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Note that these valuable resources only really share one viewpoint. If you would like to also look at other viewpoints, you will need to look elsewhere. You can, for example, check out the "Hesed Project" ( for a kind of "open dialogue"/middle ground sort of conversational space. You can also check out All One Body ( for a more "liberal" (for lack of a better word) perspective. FWIW, I recommend checking out all three, plus checking out the Hekman library's collection of documents relating to the HSR ( Doing so will make anyone far more well-informed than just checking out the one perspective offered by the Abide Project.

I would like to agree with you that this is the "most important" section of the HSR. Unfortunately, I can't agree with you. Why? Because, when I was at Synod in 2016 exactly what you ask for here (or, rather, wish that churches and Classes would ask for), "practical, actionable resources for becoming congregations of true belonging", was presented to Synod, only to be soundly voted down, and replaced this committee. This committee which, in my opinion, negates to a significant degree what it says in section 13 by not honestly dealing with opposing viewpoints on same sex marriage and by stating things like sexual sins being a "risk" to someone's salvation. Not only are statements like that contrary to our beliefs, but they also do not convey "love", and certainly do not forward congregations being able to become "congregations of true belonging."

Lastly, I cannot agree that this is, effectively, the most important section of the HSR because the co-autthour whom you quote says that [they] know of no churches that are heeding the calling of earlier Synods regarding the acceptance and love we ought to be practicing for our LGBTQ+ siblings in Christ. This, again (and sadly) indicates that this authour's knowledge of what is and has been going on for a long time in the churches is lacking. I have to agree that there are not many churches that are doing this work succesfully, but there ARE many who are trying. Additionally, there are some--whether we agree with their theology on same sex marriage or not--who are indeed embracing and accepting and loving those who are in the LGBTQ+ community. Neeland Avenue CRC and First CRC, Toronto are two great examples. Even if someone doesn't agree with their affirming stance on same-sex marriage, one would have to agree, I think, that they are being very successful at loving their LGBTQ+ neighbours and members.

Wouldn't it be great if, instead of simply standing and condemning our sister congregations for their "liberal" and/or "heretical" stances, we could dive into what their actually doing and draw some good lessons for how we could learn from them, without comprimising what we hold to be our biblical beliefs?

Posted in: Hermeneutics 101

I'm curious as to what the point of this article is. There are a lot of statements here that are problematic, but so what? What is the authour trying to say, beyond quizzing readers on how good they are at identifying logical errors (out of context too, unfortunately). Truth be told, the article doesn't even seem to be about "hermeneutics" at all--rather it seems to be about "spotting the logical errors"--which is not the same thing. 

Posted in: Hermeneutics 101

Posted in: Hermeneutics 101

I hear you, and appreciate the importance and significance of not only your experience with the "older brother" churches. It is also dismaying to me that anyone would want to quash information about how brothers and sisters in Christ are praying for us--even if we might not agree with what they are praying for, we can certainly (I would hope) heartily agree with and appreciate their desire to pray for us, just as, I would hope, we would want to pray for them.

As to the points you list, I will try to respond to them point by point.

a. I am well aware of the reality that "North American Evangelicalism" (NAE) is not the centre of global Christianity. Personally, I think it was (and is, for some, I suppose) tremendous hubris for us to think that NAE was ever the global centre of Christianity. As far as I can tell, it never was. That being said, and though I respect very much our bothers and sisters past, present, future and globally, there is a very biblical sense of the relevance of contextualisation. Not that you don't know this, of course, but many things in the Bible (articulations of particular applications of general Biblical laws and principles) are not universally applicable in all of our current contexts. Where it may be right and good for people to wear hats in church in some places and times, in other places and times it is not good--not because there is something inherently wrong with wearing a hat, but because the practical application of the general principle differs in different contexts. And so, again, while appreciating and respecting our brothers and sisters throughout time and space, their understanding of our situation, though no doubt valuable and important, would be no more nor less applicable than ours of their contexts. 

Additionally, and sadly, the "centre" of Christianity, in my experience, has very little to do with the "rightness" of what is taught from that "center". I say this not particularly of Niger (or any other place), but in recognition of the reality that when the "centre of global Christianity was (arguably) in Europe during the later middle, renaissance, industrial and modern eras the church had the terrible shame of teaching that race-based slavery, colonialism, religious wars, conversion by force, state sponsored religion, and that the Earth was flat and that the sun, moon and stars revolved around it were all good and right and incontrivertable principles of the faith.

In conclusion, on part "a" then, part of me says--"Yes, it is very important to acknowledge and respect and listen to our brothers and sister throughout the world and throughout time." Another part of me says, "Well, who cares (honestly) what other people think, if it's wrong? There's an awful lot of evidence that suggests that the past is no guarantee of rightness in the future/present, and the majority is no guarantee either."

b. Certainly church history is incredibly important in informing our present (and our future). And there is no end of respect that must be given to those who have lived through persecution and/or who have been martyred for the cause of Christ. I would take issue with your statement that "churches from the global south are very much less prone to be carried downstream on the waves of the spirit of the age." The truth is that Satan love to "tailor make" our temptations to our contexts. Though the "spirit of the age" looks a certain way in North America, and though the global south may not be as tempted to fall to that particular form of the spirit of the age, they have their own "tailor made" spirit of the age and are, perhaps, more tempted to fall to that spirit than we are in our contexts. God does not exclude people based on geography (or anything else either--other than non-repentance), but neither does Satan. 

The evidence for this is everywhere in the global south. Witness the temptation to struggle with prosperity gospel, or the syncretism of Roman Catholicism with voodoo in some parts of the world, or the terrors of the Rwandan Genocide, largely perpetrated by "Christians". 

Understand that I say this not because North Americans are "better"--we're so very definitely not--but just to say that, while I agree very much that we need to listen in all humility to our brothers and sisters throughout the world and throughout our past, we should not fool ourselves into thinking somehow that, because they are not tempted by the same things we are, they are therefore to be listened to more than our own discernment of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures and their application in our own contexts.

c. The global and historical church has indeed had a lot of time and experience to hammer out what it believes and why--I agree! We, in North America, are part of that history. I love to do some genealogical research as a hobby. I can trace back more than 400 years of "Reformed" people in my own family--and that's only as far back as I've been able to trace so far. And, while I agree that we (by the grace of God) throughout the world have gotten a lot of the really big stuff right (on paper at least), there are a huge number of areas where we have gotten it wrong too:

- Colonialism and the persecution and genocide of indigenous peoples.

- Conversion by the sword, through the crusades and beyond.

- Political corruption of the church (and church corruption of politics too).

- Hate for people based on their culture, religion, skin colour, gender, age, etc.

- Shunning of science.

- The arrogance of a "holier than thou" approach to the world

- The pretense of living in "Christendom" and the heresy of "Christian Nationalism"

- and on, and on, and on....


I am advocating for epistemic humility. I agree that, done poorly I suppose, it could lead to one becoming "agnostic of anything", however it does not necessarily lead to that, if one is careful. Additionally, a great deal of humility is, in my opinion, necessary to correcting the great deal of arrogance that the church has evidenced, globally, and in North America, over the past 1800 years or so.

This is why it is so important, in my opinion, for us to take Karl Barth's tack on dogmatics. To paraphrase: "Dogmatics is the church scientifically examining her talk (both in words and deeds) of God in light of the scripture." Notice that, though the global church and the history of the church should be implicitly an important part of that examination of our talk, it is, on purpose, I believe, relegated to the implicit. The explicit is Scripture--all else is subservient to that.

I personally find Dr. Goheen's post to be a straw-man argument. He sets up a weak "affirmational" case and then knocks it down as if that settled the matter. The truth is--regardless of my personal views--there are many affirmational arguments that are much stronger than what Dr. Goheen suggests here.

Perhaps the clearest example of this "straw-man" setup is this quote: "I am aware that there is a growing literature that is attempting to rework the traditional biblical texts that oppose homosexuality to show that, in fact, they do not stand against faithful expressions of lifelong commitment."

In this quote, Dr. Goheen totally biases his readers by saying that people who are looking at the scriptures and interpreting them affirmationally are "reworking" the biblical texts. Of course, this would be very contrary to our hermeneutic and contrary to the clear prescriptions of Scripture themselves. My experience, however, is that while, yes, there are some people who seem to try selectively rework scriptures to their own ends (in both traditionalist and affirmational camps), the best arguments come from those with a very high view of scripture who are not at all trying to "rework" scripture, but are, instead, honestly, prayerfully and in an academically rigorous and hermeneutically sound way trying to wrestle with what the scriptures actually mean -- both in their original setting and for us today as well.

In short this article, with all due respect, is, IMHO, logically flawed and disappointing in its lack of depth and nuance.

"Now I take a very low view of 'climates of opinion'. In [their] own subject every [person] knows that all discoveries are made and all errors corrected by those who ignore the 'climate of opinion'."

~ The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis


Neither, Don,

As I read the article by Dr. Goheen, one of his key points is that, since the "global church" holds to the "traditional" interpretation of bible passages supposedly about homosexuality, we ought to stick with that same view. However, my understanding is that the reformers (Calvin, etc.), and C.S. Lewis, and logic itself all argue against going with the "majority" simply because it's the majority.

1. The Reformers said that, contrary to the habit of the Roman Catholic Church at the time, we should NOT give particular weight to the "tradition" of the church, but that ONLY scripture mattered.

2. Lewis, as pointed out in this quote, recognizes that correcting old and incorrect beliefs ONLY happens when people don't worry too much about what "the majority" thinks.

3. The rules of logic tell us that an argument based on what "the majority" thinks is no argument at all. It is akin to the old illustration, "If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?" No? Well maybe that's because what "the majority" believes has no relevance whatsoever to what is actually right/correct.

I hear what you're saying, Andrew. My problem is that I think that both sides of this discussion often engage in shoddy theology. I read through Dr. Cooper's paper, and while I agree with the criticisms he levels against the GRE report, I have to acknowledge that I have often heard/read papers on the other side of the ledger that are just as bad.

To me it still comes down to wrestling with the Biblical text using a truly reformed hermeneutic and not finding it to be quite as cut-and-dried as many of us have previously thought. I don't KNOW what I believe on this issue, because, while some arguments from both sides are illogical and anti-biblical, other arguments from both sides seem to me to be legitimate from a biblical standpoint.

As to your comments regarding where the discussion has gone and how easy it would be to argue that "fluidity in biological sex, gender expression and gender identity is Biblical"--I agree. It's very possible that the hermeneutics out there would lead that way. But I say two things to that:

1) That might be because the hermeneutics are flawed, just like Dr. Cooper says. If so, it is important that we struggle and strive to correct those errors. Karl Barth said (to paraphrase) that theology is the task of the church constantly examining herself in the light of the revelation of scripture. Healthy theological discussion is a significant part of the "iron sharpening iron" that we read about in the scriptures, IMHO.

2) Not that I want us to go there (I really don't know where I stand--I'm still thinking, and pondering and praying and reading and researching ant talking)--but what would happen if we said that "fluidity in biological sex, gender expression and gender identity is Biblical"? What would that do to the Gospel? Would it mean that Jesus is no longer Lord? Would it mean that Jesus is no longer the only way to salvation? Would it cancel out the witness of the gospel? What would happen to our faith if we came to believe that the Bible's teaching on sexuality is actually more nuanced and differs from what we've thought for a long time?

It feels to me like nothing would really happen that would be negative to the gospel. Jesus would still be Lord. He would still be the way, the truth and the life. Scriptures would still be valid.

It would be just like the debates on the other topics mentioned in this thread: six-twenty-four-hour-day creationism, baptism, hymns vs. psalms only, gravity, etc. None of those things killed the witness of the gospel, and this won't either, I don't think.

And last, but not least I wonder about your statement that "A communion that wishes to have meaningful unity must share basic rules for interpreting the Bible." I have two questions about that too:

1) Why? What does it matter? We have a great deal of diversity already in the way we interpret scripture within our denomination. We have people who believe that women should not serve in ecclesiastical office and we have those who think that this is perfectly fine. Obviously, they are interpreting scripture differently according to different rules. This seems to be working out okay in the long run (though clearly it has been a difficult thing, and continues to be a struggle--but who says that's bad?). So why would we need to all interpret the scripture the same way here?

2) Further, if we did agree that there need to be some "basic rules for interpreting the Bible" as you suggest, then where would you draw the line? How do you know that your rules are better than mine or someone else's? Does everyone have to interpret ALL of the scriptures exactly the same way? Even Paul seems to argue against that when he says that "one person will honor one day above the others, and another will honor all days the same--as long as they do so to the Lord [it's okay]" (badly paraphrased, but that the sense of it). In there he also asks us why we argue about debatable matters and encourages us to be generous to one another (Ro. 14). Why can't we be generous to one another here too? Hasn't the debate on this shown us that this may well be one of the "debatable matters" that Paul is indirectly alluding too? 

I wasn't there at this meeting, nor am I a supporter of A1B. I find it interesting and disturbing, however, that the language used in this post seems inflammatory and inaccurate, at least from what the A1B website states.

You say, "A1B wants the CRC to normalize and celebrate homosexual activity, bisexual activity, and transgender identity in a fully-inclusive environment.", but that is not what their website says. It says, "All One Body affirms and celebrates with all Christians who unite in committed, monogamous relationships patterned after Christ’s bond with his church."

There is a very significant difference between saying that they want to "normalize and celebrate homosexual activity" versus saying that they want to, for example, normalize and celebrate committed, monogamous relationships."

It would be like saying that the rest of the church has "normalized and celebrated" ALL heterosexual activity (including polygamy, rape, heterosexual incest, pornography, prostitution, etc.--as long as it's "heterosexual"). This is, of course ridiculous, but without being careful with your language you are (I hope unintentionally) using inaccurate and inflammatory language. If we have truly been given a ministry of reconciliation through Christ (2 Cor. 5:11-21), then using language like this is not helpful.

With all due respect, Keith, I don't think that this quote is as devastating as it sounds at first. The reality of the matter is that it is absolutely true that using the scriptures to try to "convince" people of things is of dubious value at best--in my own experience, throughout church history, and in the bible itself.

In my own experience, and, I suspect in yours too, the number of times that people actually change their opinion because of what you or I might say that the Bible says is pretty limited. How many people do you know who were convinced that they should become a Christian because someone argued successfully that the scriptures were true? Isn't it more often the case that people see our relationship with Jesus, and as we share with them our love, our beliefs (in words and deeds), and the difference it has made in our lives, along with the working of the Spirit in their lives, and their own experiences that they develop a relationship with God? In short, I believe that the vast majority of people don't get argued into the Kingdom, but rather that the Spirit woos them into the Kingdom through experience and relationship.

But even aside from conversion, the truth is too that Christians have been arguing over what the Bible says (or doesn't say) for as long as the church has existed. Everything from whether the body and soul are two separate things (an issue Paul's epistles address), to whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, or only the Father, to whether baptism should be performed on infants and new believers, or only new believers....the list goes on an on. And NO ONE has come with the "knock-out" biblical punch that convinces everyone else that their interpretation of the Bible is right, and everyone else is just heretical (or "unbiblical" if we want to be slightly nicer.

Even the Bible acknowledges that the scriptures can be misused. Goodness, Satan himself quotes scripture at Jesus, and it is up to Jesus to resist the false inferences that Satan brings up. Additionally, where did the different religious parties of Jesus' day come from if not from differing interpretations of scripture!

So, I hate to say it, but it is sometime true that scripture is not really that useful for "convincing" others of the rightness of our position (regardless of what that position may be).

One last thing, for now, I guess. Just a question:

Where does the Bible talk about committed, monogamous same sex relationships?

--Genesis 19 (Sodom & Gomorrah) is about rape and the breaking of hospitality law

--Leviticus 18 & 20 seems to be about temple prostitution and promiscuity, and is in the context of many other "laws" that Christians don't feel beholden to today.

--Rom. 1 seems to be about over-the-top lust (of all kinds), self-centeredness and greed.

--1 Cor. 6 seems to be in the context of people who claim that the "spirit" is separate from the "body" and so they can do whatever they want in body--including having sex with temple prostitutes, and engaging in promiscuity.

--1 Tim. 1 seems to again be about promiscuity and temple prostitution.

So what's left? Where does the bible address the idea of a committed, monogamous same-sex relationship?

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