Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Who Needs a Shared Theology When We Have Relationship

There is no refuge for those who would like to avoid the same-sex marriage/blessing issue facing today's Christians. Even the Southern Baptists are losing ministers to the LGBT phenomenon. Al Mohler discussed this last week in his post, "There Is No ‘Third Way’ — Southern Baptists Face a Moment of Decision (and so will you)" about a renegade pastor in suburban L.A. who wrote to his congregation,
“I realized I no longer believed in the traditional teachings regarding homosexuality,” and said that his aim was to see the congregation “allow for grace in the midst of disagreement,” and to  “agree to disagree and not cast judgment on one another.”
Does any of that sound familiar?

In a vote (remember this is a congregational church) which is probably more reflective of personal affection than theological discernment, the church is standing by their man,

...the church voted on May 18 not to dismiss the pastor and “to instead become a Third Way church.”
What in the world is a "Third Way church"? A quick internet search will show you that a number of groups and denominations have used the term "Third Way" to mean any of a number of different things.

I suspect the "Third Way church" in the present context is a Utopian dream. The dream is that love and relationship can hold a church together despite the deep differences in theology which come from two very different gospels.

Albert Mohler spots a flaw in the Third Way model right away,

The impossibility of a “third way” is made clear in Pastor Cortez’s own letter.
In one paragraph, he writes:
“So now, we will accept the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship. We will choose to remain the body of Christ and not cast judgement. We will work towards graceful dialogue in the midst of theological differences. We wee that this is possible in the same way that our church holds different positions on the issue of divorce and remarriage. In this issue we are able to not cast judgement in our disagreement.”
But in the very next paragraph, he writes:
“Unfortunately, many who voted to remain traditional will now separate from us in a couple of weeks. We are in the period of reconciliation and forgiveness. Please pray for us in this. Then on June 8, we will formally peacefully separate, restate our love for one another, and bless each other as we part ways. It has been a very tiring and difficult process.”
Sometimes the loving thing to do is to tell someone that they err, and if they agree to disagree, then to shake the dust from your feet because there is no third way, and in the long run, any church that tries it is doomed to failure.

From a separate post at the Gospel Coalition,
“It’s an unwitting decision to think that we don’t need to be held together by shared theology and a shared understanding of the gospel, but by relationships, shared institutions, and a general sense that we all want to do good in the world.” University Reformed Church (URC) in East Lansing, Michigan pastor Kevin DeYoung. 
I have yet to encounter a church that can stay together when its theological framework starts separating from the central picture. Love can keep us from coming to fisticuffs over our differences, and love should keep us from going to the secular courts, but can love really keep a church together if we are loving a different gospel?


  1. Pewster,
    I am reminded of Acts Chapter 2:1. "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place." What happened the the 'one accord' part?

  2. P.S. Love didn't keep them together. They are divorcing after 39 years of marriage.

  3. The authorized version has the "one accord" but most modern translations leave that out. I have seen it sometimes translated as "the believers." Would the Holy Spirit come if the believers were not together both physically and theologically as well? Hmmm... can a group really be called a group of believers if they are not in one accord?

  4. The Captain and Tennielle divorce was one of the reasons I picked that video. ;-)