The New York Times recently found themselves taken to task by writers presenting themselves as fellow evangelicals. Their essay reveals the central question that evangelicals must now answer: Do we really believe that the Bible is the Word of God?Actually, that is not what Giberson and Stephens are about in the least. Mohler takes a sort of ‘Ken Hammish’ approach here (and I don't mean this in a positive way) by suggesting broadly that the concern that Giberson and Stephens are voicing is not really why evangelicals are anti-science but rather that they have rejected belief in the Bible. Let's see what Giberson and Stephens actually write:
Like other evangelicals, we accept the centrality of faith in Jesus Christ and look to the Bible as our sacred book, though we find it hard to recognize our religious tradition in the mainstream evangelical conversation. Evangelicalism at its best seeks a biblically grounded expression of Christianity that is intellectually engaged, humble and forward-looking. In contrast, fundamentalism is literalistic, overconfident and reactionary.This sounds perfectly reasonable. Why would Mohler paint it as a rejection of the Bible? Let's read on to find out. In the original New York Times article, Giberson and Stephens argue as their central point that modern evangelicals and GOP candidates are ‘anti-science’ but then make an odd mis-step. They profile some modern leaders of the modern evangelical movement, including Ken Ham (fish? barrel?), David Barton (who rather hilariously argued that the founding fathers of the country had already addressed and rejected the theory of evolution) and James Dobson, who, they argue, has outdated ideas about homosexuality and actually agrees with spanking children and...
Come again? What has any of that to do with their central premise? From my point of view, not much. Further, it opens them up to Dr. Mohler, who blasts away with both barrels. He writes:
Appearing on the October 20, 2011 edition of National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation program, Giberson argued that homosexuality should not be much of a concern at all. He revealed even more of his own approach to the Bible by asserting that “there’s just a handful of proof text[s] scattered throughout the Bible about homosexuality,” adding: “Jesus said absolutely nothing about it.”For your average evangelical, who is familiar with passages in the Old Testament:
That hardly represents an honest or respectful approach to dealing with the Bible’s comprehensive and consistent revelation concerning human sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular. Is Romans 1, for example, just a scattered proof text? Is not all of the Bible God’s Word? Well, Giberson has already made his view of the Bible clear — it is simply “trumped” by science when describing the natural world.
Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. (Leviticus 18: 22)and in the New Testament:
We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (1 Timothy: 1:10-11)it is pretty hard to square that what Giberson is saying is scriptural in any sense.
Why is the passage on homosexuality a problem? It is a problem because if Mohler can show that Giberson and Stephens are not scripturally sound in this area, why should they be believed on the subject of science in general and evolution in specific? Is it not just another aspect of their secular viewpoint?
Whether or not there are arguments for interpreting the above verses in a different way than the way they come across is practically irrelevant here. Giberson and Stephens might just as well have donned bright red Star Trek ‘Enterprise Security’ shirts. It does not matter that Mohler knows little about evolutionary biology, the fossil record, or the geological record. That is no longer the issue at hand. The issue at hand is the “secular knowledge” that is being espoused by Giberson and Stephens, which is at odds with the vast majority of evangelicals. In one swift move, Mohler is able to link acceptance of evolution with liberal teaching on homosexuality. After reading Giberson's and Stephens' New York Times essay, why would your average evangelical even think about changing their minds about evolution?
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