In earlier Apprising Ministries pieces like Homosexuality Removed From Hillsong College Student Handbook and Pastor Danny Cortez and his Gay-Affirming New Heart Community Church I’ve been warning you concerning the powerful pro-homosexual lobby that’s now applying pressure within mainstream evangelicalism.
You need to understand it really has made serious inroads into the timid heart of the evangelical camp. Now, you may recall a while back I told you about Ken Wilson, pastor of Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan and his book A Letter To My Congregation where he reveals that he’s changed his views on homosexuality.
This is the same thing that happened recently with SBC pastor Danny Cortez who, after his son came out and announced he was gay, would publicly acknowledge that he’s also changed his views on homosexuality. Long sordid story short, pastor Cortez tells us:
I recently became gay affirming after a 15-year journey of having multiple people in my congregation come out to me every year. I scoured through your whole website and read everything I could. And it was especially the testimony of my gay friends that helped me to see how they have been marginalized that my eyes became open to the injustice that the church has wrought.
In August of 2013, on a sunny day at the beach, I realized I no longer believed in the traditional teachings regarding homosexuality. (source)
For our purposes here, it’s important to note that SBC pastor Cortez would go on to inform us that now he’s led his own local church, New Heart Community Church (NHCC), right along into this apostasy with him:
I then told my church on Feb 9 about my new position… However, I expressed that my goal wasn’t about trying to convince everyone what I believe, but that we should allow room for grace in the midst of disagreement. I shared that the body of Christ is segregated every sunday between gay affirming and non-gay affirming and that there must be unity and love.
Unfortunately, many weren’t pleased, so the church had to vote whether to terminate me or accept my proposition. On March 9, the church voted instead to prolong the period of prayer, study and discernment until May 18. We then invited teachers, both gay and straight, from both sides of the debate to speak to our church.
The church just voted two Sundays ago, on May 18, 2014, to not dismiss me, and to instead become a Third Way church (agree to disagree and not cast judgement on one another—see Ken Wilson’s book, “A Letter to my Congregation”). This is a huge step for a Southern Baptist Church!
So now, we will accept the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship. (source)
So, 1) Cortez has rejected what the Bible says concerning the deviant and sinful lifestyle of having sexual relations with another of the same sex, i.e homosexuality. 2) Instead of dismissing their pastor for his apostasy, the church has already made the decision to join him in it when the congregation voted to take the position to “accept,” i.e. affirm, LGBT people in their sin.
This is important to understand as we move forward in this article. As I asked in my prior piece concerning this sad situation, which happened just before the SBC Convention this year, the question now becomes: What will the SBC do about this; will they expel NHCC now that it’s turned its back on the Word of God, or will they merely continue to cower behind their Idol of Autonomy?
Keep this in mind as I tell you about Garrett Haley’s report Southern Baptists Unanimously Affirm Biblical Sexuality, Oppose ‘Transgenderism’ yesterday where we learn:
Southern Baptist leaders voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to affirm the biblical model of human sexuality, agreeing that gender identity is solely determined by biological sex and not by ‘one’s self-perception.’
As previously reported, church representatives at the annual Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore considered a number of items for discussion this week, including the topic of gender identity. While many claim that a person’s gender can differ from one’s sexuality, the Southern Baptists declared just the opposite in a resolution titled “On Transgender Identity.”
“God’s design was the creation of two distinct and complementary sexes, male and female, which designate the fundamental distinction that God has embedded in the very biology of the human race,” the resolution states in part.
“The messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, affirm God’s good design that gender identity is determined by biological sex and not by one’s self-perception—a perception which is often influenced by fallen human nature in ways contrary to God’s design,” the resolution continues.
The resolution also exhorts Christians to unashamedly proclaim the biblical perspective on human sexuality. (source
Sounds good so far; however, this also locks the SBC into opposing the practice of homosexuality, which because it will always be sexual relations outside of marriage, is a sin of sexual immorality. Haley then goes on to inform us:
In addition to the resolution on human sexuality, the Southern Baptist Convention agreed to “consider discipline” for the Californian “pastor” who recently endorsed homosexuality from the pulpit. As previously reported, Danny Cortez of New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, California, recently claimed during a sermon that the Bible is “gay affirming.” (source)
Well, not so fast; it appears the waffling in the increasingly squishy SBC has now begun. Apparently the considering of discipline has already been done. ABPnews/Herald reporter Bob Allen is reporting that the SBC passes on discipline of gay-tolerant church:
The Southern Baptist Convention responded in a “third way,” neither condoning nor rebuking a church on record opposing Southern Baptist teaching that homosexuality is a sin. Contrary to a leader’s forecast, the Southern Baptist Convention did not rebuke a church for challenging the denomination’s policy against gay-affirming congregations at the convention’s 2014 annual meeting June 10-11 in Baltimore.
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, singled out New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., in a blog June 2 after Pastor Danny Cortez said publicly that he no longer believes the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin.
“I am confident that the Southern Baptist Convention will act in accordance with its own convictions, confession of faith and constitution when messengers to the convention gather next week in Baltimore,” Mohler predicted. (source)
Herein lies the problem with the SBC’s Idol of Autonomy; exactly what real “convictions” is Al Mohler speaking about? For you see, Allen now shares information that tells you much about how the SBC uses it’s Idol:
Seminary President Danny Akin replied that discipline is a matter for the local church, but Southern Baptists can rest assured that graduates coming out of their six seminaries are committed to the traditional view of marriage as the union of a husband and wife. (source)
That’s nice; so we in the SBC “can rest assured” that some amount of graduates of SBC seminaries will remain “committed to the traditional view of marriage as the union of a husband and wife.” It’d have been better if he’d said Biblical view; but even so, that has nothing to do with the issue at hand re. Cortez and his NHCC. The fact is, rather than this local SBC church disciplining its pastor—in violation of the SBC’s above statement on Biblical sexuality—it actually joined in with his apostate view.
Ok Dr. Akin, now what? It’s all well and good to trumpet “the biblical perspective on human sexuality” to the SBC choir in house, but it’s another thing to bear the criticism for it outside the camp. Finally in this regard, let me now point you to Southern Baptists not expected to address gay-affirming congregation by Jonathan Merritt, whom I introduced you to a couple of years ago, e.g. in Homosexuality and Jonathan Merritt, which was a followup to my article Southern Baptist Jonathan Merritt Outed As Gay?
In the former article I reminded you that I’ve stated on a few occasions I believe an evangelical figure of some note will come out as homosexual “soon” serving to fully detonate this whole gay debate—currently ripping apart and dividing mainline denominations—right with the mainstream of evangelicalism itself. Frankly, the more I’ve researched him and read his articles concerning homosexual issues, I wouldn’t really be surprised if it ended up being Jonathan Merritt himself.
To be clear, this is simply my personal opinion; nothing more. For me, even all this time later, something is just not right concerning all of this surrounding him. However, since it’s not the subject of this piece, for more detail I’ll refer the interested reader to those prior posts. Be that as it may, the reason some “conservative” evangelical is going to come out is due to years of antichrist propaganda by the neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church operating within the Emerging Church attacking Holy Scripture.
Sadly, the younger sectors of Christendom, by and large, just do not adhere to the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura. So when it comes to issues like homosexuality, instead of going by what the Bible clearly says, they are now being led by their fickle feelings. A good example would be gay-affirming EC “pastor” Jay Bakker. Notice Bakker only appeals to subjective experience as he tells us something diametrically opposed to Scripture:
The more I follow grace, the more I’m drawn to him [God], the more I’m willing to stand up for people being persecuted,” said Bakker. “It sounds so churchy, but I felt like God spoke to my heart and said ‘[homosexuality] is not a sin.’ ” (source, emphasis mine)
Take a look at the mainline denominations and you’ll see that they’re falling one by one before the pro-homosexual lobby. Just the other day the Church of Scotland “backed a proposal which could allow the ordination of ministers in civil partnerships.” I’m telling you, take that honest look around, and you’ll get a glimpse of the near future of the mainstream evangelical community as well. And the growing acceptance of women as pastors will only speed up the inevitable.
You may believe me when I tell you that issue itself is also about ready to explode within the very heart of the ostensibly conservative Christian community. Right now, however, I’m merely going to point out that Jonathan Merritt happens to be the son of Dr. James Merritt, president of the SBC from 2000-2002. If you didn’t know, Dr. Merritt currently serves as senior pastor of Cross Pointe Church (CPC) in Duluth, Georgia; and in fact his Jonathan, who was once on staff at CPC, is set to preach there again on July 6.
In his June 11th article Southern Baptists not expected to address gay-affirming congregation, as it concerns Danny Cortez and his gay-affirming NHCC, Jonathan Merritt tells us:
The church decided not to remove Cortez from leadership even though it is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), a denomination that condemns homosexual behavior. Sources within the SBC say they do not expect the denomination to respond to, reprimand, or remove New Heart from fellowship during their annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland this week.
Fermin Whittaker, Executive Director of the California Southern Baptist Convention, told me that media outlets haven’t accurately reported all the facts on the matter. New Heart is a Pilipino church, not a Spanish one. They are not actively involved in the SBC and, according to Whittaker, have only given $80 per month to the denomination’s Cooperative Program. But more significantly, he does not consider it a traditional congregation.
“This is a mission church, we think,” Whittaker said. “It is not an organized congregation, and the parent church had no knowledge of the changes happening there.”
He says that Baptist polity does not allow him or the California arm of the SBC he leads to revoke a congregation’s membership. Unless the denomination acts at their national gathering this week, New Heart will remain a participating Southern Baptist congregation until at least next Summer.
Whittaker added that there has been no outcry from other California Baptist churches. The only phone calls he has received on the matter came from pastors in Mississippi and Arkansas. (source)
It’s interesting to note that according to Merritt’s quotation from Fermin Whittaker, there’s been “been no outcry from other California Baptist churches” concerning NHCC’s apostasy. From where I stand, all of this just serves to show you how the SBC uses its Idol of Autonomy to avoid doctrinal controversy. Whittaker says, “it’s a mission church,” NHCC is not “a traditional congregation,” and what’s worse in SBC circles, it hasn’t given much money to the SBC’s cherished Cooperative Program. Perhaps if NHCC gave more then he’d consider it a “real” church.
Well, in spite of his verbal dog and pony show, Whittaker has just told us NHCC is a “congregation” and “a mission church” that you will see below is still affiliated with the Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association of the SBC and listed under its Directory of Churches:
As I get set to close this out, for now, we now go back to the op-ed piece from Dr. Al Mohler, which was referenced above by Bob Allen. In his There Is No ‘Third Way’ — Southern Baptists Face a Moment of Decision (and so will you) Mohler tells us that:
In his message to the New Heart Community Church congregation, [SBC pastor Danny] Cortez admitted that his “new position” represented a “radical shift” that put him into conflict with both the position of the church and the convictions of the denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. He acknowledged that his change of heart on the issue of homosexuality put him at odds with the SBC’s confession of faith, the Baptist Faith & Message. (source)
The Baptist Faith and Message (BFM) is the rather watered down statement of faith adopted by the SBC. Al Mohler is right, SBC pastor Danny Cortez and his NHCC are in violation of the SBC’s own BFM. However, I think it’s even more important to point out that they are now also in direct contradiction to the inerrant and infallible Word of God in the Bible. Begging Mohler’s pardon, I would offer that this is even more important than any denominational positions. Infinitely so; and I know I’m not alone in that feeling either.
I wonder if Al Mohler remembers the following from the 2001 SBC Presidential Address by an SBC president by the name of James Merritt; yes, the same James Merritt I mentioned earlier. Dr. Merritt thundered from the pulpit:
Now listen!! I do not believe we ought to be heresy hunters… but I do believe we ought to be heresy fighters. My friend, if the truth is worth believing… The truth is worth defending. And instead of following the paths of some denominations, who waste their breath debating what the Bible denounces as sin, we ought to spend out breath to defend what the Bible declares as truth…
In my home state of Georgia, where I live, and the City of Atlanta, where I pastor, there was a controversy fed by a media frenzy over an association that refused to disfellowship two churches that had been just fellowshipped by the Georgia Baptist Convention. Churches who accept openly avowed homosexuals as members and even as leaders… The reason the association gave was, the autonomy… of the local… church…
Now I want to say this straight and I want to make it plain… I believe in local church autonomy… I don’t want any leader,… any agency,… any institution or any convention giving orders to me or my congregation but hear me and hear me well… the ocean of church autonomy stops at the shore of biblical authority… (loud applause from messengers).
Local autonomy without biblical authority becomes spiritual anarchy!! My friend, it is the height of spiritual callousness and theological hypocrisy to hide behind the skirt of local church autonomy or the priesthood of the believer while pretending that churches can do anything they want to do and believe anything they want to believe and still be a Baptist church!! (applause)
(source, notations in original)
Quite impressive, no? Um, apparently not; just some thirteen short years later. And to think, there are those who wonder why the SBC is dying. Dr. James Merritt is right; even so, would he be willing to take the same stand if his own son were to come out as homosexual? Of course I sympathize with SBC pastor Danny Cortez; what Christian wouldn’t? That said however, in Christian love I will have to remind him of the following:
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)
In addition, the Bible clearly teaches that Christ Jesus of Nazareth is the LORD God Almighty Himself; therefore, Jesus is truly Love in human flesh. And so, I leave you now to listen to what Love told us long ago:
“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:32-39)