Are Catholics in the Kingdom?

I had a conversation with my minister in at my local Anglican Church last night about the Christian status of Roman Catholics. Are Catholics in the Kingdom?

That is, could Roman Catholics be saved or born-again, despite the teaching of that Church about relics, icons, the Mass, tradition & the Bible, Mary & the saints, the Papacy, indulgences, Purgatory, justification, faith & good works and so on? The same question could be asked of Eastern Orthodox or the Coptic Orthodox in a slightly alternative form. Still, the essential concern is the same.

I think this issue can be particularly emotional and volatile. I myself have had friends leave Evangelical Christianity to join a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox church. So I am often subject to the waves of the passions when thinking about the issue.

But in moments of honest reflection, I think there are a few fair things one could say from an Evangelical perspective that may allow one to give a qualified answer in the Affirmative in distinct, individual cases. What follows are a few thoughts in that regard.


1. God is not the God of any particular church denomination or tradition, but He is the God of Jesus Christ. Now this assertion, ironically, is almost certainly inconsistent with Roman Catholic belief. For Roman Catholicism teaches that the Roman Catholic Church alone is the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ, established by Him, and governed by the successor of St. Peter, the Pope of Rome, who is the Vicar of Christ, so-claimed (currently Pope Francis, b.1936, Pope from March 2013). However, I, as an Evangelical, would reject that. God is never called the God of Rome. Yet neither is God called the God of the Anglicans, nor the God of the Baptists, nor the God of the Pentecostals and so on. God is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whoever belongs to Christ belongs to Him, and whoever belongs to Christ belongs to Him by faith alone in Him (Rom. 8:9). But in that case, one could imagine a person going frequently into a building called a ‘Catholic Church’ and who, in the midst of the false rituals of that place, nevertheless has a simple faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour. A person could be a member of the truly universal and elect Church of Jesus Christ — which knows no denomination or other such human dividing walls (e.g. Eph. 2:14) — and be a person who is born-again and saved despite the failings and weaknesses of the church that they go to on a Sunday.

2. God is faithful to us in our ignorance, our failings and mistakes. Say there is a person sitting in a Catholic Church who calls themselves Catholic but who also has a simple, personal faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour, and who seeks to follow him. This person may believe and practice all kinds of falsehood. That would be sin, and people involved in that practice most certainly need to be sanctified of that sin (Rev. 22:15). But as I honestly reflect on this, I realise that in my religious life there may be all kinds of false ritual and idolatries still present in my heart. For example, pornography remains a massive problem in my life. I’ve gotten better with it over the years. But I still struggle with it. Is pornography any less sinful than asking a deceased saint’s help? God is patient with all who trust in him and is working slowly toward their sanctification. God may take many years to show someone something wrong in their life and their need to submit to Him in that area. God took forty years with Israel in the wilderness so they would learn their own heart (Deu. 8:2). Is the worship of the Mass any less sinful than pride? Is the doctrine of auricular confession any less harmful than the love of money? Is trusting in Mary or some other wrongly and exceedingly exalted saint to help with something any less sinful than trusting in oneself to do that very same thing? We all stumble in many ways. But God is patient with us all. Why, then, are we so quick to point the finger at others? “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9.)

3. We are not saved by believing true doctrines, but by faith. If we truly believe justification is by faith, then surely we are not saved by believing in the doctrine of justification by faith, but by the faith itself.  I do not believe that we are saved by believing a doctrine per se, but by trusting in a divine-human Person — Jesus Christ. Obviously, it is not okay in God’s sight to deny biblical doctrines (1 Tim. 4:16). I think false teaching and heresy is destructive, and that it can indeed lead people away from the truth and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Believing the wrong thing and stubbornly going on believing it under correction is obviously not okay. But I think there can be a difference between being ignorant, on the one hand, and being truly defiant on the other hand. I believe that many Roman Catholics and others may be truly ignorant of the glorious freedom and assurance of the biblical teaching about divine justification by faith alone through grace and without good works, and yet their church leaders guide them wrongly away from this doctrine. This probably leads many if not most Roman Catholics to hold to a false gospel, which is really no gospel at all (Gal. 1:6-10). But that doesn’t mean there cannot be some Roman Catholic who is simply misguided but who is nevertheless born-again in faith. A person might believe the wrong thing but still have a living faith in Jesus that shows itself in love and good works. Many early Christians did not even have the privilege of possessing a full Bible. Who knows how many misconceptions about God they must have had? Even today with full Bibles it is often hard to understand, or it can be misapplied. But our God is a loving Father who is patient with us and who disciplines us over time that we might be his children, built up and mature, like strong men, and not as infants (Eph. 4:14; Heb. 12:7-10).

4. Of all the false beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, we Protestant Evangelicals tend to tolerate doctrines among those we consider to be brothers our circles which are just as bad if not worse than Roman Catholic doctrines. Take the worship of the Mass or the veneration of icons and relics. Are not such practices heinous? I sincerely believe that they are offensive to God. Now consider what God said to Eliphaz the Temanite concerning what he and his two friends Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite were saying to God’s righteous servant Job about the nature of God and the explanation for Job’s suffering earlier in the dialogue of the Book of Job:

“I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about Me…” (Job 42:7)

Now consider this: God immediately provided atonement and forgiveness for these three men (42:8-9). What I mean is this. There are people in Protestant churches today who actually hold doctrines that are probably just as heinous in God’s sight as certain distinctive Catholic doctrines. For example, classical Calvinists actually believe (contra 1 Tim. 2:4 and other clear texts) not that God is willing that all should be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, but rather that God has simply and unconditionally predestined where every human being will ultimately end up for eternity before they are born — and that based on nothing good or bad they have done. That’s right! They actually interpret the biblical doctrine of Predestination in such a way that precludes God’s saving love and desire for every human being. Or take early American Protestantism for example. Segregationist churches split Christian believers into separate black and white skinned racial congregations that either could or would not mingle. Or take Martin Luther. Luther was a rabid anti-Semite at the end of his life (Von den Juden und ihren Lügen). Racism has been rampant among churches and leaders within Christianity — not that such attitudes come from the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. My point is, is that not all a blasphemy? Is it not all a mockery of the love of God to believe so? What I’m saying is that there are all kinds of beliefs and practices that we have or do that are not okay, but God our Father is unimaginably forbearing and long-suffering toward us, his people, who so often stuff up. Hence, I could imagine an individual Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox or Calvinist or perhaps even maybe — just maybe — even a Unitarian (someone who denies the Trinity) who yet has a simple faith in Jesus Christ as their Saviour, who therefore belongs to Christ, yet who nevertheless perseveres in absurd doctrines that are harmful to their sanctification and others’. Hopefully, God would bring them out of their deception soon. But can one not be mistaken and yet belong to Christ?

5. If there is a Roman Catholic who is born-again, it is not by virtue of their Roman Catholicism that they are so. The Roman Catholic Church surely has a high view of itself: that it is the Mother of all churches, the Bride of Christ, who alone has supreme authority to interpret scripture, forgive sins, exercise teaching and disciplinary authority and to determine the meaning and implications of church tradition, and to minister through her priesthood the saving sacraments, and so on. As I hope is clear by this point, I think the lot of this to be a foolish myth, and surely the vast majority of people who gather in that church are nominal Catholics who are not born-again, and those who truly, truly trust in their own good works to save them before the Throne of Judgement on the Last Day. But of the 99% of Roman Catholics in the world who may be lost, is it not possible that perhaps 1% of the people who meet in a Catholic Church and do Catholic things may indeed have a mustard seed of true faith and dependence on Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and the salvation of their souls, even in the midst of the false hustle and bustle of the Mass, the relics, the icons, the bishops, the Papacy and the priests?

Well, I think so. And I think the way one thinks about this will profoundly impact the way one approaches one’s Roman Catholic friends. Here’s few suggestions:

First, we mustn’t judge by mere appearances (Jn. 7:24). We can’t simply paint everyone with a broad brush because they give themselves the title “Catholic” or even “Anglican” or “Christian.”  Anyone can claim a title. It’s the Spirit that counts: Is the person born-again? That’s the question. Do they have a living faith in Jesus Chris? Do they ultimately depend only and ever upon Him? What we should be interested in is where that particular individual’s heart is at with God and Jesus Christ, not what title they have or what building they go to.

Second, we need to be conscious of our own weaknesses (Matt. 7:1-2; Rom. 2:1-4, 21-22). Sure, your Roman Catholic friend might have a lot of problems, and in the course of their Christian life it may turn out that they need to leave that Church at the prompting of the Spirit who is in them. But in the meantime, why not be conscious of your own pride, your own anger, your own lust, your own possible false beliefs and traditions and have some charity towards another person who, for all intents and purposes, is seeking to know and serve God rightly?

Third, we need to be strong in our convictions, and tentative in our fellowship (2 Cor. 6:14). I have a mate who is a Roman Catholic but who to me seems to exhibit a genuine faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. Whenever I meet up for him for coffee and we start to talk about Christianity and the Bible, we seem to get along quite well on most things. I’ve even gone with him to visit the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Sydney. In my heart of hearts, I hope that he is my brother in Christ, and not just because he’s a good friend, but because I’ve talked with and listened to him on many things. But I must confess that I have reservations about him because of my knowledge of what Roman Catholics believe and do. Essentially, I don’t know. So in my lack of knowledge, I couldn’t minister alongside him in Gospel work. But I can hope to God and pray for him. I can ask our friendship grows stronger, and that God would give me true discernment, based on the Spirit and in truth.

What do you think? Are Catholics in the Kingdom? As far as I have thought about it, I would say: Maybe. It depends on the individual person you’re talking about. May the God of grace grant us the grace to love each other and to judge and divide properly and impartially, not based on mere appearances.


St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Sydney.

St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Sydney.

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Thoughts about Christian Love and Freedom

What should life look like for the committed Christian? Should life merely be a list of rules and regulations? Should we wage war and force others to submit to Jesus’ way? Is that how God works? Is God a faceless, war-waging legalistic deity of “Dos” and “Don’ts”?

Well, I don’t think so.

According to my Bible, God is a Father. And Jesus, his Son, said: “My kingdom is not of this world; if it were my people would fight… [M]y kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36.)

Jesus taught that his kingdom — the Kingdom of Heaven — should conquer the world, but not by the physical sword. Heaven should conquer spiritually — not by cleaving open men’s flesh with physical blades and blows, but by slicing through men’s hearts and souls by the sword of the Holy Spirit — that is, the Word of God — by the grace and love of God, making alive the conscience, and turning dead men away from sin, Satan and darkness back to follow Christ’s light, walking closely with God.

Consider what the apostle Paul said: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ” (Ephesians 6:12.)

Paul believed the Christian’s fight in this world — our purpose — was to strive, not with people, but with Satan (the Enemy of mankind) and his evil spiritual kingdom. Our weapon? The Good News (or Gospel) message about Jesus: that because of what Christ has done in dying for us and rising again, we can be completely forgiven of all our sins and enter back into a living, loving relationship with God our Father forever and ever, if only we trust in, follow and obey him.

Satan hates this message because it alone gives people hope to escape death and hell. The Gospel causes people to turn from their evil ways to live a life of love for God and their neighbour. Satan hates love, because “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16), and Satan hates God. In fact, Satan hates all that God loves, and God loves the whole world — every man, woman and child: “The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (Psalms 145:9).

Indeed, love is the highest rule of the Christian’s battle: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2.)

And again: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ” (1 Corinthians 13:13.)

What is love? The biblical word I am thinking of is agapethe total sacrifice of one’s whole self for the good of the other person. According to Jesus, the greatest commandment is to love — first for God and then for neighbour — as the Bible says: “‘Love [agapao] the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Luke 10:27)

In contrast to the Christian God, the God of Islam — Allah — provides a helpful comparison and contrast. According to the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, Allah (God) is not a God of love. According to the Qur’an (Koran), Allah does not love non-Muslims (a.k.a. “infidels” or “unbelievers”). (See Qur’an 3:31-32 and 30:43-45.) Of all the names of Allah in the Qur’an — Most Merciful, All-Seeing, Wise, etc. — not one of them is “Love.” Allah is called “Loving” (that is, toward the Muslim people alone). But Allah is never called “Love” itself. Should we really be surprised, then, that 10-15% of Muslims in the world (about 100 million people) are radical terrorist Jihadists (jihad means “holy war”), who will fight in Allah’s name to spread their religion forcefully and violently, without mercy, slaying all those who might resist them? Corresponding to the unloving nature of God in Islam, God is actually quite non-relational towards puny creatures like us humans. For Allah, we humans are like tiny ants, and who could ever have real affections for ants? And Islam as a religion is extremely legalistic and good-works orientated. Islam is all about rules.

In contrast, the God of the Bible became an ant. More exactly, God became human and was made flesh to dwell among us and show us the way back to himself: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Why? Because he loves us. Indeed, “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16). According to the Bible, God himself stepped into our world in the person of Jesus to express his love for us by dying for us and rising again, simply to save us: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16.)

God’s love sets us free to die to self and to live a life of love to him and others to the fullest extent possible. We love God and others not to earn God’s favour, but because we are his children, and we want to be like him, knowing that our purpose and being is bound up in God’s purpose to make us children of light and full of love, just as God is. As Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10.)

God has made us free always to enjoy what life gives us. But we always have to remember to put God first. For instance, we need to know that physical training (sport, exercise, diet, etc.) is of some value, but godliness of character (“love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” — Galatians 5:22-23) is even better (1 Timothy 4:8). Similarly, money is good. But we must keep out lives free from the love of money (1 Timothy 6:6-10; Hebrews 13:5-6) knowing that we cannot serve both God and riches (Matthew 6:24).

According to the Bible, life and enjoyment are not bad things. What is bad is merely snatching them from the Father’s hand without any thanks to or regard for him who has given them all to you, and without any interest as to what he might want you to do with them.

The Book of Ecclesiastes 11:9, which was probably written by King Solomon (Israel’s most wealthy and successful King), puts it this way:

“You who are young, be happy while you are young,
and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
God will bring you into judgment.”

God invites us all to live a life that is truly life — a life in full communion or relationship with him. We as Christians can take God’s blessings and enjoy them in full freedom. But our freedom cannot become a license to sin. We must always be humble and give God the glory for everything that he has given us, because — as Jacob (translated “James”), Jesus’ own brother, said almost two thousand years ago: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James [Jacob] 1:17).

For the Christian, it is not hypocrisy to enjoy life. God intends for us to live that way. But because sin is so deceptive and all-consuming in our world, we must walk in wisdom. ust becasue God wants us to be free and enjoy life doesn’t mean we can just go out, get blind drunk and have heaps of non-marital sex. (Actually, sinning in such ways will always invariably lead to greater unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. It’s little wonder, then, why God would teach us to avoid them in the first place: — they will ultimately harm and destroy us.) Rather, as Paul says: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the chains of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1.) God has freed us to live as God intended: not in bondage to sin, but in the liberty of the Spirit: “For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). Therefore, true life and enjoyment both can and must be found outside of sin and in keeping in step with the Spirit of God, and living how God wants you to (Galatians 5:25).

So what about those “Christians” who would physically wage war with the sword or with fists or with cruel words in Jesus’ name? What about those who turn Christian religion into a list of “Dos” and “Don’ts”? Well, I’d point them back to the Bible. Those persons are simply not living consistently “CHRIST-IAN” (= “Christ-like”) lives. They’re blind to the reality taught and modeled by Jesus and his earliest followers. Having true faith means living a vibrant life of love walking with God and each other. It is our highest joy and strength to walk as the Lord wants us to walk. Would not “the Author of Life” (a reference to Jesus in Acts 3:15) know how to live life well? People who fail to see this are living against Christ and his plain teaching, ad contrary to all reason and good sense.

We all need to judge Christianity (or any religion for that matter) on the teaching and example set by its founder. How did Jesus himself live? Or… “What Would Jesus Do?” Can we find any fault in him? If you strive to live as Jesus lived, putting God first, others second, and yourself last, then in such godliness you will have contentment, find true freedom and real inexpressible joy serving God as a disciple of his Son.

May God richly bless you.


[Words = 1631.]

Dr Michael L. Brown, “Can You Be Gay and Christian?” Book Review/Summary

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Michael L. Brown, “Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding with Love and Truth to Questions about Homosexuality” (Charisma House Book Group: 2014); pp. xiii, 286.

I recently finished reading Dr Michael L. Brown’s latest book Can You Be Gay and Christian? This work may be described as a theological critique of arguments in favour of the new liberal pro-homosexual theological revisionism (my term), also known as “pro-gay theology”, that has arisen since the sexual revolution sparked in the later 1960s.

I first became aware of Dr Brown’s engagement with same-sex issues in faith and culture when I read his authoritative 2011 study, A Queer Thing Happened to America (Equaltime Books: 2011), which is a historical and social commentary on the causes and effects of the sexual liberation movement on American culture from the late 1960s through early 2000s.

I was quite confident from Brown’s rich and robustly researched 2011 study that his new 2014 work would be just as engaging. I was not disappointed.

Brown’s book is a challenging argument in favour of the notion that both practicing homosexuality (“being gay”) and being a committed follower of Jesus Christ and His gospel (“being Christian”) are mutually incompatible.

Brown writes skillfully and on various levels for his intended audience. On the one hand, sections of the book must necessarily engage academically with pro-gay theological revisionists. Yet Brown never neglects the pastoral element of his book. Each section is both accessible and applicable by any intelligent layman.

Brown writes with a rare mixture of compassion and candour. He does not seek to disrespect his opponents, and he always presents the opposing views fairly. He also seeks to love his homosexual, bisexual and transgender readers, and to equip his committed Christian readers to do the same.

The book oscillates between positive and negative apologetics:

Chapter 1 (‘Love Does No harm to Its Neighbour’) charactarises the main concern of pro-gay theology and theologians, namely, that affirming gay relationships is an act of Christian love, and a denial of this consistency is a denial of love. In contrast to this point, Brown seeks to argue that whereas it is true that many churches have failed to show genuine love to gays and lesbians et al, nevertheless true Christian love modeled on Jesus is, first, a love for God then, second, a love for neighbour, knowing God’s ways are always best and God has a better way if we will deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Jesus.

Chapter 2 (‘To Judge or Not to Judge?’) answers a pro-gay theological objection against traditional Christianity from judgement, namely, that we cannot judge homosexual relationships to be wrong because of Jesus’ teaching not to judge another in Matthew 7:1. However, Brown notes that, firstly, the context demands we take Jesus’ teaching as referring to unrighteous judgement, and, secondly, we must recognise that Jesus does give believers grounds to “make a right judgement” (John 7:24). If we were never allowed to judge, how could we ever condemn as wrong obviously heinous things such as rape, pedophilia, incest, and so on? So of course we are called to judge and discern, but to do so rightly.

Chapter 3 (‘Are We Using the Bible to Sanction Antihomosexual Prejudice?’) answers another one of traditional Christianity’s critics’ concerns that the Church’s traditional stance on homosexual relationships is conducive to the high rate of suicide among the homosexual community. But Dr Brown castigates this as a gross oversimplification that does not get at the real issues. Brown cites both professional studies that measure the high depressive rate among homosexuals as due to a variety of factors which are not necessarily religious at all, and also presents from the other side of the equation true stories about men and women who, having come to Christ and turned from the gay lifestyle, were completely set free and delivered from depression and despair and loneliness, even though some still grapple with same-sex attractions.

Chapter 4 (‘The Bible Is a Heterosexual Book’) responds to a pro-gay argument that observes that, given the whole Bible, the so-called “clobber-passages” (i.e., those passages which have traditionally used to condemn homosexual activity) make up a small percentage of all the verses in the whole Bible, and therefore homosexuality must not have been such of a big deal for God or the Bible anyway. In response, Brown notes that this obviously says nothing about the so-called “clobber-passages” themselves. But also, Brown notes that the Bible does in fact have a great deal to say about human sexuality and relationships in general, and that the Bible always speaks in the negative concerning any form of homosexual activity whatever, but in contrast always assumes that blessed, good relationships are heterosexual (husband/wife, father/mother, male/female) and blesses only these legitimate heterosexual relationships, namely, those which are monogamous and in the context of marriage.

Chapter 5 (‘Levitical Laws and the Meaning of To’evah (Abomination)’) responds to pro-gay arguments trying to soften the meaning of the Hebrew word toevah with reference to homosexual activity, where pro-gay theology prefers to interpret this word as referring merely to a Israelite culture-specific “taboo”. Brown responds convincingly that all professional Hebrew philologists are agreed the word means “abomination” that is universally morally prohibited for all people. Interestingly, this word is also etymologically linked to the word ta’av (to abominate, detest, hate), sealing its nature as denoting a morally abominable and unnatural thing.

Chapter 6 (‘What Did Jesus Say About Homosexuality?’) responds to a common pro-gay objection to traditional Christianity that says Jesus did not talk about homosexual behaviour, and so he must have been okay with it. On the contrary, Brown argues Jesus did not come to do away with the Law and the Prophets, but rather to fulfill them, reaffirming in even stronger terms in Matthew 19 the creation standard of monogamous, male-female lifelong covenant union in marriage found in Genesis 2. Jesus, as a first century Palestinian Jewish Rabbi, most assuredly did affirm all the Law and the Prophets had said previously concerning the moral status of homosexual behaviour, and we have no reason to think otherwise given his surrounding socio-religious context.

Chapter 7 (‘The Healing of the Centurion’s Servant’) responds to a pro-gay theological inference to Jesus’ affirmation and celebration of homosexual relationships from his healing of the centurion’s servant. Pro-gay theologians have advocated that the term in the New Testament translated commonly translated “servant” or “son” (pais) can also denote a same-sex lover. But Brown convincingly demonstrates with reference to major ancient Greek lexicographical reference work that, whereas this is one possible translation used outside the biblical sources, it is never so used in the Bible, and thus no authoritative Greek lexicographical publication has ever postulated this third translation as a possibility in the biblical texts. Brown also notes that, according to these lexicographers, the word pais refers not merely to any same-sex lover, but to a young — probably teenage — same-sex “boy-toy” owned by the older man. Were the pro-gay argument true, it would follow that Jesus not only affirmed a homosexual relationship, but a specific kind of homosexual relationship, namely, a pederastic one — a sexual relationship between an older man and a young teenage boy — which is morally absurd, not to mention “blasphemous” of the Lord.

Chapter 8 (‘Paul and Homosexuality’) responds to some common pro-gay objections to traditional Christian usage of two of Paul’s major texts in opposition to homosexual practice, namely, Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6, which try to limit the context in which Paul condemned homosexual behaviour, particularly to that of abusive/objectifying pagan ritualistic contexts. Brown’s response to this is primarily to say that there is no evidence in the texts that Paul is restricting himself in this way, and besides, many of the sins listed in the texts (greed, depravity, mercilessness, etc.) would be sins wherever they were committed, and there is no reason to think otherwise concerning homosexual practice. Brown also responds to pro-gay arguments which try to show that we do not know what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 6 by the terms  malakoi (“receptive partner in male-male intercourse”) and arsenokoites (“men who have sex with men”), arguments which Brown shows to be unfounded from professional etymological research. Brown also points to Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 6 that those who struggle with same-sex desire that they may be justified, sanctified, washed, cleansed and changed by the power of the Spirit of God, and live in the hope of New Life in Jesus.

Chapter 9 (‘Everything Reproduces After Its Own Kind’) reports on some of the heinous and frankly heretical fruits of pro-gay theology on the scene today. Essentially, Brown demonstrates how pro-gay theology is fundamentally driven by a desire to cause the Word of God to conform to one’s sexual identity and behaviour, instead of yeilding one’s sexual identity and behaviour to be shaped by the Word and Spirit of God. It is therefore, fundamentally, a form of idolatry of the self. This is amply demonstrated with reference to several examples of the perverse interests of the pro-gay Metropolitan Community Church cult in BDSM and its mixing in pro-gay politics, and also with reference to several greatly influential and highly respected gay theologians’ fantasies which depict God, Christ and the Holy Spirit and various biblical saints as hyper-homosexualised beings who take on a  tirade of different sexual identities and engaging in erotic activity with biblical figures. For example, Brown cites one group of Jewish pro-gay revisionists who depict the fiery consumption of Aaron’s two sons Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10 not as their annihilation for presumptuous offering of false and unauthorised worship before the LORD, but rather as a passionate, homosexual threesome between Yahweh, Nadab and Abihu, who gratefully receives them into a fiery, divine threesome. It is a highly disturbing yet eye-opening chapter to read to find out the true nature of revisionist, pro-gay theological heresy.

Chapter 10 (‘Balancing Grace and Truth’) ends the book with a pastoral note on how Christians ought to approach this issue as a matter of course: with wholehearted devotion to God and the truth of the Word, and with a heart full of grace and compassion to reach out for the lost. This chapter encourages all who struggle with same-sex desires to find their identity and wholeness in Jesus Christ, serving Him. The book ends in asking our homosexual friends (indeed, all of us): “Isn’t this [i.e. the true Christ and all His fullness] enough?” (p.222).

I would recommend this book to any Christian struggling through this issue of Christianity and homosexuality, especially someone who either themselves struggles with having same-sex desires and being a Christian, or has a friend who is in a  similar situation. It may also be helpful for any Christian — same-sex attracted or not — who finds themselves engaged in conversation about Christ with same-sex attracted people.

You can follow Dr Michael Brown on his web-based ministry:
1. AskDrBrown.org Website
2. AskDrBrown Facebook Page

God bless.

Brendan BURNETT (here).

My Personal Testimony: The Word, the World and the Way.

Here’s the story of my Christian journey of how I came to know Jesus and be a Christian! I hope you are encouraged by it!

I was born September 15th 1992. I wasn’t brought up in a Christian home. But then, one Spring, in Year 6, my Primary School put on a carnival where people had various rides and stalls with things on display for sale.

On one stall, there was a stand of Bibles. So I picked one up, and asked the lady, “How much is this one?” and I remember her saying, “It is a gift.”

So I took the Bible and I began to read it. I believe the first book I ever read was the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah begins with a bang! Immediately I was captivated by its central character: the LORD. He was powerful and mysterious; fearful, but good and loving. Most of all, the Temple Vision in Isaiah 6, where the LORD appears surrounded by angels was particularly amazing where God manifested his glory.

As a result of reading this I was awe-inspired by the LORD such that I believe I asked my elder brother Matthew (who was going to a Youth Group at the time which apparently I also once visited) who the LORD is supposed to be. And he told me somewhat about Jesus.

So I put two and two together and got JESUS!

Then the next year, in Year 7, the Gideons (a society of Christian business men) came to our High School year group. They came and gave us all little red books: “New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs.” So I took one and read portions of the New Testament.

Reading the New Testament confirmed my simple faith in Jesus. More than that, the Gospel of John testifies concerning JESUS, referring back to what I has read in the Isaiah 6 Temple Vision:

“These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.” (John 12:41)

The only “His” or “Him” in John’s immediate context is Jesus himself! Isaiah saw *his* glory, and spoke of *him*? Isaiah saw Jesus! Jesus was not only a man. Jesus was the LORD, the God of all creation, come to dwell among us. (I learned all this without any preconceptions.) Jesus made me and crafted me to know and live for him, and be sent as his messenger.

As the LORD God says in Isaiah 6, “Whom shall I send for us?” And Isaiah replied, “Here am I: Send me.”

So then I truly trusted in Jesus and knelt to receive him. I got a new heart and new spirit. I was washed, and I was cleansed of all my sins by Jesus, the LORD God of Israel, by faith.

Now, the first thing I did when I believed was try to learn how to share my faith. It only seemed natural, after all, that the awesome God who made himself known to me wanted to be known by everyone else. One of the primary ways I did this was by watching videos of Christians sharing the hope and love of God in Jesus but being opposed to their faces by the world. They were confronting to watch! I was both terrified and inspired by the example of these courageous Christians.

One of the ways I learned to share Jesus was with “The Way of the Master” method taught by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. Their method makes the person to whom you are witnessing condemn himself so you don’t have to! You ask a person if they’ve ever told a lie or lusted or hated somebody else and so on. Then show them that it is sin according to the Bible (e.g. Sermon on the Mount). Then you share the biblical consequences for sin: namely, death and hell. Finally, you present Jesus’s death on the cross as God’s way for people to escape God’s judgement against sin. (By and large, my evangelism still takes this general shape!)

The other thing I did was to soak in music. I remember playing “Planet Shakers” on my PlayStation full blast and just worshiping God. I also kept reading the Bible.

As I started to put my faith into action and by being different and sharing Jesus, I was also very naïve. For example, I would mix my Christianity with other things. At one point, for instance, about through Year 8, I thought NewAgey spiritualism through rocks and crystals and tarot cards and so on was all fine and good. For, surely, if God is “spirit” and these things are “spiritual” that should be fine, right?

Wrong. Remember I was still reading my Bible. What did the Bible say?

“Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Revelation 22:15)

Woah! The Bible actually teaches that things like magic lead people not to God but away from God; that is, “outside” or into hell. So not everything is acceptable before God; there are boundaries of right and wrong.

Needless to say, I completely cast that stuff from me, and turned back to the Lord, to do what he wanted me to do. It was then that I found a little church, in about Year 9, at Loftus Uniting Church. That little fellowship gave me a sound example in Christian love. From things as small as allowing me–a mere kid among the mature and the elderly–to answer sermon-questions, or being made tea at the end of service, talked to, and getting lifts home… All these were practical examples of Christian love. So I came to value Christian fellowship very much.

From about Year 10, I found a new church, Jannali Anglican Church, I think because it had a Youth group. I still go there! (You should come along to our Sunday 7:00pm Evening Service.)

Next, came other challenges. You might remember that I was sharing my faith often. So I would often run up into opposition–sometimes for the right reason, and sometimes for the wrong reason.

For example, when I shared Jesus, some of my non-Christian friends would often mock Christ and Christianity. These weren’t really bad people per se; they just weren’t interested in religion. Some of them were also influenced by Dawkins and Hitchens and so on. So I began to read Christian intellectuals, like Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig and Alister McGrath to hold on to Christ and give a more courageous witness for Jesus. In sharing my faith regularly I found value in apologetics (defending the faith) and learning about how and why Christianity has historically come to believe what it does (theology). And I remain, as ever, a learner of Christ Jesus.

One time, I was publicly mocked by many people at lunch time following an episode that morning where I rebuked one of my non-believing friends from using the name of Christ in vain. Needless to say, this embarrassed and offended him to such an extent that he decided to stir up the particularly belligerent atheists against me. I distinctly remember them putting on a show of mock-worship. They set up some kind of a wood-log as a god to fall down before and glorify–a mindless, nonexistent thing… Get the idea? They were also just very spiteful, and it was very, very hurtful. Had it not been for two older Christians I would have been very, very downcast, and perhaps given up. But what man had intended for evil God had intended for good, and God crafted this episode as a means of making me bolder to share Christ.

I am also a naturally stubborn person, and this can be shaped and expressed in various ways, both good and bad. For instance, I can be bold and resilient in the midst of opposition. But, “Love builds up, but knowledge puffs up,” says the Lord (1 Corinthians 8:1b). This saying is true. For sometimes I would act rather disdainfully towards who are admittedly truly ignorant people. Not often did I show the grace, the patience and the mercy that Jesus would show to those who doubt: “Be merciful to those who doubt” (Jude 1:22). But I would often become puffed up in my superior understanding of religion, and become arrogant. God needed to sanctify me of that, and he is in many ways still sanctifying me of it.

I was also massively hypocritical. On the one hand, I would speak out in evangelism against lust, but I was full of lust. In the Bible, I would read, “Do not steal,” yet I would steal. (I committed petty theft numerous times.) I would also speak out against impurity. But I was often engaged in crass, foul joking, and still fall into that sometimes. Yet again, I knew the Bible spoke out against drunkenness. but I remember at least two instances where I got blind drunk and was vomiting everywhere… I reckon my friends remember it too, and frankly, I think it permanently soiled my witness to Christ so that, today, at the end of the day, I don’t know if any of the years I spent at High School trying to be the best Christian I could be were of any advantage to anyone at all.

Well, finally it all came to a head. I made some really bad choices in High School. One particularly shameful event (which I will not go in to here) left me quite shaken about my Christian convictions. Eventually this went on so that I came to a place where I had to choose to be a Christian or not. Maybe to try and blend Christianity and this other thing… But as I spoke to one of my faithful church ministers about this, I knew from the Bible that that was illegitimate to identify both with Christ and with my sin. (C. S. Lewis talks about the dangers of “Christ-And” thinking.) But in many areas of life, you see, I was in the habit of justifying what I liked, and making God into my own image. But I knew I couldn’t do that here. Scripture was quite clear.

Long story short, I knew that if Jesus is Lord–indeed, the LORD God–who has created heaven and earth and me for himself, who died for my sins and risen again so I could live for him, then I would never be satisfied outside of him. So I pledged myself to identify with and serve Jesus Christ as Lord forever and ever. I was baptised on Sunday the 12th of September 2010, three days before I turned 18, proclaiming openly about who I am and who Jesus is, turning away from Satan and his works. I’m very thankful for the fact that some of my non-Christian friends and family came to my baptism.

Since then, I’ve been at the university for four years, from 2011 to 2014, learning Philosophy, and History and Literature, and so on. One of my favourite things has been to participate in the Sydney University Evangelical Union where Rowan Kemp is the chaplain. I feel I might go on to study Teaching and go back into the High School system. I have also considered the Christian Ministry.

God still has a long way to go with me yet. I am still learning, shaping and being shaped by others.

If you’re a Christian in my personal acquaintance reading this: you have no idea how much I love, value and appreciate every single one of you, and how I am jealous for you and your faith, and for your keeping on in the Christian life. Don’t give up, my brother/sister. Jesus is worth it!

If you’re a non-Christian, why don’t you do what I did, and pick up the Bible. Read Isaiah, or read the Gospel according to John. The Bible is the Word of God, and in it is found the testimony about Jesus. Find Jesus. Find Life.

This is my signature verse which I strive to live by:

Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

God bless you! Thanks for reading.