Tue May 21, 2013
by Amanda Edmondson
From prison to ReTrain: Russell’s story
Mon May 20, 2013
9 types of leaders in Scripture
Mon May 20, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
5 bits of wisdom for the professional Christian woman
Sun May 19, 2013
by Shandel Slaten
Sat May 18, 2013
by Hugh Whelchel
J.I. Packer on Homosexuality
Sitting Down with J.I. Packer
Perhaps my favorite time in Orlando was spent in a small group with Dr. J. I. Packer. It is hard to overestimate Packer’s impact on evangelical Christianity. The graciousness he afforded me to sit on a couch and ask him questions for more than an hour was humbling and helpful. He is very clear minded at age eighty-two and he remains incredibly conversant, insightful, and witty. Impressively, his words are impeccably precise.
As we sat on the couch together, he explained that Anglicanism is patterned after the ancient Roman governmental system so that a bishop has jurisdiction over a geographic area. However, this long-established ecclesiological pattern has been breached because Anglicanism is suffering from “heretical bishops.” By “heretical bishops,” Packer was referring to those bishops who sanction homosexual activity. He explained that the “heretical bishops” won support for their position following much lobbying. This sadly required Bible-believing Anglican churches to come under the authority of other orthodox bishops outside of their geographic area rather than remain under “heretical bishops.”
Homosexuality: A Heretical Issue
When asked about calling those who support homosexuality and profess to be Christian “heretical,” Packer very carefully and insightfully explained what he meant. He began by saying that as Christians we are tempted to sin in many ways, including homosexuality. However, because God has saved us through Jesus and empowered us with the Holy Spirit, we are to practice ongoing repentance of sin and rejection of sinful desires. He explained in great detail that he perceives the approval of homosexuality to be “heretical” because it denies a fundamental aspect of the gospel—namely repentance. Packer explained how for six years he called his Anglican Diocese to repent of their sinful support of unrepentant homosexual activity, to no avail. Eventually, his own archbishop sought to pull his license (essentially his ordination or credentials) as a punitive measure. In the end, Packer, along with roughly thirty Anglican churches, came out from under their “heretical” leadership to form a new Anglican alliance. Returning to the issue of denying a fundamental aspect of the gospel (repentance), he explained that 1 Corinthians 6:9–11 says,
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
Packer was clear that those who do not call Christians to repent of homosexual activity are, as Scripture says, “deceived.” He told me that the first of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses was that the whole of a Christian’s life is to be one of repentance of sin. Any Christian who does not practice and promote repentance is denying an aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I asked how the denial of repentance merited the label of “heretical,” Packer said, “ “‘Heresy’ ought to be used when an aspect of the gospel is being denied.” He further explained that because God through Paul warns the Corinthians that those who practice homosexuality unrepentantly will be damned to hell, “Souls are put at risk every time homosexuality is tolerated.”
Starting a New Religion?
In keeping with Packer’s line of reasoning, I asked him if those who are “heretical” in promoting homosexual activity while declaring themselves to be Christian are in effect promoting a new religion based upon a false gospel, like Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He said, “You could describe it that way and it’s what they are doing.”
My Time on the Road
I recently spent a packed week preaching and teaching in London and Brighton, England, with Newfrontiers Network and other organizations. It was a grueling schedule, but Pastor Scott Thomas, who directs the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, and I learned a great deal and met some amazing people whom we thoroughly enjoyed.
On the way home we stopped over in Orlando, Florida, at the International Christian Retail Show. I did my first-ever book signing there, which was fun since Crossway Books was gracious enough to give away over two hundred copies of Vintage Jesus, which I penned with Dr. Gerry Breshears. We ran out of copies and I shook hands, prayed for people, and signed books for more than two hours.
I was also honored to speak on “A Passion for People” from Matthew 9:35–38 at the 70th anniversary banquet for Crossway. They also debuted the English Standard Version Study Bible due out in the fall. Jerry Bridges, Wayne Grudem, J. I. Packer, and Lane Dennis spoke at the event as well. In attendance were R. C. Sproul, Jack Graham, Roger Nicole, and others whom I had the honor of meeting. I was one of the only people in the room not in a suit, as I somehow missed the dress code, but everyone was gracious despite my black button-up shirt with skulls and crossbones and matching Affliction boots covered in serpents.
The entire night was very moving, and the debut of the ESV Study Bible is incredibly exciting as it promises to be the most thorough and helpful study Bible ever produced.
More to Come...