I am not a talented writer or blogger. In fact, most of the people who follow anything I have to say are people who love me far more than I deserve. As an avid blog reader and follower, I have seen many “An Open Letter to…” blogs, always wondering if they actually accomplished anything.
Kevin, I do not know you as well as I would have liked. I remember you as the extremely funny, charismatic, CNU celebrity from my friend’s church. I remember you as one of those people who was really good at making others feel welcome if they were new to the church…or really anywhere. I remember seeing how big your heart clearly was as you openly prayed to end sex trafficking out in the Trible Plaza. I remember being blown away by your open and blunt testimony you told me at Brickhouse and how you had struggled with same-sex attraction, but, by God’s grace, you had repented.
I open this way, Kevin, because many times the “open letters” that I have read seemed to be from nobodies to somebodies and I always wondered if they actually knew the person they were addressing…if they had ever met face-to-face, looked into their eyes, and talked about the very things they were writing online. I am fully aware of the following on your blog and that I truly am a nobody writing to a somebody. I am fully aware of your personal journey since moving to Georgia, maybe not personally, but as I read every post you write to see how you are doing and see your social media updates (well, saw, before I was blocked).
I am not going to act as though I do not have any apprehension about writing this. In 2016, to say or write the things that I am about to write is going to be rejected. With that being said, I am convicted and commanded to speak (or write) the truth, in love, regardless of the fear of being rejected (Ephesians 4:14-15).
That being said, I am fully aware of the following you have on your blog and how that following seems to grow daily. This blog post isn’t just a matter of opinions or styles of worship. This is a matter of truth versus non-truth. This is a matter of adding to scripture or taking away from it. We see the seriousness of this post in several passages of scripture:
“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” (2 John 1:9-11)
“I appeal to you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:17-18)
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
But, probably one of the scariest passages is found in 1 John:
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:3-6)
Kevin, I am not writing this because I think we have a petty disagreement. I am writing this because I believe you are not only distorting the words of scripture, but also leading others astray. And, what is worst is that you do all of this claiming the name of Jesus.
This all goes back to your post here where you shared the testimony of how things in your life were changing. Although many things in that blog struck me, this quote in particular stuck out to me:
I knew what that meant in my spirit. I knew what God was telling me in that moment. I felt like that was the word was calling me to step into. Brave. Be brave my son. Go, and know that I am with you. But I couldn’t. If I did what God was asking of me in that moment, I stood to lose everyone I loved, to be shunned and pushed aside. But you won’t ever lose me.
That day was the starting point of accepting what God was doing in me, finally bringing a great work to completion, a solidity to my identity in Him. It looked nothing like what I was told it would be, and was more than I could have dreamed for.
Today, I stood on my back porch, the coolness of late summer around me, and tears brimming at my eyes. This was it. This was going to change everything. I began the small trek from my back porch to the small peninsula outside my house knowing that with each step, I was coming closer to the unknown, and knowing that this would bring me closer to God.
Now, I believe in my heart that what you heard and wrote about on that day was not the voice of God. I say this bluntly because what you said you heard from God was in complete contradiction to scripture. So, this leaves us with some options I want to discuss:
- God still speaks to us outside/in addition to scripture.
- God only speaks to us through scripture
If the first option is true, then we must ask ourselves a very important question. If God speaks to us outside of scripture, does He do so in ways that contradict His holy scripture? I would hope you would answer that question with a resounding “No!” However, everything I see on your blog these days proclaims the opposite, which is what forces you and people like Matthew Vines to declare that what Orthodox Christianity and the earliest of Church fathers have always said concerning the Bible and homosexuality is wrong. When you say, “In my quiet time, God told me this,” we must remember that that is all subjective and we must still compare that “still small voice” with the scripture.
Luke 9:23 says “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'”
Now, I know that you believe that your cross is dealing with the burden of the “conservative church” disagreeing with your sexual orientation. However, it has to be said that if you are saying that the Holy Spirit told you one thing that scripture clearly opposes, then what is left? Is it some kind of unique spiritual experience where God begins to contradict his teaching? OR is that voice really you attempting to validate a sinful desire that you have?
Going back to our original discussion, the second option is that God only speaks to us through His scripture. This one is pretty obvious and is the one that I subscribe to. I believe that God has spoken to us through Scripture and through Scripture alone. As John Owen once said,
“If private revelations agree with Scripture, they are needless; and if they disagree, they are false.”
I believe, based on your blogs, that you would strongly oppose this idea. Again, this leads to a dangerous and slippery slope. If God continues to reveal truth to us outside of scripture, there is no way to determine what truth really is. If we lose the objective truth from scripture, then we are left with the inability to determine right from wrong. You are no longer able to tell me that my Orthodox views are incorrect and I am no longer able to say that about your Revisionist views. This, of course, contradicts the idea that:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Scripture is sufficient. It is where we find the Gospel and it is where we learn about the very character and nature of God. It is where we learn that not only is God perfect, Holy, and All-powerful, but God does not change along with changing cultures. His word shall stand forever.
Like you have said previously in your posts, it is very difficult to compile everything into an easy-to-read blog post. So, I will leave you with this. I wrote this very public response to your very public writings. I believe that none of your personal experiences or feelings in any of your posts sufficiently or adaquately give cause to view the clear teachings of scripture any differently than the church has for over 2,000 years.
So I pray, earnestly and humbly, that this post may open a dialogue between people I consider two friends, maybe not close, but close enough to where I am not writing to some faceless internet blogger. I pray that the word of God would reign true and supreme in both of our lives and that our feelings and our attitudes would give way to the fruitful truth of God’s word. And, I pray that, above all else, this exchange would glorify the all-powerful and loving God in heaven. When I think of the absolute beauty that is at stake here, I am reminded of this passage from Ephesians 1:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:3-10)
This is what can be said of those who have repented and believed in the saving work of Jesus Christ…not a false promise that the world and society offers and, definitely, not a promise that forces us to distort the very words that also give us the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Instead, we have the promise of a savior whose grace is strong enough to help us overcome even our darkest sins. That is a promise worth fighting for, losing followers over, and dying for.