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Dr. Robert Gagnon responds to Alan Chamber’s letter in Christianity Today

July 25, 2012 By: Tom Coy Category: Ex-gay News, Religious Perspective

July 19, 2012

Theologian Dr. Robert Gagnon is not giving Alan Chambers a pass on theological issues he believes Chambers has distorted and minimized. Gagnon’s critique of Chambers’ letter is in four areas. Below are excerpts from all four areas discussed in Dr. Gagnon’s essay “Being a ‘Simple-Minded Jesus Lover’ Is No Excuse for Really Bad Theology:”

“Alan’s first strategy is to play the ‘aw, shucks’ humble card. He’s not a Bible scholar or a theologian, he says, but just a ‘simple-minded Jesus lover,’ neither Calvinist nor Arminian. As ‘just a Christian,’ Alan can rise above the controversy (‘That argument is so last year’) to tell us what the Bible really says. This posture, however, does not entitle him to avoid the hard work of actually reading Scripture contextually (as opposed to cherry-picking favorite texts) and revising his theology when others point out the problems in his interpretation of Scripture.”

… “Alan’s second strategy is to cherry-pick some Scripture texts that he then reads out of context to mean the opposite of what the scriptural author intended. Alan cites three scriptures in defense of his viewpoint. He begins by citing John 3:16, though it gets him nowhere. Apparently Alan construes from the verse’s assurance of eternal life to ‘everyone who believes in him’ that no amount of sinful behavior could ever call into question one’s salvation.”

… “Alan’s third strategy is to attack Christians who disagree with him as ‘hypocritical and inconsistent,’ using flawed analogies in an attempt at shaming Christians for not treating all sins alike. This is Alan’s main defense. He reasons that if we declare that a ‘willful’ homosexually active life excludes someone from the kingdom of God, then any ‘willful’ sin should get a believer excluded, including pride, alcoholism, gluttony, and looking at heterosexual pornography. Alan then drives his argument home to its logical (but absurd) conclusion: ‘If we exercised church discipline across the board based on the outward and inward sin running rampant in the body of Christ, there would be no one left.’”

… “Alan’s fourth and final strategy is to obscure the real issue by appealing to his own good character. Alan closes his defense by assuring readers that he does not engage in homosexual practice, nor does he regard homosexual practice as a moral good. He adds that Christians are never going to resolve ‘the debates surrounding eternal security’ or ‘whether or not someone can be actively gay and a believer.’ These observations throw up a smokescreen that obscures the real issue here. The real issue isn’t about Alan’s character or about whether he believes homosexual practice is sin or even about eternal security.”

“The real issue is, specifically, Alan’s assurance of salvation to self-professed Christians who engage in homosexual practice and have no intention of repenting. This, in turn, is a manifestation of a more general theological problem: Alan’s adoption of an extreme view of ‘once saved, always saved’ that does not regard a transformed life as a necessary byproduct of justifying faith but rather treats a life led by the Spirit of Christ as optional for salvation.”

“In supplanting the view of Scripture on such matters, Alan is playing the role of judge. For he is providing assurances of salvation in instances where the Jesus and the NT authors issue warnings about exclusion from God’s kingdom. Those who are already abusing God’s grace in carrying out serial-unrepentant sin of an egregious sort are being encouraged (whether Alan thinks so or not) to carry on with that abuse. This is not acceptable behavior for a president of Exodus International.”

The full text of Dr. Gagnon’s response to Alan Chambers’ letter can be found at: