Christ:

“The actual decision to assume a human nature, however, belonged to the Son. All that Jesus did for his people needed to be voluntary, not forced. This included the decision to take into union with himself a true human nature (body and soul). This decision may be termed ‘the decision’ in terms of its temporal, and ultimately eternal, significance for humanity” (Knowing Christ, p.  27).

As mentioned, Jones’ book is excellent, and I am not here criticizing it in any way. If anybody believes in the simplicity of the divine will, Mark Jones does. But for all his admirable orthodoxy, he is still a finite being talking about triune immensities.

So I do want to point out the virtual impossibility of talking about these things without “sounding like” we might be drifting toward a problem. If the Son is the one who made the actual decision, where did the unified divine will (that which makes decisions) go? If Jesus made this as a voluntary decision, does this mean He was a volunteer? Did the Father think of it first? Did Jesus come up with the same idea independently? Of course not, and I know that Jones is fully orthodox. But what does “the actual decision belonged to the Son” sound like? It sounds like dat old debbel tritheism. Or what could it easily be made to sound like by an uncharitable reader? I am not such an uncharitable reader, incidentally.

That being the case, we ought to stick with scriptural, creedal, and confessional language, in that order, and cut one another some slack as we work through these thorny problems. This means recognizing that in every worthwhile discussion, everyone is going to sound like a heretic at some point. This includes, incidentally, the heretics.

And so this is why I would like to call upon Carl Trueman to organize a summit, a symposium, where these issues could be debated and hammered out. I call on him because he is somebody who could actually pull it off. He should be careful to include all the actual players in this debate, all the responsible voices, and not just put together a collection of the approved ecclesiastical celebrities. I mention these celebrities because this is a group that Trueman mysteriously denies belonging to. But he is the one member who might be able to put that membership to good use—instead of wrapping it in a napkin and burying it.

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insanitybytes22
Member

Hmmm. I am exhaling a great sigh of relief. Perhaps sensible people,(as if that is not a complete oxymoron) will address this controversy with some wisdom and critical thought. That would be cool. In the meantime, I will only reach for my newspaper and whack people over the head when they blatantly try to portray my Lord and Savior as the eternally submissive wife in a 3 way trinitarian marriage. As to this part, “How is authority/obedience consistent with one divine will? ” I have long argued that it is consistent. It is what we call in marriage, “one flesh”… Read more »

bethyada
Member

I read the statement yesterday but didn’t see the fracas. I realise this post is about the trinity but is it where we discussed Nashville fortified? No other posts yet at Mablog.

Asymmetrical is not synonymous with unequal.

Nor is it necessarily synonymous with submissive.

bethyada
Member

Article 2. I agree that chastity applies within marriage and noted that on the original statement. I do note however that in modern English chaste is often synonymous with celibate. Though I prefer the older use, this is really just about the best choice of words and what people reading it will think when reading the word chaste. I see no fundamental distinction, and I note that you have used “chaste fidelity” to avoid the misconception of a sexless marriage. The use of “man” is less helpful. Though I think the use of “man” over “human” in Scripture is sometimes… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

I’m quite impressed you found anything at all to highlight. I could not. I loved “chaste fidelity.” That crossed one concern about the original declaration right off my list.

I was quite pleased to see “man” used in this context. I enjoy the consistency, the integrity. A pet peeve of mine is when we use the generic “mankind” or “he”…..except when it comes to sin, evil, bad things, when suddenly we become male and female once again. What’s with that?

adad0
Member

“What’s with that?”

Umm,…..everything is your fault? ; – )

insanitybytes22
Member

LOL! That’s downright biblical, Adad. Just the same, “this woman you gave me,” while a perfectly reasonable explanation, did not seem to convince God. :)

adad0
Member

????????????????????

bethyada
Member

I like generic “man” too. But in the specific context I think the original is less ambiguous.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I agree with you, Bethyada, and I also speak as one who favors the generic “man” when it is appropriate. I have no desire to revise Rousseau’s “Man is born free, but is everywhere is chains.” But “man” should not be used in any way that might be read as excluding “woman” from the same God-ordained commandments.

bethyada
Member

Article 4

Agree with both versions. Some choose not to marry for the sake of the kingdom, an acceptable option. Such a person could argue that he is not being fruitful (via children) but fruitful via converts. He could therefore emphasis flourishing (Jesus came to give us abundant life). The fortified version doesn’t clearly address this claim but the original does. It says that whatever (children or not) that male and female is important.

insanitybytes22
Member

I did not like the phrase “human flourishing.” I think it’s the wrong focus. Our purpose is not human flourishing, it is to give glory to God.

Something to keep in mind, consequentialism, abortion, human eugenics even, have all been sold to us as a way to promote ” human flourishing.”

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I agree, MeMe. It makes it sound as if our purpose here is to find happiness and fulfillment. But I think it is reasonable to write about the health and flourishing of human structures, such as the family or the greater society.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Bethyada, what about the person who experiences almost no sexual attraction period? To anything or anyone? I have known such people, and they often led admirable lives of service to others. Is this a condition to be repented of, or is this a form of spiritual eunuchism which is okay?

bethyada
Member

There may be an issue to deal with (psychological or medical), but not certain there is anything to repent of based solely on a single person having little sexual attraction.

lndighost
Member

Jill Smith In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul gives instructions about marital duties and then adds: “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am [i.e. single]. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” A little further on in the chapter he says “One who is… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

That is a very comforting passage. When I persuade the Snowflake to leave home, I will devote myself full time to developing holiness in body and spirit!!

bethyada
Member

Article 5

the sex God assigned us at conception, and thus we are to live in obedience to his call evident in our reproductive organs.

Yes to part 2, but genetic problems relating to intersex are harder to associate with conception.

the sex God assigned us at conception, and thus we are to live in obedience to his call evident in our reproductive organs.

insanitybytes22
Member

Now this is a good catch. I would agree with you there. God may well know our gender at conception,but from a biological standpoint it takes us a bit longer.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I wish “reproductive organs” could be called something else. But I especially don’t like the idea of a divine call evidenced through them. What about, “we are to live in obedience to the sex God assigned us as made manifest in the reproductive structures with which we have been created male or female”?

bethyada
Member

Article 8 Neither versions are that helpful. The first may imply that ongoing attraction is a non-issue so long one is chaste in action. The fortified version mentions repentance which can be helpful, or less so. Struggling with sin and unwanted feelings is difficult. ANd while repentance is part of this it is not all of it. A boy may have been sodomised as an adolescent and found himself attracted to males even though he does not want to be nor necessarily act on his desires. The focus on repentance of the feelings seems partly misplaced even though the fact… Read more »

Zachary Skrip
Member

Pr. Wilson, where did this discussion take place? I’ve been watching Pr. Bayly’s posts and your own. Thanks!

Shane Anderson
Member
bethyada
Member

Article 9. Absolutely agree. Whether the first is deficient is another question though. But it is true that those within and without the church have tried to equalise sexual sin. The degree of sin depends on whether one is in covenant with God, so a Christian adulterer is more culpable than a pagan one. But in terms of the actual behaviour, sodomy is not on par with fornication. And this is one of my concerns about the demands that the church apolgise for how it has treated homosexuals. The church has mistreated some at times. But she has also tried… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“Does the church need to apologise to all the paedophiles it hasn’t affirmed and loved how it should.” I think so. I am the church, we are the church, so anybody we have not loved the way we should, we should apologize to, repent of our failure to love “how we should.” This however, is not to be confused with social justice, reparations, or any other kind of secular demands. The key there however, is to “love as we should. ” So to “love a pedophile” is not to condone their behavior, nor is it too cover it up, nor… Read more »

bethyada
Member

As I said: The church has mistreated some at times.

But I put in these other options to get people thinking. Paul told the church to excommunicate the incester.

What does the church need to apologise to the gay community or to specific sodomites for? If they are involved in unrepentant sin it may be more that they want the church to continue to be inclusive when the church may be trying to protect the flock. Would the sodomite say the church needs to apologise when she treats a paedophile or a murderer the same way?

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

No, Bethyada, I think what a “sodomite” would say is that comparing gays to pedophiles and murderers is like comparing Christians to Nazis — that is, a comparison that, in addition to being completely off the mark, was only made in the first place for the specific purpose of giving offense.

bethyada
Member

Exactly my point. Gays want apologies (in part) because they think their behaviour is acceptable. Christianity teaches that sodomy is a very serious sin. But regardless of the seriousness of it, it needs to be repented of. Refusal to repent is an issue. If the church takes action against someone in the church for a sin that they refuse to repent of (say adultery or gossip) then there is no apology needed for the (specific) action taken.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

But if you read the story, the original sodomites were a gang of would-be rapists. You may disapprove of homosexuality on religious grounds, but to use the same name for consenting adult behavior as for attempted gang rape is so far off the mark that it’s hard to take seriously anything you say after that. Since neither pedophilia nor murder involve consenting adults, those aren’t on-point comparisons either. I don’t even see adultery as an apt comparison since adultery involves a broken promise and a betrayal of an innocent spouse. The only comparison I see that may be on target,… Read more »

bethyada
Member

K, there is more in the Bible than the judgment in Genesis. The Bible is quite clear that the act of sodomy is a serious sin and that continued behaviour keeps one out of God’s kingdom. There are various ways of assessing it as a sin and they show that God sees it as very serious, as serious as adultery and far more serious than fornication which is a much lesser sin. This explains the reaction of people to the Nashville Statement which reasserts centuries of Christian belief. Not certain why you object to the term sodomite, it has a… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Bethyada, it’s only sodomy if it involves attempted gang rape, since that’s what the original sodomites did. My comments were not intended as a general comment on the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality, on which we simply disagree. It’s on objection to the misuse of language to paint an entire group of people with something that has nothing to do with them. It’s roughly equivalent to saying that since Hitler was Catholic, that therefore Nazi is an appropriate description of all Christians.

bethyada
Member

You’re not Humpty Dumpty. Sodomy means anal sex between 2 males, usually referring to the active partner. This has been its meaning for centuries. The term is not limited to rape. In fact it has been used for anal sex between a man and a women, and even more broadly for gay sexual activity.

It possibly referred to the actions of the people of Sodom in general, not just their actions on the night before the destruction.

But use the term “buggery” instead in my original comment if you wish, the point is the same.

Krychek-2
Guest
Krychek-2

That a word has been misused for centuries does not change that it’s a misuse. Read Genesis 19. The men of Sodom were rapists.

bethyada
Member

Krycheck: “The word “sodomy” means what I determine it to mean and everyone who used it over hundreds of years and all the current dictionaries are wrong!”

You don’t see the overweening hubris in that?

Krychek-2
Guest
Krychek-2

The word sodomy means what was described in Genesis 19, which was attempted rape, and the fact that homophobic church fathers used it to smear all gay people does not change that. Your argument is with Genesis and not with me.

insanitybytes22
Member

Krychek, just some food for thought here, does something become moral simply because there is consent? I say nay, because there are children working in the sex industry who have been so damaged they believe they are consenting. The same can be true in BDSM , vampirism, and other oddities. IMO, when we introduce, manipulate, or brainwash consent, we have actually made the crime much worse. Child sexual abuse can be like that, a velvet glove exploitation far more damaging than outright rape. I say, the men of Sodom were rapists, actually making them less vile on account of the… Read more »

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

Krychek_2 said:

That a word has been misused for centuries does not change that it’s a misuse.

And yet, you use the modern version of the word “lesbian” with no concern of misuse.

Krychek-2
Guest
Krychek-2

I’ve never heard an objection to the use of the word lesbian. If there is an objection I’m unaware of ill be glad to hear it.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

i never have either, at least since I left junior high school where it was reputed that girls who wore red on Thursdays were the L word! “Sapphist” was an earlier word–understandably, since “Lesbia” was a common Christian name for Victorian girls.

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

This use of the term is considered offensive to many Lesbos islanders to such a degree that, in 2008, a group of Lesbos islanders litigated unsuccessfully a court case against the LGBT community of Greece. The islander group had requested a legal injunction to ban groups from using the word lesbian in their names, which the petitioners claim violated their human rights as it is “insulting” and disgraces them around the world. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesbos Now, since you have demonstrated your commitment to wooden originalism in word usage (the entymological fallacy notwithstanding), will you be consistent and change the subject to correct… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

I’m not a wooden originalist; the specific problem with using “sodomite” to refer generically to homosexuals is that the specific purpose in doing so is to impute to gays the sinfulness of Sodom’s attempted rapists. I don’t see a comparable problem with lesbian. I would say that lesbian more closely resembles the generic term “barbarian”, which at one time referred to a specific group of people, but today is a catch-all to describe a certain type of behavior or world view. And I guess the question would be what else to call female homosexuals. For political reasons, most of them… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Hi Bethyada. You’re right about British usage; sodomy for centuries referred only to anal sex as “the abominable and detestable crime against nature.” It is noteworthy that when the powers that be went after Oscar Wilde, they charged him only with gross indecency; had he been convicted of sodomy, he could have been imprisoned for life. American law has treated sodomy more inclusively, as covering any number of deviant sexual activities, including those committed by women. I think it is both an ugly and imprecise term, but I have no hope that people will stop using it.

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

Bethyada, it’s only sodomy if it involves attempted gang rape, since that’s what the original sodomites did.

Even if that was their only sin, you (being a lawyer and all) are familiar with the etymological fallacy, I would hope.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymological_fallacy

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Jigawatt, the problem here is not that the meaning of the word has changed over time. The problem is that using “sodomite” as a generic term for homosexual is done for the specific purpose of imputing to gays the evil that was Sodom.

Jill Smith
Member

Krychek, have you read the Justice Department’s amicus brief on the Masterpiece Cakeshop case that SCOTUS will be reviewing this term? https://www.scribd.com/document/358346765/Department-of-Justice-Masterpiece-Cakeshop-Amicus-Brief I thought the argument was weak, and leaves a bunch of other similarly placed Christians hanging in the wind. By making the whole thing about artistic expression, it seems to me that there will be no legal grounds on which the dress-seller or venue-owner will be able to refuse. I am not sure it would even cover cakes which have simply been copied from a catalogue. Tell me what you think when you have read it.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Jill, the only way the bake shop owner wins is by making the case about artistic expression. When civil rights laws protecting blacks were passed back in the 1960s, there was a whole lot of litigation by business owners who believed in racial segregation on religious grounds, and who claimed that being forced to serve blacks was against their religion. They lost. And the only way to give a religious exemption to anti-gay businesses would be to re-visit all of those cases and allow racial discrimination on religious grounds as well, something that is not going to happen. There either… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Perhaps I am being dense, but I can’t see how a compelled speech argument can work here. Ordinarily the government can’t demand that I use my artistic talents, if any, to oblige it or anyone it favors. No one can come to my door and demand that I sing “The Voice that Breathed O’er Eden” at his wedding. But what if I have yellow page and internet ads indicating that, for the low price of $500, I will sing at any wedding and use my artistic gifts to shatter glass and the wedding guests’ nerves? If I then say, “Well,… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Jill, the point is not that something fits generally within the category of artistic expression. The point is that the specific words being spoken (or written on a cake) violate the conscience. So, if you are a professional wedding soloist who sings The Voice that Breathed O’er Eden at heterosexual weddings, I don’t think you can refuse to sing it at a gay wedding just because it’s a gay wedding. It’s not the words that you object to, but the fact that you’re being asked to sing it for gay people. (Why they would want it, since the words are… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I understand the point you are making. You’re distinguishing between “gay wedding cake” and “cake for a wedding that happens to be gay.” If the baker had refused to make a “God bless Adam and Steve” cake, he would be on surer ground. But he turned the gay couple away before he had a chance to listen to what they had in mind–in other words, it could have been a plain white cake, but he was not prepared to make it because his religious beliefs prohibit gay marriage. So, I don’t see how artistic content is going to help him… Read more »

bethyada
Member

make a cake for a wedding between two dogs

Though this could be as a parody?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

It could be, but it weakens his argument. I would not make a first communion cake (or tiny white dress and veil) for my cat. (If I ever were to remarry, I might make tiny Lord Fauntleroy suits for my Maine Coon ringbearers, but that is different.)

bethyada
Member

Except the gay couple were not asking for a parody cake.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Jill, because his lawyers are playing the hand they’ve been dealt. Yes, the baker would have a much stronger case if he hadn’t said stupid things at the very beginning of the case that are now coming back to haunt him, but he did, and there’s no going back now to fix it. The facts are what they are. So there are really only three ways his lawyers can play this. First, they can try to get the Supreme Court to find that there is a general conscience exception to civil rights laws. I view that as a dubious strategy… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

You’re probably right, and I am looking forward to the arguments. I understand the constraints upon his lawyers. What surprised me is that this is the Justice Department’s amicus brief. If they wanted to get involved for the purpose of helping Christians avoid prosecutions for conscience cases, they have chosen so narrow an argument that it is not likely to help most people. I am surprised at the JD’s presenting an argument that I, as a layperson, can so quickly determine is flawed.

Krychek-2
Guest
Krychek-2

Well, this is the Trump Justice Department we’re talking about.

JP Stewart
Member

As opposed to the wonderful Obama JD. Holder’s Fast & Furious, his refusal to prosecute his buddy Jon Corzine (a Bernie Madoff type), his refusal to prosecute the New Black Panthers for voter intimidation, TravelGate, etc. Or lest we forget Loretta Lynch’s tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton. Or her statement suggesting the JD investigate speech deemed hostile towards Muslims…goodbye 1st Amendment, hello 1984.

Yes, those good ol’ days.

Krychek-2
Guest
Krychek-2

JP my point is not that I agreed with everything Holder did and disagree with everything Sessions does. My point is that Sessions wins the Colonel George Custer award for picking battles he’s almost certain to lose.

paulm01
Member

So two customers of Masterpice Bakery, who the owner knew prior, conveniently forget to mention during their ordering that the “wedding” cake they were discussing with Jack Phillips was for them. When Jack inquired who it was for, and they finally admitted it (fully aware Jack was a Christian), Jack paused then stated he could not make the cake for this occasion but would be happy to sell them anything else in the shop, even offered another shop down the road. Not good enough for these two, who by all accounts set this up. Instead these two “wonderfully sensitive homosexual… Read more »

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

Krychek_2 said:

comparing gays to pedophiles and murderers is like comparing Christians to Nazis — that is, a comparison that, in addition to being completely off the mark, was only made in the first place for the specific purpose of giving offense.

Except for the murder of unborn persons*, right? #ShoutYourAbortion and all that.

*Term used by Secretary Clinton, who is a woman, mother, and lawyer.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

No apologies are even possible without a clear agreement on the grounds for offense and the role the church may have played. We don’t have that agreement, even among ourselves.

bethyada
Member

Other comments.

Article 12, good improvement.

Article 15, really just a grammatical tense preference.

On effemininity. Don’t mind the changes, though I suspect that Paul was using malakoi to mean catamite at times.

Daniel Fisher
Member

I’m a bit new to this discussion, and just got myself caught up. Is it possible the “thick” and “thin” complementarians are talking past each other to some degree? I recognize some elements of truth on both sides: On the one hand, I recognize that scripture’s most clear and unambiguous instruction about the outworking of God’s complementarian design does regard roles in home and church, and presents them in the category of absolute uncompromising standards. That is, there is never an appropriate time where a woman ought usurp her husband’s authority, etc. On the other hand, I completely agree that… Read more »

Daniel Fisher
Member

Belay my last, it seems someone already had already beat me to it and had some time ago clearly made the very point I was trying to make here, the idea about general principles and yet with specific detailed applications in church and family. I must concur with what I read here:

https://dougwils.com/books/the-creation-order-and-sarah.html

Mark Olivero
Guest

Just looked up “asymmetrical” and sure enough, a synonym for it is “unequal”
…and I notice that a synonym of “symmetrical” is, yep, “equal”
So simple, isn’t it?

Jane
Member

Just because something is listed as a synonym does not mean that it means precisely the same thing in every context. It means that the meaning is similar and sometimes interchangeable, not the same and always interchangeable.

insanitybytes22
Member

“Equal” is a really difficult word,too. It works fine in math, but when we start trying to apply it to the natural world, apples are not equal to oranges. Even stickier when it comes to trying to define people.

Mark Olivero
Guest

Well then, I wonder if “apples” aren’t “oranges” or are they? And also it appears to me that “apples and oranges” is not Math. So if “trying to define people” is “stickier” can I be sure I’m not you and you aren’t me? My point is that it may be easier that the EFS crowd thinks it is.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Regarding revised article 10: WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of effeminacy, homosexual immorality, and transgenderism, and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness, barring a man or woman from the kingdom of God. Is this intended to say that any Christian who does not condemn effeminacy or transgenderism is barred from the Kingdom of God? Should there be a clear definition of effeminacy here? Are we making the proper distinction between the low-T man who is perfectly chaste and obedient, yet who would be described by a casual observer as effeminate in… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

Something kind of interesting , Jilly, effeminate used to mean self-indulgent and soft. So you could be out chasing women like crazy and people would call you an “effeminate cad,” foppish and vain, self indulgent.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Yes, like a macaroni! Did every child think that it was the feather which was called macaroni and not the fop who wore it? I know I did!