Thursday, June 30, 2016

"Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor" by Glenn Stanton: A Review

This week marks the one year anniversary of the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that unilaterally legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States. In light of that historic decision, this week I am reposting old articles on the subject of homosexuality and the gospel.

Being universal, they most certainly apply to the topic we are exploring here and the people it involves on all sides of the issue. These six truths are:
  1. Everybody is a human person. No exceptions.
  2. Every human person is of inestimable worth and value, none more than another. No exceptions
  3. Everyone is deeply and passionately loved by God. No exceptions.
  4. Unfortunately everyone is burdened with a terminal illness: sin. No exceptions.
  5. All, as children of Adam, are tragically separated from God, but this does not diminish God's boundless love for us. But it does devastatingly hinder our relationship with Him. All of us, no exceptions.
  6. Therefore, everyone is in desperate need of repentance, healing, and a new life that comes only in surrender and submission to Christ. No exceptions. (15-16, italics original)
The rise of the LGBT (and its endless other abbreviations) has forced Christians to ask questions they had not considered possible for hundreds of years. One is hard press to imagine Christians considering the challenges we face today in the history of Christianity since Rome itself. As such, Christians must think again, practically, how to navigate through the world in which we live.

Scripture is clear we are called to love both our Maker and our neighbor. What that looks like has always been a matter of conversation, now more than ever. Given the sexual revolution and its confusion over gender, sexuality, and the rest, Christians are wanting to know what it means practically to love our LGBT neighbor. Thankfully, Glenn Stanton has written such a book appropriately titled Loving my (LGBT) neighbor: Being Friends in Grace and Truth.

The parenthesis in the title is important. On the one hand, the book is simple: loving our LGBT neighbor, though a unique challenge, is no different than the age-old commission to love one's neighbor.

Though perhaps oversimplified, the book has two main divisions. The first is explanation, the second is application. In the explanation section, the author walks the reader through the issues. Stanton explores questions of orientation, the history of the movement, sexual and gender identity, etc. Such a section is not unusual in books like this, but I particularly enjoyed Stanton's tone and honesty.

Take for example his discussion of bigotry and perversion. Stanton calls on the reader to move beyond these inaccurate and unhelpful terms. Many in the religious community are quick to label LGBT as perverted or sex-crazed while many in the LGBT community are quick to label every person of faith as bigoted and phobic. He writes:
Only the other side, a widely held misperception - even by many evangelicals themselves - is that Christians who oppose same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting and such are motivated by bigotry and so-called homophobia. Major state and federal court decisions have said as much in support of their decisions, based purely on assumption. it has become a truism that those who oppose these things are haters, simply for the convictions they hold rather than any actual bigoted or hateful actions or words. Most cultural elites have uncritically accepted and contributed to this stereotyped script simply because they can imagine it being true based on Christians they have never met. Just like we can assume the child-molester charge about same-sex-attracted people we've never met. (79)
Later, Stanton adds:
Both sides on this issue have been guilty of uncivil and just plain mean behavior. But to be honest, as one who has paid very close attention to and participated in this issue for more than a decade. I am glad to say that there has been more calling out one's peers for correction and denunciation within the evangelical community than there has been within the LGBT community. That's just a fact that should be noted. (80)
I agree. Christians are certainly guilty of vile rhetoric and unloving actions, but no doubt the dominate anger and animosity, and dare I say "bigotry" is not from people of faith but from those who are actively pitting erotic liberty against religious liberty.

From there, Stanton deals with practical matters. I suspect this is the section that will garner the most attention. Stanton seeks to deal with the questions of attending a same-sex wedding ceremony, how do I live faithfully without being offensive, what about my gay child, what if my gay child invites their partner over, how should society handle the bathroom issue with transgenders, what about homosexuals in our congregations, etc.

One might be surprised by Stanton's answer regarding attending a same-sex wedding. Though he concludes that he would not attend under most circumstances, he does confess that there are a few instances in which he might. I would direct the reader to Stanton's reasoning before they offer any criticism.

Overall, I believe Stanton has offered a very helpful and timely book that is an invaluable tool for pastors and Christians alike. As a pastor, I have been asked many of the questions raised in this book and I am grateful for Stanton's voice and for this volume.

This book was given to me for free for the purpose of this review.

All Around the Web - June 30, 2016

Denny Burk - I’m a single-issue voter on multiple issues, and so are you.

Ed Stetzer - California's Religious Liberty Moment—Coming to a State Near You

Evangelical History - When Did Churches Start Celebrating the Fourth of July?

The Point -  An Un-level Playing Field

Thom Rainer - Eight Time Drainers of Pastors and Staff (and Seven Solutions)

Tim Challies - The Bestsellers: Every Man's Battle

Church Leaders - Francis Chan Uncovers the Two Scariest Lies in the World Today

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"We Cannot Be Silent" by Albert Mohler: A Review

This week marks the one year anniversary of the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that unilaterally legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States. In light of that historic decision, this week I am reposting old articles on the subject of homosexuality and the gospel.

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the land, and its decisions cannot be appealed to a higher court to law. But the Supreme Court, like every human institution and individual, will eventually face two higher courts. The first is the court of history, which will render a judgment that I believe will embarrass this court and reveal its dangerous trajectory. The precedents and arguments set forth in this decision cannot be limited to the right of same-sex couples to marry. If individual autonomy and equal protection mean that same-sex couples cannot be denied what is now defined as a fundamental right of marriage, then others will arrive to make the same argument. This Court will find itself in a trap of its own making, and one that will bring great harm to this nation and its families. The second court we all must face is the court of divine judgment. For centuries, marriage ceremonies in the English-speaking world have included the admonition that what God has put together, no human being – or human court – should tear asunder. That is exactly what the Supreme Court of the United States has now done. (181-182)

Historians will look back, I believe, and note that America changed the minute it officially legalized same-sex marriage. But like most things historically, such a culture-shifting event is more complicated than gay rights and its legalization finds it roots decades prior. The legalization of gay marriage was a "long time coming" and people of faith need to be aware of what it means moving forward.

This is why Dr. Albert Mohler's book We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong is so crucial to people of faith in general and Christians in particular.

Mohler does two things well in this book. First, he puts the legalization of gay marriage in its historic perspective. Mohler is clear that people of faith are as responsible for same-sex marriage as gay rights activists. The author sends the reader through an illuminating historical and sociological survey of how we went from an America which assumed traditional values to an America which is quickly criminalizing it.

Mohler shows that same-sex marriage is part of the broader sexual movement which is a cultural revolution that has spread at unprecedented rates in recent decades. He isolates four keys to its spread: "birth control and contraception, divorce, advanced reproductive technologies, and cohabitation." (17) Without looking at these in detail, consider the implications of these developments. Through them, sex was separated from marriage; children have become optional among romantic couples; marriage is no longer an expectation between two partners; and children can now be born/raised without sexual intercourse. None of this would have been possible a century ago.

Secondly, Mohler puts the legalization of same-sex marriage in its cultural perspective. Secularists might have joked that the sky did not fall the day after the Supreme Court redefined marriage, but Mohler shows that gay marriage is about more than homosexuals marrying. One helpful chapter in this regard regards the threat to religious liberty we are already seeing and which was predictable. It is clear that the secular left prefers erotic liberty over religious liberty and Christians must prepare themselves for that reality.

In short, this book is Mohler at his best. For those familiar with Mohler's work will enjoy each page of this volume. Mohler has been on the front lines of this issue bearing testimony to the Christian gospel and we should be thankful for men like him standing firm in the faith. This book is a reflection of that. It is practical (particularly in the last chapter which is a Q and A format) and informative. Some may be surprised by some of Mohler's conclusions (he affirms sexual orientation and does not object to same-sex couples fostering children). Before one criticizes the author, they should first hear him out.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. Mohler is thoughtful, biblical, and gospel-focused. The world has shifted under our feet and it will continue to shift. But we need not fear, the gospel is still mighty to save and to transform even a world like ours.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

All Around the Web - June 29, 2016

Albert Mohler - Character in Leadership — Does it Still Matter?

National Review - One Year after Obergefell

Russell Moore - Signposts: Should Christians Boycott?

Doug Wilson - Atheist Debate War Stories

Jared Wilson - Is Your Worship Service Upside Down?

The Gospel Coalition - The Main Message of Your Bible

Tim Challies - Why I Am Not Dispensational

Ligonier - The People vs. the System of This World

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Why Caesar Rages Against Christians

This week marks the one year anniversary of the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that unilaterally legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States. In light of that historic decision, this week I am reposting old articles on the subject of homosexuality and the gospel.

In his double volume work simply entitled Apologia ("apology" meaning "defense") early Christian leader and philosopher, Justin Martyr, defends, promotes, and explains Christianity to Caesar himself. In one section that remains with me today is his dumbfoundedness of why Rome persecutes Christians so heavily. He explains to Caesar that Christians faithfully pay taxes, obey all laws, serve the poor, and even risk their lives to save those suffering from plagues. Persecuting, and sometimes executing, Christians for publicly exercising their faith, to Justin, made no sense. Christians were the sort of citizens Caesar needs.

So why did Caesar rage against Christians?

I have said before that Christian history has come full circle. The Apostle Paul, and Justin Martyr a few centuries later, ministered in a society grossly oversexed that eventually became predominately Christian. We now live in what was once a predominately Christian nation that is quickly (and I mean quickly) becoming oversexed.It should not surprise us, therefore, that the question Justin Martyr asked Caesar is increasingly becoming the question we Christians are having to ask today. Why are Christians being punished, ignored, mocked, and constantly derided for publically exercising theri faith? Why is Christianophobia on the rise? Why are Christians constantly called to redefine their faith? Why?

That is to say, why is Caesar, once again, raging against Christians?

I think I have an answer but first we must understand the Roman world. Rome was polytheistic (to say the least.) She was also tolerant (in a limited sense). When Rome extended its borders (usually through war) they welcomed the religion and gods of conquered people under the prerequisite that the conquered would also adopt the Roman gods. That was Roman tolerance. So long as Roman religion was not attacked or derided, one was free to worship as they pleased.Today we might call this the "freedom of worship" as opposed to "the freedom of religion." So long as Christians privatized their faith Rome remained "tolerant." However, once Christianity entered the public square or the market place, Caesar intervened.

And today the same policy is gaining in dominance.

This, I believe, explains our world today. America, and the rest of the secular West with her, is not interested in regulating the doctrine of the Trinity or weighing in on baptism; they will, however, intervene when local clerks refuse to marry homosexuals or bakers refuse to just "do their job." "What you say and believe in your pew is perfectly fine," says Caesar, "but you had better put it on the shelf during the rest of the week." The golden statute of "tolerance" demands our allegiance and Caesar is not afraid to use the fire for all dissenters.

Regardless, Christians in Rome openly called for the tearing down Roman gods. Most notable was the gods and goddesses of sex. The gods of today, remain the same.

Recently an exhibit at The National Portrait Gallery celebrating our nation's "Struggle for Justice" (as the exhibit was called) was protested for one simple reason. The exhibit included a bust of Margaret Sanger - the racist, eugenicists who founded Planned Parenthood. The history of Planned Parenthood is anything but progressive and it continues the work of its founder. As one protester noted, had Sanger's vision come to fruition, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks would have never been born.

Neither would have Barack Obama.

The Gallery is shocked at the protest. Sanger's presence in the gallery, and her ongoing popularity, is for one primary reason: her promotion of "contraception" (especially abortion and birth control) is what has fueled the sexual revolution. Modern contraceptives and abortion has severed sex from marriage.

And so we all bow!

Secularism cares more about sex than it does justice. In fact, sexual liberation is the greatest act of justice to the secular mind and Margaret Sanger created a sanctuary for its worship: the abortion clinic. It is behind the fashioned doors of the inner city Planned Parenthood where Eros can be properly worshipped without the interruption of unwanted children.

The recent incarceration of Kim Davis - anything but a violent criminal worthy of a mugshot - proves this thesis further. Elected leaders refusing to enforce the law is nothing new. In his first term, President Barack Obama refused to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act and later refused to enforce his own law: the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Finally, both the current administration and its immediate predecessors have refused to enforce immigration laws deriding anyone concerned with illegal immigration as racists.

Meanwhile, no one bats an eye. In fact, such contempt for the Constitution is lauded as brave, bold, and "on the right side of history."

President Obama is not the only elected official to refuse to enforce the law. In a recent post, the National Review highlights the following examples:
  • In 2004, Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco directed city officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of California state law. 
  • In 2004, Mayor Jason West of New Paltz directed city officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of New York state law. 
  • In 2010, attorney general Jerry Brown declined to answer legal challenges to California’s marriage law, which, after Proposition 8, was that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid.” His job was to represent the state of California in legal matters and defend its laws, including those he didn’t like. 
  • In 2013, D. Bruce Hanes, an official of Montgomery County, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of Pennsylvania state law. The history of the movement to redefine marriage is shot through with defiance of laws that those who broke them sincerely felt were deeply wrong.
They then conclude, "To be consistent, anyone who thinks that Newsom, West, Brown, and Hanes were courageous and principled must now judge Davis by the same standard."

Nevertheless, while such "courageous" civil disobedience by elected officials continues no one bats an eye. In fact, such contempt for the law  is lauded as brave, bold, and "on the right side of history."

But the minute a Kentucky elected official who is also a converted Christian refused to sign marriage licenses because her faith warns her that severing her conscience is a sin, judicial Caesar's bear their fangs and incarcerate her.

Her crime is not simply she refused to marry homosexuals (or anyone for that matter). Her real crime is she refused to synchronize the risen Lord Jesus with America's religion of sex. She can be a Christian, Caesar assures her, just not in her role as an elected official that refuses to celebrate in erotic anarchy.

The solutions to the Kim Davis case are numerous and I do believe she could have handled the situation better. Regardless, Governor Beshear's continues to refuse to deal with the issue as are most elected officials in the state of Kentucky of both parties. The proper response would be to impeach Mrs. Davis, not to arrest her. But why should Caesar take such action? He is not interested in accommodation. He certainly will not negotiate with so-called bigots who refuse to bow Aphrodite.

In the end, the sexual revolution has never been about sex, but about worship and Kim Davis is on the wrong side of that debate.

This is the world we now live in. For Christians reading this you need to be aware of this. Caesar is not your friend and never was. Apart from a miraculous revival of repentance in our nation, Christians will continue to be marginalized. This has always been the spirit of the Beast yet this is is not reason to fear for by standing firm and living out our faith may result in mockery and incarceration from the culture, we have read the end of the story. God works well when Christians are in the minority and being shouted them down while standing firm in the faith.

In the end, let us not forget that Justin's surname was not "Martyr." No mailbox of his contained the name. It is history's badge of honor. He pleaded that Caesar would open his eyes and rule accordingly. Caesar refused and Justin gained a great victory in the end once his head literally began to roll.

All Around the Web - June 28, 2016

Eric Metaxas - Blaming Christians for Orlando?: The Media Hits Rock Bottom

The Federalists - New Evidence Planned Parenthood Broke Federal Law, Lied to Women

Acculturated - The Bias Against Big Families and the Rise of Childless Cities

Brett McCracken - “Tolerant” California Will Not Tolerate Christian Colleges

Jason Allen - SBC Theological Education and the 21st Century: Ten Declarations for the Future

Thom Rainer - Six Technologies That Can Help Your Church Connect More Effectively

The Denver Post - Rattlesnake bites Colorado groom during wedding photos

Monday, June 27, 2016

"Is God Anti-Gay" by Sam Allberry: A Review

This week marks the one year anniversary of the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that unilaterally legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States. In light of that historic decision, this week I am reposting old articles on the subject of homosexuality and the gospel.

And as someone in this situation, what Jesus calls me to do is exactly what he calls anyone to do. Take another well-known saying of Jesus:

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Mark 8 v 34

 It is the same for us all - "whoever". I am to deny myself, take up my cross and follow him. Every Christian is called to costly sacrifice. Denying yourself does not mean tweaking your behaviour here and there. It is saying "no" to your deepest sense of who you are, for the sake of Christ. To take up a  cross is to declare your life (as you have known it) forfeit. It is laying down your life for the very reason that your life, it turns out, is not yours at all. it belongs to Jesus. He made it. And through his death he has bought it.

The moral universe is shifting rapidly beneath our feet. Every time we turn on the news or read an article on our digital devices we feel the violence of this sexual, moral revolution. Who could have imagined just a few years ago, the rapid change in the polls regarding the nation's view on homosexuality, gay marriage, and other sexual lifestyles and choices? Who could have predicted how many Christians would abandon ship in order to save their brand?

Recently I was given a free digital download from Christian Audio of the wonderful book Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry and I cannot recommend it enough. The book is short, taking the author only about two hours to read, and yet it is full of biblical and practical insight that it has become the most important book on the subject of homosexuality and Christianity I have read.

The author openly gives testimony to his own struggle with same-sex attraction. I appreciate his honesty here. His personal struggle allows him to write in a winsome way that is honest, open, and clear. This insight into the personal struggles of homosexuality and the community along with his understanding of Scripture makes this a unique book in Christian circles. The author repeatedly offers clarity that I must admit forced me to repent.

Each chapter deals progressively with another serious issue regarding homosexuality and the gospel. For example, the author dedicates one chapter on what the bible says on the subject of sexuality in general and then follows it with a chapter on what Scripture says about homosexuality in particular. In these two chapters alone, the author provides real exegetical depth and clarity in such a short space that he manages to destroy often used liberal arguments while exhorting more conservative readers against fundamentalist interpretations.

The one chapter I appreciated the most regarded the church. It is clear that the author loves the local church and believes in her. Here the author provides the reader with biblical and gospel insight in how we, as Christians, are called to serve fellow image bearers who struggled with same-sex attraction.

Overall, I cannot, as I said above, recommend this book enough. I appreciate the free audiobook provided to me by Christianaudio. The book is read by the author (a personal preference of mine) and as always the quality is top notched. Every pastor, church leader, and Christian serious about the gospel in a post-sexual revolution, post-Christian world needs to read this book.

Christianaudio was kind enough to allow me a free digital download of this book. The quality, as always, was great

All Around the Web - June 27, 2016

Justin Taylor - 5 Practical Steps Every Creative Professional Can Take to Protect Themselves

Sean McDowell - Three Reasons I Am Not An Atheist

Thom Rainer - Five Headaches Pastors Experience When a Search Committee Fails to Communicate

Trevin Wax - According to Moses, I’m Over the Hill

The Cripplegate - The Complementarian Trinity Debate: A Summary Of Its Beginning

The Blaze - Gallup: 123,000 Same-Sex Marriages Since High Court Ruling

Today - 'West Wing' cast reunites, reveals who President Bartlet would endorse in 2016

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Who's To Blame for Orlando? Christians of Course: The Logic of the Left

As I predicted, Christians are being blamed for the terror attack in Orlando last week. Even though the assailant went out of his way to identify himself with the Islamic State, an international terror group more radical than Al Qaeda, the secular left is using the assault on the gay night club to attack conservative evangelicalism.

At the National Review, David French chronicles and criticizes this response from many in the public square. First, the evidence:
Yesterday, Anderson Cooper grilled Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, accusing her of hypocrisy for expressions of support for slain Floridians. Why was she hypocritical? Because she opposed same-sex marriage. [he then embedded this interview video]
Today, the New York Times editorialized about the domestic threat to LGBT Americans and declared that they were “casualties of a society where hate has deep roots.” The “society” the Times condemned wasn’t the ISIS caliphate — it was America, and specifically states such as Texas and North Carolina that are fighting federal edicts that demand that men should have access to women’s restrooms. The Times couldn’t bring itself to condemn Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but it attacked North Carolina governor Pat McCrory and Texas governor Greg Abbott. 
Even well-meaning Christians are adopting the secular-progressive line. In a viral Facebook post, popular writer and speaker Jen Hatmaker declared, “We cannot with any integrity honor in death those we failed to honor in life.” She then proceeded to offer a standard leftist broadside against Evangelicals, arguing that Christian “anti-LGBTQ sentiment has paved a long runway to hate crimes.”
The logic is ridiculous to say the least. The argument goes that to hold fast to the traditional belief that homosexuality is an immoral lifestyle is bear some responsibility for contributing to a culture of bigotry which feeds such violence. 

Such logic is not only ridiculous, it is dangerous and, dare I say, bigoted. French goes on to add, "Some on the left simply refuse to believe what terrorists say about themselves and about their intentions." Or, as a friend mentioned to me, the left will not hesitate to embrace a young man who identifies as a woman and even give him access to their daughter's restroom, yet, when a young Islamic man goes out of his way to commit an act of terror in the name of ISIS, the left will go out of its way to question his identity and even blame shift the guilt onto American Christians (and their guns) whose first response is always to "weep with those who weep," regardless of their sexual preferences. French describes it as:
The result is bigotry running two ways — an unreasoning, irrational hatred of American Christians and a comprehensive denial of Muslim moral agency. American Christians are responsible for things they don’t believe. Sharia-observant Muslims, by contrast, aren’t responsible for the things they do believe.
Ultimately, we see the bankruptcy of secularism. Being unable to condemn the wickedness of Islamic jihad which actively executes homosexuals, the progressive left is a walking contradiction that cares more about undermining and destroying Christianity rather than promoting justice and peace. 

Christianity is not to blame for the tragic events in Orlando last week. Omar Mateen and the ideology that drove him is. Pure and simple. If we cannot see that, America is in more danger than we previously thought.

For more:

All Around the Web - June 23, 2016

The Federalists - New York Times Claims ‘Romans’ Calls For ‘Execution Of Gays’

Thom Rainer - Five Reasons It Is So Painful for a Pastor to Lose a Church Member

Ray Ortlund - 10 Unforgettable Lessons on Fatherhood

Evangelical History - The Church and the American Flag

Sam Storms - 10 Things You should Know about what the Roman Catholic Church believes regarding Mary

Jonathan Leeman - On Dancing and the Regulative Principle: The Case Against (by Jonathan Leeman)

This is how you drop the mic at the Southern Baptist Convention.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

From Lewis's Pen: Promiscuity and the Inner Ring

From his essay "The Inner Ring" from the book The Weight of Glory:
It is a terrible bore, of course, when old Fatty Smithson draws you aside and whispers “Look here, we’ve got to get you in on this examination somehow” or “Charles and I saw at once that you’ve got to be on this committee.” A terrible bore… ah, but how much more terrible if you were left out! It is tiring and unhealthy to lose your Saturday afternoons: but to have them free because you don’t matter, that is much worse.

Freud would say, no doubt, that the whole thing is a subterfuge of the sexual impulse. I wonder whether the shoe is not sometimes on the other foot. I wonder whether, in ages of promiscuity, many a virginity has not been lost less in obedience to Venus than in obedience to the lure of the caucus. For of course, when promiscuity is the fashion, the chaste are outsiders. They are ignorant of something that other people know. They are uninitiated. And as for lighter matters, the number of people who first smoked or first got drunk for a similar reason is probably very large. (147-148)

All Around the Web - June 22, 2016

The Federalists - Why Islamists Hate Homosexuals

Crisis Magazine - What the Hook-up Culture Has Done to Women  | They shout: “We’re free!” Yet they whisper: “Why are we so miserable?”

Civil War - Gender and the Trinity: From Proxy War to Civil War

Sam Sey - My Father

Alistair Begg - Sermons on Marriage

CNS News - Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias: Why Do Some Treat Race as Sacred But Not Sexuality?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Danger of the New Monism: Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 4c

The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 1
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 2
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 3
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 4a
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 4bThe Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part c
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 5a
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 5b
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 5c
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 6
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Complete Series

What follows is a series of posts regarding the New Monist movement which combines neuroscience with theology and argues that science has "proven" we have no soul.  The problem I have with such a suggestion isn't just the challenge it presents anthropologically, but soteriologically. How does denying the existence of our soul affect our understanding of the gospel? That's one of the questions I hope to answer.  This debate is another example of the challenge that science can present for Christian theology.

Monistic Gospel
Part 3

The language of social justice and incarnational ministry is for the purpose of discussing the kingdom of God. Dualists, in Rynkiewich’s assessment, centers on conversion “and planting churches where they do not exist,” but a monistic understanding of mission emphasizes “the expectation of the kingdom shift [as] the church’s [priority] to [activity] which somehow anticipate[s] a ‘new heaven and a new earth.’”[14]

Dualism focuses only on the individual – save your soul in order to get to heaven – while monism includes not just the individual but also “the community, the land, and the environment.”  “Missionaries with a dualistic view of the material and the spiritual,” he argues, “have found it difficult to imagine the connections between these three individual persons.” As a result, it is up to Third World theologians who are forced to “make up what is missing in mission theology,” that is, “a concept of self that includes more than the individual.”[15]

This is the language of dust. In Gen. 1-2, man is made out of the dust of the earth and has always been connected to the earth. Rynkiewich argues that “the biblical relationship between persons, land, and environment is clear,” from the cursed earth in Gen. 3 to “the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23), “not the escape of our souls from our bodies (Col. 1:19-21).”[16]

Dust is central to Rynkiewich’s understanding of mission (and thus salvation). Unless we proclaim a message of dust, we are not proclaiming the biblical message of salvation. In a world of economic recession and other social and political issues, what ought the Christian community look like? “In this theology, dust, community, and person are inseparable. Each person lives, or refuses to live, as the incarnated Christ would have lived in that place and time. Dust, person, community, and relationship with God are inseparable.”[17]

Dust implies relationship. We are connected to both the material world and even to God who created us out of the dust. The Christian hope, then, is the redemption of the dust “through Christ’s resurrection from which comes the promise of our resurrection.” As a result, in this life, the Divine Dust – Jesus Christ – becomes the example by which we are to model particularly in His life and ministry.  Rynkiewich finds the center of Jesus’ life and ministry in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”[18]

All of this forces Rynkiewich to ask the question, “What does this mean for mission?” Are Christians called to proclaim a message or embrace? Is the job to “impart words, knowledge, and creed,” or is it to be incarnational? Did Jesus Himself not become flesh and dwell among us (John 1:14)? It is the latter that he prefers and is driven by his monistic theology.[19]

In the end, perhaps Rynkiewich sums up his argument by suggesting that in light of recent developments of neuroscience and its implications about the makeup of human nature, perhaps we have found “that we have been ‘wrongly angled’ in our proclamation of the gospel.”[20] Instead of speaking in individualistic instead of communal terms, the church has “wrongly angled” the gospel. Instead of focusing on the soul instead of the holistic body, the church has “wrongly angled” the gospel.

A wrongly angled the gospel. That is the critique the new monists have of substance dualism. Strong words for a debate over anthropology.

[14] Ibid., 141.
[15] Ibid.
[16]  Ibid., 142.
[17]  Ibid.
[18]  Ibid., 143.  He then adds, “The dust taken up into the Trinity (that is, the ascension of Jesus) completes our hermeneutic circle from creation to the restoration of all things.  It is this mystery of communion with the triune God and with God’s community (other people) that we lost when the Protestant Reformers decentered the Eucharist.”  Ibid.
[19]  Regarding the incarnation, he writes, “The incarnation involved God coming to humans in a recognizable form so that those who embrace the message may ‘have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ’ (1 John 1:3).  It is an embrace that god wants to give us, so that we may embrace each other and complete the circle.  The limits of reason as a method are found in relationship.  We do not reason relationship; we are not dealing with an ‘it’ but with ‘I AM WHO I AM.’” Ibid.
[20]  Ibid., 144.

All Around the Web - June 21, 2016

National Review - The Orlando Shooting Launches a War on Christianity

The Atlantic - The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife

Albert Mohler - The Briefing 06-20-16 | Mohler discusses the Atlantic story which debunks the "Jesus wife" document.

Justin Taylor - Transgender and Intersex: Andrew Wilson on How Should the Church Interact in Love

Denny Burk - Are Christians “complicit” in Orlando?

Tim Challies - The Bestsellers: Radical 

Preacher and Preaching - The Recent Trinitarian Debate

Monday, June 20, 2016

"Truth Overruled" by Ryan Anderson: A Review

The redefinition of marriage as a genderless partnership is possible only in a society that has already done serious damage to the institution. long before there was a debate about same-sex marriage, Americans of every political stripe bought into a sexual ideology that undermined the rational foundations for the marital norms of permanence, exclusivity, and monogamy. Cohabitation, no-fault divorce, recreational sex, nonmarital childbearing, and pornography all contributed to the breakdown of the marriage culture. If marriage is simply about emotional companionship, then of course mena nd women are interchangeable.

What took decades to deconstruct will take a long time to rebuild. (179)

In June 2015, five unelected judges at the Supreme Court overstepped their legal and constitutional bounds and redefined marriage across all fifty states. This revolutionary decision presents a serious challenge to conscientious objectors of all stripes especially to people of faith. One of the rising voices of opposition to both erotic liberty and the courts decision is Ryan T. Anderson and his post-Obergefell book is one of the most important I have come across. It is entitled, Truth Overruled: the Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom.

Anderson's ultimate hope is that the pro-marriage movement will gain the steam that the pro-life movement has following Roe vs. Wade. Although it remains to be seen if such a movement will take place, I share that hope with the author.

He begins by explaining what marriage is and why redefining that it is dangerous for children and society. Before there was the demand for same-sex marriage, Anderson shows there was already a redefinition of marriage - a move from what he calls a comprehensive view to a consensual view. By diminishing what marriage is to personal, and often temporal, fulfillment and pleasure, the damage to children and society had already been done. By adding same-sex marriage to that equation only contributes to that damage.

Anderson presents clear evidence that non-hetersexual marriage hurts children and society. A couple that stays together "until death do them part" is best. The evidence he presents is so strong that any argument against it is, I believe, largely politically motivated. If robbing children of one of their biological parents harms them, then how does same-sex marriage strengthen the lives of children? But, as Anderson argues, marriage is no longer about the good of children and society, but about the adults. We are sacrificing the well-being of children for sexual fulfillment and desires.

Much of the book surveys the damage Obergefell is doing to our first liberty: freedom of religion. The legalization of same-sex marriage, like the legalization of abortion before it, is nothing short of judicial tyranny. What makes this case so serious is it threatens the constitutional rights and the individual conscience of millions of Americans to object to it on moral grounds. Prior to this case, same-sex couples could exercise virtually all of the rights of married heterosexual couples apart from the definition of marriage. Now, however, homosexual activists can sue to the point of bankruptcy private individuals, charities, and companies for not bowing to the oligarchs of the Supreme Court.

Anderson chronicles all of this and for people of faith it can be frightening. If progressives really believe in openness and tolerance, they need to be aware that they are putting people of faith into proverbial closets and they should be ashamed.

Yet what makes the book so rich is how it ends. Anderson is a hopeful prophet who believes "we shall overcome." Marriages best days are ahead of us, not behind us because the sexual revolution cannot fulfill its promises. Erotic liberty may be popular today, but it cannot set anyone free. Anderson is confident that people of faith and conservatives alike can unite and organize to make sound, strong arguments like they have on matters of life.

I pray he is right. But if we are going to be successful, we have a lot of work to do. Let us begin with our own marriages.

All Around the Web - June 20, 2016

Washington Post - This rapper might be America’s next evangelical leader

Kevin DeYoung - 10 Thoughts on Speaking (and Not) In a Digital World

Trevin Wax - GoatMan and BadgerMan: Should Humans Live as Animals?

Get Religion -  Wait a minute! What did Southern Baptists say about religious liberty for Muslims?

Evangelical History - Are Southern Baptists “Evangelicals”?

Reformation21 - The Eternal Subordination of the Son Controversy: The Debate so Far

Thom Rainer - Five Strategic Ministry Uses for Instagram

Denny Burk -  The Confederate Battle flag and Southern Baptists

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016

On Orlando and the Strange Alliance Between Islam and the LGBT Community

The strange alliance between the progressive LGBT community and Islam is a fickle and likely a brief one. If you are looking for the folly of cultural Marxism, do not look farther than here. The two worldviews - one with its loyalty to Aphrodite and the other with loyalty to Allah - cannot coexist without a common enemy: Christianity.

The recent tragedy in Orlando where dozens of innocent image bearers, regardless of their sexual preferences, were murdered in cold-blood by an Islamic radical should illustrate why the progressive sympathies toward Islam will never work. The Muslim community has nothing in common with progressive ideology. Wherever Islam is dominant, progressive social causes are unwelcomed (and in some cases, even criminalized) from environmentalism to gun free zones to erotic liberty to safe zones for hurt feelings.

In predominately Muslim countries, homosexuals are not fighting for their right to marry or even to force bakers to do their weddings, but for their right to live. Yet the strongest rhetoric of the left is not toward true homophobia but toward Christians who have the audacity to exercise their Constitutional right to not have their conscience violated.

The Orlando shooting is illustrative of this. Does anyone with a straight face really believe that any form of gun control, regardless of one's position on the issue, would have stopped a violent madman from committing mass murder against a people-group he loathed? The criminal in this case is not the weapons, but the criminal who used them.

Yet in cultural Marxism alliances must be made, and for now the progressive LGBT community, in their effort to demoralize, demean, defame, and destroy conscientious objectors in the Evangelical community refuse to condemn violent extremism in the Islamic community. Islam, we are told, is a religion of peace (and most Muslims are). Therefore, members of the Islamic State are not adherents of Islam.

This is not how Christianity operates. As a believer in Christ I condemn this round of violence. I condemn both the man and the worldview that drove it. A just society should not tolerate dangerous ideologies that seeks to eliminate others. Also, as a Christian, though I have serious objections to the lifestyle choices of those in the club affected by this senseless violence, I weep with those who weep. Their blood cries out from the ground for justice and we must pray that justice in done in this life and in the next. I also pray that redemption is found by all in the blood of Jesus. This cycle of violence will not end until we repent and come to the cross.

So maybe Orlando is the fist crack in this strange alliance between the left and Islam, but I have my doubts. In the end, it will be orthodox Christianity who will be made the villains somehow. Yet I remain hopeful. It is the followers of Christ who are on their knees praying for healing knowing that God will answer them.


All Around the Web - June 16, 2016

Russell Moore - Can We Still Weep Together After Orlando?

Canon and Culture - An Open Letter for Preserving the First Freedom of Universal Religious Liberty

Evangelical History - Five Great Books on the American Founding Era

Stand to Reason - First They Change the Definition, and Then They Claim the Right

Thom Rainer - Eight Indicators that Pastors Are Expected to Do Most of the Ministry

Think Theology - Eternal Submission in the Trinity? A Quick Guide to the Debate

Tony Morgan - 7 Reasons Mid Size Churches Get Stuck

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Danger of the New Monism: Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 4b

The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 1
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 2
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 3
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 4a
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 4b
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part c
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 5a
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 5b
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 5c
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 6
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Complete Series

What follows is a series of posts regarding the New Monist movement which combines neuroscience with theology and argues that science has "proven" we have no soul.  The problem I have with such a suggestion isn't just the challenge it presents anthropologically, but soteriologically. How does denying the existence of our soul affect our understanding of the gospel? That's one of the questions I hope to answer.  This debate is another example of the challenge that science can present for Christian theology.

Monistic Gospel
Part 2

Green makes this clear in his book In Search of the Soul.  In the introduction, he laments:
There has been very little work indeed on the implications of our portraits of the human person for our vision and practices of evangelism and mission. Instead, the longstanding and widespread assumption that the real person is identified with the soul has resulted in the primary attribution of missional interest to the saving of lost souls.  Addressing physical needs, in this rendering, has sometimes become a means to an end; witness, for example, the practice of some emergency-relief organizations, which require that the hungry listen to a sermon before partaking of the promised free meal.  Without prejudging whether body-soul dualism must lead to a relative deprecation of the body, we can observe nonetheless that body-soul dualism historically has done so when it comes to talk about salvation and practices of Christian mission.[7]
Contrast this with the viewpoint of the Christian monist in Green’s assessment.
[I]n their rendering, salvation would be defined in terms of human restoration; and, since the human being is inextricably bound up with the human family and with God’s created order, then salvation would of necessity be explicated as fully embodied, as oriented toward human community and as cosmological in scope.  “Healing,” in this portrait, could not segregate mind and brain, body and soul, person and community, or human and cosmos, with the result that Christian mission would have to be worked out in terms of practices that promote human recovery in the fullest terms. When it comes to “salvation” one could speak only of “human needs” and “human wholeness,” and not of “spiritual needs” (as if these could be distinguished).  Of course, this would require transformations in other areas of life as well.  The rigidly biomedical model used by most physicians and psychiatrists in the West, the work of pastoral care, practices associated with teaching and learning – these and many others would need re-envisioning in order to address human persons (and not bodies or souls or intellects) in community (and not as isolated agents).[8]
The difference cannot be more drastically contrasted.  In Green’s understanding, dualism promotes a “save your soul and get into heaven,” while monism promotes a more here and now, social justice gospel – or rather a holistic gospel that ministers to the holistic self.

This trend continues beyond these two leading voices. In his chapter, “What About the Dust?: Missiological Musings on Anthropology,” Michael Rynkiewich discusses the change in missionary activity in light of the anthropological monism. Like other monists, he criticizes the dichotomy of saving the soul without concern for body. After quoting Matt. 28:19-20 he writes,
A strong dualist ontology in Western culture has contributed to the view held by many Western Christians that it is possible save souls without bothering about the bodies, to speak words that convince without doing deeds that change, and to isolate individuals without considering their interrelatedness with community, land, and environment.[9] 
This then leads to the obvious question, “How will we do mission without souls to save?” An important question, to say the least, but unfortunately not everyone among the new monists have asked it, but for those who have, the answer is troubling. In his chapter, Rynkiewich’s argues that the monist-dualist debate informs our understanding of missions in three primary ways:  “It contributes to a more holistic theology of mission, . . . to a more incarnational theology of mission, and . . . to a more naturalistic theology of mission.”[10]

Rooted in a holistic, monistic understanding of man, Rynkiewich seeks a more holistic understanding of missions. This means that missions isn’t primarily about evangelism but also about social justice. One fundamental assumption here is that God is love and love demands relationship. God is sovereign, but “loving relationship is prior to sovereignty.” The reason is that sovereignty “depends on the creation for its expression. Before that, there was nothing to be sovereign over.”  =As a result, “The objective of mission is not to explain how a sovereign God loves, but to show to the world how a God of perfect love expresses sovereignty.”[11]

This applies directly to human personhood who is likewise defined relationally. Because the “Fall shattered the unity of the monistic living being and damaged (not totally and to irreparably) the relationship between the living being and the triune God, on the one hand, and persons, on the other.”  Salvation, in this paradigm, involves redemption, reconciliation, and restoration. Rynkiewich writes:
Redemption means reconciliation for the living being with God, and restoration of the body to relationship with God, because a body out of relationship is an individual, lost, lonely, and incomplete.  Redemption and reconciliation are steps in the mission Dei, paths to God’s ultimate goals.”[12]
In summary, Rynkiewich argues simply, “A dualism that allows missionaries to separate evangelism and social justice is contrary to the missio Dei.”[13]

[7]  Green, Palmer, and Corcoran.  In Search of the Soul, 28.
[8]  Ibid., 28-29.
[9]  Rynkiewich, “What About the Dust?: Missiological Musings on Anthropology” in What About the Soul?, 133.
[10]  Ibid., 134.
[11]  Ibid., 136.
[12]  Ibid., 137.  Rynkiewich concludes this section by saying:
        If there is only body-mind, and within it neural networks that link to personal and cultural hermeneutic systems, then it is impossible to be in mission to the mind-soul without being in mission to the body.  If our pathways are affected by development, diet, and damage, and they clearly are, then how can we expect people to change their minds (repent and believe) unless we also work toward repairing damage and building healthy bodies/brains so that there are no unnecessary stumbling blocks to the gospel? 
        This view of mission requires us to rethink the priority of the Great Commission, Matthew 28, and join it with Luke 4 and the rest of the story.  In light of the whole story of God’s personhood (the economy of the Trinity) and God’s mission (creation, redemption, kingdom), we need continually to rethink our theology of mission.  A dualism that allows missionaries to separate evangelism and social justice is contrary to the missio Dei.  Ibid., 138.
[13] Ibid., 138.

All Around the Web - June 14, 2016

Russell Moore - Is Religious Freedom For Non-Christians Too?

RNS - Trump tackles Christianity’s big question: ‘Who is Jesus?’

Evangelical History - The Declaration of Independence: “Systemically Racist”?

Thom Rainer - What’s Next in Church Technology?

Reformation21 - God the Son--at once eternally God with His Father, and eternally Son of the Father

Denny Burk - A brief response to Trueman and Goligher

Jared Wilson - Everything You (Might Have) Wanted to Know About Writing and Publishing

Monday, June 13, 2016

"Health, Wealth, & Happiness" by David Jones and Russell Woodbridge: A Review

One of the greatest threats to the gospel of the past century has been the prosperity gospel. People like Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, Kenneth Copeland (along with his wife), Kenneth Hagin, the Crouches, Paula White, Creflo Dollar, and countless others have distorted the gospel to benefit only themselves. They are heretics and will be judged for leading countless people around the world astray. They pray on the vulnerable and the poor and gospel-minded Christians ought to stand against them.

In their book Health, Wealth, and Happiness: Has the Prosperity Gospel Overshadowed the Gospel of Christ? authors David W. Jones and Russell S. Woodbridge take on the prosperity gospel and show how theologically empty it is and why it should be challenged.

There are three sections worth mentioning in this book. First, the author's offer two great chapters tracing the historical development of the modern prosperity gospel. They begin, not with the prosperity gospel, but with its forefather: New Thought. New Thought was a pagan philosophy that became the bedrock of prosperity gospel complete with many of the elements still present in the prosperity gospel. Elements like speaking things into existence, a high (god-like) view of man, an emphasis on health and materialism, etc. were all present in the New Thought movement. The authors show just how pagan and panentheistic this movement was. In many ways, it is difficult to see where the New Thought ended and the prosperity gospel began because they were so similar. This is the one part of the book in which I gained new knowledge. I knew of Norman Vincent Peale, but I did not know of the New Thought movement. This put everything into context.

From there the authors trace the history of the prosperity gospel itself. Again, a helpful section that shows the reader how we have gotten to where we are today.

The authors then critique the movement regarding key theological issues like theology proper, anthropology, christology, soteriology, etc. In each instances, the authors show, using the words of prosperity preachers against them, how off-base they are. I knew most of what is mentioned here but it was helpful to see it laid out and the authors include quotations and interact with a variety of the prosperity gospel leaders to illustrate to the reader that these are not just extreme views of a few, but of the majority in this movement.

The last section of the book discusses a more biblical view on suffering, money, health, etc. A helpful guide for the reader and a welcomed section. The book, then, isn't just a critic of a movement, but a correction of that movement. Throughout the critique I couldn't help but ask about the cross. Christ suffered. Christ died. Christ was betrayed. All of which prosperity preachers reject. If Christ suffered, the New Testament teaches, how can we expect anything less? It is in this last section that the authors present this correction and kudos to them for including it.

This is a great book that is well-researched. My one "beef" with it is that I wish the footnotes were at the bottom of the pages instead of the end of the book. In books like this I like to see where certain quotes are taken from and oftentimes the authors would explore something more and I don't like to keep flipping to the back of the book. But that is a personal preference and does not reflect on the content of the book.  The content is excellent and this is a great place to start for those who want to know more about this gospel-denying movement.

I read this book while going through some personal health issues myself. I have gone deaf in one ear and am suffering from daily migraines. How fitting. I've had surgery, had tests ran, and am popping a lot of pills and yet I have found peace in the gospel of Christ - something that prosperity preachers cannot explain. Such preachers want you to find contentment in greed which, by definition, is impossible. The gospel grants us joy and security in Christ. The prosperity gospel is empty pure and simple and Jones and Woodridge shows us just that.

Alll Around the Web - June 13, 2016

Trevin Wax - When Your Political Ideology Turns On You

Evangelical History - 75 Years Ago Tonight: C. S. Lewis Delivers a Sermon in Oxford on “The Weight of Glory”

Alister McGrath - Enchanting Faith: The Chronicles of Narnia and the Power of Myth

Thom Rainer - Seven Things Google Tells Us About Evangelism in the United States

Get Religion - News in the 2015 Southern Baptist statistics: Baptisms, babies and crucial ethnic churches

Borrowed Light - Jennifer Knapp, Trey Pearson, and the Cross We Bear

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Could Jesus Have Sinned?

Could Jesus have sinned? That is not to ask if Jesus was guilty of sin, but given the real temptations he faced, could Jesus have sinned? The question reflects a major challenge in understanding the incarnation of our Lord. It forces us to seemingly pit his absolute deity - God is holy and thus he cannot and does not sin - and his absolute humanity - we frail humans sin every day.

In this regard, theologians debate whether Jesus was peccable or impeccable. In his book The Moody Handbook of Theology, Enns offers a helpful framing of the issue. He begins by suggesting that, for the most part, the debate separates Calvinists and Arminians. Usually, Calvinists affirm Christ's impeccability (he could not have sinned) while Arminians affirm Christ's peccability (he could have sinned).

Enns notes that "Those who hold to the peccability of Christ do so on the basis of Hebrews 4:15 . . . If the temptation was genuine then Christ had to be able to sin; otherwise the temptation was not a genuine temptation" (249). In other words, all of Christ's temptations - especially the most famous temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4 and parallels)  - were real temptations. They were not illusory.

But this position has its weakness. First, being that Christ is eternal and fully divine - the second person of the Trinity - imagine if we asked the same question regarding God the Father or the Holy Spirit. Clearly they are each impeccable.* Peccability suggests a weakening of Christ's deity.

Regarding impeccability, Enns writes:
The purpose of the temptations was not to see if Christ could sin, but to show that He could not sin. The temptation came at a critical time, the beginning of Christ's public ministry. The temptation came at a critical time: the beginning of Christ’s public ministry. The temptation was designed to show the nation what a unique Savior she had: the impeccable Son of God. It is also noteworthy that it was not Satan who initiated the temptation but the Holy Spirit (Matt 4:1). If Christ could have sinned, then the Holy Spirit solicited Christ to sin, but that is something God does not do. (James 1:3). (250)
He then proceeds to point to other evidence for Christ's impeccability. He points specifically to Christ's immutability, his omnipotence, omniscience, deity, will, and authority. He also points to the nature of temptation. He writes:
The temptation that came to Christ was from without. However, for sin to take place, there must be an inner response to the outward temptation. Since Jesus did not possess a sin nature, there was nothing within Him to respond to the temptation. people sin because there is an inner response to the outer temptation. (251)
I will add to the above evidence the following argument from Millard Erickson:
But the question remains, "Is a person who does not sin truly human?" If we say no, we are maintaining that sin is part of the essence of one who believes that the human has been created by God, since God would then be the cause of sin, the creator of a nature that is essentially evil. Inasmuch as we hold that, on the contrary, sin is not part of the essence of human nature, instead of asking, "Is Jesus as human as we are?" we might better ask, "Are we as human as Jesus?" For the type of true humanity created by God has n our case been corrupted and spoiled. There have been only three pure human beings: Adam and Eve (Before the fall, and Jesus. All the rest of us are but broken, corrupted versions of humanity. Jesus is not only as human as we are; he is more human. Our humanity is not a standard by which we are to measure his. His humanity, true and unadulterated is the standard by which we are to be measured. (737)
In the end, I would point to Russell Moore's helpful discussion of this issue in his book Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ:
In any discussion of Jesus' temptations, someone will typically ask, "Could Jesus have sinned?" To answer that, I would simply ay that it depends on what you mean by "could." I’ll respond with another question. Think of the person you love the most. While you have this loved one’s face before your mind, let me ask you: “Could you murder that person?” Your response would probably be, “Of course not!” You would then tell me how much you love the person, what the person means to you, and so forth. You’re incapable of murdering this person because the very act is opposed to everything that you’re about. (Note: If you answered with a cheery, “Boy, could I!” to that question, please put down this book and seek professional help.)

In your response to my question, you would be assuming “could” to mean a moral capability. But “could” here could also mean a natural ability. You tell me you “couldn’t” murder your loved one, but that’s no sign that you are saying you couldn’t physically take this person on. You're saying you would never do such a thing.

Jesus is himself the union of God and man, with both a human and a divine nature. God is, of course, morally incapable of sinning. But Jesus, in his human nature, really desires those things humanity’s been designed to desire. Could he have sinned—is his nature one that is capable of being both light and darkness? No. Could he have sinned—was he physically capable of eating bread, of throwing himself from a temple, of bowing his knee and verbalizing the words “Satan is lord”? Yes, of course.

It’s at this point that we often further misunderstand Jesus’ solidarity with us. We too often assume our current sinful status is what it means to be “real.” That’s because we’ve never known a world in which there is no sin. If you grow up all your life on a coastline near an uncapped oil spill, you might conclude that seagulls are covered in tar. As you read or travel, though, and see the birds in their natural state, you’ll discover your experience was abnormal; that’s not the way it’s meant to be. Too often we dismiss as “all too human” what is not human at all; it’s a satanic nature parasitically imposed on the human after the fall of Eden.

Jesus “sympathizes” with us in our temptations, the Bible tells us (Heb. 4:15). Yet we err when we think of this sympathy as some kind of psychologically motivated dismissal or minimizing of sin. Just think about the reactions if you were to sit around with your friends as you all talk about your temptations. One friend might confess to lust, and many in the group would nod heads in understanding. Another might confess an unforgiving spirit or a tendency toward hotheadedness. Again several would offer the words “I know how that is” as a means of encouragement. Probably, though, if someone were to say, “I have this persistent desire to throw kittens in a wood chipper,” the nods and affirmations would end. You’d probably be nudging the person next to you under the table in disbelief and exchanging looks with the person across from you that would mean something along the lines of, “Man, is this a sick one or what!” We often are most able to justify the sins in others if they correspond with our own failings, because we understand them. (43-44)

* Though I believe this is a helpful argument against peccability, it does have its limitations. Those who affirm the peccability of Christ would rightly respond by reminding us that what makes Christ unique is his incarnation. God, who is Spirit (John 4) does not tempt nor is He given into temptation.

For more:
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 7
John Knox on the Threefold Office of Christ
John Knox on the Importance of the Ascension
The God Who Became Man: Millard Erickson on the Implications of the Humanity of Christ 
Alumni Academy Christology Lectures From Dr. Bruce Ware
"The Jesus We Missed" by Patrick Henry Reardon   

All Around the Web - June 9, 2016

David French - I’m Not Running for President

Trevin Wax - One Facebook, Two Worlds, Three Problems

Quora - Misconceptions about the Middle Ages

Evolution News - The Darwinian Origins of Euthanasia Advocacy

Zondervan - Did the Early Church Practice Infant Baptism or Full Immersion?

Desiring God - No Cremation — But Should I Gift My Body to Science?