A Signer of the Nasvhille Statement Says that He and His Fellow Signers are Like Modern Day John the Baptists

Read Owen Strachan’s piece here.  (Try to move beyond the part, if you can, where he implies that those who did not sign The Nashville Statement are allowing paganism to creep into the church).

A taste:

The stance just taken by CBMW and the ERLC, in partnership with warm-hearted, Christ-loving evangelicals across the denominational spectrum, reminds me of another controversial public stance. Two millennia ago, John the Baptist came preaching Christ. His message was the Messiah; his call was to holiness. As John preached, he somehow gained the ear of Herod, a political leader. John had access to Herod, and he had the priceless opportunity to tell him of his need for spiritual salvation. Surely John spoke of these things.

But that was not all he said to Herod.

John the Baptist rebuked Herod for divorcing his wife and marrying his half-brother’s spouse, Herodias. Matthew’s Gospel gives a succinct record of John’s words to Herod: “It is not lawful for you to have her” (Matthew 14:4). We have no extended prologue, no longer record of how the conversation went. Scholar R.T. France notes that John’s comments came in the context of “public denunciation” (France, Matthew, 555). It appears that this happened repeatedly; John did not merely warn Herod once but “kept on telling” him that he was sinning, and thus in danger of spending eternity in hell.

If our goal as Christians in a fallen world is to gain access to unbelievers and do all we can to keep it, let us be bracingly honest: John the Baptist did a poor job of it. He angered the governor, got sent to prison where he was chained to a wall, and occasioned his own beheading. Church history suggests that this was not enough for Herodias: she stabbed his tongue with her hairpin.

Here is the point for our considerations: It was not the announcement of the Messiah that ended John’s short life. It was the clear declaration of sexual ethics that sent him into eternity. It is a biblical curiosity, rarely preached on, but hugely important for us today in a similarly pagan context: The forerunner of Christ died because he called a wicked governor, a public figure, to repent.

We learn an invaluable truth through John’s martyrdom (he is after all the first martyr, killed even before Christ, showing us just how much of a forerunner he was).

Strachan suggests:

  1. John the Baptist was killed because he defended traditional sexual ethics.
  2. He and his fellow signers are like modern day John the Baptists, calling people to repent.
  3. The Nashville Statement will bring more people, not less, to Christianity.  Strachan concludes:  “The Nashville Statement does not represent a nuking of existing bridges to Christ. Calling sin sinful and urging the wayward to repent and trust Christ is not problematic for Christian witness. It is Christian witness. There is no witness without it. There is no love without it. There is no hope without it. Out of such a biblical conviction, let us build friendships with unbelievers wherever we can. Let us never stop emulating John the Baptist — let us tell the truth to them, the whole truth.”  Strachan looks like a pretty young guy.  I wish him well winning more young people to Christianity by pulling out the Nashville Statement while he is evangelizing.

I will let my readers chew on this one for a while.

6 thoughts on “A Signer of the Nasvhille Statement Says that He and His Fellow Signers are Like Modern Day John the Baptists

  1. The line about 2000 years of church teachings is useless because all church teachings change over time. Anyone that says otherwise is ignoring the history of Christianity.

    Church teachings do change because around 1900 years of church teachings show that divorce was not allowed. In the 20th century divorce become common. So the 2000 years of church teachings line is meaningless.

    Also, why is homosexuality sinful?

    Remember, out of marriage sex is the same sin as homosexuality in God’s eyes. So the people that wrote and signed the Nashville statement ignored the 2000 years of church teachings and deliberately selected homosexuality.

    This statement is nothing but the red meat in the culture wars. Culture wars that always result in defeat for conservative views in the long run.


  2. That is the question I am asking John. Does he believe (as the church historically has for the last 2000 years) that LGBT sexual ethics and practices are sinful? His post seems to question whether it is prudent for Owen Strachen to suppose: (1) that LGBT practices are sinful; and (2) that Christian gospel witness should call for those who engage in LGBT practices to repent of them. If that is the case, then John is out of step from every major branch of Christianity for the last 2000 years. In other posts he has suggested otherwise, but this post certainly leaves questions in my mind. I guess I wonder whether John fits somewhere in the pattern described by Denny Burk (one of the main drafters of the Nashville Statement) here: http://www.dennyburk.com/four-stages-of-evangelical-affirmation-of-gay-marriage/. Inquiring minds would like to know!


  3. So you seem to imply that LGBT sexual ethics and practices are not sinful and it is in fact immoral that we call them sinful? Subsequently, since LGBT ethics are not sinful, therefore we should not call those who engage in that behavior to repent? Am I understanding you correctly?


  4. What was the purpose of including those details of John the Baptist’s story? Perhaps to highlight that he was a highly difficult and unlikable person but still able to tell of the Messiah? Possibly, to contrast him with Jesus, whose sandal he was not worthy to untie? After all, Jesus instructed to remove the log from our own eye before attempting to mess with speck in some else’s.

    It is only by reducing the Bible to a handy dandy book of rules, that that Nashville signers can make this comparison. But if John’s moralizing is presented as a model for “Christian” behavior, why should the authors choose to emulate John’s moralizing and not his unusual paleo diet or other his other lifestyle habits? Do they serve locusts and honey at Chic Fil-A?


  5. He also wrote that the Nashville Statement brings “biblical clarity” to the issues.

    Fact check: not one of the 14 articles cites a Bible verse in support of its position. Not a single Bible verse.


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